This is Part 4 of a multi-part essay written for my “Pathless Travels” column. It was originally published in Northern Weekly Dispatch, 21 Aug 2005, and which I then reposted a few months later on my defunct blog hosted at Blogspot. ReadPart 1here, Part 2here, and Part 3 here.
The year was 2005, and the GMA broadcast network had scored a big hit with the sword-and-sorcery TV series Encantadia. Sword battle movies were on the comeback trail worldwide, from Hollywood to China, and the genre seemed to appeal to Filipino sensitivities. But does it really unlock insights to our own history? From our rich historical military legacy as a people, are we learning anything practical and applicable to our own times?
I hope that you, most patient readers, have followed me thus far. Maybe you get in a vague way what I’m trying to say but can’t pin it down. Some of you might suspect that this is merely a nostalgia trip that meanders from one hazy idea to the next. So let me try and summarize the whole nebulous thought in one short paragraph:
War is too important to society to be left only to the professional soldiery. It must be the serious and routine business of the whole citizenry. Let us learn from our rich military legacy, not just through films and books, but by preserving and using what is still of practical use. Continue reading “Romancing the sword (4)”
This is Part 2 of another multipart-part essay written for my “Pathless Travels” column. It was originally published in Northern Weekly Dispatch, 7 Aug 2005, and which I then reposted a few months later on my defunct blog hosted at Blogspot. Read Part 1 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.
The year was 2005, and the GMA broadcast network had scored a big hit with the sword-and-sorcery TV series Encantadia. Sword battle movies were on the comeback trail worldwide, from Hollywood to China, and the genre seemed to appeal to Filipino sensitivities. But were they really unlocking insights to our own history as a people fighting against colonial powers?
War, that most horrible practice invented and mastered by humanity, remains nevertheless a fascinating subject in literature and art throughout the ages. It is as though people hope to exorcise the immense guilt of engaging in mutual slaughter, the utter terror of violent death, and the frenzy of close-quarters combat, by making them the topic of literature, painting and sculpture, music and theater, games, and in our day, through film.
I fell into such a morbid fascination with war at a young age. I guess it was expected of most boys of our generation. After all, we read about war in comic books and trading cards (the teks we were addicted to as kids,before the text of the cellphone era). We watched it on television as regular family weekend fare; remember Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders in the TV series Combat? We played in the street with toy guns and swords, and formed teams that competed in informal neighborhood war games using slingshots and paper pellets, in lieu of basketball tournaments. Continue reading “Romancing the sword (2)”
This is another favorite multi-part essay written for my “Pathless Travels” column. It was originally published in Northern Weekly Dispatch, 31 Jul 2005, and which I then reposted a few months later on my defunct blog hosted at Blogspot. The year was 2005, and the Philippines was at the height of the anti-Gloria Macapagal Arroyo protests in the wake of the “Hello Garci” scandal. With the likes of Gen. Danny Lim and Navy Capt. Sonny Trillanes giving voice to those who wanted the AFP to side with the people’s demands for regime change, some groups were becoming enamored with military or military-backed solutions.
On the creative writing side, I was intrigued by the three-part or multi-part essay as a possible subgenre to explore, because it came to me as a nice solution to a literary dilemma. Nordis (the weekly newspaper) discouraged long pieces because it had to save on space, accommodate other columns, and encourage readership through shorter pieces. It was no New Yorker magazine, no Atlantic Monthly, in terms of available space. On my part, I wanted to explore a topic in more depth without being straitjacketed by the pressures of a regional weekly. And so the solution presented itself: a long essay in three or four parts, masquerading as column pieces.
Last year, I got to writing a three-part piece on a most unlikely topic: fireplaces. The title, “Romancing the Fireplace,” had a nice medieval ring to it, even though my piece actually dwelt on mundane matters like the secrets of cooking fluffy rice and saving on LPG.
With the country in a deepening state of siege, I feel now is the right occasion to follow through with another multi-part column – this time a nasty medieval piece on war, especially on using swords and other bladed weapons designed for efficient human butchery. Sounds gory to you? Read on, dear friend.