art & design, filmmaking, movies, musings

si chedeng, si apple, at si elvie

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im currently shooting a new film for cinema one originals with two of the most gorgeous women on the face of the earth, gloria diaz and elizabeth oropesa. these two ladies worked previously on the 1974 cult classic, Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa, and aptly titled too because even at their current ages, their beauty is unparalleled.  one can only wish theyd age gracefully as these two have.

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i grew up knowing i had family relations with gloria diaz. my middle name is, in fact, diaz; my mother had explained my grandfather and gloria’s father were cousins (and we have connections also on the florendo side of things). to get to work with her for this film is a dream come true but i took my time before letting ms gloria know of this family connection. i preferred to get to know her better first. the first time we met up with ms gloria to discuss film costume requirements, she told us she can provide day clothes but doesnt have sleeping outfits because she only wears gowns and her crown to sleep! a true beauty queen inside and outside, she turned out to be warm, generous, and with a fabulous sense of humor. so when i call her tita gloria, there is more than a kevin-bacon-6-degree truth to that. i, thank you. charot.

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shot in manila and cebu and features awesome cebuano talent behind the camera (director, producer, dop and camera crew, sound crew, etc), “si chedeng, si apple, at ang louis vuitton” is directed by fatrick tabada (writer of sleeper-hit patay na si hesus) and rae red (co-writer of birdshot), based on a fabulous script by tabada. cinematography by don gerardo frasco, production design by carlo tabije and myself (cdo reprezent), produced by bianca balbuena, and executive produced by ronald arguelles, this film is a finalist at the 2017 cinema one originals film festival on november 12-21.

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art & design, filmmaking, musings, travel

wanderlust: rome

rome. magnificent rome. bella italia. where do i start?

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ive been to rome and venice in 2006, joining brillante mendoza in presenting his 2nd film, KALELDO, to that year’s rome international film festival. it would be my first time outside asia, having only travelled to hong kong the year before because of mendoza’s first film as well, MASAHISTA, which was screened there.  we travelled with producer, ferdie lapuz, and actress, cherry pie picache. staying for around 4 days, we were in rome for 3 days, saw the vatican, and a day in venice plus visiting murano island. needless to say it was a very short stay and we were just skimming over what we could discover and see in italy.

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this year, carlo and i worked on production design for bradley liew’s first feature film, SINGING IN GRAVEYARDS. a gorgeous portrait of an aging impersonator, joey “pepe” smith, who performs in bars as aging rockstar, joey “pepe” smith. i say gorgeous because the range of emotions we got from pepe smith’s non-acting acting is sublime and the environment (including our design work on the sets) captured on anamorphic lenses on a 2.39:1 aspect ratio is breathtaking. char. bradley claims he did not grade larry manda’s camera work. this film was included in the critic’s week section of the 73rd venice international film festival this year, which was why bradley, bianca balbuena (brad’s co-writer, producer, & girlfriend), mickey (sound design), tracy, (executive producer), and carlo and myself (production designers) plus pepe smith flew to italy to attend the festival.

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we finally got our screening schedules and the film was gonna be premiering towards the latter half of the festival. our visas granted us around 15 days to be in italy so carlo and i decided to max out that opportunity and see more of italy so we flew to rome and milan first before heading to venice for the festival.

after 10 years, im finally back in rome!

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rome was monumental and grand and delicate and massive and really the superpower history books said it was during the age of empires and gladiators and eating off grapes from the hands of slaves. while we stayed 2.5 days in rome and saw a lot of stuff, we still missed out on other sights and exhibits in the city. our milan hosts reckon we needed maybe 7 days to explore more of rome and i think i agree with him.

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the altar of the fatherland. only got to see this from afar before. it’s sooooo big. everything is big in rome. you can imagine what the great caesars wanted to impose on humanity back in the day for what rome represented.

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im loving the landscape of rome. those trees in the far distance evoke memories from childhood storybooks and pictures from encyclopedia, now real and alive and tangible. no wonder artists drew like that. id probably say the same when i get to visit japan. lol. walking around laurel trees, it was strangely amusing to smell them and be reminded of home and adobo. i think i will plant laurel trees in my home. and cypress. and this pine thing. and olive trees if i can find it in mindanao. awesome to see them mixed with calachuchi and calamansi bushes and talisay. i think i need a bigger piece of land.

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umm, this painting was gorgeous. hi kuya 😉 we probably followed this guy from here in the vatican museum all the way to the sistine chapel. then we lost him. then he passed by us again while we were having dinner near the pantheon. choz. he nodded at us and we would have invited him over for pasta had he not walked so fast. see, we’re not stalkers. lol

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a detail of a wall painting of raphael (one of the ninja turles) in the vatican museum. that’s him in the black hat looking at us from the corner.

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every inch in the vatican museum is art. the church is the biggest patron of the arts, evident here in every room of the museum. i do wonder how nudity got to be so taboo when a lot of the depictions in art in the most holy of places are in the nude. paintings and sculpture of men and women all naked, loved by popes and the clergy. on display.

no pics of the sistine chapel, pinagbabawal. there were a few who defied and stole some photos but carlo and i felt we were too enthralled by michelangelo’s frescoes to bother taking photos. a lot of times, we felt photos do not give justice to the masterpieces on display, esp the frescoes in the sistine chapel. we stayed maybe an hour just looking up. gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

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the tapestries in this room is grabe na! dako kaayu!

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mosaic detail on the floor.

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a marble sculpture of laocoon and his sons, excavated in rome and now on permanent display at the vatican museum. gorgeous! according to google/wikipedia, this is in the hellenistic baroque style. char.

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wandered into a music shop near our airbnb in rome. always fascinated by shops in europe, they carry a lot of items despite its size. sa pilipinas, it would have to be some big franchise shop to carry this much varied merchandise in good condition. even the 2nd hand shops in cubao dont carry this kind of working, usable condition of merch.

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this time i got to see the colosseo up close and personal. chos. ancient rome is crazy, i tell you, to build such a massive building where people battled and died all in the name of entertainment. bloody thirsty masses watching and deciding the lives of slaves and warriors. hmmm, how very pilipinas lang now. never knew we became so blood thirsty, thrilled of the numbers of dead people popping up in the streets of manila. and how we ridicule and humiliate and curse at people on social media. wow. like the ancient romans? in my lifetime? but going back, maganda. pero masakit. the church with its riches despite the massive poor struggling to make ends meet. the relics of a mighty stadium reminds us of a brutal past. and we dont really learn from it.

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the oculus at the pantheon. i wasnt able to visit this in 2006 and this turned out to be absolutely one of my favorites in rome. i was surprised with the interiors, with the different colored marble sculptures and niches and that impressive hole in the ceiling.

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ang olive oil sa italy. bow. i heard a little about the olive oil mafia in italy, where the version we have commercially available isnt pure olive oil anymore. and only one family is supposedly controlling the olive oil industry. while in florence, our host told us not to use the cheap olive oil and instead use his stock of a slightly higher priced olive oil for our pasta. granted masarap nga. pero yung sinasabi niyang cheap oil ay isa na sa mahaling brand available sa pinas (bertolli). so ano nalang kaya yung mahalin sa kanila? wohoo. coconut oil nalang.

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local art in the neighborhood. diba kalorks. instant beauty everywhere. ingani ilang street art. atoa kay struggling but getting there. nothing wrong with mmda art really and sometimes i like that, ako ay engineer ako ay nurse thing. we need more subversive art though. lol.

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one cannot be in italia without eating gelato. the difference is that gelatos in italy are not as sweet as we have in manila. big difference for me kay dili kaayu ko tig-kaon ug ice cream. a bit cheaper also in italy. 150 to 200 pesos up per cone. mahal diay gihapon. haha

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thankfully they finished renovating/fixing the trevi fountain, one of the most gorgeous sights in rome, made more famous because making wishes at this fountain is 86% more effective than in other fountains. i made that up.

i did throw my coins back in 2006 (not in 2005 as i originally thought). and here i am back in italy. dreams come true, especially when you work for it and aim for it and save up for it and everything else in between.

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for more pics, check out my facebook photodump album for rome. cheers and leave me a comment here in my blog if you like this sort of thing. char.

up next: milan, dahlin’, milan.

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musings, travel

wanderlust: budapest

before i post about rome, i have to finish posting about budapest and prague. so heaven help me.

coming from croatia, we had about 2 days to spare prior to returning to prague. we decided to see budapest. the name itself sounded exotic, the european kind. it was a choice between vienna and budapest and the latter won because of the hashtag #bethebestinbudapest.

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the film, the grand budapest hotel by wes craven, is an amalgamation of various hotels in europe, perhaps including this one, the hotel astoria, and especially the grandhotel pupp in karlovy vary, which we had the opportunity to wine and dine in during the recent film festival there.

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budapest is a gorgeous town with amazing architecture and wonderful people. the city is divided down the middle by the river danube, which might be familiar to you guys who danced the waltz back in 3rd grade or something. on the left side of the river is the buda, where the grand palace and big museums are found, and the pest side (pronounced as pesh) on the right side, where we stayed. hence, “budapesh.”

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i want door knockers like this but i dont know where to get/find them. they all seemed to be antique in nature so i doubt id find it in their equivalent to ace hardware.

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had the best time in the national gallery. there was a picasso exhibit during the time we were in budapest but photos were not allowed. thankfully the main galleries showcased fabulous hungarian artists and masterpieces. photos on facebook.

for the rest of my photos, there in my facebook photodump album for budapest. just remember, be the besht in budapest!

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here comes the men in black…

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filmmaking, laundry therapy, musings, travel

evading the paparazzi

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had a grand time in karlovy vary celebrating its 51st international film festival and especially because our film was part of the festival. aside from kapatiran (brotherhood), lav diaz’s 8-hour opus, hele sa hiwagang hapis, and brillante mendoza’s cannes entry, ma’rosa (which won jaclyn jose her biggest international acting award), were also screened in karlovy vary.

but more than anything, i particularly love the paparazzi theme of the festival. and with that, we staged our own.

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producer, bianca balbuena

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production designer, benjamin padero

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production designer, carlo tabije

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director, pepe diokno

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director, pepe diokno, and associate producer, royd santiago

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production designers, benjamin padero and carlo tabije

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thug life editor, benjamin tolentino

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musings, travel

macau in 6 pictures, part 4

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macanese cuisine! the national museum had a whole table displaying mockup local dishes. awesome way to learn more about macao’s food and origins.

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one of macao’s famous tourist attractions, the ruins of st. paul. around the area are more stalls of street food and specialty shops.

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near the streets where the ruins of st paul is located, various shops sell this macanese/portuguese egg tart. egg custard on a pastry shell, these sell at MOP 9 to 10 a piece.

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tourists with their selfie stick.

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lots of bakeries in macau. another wonderful thing is that most locals follow traffic rules like pedestrian stop signs, and the fact that drivers will give right of way for pedestrians. and because the sidewalks are well made and maintained, macau is a great walkable city. frustrating for those coming from the philippines where cars are given priority on and off the road. pedestrians and cyclists have no rights in manila. inez.

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i found my reflection in a well at an exhibit building. it says hello. on the other side.

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food trip, musings, travel

macau in 6 pictures, part 3

the selfie album. part 1.

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tourist mode on the streets of macau. we walked a lot in macau because there were less cars hence less pollution. the streets were clean and safe. the weather was cold and we didnt sweat. at all. everything was fascinating to look at, we just had to walk all over macau. the only time we took the cab was when we left the airport going to our hotel.

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selfie at a korean cafe with a filipino waiter. it’s awesome to bump into filipinos working abroad. we then hear stories of woe and i do wish the conditions in the philippines were much better so these pinoys dont have to leave the country just to get a good paying job.

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one way to ward off homesickness in a foreign land is to be in the company of pinoys. and to eat food from home. getting tired of steamed fishballs or beef brisket noodles on just the 2nd day in macau, i wanted to eat tapsilog already. good thing filipino restos  and sari sari stores were aplenty along the r. da alfandega. they ran out of tapsilog though. so i ordered the next best thing. lechon kawali.

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the fake sky at the four seasons cotai shops was amazing but dizzying. dont stare while walking. the venetian canals with their gondolas line the area and a lot of them singing gondoliers were, you guessed it, filipinos. it’s hard work too. imagine rowing a boat WHILE singing opera.

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when we checked in at the holiday inn macau in central cotai, we did not know they’d give us a room on the 33rd floor! awesome view… of the next hotel building. and a view of the venetian hotel where we’d walk the red carpet the day after. woot woot!

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while researching for things to do in macau, i read a lot about koi kei bakery. when i saw the shop near the ruins of st. paul, i thought it was a one-shop bakery. then i saw another branch just a few stalls away. and another. and another. na-over franchise ata itong koi kei, OA lang sa dami lol

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musings, travel

macau in 6 photos, part 2

art reflects a culture’s past or current state of being. it is the artist’s way of expressing opinion or emotion. we have only skimmed the surface of macau’s art scene and based on what we saw, it may be “safe” but at least it is alive. here are some of the pieces we saw in galleries and on the street.

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chanced upon a gallery exhibit on print artworks. gorgeous pieces by local artists and beyond, though im not really sure. the pieces evoked history and culture, very inspiring. this one here is a detail of a beatiful reductive woodcut print, “buddhist travellers,” by wu shuai wei.

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a traditional piece of clothing at the macao national museum. jaw dropping detail on the embroidery.

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i love street art and i love mosaic in hongkong and macau, and this one here is street art and mosaic together. so awesome

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a marble sculpture on one of the tombs at cemiterio de s. miguel arcanjo along beco do almirante costa cabral in macau. the cemetery gates were open and based on google earth photos, this was one location i would love to see. clean, peaceful, gorgeous. and did i mention clean?

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a small gallery shop out of nowhere. around the time we came about this area, all the shops were still closed. they were expected to open at 11am. lots of quirky art pieces.

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somebody threw or left a pair of shoes in one of the alleys in macau. what to do? strike a pose. art in macau was generally better than in malaysia. it felt more at ease and not stifled (by the government or religion, maybe).

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