The Week that Was: Rak Of Aegis, Starting Over Again, & Jessica Zafra’s Writing Workshop 


A pic with our mentor Jessica Zafra and friends from the Writing Workshop

I expected a lot from “Rak of Aegis“, a play recently held at the PETA Center in Quezon City. Rave reviews aside, a friend (Hi Phi!) was playing one of the characters (although I didn’t get to see him during the showdate we chose) and I liked the last musical I saw there (“Sa Wakas”, which featured Sugarfree’s songs) which set the bar really high for this play. 

I wasn’t disappointed. Well, not wholly. I liked the comedic timing, and it posed an interesting question on the Filipinos’ proclivity/desire to do something good, but without aiming for change that will have lasting effects. I think that it was presented without shoving the whole idea down your throat, leaving much to mull over.

However, I felt the message was drowned by the happy ending, which felt contrived and unrealistic. I understand the intention that the writer (perhaps) was communicating–that talent, put to good use, will ultimately save the day. But I felt though that the success of Barangay Venezia’s shoemaking cottage industry was like a square peg rammed into a rectangular hole–an emotionally unsatisfactory culmination.

Surprisingly, the movie I watched with good friends Ryan and Pash the next day after seeing the play, which I have to say I had very low expectations of, ended up to be not disappointing. “Starting Over Again” was a better-written romantic comedy–good enough to convince me to try watching local romcoms again (I haven’t seen “One More Chance” yet, which I heard was even better. Sue me.) 

Of course, it was hard to see Piolo act–not because he was a horrible actor, but because it was very difficult forgetting Piolo Pascual the celebrity from the character he was playing. Toni Gonzaga, as Ginny, was charming and funny though, which saved the film. I didn’t like Iza’s character, by the way: there wasn’t much to root for, which made her sound very snooty and superior throughout the film (especially when she delivered that line, “My love is greater than your failures.” Seriously–she sounded obnoxious.)

Despite its flaws, “Starting Over Again” was a good watch. But then again, when I think about it, maybe the reason I enjoyed it so much was because I really didn’t think of it too highly. I had set myself up to be disappointed, and thus ended up being entertained instead. 

I have to say though: the ending was corny and totally unnecessary. We get it, Ginny doesn’t end up with Marco, it’s not a happy ending. That’s acceptable. What was sadder/more painful to watch (even more painful than her crying over her ex) was how she devolved into this woman obsessed with falling in love again, as if her self-worth revolved around having a lover.
Apparently, the film had ambitions to be more than the regular cheesy romcom, even if there were a lot of overused tropes that had been employed in this film (I can’t help but think of “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. Is it just me?) 

Speaking of ambitions, yesterday was the last day of our writing workshop with Jessica Zafra. I was happy to find out I was one of the four who passed the workshop, which admittedly made me seriously consider if I have what it takes to write my own novel. 

And to be frank, I don’t know the answer just yet. 

I know they say quipping “overthinking is overrated” is dumb, but that’s exactly what I’m doing: I am trying very hard not to overthink this and be stuck in analysis paralysis. I already have an outline, I’m halfway through, and I think if I push myself hard enough I could actually finish this book before the year ends. 

When I got in the workshop, I was too laser-focused on the goal of finishing my book that I wasn’t hoping (maybe I wasn’t just really that eager?) to become friends with anyone, given the short time our class was required to spend together. But I’m glad to have found a new set of people to hang out with and throw ideas at. (Not to ramble on with my attachment/detachment issues, but I will definitely miss our Saturday classes. )

I think the biggest takeaway from the workshop is: one just has to do what one needs to do. People will have expectations of you, and believe that they have a stake with who you are and what you’re what you’re doing, but it is a given that you will disappoint someone out there. So just do it, and (mildly) mind the haters after. 

By Evan Tan

Evan Tan is a writer & communications professional based in Manila, Philippines.

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