Monthly Archives: December 2008

Randy-Author on India

       Peg and I often told each other that it was better to go to India from Southeast Asia than the United States; and it seems reasonable that that was true after we experienced the neglect and poverty of India.   India has no doubt changed from when we were over there in the early seventies.   We reached Bombay (Mumbia today) in the middle of the night, on a flight from Djakarta.   It was a Czechoslovakian plane bound for Prague with only five passengers on board for part of the flight (from Djakarta to Singapore): three men besides Peg and me.   By the way the three of them interacted it seemed obvious to us that one of the men was being escorted back to his communist home.   Only the guarded-one spoke to us.   He wore a tailored suit (no tied) and carried a briefcase and said he was an art historian.   His two companions stuck pretty close to him and never shared his geniality.   So times have changed along with the map of the world; as India no doubt has changed, while our experiences there were more of the physical nature than the spiritual.   We never visited an ashram and missed the Taj by fifty miles (not to be confused with the Taj Hotel, which while we were in Bombay became part of our morning itinerary).

      The standard of living throughout Southeast Asia seemed higher than in India.   The poverty didn’t seem so overwhelming in say the Philippines or Malaysia, although I remember stepping in an open sewer during one of our first days in Manila.   (Poverty and open sewers, is there a connection?)   One hardly sees such things after a while.

       Madras was just too black for us and after seeing so many people living on the streets we got out there as quickly as possible.   The huge temples and the palaces of Maharajas south of there, where we lingered, compensated for the ugliness we had seen.

       We lived in a hospital in Vengurla, the last stop of the steamer before Goa, but we weren’t ill or incapacitated in any way; the memories of chickens in the operating room remain with us.   There could be nothing that disturbed the Indian English-trained doctor more than that.   It was near the end of his stay there (he hoped) because he had applied for a position in New Zealand.   He felt he couldn’t do anything about the chickens and gave Peg a job typing for him.   Feeling compelled to read it through, I spent my days reading the Bible and riding a bicycle.

More next time, Randy Ford

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         Although Black Tuesday has received five 5-star ratings by independent reviewers on Amazon, they’ve had a hard time keeping it  in stock.   The surest way to order is by calling 1-800-876-6103.

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Randy-Author on running away

      Daddy Carder, my grandfather, loved to travel.   I could say I got my own travel bug from him.   I could say that, but all the times I saw him he was confined to a small store he couldn’t leave or a bed he couldn’t get out of.   On his last trip, he broke his hip in Alpine, forcing an uncle to drive clear across the state of Texas to pick him and my grandmother up, along with their car and travel trailer and all of the aggravation that went with it.   Now, confined in a sense to my life in Tucson, I feel the urge to take off as he did, to go in a different direction again, but for me it wouldn’t simply be another trek; I would be running away.   I could easily subscribe to that, and it would be for me, or so it seems, a well-established pattern.

      In my lifetime I have done my share of running away, mainly after something I naively started failed.   But can I truthfully say those endeavors were failures?   Each was worthwhile.   Each changed lives.   And each had a life of its own.   I should be satisfied.   (Should again.)   My life long pattern of flight has been a pattern that has brought many rewards and must have suited me.   Noting that I have been successful in various “careers”, mainly in social work, something I hadn’t studied or trained for, I earned my retirement, and I gained plenty to write about.   But equally worth noting is the fact that I enjoyed each “career,” even my stint as an investigator for Child Protective Services and enjoyed and enjoy even more the activity of writing.   The excitement seems to be there; I have plenty to write about.   Then why run away?

      For the last three years I have pushed myself very hard.   I had a big goal, a huge project and still have it…the goal that is: the restoration and full utilization of Teatro Carmen.   (Google it and learn that it is the oldest theater building in this part of the world, and today, it is being used for storage.   This situation sticks in my craw, and I am very passionate about it.   And I put my money… $200,000 worth… toward it, and now that’s gone and I’m stuck.   There is no reason to get into the details here.)   And I don’t know where to go from here. Often, as I spent a tremendous amount of energy and money (for me), I thought: “since historically, the Teatro and environs were the origins and the cultural heart of Tucson, my task would be easy.”   Though there has been a lot of agreement about the cultural and historical significance of the sites, moving beyond that hasn’t been a priority.   But I haven’t given up; though I’ve thought about jumping on my bicycle and touring the world.

      When we left the Philippines, we travel and lived abroad for three years.   Much of that was by bicycle, though we covered more distance by airplane and Land Rover.   Back in the states, we moved from Maine to Arizona by bicycle.   And even later, I led a group of disabled people on tour by bicycle from Phoenix (yes, Arizona) to DC.   So a long trek by bicycle wouldn’t be that unusual for me, except now I have health problems and I would have to leave my family in Tucson.   I could create another writing project for myself.   I could write about travel, an example of which is a short piece of mine on this blog site.   I would be writing.   It would keep my brain active.   Easier than writing a novel or a play.   Yep, why don’t I just do that?

Here I am, now not knowing what to do or where to go.   I am adrenaline junkie without a high.   Hence, I must generate excitement, and not runaway.

Randy Ford

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Jean Gietzen-a new edition an old book

     Jean Gietzen has a new edition of an old book out from Xulon Press.  The book is entitled A PEOPLE SET APART and contains some of the original work as well as a new piece or two.  Church members engaged in Bible studies will appreciate this lighter look at Gospel events and characters.  The publication of the book celebrates its 25th anniversary. 

      Taken from the WRITE WORD, the newsletter of THE SOCIETY OF SOUTHWESTERN AUTHORS  Vol. 36, No. 6  Dec-08-Jan 2009


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Randy-Author on living with the choices we make

      Old times, memories, choices: they have more to do with the present than one might think.   My wife Peggy and I had just, after two years, left Manila when Lino Brocka first started making movies (because of her white skin, Peggy played the Virgin Mary in one of Lino’s dramas on live national television).   So if we had stayed in the Philippines, I could’ve…  STOP!

      Here I go again with the old “I could’ve-should’ve game,” which I don’t like.

      We were not from the Philippines and had we stayed we would’ve always been transplants.   But the notion of envy and regret has sometimes come to me when someone I had been associated with became very successful and I had moved on and missed out: Lino was one example, and Preston Jones, another (both are dead and I’m alive, as I’m still trying and they’re tragically finished).   I can easily be envious.   WAIT!

      I have to tell myself the truth: I chose to leave the Dallas Theater Center and Manila and each move led to incredible experiences.   Soon these experiences offered different opportunities.   And consequently, I’ve had a very full life, nothing that I regret.   It’s only during the downtime, the in-betweens, that the could’ves and should’ves emerge.

      I lesetstats1ft the Dallas Theater Center (Preston Jones) and a theater that produced my plays to teach and work in the theater in the Philippines.   For two years I taught drama during the day at the University of the Philippines and at night and on weekends worked in a theater in Fort Santiago under the auspicious The Philippine Educational Theater Association.   Lino Brocka also worked there and directed and produced weekly television dramas.   I always had more than drama and theater in mind; for I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity I had to see the world and decided the best way to do that was by bicycle. 

       And just as we had left Dallas, we flew out of Manila and then bought bicycles in Malacca Malaysia, and from there commenced a three-year trek.   (Except for the chance that Peggy might’ve been pregnant, we would’ve started from Singapore.)   There is just so much you can fit into a lifetime, back to old times, memories, and choices.   I was a writer (in search of material) with an urge to keep going, and without a clue where I would end up.   I wanted the experience, and now that I have it I have to remind myself that it was all worth it.

      Randy Ford

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Reena Famy Digo-a tribute to an eminent Filipino film, television, and stage director, Lino Brocka

      Note by Randy Ford: Lino was a close friend.  He gave so much…and among other things, he gave my wife and me a puppy named PETA and two chicks named Chitty-Chitty and Bang-Bang (the dog and the chicks were named by Lino); both chicks suffered a violent deaths: PETA killed one and the other drowned in a toilet bowl.   I didn’t learn of Lino’s deaith until I went to buy a DVR of his last movie for a Christmas present.





Renowned Film Director

     Lino Brocka was an eminent film, television, and stage director who blazed the path for socially oriented Filipino films in the seventies.   He was born on April 3, 1939 in Nueva Ecija.   His father, Regino, was a skilled carpenter and boat builder as well as an itinerant salesman from Sorsogon.

      Regino Brocka settled his schoolteacher wife in Pilar, Sorsogon while he carried out his occupations around the country.   On a trip to Nueva Ecija, he fell in love with a 15-year-old lass named Pilar, who became Lino’s mother.   Despite the objection of Pilar’s parents, Regino took Lino and his mother to Bicol and, deserting his legal family, lived with them on an island off the coast.

      His legal wife filed a case of bigamy against Regino.   He was convicted and sentenced to two years in Muntinglupa Prison.   The young Lino and his mother moved into a house near the prison, where Lino’s brother, Danilo, was born.   After his sentence, Regino returned with them to their island-home in Bicol.

      Regino Brocka had a profound influence on Lino.   He poured his knowledge, time, experience, and love into the growing boy.   He taught his son the alphabet, arithmetic, and natural sciences, as well as the art of singing, dancing, and reciting poetry.

      Regino was an important man on the island, he took an interest in politics.   He often took the young Lino to his meetings.   His father was killed in what looked like a political murder.   With his father’s death, their family lost its financial and social position.   His mother had to accept odd jobs in town, and later, stayed with local fisherman who was kind to young Lino and his brother but who had been totally indifferent to his late father.

      His mother’s new life apparently did not work out well.   Pilar and her family went to her relatives in Nueva Ecija where they were split up.   Lino lived with his aunt.

      While living with his aunt, Lino was treated as a houseboy and subjected to insults and physical abuse.   He had to put up with everything for four years, until he had a heated argument with his aunt, who threw a large bowl at him, knocking him unconscious.   After that, he ran away to his grandmother, where he was reunited with his mother and brother.

      Upon learning about the maltreatment, Lino’s mother broke off with her elder sister and returned to San Jose, where she and her two sons were reduced to a hand-to-mouth existence.   He attended the San Jose Elementary School, studying there from 1947 until his graduation in 1952.

      Apart from school, the only respite Lino had from his daily chores was the movies.   He became an avid movie fan, and since most of the movies he saw were made in Hollywood, he developed a fondness for American lifestyles and movie plots.

      When his mother started teaching, Lino now focused his attention on being successful in high school.   He excelled in his academic subjects as well as in debate, oration, and in any other activity that needed performing.   He also read most of the books at the San Jose Library, and was influenced by authors like A.J. Cronin and William Somerset Maugham.

      Lino Brocka graduated from high school with six medals and won a scholarship to the University of the Philippines, where he enrolled in a pre-law course.

      However, he dropped his pre-law course and took only subjects, which interested him, like literature.   He lost his scholarship by the end of his freshman year, and he had to work to pay for his tuition.   By the time he left the University, he had enough English units for master’s degree but lacked credits for a freshman course in other subjects.

      While he was still at UP, Brocka joined its Dramatic Club.   When he applied for membership, he was not accepted because of his provinciano accent.   Disgusted, he again started watching American movies and practiced speaking like an American.   He returned to the UP Dramatic Club, but not as an actor but as a stagehand pulling curtains.   He also worked at the music shop of the UP Canteen and did publicity work for American B-movies shot in the Philippines but packaged in Hollywood.   Once, he worked as an assistant director.   Among the many friends he made at the Dramatic Club was Behn Cervantes, who later became a fellow stage and film director.   Cervantes introduced him to a team of young Mormon’s first Filipino convert and missionary.   He was sent to Hawaii, where he taught part of a course in world religion in the University of Hawaii.

      After completing his missionary work, Brocka enrolled at the Mormon College of Hawaii to try to complete his college education, but the balmy Hawaiian climate militated against it.   He found himself sleeping under the coconut trees instead of attending his classes.

      Brocka left Hawaii for San Francisco.   Having little money, he lived among the bums and hoboes of the city.   Later, he took a job as a busboy in a diner, where he had his first complete meal in months.   He worked next in a hospital for the elderly.   Its administrator offered him permanent employment and a chance at getting an American citizenship, but he refused.   After five months in San Francisco, he returned home in 1968.

      His friend from UP, Behn Cervantes introduced him to Cecille Guidote (now Mrs. Heherson Alvarez) who had founded the Philippines Educational Theater Association in 1967.   Brocka joined her group in 1969.

      At PETA, Brocka did everything.   He ran errands, wrote scripts, and led in theater exercises.   Eventually, he started directing for PETA’s drama show for television.

      In 1970, a movie producer asked Brocka to do a film, which his outfit, LEA Production, would enter in the Manila Film Festival.   The result was “Wanted: Perfect Mother,” based on “The Sound of Music” and a Filipino comic serial.   It not only won an award for best screenplay at the festival but also proved that Filipino films could earn as much prestige as foreign films.

      Also in 1970, Brocka directed “Santiago,” a war movie that won for him the best director award from the Citizen’s Council for Mass Media.   Later in the year his “Tubog sa Ginto,” a film about a wealthy married homosexual and his family, also garnered an award.

      For the next four years, he made seven more pictures for LEA Productions.

      Brocka realized that he had to make two moneymaking films for the company before he could make one that he really liked.   He exploited topics, which were usually taboo and approached these with sensitivity and sympathy, using actors and actresses with background in the theater.   He kept looking for new talents in scripts writing, musical scoring, and acting.   Among his now-famous acting “discoveries” were Hilda Koronel, Christopher de Leon, Philip Salvador, and Bembol Roco.

      In 1971, Brocka won another best director award from CCMM for “Stardom,” a film about a young performer forced tragically into stardom by his ambitious mother,

      Not wishing to be tied down permanently to filmmaking, he quit LEA Productions to teach film, drama, and speech at St. Theresa’s College and St. Paul’s College.   He impressed upon his students the importance of doing films and plays that would make the audience think.

      In 1974, with about 100 artists and 10 businessmen, he formed a film company, CINEMANILA, which he himself headed.   In the same year, he directed “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang,” a film about a teenaged lad growing up in a small town amid its petty and gross injustices.   A box office hit, it won another best director award from FAMAS for Brocka, apart from a best actor award, and was made a required viewing in religious classes in Catholic Schools.

      CINEMANILA however, was short-lived.   It made only three more films, after “Tinimbang…”   When it folded up, Brocka, who had been very liberal in signing checks and personally guaranteeing loans, found himself more than P800,000 in debt.   Despite his precarious financial condition, Brocka turned down offers by the Marcos administration to do films it “approved.”

      In 1975, Brocka went on to win another FAMAS best director award from “Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag.”   Which was about a young man searching for his sweetheart in Manila.   The young woman was taken in by a “recruiter” who refuses his requests to see her.   The young man becomes enmeshed in the intrigues of criminal groups and the lower strata of society and finds out about the fate of his sweetheart.   He ends up taking revenge on the “recruiter,” a brother owner, and he was killed by a mob.

      Still another such award from FAMAS came his way in 1980 for “Jaguar.”   Brocka entered “Jaguar,” which also won the best director award from the Urian, a critics’ association, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977.   Brocka entered two other movies of his, “Insiang” and “Bona”, in that prestigious film festival in France.

      In 1983, Brocka formed the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, which he led for two years.   His stand was that artists were first and foremost citizens and, as such, must address the issues confronting the country.   CAP, which was one of the organizations that gathered at then Manila International Airport to welcome Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino from his self-exile in the United states, became active in anti-government rallies in both Manila and the provinces after the Aquino assassination.   It also figured prominently in protest actions against media censorship.   After a nationwide strike supported by jeepney drivers in 1984, Brocka was arrested and imprisoned for 16 days.   That year, he became a national council member of the anti-Marcos Coalition of Organizations for the restoration of Democracy (CORD).

      While participating in rallies by day, Brocka made movies at night to support himself and pay off his debts.   After securing the support of Malaya Films, an outfit with anti-Marcos leanings, he came out with the movie, “Bayan Ko, Kapit Sa Patalim.”   In the title “Bayan Ko” referred to a popular protest song while “Kapit Sa Patalim” formed part of a Filipino saying concerning someone in desperate straits.   When he arrived at the Cannes Film Festival to show this film, Brocka wore a barong adorned by a blooded map of the Philippines within the country.   “Bayan Ko” gained rave reviews at Cannes and was later adjudged best film of the year by the British Film Institute.

      The government tried to stop its showing in the country, saying that it was subversive, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of it.   However, before it could be shown to the public, the Board of Censors dubbed it “lascivious” and said it had to cut many scenes.   Another legal battle ensued at the Supreme Court before Brocka and Malaya Films secured the showing of the film in its uncut form, but only to audiences over 18-years-old.

      After his return to France, the government refused to renew Brock’s passport, but backed down after he was invited to speak at human rights conference by French Prime Minister.

      In 1985, Brocka, who had become the most popular and respected film director in the country, was honored with the Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts “for making cinema a vital social commentary, awakening public consciousness to disturbing realities of life among the Filipino poor.”

      With the overthrow of the Marcos regime, Brocka strove for a freer media atmosphere.   He was selected by the new government of Corazon Aquino as one of the members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.   However, he and some other commissioners later resigned in disgust, saying that the new charter it was drafting was repressive and anti-Filipino.

      An anti-bases activist, Brocka vigorously campaigned against the presence of USS military facilities in the Philippines.

      In the film, “Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak,” he portrayed the abuse of power by self-serving politicians.   In another film, “Ora Pro Nobis,” which was shown in Cannes, he portrayed the abuses of the military and religious cults it had recruited in the anti-insurgency war in the country.

      Brocka made many films, which were actually rehashes of American originals.   He participated in many other film festivals, like those in Toronto, Los Angeles, Montreal, and Chicago, and was interviewed by prestigious magazines.

      On May 21, 1991, Brocka met his sudden death in a car crash in Quezon City.   At the time of his death, he was filming “Sa Kabila ng Lahat.”   Brocka, who had remained single, left behind his mother Pilar and brother Danilo.

Name: Reena Famy Digo

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Randy- a writer out of control of his material

      So my desire to write novels came to me when I had just turned fifty.    For my first effort the real world of the Sulus that I knew first hand was expanded by what I found in the University of Arizona library.   The novel took up two years of my life, with at least two revisions, yet I never finished it.   So the book sits there.   It is obvious to me that I became bored with it.   But that was not the only reason why I stopped.   Though the story incorporated many details that would’ve been true to the time and the setting of the book, I now feel that I took too many liberties and used specifics that were too far afield and fantastic for the work to have been believable.   Much of it was truly made up, and I became afraid that the reading public would know.   The basic problem was I didn’t have command over what I was writing.

      The novel took the reader all over the world: from Spain, around the Cape to China, from China to the Sulus and Manila, from Spanish times in the Sulus and Manila to modern times in the United States and back to the Sulus.   I began with one idea and, believe it or not, stuck with it.   I was writing by hand every evening and every Saturday and Sunday in the University of Arizona Library.   When I needed an idea, I went directly to a book.

      This process wasn’t the most efficient and would lead me astray; and from one of those forays I learned Lino Brocka, a friend of mine, had become the most popular and respected film director of the Philippines.   Like I did when I was working on my novel, I would now like to digress and pay tribute to my generous friend.    See my next blog.

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