MY FOUR CENTAVOS - Dean Andy Bautista (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2014 - 12:00am

A fabled creature from my youth has returned to the silver screen. But this time, it/he/she can be seen in 3D splendor and enjoyed in the comfort of a La-Z boy chair.

I did not realize that Godzilla is turning 60 this year. A quick internet research revealed that the character first appeared in Toshiro Honda’s 1954 classic mainly to serve as a reminder to the Japanese people about the horrors of nuclear weapons. Apparently, the monster’s skin texture was patterned after the keloid scars seen on Hiroshima’s survivors. At that time, Godzilla was only 50 meters tall (164 feet) — to coincide with the height of buildings in Tokyo then. In the latest film, it has been scaled to 107 meters (350 feet). Unlike human beings, I guess monsters do not stop growing at 18? Perhaps the radiation provides additional growth spurts?

The Hollywood version of Godzilla came out in 1998 and the re-make released this May. What made this latest version particularly interesting was that the story started in the Philippines. The fertilized eggs that eventually became the massive unidentified terrestrial object (MUTOs) were hatched in a mining project somewhere in the country.

The film’s main takeaway was propounded by a Japanese scientist: Man thinks it can control nature when it is actually the other way around. The best way to deal with nature is to just allow it to take its natural course.  In this instance, the US Admiral in charge wanted to annihilate the MUTOs using nuclear warheads. Yet the latter (together with Godzilla) feed on radiation so the weapons may not destroy them but actually strengthen them further. The scientist’s advice was to leave the two monsters alone to deal with each other.

Growing up, I always thought that Godzilla was bad. The creature’s signature weapon was its “atomic breath,” which can’t be good. But with this latest version, you actually are not sure anymore.  As a Japanese commentator observed, “although Godzilla does not like human beings, it may fight alongside humanity against common threats. However, it makes no special effort to protect life or property.” When asked if the monster was good or bad, producer Shogo Tomiyama likened Godzilla to a Shinto “God of Destruction” which cannot be held to human standards of good and evil.

By the way, may I provide my unsolicited four centavos on the rating given by our Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) led by esteemed Chairman Eugenio Villareal. The movie was classified as Parental Guidance (PG) which means that children are allowed to watch provided they are accompanied by an adult.  It was a good thing that our five-year-old voluntarily refused to watch the movie. For someone ten times older, there were several parts which I felt were either too violent or scary.  If made to decide, I would probably classify the film as R-13 or restricted to persons 13 years old and above. In this regard, I have always wondered why our censors (the more correct term is reviewers and classifiers) are generally prudish in respect of nudity but liberal in terms of violence.  Breast exposure is frowned upon but scenes of a gory death are allowed.  I would rather have my kids see the former than the latter. Or at the very least, the two should be treated in a similar fashion.  

The gender of Godzilla has also been the subject of debate. In Japan, the monster is referred to with the gender-neutral pronoun “it.” But in the English-dubbed-versions, Godzilla is explicitly described as a male and was even given the title “King of the Monsters.” The 1998 Hollywood version contributed to the confusion as the lead character was shown to have laid eggs. In-between perhaps?

Regardless, Godzilla has become a universal cultural icon. It is one of three fictional characters that has been awarded the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award. It has also been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In short, unlike most movie and sports personalities, Godzilla may have turned 60 but the monster is not yet past its prime

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Fare woes: Remember our inquiry regarding the continuing validity of the expiration dates contained in MRT stored-value cards given the 2010 DTI Order (supported by a DoJ opinion) regarding the non-expiration of gift certificates effective July 1, 2012? Well, Mary Paulette S. Flores-Villarosa, Legal Assistant II, Office of the General Manager, DOTC-MRT3 was kind enough to respond. She made a few points which I have commented on, in turn:

The Order “is not applicable to MRT3 Stored-Value Tickets, as MRT3 Tickets are not gift checks nor gift cards, but fare tickets to be purchased by passengers for rail transportation purposes via MRT3 trains. This is a simplistic surface explanation. (Just like gift cards, a consumer pays money to buy the fare card. Why does that payment expire?)

MRT3 has Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) policy wherein a Stored-Value Ticket has a validity of three (3) months upon issuance/purchase and three (3) months upon first use, hence, a passenger who purchased the stored-value ticket is deemed agreeable to this policy. (Query if any passenger is even aware of this policy?)

Further, a magnetic ticket is recyclable, thus, there is a need to recover and recycle expired stored-value tickets for re-circulation and re-use. (What does this point have to do with the non-expiration issue? If MRT wants to encourage passengers to return the cards, maybe it can offer a modest refund of say 1-2 pesos?)

May this information satisfy your concern.” (Are you satisfied with the response?)

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In memoriam: Heavenly best wishes to two labor law stalwarts — the first Court of Industrial Relations presiding justice, Jose S. Bautista, and UP College of Law Dean Froilan Bacungan.

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“The best men are not consistent in good — why should the worst men be consistent in evil.” â€“ Wilkie Collins

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Email: deanbautista@yahoo.com


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