Thursday, November 29, 2007

He did it again!

I was at the faculty room to have lunch when I first heard the news that there's a coup a brewing. I did not mind it at first as I do not just believe in rumors. However,just a few minutes and my wife texted me to confirm that there's a coup going on at the Manila Penn.

It turns out that Sen. Trillanes IV, together with Gen. Danny Lim and the Magdalo soldiers staged the coup anew while a hearing for the Oakwood mutiny was taking place. As of this time, the mutineers have surrendered after a brief assault of teargas explosions took place.

I find it odd that Trillanes and company would stage a coup during the time their case is being heard. I see this in comparison to an accused who, after knowing the certainty of his fate, takes a gun and puts several civilians as hostages. All this under the guise of patriotism, calling for the ouster of the president of the republic.

While the pronouncements of the soldiers are seemingly laudable and sound, I cannot condone this fiasco. To me, a soldier's job is to protect the land against foreign aggressors and enemies of the state. As a demorcratic country, governance of the state should always rest on civilians who rule with their brains and not with guns. It is true that in their pronouncements, they vehemently deny having the interest to run the government per se and promises to give the reins of government to another civilian, who is righteous, capable and so forth (is there such an animal right now?) and yet, I cannot just bite it hook, line and sinker. History has been replete with similar situatios where a military coup succeeded, leaving their respective countries at the hands of its generals who unabashedly became dictators and despots. Such is power. It corrupts even the good-hearted, much moreso, someone who totes a gun.

Trillanes is an elected senator. As such, he could have made a lot of difference on the podium where he could argue his point. Given the right time, if he plays his cards right, he could even be president considering his popularity. Unfortunately, he is still young, juvenile in his way of thinking, too idealistic and recklessly impatient. As a result, he only made the already tarnished name of the country even worse, spent a lot of taxpayer's money, caused anxietry among the citizens and certainly plunge our peso deeper. Such a party pooper, isn't he?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Con Brio

The family just got back from the Philamlife Auditorium where my son, Mickey, played violin in the DLSU chamber ensemble's concert entitled "Con Brio" under the baton of Maestro German M. de Ramos, Jr. The orchestra played a solid array of tunes from classical to the more contemporary pieces. This is the second year my son has been playing for the group and we have seen all the major concerts they have had so far and I can say they are getting better and better.

The concert started with a prayer sang beautifully by Ms. Reynabel Becquero and accopanied on the piano by Ms. Chenie Chua. This was followed by the Pambansang Awit and the DLSU Alma Mater.

A guitar performance by Ms. Milette Zamora followed immediately where she played Gaspar Sanz' "Suite EspaƱola". Thereafter, the conductor led the orchestra in playing their repertoire as follows:

"Zarathustra" by R. Strauss
"Barber of Seville Overture" by A. Rossini
"Suites - Trepak, Mirlitons, Valse de Fleurs" by P. Tchaikovsky
"Nimrod" by Edward Elgar
"Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika" by Ryan Cayabyab as arranged by German de Ramos, Jr.

After a 10-minute intermission, the group played a medley of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Phantom of the Opera" arranged by Calvin Cluster; G. Bizet's "Toreador" and John Williams Symphonic Marches as transcribed by German de Ramos, Jr.

The audience was so pleased that they requested for more to which the players gladly acceded to and played a Christmas medley.

It must've been prophetic of me but even before we got married, I already told my wife that I am going to have a son who will play the violin. I did not know where that came from but I said that with sureness albeit the fact that my favorite instrument is the cello and I play the guitar (so I guess I never influenced him). When my first born turned out to be a girl, I thought I was a little off the mark. But then, my first born did not get a liking for the violin. She played the piano for a time but did not push it through and stopped right after her first recital.

When Mickey was in Grade three, he told me he wanted to learn to play the instrument. While it did not come as a surprise as we never discussed anything to that effect (I am not one to dictate on my children) and so I gave him the go signal. A few months and he was asking me to buy him his own violin as he was just borrowing the violin provided by the school. I did not accede immediately thinking it would be a lot of money wasted if he suddenly lost interest with the novelty of playing a musical instrument. But then the interest persisted prompting me to buy him a 1/4 size violin. He complained that it was too small and did not sound good. So, when we heard news that my niece was coming home from the States, we thought she could buy one for Mickey and she did!

How I wish you were there with us and shared a night of wonderful music. I'm only too glad that his best friends from high school went out of their way to watch. And so did his "ninang" Marissa and her family who have been part of the family eversince that they have seen him grow.

And so tonight, there he was, in complete regalia in his tuxedo, seated in front, unconsciously fulfilling his father's dream of becoming a musician. The saying that the son is the perfection of the father must be true.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Censorship vs Ownership?

Once again, I am late in posting about an issue. I have tons and tons of things to do and I had no time to blog. But I think I have to say my piece about this one.

I am talking about the alterations done on a mural of the Neo-Angono Artists which was commissioned, ironically, by no less than the National Press Club to commemorate press freedom in the country. The alterations were made prior to the unveiling of the mural by President Arroyo. Like as if the president was a child who should see no evil, hear no evil. That she should not be made aware of the things surrounding her. Like an alibata tattoo would spell a lot of negativity on her that it would ruin her day and not run the country well.

Naturally, the artists cried foul over the "defilement" of their "obra maestra" saying that it was censorship at the very least. The NPC countered that the contract they have with the artists was clear - that the painting should not depict any political ideology and that the artists did not adhere to what was in the contract. It argued further that it commissioned the painting, hence it is within its right to do whatever it pleases. The issue has spawned a controversy on who is right.

As an artist, I have always condemned censorship. Every Juan dela Cruz, who is of legal age, should be free to express himself/herself, as it is his/her right to view and listen to what there is and judge for himself/herself what is appropriate or not. But that is me as an artist, therefore, a biased opinion. I have to look at it from a more objective point-of-view.

Is the NPC right in its claim that because it paid for the mural, they have the power to alter it? In his article entitled Picasso and Diego Rivera and the art of war, Ruben Pangalangan says:

The National Press Club (NPC) apparently thinks that just because it paid for the mural, it has the power to alter it as it wishes. The NPC must realize that ownership of the thing does not mean ownership of the copyright... The ownership of the NPC is limited to the physical thing, which it may sell like any other property -- but only the artists, as copyright owners, have the right to transform their art work. The owner may only keep the work “as is.” Transforming it is an exclusive “economic right” of the artist.

I agree completely! A work of art is not a piece of toy which someone has bought at a department store to which the owner can do anything he/she pleases. Together with the work of art is the philosophy/ideology of its creator and the time, perspiration and blood consumed in the process of its creation. For these, the art work should be respected. After all, if an artwork is not to the liking of someone, said someone can just ignore it.

In the case where someone commissions an artwork, it should be understood that the agreement carries with it the implied trust placed by the buyer on the creator, not only with the latter's aesthetic philosophy/style but the entire package as well when there is no explicit agreement to the contrary. An artist afterall is a social and, as Picasso put it, "a political animal"

Picasso said: “What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes, if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet…? Far from it: … he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world …. How could it be possible … with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”

The NPC claims that the artists agreed with their instructions that the work should not contain any political ideology. Granting that this is true, the artists counter that during the time they were making the mural, none of the NPC people came to check on its progress. Now that would have spelled a lot of difference, wouldn't it? Again, if the artists' claim is true, then NPC has been remiss of their responsibility. By failing to guard its "investment", it can be implied that they trusted the judgment of the artists and will abide by whatever the outcome of the work they have commissioned will be. Besides, is showing current events and history a political ideology?

Are the artists correct in protesting the vandalism committed on their work? I believe that they are.

...the artist has “moral rights” to maintain the integrity of his work and oppose “any distortion, mutilation or other modification of … his work … prejudicial to his honor or reputation.” Indeed, moral rights may not be waived entirely, especially if the effect is “to use the name of the author with respect to a work he did not create.” The NPC may be liable for damages, criminal penalties and fines for the infringement of their intellectual property rights.

My greatest displeasure with the NPC stand is that I perceive it to be ignorant of what a work of art is. That an artwork is actually bigger than its dimensions. Given the right time and exposure, a work of art will begin to embody a culture, a nation's collective aesthetic ideal, a repository of a culture's philosophy and way of life, and in this case, its history. Taken in this perspective, a work of art may, for the time being, be owned by a cerain individual or group, but in due time will be owned by the people.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Inspiration comes from anywhere!

As an artist, I have been asked the question, "Where do you get your inspiration?" As if there is a formula for such a thing. That all one has to do is to look in that direction and the muse will guide you right on.

You know what? I, too, did not have a single clue where I get mine. I jsut go about doing my own business and suddenly, someone, a thing, or an event would spark my curiosity, and I will start building a painting or a poem, or even a story - although I have not really explored writing a story that much. Well, I've finished one short story, though. Mostly, it would be a painting with colors interwoven in my head, or a poem starting with a phrase or just a bunch of words. b From there, I would stop thinking about any other thing but this or that work, my head spinning and trying to organize and making a complete whole out of these thoughts. This is the reason why when I put my thoughts on paper, or a canvass, whatever the case may be, it would really be fast. This is also the reason why my wife thinks I am lazy, not doing anything in the house for some time. hahaha

My interactions with my mother, who was then suffering from alzheimer's and probably everything that comes with old age, gave me many poems. One time, it was just a light pat on my head while she looked at me and words came flying and voila, a poem.

To answer the question where I get my inspiration, it is all around me. Take this poem, for example. On October 21, I took my family to the cemetery as it was my FIL's birthday. On our way, we were shocked to see a woman, dirty as she was, in just her panties and loose bra. She had her back to us but she stood there in a pose as if her picture was being taken. It was a very fleeting moment as I was driving a car. And yet, it sparked an idea in me and this is how it went:

Child of God

I looked at her and wondered
maybe she was someone's cute little darling once.
She must have been for who did not adore a child's
roving eyes wondering at everything she saw,
all happening for the very first time,
rosy cheeks like they had been chilled inside a fridge,
short black hair swaying to the wind with every move,
fragile body fragrant with talc and oil after a steamy bath

Who knew?

Maybe she was unwanted even then.
She might have been a mistake, an accident
to forgetful teens who had nothing better to do one night-
succumbed to carnal desires which was over
in five seconds or less. It must be quick for the homeless.
Nothing was private. They have to share everything to the world,
even the most secret of all human undertakings.

Who could explain what happened?

She wore nothing that day. Just her soiled, torn red panties,
browned bra as old as time with one strap dangling on her arm.
Her face, expressionless, numbed of all the pain,
oblivious to the world that continues to spin no matter what,
her unkempt hair hardened by smog and dirt- even lice
would not dare live there. They would not survive anyway
for she could not offer any nutrients.
She had not eaten for a very long time.

She convulsed, dropped on the road shaking wildly.
Her eyes rolled upwards, one last thrust and it was all over.
The world spun and every man continued to work
on a dream, every woman weaving her own private tale.
She was nothing to them. She could have been a dead bug
or a rat and they just didn't care.
Her carcass would soon be fodder to worms and gnats.

Maybe, just maybe, she was loved once for surely
she was someone's cute little child.