Learning from Josef Stalin: A Short Review of the Film “Archangel”

The movie, Archangel, is about a historian’s effort to dig deeper into the mysterious death of Stalin. His group of academicians from California University are in Moscow University to give talks and conduct further research on Stalin’s dictatorship in the ’20s.

Dr. Fluke (Daniel Craig) is lucky to have the ‘lone eyewitness’ to the death of Stalin. The old man with a nevus on his face reveals to the professor a notebook that was taken from Stalin’s secret vault when he was dying. The notebook is actually the diary of a girl from Archangel (a city in Russia’s northwest part) whom Stalin’s party recruited to be one of the servants to the leader. Stalin happened to be enamored by the girl’s charm, using his power to sleep with her. With the help of Zinaida, a prostitute and daughter to the old man holding the secret, the professor is led to believe that Stalin had a child with the servant lass.

Yoko means ‘I don’t stop’: She says Lennon’s spirit lives on

Frankly, I almost forgot the Lennono (Lennon and Ono) legend until I read a news report quoting the feminine side of the legend.My God, Yoko Ono is already 74 years old? And despite her age, there’s no stopping her from releasing her new album entitled “Yes, I’m a Witch”. Her name really fits her. ‘Yoko’ is a contracted Filipino word meaning ‘I don’t want’. There’s no stopping her, indeed.

Her coming out is very timely not only because it did me good (for remembering my idol once again) but also because it reminds the public that the activism that has characterized the music of many artists finds its roots in the activism of the predecessors, with Lennon being one. She claimed, though, that she has found no equivalent to her husband, which is understandable given the different context of today’s music. Watching the film “The US vs. John Lennon”, according to Ono, will inspire musicians and non-musicians alike to continue the fight for true world peace.

I’m not very conversant at today’s music; I only rely on people’s feedback. I stopped paying significant attention to activist music since the U2′s heyday in the mid-90s.

Nevertheless, I agree that Comrade John Lennon‘s spirit lives on. Only that I need to find music that opposes Bush’s anti-terrorism antics, for instance. Anyone?

‘Sugod mga kapatid!’

dsc00551.jpg I was inside a taxicab en route to UN Special Rapporteur’s debriefing with the civil society organizations regarding the outcome of his probe into extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. While in the heat of the traffic along Paseo de Roxas in Makati, my eyes could not escape that monument by Andres Bonifacio, who was brandishing a bolo and gun with his hands as if motioning motorists to charge on at a big target.

It’s as if Andres Bonifacio rose from the dead and  hopelessly agitated every motorist to make his or her horn blare out and reverberate in the city against the system that is still marked by inequality and inequity. Andres of the 19th century is no longer communicating with his kasamas (comrades) but with kapamilyas (people treated like family members)  [no association to Channel 2, please].  Sugod mga kapatid! (Let that popular song by Sandwich play on!)

I don’t mean to bastardize history and the century-old struggle for true people’s liberation. I just cannot control the wierdness of my mind as induced by snapshots of Philippine realities like that traffic scene in Makati. Perhaps, the picture suggests that, yes, the struggle still lives on but the forms to carry out that struggle must change in accordance with the modernity that the world has attained over the decades. Perhaps, the picture implies that the targets to lead a revolution are no longer limited to the workers and peasants. Taxi drivers and the middle class riding the taxicabs can do so in their own right. But who will lead and what will galvanize them? Andres Bonifacio of the second millennium, be born! New brand of revolution, be formed!

Radical music now playing

Never in my life have I witnessed radical songs being played in the mainstream media. Since the late 80s when I became an activist, how I wished that the progressive songs I played on my walkman would be played on radio as well. Red scare was so great then that not one radio station would dare to play one.

Although I still love progressive music (I occasionally play Buklod, Joey Ayala, the latest rock collection against globalization, etc. on my notebook), the passion for it ebbed down as soon as I got married and concerns in life became complex. I almost lost hope in progressive music being mainstreamed and being a tool for cultural change.

Until the time when I came to watch and hear Bamboo sing right on SOP (Channel 7) last Sunday the song that I used to adore and would sing out loud everytime there was a chance to: Tatsulok.

I shivered at the thought that the song sung by Noel Cabangon and Rom Banan in the early 90s would now be sung by a new-generation band right in front of SOP’s audience and the televiewers. Unbelieving at first, I doubted whether Bamboo knew the song it was playing. But Bamboo, the lead vocalist, rendered the piece with his heart.

Revivals are fashionable, indeed. But Bamboo must be raved about and commended for its choice, a very relevant one as far as the socio-political and economic realities are concerned. The song reminds everyone–elite, middle, and lower classes alike–that the real problems of the society are inequality and inequity. As the song says (in my best English translation attempt): For as long as the elite is at the top of the pyramid, social and political turmoils will not end.

I can see the dent that the song will create on the minds of the new-generation music-loving youths and middle class alike. Likewise, I know for sure that there are many cross-generation activists like me who have seen the hope for radical music to become mainstreamed ultimately.



Everytime I attend a civil society groups meeting, I cannot help but notice the shirts sported by my friends. The last meeting I attended had two of them whose shirts caught my attention. One had a white-on-black print that opposed elite rule in the Philippines. It had an ‘accessory’ that looked like a donation box :-D. The other flashily chanted socialism in Bahasa.

I’ve got several shirts that speak out activist calls. God knows I don’t want to wear a few of them that are realy ‘incriminating’ and may cost me my life. Although, I do wear most of them most of the time on weekends. And I don’t want to feature them here. Let the other people do so.