Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

The Search for Paradise

It’s been a while since I’ve seen challenging films. I’ve been watching Hollywood-need-not-think ones because I’ve been thinking too much as it is. But going through my interdisciplinary elective, I am once again exposed to the world of challenging cinema. What struck me most was the Mike de Leon’s Aliwan Paradise, a 1992 short film. I should have seen this before, as an Art Studies major, but surprisingly, I have not. I wish I can get a copy of this short film so I can also expose my student’s to it as well. The issues presented are what struck me most, almost two decades later, we are still facing the same problems. (Look back to my previous blog entry How “Babae sa Septic Tank” ruined my Friday night.)

The story is basically about the search of the entertainment industry for something new, for bagong-bago that would sell to the public. The presentation was exaggerated to a point of a carnivalesque entertainment. Such style, ironically, lives on today, such as in noon-time game shows. The much-protested Willie Revillame‘s shows reflect such sensibilities in the search for bagong-bago. The exploitation of the poor and their suffering is still the same, except that we now enjoy them in digital HD. I can almost see Johnny Delgado‘s character epitomized into the “well-loved” entertainment heavy weight WR.

The aesthetization of poverty is also alive now, more than ever in our award-winning independent films. Even the supposed anti-independent Ang Babae sa Septic Tank falls into the same trappings. Just because it is comedic, audience assumed that it is different, but its representation of the poor as the desperate, car-robbers obviously fails in the satiric attempt. The poor is beautiful and it is marketable. Almost two-decades later, we are still in the same pit. How will this end? When can see new ideas in today’s filmmaking?

As I study and delve into media theories that we have, I hope to explore more on this subject. We are in a changing world with constantly changing media, but still, we seem to be stuck in the same ideas. Is it the market? But who is to say that quality and challenging films will not sell? Granted, that I also enjoy the need-not-think films, but that doesn’t mean that I will not enjoy challenging cinema, it is just not as accessible. Films like these are still stuck in the archives somewhere or deep in university libraries. Perhaps access to the challenge is what we need.

This is a great beginning to the semester as I gear towards the end of my course work. I will challenge myself once again with films that inspires change. Hopefully, I will also find more time to write about it and perhaps some might get to read it and in turn watch such films. And, as an end goal, not just for me but for the rest of the Philippine cinema world, a beginning of the end of poverty porn. One can dream, after all, even Aliwan Paradise is a just a dream.

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One thing that I have learned so far is that you have to show up for your kid. She is not even 20 months old, yet she can stay on stage and perform with her peers without fear. She basically didn't need us to be up there with her. She only needed us to be there for her. That's the gist of it for the most part. We need to be there for her. I doubt she'll remember the expensive clothes, shoes, toys, and what have you. Of course, meeting basic needs is basic. I will not be the 'I am better than you' kind of parent. Most people struggle financially when they become parents, we are no exception. There are compromises, choices, and sacrifices that parents have to make in the name of parenthood. I know and feel the loss of this personally. But it doesn't change the fact that aside from her basic human needs--food, water, clothing, and shelter... What she really needs are her parents. To cuddle with, to play with, to hold her when she cries, to watch her perform, to sit with her as she throws a tantrum, to accompany her as she digs in the sandbox. She needs us to show up. I am trying my hardest to show up and be there. I know that these moments will be gone in a blink of an eye. As sad as I am for some things that are lost, for some things that will never be the same... I am happy that I did not miss this. #toddlerplay #toddlernarratives
Falalalala lalalala! She enjoyed the stage and wanted to climb it the moment their class was called. Lol. We also left her there because she seemed to manage just fine on her own. Though she attempted to leave the stage once the song was done, while photos were being taken. She also wanted to join the other classes on stage. Lol. She loves dancing and music, definitely. Everybody commented on her participation and attempted singing!#toddlernarratives #toddlerchristmas
It was her second on-stage performance and my second attempt at costume making. Lol. Though technically, I just tried to Christmas-fy her dress that kinda has a tutu fabric skirt. Lol. Vest is nowhere in sight as she screams bloody murder whenever I try to put it on. I'm her Mommy so I'm allowed to say she's absolutely adorable. And she loves performing as well! Tiring day. #toddlernarratives #toddlerchristmas
Pasko sa eskwela. #toddlernarratives #toddlerchristmas
And so the sem ends. Sort of. With loads of new stories. I will try to tell some of them, eventually. My heart learned a lot.
Masarap nga kaya ang gatas at kamatis? Lol. Enjoy talaga siya sa buffet breakfast. Pancakes, rice and egg, watermelon, grapes, tomatoes, milk, and cereal. Solb na solb na eh. #anniversary #staycation
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