Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Smoking Cigars for 30 Years

Smoking a stogie in a Café in Paris.

I've been a cigar smoker for 30 years! That's right, this year marks my 30th anniversary for smoking "Stogies." Including of course, the 7 year cold-turkey gap after my Stroke (which I blame my doctor for... LOL), I have been technically a Cigar lover for three decades.
 
A lot of people might be appalled by my pride at being a smoker, but I am unapologetic. Like everything else in life (be it liquor, sex or even food), smoking must be tempered and never abused. Enjoyed in moderation, it can be a great way to relax and enjoy life! In Native American culture for example, tobacco is officially smoked to pray to God (the Great Creator) or when people need to be at peace with each other (hence the Peace Pipe or the Chanumpa)-- the point being, that one person's medicine can be misused and become another person's drug. We just have to treat tobacco and our bodies with respect, by never abusing either.
 
The best place to enjoy a cigar is outside in a garden with a book!
 
As an Asian (Chinese/Malay stock) with Spanish ancestry from both sides of my family, I take pride in my eclectic mix of cultures. Tobacco use has been a part of my cultural heritage from all three races. My Asian Ancestors smoked long before tobacco was even introduced, and no self-respecting Spanish Don (of which, both my maternal Great Grandfathers were) would be caught without a smoldering Cigar or Cigarillo stuck in their mouth!
 
Premium hand-made cigars from the Philippines.
 
The Spaniards brought tobacco to the Philippines from Cuba in 1592, and they used our islands for centuries as a major supplier of quality tobacco products-- one of the colonial government's main source of revenue. It made the Philippines a financially profitable colony from the very beginning and its populace de facto smokers. In fact, Tabacalera, the direct corporate descendant of the original Spanish Tobacco Monopoly in our country, was once regarded as the largest and most sophisticated Tobacco Manufacturing Facility in the World; and its Cigars were favorably regarded as equal in quality to its Havana cousins.

It was in the summer of 1988 when I started smoking Cigars. I turned 21 the year before, which of course meant that it was then already legal for me to smoke anywhere in the world. But I have been smoking cigarettes socially ever since I was in High School, so the real catalyst for my ongoing Cigar infatuation was the Trip I took to Europe with a bunch of fellow Trojans from the University of Southern California's Business School.
 
1988 Summer Trip to Europe, with fellow USC Business School students.
Numbering almost 30 with our Professor's family and his Teaching Assistant, our motley group was tasked to do scholarly Thesis Papers on European Multi-National Corporations. We visited major Corporations in 7 countries-- among them were Royal Dutch Shell, the London Stock Exchange, BMW, Heineken, Nestle and a dozen others.

Being with a group of people my age of course included partying all night, binge drinking and lot of other things best not mentioned. I can never forget the craziness of it all-- almost being thrown out of several hotels, narrowly escaping brawls in the local pubs, then barely keeping our eyes open for our early morning meetings with corporate brass after coming home almost at dawn from these escapades. My best memories were when we got to party with Prince Albert of Monaco all night, then ended up (my roommate and myself) hanging on to the roll-bar of an open-topped Jeep, speeding around the empty streets of Monaco at dawn with a bunch of French Girls we could barely converse with nor whose names we could not remember; and the time I drove a rental car from Paris with two buddies to watch a Pink Floyd Concert in Versailles, then ended up partying and drinking with a bunch of Scottish fans who drove all the way from Scotland. It was an eye-opening trip for me and one of the wildest experiences of my life!
 
Enjoying a smoke in streets of Madrid, Spain.

The bug stuck up my ass ever since I was born was finally gone, and for the first time in my life I learned how to be carefree and spontaneous! I had so much fun on that trip that I forgot to buy something to take home as a souvenir. At the airport in Paris on my way back to the US, I scrambled in the Duty Free looking for something to commemorate my life-changing adventure. As I contemplated the wider horizon of possibilities that just opened before me, I thought it appropriate to buy something different and totally off the wall. Since I am already well-acquainted with liquor and cigarettes, I decided to purchased the next best thing, my first pack of cigars. Technically Davidoff Cigarillos (small cigars) are not full-fledged cigars by definition, but since I was not accustomed to smoking anything filterless, I thought it best not to jump the gun.
 
It was a smart decision. Unfamiliar with the potency of pure high-grade tobacco, I smoked my first stick inside the bathroom. Within a couple of minutes, I was lying on the floor knocked out from its fumes, barely conscious. When I finally found the strength to stand up, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I had a slightly green pallor. Not having a window or any form of exhaust in the bathroom, made me sick. I learned my first lesson in Cigar smoking-- don't inhale deeply and make sure that there is enough air. Good thing that Cigarillo was small and thin!

Lighting a Cigar is ritualistic, an art in itself! 
It has been a long journey since that first smoke, thirty odd years ago! I never considered myself a Cigar Connoisseur more an Aficionado, since I enjoy smoking both exquisite Havanas as well as cheaper brands. By character, I hate limitations or being "boxed" in any way shape or form, and I abhor finicky people. Instead, I savor variety and choice in everything I do. Depending on my mood and on how much I am willing to spend (or what is readily available), you will see me enjoying a Cohiba one day and a 99 cent 7-11 Cigar the next.













Thursday, November 22, 2018

DAGSIN's Artistic Statement Published for the 1st Time

Souvenir Program for the 4th Danish Film Festival
 
An excerpt of my Artistic Statement/Director's Notes for DAGSIN was published publicly for the first time in the 4th Danish Film Festival's (Manila) Souvenir Program. The article outlining my artistic considerations and directorial approach in constructing the movie was originally a part of the dossier we submitted to the Cinemalaya Selection Committee in 2015.  
 
Sponsored by the Royal Embassy of Demark, the yearly Danish film festival gives Filipinos a chance to sample the newest crop of award-winning Danish movies. This year, aside from 8 Danish films, the Embassy decided to include the first Filipino Movie in its line-up-- DAGSIN. Unknown to most Filipinos, DAGSIN was directly inspired by the ideas of Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and French Existentialist Albert Camus. A fan of Kierkegaard, Danish Ambassador to the Philippines Jan Top Christensen thought that DAGSIN would be a perfect fit to illustrate the goodwill and healthy relations that has existed between our two countries for more than a century.
 
Knowing that the audience might get confused at the inclusion of DAGSIN in their festival, Danish Cultural Officer Angelo Cruz made it a point to include an excerpt of my Notes in their Program. We never openly advertised these ties to Kierkegaard and to Camus thinking that they are not particularly relevant to the overall public perception and enjoyment of our film; but now that it is out there, we hope that you now watch DAGSIN with the added appreciation for the thought and meticulous craft we invested in making this movie.
 
 
    
ARTISTIC STATEMENT/DIRECTOR'S NOTES for DAGSIN

"Dagsin" or "Gravity", alludes to the “heaviness” of life, the trials and tribulations we experience as human beings. It refers to the heaviness we feel when we are burdened by life and all its tragedies— the weight of emotion that assails us, when someone we love dearly passes away or when we are weighted down by unresolved guilt. Gravity also metaphorically describes the force that attracts and binds us to one another… Love.
 
Inspired by the ideas of Danish Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and French Existentialist Albert Camus, the movie's main plot is simple but we have richly layered the movie with sub-plots (World-War II and Martial Law), characters, symbolisms and metaphors to illustrate how Love can shelter us from the tragedies of life. The most obvious examples are the names of the characters: Justino (for Justice or conscience/the conscious mind), Corazon (heart/the unconscious), Mercy (God's Mercy), Nurse Grace (God's Grace), etc.; and of course the story’s timeline, which exactly coincides with Holy Week (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday).
 
The whole movie is shot, paced and edited from Justino’s subjective perspective, reflecting both his mental as well as physical states— the memories of his youth are deliberately more vivid and idyllic (mimicking the sentimentality of old Filipino Romantic films from the 1940s and 50s), in contrast to his present which is more slow, somber and funereal in feel. The camera is static most of the time to emphasize Justino’s paraplegic immobility, except when we are objectively observing him from another character’s point of view.

I used the location itself, an old mansion, to magnify Justino's predicament. Grand but now nearly abandoned and falling apart, the house mirrors its owner, who is now old, worn-out and nearing his end. Like a ghost, Justino wanders within the shadows of his past entombed in this mausoleum of memories.
 
Although the movie can be classified in a number of ways: Drama, Romance, Arthouse, etc., I personally categorize it under "Noir," because "Dagsin" is actually a crime, suspense drama of sorts, where the perpetrator, the victim and the executioner are one and the same person. A respected and venerated Judge during Martial Law who compromised his integrity in exchange for the safety of his wife, Justino's conscience now haunts him and insists on passing judgment on his past sins.
         
In the end, “Dagsin” is one man's "soliloquy" of desperation for his departed love, his soul and his God.

*This statement was a part of the dossier submitted to the Cinemalaya Selection Committee in 2015 and its excerpt (highlighted in yellow) was first published in the souvenir program of the 4th Danish Film Festival in Manila hosted by the Royal Embassy of Denmark.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Elevate Your Selfies Into Self-Portraits

(Click on Photos for better viewing)

 
A phenomenon of the Social-Networking Age we live in, "Selfies" have become as common place as ID photos in the albums of our digital lives. Most people use it to show the places they have been to, the memorable events they have participated in or the times they spent with friends or loved ones, but a big number of people (particularly women) use it more as mirrors to take snaps shots of their faces or bodies (maybe to see how other people see them), to assess their physical appearance-- as personal data to be used either as negative evidence (to determine what can be improved upon) or positive feedback (to proudly display what they have and others do not). Psychologists have been alarmed by this growing "Selfie" trend, which they have diagnosed to be symptoms indicating Narcissistic Disorder.

 
The "Self-Portrait" is a time honored artistic endeavor practiced by most Western Painters and Photographers for centuries. Rembrant and Van Gogh, as well as Avedon and Cartier-Bresson often used themselves as subjects for their own work. Like them, I believe in using my image as an element in my photos, drawings, paintings and maybe even in my films (in the future). Like them, my Art flows from my sense of Self-- my history, my experiences, my perspective, my psyche, my thoughts, my spirituality-- in other words, my soul!


The Buddha says, "that the Self is an illusion... Life itself is an illusion!" Since wholly I agree with this premise and believe that our sense of "Self" is a reflection of our mind, "Self-Portraits" for me are visual reminders of my very existence, my physical presence. I think most artists, particularly the more sensitive and philosophical ones, are perpetually aware of the impermanence of all life. It is this sense of impending doom that propels Creatives to value beauty and the majesty of life, and drives them to express themselves through Art. What is Art anyway but an individual's recreation (or reconfiguration) of one's personal experiences, one's perspective of life/reality-- our ultimate validation of our own existence.

 
Painting or photographing ourselves keeps us in touch with our core... our Selves... the Being that consciously contemplates life and living. Sometimes we have to see ourselves from the outside to understand what is happening inside (our minds). "Self-Portraiture" for me, is a form of meditation or self-reflection/contemplation that can make us understand ourselves better, both in form and in substance. It is narcissistic in a way, but it can be profound if it ventures beyond the physical into the psychological.


"Selfies" are actually just a level away from becoming serious "Self-Portraits." The only difference I can see between the two is "artistic intent." "Selfies" are mostly snap-shots taken without much thought. "Center yourself (or at least see some part of yourself), then shoot" is the only instruction anyone has to follow. "Self-Portraits" are more deliberate. Framing, Focus and light (or the lack thereof) must be considered before the shot is taken, resulting in a more contemplated and conceptual photograph.

Monday, March 6, 2017

My New Instagram Account

 
Portrait taken in the Camera Museum at the Galleria Taal
 
Visit my Instagram page: www.instagram.com/atommagadia

Movie Making is hard work. More than a year ago, after I finished shooting and editing my first feature film "Dagsin," I thought that I would be able to come back and regularly write on this blog, but I was wrong. Making and finishing a movie was just the first part of a long drawn process that also includes Marketing, Promoting and Selling the project. At this point, we are just beginning to submit "Dagsin" to Foreign Festivals, and are in talks with various distributors for possible Domestic and International Commercial Exhibition.
 
After the initial salvo of releasing our Trailers, I was caught up in the Cinemalaya Film Festival proper-- a 3 months long cycle of Press Releases, Press Conferences, TV/Radio interviews and appearances, print articles, Premieres and Gala events. On top of these, since Atom & Anne Mediaworks is an Indie Production Outfit, Anne and I also had to personally supervise the project's Social Media campaigns. We were literally swamped and we were drowning in work. When Cinemalaya ended, both of us have been working none stop 24/7 for a year and a half, and we were both burned-out! It was also time for us to work on the other projects we have placed on hold to concentrate on "Dagsin."

"Camera Obscura" effect at the Camera Museum in Taal.
 
Among those responsibilities I have neglected are this Blog and my Photography. I recently decided to open an Instagram account to simplify my process. Writing articles for this Blog takes quite a bit of time and deliberation. With Instagram, I am hoping to post pictures on the fly; on whatever catches my eye! Finally, Photography (maybe a few videos too) for the sake of Photography, with as little or no captions at all. Right now, if you visit my Instagram page, you will notice that most of the photos I have posted there were actually shot on my IPhone. Spontaneity in my life (and work) has been sorely lacking in the past year and a half. I miss it terribly and I am hoping to rectify it!
 
I will continue to post articles on this blog about my work and musings on Photography, Cinema and Visual Art, but if you just want to see my images without the thought and stories that go with them, then subscribe to my Instagram account. There, you will be able to see not only examples of my formal work (both still and motion), but also view my random doodles, experimental photos/video, family pics and casual sketches.

--Photos shot by Aria Magadia

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dagsin Write-up by Cinemalaya

The Cinemalaya Film Festival posted this write-up on their fan page...
 
--Image courtesy of Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dagsin Cinemalaya Movie Trailers

Cinemalaya is two months away and everybody is gearing up for the Festival.
 
Atom & Anne Mediaworks was required to come up with two shorter Trailers (aside from tons of other requirements) to be used exclusively by the Film Fest, aside from the full-length version we released a month ago and the possible foreign version.  Here they are...
 
Dagsin's Official 30 second trailer:
 

 
 
Dagsin's Official 15 second trailer:
 

 
 
--Both videos are the exclusive property of Atom & Anne Mediaworks, Corp.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dagsin Official Movie Trailer

Good news! I finally finished Post on my first full-length feature film "Dagsin," so I can now go back to blogging:))
 
Although principal photography only took ten days (seriously, we can shoot Philippine Indies faster than American Indies due to desperation and lack of funds; of course, with several 20+ hour days), actual shooting stretched for three months due to Murphy's undeniable Law-- actors pulling out last minute, actors getting sick, scheduling problems, transportation problems, you name it... Post Production took about the same length of time, again due to unexpected problems I am trying my best to forget. Reflecting on my experience this past eight months, making "Dagsin" was a virtual struggle against cosmic GRAVITY! The adage "no pain, no gain" should be the personal motto of every filmmaker!
 
But that is now all in the past. We made it, and making the next ones should be easier from now on (right????). Despite the struggle and hardship, it was fun and fulfilling most of the time. Anne and I learned a lot, and we have decided to do this as often as fate and financing would permit...
 
Here is the first proof of our labor, the full trailer of "Dagsin" (Philippine Version):


Watch it in YouTube: https://youtu.be/nE-kHyWwsR4

 --The Video is the exclusive property of Atom & Anne Mediaworks, Corp.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas


MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone!!!!
 
As you all know by now, Christmas came early to me in the form of my first Feature Film "Dagsin." Please forgive me if I have not been updating this blog as often as I should these past few months, but I have been really busy...
 
Me with my new toy.
 
It has been a wild roller-coaster ride so far, but Anne (Producer) and I have somehow managed to keep our ship afloat. "Dagsin" has been plagued with all kinds of problems from the onset of Preproduction and each shooting day has been challenging-- Two of our actors have been ill and hospitalized, another decided to drop out in the middle of filming, the local government threatened to shut our production down more than once, we had to iron out a land ownership dispute situation for another location, and on top of all that, we had to fire someone from our team for gross misconduct and anomalies regarding the budget-- these are just the major ones! Talk about Murphy's Law... We are taking this all in stride because it has always been our goal to deliver the best work we can, once we set out to execute a project!
 
I am very grateful that I have finally been given the opportunity to finally make my movie and I thank God everyday for this blessing. I love making movies and I plan to keep doing it for as long as I can! 
 
I have not forgotten that this is also a photography blog, despite my other interests. So I am posting some of my still-photo work in the movie. I just realized recently that it is hard to be a director, cinematographer and photographer all at the same time, so I have recruited a second DP as well as a BTS photographer in "Dagsin" to complement my work.
 
Here are two promotional photographs I shot for "Dagsin," which I am giving to the actors as Christmas gifts:
 
Tommy Abuel, Lotlot De Leon and Sue Prado for Dagsin
 
Alex Diaz, Janine Gutierrez and Benjamin Alves for Dagsin

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Veteran Actor Cast in Dagsin

...with veteran stage and screen actor Tommy Abuel

(reprinted from http://dagsin.blogspot.com)
The Dagsin family is very proud and happy to welcome multi-award winning veteran stage and screen actor Tommy Abuel in the lead role of Justino.
 
An actor with a long and illustrious career in both Theater and Cinema, Mr. Abuel is known as an "actor's actor," a consummate artist who internalizes his characters and brings them to life in the most creative way. He has been nominated for his work consistently since he began working in 1973 (has won for both stage and screen), and has worked with some of the country's most singularly artistic Film Directors including Lino Brocka, Ismael Bernal and Mike De Leon.

--Photo by Anne Prado-Magadia

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dagsin is Online

My feature film project, Dagsin (Gravity), is now online!
 
Please visit our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/dagsinthemovie and our Website/Blog at http://dagsin.blogspot.com to get the latest information, announcements and updates regarding the movie.
 
Initial Poster Mock-up
 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

9th Generation - IPhone 6s & 6s Plus

The new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
 
It's that time of year again when we, hardcore IPhone fans, welcome the newest incarnation of our favorite gadget. A few hours ago, Apple's CEO Tim Cook unveiled the 9th generation of its popular smart phone in California-- the IPhone 6s and its larger sibling the 6s Plus. Tim referred to the new models as "the most advanced smartphones in the world."
 
Among its newest features are the upgraded 12 megapixel camera and a more advanced touch-screen capability called 3D-touch. Although a lot of people have already scrapped buying traditional cameras in favor of their cell phone cameras for years now, with the 6s' 12 megapixels sensor, the IPhone has finally crossed and complied with the technical specs. of a good consumer grade point and shoot camera. The larger sensor is now 4K video capable and offers optical image stabilization (on the 6s Plus). It also has superior low-light performance (temporal and special noise reduction) compared to past models as well as better color accuracy and tonal performance. The front facing camera is now capable of taking 1080p video and 5 megapixel stills with support for slow-motion video, "selfie panoramas" and a "True Tone Flash" on the display that matches the ambient light for true to life color and natural-looking skin tones (the Retina Flash allows the display to flash 3 times brighter than usual). To enhance the 6s' photo taking capabilities, Apple has also added "Live Photos," 12 megapixel photos with motion (short video clip) and sound snippet that result in more dynamic photos.
 
The 6s and 6s Plus comes in 4 metallic colors
 
The next generation multi-touch technology called "3D Touch," offers enhanced pressure sensitivity as well as feedback. Aside from the more familiar touch-screen gestures like tap, swipe and pinch, Apple has added peek and pop. According to the literature, 3D Touch "lets you do the things you do often faster and with fewer steps. Many of the actions can even be done with a single press, right from the Home screen. The improved multi-touch capability will also deepen the experience of your favorite apps and games."
 
The new A9 chip is not only faster, it is also a capable gaming console with robust graphic performance. A third-generation chip with a 64-bit architecture, it has a 70% improved CPU performance and a 90% boosted graphic performance from the previous model. The M9 motion coprocessor is integrated directly into the A9 chip which results in better battery life, despite the improvement in power. The 6s supports 23 LTE bands with LTE Advance* and improved Wi-Fi, doubling its previous band speed.
 
Made from 7000 series aluminum used in the aerospace industry and the most durable cover glass (dual ion-exchange process) on any smartphone now available on the market, Apple has reinforced the new models to eliminate the fragility issues seen on the IPhone 6 Plus. Aside from the gold, silver and space grey, the 6s also comes in rose gold. Both models will be available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB configurations.
 
Although I am really excited about the camera improvements, I will personally be passing on this version, only because I have found that skipping a generation is the best way to upgrade our IPhones within the family. I upgraded to the 6 Plus last year (and so did my daughter), so it is my wife (and my son's) turn to get the 6s this year. It just goes to show that this gadget/tool has become such an essential part of our lives, that it has become a permanent item on our yearly  family budget. 
 
--Photos from www.apple.com 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Feature Film Project Gets Into Cinemalaya




Last Saturday, August 15, 2015, the Cinemalaya Foundation finally announced the 10 lucky finalist for its 2016 Main Competition on Full-length Features, during the 2015 Festival Awards Night at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Cinemalaya is considered to be the most prestigious Independent Film Festival in the Philippines, so film fans from all over the country as well as the Press enthusiastically welcomed the 10 projects that were chosen from an original pool of more than 150 submissions. I am ecstatic to announce that "Dagsin" (Gravity), my first Full-length Feature project, is among the lucky ten.
 
The finalist with Foundation Pres. Laurice Guillen and Festival Head Mel Chionglo
  
With its goal to promote and develop the Independent Film Industry of the Philippines,  the Cinemalaya Film Festival is arguably the most anticipated yearly independent film competition (our version of Sundance or Cannes) in the Philippines. In the last ten years of its existence, the festival has given birth to most of the country's up-and-coming filmmakers, ushering forth the digital age of Philippine Cinema widely known as "The Philippine New Wave." The festival aims to encourage "works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity," and Cinemalaya has consistently delivered on this promise by having 5 films, from its ten year roster, be nominated by the Film Academy of the Philippines to represent the country for the annual Academy Awards' (Oscars) Best Foreign-Language film category.
 
The directors (and some writers) of the 10 Feature Films for 2016

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #39


This week's theme: CHILDHOOD FANTASIES

These are not posed. I had to wait a year to complete this set of three, since the elements in the photographs all happened by chance. I did not go around stalking children with this theme in mind, it was all luck. The photos are testaments to the wonderful magic that can happen when you become totally present and aware of everything that is happening around you. Serendipitous moments like these are what keeps me shooting "Street."    

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Cupid"
 
"The Princess and the Frog" Singapore
 
"Mirror Mirror..."
 
This will be my last installment of "Weekly Street Photos" for awhile, since my first full-length feature movie "Dagsin" (Gravity) was just green-lighted for production, and I will be super busy. Although there would be less photography entries maybe until the end of this year, it will be replaced by updates on our production for "Dagsin." Thank you for your support, and salamat sa Maykapal! 

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #38


This week's theme: RANDOM GROUP SHOTS

Group shots,  particularly in street photography, are some of the hardest photos to shoot. Even in the studio, taking photographs of people in groups must be timed precisely so that each person will be in their proper position within the frame, and their individual expressions captured with everyone's eyes (ideally) open. Imagine doing all that in a split second out on the "street"... It is short of miraculous!  Here are a few examples of random group shots I came up with :)    

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Faces"

"Talking Heads"
 
"Levels Of Vision"
 
--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia