This is another unofficial site for Lav Diaz, "...the great Filipino poet of cinema." (Cinema du reel, Paris).

Monday, April 28, 2008

XXI. Hesus Rebolusyunaryo

By Francis Cruz

"One of the ten best science fiction films ever made."
-- Noel Vera

Lav Diaz's near-future is something some Filipinos would be very familiar with: streets and alleys empty at night, checkpoints where erring citizens are lined up to sing the National Anthem (snatched by Diaz from memories of his childhood), literature and art flourishing in the midst of fascist asphyxiation. The nation has experienced similar circumstances under the Marcos regime, and faint but resounding reminders under the present regime. This is Diaz’s science fiction --- very Filipino; not a spark of progress in display (Manila in 2011 looks very much like Manila in 1990, made more melancholic by the uncomfortable stillness under the military junta), instead, an atmosphere of paranoia pervades the near-noxious air.

General Racellos (Lawrence Espinosa) controls the land through the television and the radio. Announcements and bits of propaganda are disseminated with mechanical certainty; the true artists are working underground or fighting for freedom. Hesus (a quietly intense Mark Anthony Fernandez) is the film’s hero --- he’s a poet, a gunfighter, a leader of the masses. His burden is an enveloping feeling of guilt, from killing his comrades as ordered by the mysterious Miguel Reynante (Ronnie Lazaro) --- their revolutionary unit’s methods seem as fascist as the government’s.

Hesus’ redemption is owed not to his movement, but to his nation. His poem, read by Col. Simon (perfectly interpreted by Joel Lamangan) while he’s in a coma, discusses the joyful simplicities of life as disrupted by that certain corruption that has killed the nation; it is sorrowful and powerful the way the poem weaves the nation with spoken images of the family. Throughout the film, Hesus travels, hunted by government troops, directionless. We witness his nightmare-like dreams --- memories from his childhood in Bicol, fantasies of Hilda (Donita Rose), miraculously cured of her blindness. That’s his utopia, bright and green as opposed to the grey and drab shadowy exteriors of Manila.

Diaz’s aesthetics is pitch-perfect. Slow to the point of stubbornness, yet it’s never dull. He knows when to cut at the right time; Diaz won’t cease to prolong a scene until he is satisfied that the emotions, the pain are succinctly conveyed. When Hesus kills all his comrades, Diaz doesn’t cut at the moment the last comrade is shot death. Instead, he lingers to show Hesus wallowing with self-doubt and guilt inflicted by the massacre.

Diaz also shows an adept sense of humor. Col. Simon waits for Hesus to wake up from his coma; Lamangan (brilliant, brilliant thespian) walks around, plays Hesus’ music, and prances to the rhythm of the music, before reading to him his poem. Overly extended, the dead pan humor breathes diversion (although, not at all distracting) to Diaz’s straightforward intentions.

The numerous action scenes (probably put to placate Lily Monteverde, the film’s producer) are coherently directed (there’s strategy in the action; none of the illogical and badly conceived shoot-outs that are typical to Filipino action films). There’s a meticulous concern for the mechanics of the action sequences --- the shadows of the dimly lit corridors, corners and wide spaces become invitations to danger. It’s refreshing to finally watch a smartly directed action film.

Hesus Rebolusyonaryo was made from a measly few millions and was expected to make profit. It failed miserably in the box office (notwithstanding the presence of Fernandez and Rose, all bankable actors) and closed after a couple of days from its opening (films usually would last a week before being replaced). That’s the sad fate of this nation; that when finally, an intelligent and homegrown science fiction is released, Filipinos opt to march in zombie-like fashion to the latest Hollywood extravaganza. Talk about fascism in cinema.

Ogg's Movie Thoughts, Lessons from the School of Inattention, July 29, 2007

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

XX. Poems for Benjamin Agusan

By Lav Diaz

English translations by Paula Maria Diaz, with Bayani de Leon

Poems from Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Engkanto (Death in the Land of Encantos)


Dagli ang pagbuhos at dagli ang pagtila
Dagli ang pagdating at dagli ang paglayo
Alimuom na sumibol sa pangako ng umaga
Nawala bago magtanghaling tapat sa labis na paninibugho
Sa mga anghel ng mundo at ng langit at ng purgatoryo at ng demonyo
Ginalugad mo ang kahabaan ng ilog ng mga tatsulok na di mabuo-buo
Sa kamalayang hindi mapakali sa mga agos at alon at likong nagbabago-bago
Sisa ka ng disyerto at Tasyo kang namimilosopo sa unibersong nagsisinto-sinto
Sa mga lima-singkong kaisipang pinamana at ibinuhos ng luma at kontemporaryong panahon.
Paslit ka pa nang narating nila ang buwan
Bata ka pa nang may tumubong bundok sa lawa ng bayan
Nakikita mo araw-araw ang langit at lupa, ang langit at impiyerno
Wala nang sulok ang mundo, wala nang masusulingan ang tao
Lulubog-lilitaw at sanlaksang alingawngaw
May dugo sa bintana ng dalagang nawala
Inaabot ang bituin sa tuktok ng mangga
Paslit ka pa nang mahulog ang bisita
Bata ka pa nang may pinagpapatay sila
May awit na mahiwaga, nagpipilit sa alaala
May naaaninag kang mukha, dating pag-aalala
Ang dating putikan ay ginawa nang kalsada
Minaso ang bundok at ginawang graba
Saka inilibing nila ang mahal mong kababata.
Tumutol ka man ay umuugod ka na
Nalagas na ang iyong lakas, nawala na ang sigla
Ang hawak mong panahon ay isa na lamang hawla
Lipas na ang sarsuela, wala nang natutuwa
Pilit mong pinalalaya ang itinatagong sumpa
Sa daungan ng mga isda, doon ka tumutula
Naroon ang metapora, naroon ang hiwaga
Sa himlayan ng mga sugapa, doon ka kumakanta
Kasayaw mo ang baylarena, hawak mo ang baywang niya
Sa laot ng gabi kapag papauuwi ka na
Bumubulong ang hangin, nakatingin ang mga bituin
Kumakaway ang kahoy, may kung anong panaghoy
Tumitigil ang daloy, daan ay hindi matukoy
Titigil ka sa tabi, iihi sandali
Init ay kakawala, salimuot mula sa lupa
Huhugot ka ng buntunghininga
Wala na talaga
Alam mong ika'y nagkasala
Alam mong nabibilang na ang araw mo sa lupa.
Walang dakila
Walang bayani
Walang kriminal
Walang santo
Walang kawawa
Walang himala
Walang timawa
Walang mariwasa
Walang kaluluwa
Walang alaala
Wala nang alaala
Walang kumakawala.

Gumagapang ka sa dagat ng mga alaala na ayaw lumaya sa piitan ng iyong pag-iisa.
Ibinabalik ka sa mga hiningang humulagpos sa sinapupunan pa man
Inihahatid ka sa hardin na naluoy bago pa man yumabong
Iniluluklok ka sa panahong nagtaglagas bago nagtagsibol
Inihihimlay ka sa mundo ng sigwa, unibersong hindi mapayapa
Wala nang papawi sa pait ng iyong bawat paglingon
Wala nang paparam sa lalim ng lungkot ng bawat imaheng dumadapo sa iyong balintataw.


Relenting as suddenly as it pours
Departing as suddenly as it arrives
Rancid air burgeoning from morning's promise
Dispersed before noon out of keen jealousy
At the angels of earth and heaven and purgatory and the devil
You roamed the far-reaching river of triangles unable to complete themselves
In a consciousness made restless by torrents and waves and ever shifting curves
You're Sisa of the desert and Tasyo spinning philosophy in a universe playing half-wit
To five-cent minds bequeathed and poured over by eras old and new
You were a tyke when they reached the moon
You were a kid when a mountain grew from the town lake
Daily you see land and sky, heaven and hell
No corner left in the world, no haven for everyone
A hundred thousand echoes will sink and rise
Behold the blood on the window of a vanished maiden
Angling for the star atop a mango tree
You were a tyke when the chapel fell
You were a kid when murders proliferated
A mysterious song persists in memory
A face from the past being glimpsed
A once muddy place turned into a street
The mountain pounded and crushed into gravel
Before burying your childhood friend
You protested in vain, but you're hobbled
Your strength sapped, your vigor lost
Time in your hands is merely a cage
Zarzuela out of vogue, amusing no one
You seek to release the hidden curse
You recite poetry down the shoals where the fishes are
Alas a metaphor, alas a mystery
You sing in the abode of addicts
You dance with a ballerina, grasping her by the waist
On your way home in the deep of night
The wind whispers, the stars look down
The branches shake, some wailing in the air
The currents cease, the road not discernible
You will stop by the wayside and piss momentarily
And heat will be released, swirl upward from the soil
You will heave a sigh
Nothing is left
You know you have sinned
You know your days on earth are numbered
No one's honorable
No one a hero
No one a criminal
No one a saint
No one miserable
No miracle
No one poor
No one rich
No soul
No memory
No more
No more memory
No escape

You grovel in the ocean of memories refusing to flee from the prison
of your solitude
Returning you to breaths that expire while in the womb
Ferrying you to a garden that withers before it blooms
Placing you in a season that becomes autumn before springtime
Laying you down in a world of tempests, a universe that cannot be pacified
None can assuage the bitterness of your every turn
None can take away the profound grief of every saintly image that falls on
the center of your eye.


Bahay ng Rosas

May haplit ng pagyuko ng mga puno ng taglagas
Sa tudla ng aking tingin sa kalawakan ng langit
Kumirot sa aking tadyang ang paghulagpos ng buto
Hudyat ng pagsisimula ng mga oyayi't dalit.

Aawit tayo sa gabing yakap ka ng niyebeng kristal
Kahimanawaring lambungan ng himig ang iyong hapis
Hahagkan ko ang pisngi mong sa kalauna'y lalamig
Naghahanda na ako sa panahon ng pananangis.

Magtatanim ako ng sanlaksang rosas, at parang ng rosas
Puro rosas at pawang mapupulang rosas lamang sa lahat nang sulok at dako
At namumulang rosas lamang sa lahat nang panahon ng ating panahon
Ng ating paghahanda, paghihintay, at pag-aasam
Sa pagdating ng mga paru-paro
Sa pag-ani ng mga bubuyog
Sa paghapon ng mga gagamba
Sa pagdalaw ng mga ibon
Sa pagsulyap ng mga nagdaraan
Sa pagdatal ng iyong kamatayan.

House of Roses

There is a muffled blow when the autumn trees bow
At my viewpoint of the vastness of heavens
My ribs felt the twinge of writhing bones
Forewarning to the start of lullabies and love songs.

We shall sing on the night when ice crystals embrace thee
Hoping that the melody may veil thy grief
I shall kiss the cheeks that at once turn icy
Already preparing for the season of lamenting.

I shall plant thousand of roses, and fields of roses
Pure roses and seemingly red roses solely on every corner and space
And reddening roses only for all seasons of our seasons
To our preparation, anticipation, and expectation
Of the arrival of butterflies,
the harvest of the bees
the nightly retirement of spiders,
the pilgrimage of birds,
a glimpse of passers-by
and the advent of thy death.


In memoriam

Magdamag sa kawalan
Binasa ko na lahat nang aklat at tula
Hinalukay ang mga litrato
Niyakap lahat nang unan
Kinantot ko ang nagkakalyo kong kamay
Isinuot lahat nang salamin—baka may makita ako
Hinipan ang silindro—baka may marinig ako
Tinipa ang gitara—baka may makapa ako
At waring narinig ko ang tinig mo
Mula sa pantiyon ng mga lumayo
Mula sa sementeryo ng mga naglaho
At kinukutya mo ako sa iyong pagtalikod
At tumawa ka at nakitawa sa mga katulad mong mahina
At walang mga paa
May ilog ng lason sa iniwan mong higaan natin
Naroon pa rin ang mga pating na lumapa sa aking kalanguan
Hinihigop ako ng kumunoy sa bawat dantay ng aking likod
Sa mga tinik ng iyong pakikipaglaro sa aking pagpipikitmata
At pagbubulag-bulagan
Sa sahig nakatihaya ang mga sinsilyo at barya
Ng iba't ibang bayang aking narating
Nagniniig tayo sa piling nila tuwing ako'y dumarating
Mainit at maalab ang pagitan ng iyong mga hita
Habang nakalublob ako sa pangungulila at pagwawalang-bahala
Lumulusong ako at paulit-ulit tayo
Winawasak ang bawat isa sa bawat hampas at paglabas
Minamahal ang bawat isa
Hindi mahal ang bawat isa
Bukas ang bintana at sarado ang pintuan
Patay ang ilaw at walang hanging pumapasok sa ating kapusukan
Masarap maglumunoy sa mundo ng kamunduhan
Habang ginigisa tayo sa pag-alpas ng aking tamod at ng iyong tubig
Papahiran kita ng mantika at ibebedyo na nakabukaka
Magmamakaawa ka sa pagbukas ng langit at lupa
Umiiyak ka sa pagsabog ng lahat-lahat mo
Magpapasalamat ka sa pagbuhos ng lahat-lahat mo
Babayo at babayo ako patungo sa kaibuturan mo
Aapuhap ang aking mga kamay sa kung saan-saan mo
May mga daliri ng alupihan at tanikala ng alimango
Sa bawat salungatan ng ating ungol at hiyawan at pagsusumamo
Binubuwal natin ang mga pader at bantayog ng uniberso
Ng panahon nating sa isang iglap ay magiging siphayo.
Pakakasal tayo sa bawat Marso Uno, Mayo Uno at Hunyo Uno
At sa harap ng malalayang puno at malayang mundo
Mag-iisang-dibdib tayo sa harap ng palayang naghihintay
(sa hunyangong ermitanyo)
Ng mga himig ng maya at pag-ibig
Hawak-kamay tayong haharap sa bundok at bulkan at hihingi
Ng tubig ng pag-ibig
Ng dalit ng pag-ibig
Tatahimik ang lungsod at lansangan sa ating mga tawag
Malulunod sa karagatan ang mga ilog ng ating dugo
Isang pangarap ang nawala sa buhos ng unos
Sa dagan at dagundong ng mga batong dumausdos
Umalimpuyo ang kalangitan sa katanghalian
At tumakas ang pag-asa sa ating mga palad
Umapaw ang baha sa luha ng binubuo nating aklat
Ni hindi ako nakapagpaalam sa isang pangako
Di ko na rin nakita ang nakatago mong anino
Napakalawak ng iniwan mong diskurso
Sa aking katinuan at katalinuhan ng mundo
Naging mangmang ang mga insekto at henyo
Ng tinatawag nilang sikolohiya ng pag-ibig at emosyon ng babae.
Nasaan si Sigmund Freud sa pag-apaw ng panaginip at kalibugan mo?
Gayung gumugol din ako ng panahon sa pilosopiya at siyensya?
Ayokong hawakang muli muna ang nasa pagitan ng aking mga hita
Habang natitiis ko pa ang sakunang inabot ng ating mundo
Habang nababata ko pa ang sakunang dinaranas ng bayan ko
Hindi ko na yata kailangan sina Socrates at HesuKristo
Sa panahon ng pagsasakripisyong ganito
Wala nang pretensyoso at gago sa panahong nagsasalpukan ang galit at lungkot
Wala nang loko-loko at tarantado sa panahong inililibing nang buhay ang mundo
Wala nang bobo at matalino sa panahong naglalaho na ang bayan ko
Wala nang santo at salamangkero sa pakikipagtalo ko kay Satanas
Putang-ina nilang lahat na nagkumpromiso ng sining ko!
Mga hayup silang lahat na nagkanulo sa sining ko!
Aahon si Tasyo sa anumang hampas ng bato sa kanyang bungo!
At sa wakas ay nabago ang anyo ng kuwarto
May mga bagong aklat at kuwaderno
May bagong gitara at bagong silindro
Punit-punit na ang mga litrato
At itinapon ko sa basura ng ating kahangalan
Siyam na metal ang itinali sa dibdib ng Adan
May inihahandang pelikula sa gitna ng sangandaan
May pagbabago, may mga bagong tao, may mga bagong tatao
May mga bagong mukha
May mga bagong likha
May bagong musa
May bagong pinto
May bagong kuwarto
May bagong lalaruin ang hintuturo
May bagong pagitan na papasukin ko
May bagong diskurso
May bagong alimpuyo
May bagong pag-ibig at panibugho.

Nagpadala ako ng sulat sa isang kaibigan
Sinabi kong hindi ako darating sa usapan
`Patawad' sabi ko
Hindi ko pa matanggap ang kalungkutan ko
Pinipilit ko pang tanggaping sa pagkawala niyang ito
Ay hindi ko na siya hahanaping muli.

In memoriam

All night long in emptiness
I've read all the books and poems
Dug up the pictures
Cuddled all the pillows
Screwed my own calloused hands
Worn all the spectacles that I might see something
Blown on my harmonica that I might hear something
Plucked my guitar that I might touch something
And it seemed I heard your voice
From the graveyard of those who have fled
From the burial ground of those who have vanished
And you were mocking me as you turned back
And you laughed and snickered with weaklings like you
And those without feet
There's a river of venom on our bed that you abandoned
Where the sharks that consumed my stupor still lie
Where a quicksand will suck me in every time my back rests
On the thorns of your wagering over the shutting of my eyes
And my playing blind
Change and coins are scattered all over the floor
Of many countries I've been to
We rendezvous with them every time I come
The insides of your thighs will be burning hot
While I'm steeped in loneliness and indifference
I will be treading downward and we will keep doing this
Destroying each other at every thrust and release
Loving each other
Not loving each other
The window is open and the door is locked
The light is off and no air drifts into our passion
How sweet to wade in the world of carnality
While we get stewed in the rush of my semen and your juice
I will rub oil on you and angle your legs apart
You will beg at the opening of heaven and earth
Weep over the explosion of all in you
You will wax grateful for the outflow of all in you
I will pound and pound going into your depths
Grope around in all of you
There will be centipede fingers and crab chains
In every clashing of our moans and screaming and pleading
We are tearing down the walls and monuments of the universe
Of our time that will melt abruptly into disillusion
We will wed on every first day of March, May, and June
And before the unbound trees and the liberated world
We will join in marriage before rice fields waiting
(for hermit chameleons)
For the songs of the sparrow and love
With clasped hands we will face toward the mountain and volcano and will ask
For the water of your love
For the psalm of your love
The city and its streets will fall silent at our behest
The rivers of our blood will plunge into the ocean
One dream lost in the torrential storm
And in the heaviness and rumbling of the sliding stones
At midday whirlwinds rage in the heavens
And hope loosens from our hold
A flood of tears overflows across the books that we are making
I have not even bidden farewell to a promise
Nor have I glimpsed your hidden shadow
You have left behind a vast discourse
On my sanity and the Earth's intelligence
Grown witless are insects and masters
Of what they call psychology of love and female emotion
Where's Sigmund Freud during the brimming of your dream and lust?
Although I've also spent time in philosophy and science
I'm not inclined to probe the hollows of my thighs
As long as I can endure the terrible fate that has befallen our world
As long as I can bear the misfortune that's burdening my country
It seems I don't need Socrates and Jesus Christ
In this time of sacrifice
No more pretenders and morons when anger and grief collide
No more lunatics and rascals when the world is being buried alive
No more half-wits and smartasses when my country is fading
No more saints and magi in my altercations with Satan
To hell with them all who have cheapened my art!
All of them animals who have betrayed my art!
Tasyo shall rise with every rock that raps his skull!
And at last the look of the room has changed
There are new books and notebooks
There are new guitars and harmonicas
Pictures torn into pieces
That I tossed into the bin of our insanity
Adam had nine metals stitched to his ribs
A movie is being filmed by the crossroads
There are changes, new people, new characters.
New faces
New creations
New muse
New door
New room
New hobby for index fingers
New alleys that I can enter
New discourse
New vortex
New love and jealousy

I sent a letter to a friend
Where I said I won't make it to our appointment
`Forgive me' I implored
I haven't come to grips with my sorrow
Still forcing myself to deal with her absence
And I've no desire to find her again.


Paalam (Haiku)

Balot ang lungsod
Ng puting alapaap
Malayong musa.

Haplos ng ambon
Anino mong nagdaan

Hampas ng ulan
Lihim na kalungkutan

Taghoy sa gabi
Dahon kang naglalayag
Sa panaginip.

Rosas sa pader
Gumagapang na lungsod

Patlang sa buwan
Nakaguhit mong anyo
Sa kalawakan.

Dalit ng hangin
Pangamba ng taglamig
Isang paglisan.

Gintong panahon
Hiram na kapalaran



The city wrapped
In immaculate clouds
Muse from afar.

Soothed by a drizzle
Your fleeting shadow
Now discerned.

Pelting of rain
Sorrow concealed
A plaint.

Lament in the night
You're a leaf cruising
On a dream.

Rose on a wall
City supine in its gait
Feeling alone.

A gap on the moon
Your semblance inscribed
On the vastness above.

Ushered by the wind
Fear of cold's grip
A turning away.

Golden season
Borrowed fate
Bidding farewell.



Sampung Istasyon Patungong Impiyerno

Ang marubdob niyang pag-iipon ng mga butil sa garapon noon
Upang mapunan lamang ang paglayo ng kanyang amang at inang
Gaya nang namumuong siphayo sa kanyang puso ngayon
Isang pagtatangka na maaari pa niyang baguhin ang kanyang anyo
Subalit ang buntot niya'y patuloy na tumutubo
At nagkakabalahibo ang sungay niya
At tumatalas sa bawat baghigpit ng pulupot ng ahas
Sa kanyang katinuang gago
Hindi na siya makakabalik sa batuhang dalampasigan
Malayo na ang mundo ng kanyang kamusmusan
Inuuod na ang uniberso ng mga ninunong nalimutan
Bilog na ang mga tao sa lahat nang bakuran
Wala nang ulo ang mga asong nauulol sa kanilang kalanguan
Lunod ang sementeryong paglilibingan ng buong bayan.

Ten Stations to Hell

The heartfelt gathering of grains in a jar back then
Solely to replace the departure of his father and mother
Like the gloom that is now forming in his heart
An attempt that he might still be able to change his form
However, his tail continues to grow
His fur emerges
His horns become sharper the tighter the snake squeezes its coil
On his deranged vision
He can never return to the rocky seaside
The land of his innocence is now far away
Maggots reign the universe of forefathers long forgotten
Every person has become round behind every fence
Mad dogs have lost theirs heads in their drunkenness
The cemetery where the whole country will be buried is already drowning.


Tasyo is the philosopher character in Philippine hero Jose Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere

Sisa is the mad woman/mother in Noli Me Tangere

Alimuom is the heat that comes off the ground after a rainfall.

From KINO! magazine, No. 2/3, Slovenia