I’ve already said what I needed to say about over-romanticism in mainstream Philippine media. Many times over in fact, now that I have time to recall. ChinoF, in his article here, even points out how the mainstream media is (often subtly but sometimes insultingly overtly) trying to convince its audiences that they aren’t beautiful (even though they are, at least in their own way) and that they’re going to need all kinds of fancy stuff like diet pills, whitening soap and what not if they want to find their Mr. or Ms. Right which again ties in with the idea that you need someone else in your life to be truly happy.
Now look, as I’ve said many times before, romance isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Indeed, I myself have decided that I don’t want to die alone either and that perhaps I should put more effort into finding “her” if she exists at all. However, as I have been taught, romance isn’t the only form of love out there and it isn’t the only thing of importance in life, contrary to what the romance industry of the Philippines might tell you. Essentially, we must learn to survive and thrive on our own before we can support another.
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So I heard they’re coming out (or have already come out, I’m sorry but I don’t really care enough to check) with another romance movie called Barcelona, which is about a man looking for his significant other in Spain of all places and there meets a new girl who might replace the woman he’s looking for. Not bad, in and of itself, but I was hoping for something else. Something that isn’t about obsession and talks more about how to develop oneself into something more.
In America, they have Cardboard Boxer. This is a film that showcases the life of a downtrodden bum forced to fight other homeless people for fifty bucks. Truth is though, our bum “Willie”, just wants to have friends and he doesn’t fight for money but for the hope that the rich schmucks paying him will be his friends. But of course, all of that changes when he finds a diary inside a dumpster besides a burnt out building and learns about the life of a young girl who’s also lonely. From there begins Willie’s journey towards making himself a better person. This movie just recently came out by the way and I hope you guys watch it.
Again, all of you are welcome to call me a bitter old coot or a mean-spirited troll, but I can’t help but compare the two films, their makers and the audiences who want to see them. The former is about a rich man, a veritable Adonis thanks to how far they’re willing to make the actor look attractive, who is so obsessed with finding a woman who probably never loved him at all that he’s willing to abandon his own happiness to do so. In the latter we have an impoverished man, forced to live a wretched existence and possibly suffering from a mental malaise struggling to rise above his pathetic condition and perhaps earn the friendship of others.
I’d really like to say more on this topic but it will likely come off as heavy-handed and my usual detractors will probably go nuts again now that I’m attacking their deities of choice. I will leave it to you, my dear readers to interpret what I want to say since I cannot really express it in words at the moment. Besides, you probably know me and read enough of my works to know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, on to another point…
For this Halloween, my friends have asked me to help them whip together a chronicle for a New World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness game that feature elements from the various books of Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Forsaken, Mage: The Awakening, Changeling: The Lost, Promethean: The Created and Hunter: The Vigil. For those not in the know, the World of Darkness is a tabletop role-playing game wherein you play the role of a supernatural (or not supernatural as is the case with Hunter) creature fighting to survive or do good deeds in a world infested by evil. You can play the role of a vampire, a werewolf (or were-anything actually), a mage, a changeling (a fae or engkanto and yes, they have Filipino variants as well), a promethean (Frankenstein’s monster) or simply a very much human (mostly anyway when one takes the Lucifuge into account) monster hunter.
I was asked to find a good antagonist for our next chronicle or campaign and one that rang true with our local climes to make it feel a little more personal. After all, we have all fought and vanquished a Tikbalang in the past with a rather large adult toy, blown up a Charnel House with several tons of explosives, banished some Voices in the Dark that haunted a small school using a Teddy Bear and clobbered an Aswang into submission using a toaster. We all wanted something new.
So off I went to read up on potential villains and antagonists in the Wicked Dead supplement book for Vampire: The Requiem and there, strangely enough, I found what I was looking for: The Formosae.
According to the RPG’s lore, the Formosae are vampire-like creatures who feed on fat and misery. I say “vampire-like” in the sense that not even vampires themselves are sure whether or not they’re related to them in some way although they do have more than a few similarities and no, I’m not joking on that last, they suck out fat and self-loathing out of their victims as a form of sustenance. The last may even sound nice at least until you find out that they will eventually kill you this way and that you will be too heavily brainwashed to resist.
Formosae, according to Wicked Dead are actually quite terrifying both in their own appearance and what they actually do to their victims. By feeding on the fat, insecurity and self-loathing of others, Formosae become morbidly obese in their own right, often turning into utterly massive blobs of flesh with their limbs becoming nothing more than vestigial appendages and makes the creature itself immobile but not vulnerable. They choose their victims carefully and most of these tend to be women who are suffering from self-image issues.
Formosae might have been beautiful before they are changed but once they do, they become ugly beyond description as their inhuman hunger and monstrous obesity transform them into a grotesque parody of what a human being should be. They enthrall or enslave people by convincing them that they are ugly and that the Formosae somehow hold the key to make them beautiful even though they themselves are anything but. They play up their intended victim’s insecurities and self-loathing and this goes double for single people who have experienced disastrous relationships with the wrong people.
The greatest weapons the Formosae wield against their victims are illusion and delusion. Like most vampires, Formosae are able to make themselves appear beautiful to their victims and often convince the latter that their only hope of becoming just as beautiful is to loyally serve the Formosae. However, do take note that most Formosae are actually aware of their own ugliness. That’s right, while they may not admit it, on some level, they know exactly what they’ve become and desperately suppress he knowledge of their own ugliness through self-delusion. So the truth is, whatever beauty the Formosae have and whatever beauty they may offer is, at the end of the day, only illusory.
I saw that having Formosae as villains for our next chronicle might be just the thing.
See, ladies and gentlemen, I can’t help but notice how our own media has brainwashed us into conforming to their own standards of beauty. It’s sad to note just how many women I know who are unhappy with their own appearances simply because they have flat noses, narrow faces, small breasts, a little chubby, somewhat scrawny or have a skin-tone that’s too dark. I mean, just what is our media telling us? That we’re all ugly? That we are somehow less attractive because we don’t look like our celebrities who usually owe their beauty to plastic surgery and invasive treatments? That without a significant other to love us (often because of superficial beauty offered by media-endorsed products) that we’ll be miserable for the rest of our lives? Is this what we’re exposing our children to on a day-to-day basis?
Well, to be honest, we’re not the only country that does this. Unfortunately, what I find disheartening is how the media seems to insist that finding love is all about superficial beauty rather than beauty of a whole being as in body, mind and soul. Besides, many of our models and celebrities look nothing like your basic Filipino or Filipina. Majority of them look like foreign tourists in fact rather than anyone local.
Indeed, I think that the biggest problem with Pinoy media is while they like to preach about romantic love, they very rarely talk about self-love and, of course, self-improvement. They insist that their form of beauty is all that matters and that everyone else is somehow ugly even though, I must say, that is more often than not wrong on many levels. The local mainstream media has essentially placed a price-tag on self-worth (just like the Formosae in fact) and expect you to buy from them to the point of bankruptcy.
Anyway, let me go back to what I was saying before, before pursuing romantic love, one must first learn to love one’s self. One must first learn to prize oneself and embrace their self-worth before going out of their way to find and love a significant other. You cannot, after all, give something that you do not have. If you cannot understand your worth in the world, how else can you hope to fully appreciate the worth of someone else?
Is beauty, or the illusion thereof, more important than one’s own identity? Is romance, or obsession with another, more important than improving one’s self and making oneself a productive member of society? These are thoughts I’ll leave with you dear readers.
Okay, now back to planning my chronicle…
Now, perhaps I could confabulate our Formosae villain with a certain talk-show host…
I HAVE RETURNED TO LAY WASTE TO OUR ENEMIES!