Traditional Chinese Painting: A Firm Pillar of Chinese History

Traditional Chinese Painting: A Firm Pillar of Chinese History

Sevilla, Micah S.

February 7, 2017


Cascading into gallery walls which hung lovely frames and sophisticated fans  brimming with Chinese virtuosity and oriental philosophies made a nostalgic sweep creep up on my spine; as if the vintage-looking, nature-inspired sights of gray, misty mountains, vigorous little birds perching on tall bamboo shoots,  blurred, snowy village landscapes, youthful pop of hydrangea flowers, fresh pink peonies, dancing yellow tulips, cozy chickens cooped up in a barn, poised cocks standing straight as an arrow atop a rock,  and highly-animated roosters,  were taking me to a trip down memory lane that made me fantasize in an instant; as if I was standing at the imperial court of the Song Dynasty, dressed up in a red, highly-embellished Chinese kimono, completely basking in all of China’s rich cultural heritage.


For some strange reason, there was automatically an unspoken “oriental” connection dawning on me as I gaze at the painting gallery from a fair distance, an unspeakable affirmation that tells me that the exhibit was wholly Chinese, without any foreign parentage involved.  In any setting and in any format, Chinese art is always highly-distinctive compared to other cultural arts, even in comparison with its close-knitted, chinky-eyed brothers from the East Asia, such as Korea and Japan. A unique, ethereal charm of the incomparable Chinese antiquity beholds the array of paintings, and made them affluent to each other. That sense of antiquity imbibed me as I feast on the multi-themed exhibit, reminiscing the past I can’t concretely picture on my mind, yet my heart and soul feels something that deeply resonates within me. Painting appreciation is definitely a navigation of one’s very soul, an emotional and spiritual connection that reveals the inner thoughts and deep-seated values of man. Certainly, I’m neither a Chinese nor a painter; but simply allowing myself to get lost in the painters’ intricate artworks gave me a saturating peace that assured me of my belongingness to the oriental culture. To me, this is definitely part of the Chinese skeleton that deserves to be celebrated every Chinese New Year, a long-enduring art form that knows no alienation to race or nationality.


Shangri-La Plaza’s Grand Atrium was momentarily a haven of divinity and repose, atleast for a week- as painting enthusiasts from Ateneo de Manila University’s Confucius Institute show off their most-prized paintings in various styles, frames and sizes from January 25-31, in response to the Chinese tradition of displaying artworks only on special occasions, such as the Chinese New Year festivity. The painters, who were all well-advanced in age, study traditional Chinese painting under the mentorship of Master Painter Caesar Cheng, a connoisseur of painting and calligraphy for over four decades by now. Given that the painters involved were pretty much preoccupied with their marketing and business ventures, most of them only get to the exhibit on its last day during the mall’s closing hours, when all they have to do is pull out their paintings from the gallery and prepare to store their craft at home.


As scion to precision and creativity, the Chinese culture is not only world-renowned for their ink and wash paintings, but also a pioneer in poetry and calligraphy, pushing forth their culture to a natural inclination to the visual arts. As a matter of fact, every traditional Chinese is raised to train in the arts at a very young age, with parents weaning their children to be competitive in both performing arts and visual arts, such as playing instruments and doing calligraphy.


Dating back to the 1st century A.D, the introduction of Buddhism to China led to the popularity of painting religious murals related to Buddhist principles, with themes expanding to a variety of subjects beyond religion only until the Song dynasty. Chinese painting has turned into a firm pillar of culture in China since then, evolving from an imperial hobby to being a serious form of art that knowns no color, race and status, a long-treasured form of art that has preserved the uniqueness of the Chinese culture alongside calligraphy and poetry. Traditional Chinese painting truly mirrors the deeply-rooted values and cardinal principles of the Chinese culture, such as the high regards for nature, a strong connection to the past, and the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism, including the lotus flower, flower vase and fish pair- ideals that were clearly-evident in the painting exhibit.


The magnificent display of the oriental paintings effortlessly whisked me away from the rest of the crowd, as if the mystic images were talking to me and unraveling their stories before my very eyes. And just like that, the marveling suddenly takes off. There seems to be an unquenchable thirst welling within me, as if I was dead-tired from a long, exhausting journey, parched from thirst and is in dire need of a spring to drink from. I paused there, wondering how to shake hands with the gifted hands that brought forth all these paintings. The next thing I knew, I wanted to sit down with them and watch them pour out the content of their souls and the beauty of their minds to know what led to their works of art. And before I could even walk to the next set of paintings, I saw myself slumped at the fact that I was slowly baring my true self right there and then.  I am a frustrated painter.


Despite the dominant use of religio-auspicious symbols and nature-inspired imagery in traditional Chinese painting, painter and entrepreneur Helen Tansuk, maker of “Dancing tulips” and “Lotus” paintings, clarifies that oriental art is a far cry from symbolism, which centers on intellectual examination and logical reasoning, rather than capturing the very essence of the subject. The imagery of animated roosters, cooped up birds, spongy hydrangea flowers, blissful peonies, cozy, cuddly chickens, and gray, misty mountains that took center-stage at the exhibit were captured not only to depict the outer appearance of the subjects but their inner essence as well- the energy, life force, and spirit.


As in-depth conversations with Grace Dadufalza, Necita Cheng, and Helen Tansuk, the experienced and skilful artists of the exhibit, continue to flourish, I was ushered to a deeper understanding of the painting craft from a Chinese’s perspective. The distinctive painting popularized by the Chinese is rather a form of expressionism, notably rich in sensuous values that far outweigh the technical innuendo. As a two-time witness of the week-long exhibit, I came to realize that as well, where the painters have enormously asserted themselves of what wells up in their soul- and perfectly translates everything to a brush.The Chinese canon of aesthetics is fixed on a paradigm that opens spiritual consciousness rather than intellectual expansion, one that is infused with imagination and soul, a sense of craftsmanship that captures the essential spirit and beauty of a scene. But what truly sets Chinese paintings apart from any other painting from the rest of the world is its ability to display magnificence and mystic meanings while exuding pure humility.


Contrary to its Western counterpart, traditional Chinese paintings are humble in nature,  a striking beauty that doesn’t necessarily confide in the exact sharpness of details and outlines of the composition observed, but clamors to to contemplate on its sentimentality and intimation. The power to keep you grounded while affixed on majestic imageries is the missing component in European paintings. If we were to closely observe the perfectly crafted Leonardo Da Vinci Paintings and highly-acclaimed visual masterpieces of Michael Angelo and Raphael Sanzio, we’ll end up mouthing vivid praises on how they have made such epitome of perfection, which at times becomes an exaggeration of reality that almost rivals nature, to which Chinese painting completely detracts from. China’s humble paintings suggest a natural flow of dialogue with the past through the most natural style of capturing images, while European paintings cater realist and surrealist paintings like a richly-covered photograph that seems scientifically-right in every angle.


Grace Dadufalza, a 2nd-time participant to Shangri-La’s annual Chinese painting exhibit, says that a deep connection between the materials used in Chinese painting is a key ingredient in fostering artistic forms and techniques. “As for the painters of the exhibit, we used Ling Nan style, which makes use of watercolour rice paper, different kind of brushes and Chinese ink. Ling Nan is way too different from acrylic and oil painting,” Dadufalza reveals.


In Chinese painting, a wide array of Chinese brushes are required for dealing with various subjects and for creating variations in line thickness, as Dadufalza stresses that brush techniques are so much emphasized in Chinese painting not only in line drawing but also in shading and texture, as well as the meticulous dotting methods frequently used to differentiate trees and plants. Brush strokes undeniably give the painting rhythm and beauty while revealing the individuality and style of the painter himself; from the faintest swipe of ink to the boldest, blackest lines, a painter is sure to implicate something to the observer. Some common types of Chinese brush include crab claw brush, rabbit’s hair brush and sheep’s hair brush.


“The tricky thing about Chinese painting is that you can only do the strokes once, can’t put it all over again,” Dadufalza warns.  This harsh reality makes Chinese painting a particularly demanding art-form which requires years of training and discipline.


Most of the painters in the exhibit used the literati style or the expressionistic approach to their paintings, using brushstrokes and styling meant for personal creativity. A few of them, on the other hand, are extremely precise and much more decorative with their paintings, incorporating the Chinese gong-bi style, which is coined as the meticulous style of painting in China. Prancing around the artistic walls of the exhibit resound a variety of mood shifts as well, as each painting comes in a variety of styles and hues. Some paintings are in grayish monochrome, others resemble a black and white sketch, while a few of them are very brightly coloured.  Each stop takes me on a completely new feeling; each turn gives me a new storyline to engross myself with. By opting for the best dominating color of a painting, the painter immediately articulates the message he wants to come across.


A definite feast for the eyes, my inner self is starting to respond to the sensuality and spirituality of the sophisticated paintings, making me highly-intrigued by the painters’ motivation to come up with such artworks. While different people may have their own personal bias to any painting, one truth remains outstanding- a set of clearly defined symbols lurking behind a painting is key to unlocking the implicit riddle it poses. And of course,  as a trademark to Chinese paintings, a variety of  subject matter should be carefully considered to decode its meaning, including  a rich variety of flowers, fruits, insects,  fish and mountains, that depict something significant to the Chinese superstitions and culture. For this specific painting exhibit, it has been noticeable that the painters have particular favourites, such as plum blossoms, bamboo, fishes, lotus and rooster, being used frequently.


Bamboo, one of the most dominant themes in the exhibit, connotes  durability, strength, resilience, longevity and vitality; plum blossom stands for renewal and purity;  lotus depicts purity and the throne of Buddha; peony is the ‘king of the flowers’ and a symbol of royalty, wealth and virtue; and rose symbolizes youth and the four seasons. As for the animals used in the paintings, crane, fishes, birds and rooster were mostly incorporated. The crane symbolizes longevity and high status in the imperial hierarchy; the fish symbolizes abundance and affluence, as well as marriage and birth of many children; birds symbolize good fortune and opportunities; while the rooster, which is considered lucky in Feng Shui this year, depicts blessings and prosperity. The peacock, which was only used once in the painting exhibit, was the central character to Liezel Ong’s vividly-colored painting, an imagery that symbolizes dignity and beauty. On the other hand, paintings depicting mouth-watering landscapes and portraits of melancholic mountains such as that of Necita Cheng’s also commanded great attention, as mountains possess the symbolic role of being divine.


Besides the humble approach to artistry and the distinctive painting styles and techniques, another remarkable characteristic of Chinese paintings is the added spice of inscriptions and seals that gives a touch of uniqueness and identity to the painting, where the artist’s name and his poetic insights are placed in the artist’s most preferred part of the painting, as a final touch. A painting purposed to be given to a family or friend can also be reinterpreted by the recipient through another set of calligraphy and poetic insights he would like to put into the painting- any strong feeling or immediate connection he has with the painting written in lyric poetry. And as the painting is passed on from each generation to another, the beauty of painting reinterpretation starts to roll, and a historical thread is therefore established.


Above all, Chinese painting requires a life-long commitment to purity of heart and peace of the soul, a central theme to the long-standing Chinese heirloom that is anchored on an old Chinese adage that shames ill-purposed and hypocritical artistry, “No evil man can make a work of art.”




‘A Complicated Story’: Film Review | Micah Sevilla 2017


‘A Complicated Story’: Film Review |

Micah Sevilla 2017

February 7, 2017


With a college degree nearly at hand and a budding romance with a loyal and sacrificial lover, Liu Yazi, a young independent woman from Mainland China, could have just yielded to her pre-programmed course of life- graduating from college and pursuing a career at the metropolitan city of Hong Kong,  or maybe even building her own family at the fast-paced city full of angst and diverse, liberated views- a dreamy city  that entertained thousands of possibilities, including absurd ones, such as surrogacy;  but due to a sudden need to suffice her brother’s medical surgery, the average and the so-called peaceful life of Liu Yazi turns into one roller-coaster ride, where she’s whisked away to a private villa to live in seclusion and be a surrogate mother for an elite couple.


Just when she thought everything is falling into place, the truth came crashing upon her, pushing her forth to her toughest decision yet– when the client, celebrity Tracy Ty, terminates the contract and forces Yazi to abort the child in her womb. In her zeal to keep the baby, Yazi took a different turn that will drastically change her life forever- as she runs away and escapes from her benefactors in order to keep the baby alive. That big decision she’s made- which is a make or break for her and her newfound life in the city- spiraled into a whirlpool of complicated chaos that tested her inner strength and convictions, and places her in all sorts of uncomfortable and frustrating situations she’s not prepared for.


Setting at Mainland China and Hong Kong, Kiwi Chow’s debut film not only explores the issue of surrogate motherhood and abortion, but also extends beyond the underlying theme, exposing the very authentic roots of resorting to it, such as monetary issues, secret frustrations, loveless marriage, and pedestal views on family building. Director Chow’s exquisite take on the Yi-Shu based novel stayed true to itself, weaving the characters’ stories in the most genuine way possible, with remarkable cinematic techniques and controversial, cliff-hanging elements in the script that made the movie elevate to an effortless, unpredictable note. As a completely different storyline was devised by writer Kei Shu and the ever hands-on director, Kiwi Chow, the movie is expected to give a brand new paradigm to the story as compared to the book, but Zhang Yin’s cinematographic skills proved resilient to the pressure, and was able to unfold the story like a revelation, a gravitating story that  never runs out of surprises and poses  new questions among the audience from time to time, while presenting the story in the most natural pace and setting, with instrumental background music and superficial digital effects kept to a minimum.


The first Kiwi-Chow film took on the melodramatic plot to a strong start, picking a suspenseful kind of scene under a dark, bluish lighting to kick it off- a startled man coming in from a dark corner, carefully creeping his way to a door and slowly opening it, with the diegestic sound of a crying baby resounding on the background while the door creaks open. Upon opening of the door, a woman lies in bed- and a shift to the white lights of the hospital ward slowly took over, eventually turning over the focal point of the film from the man to the unconscious woman, who turned out to be Liu Yazi, the film’s main protagonist. From that first scene that sparks up any spectator’s attention, comes the woman’s melodramatic narration of her life, 3-part breakdown of her tale that started through snippets of the characters’ current status, and then transitioned to the first ever-scene that kicked off her complicated story.


The director  has  done a great job of delivering the story in an  efficient manner, stirring the curiosity of the audience right at the very first frame, then giving out bits of significant details one at a time through a well-crafted flow of scenes and cleverly-written script that  takes advantage of flashbacks, diversified camera shots and angles, ideal lighting circumstances, symbolic depictions, and interplay of various transitions,  letting the story unravel mysteries and answer queries in a well-paced manner, a gradual progress that’s just perfect, not too forced out and not too fast. Technicality-wise, the film is almost flawless, with most of the cinematographic techniques used suggested movements and amplified emotions, facial expressions, body language and unspoken thoughts of the characters.


For a newbie in the film industry, it’s amazing how the director perfectly  translated the intense emotions to camera shots and movements, making use of  closeups, extreme close ups, midshots, panning from left to right shots, worm’s eye view shots and canted shots to capture the best of emotions, while keeping everything as authentic as possible in every angle: the direction of scenes, the shift in lights, the establishing shots and the  black fadeouts all made a perfect blend to produce a coherent and natural-looking screenplay. The minimalist approach to image enhancement, digital alterations, sound effects, and musical scoring kept the scenes flow naturally yet effectively, with most of the credits attributed to the creative improvisation of shots, such as the director’s frequent use of two-dimensional stories in a single shot, or the incorporation of two sets of characters that have two different perspectives to tell, in a single frame. One of those hefty shots is the high-grade, aerial shot of the grassy kiddie park that showed how the two characters, Liu Yazi and Yuk Cheong, are doing separately within the same enormous area.


The cinematographer also incorporated the blurring effect to emphasize shift of focus among characters in a single frame. Liu Yazi’s formal meetings with Attorney Kamy and Doctor Wan for instance, always make use of this blurring effect, where the camera would go for a slow 360-degree turn around the three characters until it stops to a point-of-view shot of the two characters that will subsequently converse, and the transfer of camera focus occurs thereafter. The blurring effect also created a dramatic impact in revealing the inner thoughts of the characters, such as during Liu Yazi’s hospital visitation that implied her secret dream to be a mother. The scene featured a wide shot of hers on the extreme right and happy families on the left, wherein the cameraman switched the focus from Liu Yazi by blurring her image to emphasize the joyous couple with their baby.


Some of the standout scenes in the film that exuded genuine emotions and appeal include Liu Yazi’s fetal scan with Doctor Luk, which is characterized by an extreme close up of her blinking, restless eyes, as well as an extreme closeup shot on her fidgetty hands, that gently shifted to a canted body shot on the tensed, bed-ridden Yazi, when the doctor allowed her to hear the heartbeat of her twin babies- making it look pretty sentimental as the canted shot slows down and the only audible thing as of the moment are the babies’ loud thugs of heartbeat.  In spite of the absence of words, Yazi’s deep-welled joy and anticipation for motherhood was felt across the cinema house. Basically, the camera is constantly in motion, and each scene is carefully planned in terms of the positioning and the distance of the cast and the cameramen, making the movie totally engaging to the senses, as if we’re also part of the film.


Proper control of music is such a crucial element in bringing out the best in each dramatic scene, for music can either define the moment or monotize the emotional surge when imported at the wrong timing.  The film’s musical director successfully accentuated the height of emotions through the interplay of momentary pauses and shift in dynamics, where the instrumental music is played with certain interruptions to dramatically highlight the speaking character’s words. The mellow music of violin and guitar accompaniment suits the predominantly dramatic film, with almost the entire film banking on natural sounds (NATSOT) of busy roads, screeching cars and beach waves, among others.


The commendable cinematography of Zhang Yin also included an impeccable lighting direction that definitely suits the ever-changing tempo and mood of the story. The three-part film presents the highs and lows of each character, which demands a coherent shift from dark lighting to light-hued lighting, and vice versa.  Breaking down the exploits of the characters entails a smooth shift of lighting themes from time to time, and it was exquisitely done by the cinematographer, making similar patterns of scenes easily identifiable according to lighting mood.


The shift from the highs and lows consist of five common lighting themes- the dim, yellow lighting, bright yellow lighting, grayish-blue light, illuminated light,  and the rest is natural lighting. Yellow lighting undeniably proved conducive for deep, intimate conversations, with dim, yellow lights overtaking most of Liu Yazi’s confidential meetings with Attorney Kamy and Doctor Wan, while bright yellow lights lent the romantic vibe during an isolated talk between Liu Yazi and her boyfriend, Law Chun Ming. Grayish-blue lighting, on the other hand, works best for Yazi’s gloomy and painful episodes in her room, including her secret breakdowns and stressful pregnancy. For a playful and carefree vibe, the cinematographer also injected an illuminating effect to a series of scenes held at a park, where kids are running around, fumbling with kites, and are brimming with pure childish glee. Liu Yazi’s fascination with bubbly kids and with warm, loving families was clearly-demonstrated in the scenes,  where she even trodded on the grass barefooted,  twirling around like a little girl whisked in a dream. In the same set of fancy scenes comes a giddy element of surprise- tycoon Yuk Cheong, the biological father of Yazi’s babies, becomes totally smitten with the ever-blushing Yazi.  The illuminated onscreen appeal actually justified the subsequent, romantic scenes between Yuk Cheong and Liu Yazi.


A silhouette of a man darting past the door is also an ideal lighting effect in one of the scenes where a certain stranger starts knocking on Yazi’s door- a suspenseful scene which heightened Yazi’s anxiety. Another incredible lighting effect injected to the movie is the natural rays of the sun that penetrated in one of the church windows where Yazi was standing by- a round ball of radiant light that shone brightly on her face that made her look like the ever-glowing face of the Virgin Mary.


The pool of cast members also did not disappoint, as they nailed the roles they portrayed as if the roles were tailor-made for them. Liu Yazi’s innocent yet infallible inner strength was perfectly delivered by Chih-ying Chu; Yuk Cheong’s masculine and regal persona, suits Jacky Cheung perfectly; while Cherri In’s take on the role of mean girl tabloid starlet Tracy Ty doesn’t look like film-acting at all. Not a single actor outshined another; the casting was superb.


The most fascinating thing to me, though, is the development of the characters as each chapter unfolds. Revelatory insights on the film’s characters intensified the plot’s element of unpredictability, making it a totally explosive one to watch out for. The first time the ever strong-willed Kamy softened her eyes and narrated her painful past to Yazi is truly moving, and seeing the civilized and the seemingly-unromantic Yuk Cheong finally rediscovering his soft spot in Yazi’s alluring persona is such a heart-warming scene. But the most groundbreaking unveiling of ‘depth’ among characters is definitely Liu Yazi, who showed off her vulnerability and fears as a young woman like any damsel in distress does, something that’s far-fetched from the independent and gutsy girl she used to be since day one.


With a totally relatable story to boot, “A Complicated Story” is one straightforward, heart-wrenching story that is filled with valuable teachings on family, self-acceptance and love- three important aspects to a person’s life that is somewhat a gauge of one’s purpose and satisfaction.


Yazi was indeed confronted with the reality she’s been afraid to admit all her life- she’s been living a pretentious life, and has always been wallowed by emptiness and self-denial, hoping that child-bearing would redeem her and give her a sense of direction. Just like Yazi who is always on the run, we may also be running away from certain truths in our lives, intimidated to face the reality head on and disheartened to wrestle with the challenges that come with pursuing happiness- our own version of happiness. Oftentimes, the biggest stumbling block to our happiness is not anyone or anything else, but our very own selves. But how do we deprive ourselves of happiness?


Compelling as it may seem, our personal convictions tend to complicate our lives instead of straightening out things for us, as we follow a silhouette of stereotypes and embrace roles cut out for us, instead of choosing the path that really defines us. And as we live a life of pretense, we tend to make crucial decisions emanating from the wrong intentions, as we try to cover up for the loopholes we have with ourselves- and the cycle goes on and on. Far beyond the issues of abortion and motherhood, “A Complicated Story” is a story about people’s secret pains and frustrations, and how these unresolved issues result to wrong motives in decision-making. Harry Potter’s right when he said that, “It’s our decisions that define us- far more than our abilities.”


Life throws in unexpected packages in the form of hardships and tribulations, but it will also deliver opportunities to salvage us in more ways that we can imagine. And for Yazi, she has finally found the “music” and “melody” to her out-of-tune life, and this time, she’s making a decision that’s truly her, and sticks with it.


P.S. Liu Yazi named her twins, “Music” and “Melody.”



Chinoy talents highlight Chinese New Year event in Shangri-La

Chinoy talents highlight Chinese New Year event in Shangri-La

Sevilla, Micah S.

February 7, 2017


A showcase of young Chinoy talents highlighted Shangri-La plaza’s annual Chinese New Year celebration last January 28, where a grand Chinese musical concert took center-stage at the mall’s Grand Atrium.

The 45-minute show featured performances from Chinese schools and semi-pro groups, including the Philippine Cultural College Glee Club, Hope Christian Faith Chorale, and the Sireins, as well as solo performances from St. Stephen’s  Jhonvid Bangayan, folk singers Angel Ko, Ellen Pao, Jiao Dao and Wo He Ni, and blind pianist Albert Cedric Tan from the Philippine National School for the Blind.

“Most of the songs performed are themed on happiness, prosperity, love and family solidarity,” says veteran pianist Lety Sarte, musical director to Hope Christian Faith Chorale.

In total, there were two chorale groups, five solo performances, a soprano trio and a blind pianist gracing the concert, all hand-picked by the concert’s musical director, Sherwin Sozon.

Sozon, who’s a music connoisseur of the Lyric Opera Philippines for over two decades now, believes that culture and art is what unites and defines a people, and that “music is an integral part of any culture, including China.”

“The purpose of this event is to promote Chinese culture and foster harmonious relationships between the Filipinos and the Chinese,” says the event’s director, Mr. Sidney Christopher Bata.

Bata, who’s a faculty member of Ateneo De Manila University’s Ricardo Leong Chinese Cultural Studies, asserts that “music is universal” and “is not bordered by language,” which he believes is key to uniting the two races in what he cites as “a difficult time of political tension among the Filipinos and the Chinese.”

“The concert deemed a success,” beams Bata, who spearheaded the event which took a month of preparation.

Nearly a hundred people attended the event, as Shangri-La Plaza kayaked with media partners to elevate marketing strategies, such as CNN Philippines, PTV4 and Manila Bulletin, something they have not done in the previous years.


Everybody’s Fine: A Common Family Story

After seeing the film “Everything’s fine” and after a critical analysis of the elements of the movie, here are some of the good and bad points I noticed about the film.

First is the plot. The plot is a little common and already been shown in other films. That is why it was easy to predict what is going to happen in the film. Like for example, it was kinda predictable that the eldest daughter of Zhiguo, Qing, was already been

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Everybody’s Fine Official Poster

divorced with her husband even before revealing it afterwards. Also, it was predictable that the youngest daughter Chu is a lesbian and has an affair with another girl. Aside from that, the plot is okay.


Next is the cinematography. Actually it was awesome. Shots were taken on the exact place it should have. Best shot for me was the bird’s eye view of Chu and his father Zhiguo was in the car going off to the bridge. It was good because it shows the beauty of the whole place.

About the screenplay, I think it was good especially the punch lines. I remember that everyone on the cinema was laughing so hard when the punch lines were delivered right. One thing I don’t like about the script was the confrontation scenes. The father always leaves with nothing to say whenever there is a confrontation between him and anyone from his children. This makes me think that the scriptwriters run out good idea for this matter.

Two of important elements of a good film were props and effects, both can be observed in the movie. I like the effect where the father Zhiguo would see his child and flashback the way they look when they were younger.

Music also plays an important part in the movie. The music suits every scene from the film giving a proper and appropriate mood for the scene. Like when Chu and her Father were chased by some bad characters. The music was fast and upbeat which was suit best the chasing scene. The music helps in setting the mood for the scene.

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Youngest Daughter Chu (Ye Quanyu)


As for the actors, I’m not quite impressed and satisfied with their acting, ‘cause I know they can do better. Some of them are good but some of them lack emotion.

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The eldest daughter Qing (Yao Chen)

Throughout the movie, what I can say the best part of the film was when Zhiguo (the Father) passed out and after opening his eyes, he saw his kids in their young versions. It was the best part for me because this is the part where the movie is being concluded and the questions clouding the main character’s mind were being answered. The script in this scene was good and I can say that this is the highlight of the movie.

Everything’s fine is actually a good film. It tackles about the common family issues and problems which gives the audience the lesson about the importance of family in everyone. So if I’m going to rate this movie, I would say that it deserves a 7/10 rating and was highly recommended for family audiences.

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Complete family picture of Guan Zhiguo (Zhang Guoli), Hao (Chen He), Qing (Yao Chen), Quan (Shawn Dou), Chu (Ye Qianyu) and Qing’s son from the last part of the movie

By: Ugaban

The Chinese Pastel Painting Workshop 2017

By Elton Ongjoco

The Filipino-Chinese community gathered to celebrate the year of the Rooster in the 11th Spring Film Festival. Held at Shangri La Plaza, many Chinese cultural activities were done from January 28 and 29. There were 3 events, and one of those were the Chinese Pastel Painting Workshop.

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Chinese Pastel Painting Workshop Registration

The workshop is conducted by the Ateneo Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies. Master Fidel Sarmiento showcased his skillful pastel techniques to the 50 lucky attendants who got free tutorials in pastel drawing. Most of the artworks Sarmiento shown were about nature, Chinese tradition and a rooster. The pastels and all the art materials were sponsored by the Shangri La mall.

The Spring Film Festival is an annual event that showcases the beauty and artistic side of Chinese films. Six films were shown in the event for free. Other events and activities were the Chinese lantern painting workshop, Chinese painting exhibit and Chinese Music Concert.

Everybody’s Fine: Movie Review of Guan’s Travel

By Elton Ongjoco

Everybody’s Fine is a Chinese adaptation of the Italian movie with the same name by Guiseppe Tornatore. The Chinese version is directed by Zhang Meng and I haven’t watched any films he directed except this one. I also haven’t watched the original Italian film but this version of the film starring Zhang Guoli is a good but not that good film.

The story is about a widower whose name is Guan Zhiguo, portrayed by Zhang Guoli, traveling to his children throughout China to relive the memories of his deceased wife. The movie shows some typical lifestyle of a Chinese household and some comedic life of a lonely father. It is somewhat artistic that I think will not appeal to the younger audiences, I guess the comedic side will do. Zhang Meng managed to blend the comedic and serious elements of the movie; it has some plain acting maybe because of the indie like vibe of it which is good, for it creates emotion, ironically. It is full of dad jokes then it will become a serious dad talk and most of the movie is serious dad talks.

Guan’s travel story started when his children told him that they will not go to their yearly summer gathering so he planned to surprise them by visiting them in their houses. Guan’s children is scattered along China, there’s one in Tianjin, Hanzhou, Shanghai and Macau.

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Guan (Zhang Guoli) with her daughter Qing (Yao Chen)

When he visited every one of them, they all seem to be lying and most of it is white lies, just not to make him worry. So in the end they gathered altogether having a good time in the festival.

Zhang Guoli acts very natural that even the way he moves and talks, looks and sounded like my dad. By the way he acts, you can see that he is a veteran in Chinese films, though I never seen some films that he has been too. He easily portrayed the character of happy disappointment in a flesh.The other actors and actresses are good and sometimes boring maybe because it is what said to them. They really portrayed different characteristics of different human beings.

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Guan and his family celebrating spring festival or the ending


The artistic side of the film was seen in its beautiful shots showing the authentic Chinese household and its hard city life. The cuts were remarkable especially in the scenes where the little version of Guan’s sons and daughters. With the help of the nostalgic and orchestral post-rock music, the film delivers an emotional ride in human’s different experiences and circumstances it is going through.

Everybody’s Fine: Just fine

by John Elmo Canonio

Everybody’s fine” is surely a family oriented film and everyone can surely relate to the story no matter what status you are currently having with your family. This movie tells about the importance of honesty and the essence of time that every parent should invest with their children.

The casting is halfway great because based on what I saw the casts weren’t that convincing for their roles, they will portray what they have to portray for their role but they leave no impact on their assigned roles. The movie tackles a serious matter and in order to pull it off or to greatly express the message or intentions of the movie, the actors should be convincing for their acting roles. Although this is the matter, it didn’t cost a movie alot, not even a bit.


I like how realistic is the setting of the movie, the movie shows the pretty and the awful side of the modern china. I like how the setting took part in portraying each characters personality and situation. One example is how they portrayed how succesful Qing is as a director, and also Guang’s home, I like how they portray the simplicity of life that an old man like Guan can have. It really played a big part in the movie and it the development of the movie.

The plot is the most important thing that moviegoers loves to see. In this movie, honestly, I found the plot of the story to be simple, I know that playing with the plot is a dangerous proposition because it can mess the whole story up, but when the movie goes plain like this one, it will not guarantee that the viewers will hold on til the end, especially when you passed the 1:15 hour mark of the movie. The plot or the outcome of Hao, almost everyone is interested on what could’ve happened to Hao his whereabouts and how his brother and sister’s try to hid this news to their father gets everyone interested. The plot of Hao suddenly became uninteresting when they finally revealed what happened to him without even elaborating what exactly happened to him, and the interesting plot ended up unexcitingly when Guan’s children revealed it to him on a hospital scene.


In general, the movie turns out to be fine, its good in overall and if I’m gonna rate it, I will rate it 6/10. The director maybe can do better on their next project and writers can work better with the plot, that’s what I’m looking forward to. This is how I find the movie, but at the end of the day, this is an art made by the director, maybe he plans to make it plain and simple due to the expected audience and maybe because the movie is something that needs to be taken seriously he may have seen that playing with the plot is not an appropriate thing to do. All in all, this is a good movie and this is the kind of movie that every family needs to watch.