Archive for August 2009
Kiki, you have to watch this.
Rapa talks about how the Ninoy Cory love story evolved into a force that changed the face of the country.
We’ve written a lot of pretty words the past few weeks. And we do feel them from the heart. But this talk made me realize good intentions are not enough. The road to hell is paved with such after all…
Let’s get our project going. I have some ideas to add to it.
“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.” — Senator Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009
As if we needed to endure another momentous loss to get the hint…THE ERA HAS ENDED, THAT SHIP HAS SAILED. TV Land has been all about this man’s life, his tragedies…
but most of all his redemption. What a life he led!
For obvious reasons the affinity I have with US politics is somewhat limited. But the 40 years of dedication and commitment Sen. Ted Kennedy had given to this country, his fight to pass legislation on civil rights, immigration and healthcare got me immersed in his politics and the politics of this place. The media here did a very thorough job in highlighting his stellar and unmatched political career, which blew me away. The Lion that he was in the Senate fighting for his causes just won me over. But I was really more moved by the way he lived his life as the patriarch of the Kennedy Clan and his life after he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer. He was focused in making a “good ending”. This man was ready.
After the death of his brothers, he stepped up and stood in for his fallen brothers on special occasions like the wedding of Caroline…
Or in any of the milestones in John Kennedy Jr’s brief life.
He was determined to fight the cancer tooth and nail (like Dinky Boy) not because he was desperately clinging on to his very blessed life but because he owed it to his son, Edward Kennedy Jr. and daughter, Kara, who themselves have fought (and won) a valiant battle against the Big C .
I’ve copied below excerpts of an article from the New York Times which documented the final months of his life. I was so amazed by how deliberate he lived his life to make that good ending. Here’s one about how he didn’t abandon his reposnsibilities as a Senator, a Democrat, a public servant.
“He kept in close touch with his staff and colleagues, and he was engaged in a running conversation with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, on the delicate subject of whether Mr. Kennedy would be available to vote. Mr. Reid assured him that he would not ever ask him to come to Washington unless his vote was essential. (His disease and treatments made Mr. Kennedy vulnerable to infections, so wading into crowded areas was risky.) When a crucial Medicare provision came up last summer, Mr. Reid asked Mr. Kennedy if he could make it down. Mr. Kennedy’s family and staff debated the issue until the senator ended it. “I’ll be there,” he said, according to a member of his staff who was involved in the decision. He received a standing ovation when he returned to the Senate floor, and the bill passed easily after he helped break a Republican filibuster.”
And how can you dirscount his unforgettable appearance in the Democratic National Convention in 2008? He was already sick but he just had to be there.
“After his emotional speech at last summer’s Democratic Convention in Denver, it was disclosed that he had been suffering from kidney stones and had barely been able to get out of his hospital bed a few hours earlier. He had to memorize the text of his speech because he struggled to see the teleprompter (his surgery had left him with impaired vision). The seizure Mr. Kennedy had at an Inaugural luncheon at the Capitol led his son Patrick to joke that his father was trying to overshadow Mr. Obama on his big day.”
He also made sure that he prepared himself spiritually. I don’t know why but I thought of Dinky Boy when I read this part. I guess because Dad left so peacefully. We sent him off with a lot of love and tears and armed with a whole bunch of prayers.
“The Rev. Mark Hession, the priest at the Kennedys’ parish on the Cape, made regular visits to the Kennedy home this summer and held a private family Mass in the living room every Sunday. Even in his final days, Mr. Kennedy led the family in prayer after the death of his sister Eunice on Aug. 11. He died comfortably and in no apparent pain, friends and staff members said.”
He spoke about reuniting with his brothers in heaven. When he does, boy does he have some stories to tell. But I think more importantly, he can tell them – I picked up the work you left, I fought for the causes we were passionate about, I defended the dream.
So how about we make this man, along with our favorite lady in yellow, our heroes for the month of August?
Photo Credits: nydailynews.com
I finally got to watch the much-anticipated docu last weekend. I know you’re madly wanting to watch it too. Since we are all too familiar with the story line – no spoilers here even if I wanted to! – I’m posting this review.
The basic format for The Last Journey of Ninoy features his almost week long journey back to Manila from Boston. Each leg of the trip flashes back to a particular period in his life. And this is all superbly edited using a mix of real footage and recreated scenes.
Perhaps the strangest part is Bam cast as Ninoy. It’s no surprise I guess given their physical similarities but having Bam as my good friend is a disadvantage as a viewer. He also looks decades younger than Ninoy was when he made that fateful trip. They tried to age him with makeup but that didn’t work out so they cast a young Cory to match a young Ninoy – banking on the audience’s suspension of belief. The “Aquino kids” who did not get much screen time were also cast at least six years younger than the age of Ballsy et al in 1983.
The art direction was excellent. The effort put into the details of the set design really came across. The scoring was well chosen too. It gave more energy to the events being recounted without over dramatizing them.
But the reason The Last Journey is unlike any other Ninoy docu ever made is because his story is told by Cory. I’ve seen a ton of Ninoy material in my life but none narrated so personally by her. I didn’t realize what a good story teller she was! This is probably the most emotional she’s ever been on cam. No tears, no voice breaking but subtle things like misty eyes – again, something I’d not seen before.
There is footage of her interviews when she was still healthy. But most of the interview material seems to have been taped when she was already ill You can’t help but feel then end of an era.
I loved how she talked about seeing Ninoy in Laur. He had lost a massive amount of weight and he was for the first time, hopeless. Ninoy wrote in his diary how amazed he was at his wife’s strength at that moment, when the children were crying and they all thought this might be the last time they were going to see him alive. But she recounts with much amusement how that came to be. I won’t spoil that anecdote for you.
Tito Paul was also cast in the film. You never see him but he is Ninoy’s “voice” as there are parts in which “Ninoy” talks about his experiences on those late August days. I thought he did a great job sounding like his brother.
I found the film’s pace quite peppy – there are no parts that drag. In fact, the whole story is so fascinating you want to know more about this incredible life, things that couldn’t possibly fit into a docu of this length. But that works because if this moves its viewers, they’ll ask more questions, do research and come to a more complete understanding of Ninoy.
The film ends on an high and inspiring note. (Tissue, please). Kuya Jun concluded his first full length film with resounding lines from Ninoy’s famous speech in LA that ring more true today than ever. I’m going to transcribe them and put them on the fridge or my dresser or somewhere!
The purpose of The Last Journey was to make known to those born after ’83 and ’86 how the freedom they enjoy today came about and I think it succeeded. Tita Cory never got to see the final edit of this film but one of the last things she told Kuya Jun was, Jun galingan mo ha. And that he did.
The DVD will be out soon. I’m getting us a copy each.
My last few saturday afternoons have been spent riding through the NJ part of the Palisades Interstate Parkway. For a wannabe like me, this route can be a challenge due to some steep hills, some faux plateaus and crumbling asphalt roads.
But we trudge on. And no trudge is more rewarding than the one that leads you to the top of that hill. As we climb, we have the beautiful scenery of the hudson river and the city. Here’s a pretty photo I took on a clear afternoon as the rays of the sun set against old new york buildings.
On our way back down from the hill via Route 9W, we came across this tavern called, what else….The Bicycle Club.
To our pleasant surprise, Saturday night in the Bicycle Club is steak and ribs night! Prime rib steak for as low as $19. Check out what we had.
As you can see, whatever was burned when we climbed the hill was easily gained back in this decadent meal. All worth it…I’m a happy camper!
This was sent to me by an old friend and I just had to share this hilarious clip with you. Cracks me up everytime.
Guess this doggie shouldn’t expect a stimulus check coming his way anytime soon…not that he cares!
I just finished reading 150 pages of what is consider a cult classic for all the cyclists out there. For a cyclist wannabe like me it was 150 pages of pure inspiration. The Rider was written in 1978 by a Dutch, amateur cyclist named Tim Krabbe, who also happens to be a champion chess player and a journalist. Can he make me feel any more inadequate?
Its a simple yet captivating story about one day, one race, the Tour de Mont Aigoual in the 1970′s. This a 137 km race that climbs about 500 ft above. Mont Aigoual, known for its steep climbs and faux plateaus, sometimes features as a stage in the Tour de France. Check out the terrain that these racers have to suffer through.
Krabbe gives us a glimpse of what goes through a racer’s mind when struggling to finish (at the very least) or win a grueling tour like this. He also allows us to witness the gamut of emotions he sifts through as he toils to climb the hills and as he tries not to crash when zooming down the mountain.
He writes with a hefty serving of arrogance and moxie which I think every rider must have to be able to conquer the unpredictable conditions in the mountain and the extremely punishing hills that humble you to pieces in a tour.
Cycling is really a test of will, a barometer of how hungry you actually are. The physical strength and agility is necessary of course but when all of you racers have trained to near death, its all up to your imdomitable spirit to bring home the prize and the honor. He writes, “People are made up of two parts: a mind and a body. Of the two, the mind, of course, is the rider.” He shows us that racing (like many sports) is really more mental than physical. “Bicycle racing is a sport of patience.”, he says. Patience that you also need to apply when “licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own.” Such fighting words… I like!
Krabbe talks incessantly about the joy of pain and suffering while riding. “In interviews with riders that I’ve read and in conversations I’ve had with them, the same thing always comes up: the best part was the suffering.” Knowing that this pain, this suffering will only make you stronger and a better rider makes you realize that cycling is an appropriate metaphor to life. In cycling, as in life, you gotta set aside your fear, look at pain from the climbs in the eye and in your best Clint Eastwood game face say BRING IT ON. And in life as in cycling, you just keep pedaling and don’t give up.
Today, for the 26th time, we commemorate the assassination of Tito Ninoy. Feeling the need to write about him on this day but having never met him, I invited a guess writer to Kiki and Lala Land instead.
Here are the thoughts of a man who goes by many names: Tatong, Groucho, and “President For A While”.
The first time I met Ninoy, I was 22 years old and about to get married. Although he is the husband of my first cousin, you have yo understand that Cory was a lot older than us – Paching and Meding’s children. So I was intensely aware we were related but they were distant celebrities until then. (Boss Ding and I stayed in Tio Pepe Cojuangco’s house until 1949 when I was 2 years old because Tio Pepe and Tia Metring wanted my parents to kind of watch over their house while they were traveling and attending to their many business ventures).
So there we were, Mommy Paching and I in Times St. one sunny morning. She and Daddy Meding had decided that the primary Ninong for my wedding was going to be Ninoy. He was the helicopter-riding Super Boy and everybody’s favorite brother/nephew/uncle/best friend and the much-anticipated future President of the Philippines.
Being painfully shy, I really didn’t want to be there in the company of the Superstar. I just wanted to get married. When we arrived at Times, the first one to greet us was Cory. Good morning Tita Paching. Kamusta kayo? O Titong, magaasawa ka na pala. Hintayin natin si Ninoy – nasa shower pa siya.
Without warning a whirlwind, wrapped in a Japanese bathrobe storms into the room. My first impression – basa pa ang buhok, ang puti ng legs. He goes to Mommy Paching and kisses her hand very respectfully, then turns to me and exclaims with calculated familiarity, At eto naman ang Titong! Balita ko magaasawa ka na!
Almost sheepishly, I answered, Oo and I was wondering if I could ask you to be our Ninong. That is, if you will be available on January 31. With the master politician’s aplomb Super Boy immediately committed. Available? Even if I’m not, I will make myself available! Then he sat me down and with his quick mind and gift of gab, started engaging me in a long semi-monologue on all topics under the sun from the stock market to world events to young people issues while making me feel like we were long lost friends and I was the most important person in that room. From then on, it was NINOY FOREVER.
Whatever else destiny had in store for Ninoy and Cory after that October 1969 morning, it was clear in my mind that I would always be on their side even in the direst of circumstances.
P.S. Ninoy did not actually make it to the wedding because the night before which was January 30, The First Quarter Storm erupted in full fury. Marcos had just emerged from Congress after giving the State of the Nation Address when thousands of student demonstrators vented their ire on his corrupt regime. The police and the soldiers went after the students who were beaten up and jailed after running battles all through the night. Naturally, Super Boy was in the thick of the action trying to protect the protestors. And somehow a wedding in Cebu the following morning could not take priority over a national tragedy. So instead, Cho Enchong Sumulong – also a senator and my father-in-law’s UP Law School classmate – stood in for Ninoy. But no need to forgive, we understood. Ninoy belonged to the country. NINOY MORE THAN EVER!
Ten days and some after her passing, I still find myself moved by her sacrifice and her genuine love for our country.
How many people will you meet like this in your lifetime? How many of them are you actually related to? After all that was said and written about her, what more can we possibly say? Perhaps the question should be rephrased: What ELSE can we possibly DO?
“We’re on our own, now it’s up to us” was the resonating theme in the days after her death. “Ninoy and Cory have made their sacrifice, now it’s our turn.” But what does this really mean to you and me, Lala…to our generation? Our turn to do what?
While we fully comprehended the gravity of August 21, 1983, we were too young to actively participate in the events that followed. I just remember those days to be a dark BUT passionate time.
Wearing yellow tainted glasses, our generation got to witness history unfold. While it was all yellow, we also saw red in the generation before us… Red from the fury, from the unwavering desire to fight for freedom.
In our own little way we did our part. We wore the pins, flashed the sign and even became fans of Kris Aquino. But that was all. It was a fight our generation couldn’t really call our own. As fate would have it, we were destined to watch and learn. Activists in training.
And then it happened. We got back our democracy. The Filipinos were worth dying for after all. Kay sarap pala maging Pilipino. We not only became witnesses to a miracle, but we became heirs to a newly minted democracy and a more promising future.
Fast forward to twenty plus years later, and here we are again. Now we ask ourselves: Do we enjoy the same brand of democracy bequeathed to us in those yellow days of yore? Are we really living that promising future EDSA ’86 paved for us? I say NO. I think we forgot to recognize that with the gift of freedom and democracy comes great responsibility. Our generation is responsible for safeguarding this democracy, for warding off forces that threaten to take this away from us again. We are defenders of our own destiny. We are the gatekeepers of the future that Nad, Rocio, Mik, The Twins and everybody in their generation deserve. This is our cause. This is what they mean when they say “It’s our turn.” This is our role in the epic drama of Philippine History. This is our legacy. Only this time, we are not fighting for something we do not have. We are fighting for something we do not want to lose. And I think that is what HER life and death should mean to us.
So to answer the question I posted earlier “What else could we possibly do?”, I say everything…anything that will prevent us from losing the now very fragile state of our democracy, anything that will keep our sinking hope stay afloat, anything that will give our greedy leaders a conscience. Anything…until it is all yellow.