Apparently, the National Artist Award, the highest recognition given to Filipinos who have displayed excellence in the practice of their art form and who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine Arts in general, has lost its esteem and reputation since yesterday for turning blind eye to the stature of other much more deserving artists in favor of someone who, while unmistakably has a name in popular mainstream, has yet to receive the nod of fellow artists and respectable critics.

Such is my pet peeve about the subjectivity of arts---when some people maximize its usage to defend worthy art works, others do the same to glorify obscure, if not worthless, art works. I could only shake my head in disappointment while trying to digest the news, the news which will soon be etched in many future art and film books as a fact.

Carlo J. Caparas may have created komiks like Panday and Bakekang, and directed films like The Cory Quirino Kidnap Story and Vizconde Massacre, but for what it's worth even an art student who has an understanding of the history can claim that he is not YET in the same league with other dead and living artists from film and visual arts who were and are practically worshiped by past and present practitioners of the field. Without abusing the license to use subjectivity for “art sake,” one may wonder how he surpasses Mars Ravelo, Tony Velasquez and Francisco V. Coching in the very field which, from what I heard, most of the National Artist Award Committee officials have been allergic of. One may think deeply how his “massacre films,” which fed on true-to-life stories, surpass those of Peque Gallaga, Mike de Leon or even Tikoy Aguiluz. Even artist like Gerry Alanguilan, who are among the people who have as much rights to be critics as people from the committee officials do, doesn't have the vaguest idea. I wonder how the so-called experts from the visual arts and film fields maneuvered the short list of nominees on the very first deliberation. There had to be a powerful force, dark force I can only surmise, which might have tarnished the process of selecting the nominees in the arts world, dulling the radiance of the most prestigious art award in the country. Politics?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Unfortunately, what has been done has already been done. I, myself, a minuscule observer in the world of art, could do nothing but end his nutty rant with the words from Gerry Alanguilan himself: “This is the day that the National Artists Award lost all its credibility. As an artist, I am deeply saddened, offended, and disgusted.”
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While telling stories about skin problems at lunch yesterday(that's how nasty we can get), I happened to remember the time when a battalion (yes, a battalion!) of warts infested my left foot and threatened to turn it into another major source of embarrassment (as if its bad smell was not enough). It happened five years ago when I was working my ass off in Saudi Arabia.

Wart, as I found out, is a virus that can easily be acquired when in contact with the skin of an infected person. It is also possible to get warts from using towels or other objects used by an infected person. Since I don't share towel (that's gross) I figured that the shoes I sometimes borrowed from other people when playing basketball was the real culprit why I got warts. And yes, perhaps why I got the bad smell, too!

I wasn't really particular about “foot hygiene,” especially when the excitement of playing basketball was already in an overdrive. The thought of dribbling and shooting was enough to make me tremble in excitement (that's no exaggeration). I didn't give a damn whether I would be using Indian-made shoes, or crazily-branded snickers. Who cared? I wore my own socks. But like a goddamn curse, I found out that these small, rough tumors were spreading wildly around my toes. I tried to ignore them, thinking that they would soon disappear without treatment (perhaps because of the smell of my feet). But I was dead wrong. Soon enough, they were freely populating my foot like squatters.


The goddamn warts even managed to cross Asian countries. Yes, I still had them with me when I got back in Manila, wrapped like babies in a pair of newly-bought smooth Burlington socks. It wasn't long until I grew tired of uncomfortably watching the warts comfortably living on my foot. I had enough of it, especially after finding out that my finger on my left hand got infected, too. On the advice of some friends, I used Trosyd, an antifungal cream, thinking that fungi and virus are the same. Of course, it was no use. I tried other medication, some more anti-fungal creams and some nasty chemicals whose name I can't remember anymore, and expectedly, to no avail. In the end, I resorted to using the hard way, the poor man's way: kill 'em through cigarette burn (since virus can be killed with heat). Perhaps the thought of “burning at stake” would be even enough to scare the crap out of them. It hurt like hell, but it still didn't kill the doggone viruses completely. They will grow again if they are not uprooted, I was told. But I'd had enough of the pain so I decided to stop burning the warts and think of some other means. True enough, the pesky warts got back on my feet after a few days, re-rooting themselves and pissing me off again, like nothing happened.

One day while strolling the mall, I dropped by a skin clinic to inquire about warts removal. I asked them how much they would charge me for it, and the attendant said that it depends on the size of warts. I showed her the lone wart on my finger which was way bigger than the ones on my foot. The attendant's mouth dropped slightly open, as if she got a birthday surprise, while looking closely (and amusingly) at the pepper-sized wart like a prized diamond ring. “Baka, one thousand yung ganitong case, Sir...” she said, explaining the characteristic of the wart like it's a living person, “medyo nakakapit na yung ugat ng virus sa second layer of skin ng daliri nyo, e.” I was like floored. I only showed her my hand. I was thinking, what about the other goddamn warts on my foot? Then I estimated the amount in my mind. It would cost me hundreds of thousands of pesos to get rid of those warts! Just for warts, can you believe that? No fu@#$% way!!

I was about to give up when the thought of surfing the Internet for treatment popped out. Perhaps there were some alternative ways. Google. Yahoo. How to treat warts. Banana peel. Natural oil. Crushed Vitamins C tablets. Blah, blah, and more blahs. Forty-five minutes more of searching over the net and I finally came across a no-nonsense, non-commercial, non-expensive advice about warts removal. Salicylic acid! Yeah, the type you can easily buy over the counter. It said that warts can be removed by repeatedly applying the acid and removing the dead skin with nailcutter afterwards for weeks, two times a day. And oh boy, it worked for me!

Amazingly enough, the goddamn warts succumbed in just three weeks. I could still hear the them asking for mercy while I mercilessly applied the acid over my fingers and left foot, har, har, har! They enjoyed living for some time rent-free on my feet, and now it's payback time! Die warts, dieee! Har, har, har!

I still keep salicylic acid in the medicine cabinet just in case the warts contemplate revenge. I was warned that they can recur without warning, so it's best to be forearmed and ready. Since I managed to get rid of my warts, people have been asking for the acid and exact instructions. I'm always glad to lend my salicylic acid which, by the way, cost only around P40. Its cheapness adds to the satisfaction of killing those pesky warts.

What about the smell? I'll get to that some other time. Har har har!
Every time I read newspaper, I normally don't give much attention to headlines other than the bannerhead. After the bannerhead, I go straight to the sports page and, if there's an interesting trending topic, the entertainment page. Unless, of course, I find the day so drab that leafing through pages of books, periodicals and magazines is the only thing to do.

But for some forces of bad luck, last Sunday was different. I didn't know if it's the coffee or the bread, but I mysteriously came across an article, or a poem---no, an article (or whatever piece of “shitlit” you may call it)---which occupied the shamelessly spacious column entitled “Me, Starzan” in the entertainment section of the broadsheet Philippine Star. Guess who the writer (“the powet”) is? It's Joey de Leon.

After reading the first paragraph of his “powetic” article, I was nearly tempted to relegate it to trash where its “kinds” really belonged. His corn farm was really killing me. But for some good vibes surrounding the beautiful Sunday morning, I managed to give it the benefit of the doubt; after all, it was the great Joey de Leon writing here. Perhaps there were some sense to his powetic article than I first gave him credit for.

It turned out that Joey de Leon's article is really what I suspected it was. What a crab! I regretted reading it. He thinks that the world is not yet fed up of his corny knock-knock type of jokes he mindlessly picks up from his Iskul Bukol days; he seriously believes he can also leave a legacy in print. In his column's article tastelessly entitled 'Michael-Likot At In-Jackson' (Philippine Star, July 5, 2009), I believe that a portion of his “powetic” article was referring to Charice Pempengco, the wonder girl who sang her way to international stardom. Here's the excerpt:

At marami na naman ang gustong pumapel,
Kesyo close daw sila sa nasirang si Michael,
Kahit ano nga ngayon pwede nating i-tell,
Favorite nga ni Jacko noon ay Dyesebel!

Meron pa daw biglang naging idol s’ya,
Mabubuking mo dahil iba mga kanta,
Laging birit Beyoncé, Celine at Mariah,
Nang bumigay si MJ, umiba ang gaga.

Tigilan na nuno ng kasinungalingan,
Kesyo kinukuha raw para sa one-on-one
Nila ni Michael Jackson gagawin sa London,
Beat it! That is Bad, puro kayo ka-cheap-an.

You've got to read between the lines. From what has been going on recently, Joey de Leon was obviously talking about Charice here. It had been reported that Charice was supposed to join the late Michael Jackson for his comeback world tour at the Oz Arena in London. As she recalled it herself, she was attending a private party of Warner Brothers when Jackson’s lawyer approached her and told her that Jackson hand-picked her to be one of his special guests in the series of concerts where they would do a “showdown.” MJ had reportedly stumbled on her in Youtube singing “Billie Jean” while doing the famous moonwalk.

Give us a break, man. Why pick on the talented kid when there are more hullabaloo going on around your backyard? Couldn't you find some nice topic to talk about that you now seem to share Freddie Aguilar's warped view of nationalism (who indirectly called Charice and Arnel Pineda “monkeys”)? Where's your wisdom after decades of learning from your past? My father and uncle idolize you, but I'm telling you, they will really get disappointed after reading this.

Admittedly, there are some “truth” to what he said about people trying to get a share of the spotlight from the death of MJ; the generalization is valid, but to specifically attack Charice in a subliminal way is different. If Joey de Leon had only the time to press his keyboards and research over the Internet, he would have seen it for himself that the little girl had been singing and dancing MJ's songs even before his death. In fact, in Korea, where she was first thrust into instant popularity, she wowed the Korean audience by dancing ala-MJ, doing the moonwalk and robot moves, right after mesmerizing them with her mind-blowing rendition of “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.” You see, man, it's not all 'ka-cheapan' as you said it was. Performing with Michael in a world tour is a far-fetched dream for many American singers, let alone for Filipinos. Who wouldn't be proud and elated to be given a chance to perform with the King of Pop?

Joey de Leon's article would have been better off praising our very own talents who have done tremendous job of putting our country back on the map of entertainment world. Unfortunately, this guy wasted his time putting people down. There are many "users" in the world of showbiz who ride on the popularity of one person or event. Which I believe is true, but one should have at least exercised caution in referring to such persons. Filipinos are not stupid.

But come to think of it, Joey de Leon actually used the death of Michael Jackson to fill out his pathetic column, too!

Who's riding on MJ's death? Who's cheaper then?
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