The Inbox
  • The unraveling of President Benigno Aquino III


    Pres. Aquino NY Times interview

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    In a meeting with Vietnamese Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh in August last year, President Aquino asked the visiting official how they are able to maintain good relations with China despite conflicting territorial claims.

    (Despite a ferocious battle over the Paracels Islands in the South China Sea 40 years ago that killed more than 70 Vietnamese soldiers,China and Vietnam established a hotline to deal with fishery incidents in South China Sea waters following the meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in Beijing last June.)

    Thanh told Aquino that almost every day, personnel of Vietnamese Navy battle Chinese fishermen who venture into disputed areas in the South China. Arrests are made, diplomatic protests are filed. But, he said, “We don’t talk to media.”

    For a while, Aquino seemed to have taken to heart the lesson from the Vietnamese defense minister. He was a voice of moderation when of China's

    Read More »from The unraveling of President Benigno Aquino III
  • Director Olivia Lamasan (center) with Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    After eleven feature films most of them blockbusters, film director Olivia Lamasan admits her film education started from the time her mother (a Nora Aunor fan) would drag her siblings to the movie theaters to watch her favorite movie star.

    “I have no schooling in film theories, no exposure in intellectual things like cinema verite and the like,” she says. “What I have is simple growing up experience and I guess I was luckier than most because I was naturally fascinated about people. I observe them a lot and always ask myself why they behave the way they do. I don’t even have exposure to good films. In school, I guess I am known for skipping Fr. Nick Cruz film appreciation class.”

    Having said that, the director felt that her movies probably look more real and very in touch because everything she did and executed was based on real people and real emotions. “I guess you become an effective director if you have natural interest in people. That’s where I

    Read More »from The film education of Olivia Lamasan
  • Fight child abuse, boycott Woody Allen’s films


    By Ellen Tordesillas

    Woody Allen2I have scratched out “Blue Jasmine”, a movie directed by Woody Allen starring Cate Blanchett, from the list of not-to-be-missed movies this year.

    From now on, I will not watch any Woody Allen movie in sympathy with the cause of Dylan Farrow, daughter of American actress Mia Farrow, who came out last week with an open letter re-opening the painful childhood episode with her adoptive father.

    Last week Allen was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, given to those who have made "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment."

    A few days after the award ceremonies, which Allen did not attend (the award was accepted for him by actress Diane Keaton), New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof carried the heart-wrenching letter of 28- year-old Dylan.

    Part of Dylan’s letter:

    “…when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the

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  • Pride fuels standoff with Hongkong


    By Ellen Tordesillas

    HK Chief Executive CY LeungThe current standoff with Hongkong is an example of the danger of ignorance, power, and pride combined. As American minister Robert Fulghum  said in his book ,All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, “Ignorance and power and pride are a deadly mixture, you know.”

    Last week, the Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced that the current 14-day visa-free arrangement for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials would be suspended starting Wednesday, February 5.

    The sanction, which does not cover Filipinos who are going to Hongkong as tourists, is still over the Aug. 23, 2010 hostage- taking  where eight Hongkong residents were killed  after  a  disgruntled and desperate Filipino policeman  hostaged  a bus-load of Hongkong tourists at the Rizal Park in Manila.

    In response, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Secretary Raul Hernandez issued the government position of no apology, just regret.

    Hernandez mentioned about “ generous offering” by the

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  • Sumi Jo at Samsung Hall in SM Aura . Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    Photos by Anna Leah Sarabia and Janice Dee

    Many years after her debut at La Scala, Metropolitan Opera and at the Salzburg Festival, Korean diva Sumi Jo made her triumphant Philippine debut last night at the Samsung Hall of SM Aura with a rousing standing ovation and endless cheers from the teary-eyed audience.

    The good news is that Filipino pianist Ismail and flutist Raymond Sarreal did equally well in an evening devoted to the works of Henry Bishop (Lo! Here The Gentle Lark), Antonio Vivaldi (Sposa son disprezzata) and Adolph Adam (Ah, Vous dirais Je, Maman), among others.

    Her opening number, “Lo! Here The Gentle Lark,” set the tone for the recital even as she coped with the drone of the air-conditioning system and the bad lighting that obviously hurt her eyes.

    The air-conditioning was later turned off.

    Here you see three excellent artists at work, the soprano with her amazing and secure coloratura and the pianist flowing spontaneously with the piece

    Read More »from Filipino pianist, flutist shine with Sumi Jo
  • Jo experiences Filipino gesture of respect for elder when boy kisses her hand.

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Before she could even sing one note in tonight's much-awaited concert, operatic sensation and Grammy award-winning crossover artist Sumi Jo already promised over 200 children and teenagers saved from the mean streets that she would return to the Philippines to be with them.

    During her visit yesterday to Tuloy sa Don Bosco Streetchildren Village on Alabang-Zapote Road, Muntinlupa City, to turn over a donation and her music CDs to Tuloy Foundation Inc., she watched a short musical program in the gym. She swayed from her seat and applauded appreciatively.

    She addressed the children with her lilting "Hello, angels!" They sang and mimed a welcome song, David Pomeranz's "In Your Hands," but when they got to "You Raise Me Up," an inspirational song popularized by John Groban, she rose spontaneously and finished the chorus with them. Technically speaking, that was her Manila debut.

    Rocky Evangelista, SDB, the foundation's president and founder

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  • Photos by Little Wing Luna, VERA Files

    Text by Mitch Meñez

    Kung hei fat choi!

    Chinatown was ablaze in red Friday as it welcomed the Year of the Wood Horse.

    People wore red, the children held red envelopes which contain money, the lanterns that line the strees and shop fronts were all in red..

    Red symbolizes fire, which the Chinese believe drive away bad luck and evil spirits.

    The Chinese calendar follows the lunar cycle and as such, start with the darkest day. The culmination at the end of the month, when the moon is at its brightest, brings forth the celebration which welcomes good fortune and blessing. Dragon dancers were in the streets and welcomed into business places to drive away evil spirits and bring in good luck.

    Chinese astrologers see a lot of outbursts, conflicts, and clashes in this Year of the Wood Horse. The London-based “Independent” said some astrologers “see wood as providing fuel for the energetic horse sign.”

    There’s a lot to watch out for in this year of the Wood

    Read More »from Enter the Wood Horse
  • Sumi Jo stresses that it's not just the voice that matters in expressing, she uses her hands and body too.

    By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Photos by Anna Leah Sarabia

    In her next reincarnation, Sumi Jo, Korean lyric coloratura and toast of the opera world, would rather be "something else." What she is today still entails battles with loneliness, caring for and covering up her throat ("Winter is hard for singers"), the discipline of sitting, studying, practicing 30,000 times in her head just to produce a song.

    She debuts in the Philippines as part of an Asian tour Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. at SM Aura's Samsung Hall, Bonifacio Global City of Taguig, with collaborating artist Najib Ismail, in a program of love songs to be sung in different styles and languages.

    The woman whom the terror of the operatic world, Maestro Herbert von Karajan, described as the "voice from above" that comes in 100 years, said the concert is "exclusively dedicated to the victims and survivors of Haiyan. I believe in the power of music to heal hearts."

    Jo, Unesco International Artist for Peace, announced that concert

    Read More »from Voice from heaven as human as anyone else
  • Baritone Gamaliel Viray a special tribute on February 22 with a performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    This year is the 4th death anniversary of baritone Gamaliel Viray and Santa Isabel College Conservatory of Music will pay special tribute to him with a performance of Mendelssohn’s monumental oratorio, “Elijah” on February 22 at the school’s Santo Cristo de Tesoro Auditorium to be conducted by Dr. Raul Navarro.

    The presentation will also launch the Gamaliel Viray Music Festival, a bi-annual event to commemorate the life and art of the late beloved bass-baritone. The concert will also celebrate the 150th presence of the Daughters of Charity in Santa Isabel College.

    The soloists include Santa Isabel music faculty, alumni, guest performers and students, led by Viray’s protégé, baritone Joseleo Logdat, Grand Prix Winner of the 6th Yokohama International Music Competition and currently finishing his studies in Elisabeth University of Music in Japan.

    Points out Logdat:“Mr. Viray has always been my inspiration. I am glad that I was the first and the last

    Read More »from Music festival to honor baritone Gamaliel Viray
  • 2Mark Meily with Jericho Rosales on the set.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The director who won top honors for “Crying Ladies,” “La Visa Loca” and “Baler,” among others, opines the basics of filmmaking can be learned but its essence cannot be totally taught.

    “You can introduce the subject, you can guide the students but from there, it’s up to the beginner to explore the world of filmmaking,” director Mark Meily adds.

    Meily has been both an assiduous student and teacher of filmmaking he can now share what it was like to be a student and what he now enjoys as a teacher.

    “I love teaching. I got many insights teaching in the film school of Marilou Diaz Abaya and at La Salle and I tell you it is in school where you are guided. But everything else will depend on what you get outside the school. I always remind my students, ‘When you want to tell a story, don’t verbalize it. Simply visualize it,’” he says.

    What the students don’t realize is that teachers learn from them as well. “You get many inputs from them when you interact in the

    Read More »from Mark Meily: The director as teacher and student


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