Thursday, April 28, 2011

Si Tessa

You may read the book online, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. 

* * * *

I cannot remember how I ended up with a PDF copy of Tess of the D'Ubervilles (also, Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented) by Thomas Hardy. I've had it for so long in my hard drive that one day, I finally decided to give it a shot. (Reading a book on my computer isn't my cup of tea. It reminds me of work.)

Gemma Arterton and Eddie Redmayne (as Angel Clare) star in the BBC TV adaptation.
Set in rural England, the novel was published in 1891 during the time when women were expected to be virgins until their wedding day.

I guess that pretty much says what type of troubles Tess had to go through in this book. And no, she wasn't a slut.

It's a novel that makes you realize that English is a beautiful languagethe same feeling I have for Tagalog when I read and hear balagtasan. Hardy sets a beautiful, slow pace, allowing the reader's imagination to flourish with details of the English countryside, and most especially, his characters. Eventually, this tempo helped me appreciate little Victorian details, such as how brushing against a lover's skin sends delightful shivers down one's spinevery titillating.

I think the story of Tess would make a great soap opera. It has all the required elements:

* !!! Spoiler Alert!!! * 
Skip to cast to avoid it

  • She's poor
  • Her mother wants her to marry a rich, distant relative
  • The rich, distant relative turns out to be an ass who deflowers her. (I personally think it was rape, although the author, I felt, tempered Tess' reaction.)
  • She falls in love with the son of a minister, who in turn, falls in love with her.
  • The climactic season finale: Will he accept her when he learns about her past?

The cast:

  • Sarah Geronimo in her first, coming of age (lol) role. Kung ayaw ng parents nya, si Christine Reyes na lang.
  • Luis Manzano as Alec, the rich, distant relative.
  • Piolo Pascual as the minister's son, whose name is Angel Clare! (Becky name!) Or sige, si Gerald Anderson na lang, but this is now becoming that movie. :-P

The title: Si Tessa ng Casiguran, Ang Babaeng Walang Bahid (Isang Tapat na Paglalahad)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Why the Marcoses want Ferdinand buried a hero"

It is an absolute insult and stupidity whenever someone calls Marcos a ‘great president.’ By what measure? By amount of money stolen? By how much damage done to the social and political fabric of a country? By human rights violations committed?

You know what torturing 10,000 Filipinos is like? I made a rough calculation. I divided the figure by 14 years of the dictatorship – that means, 714 people are tortured every year.  Or roughly 59 a month...

... Sure, the Marcos conjugal dictatorship built hospitals, roads and the longest bridge in the country. But they extracted huge COMMISSIONS AND MARK-UPS from these projects.

Remember, that was what happened to the Bataaan Nuclear Power Plant. The attendant corruption made the integrity of the physical structure highly questionable. And you and I shouldered the payments and the loans for it to the tune of US$155,000 a day. The entire loan was only recently repaid.

Without the rampant graft and corruption, the Marcos couple could have built much, much more. Because of this, I’m not impressed with those who hero-worship them on that basis.

Also, Ninoy Aquino was jailed for seven years just because he was in the opposition. Think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shamcey Supsup is Bb Pilipinas-Universe 2011

From left: MJ Lastimosa, Isabella Manjon, Shamcey Supsup, Dianne Necio and Janine Tugonon

The 2010 architecture licensure exam topnotcher and magna cum laude graduate ended up as the winner in last night's finals. Shamcey vastly improved from when she was still auditioning for the competition: instead of seeing an awkward-looking pageant contestant neophyte, she worked that stage like she has been a veteran of such competitions. (I wished Shamcey chose a stronger shade of lipstick though as in her previous appearances. Ako na ang choosy! :-P) I have no doubt she will be very prepared by the time she competes in Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Miss Universe pageant in September. (But again, to superstitious fans, she will have to break a long line of UP graduates who never made it as Miss Universe finalist: Nina Alagao, Zorayda Andam, Lia Ramos and Anna Licaros.)

I would have agreed with this Top 5 if only tricycle driver Luzelle Felipe (Monch, you called it rightly!) made it as Bb Pilipinas International, or at the least, as first runner-up. The actual first runner-up gave out a scripted answer, only slightly related to the question, and Mon and I were surprised the judges bought it. Bleh.

I also loved the fact that Luzelle answered in English even if she struggled with the language in her past interviews and she could've answered in Tagalog anyway. (And she gave a nice answer. I also give props to Jenn-Roe Gubat.) As was written here, Philippines delegates at Miss Universe have no choice but to answer in English during the question-and-answer portion; they are not allowed to use an interpreter.

Also, the good news is that no one made a fool of herself in the interview round, so yey!

Here is the competition in videos:


Long gown 1:

Long gown 2:

Interview 1:

Interview 2:

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

My Bb Pilipinas 2011 final bets

The finals night is on Sunday, April 10, to be telecast on ABS-CBN. Last year, I guessed all Top 5 correctly (and all my favorites ended up in the Top 10), so I'm anxious to know if I'll be as lucky this year.

I posted my early favorites here but I decided to trim them down to the following based on the interviews and videos I've seen on TV and YouTube.

To be honest, I am not super wowed by any contestants this year and it's probably because they are short by Miss Universe standards. On average, Miss Universe candidates are 5'9. The Bb Pilipinas contestants this year are all 5'7 to 5'6, with one or two exceptions. I'm also thinking about the host Miss Universe country, Brazil, and I think it's safe to say that its citizens are used to seeing supermodels left and right. They'd expect more from Miss Universe delegates.

In any case, here are my final bets:

Miss Universe: Shamcey Supsup #26

I'm pretty confident that she'll win the grand title as she fits the stereotype of past Bb. Pilipinas - Universe winners: Pinay beauty with striking features, enough to appeal to an international audience.

However, she's still a long way from being a Miss Universe contender. She'll have to work on toning her arms (too thin, especially if you look at her talent competition video below; she looks like she's gonna collapse after 10 push-ups), improving her catwalk (her present walk is awkward and too tentative for my taste); and injecting more personality in her answers (too straightforwardexcellent in real life, but won't be memorable for a panel of judges who will be interviewing 80 women in one day. I wonder how Venus Raj did it.) The good news is that she can all work on this until September.

Shamcey's talent competition video

Bb Pilipinas no longer holds the license for Miss World, and I don't really care about Miss International, so I won't mind whoever wins the other two titles (they added another one which I never heard of; until now, I'm not sure which international pageant it is exactly, lol.)

MJ Lastimosa, #34

She has the best body in this year's competition and perhaps, in Bb Pilipinas history. She's outstanding in the catwalk as well. I read somewhere that she's about 5'6, although she appears tall onstage because of her long legs and good body proportion. It's not hard to imagine her representing the country for Miss Universe, but I'm concerned about her height, plus looking at her facial features, I think her teeth need some adjustment. Or maybe I'm just nitpicking here.

Kathleen Subijano, #30

I love this lady! Even with just 5, 10 seconds of exposure in the camera, you immediately get a sense of her bubbly, Elle Woods-like personality. I think she needs to work on her make-up though as she has been inconsistent in her photos and she looks older in some. Nevertheless, I'd be happy to see her in the Top 5.

Patricia Tumulak, #6

I have to give credit where credit is due. I'm not her fan but she has to be one of the most-prepared candidates in the competition. She knows her angles, she knows how to work her dresses and costumes during fashion shows and press presentations, and she's not bad in the interview department. However, she's only 5'6 (others posted she's 5'5) and I noticed that she's easily drowned out by the other candidates especially when they're all sharing the stage together. Still, she just might do well enough in the Miss International pageant.

These ladies should also do well:

Chloe McCully

Diana Arevalo and Isabella Manjon

Hay, I really like Chloe but I just don't feel that she wants to win badly. Too bad, as aside from looking gorgeous, I love how she gives no-nonsense answers in her interviews. Diana I think has the perfect face in the competition but again, there's the height issue and I think she has a problem with her back (posture). As with Patricia, I'm not a fan of Isabella, but she has a sweet face and good stage presence.

Watch to see a glimpse of all the candidates:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Things I love: St Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter lotion

This is the lotion that I ended up buying before I stumbled on the Neutrogena Body Oil. Not to say that I had regrets; I'd be happy to stock up on this product once I'm through my first bottle.

This is one among the line of St Ives body lotion and I selected this particular variant because: first, I was really attracted by the packaging :-P; and second, I love both oatmeal and shea butter. (I knew nothing about shea butter until I discovered this soap which I'm in love with and will also blog about soon :-P. Ako na si Kinny Salas, lol.)

From the St. Ives website:

At this point you might wonder just how dry my skin was, and let me just say, it was really bad that I suddenly had to care about my moisturizing regimen. Previously, I was just focused on taking care of my face, but now, I realized the glory of body lotions and moisturizers!

This one has a rich, sweet and musky, creamy smellalmost coconut-yand would be appropriate for men. It smells so good that one day, while I was about to leave the house, my mom said she's been really liking the perfume I've been using the past few days. The thing was I haven't been using a perfume, just St. Ives.

Also, it's not greasy. I use this with the Neutrogena Body Oil and I don't feel sticky afterward, which says a lot about how good these two products are. (Time will tell, though, if I'd still feel the same way should the summer months get real bad.) The moisturizing effect also lasts the entire day. (Touch me to believe it, lol!)

St Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter lotion retails for about P225 (I think this is about 500ml). Here's the back label:

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Things I love: Neutrogena Body Oil

How do you know you're getting older? In my case, I've been noticing these changes in my body. On the bright side, I don't get acne as much as I used to. (Thanks to Pond's and VMV! I'll blog about my regimen soon.) My face is less oily, although I do still qualify as oily. I've a few white strands on my hair, which I actually welcome.

On the not-so-bright side, I can no longer do an all-nighter. I am starting to see lines on my forehead and on the outside corner of my eyes. My skin has gone horribly dry. I can no longer wash my hands without reaching for a moisturizer afterward. My arms get scaly right after a bath.

I've been so bothered by my dry skin that two weeks ago, I began shopping for a lotion. I did get one, which I am loving so far and which I will write about later, but I love this item much more:

This is luxury in a bottleexcept that it only costs less than P600! The price may seem a bit too much for um, oil (but not for Shu Uemura :-P) but do know that a few drops go a long way. If you look at the photo, that's about after more than a week of use, so I imagine this 250ml bottle will last me for at least six months, and probably, more.

First, I love the packaging and product colorall that combination of liquid gold, black and a slice of silver. It's so pretty to look at, and you won't be embarrassed to place it on your hotel room counter should you decided to bring it with you for travel. Also, it's androgynous, so it's good for men who may feel iffy about showing their kikay side, lol.

I use this after my shower while my skin is still damp. Two to three drops are good enough per area of your body. When I have the time, I just let it dry naturally; otherwise, I lightly pat myself with a towel. The result is as it is indicated on the bottle: a sheer mositurizing experience! I love how light and silky I feel afterward; everything glides off my skin! Before, I used to follow this up with a moisturizer, but one time, when I really had to rush for work and I had to forego the lotion, I only had this and my skin still felt nourished. So now, on most days, I use this alone for my moisturizing needs.

I will also never get over the smellit's very elegant, yet understatedI wish it had a perfume equivalent.

There has not been a day that I did not use this product since I bought it. I love it so much, I just had to bring it along with me when I recently went out of town, even if the trip was only for two days and it took up a lot of space in my Dopp kit.

From the Neutrogena website:
Body Oil is a delicately light sesame formula that instantly vanishes into the skin, sealing in moisture. Skin feels moisturized, soft, silky and looks radiant.

  • Lightweight
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Available in Original and Fragrance-free

Friday, April 01, 2011

A Sense of the World

"On the summit of the precipice, and in the hearts of the green woods... there was an intelligence in the winds of the hills, and in the solemn stillness of the buried foliage, that could not be mistaken. It entered into my heart, and I could have wept, not that I did not see, but that I could not portray all that I felt."

Few books inspired me as this one did. A Sense of the World by Jason Roberts is the biography of the British James Holman, whom you probably have never heard of and whom I never knew about until I picked up this book. It is quite a travesty considering the life that he led, as well as his attempts to contribute to world history by traveling around the world and documenting his experience.

Circumnavigating the world is no longer such a feat except James Holman lived in the late 18th century through the early 19th century (1786-1857, to be exact). And he was blindan important qualifier, although I'm sure Mr. Holman wouldn't be happy about such a distinction. He lived his life as normally as possible: aside from his travels, which he did alone, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with degrees in medicine and literature, where there were no special classes for people like himself. (Braille wasn't invented at the time; he hired people to read books to him so he could memorize them.)

He lost his eyesight at the age of 25 and he described it as the deprivation of "'heaven's prime decree,' a quote from John Milton's Samson Agonistes, in which the newly blinded Samsom bewails his exclusion from God's first command: 'Let there be light.'" According to the author, experts he interviewed could only surmise that his blindness was the result of optic nerve death, which is the result of uveitis, the inflammation of the middle tissue of the eye. In most cases, the author continued, the cause remains unknown.

Instead of bewailing this cruelty, James Holman made it his mission to make the most out of his life, even beyond those of his contemporaries. At that time, blindness, particularly one incurred during adulthood, had the stigma of being the result of an immoral, sexually active life. By some technicality, he managed to secure membership in the Naval Knights of Windsor, and with his military history, he was accorded the respect which he deserved even without the uniform and title.

It was his travel adventures, a huge chunk of the book, that made this a pleasurable read for me. Against the backdrop of maritime war between Britain and France, plus the increasing slyness and power of the United States, his story proved to be a veritable history lesson, details which I never learned in school. The book also supplemented information I've learned from movies, particularly when the monarchy of Queen Victoria was discussed. Naturally, I pictured Emily Blunt as I read those parts in the book.

James Holman was described as jovial and an optimist; he also fought for the rights of slaves, at a time when buying one was normal. Even when he was attacked by begrudging explorers, who scoffed at Holman's travelogues, he responded with chivalry and wit, implying that he was, therefore, immune to overly romanticized prose:
I cannot make panoramas to amuse and gratify... The luxurious atmosphere of the East, tinting the clouds and trees with its own delicious huesromantic defiles and lofty mountainsthe surging lake and the virgin river, over which a vessel never yet sailedthe gloomy forest and arid desertthese magnificent sights do not make pages of pictures in my work. 
(Ehem at 'gloomy.')

So with all his accomplishments, why did he fall into obscurity? I may be hastily generalizing it but it seemed that it became harder for the public to 'buy' the idea that a blind person as Holman can be a decent geographer and historian, without being dependent on hearsays and anecdotes. It was also a time when Britain began to modernize itself, with railways and telegrams: with Holman's travels keeping him out of the country for intervals of 5 to 6 years, it came to a point that he became out of touch with society; the author described him to be 'anachronistic.' It didn't help that his autobiography, which he completed a week before he died, disappeared and was never published.

I do find that sad, although Roberts offers some consolation. "There will never be another James Holman," his concluding paragraph said. "But there will always be people who must summon the courage to plunge, wholeheartedly, into a world complex beyond our illusions of comprehension."

Thanks to the book, those people may just find their inspiration.


See James Holman on Wikipedia
Time Magazine's review of the book: Have Cane, Will Travel

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