The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a short and fun animé (only 14 eps. long) that caught my attention a while back. It is a bit shojo, with a loud, bossy, but very kawaii heroine and a passive, funny guy as its narrator, but then it manages to cram in aliens, time-travelers and espers into the plot, and goes on to tackle existential issues ala Matrix (but not the treatment), so it's pretty cool to me. I also like the fact that the episodes aren't arranged in chronological order, so there's a Memento-like feel of figuring out things as you watch, and everything suddenly makes sense and fits together in the end.

Haruhi has something of a cult following in Japan (with fans calling themselves Haruhites), and the show can be found at the top of a lot of best animé lists. The manga and animé is actually based on a series of novels, and rumors are that a second season for the animé version is in the works. Here's a cute dance sequence shown at the end credits of each episode:

And here, I was surprised to find out, is a version of that dance done by our very own Cebu inmates. Hrmm.



I normally dislike blogging personal happenings, but this one's too rich for me not to post.

Okay, so early this week I went on a trip to Batanes with fellow journalists, photographers and photo bloggers. This three-day stay was sponsored by Epson Philippines in a bid to promote printing among photographers (especially among digital photographers), which is to me a good and jolly cause, and what better way to do this than to bring trigger-happy shutterbugs to a place where the photos we take would definitely be worth printing.

Now the tour was wonderful and on the first day we were able to cover most of Batan island where our hotel and the airport were also located. The second day had in store for us an island hop to neighboring Sabtang, where communities with picturesque stone houses still thrived. Our ride on the way there was a 10-meter long bangka, which carried thirty or so of us. I sat at the front part of the boat, with my two cams wrapped in plastic and strapped around my neck (we weren't told to waterproof our stuff beforehand, so I did the best I could when I saw the situation). Aside from a girl who shouted at the back when we skipped over a large wave right after we set sail, and some initial nervous laughter, our first trip was pretty uneventful.

The trip back was decidedly different, as from the shore before setting out we noticed that the waves were rougher and the wind harsher than on our morning ride to the island. Still, our manong pilots persisted, and we set out despite the change of weather. The next sign that things would not go well was that, before leaving the port, the rear rope on the boat was cut, making it hard for it to turn around and leave. So for around thirty minutes we sat there while our boatmen shouted and cursed at each other in native Ivatan, telling each other to push a pole this way or pull a rope that way.

Well, finally, we were able to face the sea, and trouble began as soon as the pilot started the engine. The first wave that hit us was taller than the boat, but we were able to ride over it. Problem was, when we came down from that wave, the boat's front was dipping downwards, and so we dove right into the second wave. Siyempre, I had front row seats and could hear the screams of the people behind me when we all simultaneously realized that we wouldn't be able to ride this one.

So the boat and everyone was submerged for a few moments, and when we came up I saw that the inside of the boat had took on around three feet of water with a fountain spurting violently in the middle (which I mistook for a "leak", and after a few seconds of pure panic realized that it came from the engine at the bottom, rejecting the water). I remember one girl begging to be taken to shore right that instant, and one manong putting on a life vest, which caused further panic (of course this was fucking scary at that moment. We had a good laugh about it only way later after dinner, and when someone wanted to play a game I couldn't help but suggest "The Boat is Sinking." Anyway). Knowing that I couldn't swim, and that rescue was probably my only possible way to survive, I got on top of my seat, held on to the roof of the boat and waved my arms frantically to the people on the dock. We were still about fifty or maybe a hundred meters from shore, I don't know, but from where we were, they were as small as fingernails. I went down from my seat when I realized with disgust that the people on the docks weren't moving and had decided to be merely curious onlookers, and coming down I saw that the manongs had developed a bucket-passing system for ridding the water.

I was stupified to find out we were still heading out despite water buildup in the boat and blurted out, "Tutuloy pa tayo?" but then noticed that the waves in the open water weren't as bad as the ones near the shore. After a while most of the water in the boat was taken out, and we were just freezing our asses off in our drenched clothes the rest of the way. And the guy beside me puked out a generous amount of orange rice, crab and whatever else we had for lunch at his feet.

So there goes. I'm just happy that I'm alive. One of my cameras, though, didn't make it. My old friend and now backup 20d stopped working, though the wide-angle lens attached to it is fine, as are my main cam and its standard zoomer. My phone, also drenched, now has its infrared permanently on, but is otherwise okay. My companions had their own share of damages. Oh, and it's worth noting that the impact of the second wave was such that it knocked off the sunglasses from the heads of five people. I don't know if they were able to recover them.

Anyway, photos of Batanes to follow when I get the time.

My only shot of Deathboat (left) at the Sabtang dock.



TV and movie fans, start crossing your fingers. After three months of being on strike (has it only been that long?), the Writers Guild of America might finally be reaching an agreement with the big network companies. So far, things seem to be positive and, best case scenario, the writers get to work as early as Wednesday.

Links can be found here, here, here and here.



This week ended one of the most beloved comic book titles of the decade. On its sixtieth issue, the last man on earth and his pet monkey sign off on a sad and tender note. I'm sure it isn't the ending most people expected, but I'm also sure that all of them will agree that it's perfect. I'd like to think that, years from now, Y: The Last Man will be studied for its speculative analysis of gender, politics and the ethics of science of the current mainstream consciousness. But, most importantly, I'd like it to be remembered as a piece of great science fiction, speaking of man's (and women's!) spirit and drive to survive the worst of times.

If you haven't encountered the title, here's something written on the last page of the first issue, to give you the premise of the series—but certainly not what it's about, which is really the characters who have to wade through their suddenly and drastically different world.

In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome (with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet).

This "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men. 495 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are now dead, as are 99% of the world's landowners.

In the United States alone, more than 95% of all commercial pilots, truck drivers, and ship captains died... as did 92% of violent felons.

Internationally, 99% of all mechanics, electricians, and construction workers are now deceased... though 51% of the planet's agricultural labor force is still alive.

14 nations, including Spain and Germany, have women soldiers who have served in ground combat units. None of the United States' nearly 200,000 female troops have ever participated in ground combat. Australia, Norway and Sweden are the only countries that have women serving on board submarines.

In Israel, all women between the ages of 18 and 26 have performed compulsory military service in the IDF for at least one year and nine months. Before the Plague, at least three Palestinian suicide bombers had been women.

Worldwide, 85% of all goverment representatives are now dead... as are 100% of all Catholic priests, Muslim imams and Orthodox Jewish rabbis.