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Maligayang Kaarawan, Andres, Supremo ng Katipunan!

Look you don’t know me but I kind of know you, though not personally. I’ve read you in books, movies and those damn boring history classes.  You’re like  a rock star to many Filipinos in the 21st century, you are one of our National Heroes.  Historians, professors and even the entire University of the Philippines look up to you as the guy to emulate as a role model. Because you are definitely one of the bravest Filipino who lived, for founding the revolution against the tyranny of the Spanish colonizers (er make that the Friars too). It take guts to make a secret society, but it takes major balls and big heart to go out into a battle with bolos and zero military training against disciplined, well-armed and well-trained Spanish Infantries. That’s why you are the symbol of a Filipino courage. That is why we celebrate  your date of birth every single year.

Unfortunately that’s the last bit of information of what many of us know about you and the other heroes who fought with you in the Revolution. People only know you as a god-like warrior of unlimited amount courage with the red bandana and bolo on his arms.  You were an extraordinary guy who loved his country dearly. That’s the clichés about you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Only people in my generation have already resigned to that image and ultimately failed learn more about you and to look at your weaknesses and sins. Don’t get me wrong I also don’t know much about you before. Im not even a fan of yours, sorry. I’m a Rizalian just like you.

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Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.

I only realized I have to understand your life story because, I believe you sent our idol Dr. Jose Rizal to Luneta to be shot. You may not have killed him directly, but his blood is on your hands. But you know it, and to be clear let us review the string of painful events that led to, then, Bagumbayn:

You met Rizal in 1892 when he founded the La Liga Filipinas, you were there as one of the founding members. If it happened today you probably took a selfie with The Great Rizal who wrote best-selling YA novels called Noli Mi Tangere and its dark sequel El Filibustirismo. The idea was to improve the conditions  of the ‘Indios’ or the natives under the Spanish empire via access to better education, autonomy, commerce and equal rights via peaceful means. Peaceful. Unfortunately Rizal got arrested a few days after and got banished to Dapitan. You probably said Adios to diplomacy and peace because it failed before it could even start. The only logical solution on your mind was to turn to violence, a revolution, just like the Frenchmen did a century before in your favorite book Les Miserables! That’s when you founded the Katipunan or the KKK. So poetic and pure.

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cover of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. One of the books read by Bonifacio

Four years later, the number of Katipuneros grew and you rose to become its supreme leader, the Supremo. You taught you were ready and you even consulted for the “Go Signal” from Dr. Rizal who was still exiled in Dapitan but yes happy and bored to death. But surprise, he said No and flat out wanted nothing to do with your poetic Katipunan.  He however, recommended the services of this rich kid Antonio Luna guy. But just like Rizal, Luna said the same thing: without fund and weapons launching a revolution is too premature. I heard you were mad and all profanities when they declined.

You wanted to prove those rich kids wrong, so when the KKK was exposed in August 19, 1896 you tore your sedulas and make the “Cry of Pugad Lawin”. It was a point of no return and a declaration of war! 1896 is the biggest year of the Philippine History.  Your first battle major battle was to take San Juan to secure it stocks of gunpowder and armoury.  But the Katipuneros armed with only bolos and spears, boy it was a massacre. You lost in your first and last major battle. Even the guerrilla warfare you launched were also hopelessly lost. The bolos and over-sized courage are just no match against the rifles and the thing called “military science”. Your revolution only lasted for a week.   Rizal, Luna, and the upper class was proven right.

Now lets get back to Rizal after you contacted him in Dapitan on May 1896 about the plans of the revolution. The guy got scared and un-heroically packed and left Dapitan for Spain. He could have said “Fck this exile, Im gonna save my butt and go to Mama Espanya”. Even before your Revolution exploded Rizal was already headed for Cuba to serve as a military doctor under the Spanish flag. You may call him a coward because he probably was, but we also have to understand he wanted to study how the Cubans did their revolution thing out there. But to cut the long journey short, Rizal was arrested and sent back to Manila. His charges was, of course, sedition for starting a Revolution (he had no business with). By December of that year while the revolution still going on in the provinces, #Aguinaldo #Cavite, a kangaroo court was made for the trial of Rizal. Unfortunately all the circumstantial evidence and witness were provided by the Katipunan. You are so fond of Rizal you made him an honorary president of the KKK, you even set the Katipunan password to “Rizal” and guess the witnesses who confirmed the involvement of Rizal to KKK and the Supremo,  Pio Valenzuela. The same guy you sent to Dapitan is also the same guy who made the Judas Kiss to Rizal.

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Dr. Pio Valenzuela

Did you frame Rizal? We will never know, but one thing we know karma happened, because the following year, four months after the Rizal execution, it was you who stood in front of a Kangaroo court. It is so tragic to believe that the two greatest national heroes of the Philippines suffered execution on Kangaroo courts. But don’t worry most of my generation doesn’t know about this, our education system made sure we won’t found out by making our lessons boring and full of shits like enumerations and multiple choice exams. There’s a reason we don’t celebrate your death because we don’t want to remind ourselves that the Supremo was killed by fellow Filipinos.

So why write this letter to you Supremo? Because in the present day there’s never been an urgent need to understand the very definition of Heroes or in our language Bayani. Our history, the Philippine History, are getting revised right in front of our very faces. The battle for your legacy and your true stories are at stakes. Powerful people who are the perpetrators of the darkest part of our history (around 70 years after you died there’s this Martial Law thingy) and they are trying to warp what truly happened. Their weapons are  lies and manipulation, and war is waged in the field of Social Media. And I believed my generation is too damn weak to know the truth and how resist the lies. Why? Because, Supremo, somehow we lost our love to learn, to read our books and even the Love for our Country you fought so hard to emancipate. This a time when the only History books young people know, read and trust are the one found in Facebook. Its so ironic for a country with a high literacy rate we are a people of non-readers.

So how can we understand who we are if we are not going to read our very own history?

Don’t be surprised but people nowadays are really worshiping and idolizing a dictator who have stole billions, ordered to kill by the thousands and oppressed our freedom for three decades. We even bury that bastardo y salvaje in a grave for Heroes. That’s a painful lesson we have to learn and live with. We failed our History, period.

We want your legacy of bravery, of loving to read books in absence of education and most of all fighting for what is right.  We are generation in trouble of losing our identities and weakened by unnecessary distractions, perhaps it’s really time for us to dig you out of the grave and celebrate the life that you led. You are our National Hero equally alongside Rizal, Mabini, the Lunas,  and many countless others who fought for our freedom.

Yours,

Lapiskamay
Generasyon Milenyal

 

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There’s always a place to call home.  It could be the place where we grew up, the school we attended, and even the state of peace. Over the last two Saturdays, I like to insert home is also in the company of others. #Belongingness.

The past two weekends I was fortunate enough to attend two events that’s close to my heart: Art.

The DE’s Artroom held two very different art meet-up events called #Artambay. First was in Cebu City last weekend and then yesterday in Maasin City, Southern Leyte.  DE’s Artroom is a distributor of Daniel Smith Watercolors paints and art supplies in the Philippines, and #artambay is not only their promotional events but also a way to reach out and create art communities in the country through meet ups and demos. The DE Artroom is actually composed of Singapore-based Maasinhon couple Dino Dante Pajao and Ethel Pajao, the former is one of the best water colorist I know and the latter is a marketing guru – a very formidable team. We’ve been friends with the Pajao couple for more than a year but I have not really met them in person because of geography. But I’ve been a proud recipient of their generosity and passion for art, may it be from discounts on DS paints and Escoda brushes, and in grass root Debujo events in our hometown.

#Artambay Cebu

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The Cebu edition was held on June 19th at Tazza Cafe and Patisserie. I happened to be in Cebu due to my academic obligations and seriously I didn’t want to miss the event and meeting the DE team.. Bisan pag baktason ang Colon padung Lahug. On the way to the event I rode a bogus taxi and almost got scammed by its fast-moving meter. I had to argue for the fare that’s so unreal, from E-mall to Capitol it was already P175 and we’re not even a third of the destination to Lahug! I probably scared the driver when I was about to call LTO that he dropped me off in the Capitol area for free.

I arrived in the venue 5 minutes past 2pm, a few moments before the event started. I spotted ate Ethel and Dino and was very glad I finally met the legends. I also spotted familiar faces in the Cebu art community like Wee Bong and Joan Florido. It’s a diverse group, most are hobbyists, some students, some full-time artists, youngest is a teenager, two from Leyte, and I believe those are good passionate people. I have to mention also that most brought their A-game brushes and papers. The whole attendees was about 25 artists that somehow perfectly fitted on the fabulous Tazza cafe.

(c) DEs ArtRoom

(c) DEs ArtRoom

by Des Artroom2

The first part of the event was introductory phase of the watercolor qualities by the master himself, Dino Pajao. I cant go on specifics but he did mentioned some key tips. He also performed two demo paintings first in a bond paper and in a proper watercolor pad. The group was tasked also to paint on bond papers to get a fresh grip on the qualities of water and the paints. I painted a sea turtle, and all of us we’re struggling on the spot like beginners. But the thing with watercolors is its a hard medium  to control that one can easily feel like a newbie anytime even if you been painting for many years already (*cough cough*). We were also tasked to paint the same subject boat on the water that Dino painted on his pad. I did picked some of his techniques. He was amazing and fast.

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The snacks, too, were great. After the demo and the individual assignments on the boat scene, it picture taking. And lots of talking and meeting other people. I think something great started that afternoon.

 

#Artambay Maasin

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Last Saturday, the DEs Artroom held another #artambay in our home province in Southern Leyte. Sir Dino and Ethel are both from Maasin City, the capital of the province, where I also took up my accounting course. The event’s target audience are students and young artists from the city. ‘Young’ as in like I’m the oldest. Haha. Unlike in Cebu, the meetup was held early during sunrise at the Espina Boulevard (one of Dino’s favorite inspiration in his paintings). It was a plein air session with pan de sal. Most of the attendees are members of the local art group called ‘Debujo‘ which I co-founded just last year.  I wish I was not elected to lead the group since by the start of last summer until I have been super busy with work and academics (I’m studying at SWU for a masters degree, and this August for an FA certificate in UP). It feels bad not to spend more time with them. Lots of plans but not enough time to devote to the group. #Artambay was one of our rare ‘physical’ meetup.

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(c) Rochelle Gerong/DE Artroom

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For the Maasin edition of #artambay, Ethel single-handedly carried the whole event as she introduced the Daniel Smith watercolors and the importance of using artist grade paints. Dino has to go back to Singapore for work. The goal of the event is not to sell these products but to allow the young people try and to hopefully encourage them to embrace the watercolor medium.

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#Artambay Maasin was a very different setting compare to Cebu. One, we dont have a competitive watercolorist in the group to demo. I’ve been watercolor painting for four years already, and ‘competitive’ is still a distant dream. I did the demo anyway haha. Two, the kids and Debujo people just dont have the materials. We had to share all the brushes, including the Escoda ones, that I brought to the venue. Three, it was a peaceful, laid-back, scenic and joyous learning experience with the young ones at least the space are unlimited.  At the everybody got to taste Daniel Smith and Escoda, and people passing actually stopped by to say hi and check our works. #inspiring

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The past two Saturdays spent in two cities and two very different groups has been a great experience for me as an artist. It gave me perspectives on where I should go, whom I should hangout with, and whom I should strive to help. Being with those great artists in Cebu inspires me to be like them, to try to make use of my time to practice the craft. The need to take that leap of faith in UP Fine Arts was only validated. I have to learn and improve, even if it means years of temporary unemployment. Thanks to #artambay I also met people in Cebu whom I can hangout with on weekends. And lastly, I believe there’s something to be done to the budding artist in Maasin City. They may lack the materials but they were there to meet Ethel, to try Daniel Smith and to really learn the medium.  Also to have fun, lots and lots of it. Their presence means a lot not just as an absentee leader of Debujo but as a fellow student of the craft.  Hopefully there will be more gatherings like this in Cebu and Leyte.

Because #Artambay rocks!

by Tazza Cafe

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Despite the unrelenting summer heat there are places on Earth where rain never ceases to fall. One of them is in a gorge at the municipality of Libagon in Southern Leyte. The place is called the Uwan-uwanan Gorge (‘uwan’ means rain in the dialect, and a ‘gorge’ is like a mini-Grand Canyon) named after the place’s enchanting quality of making rain-like experience from  fresh water dropping from above the cliffs. Rain literally last forever here. And that alone is one damn good reason to visit!

I’ve been to the Uwan-uwanan Gorge three years ago. However, I did not explore the whole area because we were in a big group and we just love to enjoy the place. This weekend, however, me and my life-long pal Ramil Melano who is on a summer vacation from Manila, decided to check out the ‘rumored’ exhilarating challenge the place offers. We had no idea what challenge we were really up against…

Reminders:

Uwan-uwanan is no walk in the park. It’s ‘canyoneering’ one of the most dangerous (and painful) summer adventure you’ll ever experience. It’s best to bring the following appropriate stuff: Comfortable or compression clothing. Durable Islander sandals or aqua/trail shoes. Helmets and vests are not provided but I really recommend to Challengers to bring their own (see below photo). Foods, lunch is good but you’ll need light carbohydrates rich foods. Water tumblers (water is fresh there). Money for the tour guides at P250 each, and environmental fees at P10. GoPro or any action cams (make sure it wont get wet). Dry bags are a must to store the stuff you don’t want to get wet. And lastly a huge dose of spirit of adventure!

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The Uwan-uwanan Challenge!

The challenge turned out to be an epic adventures filled with bruises, busted muscles, death-defying climbs, but ultimately rewarding with drop-dead gorgeous scenes. It’s a challenge unlike any others we experienced before. For a quick statistics its a four kilometer trek from the starting point to the grand finale, you get to become  frenemies with five waterfalls (yes five!),  climb on four of them,  cliff jump on three and we finished the challenge in 5+ hours. Uwan-uwanan Challenge is definitely not for the faint hearted and the weak. It was survival at its core. So #buwisbuhay mode on and GoPro out!

First Challenge: The Trek – Like almost all journeys it always starts with a single stride repeated a million times. From the starting area at the Brgy. Kawayan, Libagon the challengers must walk a 2-3 kilometer trail of rough roads, bushes, and river crossings. There’s no elevation gains and the river crossings are not a problem.  It’s only  foreplay, the easiest part of the challenge. Survival rate is 100%.

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Second Challenge: Hodor – As of this writing we already learned of the meaning of ‘Hodor’ in Game of Thrones, so there’s no proper way to name this small but very meaningful part of the challenge. After the long trek the challengers will see in a river bank and on its wall are the words “Welcome Uwan-uwanan Gorge”. It basically means Welcome to the main challenge you idiots! This is the passageway to suffering and fun. It is highly recommended to take selfies and full body group shots  in this area (while you’re still whole and fresh and innocent bwahaha). Hold the door and take your selfies.

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Third Challenge: Aqua Extremis – By the time you came out of Hodor only then you’ll realize what kind of challenge you have signed in for: a wet and wild adventure date with nature. And its real. From here on out the trek is purely a long and dangerous climb. Every inch of your body will be wet, every strides are potentially dangerous, every muscle of your body pulled out and yes every climb is non-negotiable! Remember this is a five-waterfall challenge with increasing climbing difficulty  and we ain’t got choppers. So man up and hold the door este the ropes.

WaterFall #1 – The first one’s the easiest one to climb. Just a mere 20 feet with ropes and old tires in the right side of the falls to maneuver. Just a left-foot up, right-foot up then push, and you’re there! After conquering this fall you’ll immediately see the second waterfall and a perfect resting place.

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WaterFall #2 – Let it be known that by the time the Challengers get to this point, chances are people are hungry and tired. At the bank of this waterfall is flat surface where everyone can relax and eat. The water is cold and deep, so swim to your heart’s desires!

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To climb this waterfall, the challengers must maneuver at the right side of the fall’s rocky wall. There are ropes tied like nets or spider webs so climbing should be a bit of a challenge ala Spider-man. But make sure to hold on to the ropes and not look down haha. Once you get over this part, remember This is the point of no turning back.

WaterFall #3 – Now this particular waterfall is a thing of beauty to behold… and a stuff of nightmare when you realize that YOU HAVE TO CLIMB THAT BIG BAD THINGY. To be honest I froze like a white-walker when I saw and analyzed my predicament. Yes its a beautiful body of water, quite high, at least 50 feet but then how in the world will I find the courage to climb it? To climb it using the spider ropes and old tires is definitely nuts. Under normal circumstances that is already beyond my fear threshold, but hey I got a willing soul in Ram.  And besides a group of four (three girls and a guy) was already ahead of  us and climbing it. So what the heck. Kat-kat!

This particular climb is absolutely one of the craziest thing I’ve done in my life. It just that scary and having no helmet, vest or climbing gears doesn’t help ease out the misery. Pro tip: just trust your feet. Make sure to step securely on the ropes in every strides. And savor that moment when you reached the top! High five!

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WaterFall #4 – This one looks noticeably smaller than #3 but make no mistake this is one tough waterfall to climb. In terms of climbing difficulty, this one is the hardest part of the Uwan-uwanan Challenge. Like WF#3, your life and success depends on the spider ropes. This time you are facing against the falling waters. Out there it’s Man vs Wild (vs The Ropes). What makes this climb difficult is not the height but on how you pull yourself to the top. The ropes are difficult to climb in because it tends to dance sideways and backwards. Balance has never been this precious. The Challengers must be ready to drain the living souls of their upper body muscles. They must climb with a strong arm and a strong pair of legs. May the Force be with them. Because me, I almost gave up on this one. Too tough, too hard, too tired. I guess it comes in handy to have pride and determination.

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WaterFall #5 – The Hallelujah Waterfall – after the punishing waterfalls in #3 and #4 behold this awesome sight, the Grand Finale! A grand waterfall probably at least a 100ft high that not even a camera can handle its beauty and grace. This is exactly what you came for. Just being there is a trophy moment already. No more climbing, only swimming, selfies and praises to up above. The Challengers must pay their respect and surrender theme selves to nature’s awesome beauty and raise their hands. Hallelujah.

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This is what the goPro can take. A good shot. But the real thing is divine!

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and we met new friends at the gorge finale!

(Note: The guides say there’s still a waterfall beyond, but sadly it’s not for tourists to climb, yet)

Fourth Challenge: Cliff Jump – When the Challengers have their energies refilled and selfies taken at the grand finale they must trace back the exact route towards the starting line. But home is still a long road ahead. Folks we’re not out of the woods, er rivers, yet.  And going downstairs might be faster but it doesn’t necessarily mean easier. Climbing down the waterfalls is actually scary because you can see how high you’re at and how far is your katagakan. But I have one pro tip to offer: cliff jump! All of the waterfalls packed in deep waters below. So jumping is a must try! I jumped at WFs at #4, #3 and #2! Jumping is an exhilarating and liberating experience to let go of the recent painful memories and celebrate thy conquests. And its way faster and more badass. (I almost give our tourguide a heart attack in every jump)

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from 2013. Last weekend I jumped more and higher!

End Game

Now that everything has been said and done it is very important to preserve and promote the Uwan-uwanan Gorge. I know its not going to be for everyone because of its physical requirements but for a Challenger to another please come, test yourself, and have a GoPro worthy good time. You will be challenged, and you will have fun. That I can promise.

There’s still a lot to be done in the area. The Libagon LGU must step in to promote by inviting travel bloggers (*coughs*), instagramers, prints and TV crews etc to take the Challenge.  That’s the easy part. The hard part is developing the area.  Challengers must register and be provided with safety gears. Safety ladders or tighter ropes should be installed in the climbing parts. Of course that entail costs, that’s why its the hard part.

But despite the inherent danger, nobody ever got seriously hurt in the area. Like, never, as what our guide Glenn Toledo assured us. Maybe the guides are good (which they are, so pay them good too), or perhaps in the recess of our civilization, someone or something is looking after the Challengers and the place. I did not have the courage to ask the guides, but Uwan-uwanan is really off-the-charts ‘enchanted’. It’s hard to explain, but I felt there is something beautiful, kind and paranormal in the area. But that’s for another discussion. Whatever it is I am grateful.

Peace Y'all!

Peace Y’all!

How to get there:

The Uwan Gorge is located in Brgy. Kawayan in the town of Libagon, Southern Leyte.

By Air: It can be reached from Manila through a flight to Tacloban City. Then from Tacloban hop in a van to the town of Sogod at P150. Travel time is 2.5 hours.  Then from Sogod hop in a multi-cab or a bus going to Libagon, make sure to ask the driver to drop off at Brgy. Kawayan Elementary School. You should reach the village in 20 mins.

By Sea: From Cebu you may take a ship to Hilongos, Leyte. Then from the Hilongos Port ride a bus to Sogod for an hour’s travel for P80. Then from Sogod catch a multi-cab to Brgy. Kawayan, Libagon.

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My colleague loves the saying ‘the best treasures on Earth are hiding in plain sight’. I knew he meant about some girls I should be dating. At 28, people really want to marry off, but I’m not the marrying type. I have to endure the pleasure of being single guilt of skipping past candidates a bit longer.  TBH I prefer travelling, reading and painting more than dating a person. But hey, it’s summer I believe there’s always something to discover and there is something definitely hiding on plain sight I wantto share. It’s not a girl, it’s an island – the great Limasawa Island.

Limasawa, now an island municipality in Southern Leyte province, was the place believed to be where the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan landed and held the First Mass in Asia en route to discovering the Philippine archipelago in March 1521. The conquistador might have loved the island port then called ‘Masua’ that he decided to rest his Spanish fleet to recuperate. There’s some serious history in that island. Unfortunately, in present time, there’s still a big chunk of our youth here in Southern Leyte who has never visited Limasawa Island. Just at the mere mention of big waves and tales of sunken boats, people are discouraged to go there. They are missing a lot about nature, adventure and their cultural heritage. This time it’s really the destination not the journey that matters.

A painting of the First Mass at Limasawa  by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

A painting of the First Mass at Limasawa
by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

I’ve been in the island a few times before. The first one was a mandatory one-day pilgrimage during college – a Religion subject. The second one I was out of breath because I literally run the whole island! My latest one was a soul-searching adventure. I wasn’t just looking for a place to cool down; I was looking for myself and perhaps a reason to write again… #deep

I live three towns away from the Padre Burgos port going to Limasawa Island, so I was confident to I’ll catch the 9 AM boat trip only to find out that they changed the departure time to 8:30am. I had to wait until 1pm for the next trip! With the free hours, I was able to visit Tangkaan Beach a few kilometers from the port. It’s my first time to visit that beach and was surprised to see white sand beach and rock formations. The place is so peaceful I painted there To pass the time off.

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We boarded the lantsa towards the coast of Limasawa right after lunch. The boat was carrying my motorcycle, some thirty other passengers and crates of Coca-cola! After an hour’s crossing I saw the familiar cliff the overlooking lighthouse. A sparkling white beach greeted us upon landing at the port. And that moment, I knew I’m in for an adventure.

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Kings' Landing Limasawa

Kings’ Landing Limasawa

Accommodation

I immediately went to my home stay near the Triana port at the residence of Annilyn Billiones. She is a workmate of my college classmate and the island’s Municipal accountant Eldie Laurejas Jr. They have a nice house with comfortable rooms with the basic amenities at a much cheaper cost of P200 per night. There are actually two resorts in the island. One is Dakdak Resort at Brgy. Lugsungan and the newly established Evashore Resort very near the Triana port. The resorts are beyond my budget but for tourists but these are the go-to places to stay. Each have front beaches in their lawn from each sides of the island. Dakdak on the west, Evashore on the east. More details at the end. But here’s an un-updated 2014 map on my moleskin.

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Totoy-totoy

After settling in my bag I looked for Eldie to deliver my pre-loved watercolor materials and to ask for directions to the hill called ‘Totoy-totoy’ that overlooks the whole island. He gave me confusing landmarks and alternative routes which I have zero idea about. So Plan B was to blend in and go local.

One thing every tourist should do in the island is to meet and befriend the locals. People in Limasawa are gentle and friendly, and they won’t mind walking the extra mile (or hill) to help. It happened that afternoon when I asked one local fellow and the next thing I know I have 6 local kids as my tour guides to  Totoy-totoy hill! I’m grateful for their hospitality, really. We climb immediately the nearest hill and told me they are taking the ‘shortest’ and safest route. However, they didn’t tell me the degree of difficulty of the route and the steep elevation the climb. Look, I’m no stranger to trails and hiking hills but they made me look like an amateur. They are fast climbers as if they’re just walking on a flat road. And I’m like, “Can we stop here again?” Under the burning afternoon heat, we finally arrived at the summit. The kids all look fresh and I was drained the living soul out of me. But the view there is nothing short of spectacular! Totally worth the pain (and humiliation).

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And the kids be like, let’s party party at the top!

This kids knows how to party. High na high at Totoy-totoy. #limasawa #summer

A video posted by Lester Glenn Tabada (@lapiskamay) on

We climbed down fast and furious because halo-halo is waiting. My threat for them!

Limasawa Sunset

It was a fun to have the kids around even after we devoured our halo-halo. We decided cool down at the nearest resort to try out their new stand-up paddle and kayak. The rent for stand-up surf board is at P150/hour, the kayak at P250. We chose the former. I haven’t swam in a while so it was vindicating and refreshing to be back in my element. The stand up paddling is actually easy and definitely a new experience. I used to see tourists in Boracay riding those but never considered renting one. While we dive and swam our hearts out, the sun gloriously set in the West.

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Dinner Time.

The last time I was in Limasawa I had a hard time looking for dinner. Fortunately this time Evashore Resort now operates their restaurant for the tourists for lunch and dinner! Dinner is always a great time to catch up with old friends and Eldie was game for the food trip. We talked about art, our profession and our plans this year. I kind of ordered too much food for both of us. Blame the low prices!  The must try menu are their Limasawa Express, Shrimp Sinigang and mango shakes. And oh, don’t forget their wicked special halo-halo!

Sunrise in Magallanes

We have to remind ourselves about the historical significance of Limasawa Island, we’re talking about the cradle of our nation and the Catholic faith. I’ve already visited the place whenever I’m there. But I must admit I went to the island in search for summer adventures. It is the part of the island where Magellan landed, made friends with the locals, and most importantly held the First Mass in Asia in 1521. Though up to this day, the exact location of the mass is still claimed and debated by other provinces.

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After running in the shores of Dakdak resort in Brgy. Lugsungan I decided to go to Brgy. Magallanes for my morning exercise at the ground of the Shrine of the First mass. When I got there, I saw some improvements in the area. There is now a replica of ancient Masua house, improved landscapes and finally a local historian even on a Sunday morning. The area houses a Parish, the actual Shrine of the First Mass, a wishing well and the punishing climb to the replica of  theCross that Ferdinand Magellan put there to commemorate that event. There were other tourists staying in Dakdak resort who are enjoying the views of the place.

Limasawa v Butuan

Most importantly, I met sir Sam Galvez who is the caretaker and local historian of the area. I even found out the he once studied in my hometown’s agricultural college with my father. He’s quite the energetic guide and always game to entertain us of tales about the place. I believe I must get those history books from the cabinet and dive deep to the 1500’s.

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with Mr. Samuel Galvez

Mr. Galvez told me about the recent visit of the Butuan congresswoman bullying her way  into the island claiming that her province is the rightful claimant of the first mass. Mr. Galvez however was able to explain and hold them off, based on his knowledge of the chronicles of Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s expedition scholar. Limasawa is safe for now, but for how many years has this debate been going on? As much as we need to defend Limasawa, it is also our obligation to revisit and learn our history.

(I found Butuan’s claim does not make sense since Pigafetta clearly stated they docked in an island, and Butuan is part of huge Mindanao area)

Lighthouse

I had to skip breakfast because I overstayed at the shrine because I cant resist intellectual and historical conversations. Lol. My next destination was the Limasawa lighthouse that I mentioned earlier. The cliff and the valley are located up north in Brgy. San Agustin is one of the most photogenic aerial view of the island. The high cliffs in the area are quite a high drop, but sea below is crystal clear. Please don’t jump there. There’s not much there than bushes and solar panels near the lighthouse but it’s like a metaphor on life: we see bushes and boring problems in life below but if on a bird’s eye-view above our lives are so much beautiful than we give credit.

I met kids in the area and told me they were going to dive for fishes. In their hands are ‘pana’ or long fishing rods to catch fish and they wore wetsuits.  I had to resist temptation of diving with them since I brought my phone.  Hopefully next time I could bring a goPro to document their hunt!

Hidden Beach

One thing I love about Limasawa is that there’s always something new to discover in the island. It’s only lately that I realized I accidentally discovered the hidden Bitoon Beach two years ago when I got lost on the road finding the lighthouse two years ago. To get there one must trek a rocky trail and unpaved roads. It’s exciting and the beach is quite a catch! I swam like a kid and dived in the blue waters. I heard there’s a fish sanctuary a kilometer away but I still saw some coral and school of fishes in Bitoon.  As a far as my count goes I’ve been to three really good beaches of Limasawa: the one in Triana, the one in DakDak resort and Bitoon beach.

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Uncharted territories

My two-day stay was almost done when I came out of Bitoon. It’s a really quick visit but that is how my vacation always goes. There’s still a few places I haven’t been to like the Fish Sanctuary and diving spots, the underwater caves, the ancient clams in some hills, the pagatpat area and I haven’t eaten their famous ‘swake’ (sea urchin paste) and ‘buwad nukos’ (dried squid). Another activity that I should do next time is to rent a boat and go island hopping. I heard there are whaleshark and dolphin sightings now and then, so crossing fingers!

Tourism Promises

The problem with the current powers that be of the province of Southern Leyte province is that they are focusing so much in developing the tourist spots in Maasin City when we have an island paradise hiding in plain sight. Millions are spent developing the Danao Eco Park that also houses the Maasin Zoo. Roads were built to get there, and landscaping took a big chunk of the budget too. But people only go there during jamborees. However, after visiting the island, I believe there’s a clear and present need to talk seriously about Limasawa Island. One is it’s history and one for its tourism promise.

It’s the election season and I hope whoever sits in the Capitol will pay close attention to Limasawa. The destination is there for the taking but the main problem is how to attract tourists there. There’s marketing works to do. The historical claims must be decided once and for all.  The roads must be repaired and completed. The government must strive to attract investors to put up resorts there. And sadly, the island only has electricity from 1pm to 1am (an improvement from the 5pm-1am before). Hopefully these problems will be addressed in the coming years.

With a heavy heart I left the island after lunch. Two days of stay in paradise is just isn’t enough. So much to explore, so much to see. For my mission, I believe I was able to spend time with myself to ponder on my future. I decided to pursue something I should have fought for a decade ago. They said no man is an island, but it took an entire island to find the man that I should be. Limasawa with its beauty and soul-searching power is a paradise worth fight for. And as far as cliché goes, I shall return!

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Seascape in Dakdak Resort

How to get there:

By air:
– Book a morning flight from Manila to Tacloban City. (Tacloban airport only caters flight from Manila and Cebu).
– From the airport go directly to Abucay terminal via motorcycle or jeep.
– Ride the V-hire or Van for Maasin City. The price is around P150-200. Travel time is 2 hours
– From Maasin City terminal, ride a bus or a multicab for the town of Padre Burgos.  Fare is usually P50-70. Travel time is 20-30minutes. Makes sure to drop off at the port, not on the Municipal grounds.
– Ride the ‘lantsa’ or passenger boat to Limasawa island. There are daily trips to the island at 8:30am and 1:00pm. I’m not sure about special boat trips. Travel time is 1 hour. Fare is P50 only

By sea: (especially if you’re from Cebu)
– ride a night trip to Hilongos, Leyte at Pier 3.  Shipping lines like Roble Shipping and Gabisan departs at 9am and arrives in between 3Am to 4:30Am. Fares starts at P250-400 depending on accommodation type.
– from the Hilongos Pier, you must ride the boat service buses going to Maasin City, or ask for the buses that goes directly to Padre Burgos (via Maasin). Travel time is 1hour+. Fare is P70-90.
– Once in Padre Burgos, ride the ‘lantsa’ or passenger boat to Limasawa island.  daily trips to the island are at 8:30am and 1:00pm. Travel time is 1 hour. Fare is P50.

 

Where to Stay:

Dakdak Resort – Contact numbers 0915-520-3660 and 0906-642-6868. I am not sure about the price range but it’s definitely P1,000+ minimum. They have huts and room accommodations.

Evashore Resort – Contact number 0917-874-1302. Price of rooms are P2,000 good for 6 persons.  You may visit their facebook account here:

Billiones Residence – (where I stayed) Contact number 09169261266. They have rooms for accommodation at P200 per head a night.

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It’s really rare for me to be in Cebu on a weekday. Look, I’m Leyte born and based but I like to call Cebu as a second home. I used to work there and fell in love with the place. So it’s an easy decision to take up my masters degree in one of its universities. So Cebu classes and art sessions (I’m still on a running hiatus) on weekends are my escape from the rural landscape at home and at work.  Last Friday I scheduled a trip to renew my passport for long-shot scholarship applications. And of course, to join the first ever Drink & Draw Cebu!

Drink & Draw is a unique event where artists can meet not just to learn but also to bond with one another. The rule is really simple; bring you sketching materials, pay the registration (affordable, just for the drinks), sit back, strike a pose and well.. drink and draw. The event was held at Coffee Prince at Osmeña Blvd and was schedule at night from 8pm to 10pm to suit the hobbyists’ schedules and the night owl artists.

Coming in from a long waiting game at NSO and DFA I was physically drained, much more I don’t know what to expect for the event. I just want to meetup my good friend and fellow water-colorist Wee Bong, get my new Daniel Smith paints and have an even rarer night life (haha).

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Nicole, Me and the mega-focused Wee Bong

Wee Bong and I were the first one to arrive at the event and soon people started to come until we started at 8:20pm. By the look of the crowd, I knew these are my pack haha. It was easier to introduce and talk stuffs because we’re all art lovers. So what really happened during the event?

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We drew. A lot. And fast. In a span of two hours I think I drew at least 50 separate drawings. How come? Because it’s not your typical plein air and on the spot sessions we see on art school and TV. The artists are the models taking their turns on the spotlight (I did not volunteer) and there’s time pressure. People here’s the format; we draw whoever is on the stage and the goal is to capture the curves and basic anatomy of the pose. No details and fancy techniques needed, just plain ‘get the poses right before the bell rings’. If my memory serves me right the entire session was composed of fifteen 15-second poses, ten 2-minute poses, fifteen 30-second poses, ten 2-minute poses, and one 15-minuter. For a guy who draws all my life, I struggled a lot! I never draw that fast and of that volume. I think we all did. But we really enjoyed the challenges.  The poses are really funny, dramatic and downright bizarre.

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I think the P350 registration fee are really worth it. The venue was good, we had good drinks and yummy snacks. So yeah we kind of practically just paid for the food! But the experience and winning new friends are priceless.

Two hours just gone way too fast on us so most of the artist did stayed up until midnight to chat and drink. I really think it was the highlight of the event where we get to know each other, became instant friends and learn each others’ crafts. We sort of just belong to each other and I’m very thankful to hear their stories and see their works. I guess we call it a community. And for that Drink & Draw was a very successful one.

Drink and Draw will surely comeback soon so you guys better watchout!

 

 

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D&D Cebu: First Class!

[Note: Event photos used in this blog are from the event page with express permission of Miss Pia Mercado.]

 

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I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to Korean movies. This fascination has been going on for quite some time, like 6 years haha.  I have no regret of worshiping the whole Korean film industry because they deserve the recognition and success they have. There’s a lot of good movies out there in every genre, to say the least. What really draws me to the industry is their high value for good, daring and brilliant storytelling.

The latest Korean movie I watched, ‘The Beauty Inside‘ completely blew me away. I thought I was only watching a a ‘probably-good’ flick only to find out it’s a deeply moving and thoughtful film.The Beauty Inside is sort of  remake of the 2o12 web-film from Intel about a man name Kim Woo-Jin who changes his body and appearance every single day. That’s 365 days of new faces a year of waking up either as a young man or a young woman, old people or a kid, thug looking or good-looking, and sometimes even a foreigner. It’s a difficult life for Woo-Jin who surrendered into solitary seclusion as a furniture maker;  devoid of physical relationships aside from his best friend and his mother. However everything changes when he met and fell in love with the beautiful Yi-soo (Han Hyo Joo).  Can they make it? Clue: It’s going to be one of the most unforgettable love story out there. Spare the me task of pouring in the details and watch it for yourselves hehe. This trailer will summarize its for me then!

I listed down my reactions about its story and how it connects to real life . So here’s my seven reasons why I love this film:

  1. Han Hyo Joo delivers! – With 123 different actors playing the same character  Woo-Jin, TBI is a very difficult  yet a special film to balance and one miscast of the constant female lead would sent the movie to a disaster. Thankfully the charismatic and arguably one of the most beautiful Korean actress Han Hyo Joo delivers another compelling and solid performance to lift the movie to another level. It seems like in every movie she’s in I cant help but google her once again to look for her filmography. Also checkout her other must-see works in Always, Cold Eyes and Heaven’s Postman
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  2.  A unique love story – When you put in so many actors playing the same lover boy (or girl) and all of them good for a day’s scene you know you’re in for a threat. It’s a spectacularly difficult and awkward relationship between Won-Jin and Yi-soo. But as we see them transform from random strangers to a strange couple who has to deal with so many challenges we cant help but feel in love. It’s a supernatural tale grounded to reality that felt so personal and real. It’s a minor miracle the whole story worked so damn well.
  3. The film shows a life of an artist – One of the plot elements that endeared myself to the story is that it is deeply rooted to an artist’s life. Not just a hobbyist artist, but an actual artist who makes a living out of his craft. Woo-Jin is a great furniture designer. The film does not totally show the his whole creative process from inspiration to final product but basically highlight an artist’s ambitions, occasional selfishness and preference of an isolated life. It really make sense with or without his paranormal condition.
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  4. Brand new appreciation for furnitures – in speaking of art, there’s a lot of great looking furnitures in the movie. I really love those! To be honest, I don’t really took notice the designs in chairs, tables and cabinets.  Let’s say I’m converted now thanks to this movie. And I promise I’ll look for a good chair for my studio.
  5. A metaphor for people with disabilities – Now let’s dive deep to the personal aspects that makes this movie great. If we take a closer look at the movie, one cant help that the story can be seen as a parable about people born with disabilities. Woo-jin’s condition is a supernatural curse and his struggles that goes with it completely reflect how we, people with disabilities, live our lives. One of the main theme of the story is about being ‘negatively’ different from the society. Woo-Jin is the Edward Scissorhands and  even the monstrous Beast (in Beauty and the Beast). Woo-jin’s isolated life is a direct symptom of that disability, his difficulty of having a real relationship especially a romantic one is divine pain. Yes, because of our conditions most of us have to live life with shame and insecurities. That’s a hard truth. And society’s misunderstanding, lack of compassion and even bullying isn’t helping  PWD at all.
  6. A different perspective in relationship – things would soon get ugly when you reach the third act of the movie. Just when things start to unravel the script delivers a gut punch on a loop-side relationship. We’ve seen Edward Scissorhand’s and The Beast’s struggle to fight for their love against society, but I don’t think we were given a clearer perspectives on how Kim and Belle would feel fighting for that same love. The Beauty Inside successfully shown the ‘normal’ side’s hurt and psychological descent to the point of depression. In this case,we expereince Yi-soo’s struggle to protect her love for Woo-jin at an even  greater expense. Honestly, I don’t think I looked into that perspective and  I cant help but feel sorry for every ghosts of girlfriends past.
  7. Sacrifice and Acceptance – At the end of the day, we have to make sacrifices and acceptance for Love right?  The trick is knowing and trusting how much we are willing to sacrifice for that relationship. Sometimes it is really OK to walk away and let go of the other person – because it’s the better choice (right Edward Scissorhands?). But the most important thing we could from this story is about acceptance. Beauty inside is a reminder that real beauty is inside,  people just have to learn to accept each other’s imperfection.

Love, that shitty, ugly, painful  thing two people go through, is what Beauty Inside is all about. It’s an absolute beauty this one!

The Beauty Inside will be shown on Philippine theaters in 2016.

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Note: All pictures in this post are taken from the internet. Credit to the owners. 

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2015 is ‘The’ year to remember for film lovers. There were just too many good and exciting films all throughout the year. Fortunately, I was able to watch a lot of them in theaters, streaming and some other means. Now its time for me to list down my top 10 films I’ve watched for this year. It was not not an easy task but the Force was with me so the result is a mixture of big budget Hollywood feature, indie films and even foreign and local films made the list. As a rule only films released in 2015 are included which are judged based on its quality, ambition, story’s strength and it’s impact to the community. So here they are:

10. The Revenant – Lets start the countdown with the Curious Case of Leonardo DiCaprio. Finally! The Revenant is probably the film that would give him his long overdue Best Actor award in Oscar. This year Leo  teamed up with last season’s Oscar-winning Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to craft this brutal and intense tale of survival. The film is shot entirely of natural light in remote winter terrains in Canada that makes this film so damn hard to finish. It will be a great shame if Leo won’t win the Oscar next year.

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image-via-20th-century-fox

9. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Name a director who has not made a bad film, I have Matthew Vaughn on top of the list. For some reasons he is not a household name but many would be recognize his works like Stardust, Kickass and X-Men First Class. With Kingsman he successfully validated he’s one of the most entertaining directors under the radar by giving us a creative, joyful and fun installment to the spy genre. Expect his signature color palette and shocking well-timed scenes of brutality (those poor heads).

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8Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Streaking right before the awards season this independent film is charming the sh*t out of our innermost  adolescence and that need for friendship. It’s a story of two young friends whose main hobby is to make ‘absolutely  terrible short films’. Their story took a spectacular turn when the geeky and socially awkward Greg meets Rachel a girl diagnosed with cancer. It’s a thoughtful story I can personally relate about why and how far friends (er special friends) would go the distance if it means happiness for the dear patient.

image via moviebearspodcast-com

image via moviebearspodcast-com

7.  Sicario – There’s something about this film that draws me into it,  before I even saw it. Is it the poster, the cast, the director or the skin crawling story? Probably all of them. It’s a serious film about the war against the Mexican drug cartel that takes us through the eyes of an FBI agent recruited by the CIA for the operation. Filmed with drop dead gorgeous cinematography by master lensman Roger Deakins under the direction of up and coming director Denis Villeneuve. And with powerful performances from Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio del Toro what could go wrong?

image via monkeysfightingrobots-com

image via monkeysfightingrobots-com

6. Mad Max: Fury Road– There are film franchises that are prayed by millions to come back and there some that don’t need to be reborn, Fury Road belongs to the latter category. But just because nobody asked for another maddening ride in the post-acalyptic wasteland doesn’t mean it has no right to come back. It is simply the greatest action film ever made. This Mad Max reboot/sequel is a long chase sequence filled with bombastic stunts, adrenaline filled car chases and a surprising feministic core highlighted by Charlize Theron’s performance.

image via popoptiq-com

image via popoptiq-com

5. Inside Out – Pixar is back with what could be one of their very best, Inside Out delights the audience with a story told from the inside of our heads that is helmed by five distinct emotions: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger and Sadness. It’s a coming of age story of girl who moves to the not-so-fun big city of San Francisco as she struggles with adjusting in a new environment, loss and ultimately finding that inner strength inside us. As usual incredible animation and family friendly roller coaster story that we have all come to love with Pixar.

image via Forbes.com

image via Forbes.com

4. That Thing Called Tadhana – As a Filipino film lover it’s really sad to know that our local industry is on a seemingly eternal downward spiral quality-wise, and behold the Messiah has come! Tadhana is a rare gem that captured the #hugot nerves of Pinoy moviegoers without sacrificing the quality of the story. Packed with, well, hugot lines Tadhana is a drop-dead charming road film about the self-imposed road trip of a broken-hearted Mace and journeyman Anthony (played by Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman respectively). It’s a take of a Filipino pop culture of travelling to Sagada when broken-hearted. It’s smart, witty and something every Filipino deserves in the age of sickening commercial loveteams.

image via philstar.com

image via philstar.com

3. Twenty – from the tremendously successful Korean film industry comes this heartfelt comedy about three friends in their 20’s as they have to deal with social expectations, responsibilities and educations, all while dealing with problems with girls, beers, getting laid and the next great mischief. It’s like the original American Pie only better in all aspects. As a guy in my 20’s the issues are truly relatable and lingering, particularly the idea of chasing our dream or doing what the society expects. It’s a testament that 20’s are universal and so much fun!

image via koreaboo-com

image via koreaboo-com

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Now this is the film franchise prayed by millions to come back and boy, Disney knocked this one out of the ball park! For sure, you’ve heard so much good thing about this movie but all I can say is it’s what every Star Wars fan wanted and deserved. It’s been forty-two years since Luke Skywalker’s story ended (I only twenty in my case.. I was seven on New Year’s even when I first saw Empire) and we really don’t have any idea how much we truly missed that galaxy. Oh I love Rey and BB-8!!!

image via collider.com

image via collider.com

1. Heneral Luna – This comes as a surprise but I’m not kidding Heneral Luna rightfully deserve this place on my list. It’s the only film that made me cry (literally) after watching it on theaters. It’s that big feeling of relief that finally there is one period film or a Filipino film we can truly be proud of. This is the sole movie that awakens so much conversation about history, patriotism and how much the history repeats itself in the modern seating.

It is the biographical account of Gen. Antonio Luna’s exploits  during the Filipino-American War. For an independent film it looks expensive because of it’s high production value. But most of all it’s uncompromising take on an imperfect war hero. In short, we need this kind of films. Mabuhay ang Pelikulang Filipino!

image via Artikulo Uno

image via Artikulo Uno

The Runners Up:
Fast and Furious 7Best of No Nation, MIssion Impossible: Rogue Nation, Kid Kulafu & The Martian