What La La Land says about chasing after your dreams.

Even if you are not a movie buff, chances are you’ve heard of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s musical film “La La Land,” which also happened to be the winner of six Golden Globe awards and three Oscars. It was a good film, and if you already watched it, you know that it’s not just about being in love; it’s also about having the courage to follow your dreams.

“People like what other people are passionate about.”

In the movie, Mia (Emma) ultimately wanted to be an actress, while Seb (Ryan) was a jazz purist struggling to make jazz relevant in the modern times. It was his burning passion that converted Mia from hating jazz to loving it because of him. When you are passionate about something — whether that’s playing the trumpet or doodling on paper or blogging — you do it with enthusiasm, which in turn is going to manifest in your work, and other people are bound to notice it.

I’m totally guilty of this: worrying too much about how my art is going to be received. Will people like it? Will they even notice it? In reality, it really should not matter at this stage. Last Monday, Yoko Ono tweeted: “Never mind them. Keep creating.”

It takes a huge amount of hard work and courage to keep going.

Mia left college to start her journey to stardom, but six years of relentlessly showing up for auditions got her nowhere. Still, she could have quit on her third, fourth, fifth, or sixth year of regularly going to auditions and not getting a single call back. There is something to be said for a mind and heart that refuses to quit even if hard work doesn’t seem to pay off.

Meanwhile, here I am, getting upset over not being able to break ground for something I’ve been doing — very irregularly, I should add — for only two years. It is a flaw in my character that I badly need to address soon, but the words have to be said even if they may sound harsh: that some people, like myself, don’t really give it our all on our craft, and yet we have the audacity to expect for results right away.

To myself and anyone like me, think about our year: the year when we can say that things are finally falling into place. And then say this to ourselves: it starts here in 2017.

Your grandest opportunity may come from your biggest disappointment.

(WARNING: SPOILERS)

So Mia decided to stop auditioning and write her own one-person show instead, and then perform on her own in the town theater. It turned out that writing plays was her first love and what got her so enamored in acting. But on the day of the play, only a handful of people showed up. Just when you thought it couldn’t have been any worse, Mia overheard a conversation from one of the audience saying that the play wasn’t even good. That was the last straw — brimming with tears and extreme disappointment, she packed her bags and refused to have anything to do with acting again.

That was when the callback came days later: a casting director saw her play and wanted to put her in a lead role for a new TV show set in Paris.

It’s insane how things like that happen. But in a subtle way, it tells us that when you’re doing what you love, both good and bad days are going to bring something invaluable. My bad days in lettering brought me to try sketching, and I discovered that it was something I could also do, and enjoyably so.

For those who already saw the film, you may say that chasing after your dreams also have some consequences, like what happened at the ending. Don’t worry, though; it’s not applicable to everybody. 😉 *wink wink*

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Film Review: Sunday Beauty Queen.

(Originally written last December 30, 2016)

Before I start, let me just say that this is my first Metro Manila Film Festival movie ever. Previous MMFF entries gave me no reason whatsoever to participate in this annual film showing, unless I wanted to be treated to stupid antics and recycled plots. So the fact that I paid for the big screen this time meant that there is something different in MMFF’s lineup this year.

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Sunday Beauty Queen is the only documentary film among the 8 MMFF entries, and this difference + the trailer + friends’ recommendations were all factors in my decision to watch it before everything else. It follows snippets of life of four Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong. They work 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. But on Sundays, they’re free.

If my work schedule is as crazy as that, I won’t do anything but sleep on my day off. But these Filipina women forego their only day of rest for something fab and glamorous: joining beauty pageants. They may be stressed and ragged in their jobs, but on Sundays, they transform into dignified beauty candidates vying for the one crown.

But more than the pageant preparations, it’s really their stories that would get you the most. Every single one of them were college degree holders, but they chose to work as maids in a foreign country, even if working conditions aren’t always ideal. I wasn’t planning on crying, but when one of the women wrote the word “LOVE” on the Balikbayan box she’s going to send home, I just lost it. :’(

SBQ is executed well. The transition from one story to another is smooth and easy to follow. I particularly liked that some of the OFWs’ employers were given airtime to say what they think about their Filipina helpers. Still, the favorable comments cannot mask the reality of our heroines’ sacrifice, the family they left behind, and the treatment they all endured just to find their place.

When the lights went back inside the cinema signaling the end of the movie, I did not want to move. I wanted to stand up and clap a heartfelt clap. And then I wanted to get back on my seat and ponder over the masterpiece that I’d just seen. But most of all, I wanted to cry.

I am not going to look at Filipina OFWs the same way again. Thank you, MMFF. And to all the people behind SBQ, thank you.

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Sunday Beauty Queen won Best Picture during the Metro Manila Film Festival Awards Night. Two out of the four Filipinas whose lives were featured in the film received the award. Congratulations, SBQ! ‘Tis very well-deserved!

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