‘Body Crashes’ and the freedom to self-express: an interview with Rhian Ramos

“For a long time I’ve been very ashamed of my feelings… It takes a different set of guts to put [out] something that you’ve written.”

Body Crashes has a rather intriguing title. Aside from the grammatical ambiguity (is ‘crashes’ a plural noun or an intransitive verb?), there is a striking sensuality to it, a feeling conveyed by the song’s cover art, with its stark image and suggestive smoke. Overall the work exudes a personality and bleeds an aesthetic sense, one that feels true to the personality and identity of the celebrity whose work it is—Rhian Ramos.

The single cover art for ‘Body Crashes’ by Rhian Ramos, featuring a monochrome portrait of her face in a suggestive, sensual pose, with smoke coming out of her mouth.

I refer to her as a celebrity, because she is self-aware enough that people see her first as an artista in the Filipino sense of the word, and only second as an authentic artist, an actress or musician in the exalted sense of those labels. Onstage during the launch gig for Body Crashes’s music video, she admits to the crowd that it is “baduy” when an artista wants to be a singer. “Someone had to say it, so I just decided to say it,” she later says, laughing. She clearly had in mind those dismissive types who would think it overreaching for a popular actress to try her hand at music-making.

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Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival: hoping against reason

It wants to “change the conversation,” but, at worst, it showcases unhelpful ‘inspiration porn’.

On a rainy Independence Day evening, Leni Robredo, the vice president of the republic, delivered a speech in the theaters of the posh Glorietta mall in Makati City. It was the premiere night for her latest project, the Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival. Ten hours earlier she had led the ceremonies at Luneta Park, saluting the national flag under the rain; now, she appeared before a crowd that included a senator, celebrities, filmmakers, the press, and her countrymen from the fringes of society, that sector she had always pledged loyalty and service to. Her twenty-minute message, albeit ceremonial, was a consistent restatement of her commendable advocacy. Towards the end, she weaved together the themes of the day:

Independence is not just freedom from a foreign invader or colonizers from another nation. It is freedom to choose the meals we want to eat, the places we want to go, the schools where we want to study, the careers where we want to prove our mettle, the things we want to say—and where to say them. This is the kind of freedom I wish for every man, woman, and child in our country today.

As the second highest official of the country, she has much stature but little power, and she has turned to this, embodying moral leadership, turning her office into a beacon of positivity. With the film festival, she issues a call to “spread hope in these dark and difficult times.”

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Sketches #2: Solitude


For now, you are a satellite.

You place your hand on the white skin of the ship. You admire its rough, jagged texture, a surprisingly delightful quality, although you can only infer the surface’s character from the way the sharp sunlight casts shadows upon it. You take care not to put too much pressure against the vessel, because you don’t need your advanced grasp of physics to know that doing so will push you back more than you will push the vessel away, and you will have to spend precious micro-rocket fuel to secure your proximity to the ship.

You look above you (or should that be below?) and see what others before you have lovingly described as a blue marble. You admire the clouds, white and frayed, soft and seemingly still in a layer underneath the blue fringes of the planet’s atmosphere.

From where you are, the sun is an intimidating presence. It is a violently brilliant orb, and yet, in the emptiness of all that surrounds it, you can sense the clash between its intensity and the fragility of worlds. You look at the stars, and even them, their beautiful multitude, they cause you distress, because their lights will forever be only a dream beyond your reach.

You hear nothing but your own breathing, and the occasional beeping of the systems that keep your suit a habitable space. You listen carefully to this solitary sound. This, the voice of your body, is the only thing sparing you from the silence of space.

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