Friday, April 24, 2009

Quiet Summer Days

During the past weeks, over the Lenten season, we experienced generally hot, quiet, and somewhat sad days. I spent most of my time in the house, staring at the glaring blue sky. Before that, I started doing designs for shirts using puns (e.g. Chairman of the Board/Bored which seemed very appropriate for the summer).

Lent in the country is generally sad, though not for religious reasons, but for its unusual quiet. Back when I was a kid, they often aired a certain film, Rites of May (1976), by a great local director, Mike de Leon. It is known locally as "Itim" (Black), revolving around a plot concerning murder within a family during the Holy Week. It was so eerie, and became the inspiration for one of my stories for the Squishy Bunny. Combining the bad film quality, lack of smooth computerized effects, and religious enigmas and imagery, it was almost a masterpiece of horror, strange for a non-horror film.

It had exemplary surrealism. The male protagonist, a photographer, had a dream. He was in a church, surrounded by the voices of old women chanting the "Pasyon" (traditionally, the passages regarding the passion of Christ are sung non-stop during the Holy Week to commemorate His sufferings). Suddenly, he was at the center aisle, surrounded by life-size statues of Christ, which began to mob him.

It is one of the things that I remember year after year during these days, with its stiffling, unsettling silences.

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