Saturday, October 30, 2004

No Weddings and Eight Funerals

Death is all around. Literally. My father died July of last year, my grandmother April this year. That makes 2 deaths in my immediate family. My chair's mother also passed away 2 months back. And before that one co-faculty's mother-in-law. And before that another co-faculty's uncle. This month, a grandmother and grandfather of a friend/co-faculty. This morning, another co-faculty's grannie bit the dust. Is it me or is Death stalking?

How many dead people in my workplace then just this year? Let's tally shall we?

1. Me -- 2 dead
2. Chair -- 1 dead
3. Co-faculty A -- 1 dead
4. Co-faculty B -- 1 dead
5. Co-faculty C -- 2 dead
6. Co-faculty D -- 1 dead

So that makes 8 funerals in a department of 10. Wow.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Reel and Real-Life Monsters

I've finally seen the infamous Frenchie film Irreversible starring the real-life couple Vincent Cassell and Monica Belucci. Yes, its as violent and visceral as all the critics say. The first 20 minutes will give you vertigo. Yes, Bella Monica is gorgeous in it. She has this scene where she sways her curvaceous body to rave music with bland skinny blonds who pale in comparison. Yes, the rape scene was very, very difficult to watch. My boyfriend couldn't handle it, and I was only able to get through the gruesome 10 minutes because I'd already known about this scene and I was watching through "technical eyes," wondering how they filmed it, the impeccable acting, the gorgeous lighting, etc. etc.

Its about an ordinary couple who were victims of a totally random crime, perpetrated by a sadistic fuck who wanders the streets of Paris. First he anally rapes her, taking particular pleasure in her pain and muted screams behind his restraining hand, and then bashes her face in the concrete floor. Over and over and over.

This film, curiously enough, showed the shadowy underbelly of the City of Lights. If monsters like that walked the beautiful parisian avenues, then equally monstrous beings must walk ours. The thought is frightening, especially as my work recently finds me in darkly-lit streets of Lito Atienza's Manila. That city gives me the creeps. Kalookan is a kiddie playground in comparison. I'd imagine horrible crimes happen under the mayor's brightly-lit smile. His face is plastered all over on cheap, ill-designed billboards.

I wonder, if human monsters, like the one depicted in the film, could only exist in a filmmaker's imagination. A day after having had those images indelibly marked in my head, I suddenly feel And clean. As though I hadn't been sufficiently exposed to this city's filth that I would die of the first infection. I lead a relatively cocooned life, carefully screened off from this city's poverty. You and I, sitting pat in our gated villages, walled schools and guarded offices lead a pretty sanitized version of Metro Manila life. It doesn't mean the seedy underbelly doesn't exist. It must. Its out there, as greasy and as menacing as thin veil of grime coating every pavement, every building.