Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Philippine Reference Alert’

Tagalog gaffe in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

March 17, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, Movies, Philippine Reference Alert 2 Comments →


In The Master, Joaquin Phoenix plays an ex-navy man with post-traumatic stress disorder who falls in with a cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who may or may not be based on L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology. It’s an amazing, puzzling movie and Joaquin Phoenix’s approach to his role is the opposite of Daniel Day-Lewis’s in Lincoln. Whereas DDL appears to be in control of everything, including his pores and facial hair, Joaquin doesn’t seem to know what Joaquin is doing—he keeps surprising himself. Where is it coming from? He must be hell to direct but the result is beautiful and terrifying. More on the The Master later.

Noel pointed out the early scene, set in Hawaii, in which Joaquin’s character is drinking his homemade brew with some Pinoys. Tagalog is spoken in the background. Someone sings Dahil Sa ‘Yo, and its composer who, funnily enough, shares the name of the leader of the religious group El Shaddai, Mike Velarde. All is well, until you hear this bit of off-camera dialogue:

“Katabi siya ng artista.” (He’s beside the movie star.)

The artista being Joaquin Phoenix. Apparently the extras were so thrilled to be in the movie, they talked about it during a take, and no one in the editing room could understand Tagalog, tsk tsk.

Confirmed: We live in Dramaland.

November 24, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Philippine Reference Alert No Comments →

We can’t claim this one as a Pinoy. Not Zachary Quinto, Mr. Spock.

According to a Gallup survey, Singaporeans are “the least likely in the world to report experiencing emotions of any kind on a daily basis. The 36% who report feeling either positive or negative emotions is the lowest in the world. Filipinos, on the other hand, are the most emotional, with six in 10 saying they experience a lot of these feelings daily.”

Survey says…Filipinos are the most emotional people on earth. We’re inclined to agree, but those are their metrics? Who’s their control group, Vulcans?

Are there so many telenovelas because Filipinos are melodramatic, or are Filipinos melodramatic because there are so many telenovelas? The substitute national anthem could be “Feelings” (woe woe woe feeeelings) as sung by a former first lady.

Thanks to sunflowii for the alert!

For alerts, tipoffs and invitations, email Yes, we accept invitations for talks and workshops, but only on subjects we actually know something about. We can’t discuss trends in social media because we’re not in the social media—this blog’s facebook page is maintained by our brilliant publicist friend. We can’t discuss lambing; do check out stuff we’ve written to see what we’re qualified to talk about, i.e. reading, writing, movies especially terrible ones, cats, loafing, and nerdiness. There is a fee, which varies; if you’re a school we’ll waive it, if you charge participants admission we charge too, and if you’re a corporation, pay up.

Onion encyclopedia exposes vast worldwide Filipino conspiracy

November 23, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Philippine Reference Alert 4 Comments →

From the Onion Book of Known Knowledge:

Media, Filipino-­controlled tool os­tensibly intended to distribute news and information, but which is in ac­tuality used by the Filipinos to spread disinformation and propa­ganda to promote their vast world­ wide Filipino conspiracy. Run by an elite secret consortium of the world’s most powerful Filipinos, the media is a mechanism through which the fat­cat Filipinos who rule New York and Hollywood are able to cunningly disseminate a coded version of their agenda into mil­lions of unsuspecting homes via their stranglehold on America’s television networks, press, film, publishing, and recording indus­tries. Anyone who attempts to speak truth to power and shake up the media establishment is shut down by the ruthless, tightly con­nected Filipino cabal, which is of course funded by the same network of Filipino bankers and moneymen who have run the planet for centuries.

Thanks to turmukoy for the alert. Dammit we’ve been outed!

The yogurt gambit in chess

August 10, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Philippine Reference Alert No Comments →

David Bezmogis’s elegant, self-assured first novel The Free World follows the Russian-Jewish Krasnansky family out of the Soviet Union and into the West, and presumably, freedom. There are many plucky immigrant novels about brave souls escaping to the new world and making it against all odds…this isn’t one of those. That might yet happen, but in 1978 the family is stuck in Rome, waiting for their papers with thousands of other Russian Jews, half-dreading the future and wondering whether they were right to leave the old country. And they do what families do when they’re stuck together and facing uncertainty: they bicker.

The family patriarch Samuil, who had been a fairly important man in Latvia, is particularly bitter about their situation. He takes to visiting the club for emigres, where he meets a fellow army veteran.

—Are you a chess player? the man asked.
—I wouldn’t call myself one, Samuil lowered his newspaper and said.
—Do you follow the game at all?
—No more than anyone else.
—But you’re aware of the championships in the Philippines?

—Ah yes, chess, Roidman said. Which is where we started. Now I am back to what I wanted to tell you originally about the curious incident at the chess match. The game was played to another draw, you see, but Korchnoi lodged a formal protest because, during the match, Karpov’s supporters brought Karpov a cup of blueberry yogurt. Korchnoi claims that this could have been a signal agreed upon by Karpov’s team. A secret tactic. They bring a cup of blueberry yogurt and it means: accept the draw. Or they bring strawberry and it means: knight to rook four. It’s wonderful. There’s no limit to human intrigue, is there?

We remember that during the world chess championship held in Baguio, Viktor Korchnoi accused a member of Anatoly Karpov’s entourage of hypnotizing him.

The Free World by David Bezmozgis is available at National Bookstores, Php695.

Will Ferrell courts Filipino tilt-a-whirl operators vote

July 23, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Philippine Reference Alert 3 Comments →

As long as you’re agog at the new Bourne Legacy trailer featuring Tagalog dialogue and a chase scene on Manila rooftops, here’s the trailer for the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis movie The Campaign, in which congressional candidate Ferrell sucks up to Filipino tilt-a-whirl amusement park ride operators. “Salamat.”

The Killing drinking game

July 06, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Philippine Reference Alert, Television 7 Comments →

In the first season of The Killing (the American version), the detectives question a school janitor who has the keys to what looks like the crime scene. We assume that the janitor character is Filipino because (a) His name is “Lyndon Johnson Rosales”, (b) His mother speaks to the detectives in Tagalog, and (c) There are lots of Filipinos who immigrated to Seattle where the series takes place.

However when the janitor is questioned, he makes reference to “El Diablo” (the devil) where a Pinoy would say “Demonyo” or “Ang devil”. Perhaps he has been hanging out with Spanish-speaking Americans. Or maybe the writers assumed—like the old Mac OS did—that Spanish is widely spoken in the Philippines.

We watched half of the first season of The Killing before we decided that the detectives annoy us and their police department is the most inept on television. What are they going to do, run down everyone in Washington as a suspect? Hey, don’t Edward Twilight’s vampire family and Jake Werewolf Abs’s clan live in that state? Why haven’t they been investigated?!

Detectives: Please get rid of that hideous sweater and that fugly hoodie.

If you like drinking games, The Killing will get you trashed. Every time the police are certain they’ve found their killer, take a shot. Every time they’re wrong, take a shot. Every time the lead detective misses her flight to California, take a shot. Every time her teenage son does something to get her attention, take a shot. This show should have a lot of liquor ads, they’d make a killing. Hah.

One look at Billy Campbell (He plays a city councilman running for mayor) and we knew he would be arrested at some point…because he is so handsome. Look at that!

So we watched the second half of the first season at six times normal speed and spoiler spoiler, etc. We’ve been assured that season two ends satisfyingly, but we have to build up our tolerance before we try again.