Everything is awesome: A wish list

Don Jaucian - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - This year, I think I’ve hit the peak of my bagets period. Rowdy nights of drinking, spending the wee hours of the morning in a haze, all that wanton abandon that you could ever muscle during your mid-20s: I am done with that. “Tito phase,” as my friends fondly refer to this period of my life. Even Buzzfeed has a list — which means it’s true and universal — detailing the slow decline (or exhaustion) that gradually sets in as you exit your early 20s. This whole tito vibe meant my passing on a lot of landmark pop cultural events of the year, all of which I happily lapped up days after through my Twitter feed, one Beyoncé reportage after another (“VMA performance!” “Elevator incident with Solange and Jay-Z!”, “Beyoncé meets Kate Middleton: A Royal Affair!!”). Everything is exciting, meme-able, GIF-able; every song/movie/TV show is “THE BEST!!!!” Right.

So here, in keeping with the traditional tito grouching, are a few things I wish to see in the year to come.


It’s curious that the pop cultural artifact that perfectly sums up 2014 arrived in theaters as the year was just waltzing in. The Lego Movie came in the guise of a cutesy, product-driven, capitalist vehicle pumped with all the snappy one-liners and winking references you could stuff in 101 minutes (a crash course, if you will — see what I did there?). But it was also an alarming portrait of our times: the pack mentality-driven consumerism that we are afforded through social media. The film hits its peak, just as all the chaos starts to come in — multiplied by all the blocks literally building the imagined worlds of the film — and then halts for a real-life interruption: the realization that this make-believe is a product of a child’s imagination battling real-life ills as represented by his father. It’s an “infinite moment,” a twist that lets us see through the heart of things despite the riot of noise and color that surrounds us every day.

In an age where everything can be determined by stats, likes, page view count, algorithms and Big Data, slowing down is a luxury that we should all indulge in. I’m inclined to think that this wish of a toned-down pop cultural pace is born by my tito sensibilities but anyone who’s ever gotten sick of their timelines and newsfeeds, to the point of purging themselves of social media toxicity could probably relate. Heck, even Taylor Swift released an album that tipped its hat to the glorious days of her birth year (or was it John Mayer? — wait, that was way back in 2001). We all dream of the way back, a chance to step back to simpler times when a selfie took months before you could show it to your friends (unless it’s a Polaroid) or when we relied on magazines and newspapers to read the latest news.

Slowing down won’t kill you. It could even give you back your life.


I had an interesting chat with director Jose Javier Reyes recently about the disappearance of Pinoy sitcoms (read all about it in Rogue magazine’s “TV Special” this December, now in newsstands — self-promotion!). There used to be a time when this distinctive brand of comedy dominated the primetime TV slot. We had Abangan Ang Susunod Na Kabanata, Palibhasa Lalake, Home Along Da Riles, Ober da Bakod, and Okidokidoc all in one week. But these days, there’s only a handful of sitcoms on our TV screens. Most nights, you get a weepy telenovela stretching a story that’s been told in different variations over the years, repackaged with different artistas. Sitcoms were where we could cull biting commentaries about the prevailing winds. Abangan was about the hysteria of politics (just imagine how Tessie Tomas and company would lampoon the ridiculous senate hearings and other political inanities bannering today’s newspapers), Palibhasa Lalake was about gender dynamics, and Home Along Da Riles and Ober Da Bakod were playful punches on the quintessential Filipino family. These are shows that we still carry with us today, pocket guides to traversing the ridiculous times that we’re in.

Rumor has it that TV execs were looking at the return of shows in the vein of these TV greats. Hey, even Arrested Development came back for a new season, right? If we could just wish a little harder.


Looking for old local films to watch is a motherf***ing pain in the ass. Sure, we have DVDs, but the selection is limited to several studio releases. What if I wanted to watch Mike De Leon’s Kisapmata during one of my tito Saturday nights? Or a rewatch of any of the abovementioned sitcoms? It’s true that most of the country’s audience are still glued to their TV sets, but as the people gradually transition to watching on mobile devices, a comprehensive library of local films and TV shows isn’t only a lucrative business, it’s also a way of preserving our pop cultural heritage that’s slowly being eroded. You wouldn’t want a future where you just have to resort to narrating the travails of John Puruntong to your grandchildren, right?


At this point, it’s probably too much to ask for an efficient and fully-functional mass transit system. Taking the MRT is much like a patintero of life and death. You never know what’s going to happen. Manila is a city that we’ve all come to love but sometimes, it can be a living hell. We’ve gone through scores and scores of promises, but we’re still in this goddamn sinkhole. Design can play a huge part in making a city more livable, little tweaks on urban planning (if such a thing exists in this country) that can tame a sprawling city: properly labeled streets, cleaner sidewalks, public-friendly reminders (those arrows indicating passenger flow in trains can make a difference), ample swathes of greenery and bigger parks; these are elements that make a city more livable.


Magazines can give you an education you don’t usually get in school. While our local newsstands are dominated by society rags, fashion bibles, and men’s magazines, it would be amazing to see publications devoted to the other side of our culture. The past few years have seen The Manila Review, Grid, and other low-key online publications that provide a different perspective. It would be great to see magazine titles diversify, be it a music magazine, a film journal, or a zine on the local design scene.

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