Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B (2016)

Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B

Unlike the usual manananggal movies, Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B centers the viewer’s attention to the viewpoint of the victimizer (the manananggal) rather than on the victim.

Director Prime Cruz is known to incorporate a lot of signs and symbols like in his movie, Sleepless. Packed with a lot of symbolism, the movie’s greatest feature is in its cinematography and direction. They ironically subtly and obviously confront the viewer of personal and societal issues, etc. Thus, the viewer has to pay extra attention to the focus of each scene (from the turtles to the laundromat, etc.) to understand its underlying message. Else, the movie will just turn out to be ordinary.

Actors Ryza Cenon and Martin Del Rosario, together with Vangie Labalan, convincingly takes the audience to familiar emotions of loss and love.

The ending is familiar, but the viewer can freely assume what happens next.

The lack of giving a glimpse of the mysterious past of Jewel (Cenon) can either be viewed as a loophole or restraint. The loophole view is a common and self-explanatory observation. On the other hand, the restraint gives the audience to creatively fill the gaps and discuss (or remember with interest) this certain myth of our rich Filipino literature.

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Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B is an entry to the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (2017) as announced by The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).


© rooks 2017

Kita Kita (2017)

Kita Kita

Kita Kita weaves Filipino reality and humor with a literary touch of Japanese.

The love story may be ordinary, but it resonates in one way or another to its audience. The script is lighthearted and funny for most of the time without trying hard to make one laugh. The lights and sounds flow with the mood. The colors pleasingly create personal emotions to relate with. The choice of shots is noticeably artistic. The random symbolisms are delightful epiphanies for retrospection. Overall, this simple yet heartfelt film makes you breathe fresh air while admiring its candid rawness.

Indeed, Director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo together with actors Alessandra De Rossi and Empoy Marquez; creatively tells us a story that is worthy of our attention.

Filmed in Japan, I cannot but notice on its loose similarities with modern Japanese literature. The works such as those of Murakami and Ozeki for which alternate storytelling that converges at some point in the plot as a prevalent style, echo that of how the movie unfolded. It is simply clever and heartwarming. It is my highlight.

In between 2 movies (only) Sakaling Di Makarating and Kita Kita, I think I am becoming a fan of De Rossi.


© rooks 2017

Women Who Ruled by Claudia Gold

Claudia Gold - Women Who Ruled

A woman. Her power, wit, and charm in the history of humankind has undeniably deposed powerful men. She can either be the rise and fall of a man. In whichever fate the man will cease, she can masterfully orchestrate his glory or doom.

Claudia Gold’s Women Who Ruled: History’s 50 Most Remarkable Women is an intriguing primer to the women who has conquered history in their own terms. It brings its readers to a glimpse of their influence that made them stand out and hopefully encourage humanity to make a difference even in unknown ways.

There are a lot more influential women not mentioned in the book. I would have likely included Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales in the list for the impact she has made in the world, especially for her charity work, Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected to serve as chief of the Cherokee Nation, etc.

In retrospect, the legacy of a person only becomes truly recognized when his/her generation have passed and where only the present generation is there to look back and analyze with little bias.


© rooks 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood - The Handmaids Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood deviates from a society standard of writing that will (hopefully) haunt and awaken its readers.

Had I read The Handmaid’s Tale in my teens or early adulthood, I would have been deeply disturbed. Such genre called “speculative fiction” as Atwood classifies it, is an unthinkable read in those days. Fast forward to 2017, when the likes of Westworld, The Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, etc. reflect on today’s society and allude to a dystopian future if we lose our moral sensibilities… It is terrifying and continues to leave us the question, “What have we learned after all these years?”

Or if today one simply shrugs and continues with life unruffled by inhumanities… Sadly, they have not ceased to exist. Are they becoming normal? Have we become desensitized? Has compassion become selective?

Indeed, what have we become?


© rooks 2017

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

The Fate of the Furious

My cruising thoughts on The Fate of the Furious (FF8). Read at your own disposal as it may contain spoilers.

1. The opening race is one hell of an idea.
2. If you think 7 is emotional, go and see 8.
3. The choreography and hustle of car stunts keep this franchise fresh and new.
4. After the alleged death of Letty in 4 and her surprising sighting in the mid-credits of 5, no twist amazes me that much anymore. With 8, the appearance and cameo role of an English legend is one of my pleasant spins.
5. 2 English men and 2 English women with their accent is music to my ears.
6. There is no tough guy in front of a mother scolding him like a child.
7. Family even in the oddest of situations will always be first.
8. Action with some funny dialogues blend together.
9. Saying grace before meals never get old. It brings a family together.
10. 2 sexy women hackers sizzle.
11. A woman villain with no man boss is kick ass.
12. FF as a growing family is exciting.
13. A 9 definitely looms.


© rooks 2017

The Little Prince and The Single Rose

The Little Prince and The Single Rose

While the earth shook one night last week, I happen to be privately chatting with a friend through social media. We were randomly talking about artists, books, and everything in between. Unexpectedly, she asked me what my favorite book of all time is. As a book lover, several titles and authors came into mind. But a simple yet life changing book touched my heart ever since I first read it. I now have my third hard copy because the first and second got lost in between home renovation and something else I do not remember. I simply had to have a copy of it on my bookshelf. My first reading of it came at the right time in my life and made a difference in my perception of life in general. As my friend said, “… the book prepared me for adulthood.” I could not agree more. Coincidentally, her favorite book is also my dearest of them all. The Little Prince.

From a book fair last year, I came across The Single Rose (Life After the Little Prince) by Andrea St. Thomas. It was curiosity at first sight. Indeed, how was life for the Rose after the Little Prince left? Because of other priority readings, it got parked until this weekend. I had no expectations on The Single Rose as I do not want it to ruin my love for The Little Prince. I first re-read The Little Prince and then read The Single Rose. The classic (The Little Prince) remained ever new while the new (The Single Rose) renews the classic. It was a beautiful journey to relive and move forward. St. Thomas beautifully delivered with style.

2 authors. 2 books. A blend of nostalgia and making sense of the present (and future) without altering eras of creativity and wisdom. It is a matter of consequence (or importance) that these 2 books be read.

Another book lover, friend shared with me that she has a friend who re-reads a specific book every year. It was my first time to hear such kind of engagement. It intrigued me as I never did the same yearly. I am always looking for something new and contemporary. But, as I have just re-read and still enjoy a favorite classic, I might indulge in the habit of reading it yearly. Maybe.


© rooks 2017

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem - My Life On The Road

I love biographies. I read at least one biography a year. But I hope to increase the number this year as I truly enjoy reading them. The struggles and triumphs of the biographer inspire and give hope.

In Gloria Steinem’s My Life On The Road, it made me appreciate and respect more of human experience as a reality to define. The apparent and at the same time unconscious reason of conflict and hate between us nowadays is because of our predetermined views of another’s reality. There is so much scrutiny and criticism in everything we do and by being simply you (yes, even by one’s presence) – a human being who have inalienable rights to live and be free.

Though I am not from the Cherokee nation, the origin of my given name, Cherokee, came from the Cherokee Rose for which my father named me after. Knowing for the first time about the first female chief in Wilma Mankiller and the impact she has made for her people and her country through this book is an honor and a privilege. I researched for more readings about her. Thanks to the internet and technology. A glimpse of her life is readily available. Very inspiring.

My Life on the Road is one of those books for which I have to pause for a long time and be in awe and deep thought after reading. One of my differing views on the issues discussed is on abortion. I firmly believe that life begins at conception. Thus, a human being comes to life from that moment. But while I hold this value close to my heart, I do not condemn those who believe otherwise nor have engaged in such. Everyone has a story that has to be respected.

The richness and mystery of human experience that is lived to the fullest is one of life’s greatest triumph. Steinem, in all that she could be, lived hers. I hope to truly live mine.


© rooks 2017