Of nostalgia and innocence: Starry Starry Night

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Artistically photographed and wonderfully written, Starry Starry Night is a poignant tale revolving two kindred souls, Mei and Jay, and their difficult journey towards adulthood. Based from the best-selling novel of the same title by Jimmy Liao, a famous Taiwanese illustrator, this film did not stir away from its origin’s charms—creating gorgeous computer graphics of colorful origami animals and even a magnificent moving version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

The film tells about the life of Mei, a 13-year old student, fighting her way out of her parent’s fading romance and the death of her beloved grandfather through imagination; finding solace in escaping reality during its hardest moments. Mei found companionship in Jay, a quiet, isolated boy who turns to his sketchbook to hide scars from his abusive father and overall dysfunctional family. When the two found themselves stuck in a reality they both don’t want to be in, they set foot on a journey looking for stars, momentary happiness and perhaps, love.

Directed and written (screenplay) by Tom Lin in 2011, Starry Starry Night bagged various awards and nominations during its release and amongst these are, Best Cinematography (Jake Pollock) in the 2012 Asia-Pacific Film Festival and Audience Award Feature at N.Y. International Children’s Film Festival way back in 2013.

Although the visual style and youthful romance might remind some audience of Gondry and Anderson’s (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moonrise Kingdom) work, Lin did not fail in putting his own touch in the film. He told Mei’s story in such a sincere and emotional way that would captivate any type of audience and would generate tears even in the most silent and ordinary scenes. Of course, he achieved this with the help of Jiao Xu’s endearing portrayal of Mei and Hui-Min Lin’s (Jay) natural innocence. It is also thanks to the technical aspects of the film; from its beautiful and timely visual, stunning art direction and post-production, which resulted into magnificent woven scenes exuding warmth, innocence and honesty through its colors, settings and overall feel. These helped in fulfilling the gaps that the too common soundtrack admittedly failed to fill.

While it is agreeable that Lin used a very obvious metaphor in the shape of a missing puzzle piece, it is still a necessary element, since it made way for one of the most powerful scenes to take hold in the film which was the dream sequence, wherein Mei watched her life fall apart into tiny puzzle pieces while desperately trying to catch them using her small hands. It is an excellent depiction of every person’s greatest horror—to see everything they have believed in, quickly crumble before their eyes.

Furthermore, the missing puzzle piece strengthens the film’s message, which is finding the brightest star and using it as a map to lead one back in the person or place it belongs. It is perhaps the reason why it begins and ends on Christmas Eve, to show the viewers that no matter what happens, everyone will find their own way home—that even people possessing the loneliest of hearts, have the capability to belong.

By far, it is obvious that the Starry Starry Night’s secret lies in its simplicity and in its power to grasp the audience’s emotions by simply keeping it real. In spite of the film losing its initial voice and inclining way too much in its first-love story line, Lin still deserves an applause for managing to show a wonderfully crafted film mixed with a huge amount of melancholy and art.

To my five year old cousin, please never grow old

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I can still remember the day you asked me why the paper cranes hanging on top of my bed doesn’t seem to fly.

I recalled sleepily telling you, “It’s because they’re still too young.” And you replied with an incredibly ridiculous, “Why?!” 

The next morning, I woke up only to find you sitting right beside the cranes, blowing as hard as you can-trying your best to teach them how to fly.

When you saw me looking, you smiled so brightly and proudly told me, “Look, they’re flying!” 

Dearest, I want you to remember that moment whenever the world turns you down. Whenever it discourages or belittles you or when it stops you from doing what you want to do just because you’re too young. Too inexperienced.

I want you to remember that there is a way. There will always be a way. And that sometimes, all we really need is just a little push, just a soft blow, and we’ll be able to fly.

 

To my five year old cousin, please never grow old,

Never stop saving the biscuit you dropped in your hot, sweet milk; hands as steady as a surgeon, calmly whispering “It’s going to be okay” over and over again as the biscuit’s core slowly crumbles.

Dearest, I want you to know that there are people who chooses to sink. There are people who prefers to bury themselves together with the leftover powdered milk; like a silly metaphor for their once, innocent dreams.

I want to tell you to never let them go. Never let them sink. Scoop them up with your little metal spoon, bring them to your mouth and whisper, “It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.” 

 

To my five year old cousin, please never grow old,

Continue singing the lullaby you learned in school whenever you see me cry and I will continue to defend you to your mother, who keeps on telling you that the yellow star on your small hands which says, “Good!” is not good enough. Because believe me, it is good enough. You are good enough.

Continue waking me up in the morning with that cheeky smile of yours and I will continue to tell my father to stop deciding your future; that you’re not his to begin with and that the game you should be playing is rock, paper, and scissors not “Please Father, spare me some glances!” 

Continue being the kid who cried because I told him that his favorite cartoon characters, Peppa and George, is what we had for dinner last night and I will continue to fight for you.

I will never let you shrink yourself so that your body can fit into a tiny ribboned box, like a goddamned Christmas present being displayed for everyone’s amusement.

Continue riding your bike fearlessly through the wind because I will never let you live like me. I will never let you be treated as a decoration or a proof of good parenting.

I will not let them hang you like they did to me. Treating me like a dusty paper crane, swinging in midair-while they are below, screaming, that I don’t have the capability to fly.

Because until you, I didn’t know how to fly.

So please, when you do grow old, never forget that you’re someone who believed that everyone can be saved, even a half-drowning cookie, and that kisses heals any kind of pain.

That once, when you were five, you taught people how to fly.

Rizal: A sun-filled province

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After a stressful week at school, I can’t help but to be excited with the fact that I’ll be surrounded with the sun, cool mountain air, and honestly just anything alive and doesn’t scream “Study!” or “Deadlines!” to me.

Thankfully, my family decided that it’s about time to go on a road trip again!

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Taken at Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia, Tanay, Rizal (09-10-16)

Since my family loves to visit pilgrimage sites, our first destination was Tanay, Rizal wherein the famous Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia is located. The said site is managed by Dominican sisters of Regina Rosarii and as stated above, they are the home of Contemplative prayer.

The place has strict house rules and before the visitors can enter the different worship sites, they must undergo a quick orientation. It’s mainly about the vision and mission of the place and the dress codes implemented.

TIP: If you want to visit, wear a semi-formal attire. For the girls, wear longer skirts or jeans because you need to borrow a shawl to cover the lower part of your body if you’re wearing clothes cut above the knee.

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Taken at the picnic grounds on Regina Rosarii, Tanay, Rizal (09-10-16)

Once inside you will be welcomed by horses and sheep, colorful peacocks, and bright flowers. Lots and lots of them!!!

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I apologize for taking so many pictures but they are absolutely gorgeous and I keep on wanting to show them off! Haha. 

After the 11:00 am mass, we immediately left Tanay and went on to Pililia to see the wind mill farm.

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Taken at Pililia Wind Farm, Rizal (09-10-16)

There were a several number of people in the wind farm considering that we arrived there around 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.

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The place, as promised, is surrounded by huge wind mills and strong winds. Due to the strong afternoon wind, I did not mind the heat so much. Although I’m certain that I got a bit of a tan from taking photos without any protection from the sun. Still, I have no regrets!

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TIP: Bring a cap or an umbrella if you want to visit this place. Trust me, it’s very much needed.

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We stopped over on a couple of old churches along the way home too, but due to lack of sleep, I wasn’t able to take good photos of those places. (I sleep whenever we get in the car. Lol)

The trip however, was a really fun one-scorching heat and all. I was glad that I did something other than study and finish my tasks in our organization. I had fun and I definitely want to go back to Rizal another time. Mainly because we weren’t able to eat their special treats. I do not call it touring if I wasn’t able to eat the place’s specialty. Haha!

Anyways, the long weekend is about to leave and I fear that a major reality check is going to haunt me really soon. Lol. See you, again!

 

 

My Mind is an Endless Zoo

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(Photo not mine. All credits belong to its proper owner)

Lips sealed,

Repressed memories,

Lone bird watching,

Fighting the urge to flee.

 

Flowing letters,

Of pieces shattered–

Feisty shark awaits,

Tearing off verses and flesh.

 

Tipsy feelings,

Paired with burnt lungs and promises.

Tigers prancing along the flames,

Leaving embers dressed as kisses.

 

Sleeping portraits,

Of wasted colors and tomorrows,

Voiceless parakeet singing,

Body hanging like a crooked comma–aiming for defeat.

Lost in a maze called, “Today”

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Today seems like an ordinary day,

Instead of chirping birds, I stare at dusty paper cranes.

Outside, the world continued to play

Unaware of things called, “pain”

 

Today seems like an ordinary day,

Waking up and avoiding the mirror like a game,

Hiding in the darkest corners, as if to say there isn’t a way –

With thoughts like these, it’s a challenge to stay sane.

 

Today seems like an ordinary day,

Nauseous of bitter coffee and emptiness.

I glance at the sky but all I see is gray,

Mimicking my self-portrait of hopelessness.

 

Today seems like an ordinary day,

The bent umbrella foolishly soaking in the rain,

As if begging the misery to run away,

Loading heartbreaks disguised as suitcases in the last passenger train.

 

Call(u)ses

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From the film “A Werewolf Boy” (I do not own the photo. All rights goes to its proper owner.)

Unwanted memories residing in my heart,

Crashes like a tidal wave again.

Like a soft, sadistic melody,

Tears instantly falls.

Time says it’s flying,

(I can hardly differentiate night and day) 

I guess bad memories can grow wings, too.

 

The black ink of my pen have memorized you,

Like the yellow painted flowers always aching for the sun.

Eyes closed, right and left, periods and parentheses-

My callused hands traced you,

Engulfed in your shadows,

Word by word, it’s all coming back.

(Why aren’t you coming back?) 

 

Regretful moments locked in these pages,

Your name, always drowning in a pool of bittersweet tears.

(I feel like I’m drowning, too)

The calluses between my fingers are so familiar to you,

(I’m used to the pain called you)

Like the grains of sand in the ocean being kissed away by the waves-

The separation no longer hurts, for it knows you’re going to visit again.

 

Pages and chapters written to erase your marks in my skull,

Silently pleading the universe to take you away,

Like the way the thunder surrenders itself to the summer breeze.

The hands which once held yours now only writes sad memories of you,

Like a baby uttering its first words,

My calluses repeatedly aches while madly writing for you…

(It knows nothing now but you.)

A note to the “heartless” self

I’m sorry.

If you are drowning in a pool of your darkest thoughts, coughing blood and bawling thorns, I will not hesitate to leave if they call for me.

When you feel like your soul is being ripped into pieces and every breath is as hard as plowing snow after a five day blizzard, I will leave you like the red plastic balloon getting whisked away by the summer air–slowly and surely.

I’m sorry.

If they showed tears as salty as the afternoon sea, I will not look back even if you are trapped in a cage, unable to detach your wings from invisible chains.

I’m sorry.

When the whole universe feels so small and you don’t have the slightest idea where to put yourself so you sit up but you found out that you’re terrified of small spaces like they are terrified of their own thoughts and you began to count one, two, three. 

One, two, three. 

I’m sorry, but I will stop counting because you cannot feel this way. You, cannot feel this way.

You are supposed to be as tough as the winds created by thousands of tidal waves.

You are supposed to be as brave as a soldier who lost not only his legs but also himself due to ticking grenades.

You are supposed to be as magnificent as the man in the red cape–saving a little girl’s doll in a bright red house as each of its walls getting eaten by the flames like every inch of hope left in their system being emptied out into space.

I’m sorry.

Because you have to stop counting like she did. Counting off days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the pain passes away. Shrugging off every fucking tear, every fucking headache.

I’m sorry.

But even if your light is dying, I cannot let their weary strings go–even if you have to continuously close your eyes and endure the pain.

I’m sorry. Just a little more.

One, two, three.

One, 

Two,

Three.

Dead End

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I am standing on uneven ground,

Wishing for my hands to stop,

Shaking, trembling,

Like whimsical villages trapped in snow globes.

 

I am standing on uneven ground,

Telling my mind to stop,

Whirling, spinning

Like little pebbles when hit by ferocious waves.

 

I am standing on uneven ground,

Hoping for my feet to stop,

Falling, tripping,

Like hazy meteors descending in the black sky.

 

I am standing on uneven ground,

Willing my tears to stop,

Spilling, trickling,

Like broken water pipes weathered by time.

 

I am standing on uneven ground,

Wishing for the world to stop,

Running, waking,

Like life flowing out of your veins.

Once I painted my world black and white

 

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I stood there as the sun burnt the trees, as the shutter hit its limit. I stood there as the world started to move, as the air started to breathe. I stood there. I stood and watched. Stood and watched. (Taken at Mini Forest, City of Malolos, Bulacan)

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I am trapped. Like a painting. Breathless, lifeless, beautiful–t r a p p e d. (Taken at National Museum of the Philippines, Metro Manila)

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Take your colors and paint with the wind. Take your canvass and paint with your heartbeat. Take the darkness and paint with the world. (Taken at National Museum of the Philippines, Metro Manila)

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All I wanted was for the world to freeze, to stop. Like the moment we spent that day, forever frozen in a four sided wall. Like you and me, kept in a dark portion of your heart—frozen cold. (Taken at Robinsons Place, City of Malolos, Bulacan)

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As I catch a glimpse of your body caged in the damned casket, I begged for the universe to have one last second, one last month, one last year with you. Not out. Not without. (Taken at National Museum of the Philippines, Metro Manila)

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Sometimes I wonder, do my shadows get lonely too? (Photographed by Thea Panganiban at Intramuros, Manila)

Things I can never say out loud

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Disappointment is a girl with eyeglasses who stays up late at night counting the stars.

Disappointment is a girl with hands always itching to write.

Disappointment is a girl who breathes fiction in a realistic world.

Disappointment is a girl who lives in a house where her dreams are ridiculed,

Where the father who’s supposed to be a protective wall is nothing but a quicksand.

Disappointment is a girl with a curse…

The curse of being different.