noraWILFREDO O. PASCUAL,  JR. WRITES : Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti’s trailer opens with geography, a mountain range shrouded in mist, those spiritual peaks that lock the rarely seen heart of Luzon. Nueva Vizcaya is a landscape somewhat different from the southern Bicol origins of its lead actress Nora Aunor who was born in volcanic Iriga surrounded by lakes. What does Aunor make of filmmaker Mes de Guzman’s part of the world?

Playing the role of a poor, good-natured Ilocano folk healer, one of Aunor’s tasks is simple and telling. Her portly figure treads through dry shrubs and cuts through tangles of vine. She stops where the water trickles, blows one end of a long rubber tube and places it under a shallow stream. In a province threatened by the unrelenting onslaught of armed conflict, illegal logging, mining and dam projects, will water run upstream and reach home?

These mountains contain and define Mabuti’s world and we are almost certain that she will breath her last here, even as her children opt to do business in town or leave for Dubai in desperation. When she leaves the trail and makes a trip to town, her world is jolted. The killing of a rebel in a military checkpoint thrusts a bag of cash into her hands. What would she do with all that money? Who should have it? We can all diverge on what we would do if fate finds us in a similar situation, but what haunts Mabuti? And how is she haunted? The last questions are important because it unveils the seat of a hinterland’s conscience, etched in Aunor’s performance, an artist’s marvelous and earnest response to the abode of the spirits, the dry wind and the dark clouds. Beyond the question of what is right and what is wrong is a hidden worldview that is less understood and yet speaks to our modern times.

Ilocano folk healers are specialists. There are those who specialize in gynecological folk treatment, sprains and dislocations, and then there are the privileged few with supernatural powers who cure snake and dog bites. Called “mannuma,” they channel the spirits through a stone, accurately depicted in the film, which tells how far the venom has traveled in the bloodstream. Mabuti’s sanctuary after all is not completely verdant; the hills are mostly denuded and the people not all that free from toxicity. For one, we are suspicious of the village captain and all that maddening coin-counting in his office. Civilians are caught between an armed conflict. There is indolence. And dogbites. And then there is death. And more dogbites. Mabuti, like all mannumas, can never charge payment and can only accept tokens and gifts. And so what to do with this bag of cash? In a nation rocked by war and corruption, what money does to Mabuti and what she does with it can provide a critical if not interesting parable to our times.

De Guzman’s tale, like Diablo and Of Skies and Earth, is once again grounded in masterful folk telling and local knowledge. It is charged with mystery and yet carefully paced. What I love about Mes de Guzman’s body of work, all set in Nueva Vizcaya, is how, in exploring moral questions, he combines the timeless to the temporal, the sacred to the secular, the heavenly to the mundane (Mabuti’s grand-daughter is named Kate Winslett). It is a perfect material for world-class actress Nora Aunor whose flowing career has taken the qualities of a river. From the sand dunes of Ilocos to the water-borne Badjaos of Tawi-Tawi, she is the complete vessel that transports us through our diverse landscapes and languages, the unseen realms of marginalized voices. In Mabuti, the actress does not hide the real scars on her throat that has silenced her singing voice. It’s with this shared silence that she gathers us all to experience a quiet understanding of ourselves. You touch the river of her body of work and you touch the mystery of distance and source. From waters to spiritual peaks, what more can you ask from a people’s artist?

NOTES on the author : Wilfredo O. Pascual, Jr. received the Centennial Literary Prize during the centennial celebration of the Philippine Free Press.  His story was about Filipinos leaving the country. Pascual said, “ I thought it was ironic considering that all three winners, including the other two who placed second and third, were all critical of the present administration but I thought it all made sense because we were, after all, honoring the 100th year of the Philippine Free Press.” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo graced the awarding ceremony.
Pascual is the grand prize winner of two Carlos Palanca Awards for Essay (English) for his works Devotion (2004) and Lost in Childrensville (2007). He graduated from the University Science High School in 1984, where he won in the National Schools Press Conference. He published his novel “Sanlibong Alitaptap” at 24, while on and off schooling in UST, Faculty of Arts and Letters. He also has poems dedicated to his father, a CLSU alumnus in Agriculture and a varsity basketball player.

The Superstar and Wil

The Superstar and Wil




She has easily eclipsed GLORIA ARROYO as the ultimate  icon of hate of most Filipinos.  That is tough luck since this race is quite soft on ‘bad guys’ … especially ‘bad gurls’.  But she sure has hit a spot where it really hurts.  She orchestrated a systematic and almost methodical way to suck funds right off the noses of the taxpaying public.  She allowed herself a meager percentage out of the pork barrel funds of corrupt legislators and partied all night long until some cohorts sang out of tune.  It is now not important where she came from but rather where she should be : the SLAMMER!  And as we fan out flies from a rotten deal, we are all URGED to march to LUNETA [and nationwide as well] on AUGUST 26 to exhibit our grand indignation with what these jokers did to our money!  To join visit the FB PAGE for updates : MILLION PEOPLE MARCH TO LUNETA AUGUST 26: SA ARAW NG MGA BAYANI. PROTESTA ng BAYAN!!!  


CARLONEWSFLASH : The Supreme Court has invalidated former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo‘s 2009 order giving the prestigious National Artist Award to four personalities, including film director Carlos J. Caparas.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Supreme Court Public Information Office chief Theodore Te said the high court struck down Proclamation Nos. 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829 due to “grave abuse of discretion.”
The invalidated orders covered Cecilia Guidote-Alvarez for Theater; Caparas for Visual Arts and Film; Francisco Mañosa for Architecture; Jose “Pitoy” Moreno for Fashion Design. Te said the justices voted 12-1-2—with Associate Justice Arturo Brion on medical leave and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen abstaining—to void the four proclamations. Te said he and Leonen were two of the counsel for petitioners Virgilio Almario (literature), Bienvenido Lumbera (literature), Benedicto Cabrera (visual arts, Painting), Napoleon Abueva (Visual Arts, Sculpture), and Arturo Luz (Painting and Sculpture).

The high court said Arroyo gave “preferential treatment” to the four and disregarded rules of the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in selecting the awardees. “The manifest disregard of the rules, guidelines and processes of the NCCA and CCP was an arbitrary act that unduly favored respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Manosa, and Moreno,” the SC said.
“The conferment of the Order of National Artists to said respondents was therefore made with grave abuse of discretion and should be set aside,” it added. The SC said there is grave abuse of discretion “when an act is done contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence or executed whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily out of malice, ill will or personal bias.”

Cabrera had earlier called the 2009 national artists list a mockery, particularly the inclusion of Caparas, who was a vocal supporter of Arroyo. Then-acting Executive Secretary and Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio said while the Palace respects the views of some groups questioning the choice, the choice was a product of a “thorough process.” According to the petitioners, the four were not among the nominees shortlisted by the NCCA and the CCP boards for 2009. On the list were Lazaro Francisco (posthumous) for literature), Dr. Ramon Santos (music), Manuel Conde (posthumous) for film and broadcast, and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (visual arts, painting, sculpture, and mixed media).Arroyo dropped the name of Dr. Ramon Santos and inserted the names of Alvarez, Caparas, Moreno, and Mañosa.

In its ruling, however, the SC said there was no grave abuse of discretion when Arroyo dropped Santos’ name from the list, saying the recommendation of the NCCA and the CCP was not “binding but only discretionary.”
“By the power of control, the President had the authority to alter or modify or nullify or set aside such recommendation or advice,” the SC said. The court said it was well within Arroyo’s power and discretion to proclaim “all or some or even none of the recommendees of the CCP and NCCA boards” without having to justify his or her action. The SC ruling came some two years after the high court issued a status quo ante order stopping Arroyo from conferring the rank and title of national artist on the four personalities. [SOURCE : G M A   N E W S]





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