Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Rachelle Gerodias, Byeong-In Park headline fund raising concert

The powerhouse couple of Filipina soprano Rachelle Gerodias and Korean baritone Byeong-In Park will lend their voices at a fund raising concert as part of the FrancisFest celebrations this year.

The concert, billed as Build My Church on a Song, is set to premiere on October 4, 2020, 8:00 PM and will be available for viewing until October 11, 2020, 11:00 PM at the YouTube and Facebook pages of Santuario de San Antonio Parish.

Baritone Byeong-In Park and soprano Rachelle Gerodias

Ever since sharing the stage at a production of Così fan tutte in Singapore, Rachelle Gerodias and Byeong-In Park have been the classical music scene's powerhouse couple on and off the stage. Both have been featured in numerous concerts and opera productions here and abroad with Rachelle's Madly Filipina solo concert in October 2018 and Byeong-In's role as Enrico in this year's Lucia di Lammermoor opera at the CCP among the more recent, notable ones.

This year's FrancisFest celebrations is centered on the theme of Come Build My Church that aims to encourage the public to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, in continuing to build the Lord's Church to serve more communities.

The major beneficiary of this fund raising will be the St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Dagat-dagatan, Malabon-Navotas, that is to begin construction in 2021 in time for the commemoration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. This Parish aims to serve 40,000 families in the neighboring cities of Malabon and Navotas.

Other beneficiaries of this event will include the various SSAP Parish Outreach Programs, carried out by the Social Services and Development Ministries namely the Philippine General Hospital and Rizal Medical Center (for Hospitals), Makati City Jail and Taguig City Jail (for Restorative Justice), scholarship, livelihood, eco-justice, relief and rehabilitation, and pastoral care for Franciscan vocations.

Here are several ways to make donations for FrancisFest.


Bank/Branch: BPI Forbes Park Branch
Account No.: 0291039596

Send proof of deposit/transaction indicating FrancisFest on deposit slip to indayespinosa@yahoo.com or viber to 0926-715-1054 for proper acknowledgement and monitoring.


Accepts Paypal, Visa and Mastercard

Choose FrancisFest from the dropdown menu for the purpose of donation.


Please make check payable to: SSAP FOUNDATION, INC.

Checks are accepted at the Parish Office during office hours on Sundays at 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM and on Tuesday - Saturday at 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

For check pick-ups, please call Accounting at 8843-8830 to 35 local 6 or 0926-715-1054 and look for Brandy.


Cash donations are accepted at the Parish Office during  Office Hours on Sundays at 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM and on Tuesday- Saturday at 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

For inquiries, contact Tina, FrancisFest 2020 Solicitation Committee Head via email cit.sunshines@gmail.com or through mobile/Viber: 0917-819-1649.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Cinemalaya 16 Visions of Asia: I Am American, Salaam, Beloved, and The Rooftop

Aside from the Japanese offerings, this year's Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival Visions of Asia section also includes a trio of films from Iran and one from India.

Two of the Iranian films, I Am American and Salaam are presented by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran as part of the Iranian Film Festival, a new addition to the growing roster of Cinemalaya’s Allied Festivals. The remaining Iranian film, the documentary Beloved was selected by NETPAC while the sole Indian movie, The Rooftop was handpicked by Cinemalaya.

I Am American

In Omid Mirzaei's I Am American, an American journalist covering the conflict in Iraq finds himself captured by ISIL forces. His hopes of getting rescued gets dimmer as a fellow prisoner gets executed and negotiations between the US government and his captors  fail to materialize.

Investing emotionally in the character of the journalist was a hard sell for he was never fully fleshed out despite efforts to do so via a hallucination meeting his daughter from back home and a brief interaction with a French female prisoner.

Ultimately, the end whisks out a deux ex machina through his rescue by Iranian anti-terrorist forces. It is inevitable to see this ending as a political statement regarding the volatile relationship between the US and Iran throughout the decades.


The  Mohammad Reza Haji Gholami helmed Salaam gives a peek to the domestic situation of the families, especially the children, of the men who go out to battle whatever their cause may be.

The short film follows Omid who scours his entire neighborhood to greet 1,000 people salaam (hello) as a vow to ensure his father's safe return home from defending the Holy Shrine.

As Omid goes around the neighborhood accompanied by his rascal friend Ali, glimpses of Persian culture are showcased like the power of spoken word Salaam. It also makes one curious to what halva is and why it is usually served at certain occasions.

The untiring quest of Omid managing to greet 999 people with seemingly no one else in the neighborhood left ungreeted amplifies the suspense on whether he will find the last one he needs and on whether his father is still alive.

Both questions are eventually answered at an ending that felt rushed and fell short to be the emotional highlight of this film.


Presented by the Network for Promotion of Asian & Asia Pacific Cinema (NETPAC), Beloved is an award winning documentary by Yaser Talebi.

The documentary follows the stubborn and fiercely independent Firouzeh, an 82 year old herder who tends to her cows at the remote mountains of Mazandaran in North Iran. Her normal routine is no joke and her physical capabilities at her age definitely puts couch potatoes to shame.

Although she claims that she prefers the companionship of her livestock than to fellow human beings, she readily admits that she longs for her 11 children as she complains that not one of them has visited her recently.

She shows that she is no pushover as she constantly nags practically everyone from the village women urging her to retire to forestry officials. But she shows that she is also soft at heart when visiting the grave of her late husband. And when left alone with just an umanned camera, she shows her vulnerable side and breaks down as she implores one of her children to take action. One is left to wonder if this impassioned plea has reached the ears of any of her children.

Aside from the endearing Firouzeh, the film also showcases the vast mountain landscape of the Mazandaran. The changing of the seasons gives the viewer a more vibrant and colorful view of the region unlike the filtered look utilized in productions coming from the US that have been the subject of criticism lately.

The Rooftop

India is represented in the festival through Avirup Biswas's The Rooftop, pegged as a love story between a psychiatrist and his neighbor who is suffering from a mental illness afwter a case of sexual assault.

The film attempts to tell a warm, heart tugging story of a love affair blossoming between the two main characters. But the scheme to stage another sexual assault attempt via an accomplice with the doctor eventually coming to her rescue is highly doubtful if this is medically sound and even ethical at all. And to later find out that his accomplice in this staged assault is a fellow doctor and that the two main characters eventually fall in love in end do not make things better also. It begs the question if all this is accepted practice in psychiatry.

This year's Vision of Asia selection at the Cinemalaya 16 was a mixed bag of treats with delightful selections such as Beloved and My Little Goat and an unfortunate dud with The Rooftop which is quite surprising given the prolific Indian film industry.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Cinemalaya 16 Visions of Asia: A Japanese Boy Who Draws and My Little Goat

Since 2016, Eiga Sai, the Japanese Film Festival, presented by the Japan Foundation, Manila has been an Allied Festival of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, the 16th edition of the Cinemalaya has undergone some major changes. The festival has migrated online with the focus primarily on short films. But these changes didn't stop the festival’s partnership with Eiga Sai as two Japanese short films are in the lineup as part of the Visions of Asia section.

A Japanese Boy Who Draws/ある日本の絵描き少年

Directed by Masanao Kawajiri, A Japanese Boy Who Draws (ある日本の絵描き少年) is a mockumentary mixing various forms of animation with live action that follows the life of Shinji as he scribbles his way to becoming a professional manga artist.

Through mixed forms of animation, the film shows Shinji's art style evolving as he gets older unlike his childhood friend Masaru, whose crude drawings mainly feature masked figures in often unusual and sometimes alarming situations. Soon enough, Shinji distances himself from Masaru with the two losing in touch with each other when Masaru leaves town.

Despite some promising early minor successes, Shinji never makes it big in the extremely competitive manga scene despite numerous attempts to jump on what was current and trendy. He ends up ditching art and returns home as a failure that signals the film to shift from the colorful mixed animation to the monochromatic live action.

The 20 minute short is a reflection on how the pursuit of one's childhood dreams leads to the loss of that child-like wonder that once served as the fuel for the passion. And in Shinji's case, it was reconnecting years later with Masaru's art, still unchanged and untainted with the harsh realities of life, that reignited the spark for art and life that he somehow lost along the way. If he eventually finds the elusive success in his return to creating manga, that remains to be seen.

My Little Goat/マイリトルゴート

Tomoki Misato’s My Little Goat (マイリトルゴート ) puts a new spin on The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats, a fairy tale from the Grimm brothers' collection.

Using stop motion animation reminiscent of images of childhood fairy tale books, the film starts with the mother goat rescuing her children from the belly of a wolf, but realizing that the eldest Toruku is missing.

She later brings on a young boy whose reluctance and very human like appearance compares to her other kids poses the question if he was indeed her missing child. This was also raised by the other goats since he was the first to be eaten and yet his “coat” remains pristine.

The identity of Toruku was just the first of the many questions raised as the world of the Grimms fairy tale collide with the all too real, contemporary world through the “wolves” who prey on children. The fairy tale, might've served as a cautionary tale for children not to let strangers in and in this new, chilling take, the caution is that the wolves may not be strangers at all.

The screening of A Japanese Boy Who Draws and My Little Goat is made possible through the partnership with Eiga Sai, the Japanese film festival organized by the Japan Foundation, Manila.

Monday, June 01, 2020

RAd's Lockdown Diaries: Bolshoi's The Bright Stream

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic shook the world, the arts and culture scene had been hit hard with live performances getting cancelled left and right, ongoing seasons getting cut short, and upcoming ones becoming uncertain.

As a response, many companies from all over the world uploaded some of their taped performances to be shown online with majority only available to view for a limited time. These offerings have become so numerous that it became a chore trying to weed out those that I really need to watch from those that I unfortunately have to miss.

Anything with the music of Dmitri Shostakovich is definitely a can't miss for me. So when the Bolshoi announced that the The Bright Stream  ballet was to be uploaded, I made sure that nothing else got in my way of it even if it was another streaming online performance happening at the same time.

What was streamed is the 2003 revival by Alexei Ratmansky of the ballet by choreographer Fyodor Lopukhov that premiered in 1935. Shortly after its debut, the ballet, along with Shostakovich, Lopukhov, and co-librettist Adrian Piotrovsky, fell out of favor with the Soviet regime following a scathing editorial published at Pravda.

The ballet was then banned, Shostakovich denounced yet again, Lopukhov stripped of his position as artistic director of the Bolshoi dance company, and poor Piotrovsky was sent to the gulag where he very likely met his end.

All this misfortune is hard to digest after seeing the actual ballet itself that basically revolves around a practical joke played by conspirators made up of some members of a visiting performing troupe and the younger members of the collective farm. The music is one of Shostakovich's most lighthearted and most accessible. And the main conflict is that of a husband falling for the visiting ballerina much to the jealousy of his wife.S uch paper thin plot could not have displeased Stalin that much had Shostakovich not been a repeat offender.

But times have changed and the revival has not only been performed numerous times at the Bolshoi Theatre but has also been performed at the Met, the Royal Opera House, and at the Kennedy Center. And because of the Bolshoi's efforts to make the lockdown more bearable, I was able to see Shostakovich's music brought to life through dance.

RAd's Playlist | Shostakovich: The Limpid Stream, Premier Recording

After seeing the ballet, it was expected that I put into spin the recording that prompted Ratmansky to revive it. Released in 1995 by Chandos, the full score of Shostakovich's The Limpid Stream, Op. 39 was performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gennady Rozhdestvensky.

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