It’s just the second week of the year. So while we weather another COVID-19 surge, we recommend reading enchanting tales from Bicol, listening to stories behind the most iconic Pinoy film soundtracks, gathering insights on the demolition videos on instagram, and dipping once again into a virtual world that got us through the first wave of COVID-19.
Read “Tales from Ticao”
Ticao is one of the three major islands in Masbate, and in Tito Genova Valiente’s book “The Last Sacristan Mayor and the Most Expensive Mass for the Dead: Tales from Ticao,” the island is transformed into a place where fiction and enchantment coexist, sometimes fused into a form that refuses to be categorized. Valiente, a public anthropologist, film educator and critic, gathers various sugilanon (stories told orally) from Ticao, where he comes from. As sugilanon, and with Valiente’s skillful retelling, it’s not clear whether these childhood recollections are mere fictions, hearsay, or histories with guised up characters and instances. These folktales contain enchanted dresses, mythic creatures, and persons that Valiente suspects are enchanted themselves. “The fiction there is that she was treated as a real person when in fact, she was an enchanted being,” he says of Erlina, an all around main in his maternal grandmother’s house. Erlina was courted by a beautiful and powerful creature called Onglo, whose torso is that of a man and a horse from below. Strange and marvelous things happen in “Tales from Ticao,” but there’s always a hint of personal histories in the telling, which makes them all the more mysterious. Erlina and the Onglo’s tale can be found online if you want a sample of these tales. — DON JAUCIAN
Destroy and build with artist Czar Kristoff
It’s not everyday that you find demolition videos on Instagram. The photo sharing platform is usually known for photos that project happiness and “the good life.” So it was a surprise for artist Czar Kristoff to find these demolition videos through his Instagram algorithm.
“Maybe because of the Facebook acquisition or I don’t know,” he wrote in his essay for CNN Philippines Life in 2021. “News agencies and other institutions started using it, meme and horoscopes accounts proliferated, it became also a space for artists to showcase their/our work and life and so on. There are many types of images uploaded every day and what we see on our feed is only a portion of that digital (dumpsite) infrastructure. According to a study, there are 95 million images (both still and moving) uploaded every day.”
These videos became the subject of his installation “To Destroy is to Build,” which was part of his exhibition at MO_Space in 2020. The Laguna-based artist then made print zines of the videos with blank pages in between the screenshots, asking the readers to draw, write, or place any kind of marking that depicts what monuments mean to them.
He says in a statement accompanying the zine, “Buildings are generally made to shelter people. Seeing it as a man-made entity created from concrete, metal and/or glass, all of which came from the earth asserts its identity as a monument of humanity’s power over the world we live in.” — DON JAUCIAN
“To Destroy is to Build” is available at artbooks.ph for ₱335
Learn more about the stories behind iconic Filipino soundtracks
“I’m not too sure if this is me,” Gary Valenciano says when Jungee Marcelo finally landed on the phrase “Hataw na!” as an adaptation of George Black’s “Turn it Up.” Valenciano was supposed to include “Turn it Up” in his Japan and US release then, and Marcelo was tasked to adapt it in Filipino. He initially translated it as “Lakasan na!” — a direct translation of the original title of the song since he had to adapt the song word for word (“Gumamit pa ako ng graphing paper,” Marcelo says”). During rehearsals, Marcelo heard the word “Hataw!” and thought it might be perfect for the song. Valenciano balked at the change but once he sang the song, he loved it and even immediately thought of the choreography.
If you grew up in the ‘90s and were attuned to the great moments of Filipino pop culture, “Hataw Na!” was an ubiquitous track. It remains to be one of Valenciano’s biggest hits, which was even made more famous by Jose Javier Reyes’s film of the 1995 same name, starring Valenciano himself, along with Dayanara Torres, Jao Mapa, Jolina Magdangal, and Nida Blanca.
It’s always nice to hear great anecdotes from some of the greatest moments in Filipino pop culture and this is what Muni Muni Stories Podcast gives us in their second season: a deeper look at some of our favorite Pinoy movie soundtracks. The show is hosted by Sofia Santiago, associate manager and curator for partnerships, programs, and exhibitions of the Filipinas Heritage Library, which co-produces Muni Muni Stories with Podcast Network Asia.
Other guests include Chai Fonacier and Treb Monteras for “Respeto,” Armi Millare and Antoinette Jadaone for “Alone/Together,” and more. — CNN PHILIPPINES LIFE STAFF
Listen to Muni-Muni Stories Season 2 is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or other podcast streaming platforms.
Tighten your grip on the virtual world with the DLC of this beloved video game
The “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” massive 2.0 update came in late 2021, and includes Brewster’s cafe The Roost, recipes for cooking, as well as a ton of new items to add color to any virtual island. Besides the free patch, there’s also a paid DLC called “Happy Home Paradise.” While my interest in the game came and went since I downloaded it last year, I’ve been surprisingly hooked by the update and DLC. In “Happy Home Paradise,” you basically add another layer of labor of life on the island. This time, aside from decorating your own home, you will now be paid to decorate other people’s vacation homes, depending on their desired aesthetic. I have so far decorated three vacation homes, and it’s given me a lovely preview of what new things are actually in the “Animal Crossing” update. There are now some very cool mid century furniture and even dishes that you can use to accentuate a space. You then get paid in a nonconvertible currency that you can use to buy furniture and other items in the Paradise Planning store. It’s all very “The White Lotus” if I’m being honest, complete with an appropriate uniform and the pandering to guests’ needs.
The DLC has been a pretty engaging addition to the whole “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” experience. If I must also work in the virtual world, may it be as painless and as chill as this one is. And will I ever save up enough virtual currency to buy my own vacation home? Perhaps the next update will give me the answer to that. — MARGA BUENAVENTURA
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and the DLC are available for purchase on the Nintendo Online Store.