Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
– Vernon Young (1)
Ingmar Bergman's most engrossing and challenging films of the 1950s and '60s invariably explored the ultimately disappointing conflicts between men and women. And yet, the most emblematic image from his entire work is that of the medieval Knight, Blok, confronting the figure of Death on a deserted beach in The Seventh Seal (1957). The international success of that film contributed to Bergman's substantial – and somewhat unwelcome – reputation as a troubled Believer in God and as an artist searching for some meaning to life.
I think I have made just one picture that I really like, and that is Winter Light. That is my only picture about which I feel that I have started here and ended there and that everything along the way has obeyed me. Everything is exactly as I wanted to have it, in every second of this picture. (4)
(1) Vernon Young, Cinema Borealis: Ingmar Bergman and the Swedish Ethos, David Lewis, New York, 1971, p. 210.
(2) Though I'm more familiar with the Roman Catholic liturgy, Bergman's High Lutheran liturgy is verbatim with the one I remember from countless childhood Sundays.
(3) Vernon Young, p. 203.
(4) Cited in John Simon, Ingmar Bergman Directs, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1972, p. 17.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Here in my Philippine barangay, there is a shack just across a small clearing in front of my house that sits at an odd angle not five feet away from the side of a cinder block house with the words Sanosa's Family in large white letters on the front wall. From the size and the look of this shack, one could easily mistake it for a tool shed. Except that five people call this shack home - a young couple, Serena and Roque, and their three children, ages six months to eight years.
Until last March the shack was made of grass. Now only the grass roof remains and the walls have changed into cinder block and wood, with windows and a sturdy door. In May a television arrived, to sit on a small table, the only furniture the one-room house will allow. The family sleeps on a mat on the dirt floor. At the end of July, electricity was connected to the shack. And a few days later a karaoke player was a finishing touch.
Serena, does nothing but care for the children, cook and clean. Roque makes everything possible - the shack, the electricity, the TV and karaoke - by pedalling a pedicab for five pesos a ride around the port town five kilometers away.
To discover what started all this hard work and sacrifice for these incremental home improvements, one would have to go back a year, when the shack was grass, and when the Sanosa household made their unhappiness at its proximity to their more imposing home with a garden and a gate. This unhappiness would bubble abruptly to the surface and confrontations occurred. When I first witnessed one I was astonished. Whenever there are such shouting matches in the barangay, people gather around at a safe distance to watch. Three Sanosa sisters, imperious in their mid teens, would stand in front of Serena'a house and scream at her, that she was poor and that her house was an eyesore. Serena would look at them with bewilderment and rage until she would shout back at them "Yes! We are poor! But we are not proud!" The Sanosa daughters, not comprehending her noble words, simply laughed at her. At nights, I could hear Serena crying to her husband, behind her closed grass door.
Thanks to the windfall of a few thousand pesos, a modest lotto jackpot, the Sanosas spent every centavo acquiring a dependably loud karaoke player and a large TV, paid for in installments. And they would play music loudly late into the night, with Serena's husband and children trying to sleep five feet away in their shack. So I was not altogether surprised, and even heartened, to see the recent improvements to Serena's household. That is until I discovered the true reason for them. As incredible as it may sound, last year Serena and her husband started to save money just so they could prove the Sanosas wrong. I don't believe the Sanosas themselves are even aware of it. Their cruel words to Serena had a lasting effect that they could not have foreseen. And every one of the additions to Serena's house came about as a consequence of her family subsisting on a diet of nothing but dried fish and rice. Every day, week in and week out. Some believe it is because Serena doesn't know how to cook anything else.
Now there is loud karaoke emanating from the shack in front of the Sanosa house until late in the night. The Sanosa's have fallen on meagre times. Their electricity has been shut off three times because they haven't been able to pay their bill on time. And their TV was repossessed because they couldn't pay the installments.
Serena must have been gratified, but she didn't show it. How much longer this sad contest will go on depends on the endurance of Roque's legs, the limits of a pedicab's range and how much greater their appetite for noise-making appliances becomes on their dried fish and rice income. But like everyone else in the world, subject to the same demands of consumerism, they too may be without much of a choice any more.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Attacking Mr. C.A. Smith and myself in the Malvern Torch for various remarks about the Christian religion, Mr. Sidney Dark grows very angry because I have suggested that the belief in personal immortality is decaying. "I would wager," he says, "that if a Gallup poll were taken seventy-five per cent [of the British population] would confess to a vague belief in survival." Writing elsewhere during the same week, Mr. Dark puts it at eighty-five per cent.
It's a pity that Poppa has sold his soul,
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The "truth" in the case of Frank and April Wheeler, whose drama is the subject of Revolutionary Road (2008), is that they haven't found happiness, and the prospects of finding it in the suburbs of Connecticut in 1955 will only get worse. Based on the first novel (1961) by Richard Yates, who was a kind of latter-day (and lesser) George Gissing, a chronicler of civilization's discontents, the film handicaps itself from the start by glossing over April's failure as an actress, which is the best explanation available for her subsequent actions, and which is made much of in the novel. All the director, Sam Mendes (who also happens to be Mr. Kate Winslet), allows us to see of this central disappointment in April's life is the look of chagrin on Frank's (Leo Di Caprio's) face at the curtain call of April's performance in a high school auditorium (1), everyone's polite avoidance of the subject backstage, and April's private tears in the dressing room. Driving home, Frank's words of consolation make matters worse and the couple pull off the road for an argument that reveals more resentment than either of them knew was there.
From that moment the couple begin to drift apart. April is the catalyst because she is so purposeful. Frank, unfortunately, has grown comfortable with his morning commute. (One of the first indications that we are glimpsing a lost world comes early in the film on Frank's train trip to the city. When all the passengers disembark at Grand Central, everyone in the shot, mostly men, is wearing a hat.) April must stay at home, and the shot of her standing at the end of her driveway gazing forlornly down the empty street - incidentally called Revolutionary Road -, every driveway with its silver garbage can, is a potent illustration of how lost she is in that prosperous perfection, where everything has its place, even hopelessness.
There is plenty of alcohol in the film, from hungover co-workers to martinis at lunch and scotch after dinner. And the cigarettes are ubiquitous. Dreamworks actually placed a disclaimer in the end credits, stating that they "did not receive any payment or other consideration . . . for the depiction of tobacco products in the film". That anyone would suspect, in 2008 that they had set out to represent smokers in a favorable or even glamorous light is somewhat astonishing.
What is it exactly that makes the Wheeler's life in the suburbs such a nightmare? The paucity of intellectual pursuits? As photographed by the incomparable Roger Deakins (Pascali's Island, The Village, No Country For Old Men), designed by Kristi Zea (Goodfellas, Beloved), and costumed by Albert Wolsky (Sophie's Choice, Bugsy, Road to Perdition) I didn't see anything about their lives that was particularly terrible. Perhaps their early days in bohemian Greenwich Village made them make the mistake of thinking they were cut out for intellectual or artistic success, and not the materialist trap they find themselves in ten years later? But that they should agree that their lives are empty and that they must abandon everything - the boring good job, the boring beautiful house - and traipse off to Paris comes as a completely unconvincing surprise, to us and to everyone they know. The only other person who approves of their plan is a self-proclaimed certified lunatic. John Givings (Michael Shannon), who has undergone numerous electro-shock treatments, is like the Fool in King Lear (or so we are expected to think), who speaks the truth but whom nobody takes seriously. His schizophrenia, as the book specifies, was the result of his own hopelessness in the suburbs.
In his sensitive essay on Yates's novel (2), Christopher Hitchens outlines why he now finds the book "dated": "How can people bear to suffer so much, one keeps wanting to ask, when no great cause is at stake? . . . The proposed move [to Paris] is so central to the action of the book that one regrets to find it unconvincing." The film compounds the problem by recreating suburban life in Connecticut in all its 1950s freshness and its well-groomed glory. Yates used this surface beauty as a kind of mocking contrast to the hopelessness at its heart. But it was so much easier for him to capture it in words. All we get in the film are those perfectly clipped lawns and beautiful cars constructed like tanks (when the Wheeler's have their side-of-the-road argument, Frank injures his hand when he punches the unyielding roof of his car, and later April has sex with Shep Campbell in his front seat!). Yates gives the period setting an all-too convincing reality and a poignance, even when it cannot commiserate with the lives playing themselves out thereagainst: "The Revolutionary Hill Estates had not been designed to accommodate a tragedy. Even at night, as if on purpose, the development held no looming shadows and no gaunt silhouettes. It was invincibly cheerful, a toyland of white and pastel houses whose bright, uncurtained windows winked blandly through a dappling of green and yellow leaves … A man running down these streets in desperate grief was indecently out of place."
Since this is April's story, the film appropriately belongs to Kate Winslet. She is something of a wonder in contemporary film. The splendid roles which she is routinely offered now are only there because someone like her is around to play them. One could not say as much even for Meryl Streep in her heyday. She manages to communicate something of what Hitchens attributes to Yates: "If [he] had one talent above all, it was for conveying the feeling of disappointment and anticlimax, heavily infused with the sort of embarrassment that amounts to humiliation."
Beside Winslet, Leo DiCaprio is merely competent as Frank. He has struggled so valiantly, hasn't he, to convince us these past ten years that he can play a man. He is getting there. Kathy Bates is wonderful as Helen Givings, the Wheeler's ultimately silly neighbor and mother of John, who had such high hopes that the Wheelers would bring a touch of class to Revolutionary Road. The film closes with her husband (Richard Easton) listening, but not listening, to her prate on and on about how the new residents of the Wheeler's house are such a perfect couple and the "right" people.
Sam Mendes has such a sterling reputation as a theater director that it is a shame he cannot make a good film. I never blamed him, as some critics did, for American Beauty (1999). That film's great weakness was its script by Alan Ball, who has returned to television where he obviously belongs. For giving us another chance to marvel at his wife, we can be thankful to Mendes. Perhaps it would've been too much to ask for a better film?
(1) The play was The Petrified Forest.
(2) Hitchens' article can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200812/hitchens-suburbs
Friday, August 14, 2009
In Les Blank's film, Herzog describes how he came up with the story:
"It's a strange story, a little bit Sisyphus-like . . .The title is derived from an Irish name, Fitzgerald, the leading character's name is Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald. And since nobody could pronounce his name in the Amazon here, he calls himself "Fitzcarraldo" and he also founds a town with the name Fitzcarraldo.There was a historical figure whose name was Carlos Fermin Fitzcarraldo, a caucho baron. I must say, the story of this caucho baron didn't interest me so much. What interested me more was one thing he did, that he crossed an isthmus from one river system into another with a boat. They disassembled the boat and put it together again on the other river. And that intrigued me to write a story about big opera in the jungle and about a man who wants to bring Caruso into Iquitos [Peru] and build a huge opera house."
Originally cast with Jason Robards in the title role and Mick Jagger as a half-demented sidekick, shooting in the Amazon was 40% complete when Robards came down with amoebic dysentery so severe that, under doctor's orders, he had to withdraw from the project. And while Herzog was back in Germany reassuring investors and looking for a replacement for Robards, Jagger himself announced that Rolling Stones commitments made it impossible for him to continue his participation in the project. So Herzog decided to simply eliminate Jagger's character from his script and told his backers, who cannot have found his words very encouraging, "If I abandon this project I would be a man without dreams and I don't want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project."
Is there a good reason why risking more than just one's investors' money and one's reputation in the making of a film - especially a film that exists almost entirely in it exteriors - important? Most viewers, unaware (and uncaring) of Herzog's gargantuan labor, will see only what is presented to their eyes by the finished film. But is it important that Herzog chose not to shoot the film on a quiet, well-explored and accessible tributary of the Amazon? There was one, in fact, near his base cape in Iquitos, Peru. Is it important that he chose to shoot a real ship being hauled up a real mountain, instead of a scale model on a string sliding up an ant hill? Herzog explained that his choice of remote locations would bring something special out of his actors. But does it ultimately matter a damn what his cast and crew went through to get his film finished? Does it make Fitzcarraldo a better film?
Sadly, the answer must be no. Even knowing all of the perils the cast and crew endured cannot improve the work itself, the film we see. But one of the signal glories of film is catching within its frame images of the real. And what could be more real than Herzog's Amazon, fraught with perils that would make Indiana Jones soil his cargo pants? The ecology of the Amazon basin has been threatened with the destructive invasion of settlers and loggers (not to mention missionaries) for many decades. Early in Burden of Dreams, the narrator states matter-of-factly that "The Amazon jungle is disappearing fast. Every month, 8,000 square miles are cut down. At the present rate, by the year 2010 the entire Amazon Basin will be cleared." Mathematical probabilities are sometimes a little mistaken, I suppose. That the Amazon Basin is still relatively intact in 2009, despite the continuing destruction, is something of a wonder in itself. In a burst of his own hyperbole, Herzog boasted that "In this case we will probably have one of the last feature films with authentic natives in it. They are fading away very quickly. And it's a catastrophe and a tragedy that going on and we lose cultures and individualities and languages and mythologies and we'll be stark naked at the end. We'll end up like all the cities in the world now, with skyscrapers and a universal kind of culture like the American culture."
Fans who are acquainted with his ecological work might find some of Herzog's comments, in the middle of the jungle, surprising:
"Of course we are challenging nature itself, and it hits back. Kinski always says it's full of erotic elements. I don't see it so much erotic. I see it more full of obscenity. Nature here is vile and base. I wouldn't see anything erotical here. I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and growing and just rotting away. Of course, there's a lot of misery. But it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don't think they sing, they just screech in pain. It's an unfinished country, it's still prehistorical. The only thing that is lacking is the dinosaurs here. It's like a curse weighing on an entire landscape. And whoever goes too deep into this has his share of that curse. So we are cursed with what we are doing here. It's a land that God, if He exists has created in anger. It's the only land where creation is unfinished. Taking a close look at what's around us, there is some sort of a harmony. It is the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder. And we in comparison to the articulate vileness and baseness and obscenity of all this jungle, we in comparison to that enormous articulation - we only sound and look like badly pronounced and half-finished sentences out of a stupid suburban novel, a cheap novel. We have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication, overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order. Even the stars up here in the sky look like a mess. There is no harmony in the universe. We have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it. But when I say this, I say this all full of admiration for the jungle. It is not that I hate it, I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment."
One of the impossible tasks Herzog set for himself in the making of the film was the hauling of a ship up a grade so steep that his first engineer only gives him a 30% chance of succeeding. And he warns him of the risk to life and limb. Herzog tells him in Blank's documentary: "The central image of my film is that they haul a ship over what's essentially an impossibly steep hill. If I lose that by using a level terrain, like the Panama Canal, I lose the central metaphor of my film. For this reason, I'd like to take a bit greater risk than what you advise." The engineer quit.
At one point in Blank's film, he deliberately confuses fact with fiction. While filming Kinski as Fitzcarraldo dancing joyously as his ship is being pulled up the mountain, a steel coupling is sheared off and the ship slides all the way back to where it started. Blank intercuts shots of bodies being pulled out of the mud and for a moment it looks like they are dead. But then they open their eyes and smile. Blank was using action from Herzog's film. The mix-up of fantasy and reality was, of course, Herzog's biggest problem. He was becoming Fitzcarraldo. The only difference was that Herzog succeeded in finishing his film, nearly four years after preproduction began. But that success was itself spoiled for Herzog - if we are to believe him - by the human cost: "If I believed in the Devil, I would say the Devil was right here and is still right here. It becomes very questionable because people have lost their lives, people have been in a plane crash and five of them in critical condition, one of them paralyzed. And those are all the costs that you have to pay. It could have hit me, or anyone. And one starts to question the profession itself. Even if I get that boat over the mountain and somehow I finish that film, you can congratulate me and talk me into finding it marvelous. Nobody on this earth will convince me to be happy about all that. Not until the end of my days."
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Though it is a little surprising that the idea of preserving films took so many years to take shape, it is not at all surprising that so few people cared about the fate of films that were no longer in circulation. For the vast majority of films, then and now, there was a kind of planned obsolescence, at least in the positive print, just like any other manufactured goods. Because there were so many films in circulation, and a limited number of venues to exhibit them, they were allowed a limited run in which they could be viewed, and then they were either destroyed or shelved with the intention of eventual destruction.
Starting with a film club in 1936, Langlois met plenty of people who saw the need for preserving films but none of them, especially those in government, had a practical appreciation of the logistical problems or were forthcoming with funding. Unperturbed, Langlois managed to convince the right people to help, and his collection was born. During the war years, when the Germans were seeking out and destroying certain significant films, like Sternberg's The Blue Angel (1931), Langlois used ingenious subterfuges to acquire them and then hide them. He used a tiny 80-seat theater to screen three films a day from 1948 on, attracting young people who would eventually become critics for a film magazine founded by Andre Bazin (2) in 1951 that transformed French film criticism, Cahiers du Cinema. And many of these critics, Chabrol, Truffaut, Godard, Rivette, would go on to transform French film itself in the Nouvelle Vague.
What made Langlois so appealing to the Cahiers group was the obvious fact that, like them, he was a fan - a devoted lover not of the art of film but of films - all films whether good or bad. The Cahiers crowd proved that the only thing a bad film needed to be good was a good review. So between them, Langlois and Cahiers du Cinema, they made artists out of time clock punchers like Raoul Walsh and William Wellman and spent entire weeks and months of their lives devouring every film directed by Howard Hawks and Henry Hathaway. Langlois helped create not a way of seeing films but a way of consuming them. He told his young followers (according to Jean Rouch) that, if they wished to become filmmakers, they should "eat 300 films" a year, sitting smack in front of the screen.
Max Tessier claims "I went nearly every night [to Langlois' screenings] and subsisted on sandwiches. Real life vanished and reel life took over." Raphael Bassan, journalist and director, who, the credits assure us, has seen more than 30,000 films states: "It's always ruled my life, to the exclusion of all else. I've tried to step back the past three or four years to absorb a bit. It was an all-consuming passion. Even if you were with a girl, if a rare film was on at half-past midnight, then you'd leave that woman's bed to see it."
The ideas outlined by Francois Truffaut in his 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français", aren't half bad. But even Andre Bazin saw its excesses, and pointed them out in his own essay "On the Auteur Theory" (1957). It was Truffaut who coined the term "la politique des auteurs" which became the "Auteur Theory" thanks to Andrew Sarris' clumsy translation. Serge Toubiana, current director of the Cinematheque Francaise, put it this way: "The notion of authorship certainly took on visibility [in Langlois' screenings] and became obvious to Truffaut as a critic in the 1950s because Langlois reinforced the auteur theory by showing everything an auteur made, even long-ago artists. The idea was afoot that each individual film contributes to an auteur's body of work. Which differs from the now-current, somewhat mistaken notion of 'the director'. That's not quite right. An auteur isn't a director. It's someone who has a vision for each film, but also from film to film."
Corpulent, epicene, Langlois was a strange sort of midwife at the birth of the New Wave. As Rohmer explained, Langlois "taught us nearly everything we know". So it was only fitting that they should have come to his defense in the absurd events of '68, when the French government tried to pull his creation, the Cinematheque, out from under him. With the most amorphous convictions, aimed at nothing more but those in power, the demonstrations that followed, the tussles with riot police, the passionate and ludicrous public statements, proved just how committed French cineastes could be when their vanity was threatened. Langlois refused to comment - or, rather, stated he wouldn't comment: "I never wanted to talk about the "Langlois Affair". I don't want to go into the subject as long as I live, I'll come back as a ghost and I'll talk about it." Hence, Jacques Richard's title for his film Le Fantome d'Henri Langlois (2005).
Considering how many enemies Langlois made in government agencies that he had fought with for so many years to help him run his utterly unmanageable collection, it is surprising to see how peevish his supporters are about the manner of the government's assistance. But it was, after all, such a uniquely French idea - collecting films out of purely personal zeal until the collection becomes too enormous to handle oneself, and then expecting the government to get involved in something it had never considered worthwhile.
Langlois was at work, as usual, when he died, without a sou, at the age of 62 on January 13, 1977. His coffin, since he was by then heavier than ever, was enormous. And at the funeral his widow, the formidable Mary Meerson (3) showed grief to some while arranging to evacuate films from the Cinematheque with others. There was an obscene tug-of-war over his Musee du Cinema until a fire in '97 conveniently settled the dispute. It was moved, its elements intact but without Langlois' spatial design. With Langlois gone, there was no one to stand in the government's way any more.
Jacques Richard closes his film on a sad note: "The 40-year saga of Henri Langlois was carried along by the unchained, voracious and unlimited passion of one man. Will the secret recipe that drew several generations be found one day like the lost alchemy of Jean Vigo? How will tomorrow's youth learn about cinema, its history and essence? Perhaps Langlois' ghost will visit them one day like Nosferatu reconciled with Sunrise. Like a program imagined by Henri Langlois."
(1) 50,000 films would require one to watch three every day for more than 45 years.
(2) Strangely, Jacques Richard's film never mentions Bazin.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
(The photograph I placed at the beginning of this piece is of the body of Ernie Pyle, famed newspaper reporter, who had been with the U.S. Army throughout the war and had reported on the experiences of front-line soldiers. He was killed by a Japanese bullet on April 16, 1945, on Ie Shima, a small island near Okinawa. In an unpublished article written shortly before his death, he wrote: "There are so many of the living who have burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world. Dead men by mass production -- in one country after another-month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer. Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous. Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them. Those are the things that you at home need not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a dear one who went away and just didn't come back. You didn't see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France. We saw him. Saw him by the multiple thousands. That's the difference." (6))
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I wouldn't dream of butting in on the Filipinos' period of mourning for Cory Aquino. As an outsider in this country, after sixteen years of visiting and two years of living here, I am not a disinterested observer of its history. Too many foreign residents, especially those conducting business, have the attitude that as long as there is a minimum of stability and at least some semblance of order, it doesn't matter how the country is run. Other expats, finding comfort in their detachment from events, see the chaotic struggle of the forces of liberalism and an almost feudal despotism - the opposing legacies of four hundred years of Spanish and American colonialism - diverting. I, however, feel somehow involved with what is happening, and what has happened, here.
First, and above all, Cory Aquino had incredible courage, and not just morally or spiritually. The source of her physical courage was probably her hatred for her husband's murderers and her determination to chase them out of power and, if possible, into prison. She showed that courage again in her last days.
Unlike other great Asian woman leaders, like Indira Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Benazir Bhutto, who all followed their fathers into politics, she followed her husband, and only after his own political mission was cut short. But like them (except of course for Indira), she became a symbol and an instrument of peace and freedom.
If I am dubious of her "icon of democracy" tag, it is only because "People Power" is not the shining example of democratic rule that everyone here thinks it is. It was a revolution - mob rule, whether the mob, in this case, happened to be right or not. But it was the Philippine Army that made her election to president in 1985-86 possible. The current president understood this better than anyone.
Deep down, her motives on assuming power may not have been noble. So many of her reforms had vengeance written all over them.
Unlike the current woman in the presidential palace, she had a genial, confident relationship with her public. And their love for her has been pouring out again since the announcement of her cancer. She was fallible, but she never pretended to be an expert, again unlike the current president.
As Stanley Karnow pointed out in his history of the Philippines, In Our Image, she put back in power the oligarchs whom Marcos had kicked out, and of which her own family was a part. But "in fairness" (a popular expression among Filipinos), they were the only ones around after she cleaned house who knew anything about running the country.
She was admired and respected internationally, which cannot be said of any Philippine president since.
She honored her murdered husband in many ways, not least for his having lived up to - and died for - his famous words.*
It took a "change of heart" to convince President Reagan to stop his support of Ferdinand Marcos and accept the results of the 1985 "Snap Election" (the election was in November '85 and the results were announced February '86), to Reagan's - and America's - shame.
Despite all of these quibblings, it was as much for what she represented as what she actually accomplished that she has gone down in history. What she represented was hope - for real democracy in the Philippines.
*Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino is on the Philippine 500 peso bill, with his words, "The Filipino is worth dying for" on the right hand side. I have often wondered at this famous quote because it doesn't sound the least bit exceptional. Nobody would think of saying that "The Italian is worth dying for", or the Egyptian or the Japanese. Everyone would think such statements were self-evident and didn't warrant stating. But it is only because Aquino's words are not self-evident that they were considered remarkable, even revolutionary - because Ferdinand Marcos was convinced, and tried to convince his followers, that the Filipino was not worth dying for. It was finally Aquino that made the words true. I wonder how many others in the Philippine government really believe in them?