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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.

IMG_6280.jpg#gwapulis. in the vatican museum.

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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.

art & design, filmmaking, musings, travel

wanderlust: rome

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wanderlust: karlovy vary

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karlovy vary is about 1.5 hours from prague in the czech republic. i had but recently only realized that czechoslovakia had divided itself in 1993 (i blame sleepy afternoons and not concentrating in history). so there is the czech republic and there is slovakia on the map. awesome to learn something every day, right?

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karlovy vary is known for their spas and medicinal spring waters and a lot of their tourism is towards people seeking wellness and therapy. however, every july their sleepy little town gets to throw a big party for the summer crowd and because it hosts the karlovy vary international film festival.

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this is Hotel Thermal, home of the karlovy vary international film festival. the hotel is kinda like CCP, except with a hotel and is near everybody else.

our film, KAPATIRAN (Brotherhood), was screened this year, ive blogged about it already. this post would show a little bit of karlovy vary instead.

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one of the ballrooms in the grandhotel pupp with a big ass morgan freeman portrait. one of the biggest spa hotels in karlovy vary and where a lot of the parties during the festival were hosted. it’s awesome for 1 festival to have most of the whole city so involved. you can see a lot of their poster billboards all over. the theaters are spread out and not just in one venue.

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another one of the venues where we had our 2nd screening of karlovy vary. goofing outside the cafe, we were joined by hubert poul (6th from left), programmer in karlovy vary and the one who was responsible for bringing us to the czech republic. also in the photo in lucille (rightmost) who was in-charge of our schedules and car transfers. very organized and with a bmw sponsorship for transfers, we were major alta in karlovy vary haha

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early morning and the crowd had just partied the night before. still some few souls traversing through the venue and gardens, others sunbathing for their life. im pinoy, no thanks, i have my umbrella to shield me from the sun.

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the view outside hotel ruze, where we enjoy our breakfast buffet of cheeses, hard bread, and yohgurt. plus goulash and different kinds of sausages as well.

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another of the collonades that feature a spring of water, supposedly medicinal and which you can drink (if you buy them touristy ceramic mugs).

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we stayed for 4-5 days but wish we could stay the whole week. got to watch brillante mendoza’s ma’rosa (heartbreaking) and swiss army man, directed by dan kwan and daniel scheinert (amazing). then of course, the new edit to kapatiran, which we saw for the first time in karlovy vary. during the q&a, pepe likened the philippines to shattered glass, an archipelago of broken people, separated by seas and subcultures yet connected by affiliations. and then there was a proposal that occurred. but that will be another story.

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for the rest of the photos i took in karlovy vary, head on to my fb photodump album.

art & design, filmmaking, laundry therapy, movies, musings, travel

wanderlust: karlovy vary

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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

filmmaking, laundry therapy, musings, travel

evading the paparazzi

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art & design, filmmaking, movies, musings, sketch

random drawing luna 201404XX

while doing research and working out the production design for the feature film, heneral luna, i got inspired by a scene from the script and decided to draw a sketch with antonio luna lost in thought playing his guitar and is about to be interrupted by his mother at the door. sketch is obviously unfinished but up to today i dont have the heart to finish it.

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art & design, filmmaking, laundry therapy, movies, musings

i cam i saw i cam

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cesar hernando, production designer for most of mike de leon’s films (batch ’81, kisapmata), sent us invitations to revisit the college of fine arts at university of the philippines and celebrate our organization’s 16th year anniversary last saturday, 25th of october 2014. that org is CAM, Cinema as Art Movement. generally a group of film enthusiasts from fine arts who love to watch and dissect films, the org evolved to encouraging students to work on their own cinematic masterpieces and involving more to see cinema beyond entertainment. the broadness and loftiness of the concept that embodies the org’s name may lead to its own downfall but the org strived to meet each generation of members’ goals for the sake of cinema. and art. 16 years later and even 10 years since my batch has graduated, the argument on what the org really should be remain diverse; its implied goal elusive.

CAM’s pioneering members include esquire magazine’s editor-in-chief erwin romulo, photographers gary buenavista, richard de guzman, j lucas reyes, film cinematographer eli balce, and graphic artist tom estrera iii. some of the org’s advisers and supporters are cannes winner raymond red, cinematographers larry manda and dindo martinez, and independent filmmaker mes de guzman.

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long ago its membership was exclusively fine arts students until the group, under my leadership in 2002, opened to accept students from other colleges in UP. we enjoyed a strong physical presence in the fine arts halls that year, aided by a healthy number of members, and even went as far as leveling up the org’s indie video film festival, inyorai, to become an intercollegiate event and saw entries coming in from ateneo, la salle, and PLM. towards the 2nd half of the year, we planned to hold workshops on various aspects of production with the hope that members and students would have the necessary know-how to produce their own works. a school year is too short and we were only able to hold 2 workshops and it was like starting from scratch the year after. such is life for a school organization.

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photo of past and present chairheads of CAM

that saturday we did find ourselves again in the hallowed halls of hogwarths, communing with ghosts from the past and stray cats of the present. i was late coming into the program so i had no idea what was being discussed earlier. i had to introduce myself to the kids.

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so it is with a reassured heart that we leave an impression with the young ones to continue what he had hoped to accomplish back in the day. however, i do fear (i believe) the key to success for this so-called movement lies with the alumni. and maybe even outsiders who can pursue that grand idea and move the call forward. this movement can no longer be contained in a college organization whose lifespan is limited to periods the length of a school semester before restarting its programs or do an overhaul with every new enrollment of students. maybe it’s time we pick up the camera again, this time armed with real world know-how and connections beyond the world of the academe.

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class picture! i love you new cam members but i dont know all your names. on the front row are alumni from left: jopay cuntapay, peta stage writer and actress anj herjuela, tv commercial director mike talampas, esquire editor-in-chief erwin romulo, prof cesar hernando, myself, bates ad agency acd jhem manalang, prof ruben de jesus, comic book illustrator aj bernardo, graphic artist tom estrera iii, gma agency hotshot jimi diga, comic book writer and editor noel pascual, and chorva.

*special thanks to anj for sharing the last three photos in this article. for more information on Cinema as Art Movement, check out the group’s facebook page.

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art & design, costume design, movies, musings, set design

HENERAL LUNA Teaser is out!

the film we worked on for about a year of our small, insignificant lives (compared to fallen heroes who fought for our liberation) just released a teaser trailer! sharing with you a glimpse of the biggest movie we’ve all worked on, so far! i give you jerrold tarog’s HENERAL LUNA!

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directed by JERROLD TAROG cinematography PONG IGNACIO production design BENJAMIN PADERO & CARLO B. TABIJE music JERROLD TAROG editor JERROLD TAROG catering JERROLD TAROG free coffee JERROLD TAROG sunscreen JERROLD TAROG (kadaghan bas imo ngalan diri JERROLD TAROG) screenplay JERROLD TAROG ED ROCHA HENRY FRANCIA producer ED ROCHA executive producer FERNANDO ORTIGAS

please like our HENERAL LUNA facebook page.

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art & design, costume design, filmmaking, interior design, movies, musings, set design

ABOVE THE CLOUDS BEHIND THE SCENES: Production Design

during the shoot of pepe diokno’s 2nd full length feature, ABOVE THE CLOUDS, last year, bradley liew, a malaysian filmmaker, was tasked to create short featurettes for the film’s behind the scenes. bradley and pepe were able to release the first two featurettes that discussed the director’s vision and our 2 lead actors even before we finished shooting the whole thing. the 4th episode in this series, released just a few weeks ago, was about the production design and featured us 😉 as much as the requirements on paper seemed simple enough, it is not. whether you are designing for 2 actors on screen or 500, all film projects require careful planning and attention to detail. watch this vid and see if we actually made sense. the shoot of ABOVE THE CLOUDS took almost a year to do so my hair also went into different lengths and feels haha. cheers!

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