Archive for April, 2011

Lenten Message…..

Posted in Introspection, Random on April 20, 2011 by otakujade

As the country prepares for the start of the Lenten Season I am amused to note that the entire Philippines seem to be gearing up for a few days of shut down. Banks have announced that ATM service will be closed at 1am on Good Friday and phone and internet banking will be closed starting tomorrow. The train services had also announced the seizure of their operation starting tomorrow (April 21, 2011). Malls as usual will be closed from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday (April 21 to April 23, 2011) and all other businesses will be close as well. For the next 3 days the country will be at rest.

The Lenten Season was supposed to be a time of meditation and prayer however, in the recent years it had also become an opportunity for families to get together and spend time together either at home or at some resort.

I have nothing against the Lenten practices. Actually, I am fascinated with the many rites and rituals I see during this season however I am also put off by many self-righteous people who cannot keep from telling other people what is proper to be done during the Holy Week.
If you really want to please GOD then talk to HIM and pray to HIM not only on Lenten Seasons but every single day of your life. Do not recite to HIM prayers you’ve learned as a child but rather really converse with your GOD. Tell him about your aches and pains; about your triumphs and failures; tell HIM about your day and then listen to HIM as he talks back to you.

GOD do not need us to repeat our prayers to him 10 times….HE heard you the first time! Sometimes when you speak too much you fail to listen to what HE has to say. So talk to GOD as if HE’s right there in front of you (because HE is!). You may call him by another name Yahweh, Allah, or Abba but the thing is it is still one GOD and HE’s the GOD who listens and waits for you to come to HIM not just during Lenten Season but every single minute of every single day of your life.

Movie Review: UNTHINKABLE

Posted in Movies with tags , , on April 8, 2011 by otakujade

Once in a while a movie comes along that would really take you on its grip and blow you away. Unthinkable was one such movie.

We actually took the movie without knowing what it was about usually we would try to find out as much as we can about the movie before watching it. But this time we were being lazy and didn’t bother. And it was a blessing that it happened that way or the film would have lost its beauty altogether.

Unthinkable was one of the few films that really caught my attention, one that actually evoked fear within me as I watched the plot unfold.

The film opened with an American Muslim man making a videotape of himself. In the video he said that he had planted 3 bombs in three separate US cities armed with nuclear explosives. The bomb according to him contained 4.5 lbs of nuclear explosives and are set to detonate within three days if his demands are not met though the man failed to mention what his demands were.

As soon as the video was broadcast in the local news the FBI was immediately set into motion assigning Special Agent Helen Brody (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and her team to the case. Her team launched an investigation on the case but was stopped when they were called to report to a high school which was converted into a black site by the military. When they arrived at the location they found out that the suspect had been arrested. They found out the man’s as Yusuf (played by Michael Sheen) and that he was an American who converted to the Muslim faith when his parents were assigned in the Middle East.

A special interrogator was brought in to the site, known only to most of them as “H” (played by Samuel Jackson), to force Yusuf to reveal the exact location of the bombs. “H” immediately proceeded to do what he does best, telling the others to stay out of his way. And he quickly showed the others his capability and cruelty as he proceeded to torture the suspect starting with cutting off one of his fingers. Special Agent Brody quickly intervened stating that torture is against the law and that there are other ways they can employ to get the information they needed. But her superiors were also quick to tell her that “H” actions were sanctioned from the highest possible level of command.

“H” torture progressed rapidly and on several times Brody intervened against the orders of her superiors. “H” actually enjoyed the interruption giving play to the bad cop, good cop routine but Yusuf was also tough and would not give them any information whatsoever. “H” decided to allow Yusuf to rest a few minutes before continuing the torture…the intervals and moments of rests he knew would only heighten the pain of what he was going to do next. At these moments of rest, Brody would go to Yusuf and talk to him, coaxing him to simply give them the location of the bombs and he would be free to leave the country but Yusuf was steadfast in his beliefs. At one point Brody accused Yusuf that the bombs were fake and that there was no bomb at all. Yusuf pretended to give up and broke down in tears telling her that indeed there weren’t any bomb. He gave her an address to prove this but as a team gets to the location Yusuf pointed out their entry triggered a bomb that exploded in a nearby mall killing 53 people.

Angered at the deception Brody took a scalpel and started to cut Yusuf in the chest but the man was trained to resist torture and would not show any emotion. He justified his actions by comparing the number of Muslims killed by Americans in US occupied Muslim nations.

As the tension builds up within the film, with each torture gearing towards the more inhumane treatment, the thought provocation forces the audience to question if the means actually justifies the end. As Agent Brody pointed out, any information that they gathered from Yusuf would be because he was being tortured, and at such point a man would say anything to make his torturer stop. But Yusuf proved otherwise, he neither gave up or said anything.

After the explosion in the mall Yusuf then made known his demands – he would like the President of the United States to announce a cessation of support for “puppet governments” and dictatorships in Muslim countries and a withdrawal of American troops from all Muslim countries.

The group immediately dismisses that his demands would ever be met citing the US policy that the government does not negotiate with terrorists. Here the viewer is met with a dilemma. Yusuf’s demands were rational and at several levels justified. Even “H” agreed with his demand though he had a job to do. Considering the current state of events in the world today, the film is very relevant – Egypt had overthrown the 30 years reign of its dictator and now Libya is trying to do the same on Ghaddafi’s 41-year reign. Did the US government support these dictators?  They did back Marcos up during his reign of 21 years? Those were question going through my mind at the time. Though to be completely honest I can answer the last question with a very positive “yes”.

Eventually, Yusuf’s wife and children were found and taken into custody by the military. His wife was taken to see Yusuf in order to evoke fear into the man, but he wouldn’t tell them the location of the bombs. In frustration, “H” grabbed the scalpel and slashed her neck in front of Yusuf and she died of blood lost.

Their last option, and one that Agent Brody adamantly refused to consider was to bring in Yusuf’s children, a boy and a girl. It took some convincing and a promise from “H” that he wouldn’t touch the children..just scare the crap out of the father…until finally Agent Brody gave her assent to the method. They took Yusuf out of the interrogation room to where he could see the room through a one-way mirror.

As he sat there his children were brought in to “H” inside the interrogation room. Tension began when “H” locked the door isolating himself and the children inside the room. As they proceeded to question Yusuf, his eyes never left the interrogation room. But he still refused to give them the location of the bombs….that is until “H” turned off the lights inside the interrogation room allowing them only a shadowy view of the inside. There they can see his shadow reaching for something on the table (where the scalpels were) and proceeded to advance on the children.

Yusuf went wild at this point and begged them to spare his children. The operatives present also became agitated as the sight and fearing for the lives of the children they started to break down the door to the interrogation room. This took some ample amount of time since the door was made of solid steel requiring them to use high powered guns on the door before they were able to break it down. At this point, Yusuf started giving out the location of the three bombs.

The operatives finally able to enter the interrogation room took the children away and forced “H” away. “H” went berserk for a while calling everyone all sorts of degradable names and when Agent Brody confronted him – he asked her if they found out the location of the 4th bomb. This is new to Brody considering that Yusuf said there were only 3 bombs. “H” told her that 16lbs of nuclear explosives were missing – 4.5lbs x 3 = 13.5lbs. C4 was used in the last bomb that exploded in the mall which means that they’re missing 2.5lbs nuclear explosives.

Brody realized “H” was right. The next frames showed the various bomb squads going to the different locations and disarming the bombs. At the last location as the agents were disarming one bomb, another bomb was shown hidden within the same location and as the first bomb was disarmed the other bomb exploded.

Here the viewer’s mind is set into motion — where does one’s humanity start and where does the safety of the many take precedence? Was it right to have to lose one’s humanity in exchange for the safety of many? Would it have been justified to kill another human being (even children) in order to safe millions? These are questions that the film put into our minds…and I honestly have no answer.

 

Akita Inu: Proud and Regal

Posted in Random, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 7, 2011 by otakujade

Native Japanese dogs or for that matter Japanese dog breed are probably some of the rarest dog breed you will find outside of their home country. Even the most popular of the six native Japanese dog breed, the Akita, is rarely found outside of Japan.

There are six native Japanese dog breeds – the Akita Inu, Shiba Inu, Shikoku, Kai, Kishu, and Hokkaido. Except for the Shiba, all the breed got their name from the district where they came from.  Shiba means ‘brushwood’ or ‘firewood’ in Japanese and Inu mean ‘dog’.  The native Japanese dog breeds are all spitz-types. They all share the same Akita-face, square bodies, wedge-shaped face, small upright ears, short, thick stand-off coat and tail curled upward. The breeds different mainly lies in their size, color, uses and some other minor features.  The largest of these native breeds are the Akitas, and the smallest – the Shiba Inu.

The Japanese carefully breed these dogs to prevent crossbreeding to other breeds, that might damage the purity of the breed. The result is that several of these breeds are among the purest and most “primitive” dog breeds in the world.

There is another breed found in Japan, the Tosa but unfortunately they do not consider these dogs as native breed as this type was specifically developed through cross-breeding to produce a fighting dog.

Akita Inu

History: The Akita’s story is a primeval one. The breed is the descendant of the ancient dog with erect ears and curled tail whose likeness is found carved in the early tombs of the Japanese. The Akita history started around 660 B.C. when dogs were brought in from China and Japan, these dogs were believed to be the early ancestors of the breed. In the early 17th century a nobleman exiled to Akita Prefecture, a northern province on the island of Honshu from which the breed takes its name, encouraged the local aristocracy to develop a powerful hunting dog that possessed superior intelligence and courage. Early on, breed ownership was restricted to members of the nobility, and much ceremony and ritual were attached to it. Leashes indicating the dog and owner’s social rank were used, and a special Akita language was developed. One emperor even passed an edict whereby the breed was to be addressed in honorific terms.

Like Japan’s historical warrior class, the samurai, the Akita became a fighting dog in the late 1800s and early 1900s. During this period, other breeds were infused to enhance its fighting ability. However, after the Akita was declared a national monument in 1931, a movement began with the goal of restoring the breed to its original, pre-fighting form. On the occasion of it’s designation as a natural monument on July 1931, the “Akita dog” was so named for the first time as a Japanese dog. The name was changed from the Odate dog to the Akita dog and nine superior examples of Akitas were designated.

The Akita dog gained sudden fame on October 4, 1932, when a news article on Hachiko entitled, “A Moving Story of an Old Dog” appeared in the Asahi Shinbun (Asahi Newspaper. In the Asahi newspaper the faithfulness of Hachiko was reported, and the reputation of Akitas became well known all over Japan.

Efforts were made in the late 30’s, especially in Odate, to purify the Akita. Thus other Japanese dogs like the dogs from mountainous areas in Hokkaido (medium sized dogs; Matagi dogs from the Tohoku area, Southern Akita, that were larger than other medium sized Japanese dogs and often red in colour with Urajiro; and the Karafuto Dog (long- and shorthaired dog from southern Sakhalin. They are typical of the spitz-type – stocky, curled tail, and erect ears. Red, brindle, and white are the only accepted colors for this breed.

Japanese Akita is not allowed to have a black mask, loose skin, or too much mass. Akitas are work dogs – they are highly intelligent and easily trained, though they are also stubborn, headstrong and bore easily. They are now commonly used as police and guard dogs, though some Akitas are also used in therapy, sledding, and as helper dogs for the disabled. Like several other of the Japanese breeds, Akitas do not bark excessively, and indeed, are silent hunters.

American Akita vs Japanese Akita?

Helen Keller brought the first Akita breed in the US, having heard of Hachiko’s story she began very interested in the breed and was gifted with an Akita puppy during her visit to Japan.  However, during World War II the Akita population was nearly wiped out because their thick coat were being used to line the winter of coats of soldiers going to war. The Akita population would have become extinct if not for a few people (mainly Morie Sawataishi) who saved the Akita by calling them Japanese Shepards and breeding them to German Shepards.

In the years that followed the war, a concentrated effort was made to create a sustainable Akita population. The Akita population in the US grew after the war, when many American servicemen brought Akitas home with them.

Kennel Clubs are still in debate on whether to state that there are two Akita breeds or not. However, due to the efforts of Japanese Associations who wish to return the Akita to its purest form there is now actually two very distinct types of the breed – the Japanese Akita and American Akita.

The Japanese Akita are smaller, and  more delicate  while the American Akitas are larger and more heavy boned.  

An Aristocratic Breed with Regal Appearance

Akitas are the largest of the six original Japanese dog breeds, standing at around 26 to 28 inches, weight is always proportional to height.  Solid coat colors are black, white, fawn and brown. As mentioned earlier, the Japanese Akita are not allowed to have masked or patches while their American counterpart are allowed to have pinto and black masks to give the dog more personality.

Rather than being sloppily affectionate as are some other breeds, the Akita is slightly to highly reserved–even with its owner. Yet, it is an extremely loyal and devoted dog. They are more cerebral than most guard dog types wherein they tend to size things first before reacting to the situation.

Other characteristics that recommend the Akita include the fact that it does not bark excessively. (It was developed to be a silent hunter that attacks without warning.) It is not destructive when properly trained and conditioned as a puppy. (Adult dogs can be left alone while owners are at work. However, until they reach maturity, it is wise to crate puppies and adolescents in the owners’ absence.)

Like other primitive breeds, the Akita is exceptionally easy to housetrain and very clean. This is a fiercely independent breed. They are very kind, faithful and affectionate but also needs to be treated with respect and thoughtfulness as they can react in an unexpected manner when challenged or teased.

A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by otakujade

I have always been a huge admirer of the akita breed. My fascination started with the knowledge that these precious dogs are a breed that is uniquely Japanese, being a huge fan of all things Japanese I naturally gravitated towards them. Then I found Hachiko, some years back. Since then I read and watched everything I could about Hachi. And then comes Mari…..though Mari is not an Akita but rather a shiba inu, a breed that closely resembles the Akita in appearance though smaller. However, the shiba inu is one of the six original and distinct Japanese dog breeds, and the smallest of them too. My youngest son Eugene, introduced her to me.

Knowing how much I love the breed (we’ve been searching for a pure bred Akita Inu but so far have not found one), he came over to me tonight and asked me to view the video he had posted on his Facebook page. Because of their close physical resemblance my son thought that Mari was an Akita and he knew I would want to view the video. Well, Mari isn’t an Akita but her story is worth writing about and she is worth our love and admiration…here is her story….

On the fateful morning of October 23, 2004, a dog named Mari gave birth to three puppies in Yamakoshi Village, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. That evening, a severe earthquake struck Niigata and devastated the Village, causing almost all of its homes to collapse, including the one where Mari lived. During the quake the newborn puppies were jolted away from their mother, and since their eyes were still closed, they could not find their way back to her side. Also, because she was bound by a leash, Mari could not reach her babies. She tried repeatedly to pull free from the leash, but to no avail. Then, several tremors occurred and Mari tried even harder to break free until her neck began to bleed. Suddenly, another strong aftershock struck, Mari struggled with all her might, and the collar suddenly came loose. Next she quickly picked up her puppies, moved them to a safe place, and without taking a rest ran toward the ruins that were once her house.

Courageous rescue of grandfather

The grandfather of Mari’s family was home alone that day. He lived on the second floor, but suffered from a neurological disorder that made it impossible for him to stand on his feet or climb the stairs unassisted. After the earthquake, the old man was immobilized as he had been trapped beneath a wardrobe. Aftershocks and the total darkness resulting from a power outage pushed him into desperately thinking that death might be around the corner. Just then, Mari appeared in his room on the second floor and looked at him with encouraging eyes. The grandfather had been slipping into unconsciousness, but when he saw Mari he regained awareness although he was still immobilized. Mari then licked him to give him encouragement and went downstairs several times to check on her pups before quickly returning to the man’s room. She ran back and forth many times even though her paws had been injured by the sharp-edged glass and pieces of porcelain that lay all over the floor. Each trip gave her new wounds, but Mari managed to kindle new hope in the grandfather’s heart, and looking at Mari he thought, “I must live on. I cannot give up,” Finally, he pushed at the wardrobe with all his strength, it gave way and he managed to free himself. Then with Mari’s encouragement, the grandfather spent two hours climbing down the stairs—a feat he had previously been unable to accomplish without help. Upon reaching the ground floor, he was happy to find that the three puppies were safe and sound.

A sad parting and further ordeals

After the October 23, 2004 earthquake Yamakoshi Village was in a state of total destruction and isolation as all local roads had been cut off. And with a continuous series of aftershocks increasing the danger of landslides, on October 25 all the villagers were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby accommodation center. Under these circumstances, the grandfather was forced to leave Mari behind for in times of disaster saving human lives is the main concern. He left all of his pet food for his beloved dog, prayed that she and her pups would be safe and took off her collar. Then, with no other options, as he boarded the helicopter to leave behind the one who had saved his life, he said with guilt and sadness, “I’m very sorry, Mari,” and felt heart-broken as Mari howled in deep sorrow. As time passed and her supply of rations ran out, Mari had to search for food in her abandoned village, suffering many ordeals as she tried to protect her little puppies. All the while the grandfather thought of her constantly, and with anxiety over the continuing tremors fell ill and had to be hospitalized. Then two weeks after the evacuation, the villagers were allowed to return to Yamakoshi to see their homes. Among the returnees was the man’s son, who immediately began to search for Mari. Upon finding her, he noticed that she was much thinner, and she hesitated for an instant after hearing her name but then dashed toward him. He held her close in his arms for a long time. Mari had not had enough food for herself, but she fed her babies milk and took care of them as well as she could. In contrast to their skinny mother, the three puppies looked chubby and healthy as they slept sweetly on the porch. The son was delighted to see the little pups growing up in good health. Before Yamakoshi Village was reconstructed, the villagers remained in temporary housing in a neighboring city. Being in charge of advertising affairs for the village committee, the son was a busy man so he placed Mari and her puppies in the care of another family. When the grandfather was still in the hospital, Mari’s caretaker took her to visit him. Thus, after undergoing countless trials, Mari and the old man were finally reunited. Mari was very happy to see the man, who was recuperating and said with quivering lips and tears filling his eyes, “Thank you for saving my life.” Then in April 2005 the grandfather was discharged from the hospital and began living with his son and Mari in an apartment. By that time Mari’s three puppies had been adopted by other families and were growing up healthily in their new homes. Today, the grandfather and his family are still living in the apartment but look forward to returning soon to Yamakoshi Village.

Fireworks for Mari

Mari’s touching story, which illustrates the mutual trust and love between humans and animals that helps them through ordeals, has frequently been reported in the news media and has also been adapted as an illustrated storybook — Mari of Yamakoshi Village and Her Three Pups. The book has received a huge response in Japan and serves as a great inspiration for disaster victims. The company that published the volume is contributing part of its sales revenues to the reconstruction and relief funds for areas affected by the October 2004 earthquake, and distributes the book free of charge to children in Yamakoshi Village and its thirteen neighboring cities. On August 2, 2005, the villagers held a fireworks celebration in their city of refuge just as they do in their home town each year, and this year event was entitled “Fireworks for Mari.” While participating in the festivity they wished that Yamakoshi Village could be recovered as quickly as possible. Amid the dazzling light and smoke of the fireworks, Mari’s radiant smile seemed to fill the night sky, bringing hope and encouragement to the spectators.

story published by Japan News group

http://www.godsdirectcontact.org/eng/news/160/an1.htm

 

In 2007, a movie was made based on the true story of Mari. The film was directed by Ryuichi Inomata.  The film mostly focused on the trials of the people rather than the dogs which is really irritating but even with less focus on them this movie is a sure tear-jerker.  I just hope that they focused more on the trials suffered by the dogs rather than the people involved because really, the dogs are the real story here.  But putting that aside the movie is still worth the watch..just be sure to have several rolls of tissues ready. It is also note worthy to mention that one of the gravitating factors in the movie was the theme song which was sang by Kobukoro, entitled Tsubomi. So beautiful.