Andres Bonifacio movie fight scenes: too dark

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I’m Filipino but I don’t care much about our local movies. Sure, I love many things about the Philippines– our people, natural resources, culture, food, clothes, history, music, sports and games, and of course, our martial arts. The movies, however are different. In my mind, many are slapstick, commercialized, and haphazardly done.

So I was glad that the recent Metro Manila Film Festival  included Andres Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo . If you don’t know yet, Andres Bonifacio was the leader of the Philippine Revolution and especially interesting to us Filipinio Martial Artists, is his fighting prowess. He usually fought holding an itak in one hand and a revolver in the other. Now, that’s impressive!

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Andres Bonifacio Monument showing him holding an itak on the right hand and a revolver on the left.

I looked forward to watching the movie because I knew it would be educational (we Filipinos are not experts in our own history) and it would also be a show of support to movie makers who strive to make quality, patriotic films.

And of course, I wanted to see the fights! Later on I found out that the fight scenes were choreographed by Sonny Sison, who did a lot of work in Hollywood.

Well anyway, according to one interview I watched on TV, the movie aimed to present an aspect of Andres Bonifacio’s life not known to many: his love love. Okay, I accept that.  So, I sat through those lovey-dovey parts and waited for the fight scenes.

Well, my reaction? The fight scenes were too few and too dark!

The fights were mostly done in the dark that I had to strain my eyes to catch the details of the moves. There were lots of running, jumping over fires, grunting, and blade against blade sounds.  I saw a lot of powerful, long-range strikes utilizing a lot of our angles.   But disappointingly, that’s about it. It was just too dark to see.

Maybe the director did not want the scenes to be too gory so he made the lighting dim.  But for me, whose main goal was to enjoy the fight scenes, it was a let-down.

The last scene where Bonifacio and his men ran in a large open field, towards the enemies guns and canyons was dramatic but I wonder if they were really that “brave” to face the enemies that way.

My main take home thoughts?

  • Fighters should learn how to fight in darkness or dimly lighted areas. In fact, I agree with my friend Mio that all martial artists should get a stint as a Barangay Tanod to get the feel of how it is to fight in the dark or dimply lighted areas where opponents would suddenly spring out of nowhere.
  • Fighters should do lots of cardiovascular exercises also. In the movie, the revolutionaries would jump over fires and run fast in big open fields carrying their weapons. Now, that would be hard to do if all you train in are weapon techniques, right?

So anyway, thank you for this  intelligent and  high-quality movie. It helped clarify some points in our history.

It’s just sad that this movie did not make a lot in the box office but I hope that it won’t deter movie makers from going this path again. Maybe us Filipinos will shape up and finally learn to appreciate good history films.

I hope so.

Pugay to all!

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You can watch the whole movie here. The longest fight scene is at around 1:05

Tsako, Chako, Chaku

 

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Until recently, I’ve never known nanchaku, nanchuks, or even tabak-toyok by any other name than tsako, chako, or chaku. Ask any man on the streets of Manila and more often than not, they’ll identify them as such.

I was surprised to learn that it was a tool used by Filipino farmers. “Really? I’ve always thought that they were weapons, from China!”

Master Cris said that in Davao, they would dry rice grains in the sun for several weeks and then thresh them with tsako.

My friend Eli, an agriculturist working at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,  confirmed it but said that farmers no longer use tsako now. Farmers now have threshing machines or if not, they use the traditional but easier method of “threshing grains with their feet.”

Anyway, he tried to demonstrate how to thresh with tsako but because of my zero farming background, I couldn’t visualize it.

Now here’s serendipity: One day I was in a bookstore leafing through a Tagalog Bible comic book about Gideon, the Mighty Warrior of Israel when I saw an illustration of him threshing grains using what looked like a tsako!

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Image Credit: ICI Ministries

You hold one stick and flail the other one against the grains!

I don’t know if it was just a Filipino illustrator’s rendering of the Biblical account, “Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress”. Do you suppose ancient Isrealites had tsako as well?

Anyway, what’s important is I now know more about this farm tool/weapon.

That, I believe, enriches the experience of training with it.

 

 

 

 

5 Life lessons I learned from my burnout

January 3, 2015 marked my second year in Filipino Martial Arts. Unlike the “I breathe-think-talk-do-FMA-all- day-long” first anniversary,  this one was quiet and reflective. As some of you may know, I got tired of FMA. Some months back, I burned out bad and needed a time away.

And so, rest from FMA I did.

And you know what? Along the way I realized that, just like in everything else in life, taking a break is not bad at all. In fact, it has numerous benefits and I learned some valuable life lessons:

1. The world will continue to revolve even without you.

I’m embarrassed to admit it even to myself, but I had that secret pride in my heart and thought that my group wouldn’t be the same without me:  They’d be lonely when I don’t show up for practice. For sure they’ll miss me.

Who was I kidding? They continued to train and enjoy their sessions!

Aside from training, I was also supportive in tournaments.  I was active in the behind the scenes work like documentation, housekeeping, and food preparation. But since I was taking a break, I didn’t help during the latest tournament our group organized. I did go just to watch. And you know what? They still did well and the tournament was a success.

Note to self: Nobody’s indispensable.

2. Sometimes it takes the insight of others to make you realize a truth 

As a substitute for my FMA training, I signed up for a full marathon and joined a running group. I’m deep into training now and I can honestly say that I do like running. But last night, as hubby and I were having our usual after dinner tea, I was a bit surprised when he said “After your marathon, you should go back to FMA. It’s what you love. You were happier when you were in it.” I was a bit taken aback because he said it so bluntly. Really? Did it really show?

After some speechless moments, and feeling sort of weird and relieved at the same time, I finally declared, “You’re right, I was happier when I was in FMA.”

Sometimes you just need to hear it from others.

3. The saying “different strokes for different folks” is true

I met and talked with different athletes – runners, bikers, triathletes, judokas, fencers, archers, and even a few from other FMA styles. All of them are passionate about their sport. One simple question like “Why do you like your sport?” will lead to a long enumeration of all the good things about it. Sure, FMA is good, and I think it is one of the best martial arts/sports in the world.  But that’s for me. What I like at this point in my life, is the best sport for me. That goes for the others also. We cannot be smug and declare that ours is the best and nothing else.

4.  The right words, said at the right time soothe.

When I told my friends that I was tired of FMA, they did not shake their heads and say, “I knew that would happen…”  Instead they were encouraging and kind:

  • It’s ok. Music has intervals between notes
  • Life is a constant flow
  • Taking physical and mental breaks is good
  • Take your time
  • Fall in love with the long walk
  • Come and spend a few days at my family’s place
  • Rest
  • I also felt the same way, many times in the past

5.  Rest gives you the opportunity to go back to the drawing board

Burning out is a harsh way to learn, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But sometimes changes in behavior can only happen with strong shocks to the system. Stepping back gives the opportunity to evaluate habits and attitudes and correct what needs correcting. What comes out will be clearer and better.

And that, my friends, is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private moments before the new year

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A quick post to wish all my FMA friends a Happy New Year!

When my brother-in-law, Jon, gifted hubby and I with an overnight stay in this hotel overlooking Manila Bay, we gratefully accepted because we always like to take these last few days of the year to “think about our lives.”

To some it may be corny or silly but we like this period to contemplate about what had been and what could be, close some issues, and celebrate a lot of joys. We do it individually for the most part.

So now, in the quietness (well not really so quiet as TV chef Gordon Ramsay is cooking steak in the background), I look at photos in my ipad then read select entries in my personal journal as well as this blog. So many wonderful moments of 2014 have already slipped my conscious memory and it’s comforting to call them back for a brief visit.

Some things that are negative, I determine to let go. Go away! Good riddance! (I imagine that with a strong whack from my Arnis stick 🙂

Now, as I sip piping hot, almost-burns-my-tongue black tea,  I ask God to bless me with a new dream for 2015: to realize an aspiration, to discover a new strength, to ignite a new passion, to find new friends, to overcome a new challenge.

Before fun-loving Filipinos set off their firecrackers, I am grateful for these private moments. So nice.

The view of  the pool and the harbor from our 6th floor room
The view of the pool and the harbor from our 6th floor room

May the LORD Jesus Christ, whom I believe in and strive to follow, bless all of us as we face 2015.  Peace and joy to all of you, my friends.

Pugay!

P.S.

I leave you with a photo of our room’s mini bar.

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Of course, I had to check out the “weapons” 🙂

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I’m looking forward to the resumption of my training this January. Yes, I burned out and took a break (check out I’m tired of FMA) but now, in the words of my sister Sandi, I’m “egzoited.”

Thank you very much for taking time to read The Deadly Dance. See you next year!

 

The reason why they do it

Hubby recently joined a 50 km (31.25 mi) run and I went as support. Typhoon Hagupit was expected within the day but the organizer declared that it was a “rain or shine” event so a few minutes from their 4 o’clock gunstart on that chilly, windy morning, sixty-three determined ultramarathoners eagerly listened to instructions.

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“This is a no-fuss run:  No freebies, no media, no gimmicks. Just plain running.” I watched with amusement when the participants cheered to that. “They must really just love running,” I smiled to myself, admiring their passion. And run they did and at the end, they celebrated well, in their own no-fuss kind of way.

Now that’s how I felt when I went to watch an Arnis tournament recently.

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The participants competed fiercely such that one lady who passed by asked how much the cash prize was. When I answered that there was none and that the athletes even paid to participate, she slowly nodded her head and said “Ibig sabihin, mahal lang talaga nila ang Arnis.” (“That means that they just really love Arnis.”)

I think she’s right. How else could you explain the effort that the athletes make just to compete? They train, pay to register, and on tournament day, wake up early, commute, lug their own food and drinks, stay until evening. After the winners get simple medals and trophies, everyone packs up for the tiring commute home. Prestige? Bragging rights? Maybe.  But why FMA when it’s so non-mainstream? There are hundreds of other sports to choose from.

I thought about this a lot and the answer I came up with sounds silly and corny but really, it’s love. L-O-V-E. The athletes do it because they love the sport. That’s what makes all the effort meaningful. Awww! 🙂

Agree?

There is always something there to remind me

“This is not good,” I told myself. “I probably should go back to Filipino Martial Arts training soon.”

You see, I was in a church service tonight, and was only vaguely hearing what the pastor was saying because I was so distracted. First, it was the pen in his shirt pocket.  I thought of the long list of  lethal moves I could do with it. Then his microphone, another long list. And then the mic stand….

I’ve burned out and it’s been almost two months now that I’ve pulled back from FMA training and all other related activities. (Check out my earlier post I’m tired of Filipino Martial Arts.)

During this break, I realized that I can’t completely shut off FMA. Remember that catchy 1960’s song “There is always something there to remind me” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David? It’s true of FMA.

I go to a book store and spot a knife book.

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It’s kitchen book alright but that hold can very well be ours. IMG_20141111_160309

I go to a hardware store

IMG_20141112_132131and find walking sticks

IMG_20141112_131139and knives.IMG_20141112_125920And don’t let me get started on the mall’s kitchen section: weapons are just too many to mention!

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IMG_20141112_123925I sit at a doctor’s waiting room and get mesmerized by the pens and scissors on the secretary’s table. I eat lunch and remember the farmers’ bolos cutting palay.   I see a flag and think of Lapu-lapu, Andres Bonifacio, and Diego Silang.

There’s really no escaping. FMA is and will always be a part of my life and unless I want to think of lethal moves in church again, I better start getting small doses of FMA soon.

We’ll see what happens.

I’m tired of Filipino Martial Arts

Sometimes, even I find it hard to believe  that less than two years ago, I didn’t care a bit about Filipino Martial Arts. I didn’t care because I knew next to nothing about it. Sure, I knew that Arnis (as Filipino Martial Arts is popularly called here) was the Philippines’ “new” national sport replacing sipa, and that it used sticks as weapons. But that was it.

Now if you let me enumerate all the things I love, FMA would be easily included. It has helped me become fit and healthy and confident. It has introduced me to worlds that I never knew existed before.

FMA made me happy.

But somehow these past few weeks have been different. I seem to have lost the spark. The excitement and hunger diminished and the emotions were no longer raw. Whereas before, I looked forward to every training session, reveled in it, and then went home only to read and watch some more, now even my FMA Facebook remain mostly closed.   I’m bored, uninterested, and tired.

My rational mind labels this weariness as burnout.

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:the condition of someone who has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a job for a long time (Merriam-Webster)

Well, although my case is probably mild, I know that that’s what I have. And because I know the diagnosis, I also know the cure.

I. need. a. break.

That’s why my sticks and blades quietly rest in their cases now.

In the meantime, I rest, run, and do strengthening exercises. Sometimes though,  when I do arm exercises I long for my weapons…

But the longing is not enough to make me take them out of their cases. Not now, not yet.

I’m on vacation.

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I’m sure I’ll eventually come back.

But for now,  I rest.