2016 has turned out to be a year of achievement for my father, Paulino Lim Jr. As a critically-acclaimed writer and professor of English literature, recently he was one of the twenty-three honored with the 2016 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas—for his fiction and scholarly essays that are constructive criticisms of the political, social and religious problems in the Philippines.
And in March, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award for his significant contributions to Philippine literature from his alma mater University of Santa Tomas—the Parangal Hagbong Award for the 31st Gawad Ustetika (the longest running literary competition), is given by the Varsitarian, the official student publication. When in college, he was a reporter and associate editor, and wrote many short stories for the newspaper.
Is it any surprise that I’m always citing my father as a role model? Even at 81 years old, he’s still writing, still creating and still inspired to look at the world and critically examine its beauty and its horrors.
Congratulations, Dad! We are so very proud of you!
It’s the end of the year! Which means good news for movie lovers. The superhero franchises and blockbusters are mostly on hold until next spring and summer, and the studios are now trotting out their “serious” fare for award consideration. Don’t get me wrong I love a great actioneer but lately, well … I’ll save those thoughts for another time. I want to talk about two movies that will harsh the holiday high right out of you. And I mean this in the best possible way.
Manchester by the Sea
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the story is about painful, harrowing loss. Casey Affleck brilliantly plays a Boston janitor who must return to his hometown because of a death in the family. This movie is a slow burn as it builds on the backstory and journey of Affleck’s character. There’s not a false note in this movie as it offers a slice-of-life of experience that combines pathos and levity and makes us reflect on what we hold dear in own lives.
Written and directed by Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals takes on more complex storytelling than his debut film A Single Man. But like the latter and lucky for us, his fastidious attention detail continues to reign supreme. Starring Amy Adams as a depressed art dealer named Susan, she reads her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, which then enfolds as a story-within-a story, and haunts her throughout the movie. While Susan’s storyline is a campy, grotesque send-up of the art world, shades of Pedro’s Almodovar’s sensibility, and a meditation on life choices, the depiction of the novel is a suspenseful, disturbing thriller fraught with pain. Yes, more pain! I know, not exactly a sunny rec, but this is a challenging film that delves into the dark parts of the soul. Which in my opinion, is always worth exploring.
If you’re up for countering some of the holiday cheer, these are the movies for you.
Recently, I visited Peru and Ecuador, and I prepared for the trip by reading Kim MacQuarrie’s book, Last Days of the Incas. While I already knew about the Spanish invasion and colonization of Central America, I became fascinated by how 168 conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, seized control of the Incan empire of 10 million, using brute force, advanced battle tactics, i.e., horses, and deceit. The vestiges and lasting impacts of South America’s bloody and oppressive history are well documented, particularly in the churches throughout the region.
La Compañia de Jesus, located in Quito’s historical center, is a dazzling and mind-blowing testament to the Spanish conquerors’ obsession with gold and religious dominance. The entire interior is covered in gold leaf—4 tons of it! Their desire for the precious metal had everything to do with accumulating wealth for themselves as well as colonizing and controlling access to the rich lands. As MacQuarrie says the conquistadors were “entrepreneurs with guns.” For the Incans, gold was considered sacred but it had no monetary value like it did for the Spanish.
View of the altar
The Jesuits broke ground on the church in 1605 and it was completed 160 years later in 1765. It’s a spectacular example of baroque architecture, craftsmanship and Moorish design influences. It’s an overwhelming sight, especially when you think about its history and what it ultimately “cost” the indigenous culture to help build it.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons