Friday, September 28, 2012

Jo Koy: He Wore the Philippine Flag in Jay Leno

Originally Posted Feb 2010

Philippines is not short of talents who have made a huge mark in Hollywood. Majority of them, though, was raised/born in the US. What sets Jo Koy apart is the pride that he takes from being half Filipino. Check out the video here , he wore a jacket with a Philippine flag in his first appearance in a major TV show (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno). It is also in the same show where he got one of the best recognition you can ever get as stand up comedian – a STANDING OVATION. It was barely a 3-minute gig, he was to go on and get out but he was so freakin’ funny, Jay Leno invited him to sit down with him for a short chat.
Jo Koy proudly wearing the Philippien flag in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Jo Koy proudly wearing the Philippien flag in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
It officially made him a rockstar. Stand up comedians perform in 200-seat theatres. Koy fills up 10,000-seat arenas not just in California or Las Vegas but in hundreds of cities across the U.S.
He has since been offered a Comedy Hour on Comedy Central and his own show, “The Jo Koy Show”. He was named one of the Top 10 comics to watch in 2007. Well, he made the world watch him and he delivered big time.
Jo Koy (Joseph Glenn Herbert) is a Filipino-American stand-up comic. Born in Washington,  Koy credits his Filipina mother for his comedic and acting talents. I personally think Filipinos have three rare comedic abilities:
  • Ability to find the funny even at the hardest of times
  • They don’t take themselves too seriously
  • Being funny without even trying
Koy got those three from his mom. Pinoys also have a flair for shamelessly pursuing showbiz careers. I think it’s cute how Pinoys find showbusiness amusing and that is also why his mother encouraged him and his sister to take part in school talent shows and impromptu performances in front of anyone who would watch.
The cool thing about him is the fact that he is unapologetic for everything in him and his family that is Pinoy. More than any other country, our comedy is as slapstick as slapstick can get. Many frown on it.  Even Jim Carrey is still unaccepted by many. Koy embraced slapstick and combined it with wit and in the process, gave him a style all his own.
He is amused of Pinoy culture, too. Amused, not embarrassed. Many Pinoys are embarrassed of their own traits but not him. He puts a spotlight on these traits, tells the whole world these are the things that make the Pinoys a truly unique, entertaining, amusing, hardcore, and totally awesome race and anyone who is not down with it is missing half the fun of what life can offer.
Jo Koy on his way to the Taal Volcano
Jo Koy on his way to the Taal Volcano
Jo Koy is one of those people who make you feel good for being who you are. In his odd eccentric way, most likely unintentionally, he performs his acts and makes us all realize that we all have $h!t to bear in our life. It is fully our choice, though, whether we will allow that to hit the fan and make our life stink or look at it from a different perspective so we can laugh at it.
There will be many Pinoy stand up comedianswho will try to follow his footsteps and I have no doubt that many will make it but the ride will be muddy as hell because Jo Koy is tough-as-$h!t to follow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yam Laranas: A Filipino’s Chilling Echo To The World

Originally posted Feb 2010

Lino Brocka is arguably the best Filipino Director. He was effin’ nuts to have dared to say things in his movies about Philippine society no one else dared to do so even in the privacy of their own bathroom. He spoke about every possible issue there was and is – prostitution, poverty, hypocrisy, religion. Many directors and writers followed, some may even argue that some of those were better but Brocka cleared the trail they walked on and no matter the distance they go they will always have to look back and thank Brocka for it.
There is one director who has gone farther than everyone else – Yam Laranas. To date, he is the ONLY true blue Filipino director to have ever directed a Hollywood film from a story that originated in the Philippines. Roy Lee, producer of The Departed among others, was in a haunt to find more Asian horror movies. He kindda figured we have a knack for scaring ourselves and there is no better continent but Asia when it comes pea-inducing scare. He came across the movie Sigaw and found it so unassailably cool he didn’t only buy the story, he also asked the director to pack his bags and move to Hollywood so he could make some awesome scary sh!t.
Do you know how many Filipino Directors have made a Hollywood movie? One – Yam.
US Version of The Echo's Official Poster
US Version of The Echo's Official Poster
Now, I just want you to pause and consider that for a moment. Yam didn’t seek out Lee, he didn’t do no effin’ reality show to demonstrate his skills, he certainly didn’t have Hollywood in mind when he was making Sigaw. He did for the local market under a local producer. When Roy Lee called him up it was an expression of his respect and faith that a Philippine Director can kick any Hollywood director’s ass just as hard. He could have asked another American director to do this, less complicated and cheaper but he didn’t. He wanted Yam.
Now, when i say Lee sought him out, Lee sought him out. Lee didn’t know how to get in touch with him so he flipped the DVD he was holding and contacted the distributor which happens to be Regal Multimedia. You’d think he’d write Mother Lily or Roselle directly? No. He wrote the customer f*&kin service. It was a good thing Roselle checks her emails one by one (she’s an OC) and trusted her guts that this Roy Lee is really the asskickin’ producer and not some lunatic hoping she’s stupid enough to fly to Africa to smuggle drugs. The rest as they say is history.
No selling out, no compromise, Yam got there because of sheer talent.
Yam on the set of The Echo with Jesse Bradford
Yam on the set of The Echo with Jesse Bradford
Sigaw was retitled to Echo and has been released all over the world. How the movie turned out is something I will leave to history to decide and it is not the point of this article. The point is the respect that you have to give this guy for that animalistic fortitude he displayed for going out there and putting out the future of his ever precious Filipino male pride on the line. Hollywood is not a friendly place, it’s a dark galaxy filled with giant insecure and angry monsters dressed in Valentinos and Armanis armed with crazy technology. The ones with the biggest firepowers are the most stupid (and aren’t even aware of it) m0th3rfuck3rs who think their celebrity make them superior than everyone else.
Yam took care of business like Yoda took care of the force. His cast, his producer and his audience saw how he translated his original vision to a piece that will be appreciated by the whole world. And shit, did he represent. He is also not some celebrity with illusion of grandiosity and shows it by acting humble and preppy pink. He doesn’t make you want to vomit by not taking in any credit or by crediting everything to luck. He tells everyone it was hard work. Having the right people to support him helped but more than anything, hard work.
Just to be extra awesome, he also became the first Filipino director to receive 100% financial grant by National Geographic for a TV special.
NGC Poster about MV Dona Paz directed by Yam Laranas
MV Dona Paz - Nearly one fourth the size of the ill-fated Titanic. Almost 5000 souls lost in the world's worst peace-time maritime disaster.
Sadly there are a lot of Filipinos who look down on Filipino films. I say just shut up. When Echo was shown here not enough people showed up. He got more in Europe and North America than in his own country. If you’re not watching our films you ain’t got no right to comment or criticize. Only people like Yam who work their effin’ ass off to make films and people who spend their hard-earned peso to support people like them got a say.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Balot: The King Pinoy Of Evenings

I received several emails and comments, some contain constructive criticism, some are overwhelmingly flattering, some confusing. My favorites, however, are those that express mutual excitement on what this site is all about – pride in everything Pinoy. One interesting suggestion (she requested that I withhold her name) is to write about Pinoy delicacy.
Why not?
If there is one thing we will never run out of, it is the unique menu of mouthwatering, totally awesome, worth dying for food. The best part is that these don’t necessarily cost you an arm and leg. These are always available in your kanto-canteen for less than $1 (P50.00). A single serving of one Pinoy delicacy can more than drive the biggest construction workers that have the body of a quarterback times three as long as there is about five cups of rice, some kind of sauce and water, Pinoys are ready to rock their meal times.
Perhaps the second most popular delicacy from the Philippines is our good ‘ol BALOT (first is arguably Adobo). I know some of you are most likely cringing their disgust as not the entire country dig it but you have to admit this is one kick@ss delicacy that is our and ours alone and if your are down with it, tastes f***in’ awesome too.
Almost all friends I have from other countries who have come here and were (un)fortunate enough to get their hands on a balot or two admit that this is the most vicious, brutal, and throat-crushingly hardcore delicacy they’ve tasted in both good and bad way. Dude, they at least fry snakes and rats in Africa, by the time it is served to you, it looks like your ever familiar golden fried chicken and tastes like one too but our balot ever so proudly presents itself to the one eating it in complete anatomy – feather, eyes, fully functioning intestines and nails – as you put it in your mouth for a sumptuous meal.
Then there is the overwhelmingly unique way of getting hold of a balot. When the moon dominates the sky and beds are waiting for its owners, the classic chant that deserves the International Hall of Fame for Musical Achievement wakes everyone up – BALUUUUUTTTT, PENOYYYYY, BALUUUUUUTTTT.
You buy it and expertly find the rounder side of the egg for a ceremonial eggshell breaking either by slamming it against a wall or a table or against your companion’s forehead. Peel it slowly, gulp soup that tastes devilishly heavenly until you are now down to the real business – egg yolk and the 18-day-old duck.
hmmmm, now i need to get one of those
hmmmm, now i need to get one of those
Yeah, it even made its way to Fear Factor, Amazing Race and Survivor as a part of a challenge. Contestants that could finish the balot on their plate wins a precious stuff like $50,000, a car or whatever it is the TV program is giving away. One of the contestants said “If they came and offered me the $50,000 right now to just eat one more, there is no way I would do it again, there is no way.”
Could you imagine that? Balot in exchange of $50,000? Balot is a prize in itself, weenies.
I hope, though, that you will see past through the attempted humor in this article and onto the value of what I am talking about. Other countries may be serving balot but not the way Pinoys do it in the Philippines. It is one of those things that makes you remember the Philippines when you are in the middle of a cold winter night in some snow-filled country with fondness and smile and at the end of the day, that’s what this country is all about – happiness that no one else gets but Pinoys.
Lovely Dinner
are you digging this?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Geeks Are The New Rock Stars

Mathematics sucks big time. It is an absolute sham. I would rather perform an open heart surgery using Jollibee knives while I head bang to the music Sex Pistols than sit through a 10-minute class about the basic principle of Calculus. I would rather insert my arms in the esophagus of a starving crocodile while I dance the Macarena than solve any sort of Calculus problems. Algebra is no different, any mathematical problem that has a number above 5 is piece of sh!t. Well, you probably have speculated by now that my stratospheric hatred for Math is rooted in the fact that I suck at it. So hard in fact, a 3 year old can win a math contest over me. Ask me to write a script worthy of the Best Screenplay Award in Oscars and I will do it in a heartbeat but Calculus? Not I don’t want to, I simply don’t have the necessary brain cells for it.
John Russell Virata - middle

John Russel Virata is my counterpart. Math is his b!tch. He is so good at it that he is representing our country to this year’s International Math Olympiad (IMO). It is the most hardcore math competition in the whole fuc#!n world. There are more than 35 countries represented including the G effin’ 7 – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Russia. If you are thinking though that it is no big deal, you may just be as stup!d as I am because the training involved in qualifying in the IMO is equivalent to single-handedly charging a Palestinian troop with only a gadam toothpick as a weapon.
Virata went on a head to head clash against 3,500 math geniuses to solve problems from basic algebra to calculus in Philippine Math Olympics (PMO), the oldest mathematical contest in the country.
Virata does feel a bit of pressure. Last year, the Philippines won a bronze medal at the 50th IMO held in Bremen , Germany through Carmela Lao of St. Jude Catholic School. Looks like he has a lot of practice though. He already won various international mathematics competitions including last year’s Invitational World Youth Mathematics Intercities Competition held in Durban, South Africa where he won a bronze medal and the Philippine International Mathematics Competition in Iloilo City where he took home a gold medal.
Imagine traveling the world more than once a year for free to do something you love doing like solving Math problems, pretty sweet. Imagine winning these competitions that makes all the money spent on you for your travels worthwhile, totally awesome. Imagine living a life of absolute coolness because you are, day by day, becoming the embodiment of the new generation of youth – totally bad@$$ and totally cool at something that brings pride to your country, family and self – that is simply doped.
Anyone who claims that the Philippines can never claim genius in the field of Math, you either beat Virata on a one-on-one Math showdown or shut the fu$# up. We cannot deny that our educational standards are on an all-time low but people like Virata doesn’t bother b!tching about it because it will not help the situation. People like Virata – cool and f@#$in badass – simply live out their passion because THAT is what will actually help the situation.