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

i cam i saw i cam


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

art & design, food trip, interior design, musings

van gogh is cuckoo

had a very interesting night at van gogh is bipolar. FA classmate egan jimenez held a photo exhibit that opened today at the cafe.  took me a 2nd tagging of his invites on FB to haul my ass off and go (i dragged jhem manalang along with me).  i missed the company of egan and van gogh owner jetro, plus sir tats enriquez (missed cesar hernando by a half hour) and had a wonderful night of conversation over beer and tea.

at the back wall are egan’s photos enlarged on plywood canvasses. i especially loved his amsterdam photo and the steps of the sistine chapel. jetro here decided to take off his shirt and wear the michelangelo’s david apron he got from italy.

listened to jetro’s stories in europe. his new motto in life is apparently hakuna matata. somewhere in scandinavia he met this old man with a thick white beard and long hair. he looked like a bum but jetro found out while talking to the guy that he was 1 of 3 remaining artists in sweden or something. And he plans to move in here in the philippines in november on fulfilling a life-long dream of retiring and dying here. and that he’s planning to buy an island and stay there. oh, and he has a pinay girlfriend.  i say, there’s no place like home.

flags of countries from jetro recent euro trip hang outside the cafe.

how is a tea party without tea pots?

jetro’s teas are grown from his own yard out in isabella. with the storm he tells me his trees have been uprooted. i asked, how was his family.  well, they have still have a roof, he says.


we dined at next-door black soup cafe but finished here in the red wall boudoir. the piece of knit hanging above i loved.  later i find out it was from gilda cordero. much later jetro tells me it was chinchin gutierrez’s costume from the stage musical, luna (aswang romance).  so much cooler.


jetro did not serve dinner that day but his cafe became a soup kitchen of sorts.  on the foreground is his chicken soup (lovely); in mid ground is his travel journal (which includes an unsent letter to oprah).

jetro confesses his trip eventually became spiritual. by the 3rd week in europe he unloads most of his stuff and sends it back to the pinas. along the way he’d leave behind some of his clothes, realizing he doesnt need so much material stuff. by the 3rd month in europe, he’s left with a shirt, his jeans, shoes and bag. he even gave away his cellphone. he’s slept on floors, in bus stations, dined with the rich and convened with the poor.  he tells me his life in manila is complicated, realizing people can live on less and be happy. and he realized he was afraid of so many things. he says, by learning to let go of all anxiety and fear, only then can we really live.

this lace umbrella, used as a shade, was sourced from belgium in jetro’s recent euro tour.

a lot of us have wild dreams of being rich and traveling all over, experiencing what the whole world has to offer. he’s prodding me it’s time to resume pursuing mine. jetro declared to robert he was leaving for europe then. robert asked when, to which he replied soon. jetro surmises if he didnt leave now then he might never will. so off he went, just like that.

if only we could be as adventurous with fate and destiny, we will realize we were always meant to be where we only thought we’d go.

and just like that, i became more inclined to take that trip back to europe to live out a fantasy.  ever since carlo was invited to go to europe (for work) in february next year, i wanted to go back there too.  my first euro trip 5 years ago was only 5 days long. now i wanna stay for a month or two!  i want to go back shooting my short films and a bit of photography so im vying for a good DSLR (how about a canon 550D for now?).  my finances will need to brace itself but maybe i need to live off the edge a bit.  otherwise i wouldnt get to where i need to be.  you only live once.  no day but today.


triptych: jhem

here is another short film we worked on for a class project back in 2002. we were tasked to group in teams of 5 (me with mike talampas and marco dela torre, from the salamin group, plus jm epilepsia and dennis domingo). the plan was to create a triptych of sorts with jm, mike and myself directing 1 episode each. marco scores the whole thing, dennis writes the screenplay, mike handles the camerawork and i edit everything. i have yet to upload the first two shorts but here’s the 3rd part, which i directed and edited. i was heavily influenced by lynch’s mulholland drive here. mind you, this was produced in 2002, and some sets we shared with the other shorts in this triptych. it was fun producing this but please dont take us seriously. hehehe

triptych: jhem stars ezer marin and reena david, two of ateneo’s best student actors and bestfriends of my cousin tootsie. most of our actors in triptych turn out to be ateneans. this short used to be titled jake but rockstar god and bestie jhem claims this is his story. ergo the change of name

🙂 cheers!

food trip, music

focaccia @ a.venue

rockstar jhem invited us to one of his gigs at capone’s a.venue in makati ave (mar25). we have been missing out on his gigs so we made it a point to watch this night. carlo and i arrived early so we could dinner at a.venue. it was a tossup between japanese, italian food or those big burgers they were offering there but italian ruled so we ate at focaccia.

ordered their soup trio, putanesca and mushroom cheese rollup pizza. OMG ang sarap! the soup trio (of tomato cream, squash and mushroom) was fantastic. it came in shots actually, a sampler serving, and was really good. the pasta was also good but serving was kinda small though.

the pizza we loved! for those familiar with yellow cab’s dear darly, this is soo much better. apart from the fact that they have various “flavors” for the rollup pizza, the dough is much thinner and the effect is overall fantastic. winner siya haha

and yes we got to the gig part. i was pleasantly surprised i enjoyed the rock gig. it’s been a long while since we ventured to listen to rock music but i liked what The Beltrans had to offer. there were a couple of pitchy notes in the middle of the set but overall, great performance. rockstar jhem, you rock! 🙂