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Fine arts alumnus not late at 48

Graduating college and earning a degree, for others, may seem to be one of the many milestones that they have yet to face in their lives and in doing so, there is a pressure to always finish “on time.” But, for a person named Florentino Impas, or “Jun,” as he is known in the art industry, finishing a degree in Arts is his greatest achievement and dream-come-true, not later in his life but in his own time.

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Photo grabbed from Jun Impas' Facebook post.

A well-known author once said that “the starting point of all achievement is desire.” This statement is true in every way since the probability of the success of an action increases simultaneously with the desire of the person enacting it. After all, desire, in itself, is a powerful catalyst; it knows no limitations and is purely dependent on the strength of a person’s will and guts.

Graduating college and earning a degree, for others, may seem to be one of the many milestones that they have yet to face in their lives and in doing so, there is a pressure to always finish “on time.” But, for a person named Florentino Impas, or “Jun,” as he is known in the art industry, finishing a degree in Arts is his greatest achievement and dream-come-true, not later in his life but in his own time.

Mr. Impas was one of the recent and proud graduates of the University who turned to Facebook to share his overwhelming happiness on his academic achievement and to extend his gratitude towards the people who has helped him in his journey. Little did he know, his humble post would go viral in a span of one day; inevitably, he became a beacon of inspiration to all after graduating college even at the age of 48.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Mr. Impas shared that being in a family of nine siblings made them experience poverty growing up. Unlike other kids in school, he had to fend for his studies as early as his elementary days by selling rice delicacies such as puto every morning, making charcoal or uling, working as a wood chopper as well as a household “boy.” There are also times wherein he would find himself searching through the coastal areas of a bay for loose change that people might have dropped. These were only his sideline jobs, however, because at the tender age of 7, he had his first experience with art while he was helping his older brother.

“My older brother used to work in an Art Sign shop. These shops were famous before the digital tarpaulin and billboards now. They used to be manually painted lettering and banners. That’s how I started learning and practicing art. I helped him out with some of his work for a bit of money.”

After highschool, he took Architecture in Surigao del Norte School of Arts and Trade but due to financial difficulties in his second year, his dream of earning a degree came into a distressing halt. From Surigao, he traveled to Cebu in search of greener pastures. He eventually settled down and started a family of his own; and the once-crystal-clear image of finishing his studies slowly blurred as he focused on new aspects of his life—family, work, especially arts.

Art has always played a huge role in the modest man’s life; it was his family’s bread and butter. As a full-time artist, he was able to give his children proper education but the lack of his own academic recognition made him feel insecure; he felt unfulfilled even though he was successful in his crafts. So when an opportunity came knocking on his door to attend a university again, he did not waste much time, and he grabbed, tightly, the hold of it.

“One day in 2014 I had a client that had a connection with someone from UST Fine Arts program. It was an opportunity to make my dream of finishing college come true […]  I’ve always seen graduating from college as a personal achievement and milestone. I know it is not necessary to succeed in life but it is a personal success for me. I have so much respect for UST. I know it is a wonderful institution from its reputation. I could not decline their offer.  The UST fine arts program is exceptional,” Mr. Impas told us.

Graduating college is a dream, for him and his other siblings, and he was one step closer to it as he entered the University’s Fine Arts program. When asked why go back to his studies in that age, Mr. Impas’ reply was simple yet completely logical and truly inspirational: “Among my 9 siblings, one graduated college and even though I’m already 48, I’m only the second to graduate college from my family. I want to prove to myself that I could do it. I wanted to take the learning opportunity for art- to learn all the things I may have missed out on my self-learning.”

However, college was not a walk in the park for Mr. Impas, just like any other student. He, too, had his fair share of struggles during his stay in the University. “It was an extreme struggle for me. There were many times I considered just stopping. Juggling work and family and studies was really hard. I had to schedule my time properly, choose priorities and sometimes sacrifice one thing or another. I had difficulty adjusting to new things as well and I had to ask my kids to teach me (for example with technology, I was forced to learn and be fluent in sending emails, using a laptop for reports and etc.),” he said. And even though he was not able to be in a classroom and mingle with his blockmates that much, since he was granted a home study program type of education, he described them as “warm” bunch of people.

Years ago, it would be an inconceivable thought for Mr. Impas that he would finish his studies after reality and its challenges dawned at him. Today, he has successfully pursued his academic desires and passed with flying colors, even bagging the Thesis Award Merit in his graduation rites. His story is an inspiration not only because of the fact that he graduated college at the age of 48, but because of the passion, hard work, and perseverance that he showed despite of the hardships that he had to endure before reaching his goals.

As a fellow Thomasian, he is reminding us that there will always be obstacles, whether in college or in the real world. That is why we will have to learn to hold on and push harder little by little every day.

 

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Sila-Sila in its spectrum

Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

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Screengrab from Sila-Sila movie trailer

Giancarlo Abrahan’s entry for Cinema One Originals Film Festival Sila-Sila is a groundbreaking film that sprouts a queer narrative molded by queer people. Anchored to the intimate stories of real people, this ghosting film pierces through the lens of post-breakup experiences.

Its lead actors, Gio Gahol and Topper Fabregas had a harmonious rhythm as Gabriel and Jared inside one frame. With Gab being helplessly displaced and Jared as someone who craves settlement, they were in an endless loop of push-and-pull, making every scene burst in different colors of expectations.  

The film revolves around the story of Gab (Gahol), as he tries to reconcile with his friends (Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar) and his ex-boyfriend, Jared (Fabregas) after ‘ghosting’ them for almost a year. Fueled by guilt and regret, the old lovers find themselves igniting a fire that once burned the bridges that connected their lives.

Five minutes in and the sensual relationship between Gab and Topper will cuff the audience with its bare exposure of same-sex actualities. These characters played by both theater artists allow the scenes to flourish with remarkable nuance.

The scenarios in the film allow you to peek at realities that manifest through Gab’s life as a person who fails to find his roots being settled in one place. As his portrayal walks you through the story of uncertainties, the progress of the film lets you trace into a deep contemplation whether or not you may be the Gab or Jared in your own story.

Despite having fragments of scenarios that lowers the momentum of the film, it serves as a breath of fresh air as Gab undergoes the phase of vacillation. Gab’s journey of finding a home in people he once felt was is a cycle anyone can relate to. His doubts linger in trust issues and the feeling of not belonging. It soon uncovers that the quest of settling in places, people, and experiences will be unending unless one finds their sense of home.

Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar’s characters are spices to the story as they portray a decade-long friendship of overcoming tendencies. Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

Sila Sila won the Best Picture Award. Its undeniably well-plated palette satisfies the eye of the audience. A lot of scenes will tickle one’s humor especially if you are used to friendships that blatantly roast each other as a way of showing one’s love language.

Alongside its award-winning cinematography, Sila Sila also received the Audience Choice Award and Best Screenplay by scriptwriter Daniel Saniana. Also, Fabregas was recognized as Best Supporting Actor for his role.

“We’ll always love each other, however it manifests, it’s just always going to be there.”, this line by Jared carves through the hearts of those who had to let go of a person but never the love that they have for them. Gab’s relationship with Jared shows that there is never just one way of loving someone. Every day, with every version of themselves, love prevails. 

Distance can never make things small. It only deceives you from thinking that you’ve escaped your troubles. One way or another, you will find yourself crawling back because time never lets anyone off its claws—Sila-Sila teaches this. Furthermore, sometimes, having no closure is not the closure.

The character of Gab serves as an example that a person will remain trapped in the past unless they find closure from people and from themselves. People are bound to face the naked truth that we need to find our sense of home in this world that is full of broken fragments of imperfect individuals.

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Metamorphosis, a film that challenges the conventional

Tiglao tells this story through the never-before-seen character of a Filipino intersex teenager, and he tells it almost flawlessly, with the scenes that make you nostalgic, like you’ve been there before—a sort of déjà vu.

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Screengrab from Metamorphosis Trailer

As a coming-of-age film that probes more extensively into the adolescent psychosexual conflict, J.E. Tiglao’s Metamorphosis is dangerously daring. The film stirred a wave of controversy when the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) classified it as X-rated for exploring intersexuality, later on, it was reclassified into R-16, permitting its screening in local cinemas. 

It opens with a scene at a waterfall in a 1:1 aspect ratio and ends in the same setting, where we find the protagonist, Adam, exceptionally portrayed by Gold Azeron, no longer irresolute. Supporting actress Iana Bernardez, who plays Angel, complements Azaron almost naturally—Adam isn’t without Angel, vice versa. However, the gorgeous visuals of Metamorphosis overshadow the disarray that’s often ignored in the film.

Tiglao tells this story through the never-before-seen character of a Filipino intersex teenager, and he tells it almost flawlessly, with the scenes that make you nostalgic, like you’ve been there before—a sort of déjà vu. Apart from the brilliant footwork of Tey Clamor, the film’s cinematographer, the musical score by Divino Dayacap, from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music, gave the film its oomph: as if the music understood the complexity of emotions portrayed, and the aesthetics with it.

Tiglao almost easily got away with poor writing by compensating for the other elements in the film. Instead of sustaining its relaxed delicateness, it lost its momentum when Adam’s exploration into his intersexuality was hastily overturned by uncalled-for predatory themes, and sexual awakening was realized by means of harassment.

The film relied heavily on aesthetics while leaving the plot unsustained and undernourished. It undermined the audience’s capacity to understand beyond the script because there was very little depth to it—the metaphors were surface-level and revealed themselves too easily. Some scenes appeared to over-explain themselves because expository writing was brought to an excess. Nevertheless, the film communicated what it sought to: the magnitude of embracing your own uniqueness in pursuit of self-acceptance.

Perhaps one of the most moving scenes in the film was when Adam’s father, a conservative Catholic and a pastor with a strongly-held vision for Adam to reverse his intersexuality – an “Ok, boomer” moment – abandons his unyielding bigoted principles at long last, giving Adam the autonomy to decide on and for his own. Here, the conservative adult matures with the troubled adolescent—and it is this shared acceptance that is unique to Metamorphosis.

Although the film suffers from tacky dialogue and some questionable subplots, it does exactly what a coming-of-age film is supposed to: the audience becomes an echo chamber, where we feel for the protagonist while accompanying him into growth and resolution. 

Metamorphosis, along with its stillness and vulgarity, makes for an ample directorial debut. The “I” in LGBTQIA+ rarely gets talked about, but Tiglao changed that by giving us Metamorphosis: it contests machismo without overemphasizing the feminine, it astounds without unnerving, and most of all it is unrestrained. Metamorphosis, even with its sloppy writing, is sufficiently beautiful—it questions and challenges the conventional, and it does it without fear.

 

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Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo: An Endless Cycle

Falling in love in this generation is like using a trial and error method that gets you nowhere. In the emergence of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble and websites like Omegle, finding a prospective partner has become fairly easy but also quick to lose.

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Screengrab from Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo official trailer

Labels. There is a silent debate going on about whether labels are important or a factor for complications. Though there is a need to define relationships to know where to draw the line between friends and lovers, it is often terrifying to know what the truth really is. The word ‘commitment’ may seem an intimidating word for some, but it is also loved by many. 

Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo is one of the entries for the Cinema One Originals 2019. Written and directed by Denise O’Hara, who won an award for Best Director in this year’s Gawad Urian for a movie called Mamang, a film about dementia and the struggles of remembering one’s life. 

The film festival ran from November 7 until November 17 in selected malls and microcinemas. Starring Jane Oineza and JC Santos as Alex and Carlo, the story portrays the characters’ struggle in the process of falling in love, falling out, being confused, and being sure at the same time. 

Falling in love in this generation is like using a trial and error method that gets you nowhere. In the emergence of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble and websites like Omegle, finding a prospective partner has become fairly easy but also quick to lose. 

Alex, played by Jane Oineza, is a woman with big dreams and ambitions, eager to prove to the world that she is more than just a pretty face. Carlo, played by JC Santos, on the other hand, is your typical go-with-the-flow kind of guy who works in the field of graphic design and freelance work. The story progresses as the two create something that neither of them knows what is and what to call. 

By slowly cracking her shell and breaking down her walls, Carlo manages to see the parts of Alex that no one really sees. Underneath her cold gazes and intimidating aura, lies a sappy and marupok girl. One night, after planning and talking about the design for Alex’s upcoming project, a cockroach scare prompts a rush to the bedroom; ensuing a somewhat emotional conversation that turns the atmosphere into purple and red hazes. 

After that night, awkwardness sits between them in the office. Alex, trying to figure out what happened, asks Carlo directly; as to his reply, along with the words “Masaya pa rin naman ‘diba?” creates a questionable feeling both to the characters and the audience. 

Stemming from the title itself, the movie—from start to finish—draws a problematic and complicated cycle that reflects dating and almost-dating. The dialogues lacked a bit of emotional appeal and the concreteness of thought cannot be easily grasped. The movie has a back and forth sequence, showing the past and the present, how the moments came to be, what arguments were thrown out to get to the scene where they chase each other in the sidewalk with pain and hesitation in their eyes. 

Cinematography-wise, the color palette of the film shifts along with the emotion that is being presented on the screen, making up for the lack of substance in the exchange of dialogues. It is a mess, paralleling to Alex and Carlos’ relationship, the shaky camera angles and the abrupt shift from one scene to another provides support in pulling off the movie’s complicated narrative. It could have had more backstory and fewer gaps in the storyline but it somehow works as it leaves you hanging and still questioning what happened. It keeps you in the cycle even though you have stepped out of the cinema already. 

Filled with contradictions and trouble waiting to happen, O’Hara’s work garners attention from those who are in the same position. The film dwells on complex-minded characters, pretty much like our generation, and their decisions on whether they should leave or keep fighting for something that is vague. It is a ticking time bomb of tears and regret or maybe, just maybe, something magical and worthwhile. 

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