Friday, April 30, 2010

Bid Time Return/Somewhere in Time

One film that started as a box-office disappointment  and is now a certified cult classic with a large following among cable and TV viewers is Somewhere in Time. It owes its genesis in a science fiction novel, Bid Time Return, by one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Richard Matheson who also wrote Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, and I am Legend which were also filmed. The novel was inspired by an incident in Matheson's life. He was attracted by a portrait of American actress Maude Adams (not Maud Adams, James Bond's Octopussy) in an opera house in Nevada. He asked himself: What if some guy falls in love with a woman in a portrait and goes back in time to meet her? Thus the germ for the novel. Published in 1975, Bid Time Returns was given the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1976. 

Five years after its publication, the novel was filmed as Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in the lead. It was an ideal date movie and is now shown on cable and TV during Valentine's Day. It also influenced local teleseryes in ABS-CBN and GMA-7. 

What made the film memorable to me was the original soundtrack composed by John Barry. Two musical pieces became my personal favorites: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff and the movie theme. 

In the mid-80s, to my delight, Pat Castillo recorded the Theme from Somewhere in Time. The lyrics echo the film's sentiments (sentimentality?). The same song was also recorded by a favorite singer, Nonoy Zuniga whom I personally met while he was a resident doctor at Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Discovering Christian Bautista, Rediscovering Jose Mari Chan

I first became aware of Christian Bautista when he joined the Star in a Million singing contest at ABS-CBN in 2003. He came across as a Josh Groban wannabe because the songs he sang. The said contest was eventually won by Eric Santos with Sheryn Regis as First Runner-up. Personally, I thought Sheryn should have won because I felt goosebumps while watching her perform in the finals (but that's for another blogpost). Later, I would remember reading about Christian starring as Tony in the local production of the stage musical West Side Story.

Christian signed  up as a recording artist with Warner Philippines which promptly promoted his albums in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore where he earned kudos as a singer and as Asia's Prince of Pop.  

Early this year, I saw his latest CD, Romance Revisited - The Love Songs of Jose Mari Chan at the Odyssey Stall in Robinsons Place Gensan. That got my undivided attention instantly, being a Jose Mari Chan fan ever since I heard his Refrain on the radio. The CD contains 19 well-loved and relatively under-appreciated Chan songs: Tell Me Your Name, I Remember the Girl, I Have Fallen in Love (with the Same Woman Three Times), Stay My Love, Afterglow, Refrain, Constant Change, among others.

Listening to Christian's CD at home made a convert of me! I was  surprised by the freshness of the arrangements and how the songs and Christian's voice are a perfect fit. And at the same time, I was in awe of the musical gift of Jose Mari and the time-unbound quality of the songs.

While relishing Christian's versions of Chan's compositions, I remember the first Jose Mari's concert I attended here.

Flashback: In the late 80s, Kimball's Christmas promo featured a free ticket to Jose Mari Chan's concert at the Dadiangas Parish Center for a certain amount of purchase at their grocery section. During the concert, Jose Mari Chan regaled his adoring audience with songs he had composed which ran the gamut from A to Z. I also spotted a svelte Avel Manansala , together with his brother Orman, at the ringside flashing a cartolina on which was written his song request to be sung by Jose Mari Chan. When he finally sung Avel's request, the latter couldn't stop himself from clapping with glee. In the audience too were young sweethearts Jinky and Arnel Borela.

As I'm writing this blogpost, I can already visualize myself with Avel and fellow bloggers clapping with glee as we watch Christian's Constant Change concert on April 23 at the Lagao Gym, Gensan. I can already hear the Manansala brothers and I - us three being of a certain age -  singing along the songs close to our hearts. I can already see the bloggers rushing to and from the front of the stage for photo ops. I can already see Jinky and Arnel reminiscing their good old days of courting and romance. I can already feel the thrill of having to pose with Christian backstage after the concert and having him autograph my copy of his Romance Revisited CD. I can already hear myself humming the tunes on my way home after the concert. Already, I know it's going to be a night of discovery and rediscovery.

This blogpost was written in consonance with GenSan News Online Mag and Christian Bautista’s Constant Change GenSan Concert blog contest. The concert's co-presentors and major sponsors Drumbeat Ventures, Starbright Office Depot, Vertical Builders, DGO Depot and the Office of the City Mayor of GenSan.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Superman is Moro (a Repost)

by Adel Tamano

SUPERMAN is a Moro. How do I know this? He has too many similarities with the contemporary Moro that simple logic reveals his true identity and ethnicity. Let’s turn to the facts which confirm that, indeed icon, this of goodness, truth and decency, the man of steel, is a Filipino Muslim.

Proof No. 1: He has a Moro name. This is the biggest give-away—Kal-El is the real name of Clark Kent, Superman’s mild-mannered alter ego. His given name is incredibly similar to common Filipino Muslim names like Khalil or even Ysmael and Abdul. In fact, for this reason, for him to get a job in the Philippines, he would have to use a pseudonym. According to the latest Social Weather Stations survey, Filipinos prefer hiring people with Christian-sounding names than those whose names appear to be of Islamic etymology.

Without a doubt, within the context of the global war on terrorism, wherein the usual suspects are those of the Islamic faith, it becomes easy to rationalize the preference. It needn’t be rooted any longer in stereotypes of Moros as violent, aggressive, and vicious, the classic juramentado, but can be much more easily and socially acceptable on the basis of general security concerns.

While liberalism encourages and advances the renunciation of discrimination and stereotyping, new anxieties about terrorism and safety provide seemingly liberal-minded people a basis for discriminating against Muslims without the concomitant guilt. In fact, honestly, whom would you prefer to hire as your clerk, manager, driver, etc., Kal-El, or Clark?

Proof No. 2: He has to keep his real identity a secret. Imagine how difficult it must be for a person with the power to fly, smash through walls, bounce bullets off his chest, and x-ray vision to keep these phenomenal abilities secret. Most people would want to shout it out to the world, publicize it, and, ultimately, capitalize on it. But Superman is different. And wise. He knows that in the increasingly globalized and homogenized world, being alien, different, and outside the norm is a surefire way to becoming ostracized and misunderstood. This is the reason why he dons his suit and tie. This is the supreme irony: it is his corporate attire and not the blue tights with the Superman logo and big red cape that is his real costume. The coat and tie conceals his authentic identity—as an alien and, ultimately, an outsider.

This is the same situation that the Moro faces; a case in point is the fact that many Filipino Muslims, when interacting with the Christian majority, have to adopt Christian names—Michael instead of Muhammad—as a way of sidestepping discrimination. This too is an aspect of an emerging Moro culture of keeping things hidden and undercover. The name itself is a costume, a camouflage, to conceal the reality of being Muslim and therefore different from the Catholic majority.

In fact, Moro women, particularly in Metro Manila, suffering daily the indignities of subtle discrimination, such as Taxi drivers refusing to accept as passengers veiled (hijab-wearing) Muslim women, are forced to forego using the hijab when taking public transportation, keeping their Muslimness incognito. For both Moro genders, the badges of being a Moro, which include the cultural traits of the Moro as Maranaw, Maguindanao, or Tausug, as well as the indivisible Islamic element that infuses the culture of these Muslim tribes, such as headscarves, Moro hats (kupya), beards and prayer beads, are eschewed for modern clothing for easier acceptance.

Even prayer, the most fundamental of human actions, with man communing with his creator, has to be done clandestinely. It is not difficult to recall the recent furor that was raised over the request of Moro merchants in Greenhills to build a small prayer room so that they could perform salah (prayer). Some prominent members of Philippine society vehemently objected, using the media as their forum, to the establishment of the prayer room, at times using the most racially and ethnically discriminatory of arguments.

Proof No. 3: He is forced not to wear his ethnic costume. This is really a corollary to No. 2, but the use of clothing to emphasize and express pride in one’s culture only makes sense in a world without prejudice, particularly when one belongs to a minority. In this world, wherein intolerance abounds, emphasizing cultural pride, particularly when it is Moro pride, produces real-world problems.

Interestingly, some Moro women, and their counterparts in the West, have taken to wearing the veil as an overt political statement, a reaffirmation of their Islamic faith in the face of discrimination. It is worn, literally, as a badge of fearlessness and courage knowing that an intolerant society will make them suffer, in ways subtle and otherwise, for their beliefs.

Adel A. Tamano is a lawyer who obtained his master of laws at the Harvard Law School as a graduate program scholar and Islamic legal studies scholar. He took his master of public administration at the University of the Philippines and his juris doctor and A. B. in Economics at the Ateneo de Manila University. He has authored two law books and published a handbook on Impeachment under the 1987 Constitution and Impeachment of Justices of the Supreme Court, a policy analysis.