Tuesday, December 23, 2003


I feel lucky that the Art Film Cinema of Greenbelt is just across the street from our office building. After dilly-dallying for days, I finally decided to watch Dai Sijie’s “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress� (Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise) which is a Chinese and French co-production. I regret not watching it earlier. It’s one of the films that I would love to watch over an over again. It is sad, but would later make you smile as you were enlightened by the ideas presented in the story.

I love the film, not only because of their cute actors, but also because it reminds us of how important art is, the changing powers of knowledge earned from reading books and how a beautiful written work could transform a community.

The film is based on Dai Sijie’s autobiographical novel of the same title. Its synopsis reads:
At the height of Mao's infamous Cultural Revolution, two boys are among hundreds of thousands exiled to the countryside for "re-education." The narrator and his best friend, Luo, guilty of being the sons of doctors, find themselves in a remote village where, among the peasants of Phoenix Mountain, they are made to cart buckets of excrement up and down precipitous winding paths. Their meager distractions include a violin---as well as, before long, the beautiful daughter of the local tailor.

But it is when the two discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation that their re-education takes its most surprising turn. While ingeniously concealing their forbidden treasure, the boys find transit to worlds they had thought lost forever. And after listening to their dangerously seductive retellings of Balzac, even the Little Seamstress will be forever transformed.

From within the hopelessness and terror of one of the darkest passages in human history, Dai Sijie has fashioned a beguiling and unexpected story about the resilience of the human spirit, the wonder of romantic awakening and the magical power of storytelling.

This is what critic Jamie Russell wrote about the film:
"Revolutionary peasants will never be corrupted by a filthy bourgeois chicken!" declares a local Communist party leader near the beginning of "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress", tossing a cookbook into the fire. As opening scenes go, it's one that sums up everything that writer-director Dai Sijie's film is fighting against.

Arriving in the Phoenix Mountains for "re-education" during the Cultural Revolution, bourgeois city boys Ma (Ye Lui) and Luo (Kun Chen) discover a world dominated by petty rivalries and blinkered ignorance.

It's a community in which even their violin comes under suspicion (most, if not all, of the residents in that community are illiterate) - at least until they convince the local radicals that a Mozart sonata is a political mountain song ("Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao").

After months of toiling the fields, the boys discover a cache of foreign books and try to do some re-education of their own. They read the novels of Flaubert, Gogol, and Balzac to the local seamstress (Xun Zhou), whose thirst for uncensored knowledge makes her willing to risk her life for art.

A French-Chinese production (rather appropriate, given the subject matter), Dai Sijie's film - based on his own best-selling autobiographical novel of the same name - presents an overly simplistic vision of art as salvation that threatens to turn its three leads into ciphers rather than characters.

Yet, building on its carefully constructed scenes between Ma, Luo, and the little seamstress who they both fall in love with, this is a beautiful paean to a time long past.

Reliving his youth, Dai Sijie finds both joy and sadness in the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution - sadness in the misery of those years of strict indoctrination, but uplifting joy in the realization that change can bring freedom.

As the film's awkward, closing coda proves, though, sometimes love means letting go.

Did I say I love the Film? Oh, yes, I said it already but it’s worthy saying it again. This is the film that would make you laugh at the innocence and ignorance of the people and the “manipulation� of the two re-educated boys just to get out of trouble from communist authorities. It would cause you to hate tyranny and how oppressed masses are further oppressed when leaders fuel their ignorance and made them blames all their woes to intellectuals and rich people. Which is very true in our country as can be seen how Erap and his cronies capitalize on rich vs. poor issue.

It, however, give you hope knowing that knowledge and an open mind can free us. It made you realize that the greatest oppression that a man could make to his fellowmen is to keep him ignorant forever and to subscribe to his ignorant beliefs.

This is the film that beautifully mixes love, coming of age tale and political criticism.

There are plenty of scenes that I love, but there are three scenes that until is etched in my mind.

First is, towards the ending of the film, the Little Seamstress (as she is called in her community) left her grandfather and decided to venture her life in the city. Lou, one of the re-educated boy who is in love with her and whom she had sexual relationship with, ran after her. Lou was the one who was reading Balzac works to her and all Lou wants was to bring her out of her ignorance. Lou asked her, as she left who changed you (Lou thinks that it was him), but the girl answered, “Balzac changed me.� Then she continued saying, there is one thing that I learned from Balzac and that is “a woman’s beauty is a priceless treasure.� And then she turned her back and left.

Another scene was also in the ending, 20 years after their exile in the Phoenix Mountains, Ma is already a world-renowned violinist and Lou is an authority in Dental Medicine. Ma saw a report that that Phoenix Mountain village will soon be covered with water as a dam will be created in the Yangtze River. Ma, decided to go back the village and look for Little Seamstress. She couldn’t be found. It was the time when the village people are paying tributes to their dead by floating paper boats with the name of the dead written on it. Ma decided to swim and look for Little Seamstress name in those paper boats.
The scene shifted to the airport where Ma and Lou had their reunion. In Lou’s house they watched the video taken by Ma in the village and the interview he had with the residents asking if they have recollection of the two re-educated boys. Then their conversation lead to Little Seamstress at this point Lou was crying (he is married already, but to another woman). He said he looked for Little Seamstress, but he could no longer find him, he said she might be in Hong Kong already where it was impossible to find her. Then Lou said to Ma that he knew Ma love Little Seamstress also. Ma, responded yes, but we love her in different ways.

Then the film ends with scene showing the interior of the house in that Village where the two boys used to live. Water started to sip in and the sewing machine was already immersed in water. As the whole house was filled with water another image overlapped that of the flooded house showing Lou reading a book to Little Seamstress who sat beside him with her dreamy eyes and Lou looking at her with the look of love while Ma, was on the side playing his violin.

Beautiful, just beautiful.

(Note: if you want to see more pictures some videos of the film [and see for yourself how cute they are] click here, the only problem with this site is - it's in french)

Sunday, December 14, 2003


Dear KK and Justin:

I was supposed to write this yesterday, but I was in Pampanga doing some family thing for my cousin's wedding.

Yesterday you both promised to love each other for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health (or somthing like that). My prayer's is that you two will fulfill that promise forever.

KK dear, I remember you in our Silliman and Dumaguete days as a tough lady, yet I also knew that behind that tough lady is a woman longing to be loved and cared for and I know that you have found that in Justin.

I always believe in destiny because there are things in this world that we just can control. Considering the circumstances of your meeting with Justin, I know it is destiny at works. Fate made it possible for you to find each other.

Justin, I don't really know you, but knowing that you have chosen to love KK, I know your a smart person and one hell of a lucky guy!

Now some silly thoughts just came into my mind and reminded me of thsi Cebuano folk song, here it is (and KK, interpret for Justin OK!)

Inday pamutos na sa imong mga bistida
Kinsay imong pamanhon?
Si Ondo akong banahon.

Ondo ayaw awaya
Si Inday nga imong asawa
Kung imo gani soyang awayon
Amo siyang pagabawion.

Onsaon ninyo pagbawi
Gikasal kami sa pari
Unsaon ninyo pagboyboy
Giaslan kami ug baboy.

Now, now, now. I do not dream, of course, that we would come to a moment where we, as KK's friends, would scold you two. I am confident that you two love each other and there would be bed of roses laid down for you. But, like any roses, it has its thorns. My prayer then is that if things have gone bad to worst in future (God forbid!), your love for each other would transcend all the trials and and difficulties that you as a couple would be facing. That no matter how badly bruised are you (and I mean it figuratively, not literally, ok?!), at the end of the day, you two would still find yourselves in the security of the loving arms of each other.

I pray for a blissful, blessed and joyful life ahead of you.

God bless!

With all my love,

Eric J.

Thursday, December 11, 2003


i am: Simply Eric
i want: a brand new cellphone (although a Josh Groban’ Closer CD will do)
i have: 300 pesos in my wallet
i wish: that I could have more money this Christmas
i hate: Panfilo Lacson, Korina Sanches and Erwin Tulfo
i miss: Dumaguete and Silliman in those days when I was still with my friends, Doltz Hall when I was still residing there.
i fear: things I did in the past will come and haunt me in the future.
i hear: the voice of my boss talking to somebody over the phone
i search: for peace of mind and someone to love who will love me in return.
i wonder: what it is to be really straight.
i regret: not doing my best when I was still student where I could have graduated with honors
i love: my mother, my sisters, my friends
i ache: for pan de coco, rice (I am on a diet!)
i always: play solitaire in my PC
i am not: a quiet person
i dance: most of the time
i sing: always!
i cry: when the thing that I am watching (TV or Movie) moves me to tears.
i write: legal pleadings
i win: in Extemporaneous and speaking Contest and Quiz Bees
i lose: any sporting event
i confuse: Susan Roces and Helen Gamboa
i need: have my teeth fix and enroll in a gym
i should: be more diligent with my diet
my father thinks I am: My father is dead
my mother thinks I am: earning a lot, which is not true
my ex-boyfriend thinks I am: I don’t have an ex-boyfriend nor an ex girl friend!
three things you are often complimented for: resourcefulness, work, voice
I get embarrassed when: I say something “awful” in public
animal cruelty: is awful!
I keep a diary: I don’tl
I like to cook: yes
I have a secret I have not shared with anyone: a lot
I am in love: I am not in love (eros) with anyone now!
I set my watch a few minutes ahead: nope, I set it on time
I bite my fingernails: I don’t bite my fingernails, its yucky for me!
I believe in love: I am a hopelessly romantic fool!
the cutest female I know: Bea, one year old daughter of my landlord
the weirdest person i know: Ritchie Galon!
the Loudest Person I know: Johann Quisumbing (a member of the Praise Team of the Union Church of Manila). Once this person talks (which is always) you would want to cover his mouth!
the Sexiest Person I Know: Andrea del Rosario! I love her!
the Person that Knows the Most about me: my friends
most Boring Teacher: My Introduction to Law Teacher
my most overused phrase: Grabee!, putcha, gago, basically
the last image/thought before sleep: anything on TV/how succesful am I with my diet and exercise
my best feature: my eyes, color and texture of my skin, my brain!
Inside joke: can’t think of anyt
ake a shower everyday: Yes
have a(any) crush(es): Andrea del Rosario, an unknown church mate ( haven’t had the courage to ask for his name) an officemate (same reason) and JOSH GROBAN!
want to get married: yeah, to someone whom I really really love and who knows me and would be willing to take me despite of who I am.
have any tattoos/where?: nope and never!
piercing/where?: none, although I would love to have my ear pierced where I can place one small diamond stud
get motion sickness: happened only twice, inside the supercat going to CDO (from Dumaguete) and inside my boss’ RAV-4 driven by the late Manong Remy on our way to Bacolod
think you're a health freak: not yet
get along with parents: kinda
thunderstorms: are fun to listen to when you’re in bed talking about anything with friends

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


No, no, no, no, no! This is not related to the 2004 Elections!.

That is Manny Pacquiao at the center (lower row). Remember how he made us proud by defeating Marco Antonio Barrera? All odds were against Manny when he decided to fight Barrera, but he persevered and made us all proud.

Now, we can all express our gratitude for bringing honor to our country by voting for him as 2003 HBO Fighter of the Year. And we can do that by clicking it here.

(note: as of writing Manny leads all other contender in the HBO pool)

Friday, December 05, 2003


This week I decided to run away from one thing that causes my insecurities. When I say run away, I mean it literally.

And so last Tuesday, at 5 am I put on my jogging shoes and joined my Landlord Bobby, a policeman, in his morning jog at the Amari reclamation area. Yes, Amari - that controversial reclamation project of the Public Estate Authority. Amari is now a new jogging haven of residents near the Roxas Boulevard area. Free from the sidewalk vendors that infest the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, what you have is an unobstructed jogging path. And since it is quite far and in the absence of a public transportation (i.e. jeep, bus, etc) going to the place, only those who have a car can go there, which would mean, konti lang ang jologs!

Since, Bobby can only go with me every other day, I alternate my jogging with my Tae Bo exercise, using Billy Blank’s video.

But of course, exercise is not enough, If I really intend to lose weight, I have to couple it with diet. Since Monday, I have been eating breakfast cereal (Fitness by Nestle) and fruits, a cup of rice and some meat for lunch, and fruits for dinner. I tried to stay away from sweets and white bread (those made of refined processed flour).

I’ve realized the most difficult part is to get started. I’ve been wanting to do this since January this year and it is only now that I was able to start. However, the most difficult part of all is resisting the temptation to eat more than what is necessary. For years, food has been my coping mechanism. When I’m bored, I eat. When I’m pressured, I eat. I love to eat bread (pan de coco, ensaimada, ube pan, name it!), I love to eat almost anything. The trouble is actually compounded since my office is just a stone throw away from greenbelt where all the nice restaurants, fastfoods and coffee shops are.

I am 80 percent successful in controlling my urge to eat (I am still on my first week ok!). Eating fruits can be boring, my only consolation is that I have set my Sundays as my “day off”. On Sunday, I can eat anything that I want. That is my reward for having disciplined my self, and of course, a preparation for another 6 days of controlled eating.

I am giving myself six months to achieve my desired result. Hopefully next week, I’ll be able to enroll in a gym for my weight training.

This time, I hope it will work.