@your SiRVis... Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro wants to be known as SiRVis (an amalgamation of his name, profession and penchant for service). He is a polymath wannabe in the fields of training and education, civic voluntarism, sports, arts, travel, photography and social networking. Born and raised in Dagupan City, he is a staunch advocate of the preservation of Pangasinan language, arts and culture. Follow me on: Twitter. Facebook, Tumblr, Plurk.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Heneral Luna

Heneral Luna is not a historical movie or a biopic  but an artistic scathing contemporary parallelism of the Filipino's indifference (towards history and freedom). We are too forgiving, forgetful of the lessons of history or we lack true sense of patriotism. Or we just don't care. Hence the question aptly posed by Luna: "Negosyo o kalayaan, bayan o sarili? Mamili ka?"

It debunks our fondness of looking for a hero/ idol and immortalizing them as gods. It reminds us that heroes are not saints and that heroes are humans too. Leaders are not necessarily heroes. Leaders and heroes are not infallible. Tayo ang bayani. Tayo ay bayani din. The movie also emphasizes the pivotal role of unsung and mostly historically forgotten "lesser" heroes. I'm not just talking about Luna's faithful comrades: General Jose Alejandrino, Colonel Francisco “Paco” Roman, Captain Eduardo Rusca and the Bernal brothers but Antonio Luna himself who pales in recognition compared to Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo or even his brother Juan Luna. If a survey was conducted prior to the film showing, Luna won't even land in the top 10.

Heneral Luna decries the politics that has beset our nation since time immemorial. The prevalent themes of self-righteousness, self interest, divisiveness, dishonesty, and betrayal are but familiar even (especially) in the present Philippine setting. We should be reminded (as Heneral Luna imparts) that we are our own worst enemy.

Notably featured in the movie is role of women especially mothers in the lives of heroes and in the course of history.

The movie's appeal is its simplicity and candidness. It is mirror of the Filipino psyche - a virtual Spoliarium as indicated at the end of the film in reference to Juan Luna's (Gen. Luna's brother) painting. It's not artsy fartsy and preachy. Educational yet not too academic. Periodic at the same time contemporary. And yes, thank God, it is a welcome respite from mushy and hollow Pinoy blockbuster movies.

The movie's disclaimer though is ironic and un-Heneral Luna.  However, it may be necessary especially with the way we trivialize and fictionalize history as well as due to our spoon-fed intelligence. View it more as a reminder rather than an apology. And hope that it is not meant to appease the critical gods.

A movie like Heneral Luna deserves a sequel or a paraquel featuring Goryo, Manolo, Poly or even a version of the events from Rusca's point of view. The Oscars inclusion is encouraging. It should be an inspiration and momentum starter lest we fall again to artistic ningas cogon and just be contented with "patok sa takilya".

Although this may sound like an unsolicited movie review, it is more of an invitation to watch the film and support the arts in general. It is a prayer and a manifestation of hope.

I still believe in the Filipino!

- @SIRVis, 22 September 2015

(Photo: Movie screen cap)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Diglat: "The Bangar Tree and the Dryad"

"The Bangar Tree and the Dryad"

"Why are you sad, Bangar Tree?" Asked, the Diwata. The tree replied, "I am sad because nobody likes me. The birds seem to avoid me because of my odor. Many people want to cut me down because I either stink or stand in their way. I am not beautiful like you!" 

The diwata said, "but you are beautiful! Your fruits are treasured as food and dye for hand woven products. Your skin is made into pretty baskets, your trunk as interior of houses and your shade as children's playground. You are the oldest tree in Pangasinan or possibly in the Philippines. They even named a town in La Union after you."

The tree then unabashedly spread it's branches, grew its leaves, blossomed its flowers and didn't mind how it smelled because she is beautiful, loved and real.

*diglat- a Pangasinan word for fiction

Diglat: "The Boy Who Cried Ey!"

"The Boy Who Cried Ey!" 

The boy asked the blind old man, "Do you know where we are?" The blind old man replied, "We are in Princess Urduja's castle in the Kingdom of Caboloan." The boy then said in disbelief, "But you are blind! And what you are saying is just a myth! We are just in a S-shaped building near the seashore!" The blind old man said, "One does not need to see. When you hear the anlong and kansyon, there will always be a silver fish known as Betel, a princess named Urduja and a magical place called Pangasinan!"

*diglat- a Pangasinan word for fiction

Diglat: "Breakwater"


The girl asked the boy, "Can we withstand the waves of life when we grow up?" 

The boy staring at the violent waves answered, "Maybe. Maybe not. But hold my hand tightly, I will be your breakwater against any storm surge..."

*diglat- a Pangasinan word for fiction

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stories from the Street: Tondaligan

If you are from Pangasinan, I'm sure you've been to Tondaligan at least once in your life. In one of your visits to the park or the videoke sheds along the shores of Bonuan Blue Beach, you probably bought mangoes or boiled peanuts from an old woman with a faint smile and mellow voice. It could be out of compassion or maybe you just couldn't resist how the green mango made your mouth water.

Her name is Nana Violy (Violeta Landingin Cornel). According to her, she's been a vendor in Tondaligan for more than 40 years. Long enough to send her children and grandchildren to school. Long enough to remember that Tondaligan has changed name numerous times before. It has been named National Children's Park, Ferdinand Marcos Park, Tondaligan Park, and Bonuan Blue Beach People's Park. We shared the same sentiment that the names Tondaligan Park (to describe the park) and Tondaligan Beach (to describe the beach) are misnomers. Tondaligan Park is redundant as tondaligan in Pangasinan means a place to rest or a place of recreation - meaning, a park. And to describe or name the beach as Tondaligan Beach is absurd as literally it would mean a park beach. History is clear that the beach’s name is Bonuan Blue Beach. But somehow the names Tondaligan Park and Tondaligan Beach stuck the way most of us Pangasinenses have accepted Panggalatok (which I vehemently detest) as the same as Pangasinan.

I observed that her basket of goods was still full even if it’s already late in the afternoon. She lamented that sales have waned through the years and the Tondaligan she knew has changed. She didn’t ask me to buy her stuff. With enthusiasm she smiled and said: “Tomorrow’s another day, sales will be better!” Before parting, I asked her if I could take a picture of her to which she reluctantly agreed. She said a lot of photographers have taken a snapshot of her with the promise of her picture reaching overseas and different magazines. All she wanted is that they give her a copy of her picture when they see her again but years have passed and none have returned. I said, I will not only show her photo to many people but share her story as well. She smiled profusely and said goodbye. 
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