Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 51: Sbarro's Genius, My Letter to the Pope, and My 2015 Starbucks Planner

Allow me to express self-criticism, this is a delayed post.

The complimentary cheese pizza I got from Ate, faith-restored-in-humanity-moment after an "ordinary" day. Only purchased one, got two, nice right?
Me and my friend were discussing S&M in the Arab World, the hot European backpackers seated behind our table, the state of the world, her colleague's stupidity, when somewhere, somehow, the topic of the Pope's arrival arose in the most nebulous fashion. It was the traffic of the previous day that brought us there. "When the Pope's arrival is upon us, what will that be like, no?" Let me tell you why this is exciting for an Atheist Jew like moi. When you grow up in a society where the religion of the majority is a totalitarian force around you, the spill-over effect, makes you adjust in certain ways, to accommodate your existence in that society. In my case, studying in a Catholic institution brought with it a widely diverse experience, of various stimulus, across the board spectrum of humanly possible episodes within that chrono-spacial locus. In short, my interest in him stems from my general interest in the state of our world. 

The topic about him revolved around how the mainstream local media, subservient to the will of the masses enough, not to mention, vested with interests tantamount to crimes against humanity, would approach his presence, his experience, his will, and his action, here, in this country. That's when Eureka happened! 

I suddenly thought of me doing the reportage, or at least, me scoring an interview with the Pope. I mean why not? Relative to the quality of the majority of the mainstream journalists in this country, by all objective standards, I was more than qualified. Plus, unlike them, I was after the truth, and surely, I wouldn't ignore the reality around the Vatican, as they do, because unlike them, I don't intend on self-deprecating, and self-effacing myself to the Pope. Notwithstanding, the need to respect his status, and the needs of his profession. Kinda like interviewing a Royal, or Barbra Streisand (Difference?) Balancing act really. My admiration for him lies in his ability to lead and his well-though policies, his openness (relative to the Vatican hierarchy), his activeness, and his realistic approach. His courage to take on the bloated bureaucracy of Vatican-is definitely note-worthy. 

I then and there decided to take the plunge and write to the Pope himself, to solicit an interview, if not, then at least he knows, somewhere out there, a person who may not be his direct subject can still express gratitude and admiration towards him, above all wishes him all the best. Isn't that enough? Kinda like sending a Christmas card to the Dalai Lama. 


Got it. Very fortunate to have only needed to spend on half of the stickers, as the other half, was found on the floor on my way, with my colleague, to lunch. I thank the universe,  and my positive thinking.

That's what's inside.

First thing I did was, find out how I can reach the Pope, so I went to where all is. 

I got the address, the necessary information, and how the letter should appear to be.

I remember when I was in 4th grade, me and my sister (separately) wrote to Daniel Radcliffe, and after 11 months he replied with a standard reply to all fan mails. My sister still has her letter with an A4 -sized full body pic signed by Harry Potter himself!

While I was doing my usual stroll I decided to pick up some stuff to give as gifts to His Holiness Pope Francis. Postcards naturally, because seriously, who else would give him these? Simplicity right?

A tourist map, since he's of the people, I'm sure he'll love how an ordinary tourist would experience Manila. Again, who'd give that to a Pope? Only me, right? They're quirky, but makes sense, right? I'm sure he'll appreciate my gesture of appreciation towards his gesture of minting harmony with the people. Thanks to my map-gift, he'll see manila, not in the typical way a VIP experiences the city, detached, orchestrated, unnatural, almost theatrical, but in the most ordinary way there is. Simplicity, right?

The rosary's a gift from my Priest-friend way back in Elementary school.

A 1945 coin by the Americans during their occupation. This has a Joy Luck Club element  attached to it.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to include this in my package as it's "Cash & Coinage," DHL, FedEx, and the Post Office, didn't allow me.

Unexpectedly, got satisfied by the Philippine Postal System, they forced me to put Italy in it, even though Vatican is a city-state! (DHL and FedEx were insistent as well, when I inquired about the rates). People really need to learn their geo-political maps.

I made sure that my parcel wasn't a cookie cutter parcel just like from any other, I made sure I individualized it. I didn't want to miss an opportunity to express myself. Seriously, if you're going through 700,00 mails all identical, wouldn't you be curious with the one that stands out from the rest first? 

The result. "In 2-3 weeks it'll be in his possession already."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Berlin Wall, APEC, and Ebola

I'm absolutely horrified, at the same time disgusted, by the way the APEC Summit's reportage was done in Beijing, shocking, it is a mere continuation of the saga of the standard bearers of the world's media. 

Intrigue, mystery, imperial-like melodrama, with a splash of Daily Mail-like tidbits here and there, what I witnessed was the asymptomatic overall decline of the standards (if there is still such) of the way information is filtered through the behemoths of western journalism. True, the dissenting opinion is apparent-but only from time to time, the dominant theme is that of mediocrity and myopia, dangerous clouds that affect the status quo du jour.

The week began with an epochal remembrance, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was reported as a watershed moment for the Germans, a harbinger of the total collapse of the Iron Wall-all right. What was bothering was the lack of thinking by the reporters, and in the BBC's case (by now a signature), the open-ended questions constancy. The significance, and the meaning, of the Berlin Wall was celebrated as if it was a theatrical event. Never mind that Germany's post-Berlin Wall human rights record and its total lack of responsibility ever so prominent in its propaganda to everyone else wasn't examined. Freedom? For whom? Tell that to the victims of xenophobia inside and outside of Germany, post-1989.

What you actually see is the lack of basic inquiry by the correspondents in answering the basic question which is, "What is the state of post-reunified-Germany's freedom?" This what after all was fought for, right? Let the Syrians and Yazidis spirit (denied freedom to move) answer that for Germany, for Europe. The whole commemoration is a farcical hypocritical narcissistic misrepresentative exercise.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC. You should expect news from this event to be about significant achievements and pertinent information relating to this truly opulent summit. Instead, the BBC, again-this time with CNN, decides to devote more attention to the fact that the Chinese state decided to censor Putin's moment with Xi's wife by lending her his coat, is this crucial information? How about the facts relating to costs? Is it really a matter for everyone to interpolate on how much the State splashed out for this event, shouldn't it be viewed positively that the "Middle Kingdom" "a secretive state" made momentous efforts to present a "face" to the world that's truly opposite of their "natural" displeasure towards anything not of, by, from, Zhonghua (China)? Isn't it nice that a "Han-chauvinistic attitude" was forfeited via their welcoming attitude to the rest?

Let's glorify those who deserve to have their voices heard, there are a lot within these powerful organizations, subject to the people's whim of Romanesque despotic Vatican-ish systemic power tripping  who are concerned with vital information, and not with trivial childish information gathering. Managing to outmaneuver a view devoid of material and style. An immutable sign of decline.

In the time of Shakespeare, "report" meant rumor. I read it in the Merchant of Venice, as much as I adore him (along with countless others) I disagree, having been witnessed to our generation's (and the past) excellent journalism, today's unacceptable.

It's beyond obvious that these people don't have any respect for the traditions laid out by their magnificent organizations, they're beyond disgraceful, bordering on senile, cacophonous, and have an undiagnosed case of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

What happened to basic journalism, probing for the truth? Challenging the assumptions? Digging for the hidden information? Where are the Watergates? Pulitzer-worthy researches? Scathing life changing information?

Lastly, Ebola. A person's Ebola concern is proportional to that person's knowledge (or lack thereof) and is a form of racist-o-meter. Africa can handle Ebola. Africa is not Africa (Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel). Ebola isn't airborne. The total number of fatal cases has no match for the annual victims of seasonal flu, in the US alone. Liberia is a third world country that is developing, and yet thank goodness for a NYT reporter's notice, could achieve something truly developed, internal sovereignty-the ability of a state to command and legitimize itself within a polity. The Italians need more of this. 

As Lola Adesioye wonderfully illuminates in The Tablet:

Realistically, Americans have more chance of contracting the flu—which kills some 36,000 Americans every year and results in more than 200,000 hospitalizations—than they do of contracting Ebola.

Yet this has not stopped growing panic and hysteria, which is being fueled by ongoing sensationalism, not only about Ebola itself, but about Africa and African people.
Perhaps, the BBC, and CNN, should focus more on reporting on the state of their country's institutions, the state of their country's commitments to its people, and to the world, rather than producing further unnecessary sensationalist Third World (Philippine-mainstream like) journalism. 

Friday, December 5, 2014


When IMAX was developed by Graeme FergusonRoman Kroitor, Robert Kerr, and William C. Shaw, they must have had a film in mind for which their labor was for. Why the increased resolution anyway? Well it is Interstellar. Hats off to the Nolans (Christopher, Jonathan, and Emma Thomas) just as with Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, he (Christopher) managed to impress me again! A quality of any great luminary is chameleon-ality. In all those films, his touch was there, but all three were different in a way independently spectacular in each right. Think of Johnny Depp's and/or Jennifer Lawrence's ability to appear greatly different in every film they do, while maintaining midas touch, at the same time unrecognizable.  Marks of great actors indeed. Innovation. Newness. Progress. 

Semi-dependent on my new audio-drug, Hans Zimmer's work for Interstellar.

Why we must we go to the theaters in the era of film downloadability, films like Interstellar answer those rationalisms. Cinematicity, experiencing, transcending spiritual parameters, transportation,  teleportation, into another world, is a reason. Same way some films are irritating to watch in surround sound, and maximized screen. Some films are meant to be enjoyed cozily. Films that require you to be in bed, snuggling a blanket, with a Sbarro pizza stuffed in your mouth, with matching rain outside, this is what I'm referring to. Other's don't create the same effect.

This film will give you plenty of things to think about, out of this world, indeed. To watch this film is to gaze the ocean. Very therapeutic after a workweek. It'll deconstruct your superficial understanding of our world/s. 

Confession alert: I also listened to these two every time I finished Zimmer's wonderfully tantalizing soundtrack.