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CCP Remembers Departed Artists and Cultural Workers Through an Online Memorial Site

THE Cultural Center of the Philippines, through the Office of the Artistic Director and the Intertextual Division, pays tribute to artists, cultural workers, and media practitioners who have gone before us during the COVID-19 pandemic through an online memorial site.

Launched on April 9, 2021, via CCP Intertextual Division Facebook page, the Hanggang sa Muli: Pagpupugay at Pasasalamat sa mga Pumanaw memorial website features obituaries, with short biographies and photos of the Filipino artists, cultural workers, CCP employees, patrons of arts and culture, and media personalities who have passed away from March 2020 to the present.

The site will also serve as a bulletin board to inform the general public about the passing of an artist and/or cultural worker.  It is virtual space where the creative community can mourn, celebrate the life of the departed, and offer support to each other in time of grief. It is a good venue to share their expressions of grief and the good memories they have with the departed through comments and posts.

Through the Hanggang sa Muli website, the CCP wishes to bring comfort to a difficult and challenging time.  It is a virtual place where families, friends, and individuals may gather and connect online to celebrate the life, works, and great contributions to the country of their loved ones.

As it gives tribute and preserves the legacy of these members of the artistic community, the Hanggang sa Muli memorial website also presents a chance for the younger generation to honor, learn, and gain inspiration from the dearly departed.

The memorial site serves as a permanent platform which the Filipino people, especially the young generations, to learn and gain inspiration from the life and works of these great artists and cultural forces.  While it primarily aims to preserve the legacy of the departed artists and cultural workers, it puts the spotlight on their contributions in the development and preservation of the Philippine arts and culture.

You can visit the online memorial site at https://hanggangsamuli.culturalcenter.gov.ph/. You can check also the official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/hanggangsamuli.ccp

The website will be continuously updated.

Is Expressing Condolences Enough During the time of Pandemic?

Someone called my name. I opened my eyes, and it was Sunday, Palm Sunday to be exact. I checked my phone, and it was almost six in the morning. It was typical for me to wake up early (or earlier), but the day wasn’t like any other.

The birds my abuelita and I love to hear were nowhere to be found. Instead of lively chirps, I heard a commotion, so I stood up and left my room. As I opened my door, I felt something, but my mind could not process what it was.

Everything was a blur, but I do remember a feeling of someone slipping away from my arms. I still could not process anything even as I watched the people in robes and masks do their jobs behind the glass door of the makeshift emergency room.

Come Monday morning, as I was about to brew coffee and toast bread for two, reality hit me hard. I now only have to make one.

*Before I proceed with this piece, I’ll answer your question. No, my abuelita did not die due to COVID-19. They did a swab test, and the result is negative. She died of a different cause, so don’t make assumptions. She was 86 years old.

Now, I ask you. Is expressing condolences enough during the time of pandemic? The answer is no.

Social Media Condolences

When my abuelito died in 2006 due to cancer, hearing the expression “condolences” or “condolence po!” was okay because this is a normal intro. Plus, they would continue to say nice words and share stories they had with my abuelito. I’m positive the same goes for everyone. In a nutshell, this expression is harmless because of the personal note.

But expressing it over social media in the time of pandemic is meaningless and irritating. Don’t get me wrong, and allow me to explain further by using the following term.

Social Distancing

Social distancing, also called physical distancing, means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people not from your household. – cdc.gov

Think of it this way. Expressing your condolences on social media is a form of social distancing. In a sense, it is acceptable because of the pandemic. BUT when you comment “condolences” or “condolence po!” under the person’s lighted candle profile photo, it doesn’t lift their spirits. A huge gap between the said expression and the bereaved family’s sorrow remain.

Yes, I am guilty of this, too! But I have to admit I feel uneasy whenever I type that word on the comments section on Facebook. So if I’m close to the family or have a story to share, I would instead send a direct message.

With our recent experience, I realised that our message of “social media condolences” to the bereaved family does not give comfort. What do they need? Prayers and someone to talk to are the most important.

This is a comment from my childhood friend and neighbour. She was the one who first commented when I changed my profile photo. I was staring at the glass door of the makeshift emergency room when I did this. When I read her comment, it reminded me how abuelita took care of an abandoned child.
This is a comment from my grade school classmate and bus mate who never met my abuelita but often see her during school events. This really touched me.

Console the Human Way

There were just my Ninong and me during our time of sorrow. When we rushed abuelita to the hospital, and as the scene unfolds behind the glass door of the makeshift emergency room, there was nothing we could do. Shaken and alone, we found solace from the people we directly contacted. The same goes for when other close family and friends reached out on social media and through phone calls.

In a time of the pandemic, consoling the human way is nearly impossible. Families and friends would flock to the wake and funeral before. But now you have to be mindful of the schedule so there would only be ten people inside the chapel. You also have to be in a rush, so you don’t violate the curfew hours.

Bereavement & Lockdown

When abuelita left us, the government placed ‘NCR Plus’ under lockdown the next day, March 29 to April 4. We were already deep in sorrow, and we still had to suffer more because of the pandemic.

You see, if a person dies during this time, they need to undergo a swab test. If not, cremation is the only option you have. If you allow it and the result is negative, you are allowed to hold a wake. If positive, then you have no choice but a quick process and cremation.

In our case, it was negative so, we can hold a proper wake. But things are not so simple these days. Since it was a Palm Sunday, we can’t get the result even the paper works right away. Funeral homes need these documents, and that we understand.

But leaving your loved one in the freezer for hours is heavy in the heart. So the hospital informed us to find a funeral home that can accept and store without the said documents. It was frustrating (level 1000), but thanks to our neighbours and the person who offered the plan to my abuelita eons ago, we found one who listened to reason and asked for a different supporting document.

Everyone involved helped us through the process because they know how frustrating the situation is. Sadly, things still didn’t go swiftly. Funerals were not allowed even after we secured the documents because of the lockdown. And this made me furious.

That week we were not the only ones grieving. My blogger friend who lost a loved one held a wake and funeral in their city as long as they follow the rules. We would gladly follow, but why can’t the memorial park allow us?

The funeral home gave us the maximum number of viewing days. This way, we only need to rent the storage for a few days. We were thankful for this; however, it was painful to see the chapel empty most of the time.

There were a few family and friends who stopped by during the wake. Moreover, our other relatives and friends who could not fly to the country or cross the border sent what they can. I’m not only talking about monetary assistance.

Since there are several restrictions and a lack of an available priest, we could not hold a mass daily. So I arranged the prayers and sent them to those who requested. I know that they are praying daily in the safety of their homes. But as my ninong and I pray in the spacious chapel, I could hear my voice reverberate which only confirms that it’s just us two.

Thank goodness everything went well on April 4. The memorial park’s main office finally opened with two employees assisting several requests that day. We 100% understand the skeletal force, restrictions and all that. But in cases like this, isn’t it better to lessen the pain of people grieving?

If they did not close their main office, we could have settled and scheduled the burial at an earlier date. And this is why I said that expressing condolences is not enough during the time of pandemic.

If you only sent a typical social media message, you wouldn’t have known the issues the bereaved family are having. Who knows, you might have helped them! Maybe not in the paperwork but maybe by lending an ear.

Next time you see your Facebook friend change his or her profile photo to a lighted candle picture, think. What is it you can offer? If someone asked me that right now, I will say a Mass Card.

I always believed that tangible things are for the living. Though Mass Card is technically an item, the card signifies that the person who passed away will be remembered during the celebration of the holy mass.

Memorial Mass Cards: Sympathy cards to honor the memory of someone who has passed away, while offering prayers and support to those grieving the death of a loved one. Enrollment of a deceased loved one in Memorial Mass Cards assures that they share in daily prayer and Sunday Masses offered in their chosen Church for one year from the date of enrollment.

If you read my lengthy blog post, I thank you with all my heart.

Call For Applications to Cinemalaya Film Scriptwriting Workshops

APPLICATIONS are now being accepted for Cinemalaya’s Scriptwriting Workshops for Film to be conducted by award-winning screenwriter Ricky Lee.

Under the Cinemalaya Institute Training Programs, Ricky Lee will hold two online scriptwriting workshops:  The 3-hour Cinemalaya Scriptwriting Masterclass in April 2021, and the Cinemalaya Intensive Scriptwriting Workshop from May to June 2021.  Both workshops are free of charge.

The Cinemalaya Scriptwriting Masterclass, which will focus on the foundations of storytelling for film, is a 3-hour session to be held on April 14, 2021 at 2:00 P.M.-5:00 P.M. GMT Philippine Standard Time.  This is open to all Filipinos residing locally or abroad.

The Cinemalaya Intensive Scriptwriting Workshop, a step-by-step workshop on the creation of compelling scripts told in one’s unique voice, will consist of eight weekly sessions from May 26-July 14, 2021 (Wednesdays, 10:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. GMT Philippine Standard Time).

The workshop is limited to only thirty (30) participants/scholars who have gone through a selection process.  As a requirement, applicants should submit a 1-2 page storyline and a writer’s intention for the material.

The Cinemalaya Scriptwriting Workshops for Film is part of Cinemalaya’s new vision in the new normal as it redefines its direction and strategy while remaining significant and continuing to fulfill its mission of discovering, encouraging, supporting, training and recognizing gifted Filipino independent filmmakers.

Application form for the Cinemalaya Scriptwriting Masterclass can be obtained through https://forms.gle/P5UPXvh8JuohQa2h7

Application form for the Cinemalaya Intensive Scriptwriting Workshop can be obtained through https://forms.gle/vkLTJ2EampVxXo9i8

Applicants may register for both.

For more information and updates, visit the CCP website (www.culturalcenter.gov.ph) or follow the CCP and Cinemalaya official Facebook pages.

Thoughts on Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) #SnyderCut

This course is irreversible. This action is irreversible. But Zack Snyder was able to.

Okay, by now numerous people have seen the much-awaited #SnyderCut. You’re lucky if you have HBO Max. If not, pretty sure you subscribed to HBO Go and experienced problems accessing the app on March 18, the day Justice League 2021 premiered. That was expected so I decided to wait a while.

And since the #SnyderCut runs for four hours and two minutes (three hours and 52 minutes on HBO Go) and I was working over the weekend, I took my time to finish the film. Like everyone else, I also have my thoughts on the long-awaited #SnyderCut. But before that let me share my brief thoughts on Justice League (2017).

I mentioned in my review that that instalment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has a great story. You know resurrecting Superman and all. We all saw that coming and I am fine with it. Sadly, they failed at the execution probably because of extensive re-shoots. It was uneven making me wonder what the original plan was or how Zack Snyder would have done it?

Judging Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel which is not at all bad, it is clear that he has an artistic vision. You can sense that in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well. Though the latter has flaws, BvS is far more enjoyable and well put together than Justice League (2017).

Fast forward to 2021 after the unprecedented #ReleasetheSnyderCut fan campaign, we finally get to see Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Although, I doubt this is how he planned to release the film if the 2017 version did not exist. Either way, I am happy about its existence.

4:3 Aspect Ratio

“This film is presented in a 4:3 format to preserve the integrity of Zack Snyder’s creative vision.”

Heads up! Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) is presented in 4:3 format. I read some comments on my social media that it took a while for them to adjust. This is understandable because we are used to the standard size which is 16:9. But once upon a time, 4:3 was the normal aspect ratio.

This is now used to present a unique style of film making or for artistic purposes. But in Snyder’s case, Justice League was technically shot that way. Here’s a statement from Producer Deborah Snyder in one of her interviews.

The film was originally shot that way. You know, don’t forget it was intended for the theatrical release, and it was intended to have an IMAX release. But now that it was on HBO Max, Zack didn’t want to change the aspect ratio, because everything was framed that way. And it’s also, I just think it’s just so unique. You’re getting so much of the picture, you’re seeing a lot more. If we then made the decision to just chop it off, we would be losing part of the frame. So it was really important to maintain the aspect ratio because that’s how it was originally intended to be. That’s how it was shot. That’s how the visual effects were done.” – Producer Deborah Snyder

This is, after all, the Snyder cut we once fantasised about. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it. The film looked more genuine to me. I’ve mentioned before that I studied film in college. This type of ratio is not new to me. I enjoy this because you see every detail (or Easter egg, if you prefer) in the frame.

Six Heroes. Six Parts.

I don’t know if the six parts refer to our six main heroes, emphasis on the main. But yes, there are six parts to this (almost) 4-hour film. Let me share with you my thoughts on each part.

Warning: Spoilers!

Part 1: Don’t Count on it, Batman

Being a fan of Zack Snyder, you can already tell that THIS is his. Sure, from the beginning, it may look like a film made by any director. Maybe for people who haven’t seen some of Snyder’s work.

But for people who did, mark 15:16 is the proof. It is the scene when Lois Lane grabs two cups of coffee, leaves the shop, opens a black umbrella and walks into the rain. That 100% is a Snyder signature. If you’ve seen Sucker Punch, there is a similar scene. Also, did you happen to spot Zack Snyder?

Now let’s go back to the story. From the moment you hit play, and even if it’s been a while since you last saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), I think we can all agree that we can see and feel the gravity of the situation, especially if you compare it with Justice League (2017). The thing that bothered me in the 2017 film was the appearance of the Mother Box and Steppenwolf. I wasn’t concerned or into the whole storyline. But with the Snyder Cut, I became more and more invested.

The reason is the Steppenwolf of 2021 threatened humanity’s existence. The Daughters of Themyscira couldn’t handle him and had to seal everyone who was doing their best to stop him. But after that, things still didn’t go well. The scene where Steppenwolf of 2021 tries to grab the Mother Box that the Daughters of Themyscira desperately guard was intense. I was jumping in my seat because I was terrified of the Steppenwolf of 2021. *P. S I’m so amazed by how the Daughters of Themyscira can maintain their pose while firing arrows and riding a horse.

Part 2 Age of Heroes

Let me say, those Parademons version 2021 freaks me out! *I feel sorry for the custodial personnel.

*Parademons were the advanced forces – in the armies of Apokolips created from reformatted genetic material gleaned either from the living or dead remains of native species of parallel worlds razed throughout the multiverse.

This part explains several principal points to the entire DCEU plot. Don’t dare fall asleep. Not that you can anyway. But if you do, hit pause.

Going back. If you think the fighting scenes between the Steppenwolf of 2021 and the Daughters of Themyscira were intense, wait for Diana’s explanation of what happened when Darkseid first appeared.

It is beautiful how all the races came together – Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, and humans, with assistance from a Green Lantern. It reminded me of the theme song they used in 2017, “Come Together”, a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon. This scene is a dream come true for comic book fans and the like.

This part also explained – how the Mother Boxes work, including who and how each Mother Box was guarded and sealed.

The Defenders of Earth made a vow. Men, Amazons, and Atlanteans each would enshrine and guard one of the three sleeping Mother Boxes according to the rites and rituals of their culture.”

Part 3 Beloved Mother, Beloved Son

So here we get to know Barry or Flash. I have to say that at this point, I believe the audience has accepted a thing I call “more than trilogy”. 

Remember when people were obsessed with trilogies? What about the era where the last instalment of a film franchise was split into two parts?

Oh, and don’t get me started with other terms such as tetralogy, a four-part series; pentalogy, a five-part series and so on. I think it’s better to use cinematic universe or, in DC’s case, extended universe.

Let’s go back to my point. The audience doesn’t care if studios release various films and lengthen the running time. As long as you give the right story and epic results, the audience will love and support the whole franchise. 

Though the Snyder Cut is a special case, Part 3 made me even more convinced that Warner Bros. should not have pushed through with the 2017 film. But thanks to that, the Snyder Cut was born and able to explain the injustices 2017 made like Cyborg’s story.

Part 4 Change Machine

One of the many questions I kept asking in 2017 is how were the Mother Boxes awaken? In 2021, the same question was raised as well as why were they affected by Superman’s death? With his death in BvS and at the beginning of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), we see them awakening from their slumber.

Part 4 explains the Mother Box as told by Cyborg. Also, we find out that The Unity (the three Mother Boxes) was afraid of Superman’s existence that is why they never woke up and called out to Steppenwolf. 

Part 5 All The King’s Horses

“None are taken back from the darkness. Not without giving one up in return.”

This course is irreversible. This action is irreversible.”

This part is full of premonitions. Cyborg gets a vision, an apocalyptic one. Remember the scene in BvS where Batman was visited by The Flash in his dream? It’s related to this. The loopholes and confusion we felt during the 2017 film were thoroughly explained here. 

Part 6 Something Darker

Make your own future.

Make your own past.

It’s all right now.

After Cyborg’s justification, we now get The Flash in action rather than just comic relief. After all the problems the team encountered while fighting off Steppenwolf of 2021 and his Parademons of 2021, they were late by a few seconds. But thanks to our wonderful Barry a.k.a The Flash, he broke the rule and ran faster and far beyond the speed of light giving them an edge and defeating the enemy.

Also, it’s quite nice to see the whole team gather and face the real enemy, Darkseid. I was looking forward to seeing more of him in the 2017 film. I mean, they’re not the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so I was expecting them to lay everything by that time. Don’t get me wrong.

MCU took their time to show us, Thanos. I’m not complaining though because they did build up their cinematic universe for years while fixing up loopholes. The DCEU is nowhere near the end so I was expecting them to use a different strategy since their extended universe is darker.

I appreciate Snyder did not hold back in his director’s cut especially in the scene where our heroes were standing united on top of the cooling tower (if that’s what it was) made me feel complete. It says this is the end and the beginning.

Epilogue A Father Twice Over

I mentioned that six parts may refer to the number of main superheroes. The epilogue which is technically the last part signifies the beginning and introduction of new superheroes like the Martian Manhunter.

If you are following Snyder on Vero – https://vero.co/zacksnyder – you may have seen him post his old storyboards for one of Martian Manhunter scenes. As the months and years pass, he keeps posting more including Jared Leto’s Joker.

Yes, you can see and appreciate Martian Manhunter and Joker in the epilogue. Both had a conversation with Batman, one nice and one cryptic. Take a guess which is which.

Final Thoughts

People have different opinions about Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), but we can agree this has more agreeable reviews compared to the first. I can honestly say that I appreciate everything in this film. But I have to point out that the tone and colour seemed a little off for me at times. It is not a big deal because I know that the Snyder Cut is a special case. It follows a different rule, or maybe it does not follow any at all.

With that, Zack Snyder was able to reverse the reactions by presenting HIS vision and at the same time validating the hard work everyone involved put in.

If you want to catch the Snyder Cut, you can subscribe to HBO Go. I am a Cignal TV customer, so I subscribed via my cable operator for an additional Php99 a month.

Do the Bibigo Mukbang Challenge and Win P50,000 worth of Bibigo Voucher!

Starting March 22, 2021, Bibigo—the world’s number 1 Korean Frozen Food store—is holding a special Mukbang Event with amazing rewards to be won! The event will run for 3 weeks and will end on April 9!

A global brandy founded in 2010 by CJ, Bibigo has been Korea’s No. 1 Food Company and it continues to grow worldwide as of this day. Bibigo is also the only Korean food brand that makes it easier for all consumers to make authentic and delicious Korean food. Read More