Cinemalaya and the ‘cons’

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Karen Kunawicz

Greetings from the Rocky Mountains where life is really about the outdoors. I’m currently staying in a room without a TV and in a home without cable (sorry, Game of Thrones, I missed you.)

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But thanks to the magic of wi-fi, I am able to keep tabs on an incredibly busy week, pop culture wise, in Metro Manila. And with the help of my friends with their fingers on the pulse, I still managed to come up with a round up.

My friend Katrina who makes a constant and serious effort to support local indie films caught on to “Respeto” before it won the best film prize at this year’s Cinemalaya. Via Viber she says, “Upon reading the plot of ‘Respeto’—a young, wannabe rapper with no direction in life gets mentored by a wise old poet—I figured it would be more of the same corny, inspirational formula. The fact that two of the lead actors are famous rap stars [Abra and Loonie] was actually a turn-off for me. I imagined posturing standing for real acting.

History Channel’s hosts grace the second ‘History Con’ in Manila

If I hadn’t read Philbert Dy’s review, I wouldn’t have watched ‘Respeto’ and realized how wrong I was. To begin with, it wasn’t really about rap or even poetry. Sure, there were rap battles (thank goodness for the English subtitles, which were better written than usual; Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta was one of the translators). And there was definitely poetry; even a cameo by Vim Nadera. But the film was more about the lives of these young Filipinos from depressed communities who try to have hope even if they know, deep down, that there’s not much to hope for. And it’s also about the culture of impunity that has been destroying the country… ‘Respeto’ is courageous not due to its subject matter, but because it refuses to take the crowd-pleasing route that makes a movie popular. Whenever I thought it was about to follow convention, it made a u-turn—a painfully sharp u-turn. After all, the truth hurts.”

We also had not one, but two conventions last weekend.

Toku Spirits 2017 at the Megatrade Hall had something for fans Japanese of “sentai” (squad or task force) shows over the years. Special guests included actors from Sentai Bioman, Hikari Sentai Maskman, Chodenshi Bioman, Chikyuu Sentai Fivemann, Kousouku Sentai Turboranger, Chojin Sentai Jetman and Gosei Sentai Dairanger. If I go by my Facebook friends Adrian and Fred’s account of the event, one of the biggest hits of the weekend was Michiko Makino aka Pink 5 from Bioman. Apparently, she was a lot of people’s childhood crush!

Not to be outdone, History Con returned for it’s second year, this time at SMX with

guests like Corey Harrison from “Pawn Stars,” “Horny” Mike Henry from “Counting Cars,” Danielle Colby from “The Pickers” and Ryu Lim from “Forged in Fire.”

Abra in ‘Respeto’
YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB

Jamie Dempsey from “Ride N’ Seek,” and Justin Mott from “Photo Face Off” were returning guests, having come over last year for the first History Con.

My friend Glenmarc totally geeked out over Barry “Butch” Wilmore, a NASA Astronaut and US Navy Captain. He attended Barry’s talk and got a precious photo op. Of course he didn’t stop there. He wore a NASA shirt for that photo op but got into costume as a soldier for the promotion of the upcoming film “Goyo” before finally joining the rest of Justice Ph as Flash.

Also present were Filipino Historian Ambeth Ocampo and Ted Esguerra—officer-in-charge of the elite medical rescue team, the Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team of Philippine Coast Guard (he’s got a huge resume including expertise in alpine rescue and tactical medicine.)

History Con also goes to Malaysia for the first time.

Thankfully, I will be back in time for Asia Pop Comic Con, which happens in less than two weeks. Right now, the big headliners are from the DC camp: Ray Fisher who is the “Justice League” movie’s Cyborg and Tyler Hoechlin who is TV’s current Superman.

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