Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Self Published My Novella, What Next

     After having a cup of coffee in my favorite cafe, I moved to the shaded spot in the park. The elderly gentleman who frequented that spot and who often struck a conversation with me asked about the book I was writing. I said,
    Yes, I finished my novella and posted it on Smashwords which in turn distributed it to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony and a host of others.
    He was happy about it and hoped to read it. Well, who knows, a person can never have enough romance.
Last December 8, I was able to finally publish my romance novel. This exercise instilled in me the value of perseverance, patience and the knowledge that every drop of sweat is worth it.
    Before I joined the #romanceclass, I had 3,000 words of a scene, which I have kept in my creative box(which is of course imaginary). I didn't know how to move on from there.
    Then I joined the #romanceclass, mentored by bestselling romance authoress Mina V. Esguerra. The class met once every two months in cafes where we swap experiences on writing.
    I was egged on by the knowledge that after finishing it, it would be published. And by following certain guidelines, doing research, comparing notes, writing 500 words a day (my own choice of pace for now),I was able to do it.

I have learned that:
1.I want to write.
2.Writing is a need for me.
3.Although not everyone would support you, the few ones that you can find are priceless.
4.After writing the first one, there's a second one.
5.Learning is fun.
6.I have found my Alaska.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano

       An unlikely meeting of two people from different walks of life, this enthralling story makes you sit back and relax, savor life under the Boracay sun while the sand trickles on your toes. It's such a refreshing take on life in these islands. A tall glass of icy tropical juice and a book. Perfect. 
      The story opens with Gio, a museum curator and a boy from the islands, being harrassed by a group of Koreans having a photo shoot. He meets Jang Min Hee, the mystery girl, for the first time. The girl seems bent on annoying the protagonist Gio who's traditional and sensible.
       Boracay, the setting for Chris Mariano's first novel, is a Mecca for tourists all over the world. Her characters meet in a place that’s famous for meeting beautiful strangers. What a perfect backdrop for a love story that has a scent of mystery. The author pulls it off with her handsome but grounded lead character, a curator in charge of a museum in Boracay. There he meets a girl whose background is shrouded with secrecy.
     The book's strength lies in its down to earth narrative, a reflection of Gio, the main character in whose eyes the story is revealed. It's a fun read and gives a deeper dimension to a place we only know as a stopover, a respite for weary souls. 

About the Book

Ever since Jang Min Hee walked into Gio’s small museum, she’s given him one excuse after another about why she’s vacationing at scenic Boracay Island. Rarely has Gio’s neat and organized world been shaken like this. Soon he finds himself scrambling over rocks, hiding in dressing rooms, and dragging her out of bars. But how can Gio tell what’s true from what isn’t? Their worlds are getting unraveled – one story at a time.

You can purchase this book on Kindle and

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Tour Stop: Vintage Love by Agay LLanera

Giveaways:      3 Swag Bags from Author AgayLlanera, including a paperback copy of Vintage Love and trinkets.

I like old things. The word vintage brings a sepia mood, makes me want to eat halo-halo at Little Quiapo, lets in a couple of throwback photos inside my head, which makes me a sap for anything sentimental.Who isn't? Vintage=romance. The equation maybe subjective, but upon reading the novella Vintage Love,my heart was tickled pink. The pacing was just right, a very entertaining read.

 "  “There’s something inside the pocket.” She took out a wrinkled photograph of a young man channeling James Dean—complete with the slicked-back hair, the white polo tucked in tight jeans, and pointy        leather shoes. His arms were folded while he leaned against a gleaming Vespa.

 But unlike the Rebel without a Cause star, there wasn’t anything brooding about this guy.
 He was laughing at the camera, his eyes crinkled at the corners.  "
                                                                                              -Vintage Love 

So goes an excerpt that will hook and melt your heart.


26-year-old Crissy Lopez’s life is in dire need of a makeover. Her wardrobe revolves around ratty shirts and beat-up sneaks; her grueling schedule as a TV Executive leaves no room for a social life; and worst of all, she’s still hung up on the Evil Ex who left her five years ago.

When her fashionable grand-aunt passes away and leaves behind a roomful of vintage stuff, the Shy Stylista inside Crissy gradually resurfaces. Soon, she feels like she's making progress -- with a budding lovelife to boot! But the grim ghost of her past catches up with her, threatening to push her back into depression. To finally move on, Crissy learns that walking away is not enough. This time, she needs to take a leap of faith.

Purchase Vintage Love at the following links:

·         Smashwords:

Agay Llanera is a freelance writer for television and video, and a published writer of children’s books. She is a member of KUTING, a private, non-stock, non-profit organization, which aims to be the Philippines’ foremost writers’ organization for children. Email her at

·         Twitter: @agayskee
·         Blog:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tour Stop: Hello by Addie Lynn Co

Addie Lynn Co’s Hello is a series of heart warming romances with contemporary settings. The three stories in the book tell of the journey of people whose search for love bring them to unexpected destinations.

The Yes, I'm Writing a Contemporary Romance Novella group (a.k.a. #romanceclass) mentored by top selling romance authoress Mina V. Esguerra has spawned this book about love and serendipity. Happy accidents, moments or whatever you call it, it is life's journey and it starts with one Hello.


What if The One actually walks up to you and even says hello, would you greet back or turn your back unknowingly that you have actually met? Would you know when you’ve actually met?

Serendipity is a funny thing that brings a tinge of bittersweet bliss to anyone who is fortunate to experience it. Hello is a trilogy that explores how serendipitous life can sometimes be.

Definitely, Maybe is a story of how fate plays with two people as they meet each decade hoping that maybe this time around, they can finally be together.

Almost Mismatch tells how two people so right for each other be so wrong and no matter how much they try to suppress their feelings, true love will not stop at anything. What is meant to be will be.

Finally, Dinner Date portrays how two people’s search for love could take them to different places and people only to lead them back to where they started.

The world is just like a huge maze that no matter what direction one walks to, there will always be one final destination. There seems to be an invisible string that is handcuffed to two people on each end and unsuspectingly pulls these two people destined for each other back together no matter how long it takes.

Here are the prizes that you can grab at the rafflecopter.
Copies of the Hello Trilogy and some trinkets!


Addie Lynn Co
 Addie grew up reading Sweet Valley High books and Nancy Drew 
mystery books. She finished a degree in Communication Arts and really wanted to pursue a career in film making but due to high production costs of a film,she opted to tell her stories through her novels. Being the hopeless romantic that she was, she will stop at nothing to share her passion with everyone and hopes that she could infect others with it. She’s a daydreamer by day and an author by night.


You can purchase Hello through these links.

·         Facebook:
·         Smashwords:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez: An Analysis

Genre: Short Story
Circa: 1912

Before anything else, this is my favourite short story. The reason can be anything from the style, the romantic overture, the sadness that it evokes, the fact that it was written by a woman in 1912, and continues to be one of the best short stories in Philippine Literature. 

Alfredo Salazar- a thirty something man who is torn between two women
Don Julian Salazar- Alfredo’s father
Carmen Salazar- Alfredo’s sister
Judge Del Valle- neighbor who lives at the house on the hill
Dona Adela del Valle- Judge’s wife
Julia Salas- Dona Adela’s sister; Alfredo’s inamorata
Esperanza- Alfredo’s fiancée

 Dead Stars remains the quintessential love story.
At first glance, we are introduced to the protagonist Alfredo whose coming wedding moves the plot along. He is shown as confused, almost baffled by the way his life went.
His betrothed, Esperanza, now past thirty, the age which at that time is way past marrying age, can sense his changing demeanor towards her.
We also come to know that he is feeling this way because he meets a woman named Julia Salas. Here, the next scenes show the romance that materializes from the acquaintanceship.
Julia is fast in acknowledging why they feel so. “You have known me a few weeks, so the mystery”. Is it this getting to know stage that seems to boil the blood of past his prime Alfredo? And is this feeling of rush in one’s head  Alfredo’s equation of love?

But Alfredo‘s excitement wanes after four years of being engaged. He finds himself one day looking out the window wondering if he truly has any feelings left for Esperanza.
At the time of his confusion, he meets Julia Salas who seems to return his affection. So he flirts with her and she with him. How thrilling it is to meet someone new, a veritable stranger, mysterious and aloof.

How many times does Alfredo feel this way in the story?
To recall his past experience with his fiancée Esperanza by quoting Carmen, his sister, “ –at the beginning he was enthusiastic- flowers, serenades, note, and things like that,” when talking about Alfredo and Esperanza’s love affair.
And yet at the time he thinks love is “the eternal puzzle”.

It would be prudent for us to ask a few pertinent questions:
1.       Do you think Alfredo is unique in this situation?
2.       Alfredo has flaws and redemptive traits, what are some of them?
3.       What happens to his love affair with Esperanza? With Julia?
4.       Compare and contrast the two affairs by quoting lines as evidence. Which do you think is “real love”?
5.       How does Alfredo feel about Julia in the end?
6.       What is the meaning of the title?
To analyze further, let’s delve on the characters and how they help develop the story:
1.       Why does Don Julian answer “In love? With whom?” when asked by Carmen “Papa, do you remember how much in love he was?”
2.       Describe Julia. Is she a woman of extraordinary traits?
3.       Describe Esperanza. How does she compare with Julia?

From then on, he believes he loves Julia more than he loves Esperanza. For Esperanza, he only has affection, not the passionate feeling he has for Julia. But as they are bound by rules and mores of that generation, Alfredo decides against his heart, and marries Esperanza as promised.
Years pass and we find Alfredo still mooning for a lost love, a love that is never quenched and longs to be fulfilled. He searches for her in a distant town, a place he wants to find solace if he ever finds Julia.
He finds her. And in their reunion, he sees a different person. No, not because of lost youth, he finds her to be different from that person he perceived her to be all these years. And he is disenchanted. The illusion he harbors all these years are nothing but dead stars, long dead but emits light that seems real for the distance it has to travel, light being seen even if the source has lost its own brightness.

Love, what it is, what it can be, what people perceive it to be. If a man can only find love as something that will get him excited, then he is in for disappointment. He will never find true love if he doesn't know how to love somebody else other than himself.
Discontent-people often display lack of contentment with what they have. They usually struggle in life looking for things that will satisfy their urge for excitement, hedonistic pursuits and the like.

Dead Stars- are for all intents and purposes, dead or nonexistent. But because of the sheer distance that the light has to travel, we still see the light that came from it, even if it already faded away. So disilusionment, reminiscent of the past that doesn't exist anymore can be what dead stars symbolize.

At every turn, Paz Marquez Benitez startles me with her use of words. Words like whirling second, piquant perverseness, ghost of sunset sadness, unvexed orthodoxy of her mind, and a lot more.
This story takes us somewhere- ”Elsewhere”,  makes us wonder about choices,  regrets, and the definition of love.

Click here to view the complete short story.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Yes, I"m Writing a Contemporary Romance Novella!

I joined a workshop in writing. It's called "Yes, I'm Writing a Contemporary Romance Novel". And here was my newspaper article in Manila Bulletin.

            Summer is here, you grow restless and dreamy. And then you suddenly think about the book you have dreamed of writing for the longest time.
             Perhaps you’re one of those who have read hundreds of romance books when you were young; or even now, an incorrigible passionista who one day decided to change places with your favourite writer and for once get the ending that you really ache for.
             So here you are, armed with a laptop and a mother lode of ideas that you think would catapult you to the bestsellers’ list ( or at least to be officially called an  “ author”) . But wait a minute, between actually coming up with the idea and signing a contract with a publisher is a whole gamut of complex decisions, sleepless nights and hopefully, growth. It is not unlike giving birth to a child, according to many writers.
             Last March 17, a handful of hopeful romantics met for the second time to discuss the specifics of their outlines for a romance novel in English. This writing workshop is ongoing and our group dynamics is in session 24/7 in Facebook, with everybody pitching in with ideas that may lead to the development of the stories. There are 99 members in this group. Right now, 37 submitted their outlines for love stories.
             Topselling romance novelist Ms. Mina V. Esguerra who organized the group facilitated and got the set to talk about their methods on how to tickle the readers and their preferences for love scenes. Yes, believe it or not, the icky stuff. Called “Yes, I’m Writing a Contemporary Romance Novella”, this class meet each month and lay out what they have accomplished that time.

            Mina V. Esguerra has written eight books, the latest, which is The Interim Goddess of Love, is about Hannah Maquiling (name sound familiar?) a second year college student who was given a job as a temp . Her mission? To be the goddess of love and help the world (or at least her campus) cope with love (or the lack of it).The Interim Goddess of Love has been out in the bookstores since January 2013. It can also be bought and read online where Ms. Esguerra self published it on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble.
            The authoress has been guiding us all throughout to make this arduous and beautiful task easier .  And what is the point of this exercise? What else but to come up with a 30,000 word novel at the end of six months. Wow. One wonders is it possible for the mostly virgin novel writers? Yes, most members have never written a novel, although a couple of girls have published Tagalog Romance novels under their belts.
             Many concerns were tackled every meet up. Like how to create fascinating and believable characters. We learned that to be able to write the story we must first give breath to the characters. And, like what Hemingway said, they are people. “Characters are caricatures,” unable to satisfy a reader’s emotional needs. We must write about people. Writing the history of a person, from the moment  she was born (at least on paper), her physical looks, the way she thinks, her quirks, is the backbone of the story. For many writers, the characters are the most important part of the story.
          Someone said that writing can only be taught to one who already has the gift for words. Seeing these interesting women (and man) who are bound by their love for reading and want to take it to the next level-which is writing, I have discovered that it is not only the gift of words, but the passion and the romance that these people believe in.
         Because no matter how a writer detaches herself from her main character, chances are she lives the character’s life for awhile until the words that say the end.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Escape: Caleruega Experience

Summer in Japan is August, and since I’m an English teacher at the Manila Japanese School, we get to have one month summer vacation in the rainy season.

       So here’s the predicament that I always encounter in many an August summer past. How do I spend it when it’s almost always raining?

     We do not question rain in August. But one whole month of being cooped up does not do justice to the will that is inherent in us. So in the spirit of experiencing the great outdoors, rain or no rain, we marched on, armed with cameras, pocket money, determination and a toothbrush.
       I also checked the weather forecast hoping against hope to at least have a nice weather. Of course I was disappointed. The weather report said drizzle in the morning, rain in the afternoon, rainstorm in the evening and clear at night. Same was to happen next day. I did not want to dampen(sic) my spirit. But I imagined a drizzly early morning where we can enjoy the gardens of Caleruega and a hot coffee at one strange, mystical cafe where they do cafedomancy.

         At five in the morning we headed to Nasugbu while sombre skies with pewter clouds hovered above us.
 We took a left at Evercrest Golf and Country Club. Along the way there was an abundance of yellow flowers on the roadside sprinkled amongst the short grasses. We passed by one or two cows grazing on the edge of the road.
        Then we shifted our eyes and feasted on a beautiful though cloudy Batulao mountain, serenely gazing at the green fields that was spread below the horizon.

        As promised, the sun did not appear, but there was no rain either. Anyway, we enjoyed our luck so far.
The gate of Caleruega was not grand. It was very simple as it opened itself to retreatants and day visitors like us into its arms.
        I was excited though because I know that beyond the bend was a surprise. I’m a sap for “secret” places.
So there is this long path which was fenced in on the left by large piled up stones making a wall.
        Hiking that path will not only give you a feeling of deep serenity, it will also lead you to springs of water strategically placed along the sides for thirsty travellers.
        Before you reach the end of that path, your eyes would have rested upon a koi pond. Zen was the word that popped into my mind. We tarried on the wooden planks that served as walkways, peeking at the kois idling in the water.
         It was a huge picnic place.There was even a bon fire set up for campers( for a minimum of 20 pax).
Beyond that garden was a hanging bridge that opens to an even wider field. If you hike that trail you would find yourself in the Tent Chapel.

        At the administration building which we have skipped unknowingly, there was a shortcut to the Transfiguration Chapel. This was situated in one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen. Well maintained with personal touches of the landscape artists. Kudos to whoever they are.

Entrance fee: 30Php
Picnic tent:250Php

Admin Building at the background

Koi Pond

Transfiguration Chapel

Friday, June 7, 2013

Aries Alcayaga/Behind Philippine Stage


John Aries lives alone in a studio type room in the Mandaluyong area. He begins his day usually having brunch in a fastfood restaurant, and at near noontime he takes a taxi, to CCP, or to Quezon City where the PETA building is. For the past 16 years his life revolved around theatre. Now, he is the most sought after stage manager on Philippine stage for his all consuming passion for his craft.

For the restaging of Rama, Hari, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, John Aries delves on the working scripts transcribing, listening and watching from the 1980’s video of the first Rama, Hari dance musical in the Philippines. John Aries’ job includes comparing the old script with Bienvenido Lumbera’s libretto and checking through music sheets of master composer Ryan Cayabyab.

John Aries calls for the rehearsal of the Rama,Hari a dance musical featuring Christian Bautista, Karylle and O.J.Mariano and danseur par excellence Jean Marc Cordero, to make sure that the timing is smooth according to the timeline.
Why does he rehearse the performers when it’s the director’s job, you ask, well, a stage manager makes sure that everything and everyone in the theatre works like a clock, a ticking , self oiling machine that never misses a beat. So he needs to be in sync with the performers, and the performers take the cue from him so that they in turn can work together with the technical side of the stage.

You see, without the technical side, the sounds, the lights, the costumes, the props, the stage is one boring place. It only comes alive if all the elements are there. Lights, sounds, magic!

Stage managers make it possible for the actors, singers and dancers to be more than what they can be on stage. The depths and dimensions of the stage can only be achieved by the technical workings of the stage crew managed by the stage manager. The director, to be able to focus on the performance of the actors, leave all these technical matters to the stage manager.

The stage manager’s brain is connected to all the wires of the act. Is the spotlight on Jen Marc Cordero while he sails across the stage? Is the lapel working perfectly and clearly when O.J. takes that high note? How about Karylle’s costume and make up?

 The stage manager’s crew, the assistant stage manager, the costume mistress, lights and sounds men and props men are all well coordinated as to what they should do because everything happens fast in a performance.
 And these are all happening backstage. Nobody sees them. They are like shadows lurking at the back, working as hard if not harder than the ones onstage but remaining unnamed and unappreciated. They are essentially part of the script but they cannot be noticed like the air that we breathe.

Timing is everything, and the stage manager, like a conductor, makes sure everybody is doing his part in the right place, at the right moment.

On stage, unlike in the real world, mistakes are not allowed, only improvisations.

Pretty much all around, the stage manager is a paradox, the glue that sticks everybody together in the theater and the oil that runs the place smooth as can be. The mother in the household, he keeps the house stabilised,  and keeps to the side so that the spotlight again is on the stars.

John Aries was awarded by the Gawad Buhay!PHILSTAGE for Outstanding Sound Design for Saan Ba Tayo Ihahatid Ng Disyembre . But he says the best part of being in the theatre is the camaraderie. He considers the theatre his family. He breathes, eats and thinks theatre. For the many works he did for the Philippine stage, he only wishes that more Filipinos can and will appreciate the Filipino artists and their crafts.

Philippine theatre which has evolved from the religious to the secular has been fighting for its place under the sun. Artists in the Philippines are like missionaries, they do their stuff out of love, out of passion. When we talk about passion the well is deep.

To many Filipino artists like John Aries, life is like the stage, where not every performance can be recorded nor filmed. It is what it is, evanescent and self fulfilling. Hopefully it will begin to have a place in people’s hearts where it can have a sweeter, more permanent home.

John Aries Alcayaga, one of the stalwarts of Philippine stage has worked with the best, Zenaida Amador (Repertory Philippines), Mario O’hara (PETA),Candice Adea (Ballet Philippines), Eugene Domingo(Bona) Alice Reyes (BP) to name a few.

Right now he’s working on simulta
neous projects.  Aside from Rama, Hari, he’s also the stage manager of Katy! The Musical (PETA) and They’re Playing Our Song.

As always, he's being nominated for best stage sound for Bona at the Gawad Buhay. Goodluck,Aries, the best!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cafe Michelle

               Sometimes all you really need is a little time to be alone. But with all the people in the malls how can you really be alone?  most of the time you bump into people in school or the office.

               I was looking for a venue for a wedding and I found this cute little place in Tiara Hotel that served the most decadent cakes and meanest coffee ever. It's just a hop away from the RCBC Plaza at Buendia Avenue.

                To step inside this coffee shop slash restaurant you feel absolutely relaxed. For one, people hardly find their way here, which is what I like in the place .Sort of a hiding place, a secret corner where i can read and think, away from my other life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mangetsu: Japanese Asian Fusion

The Mangetsu Japanese Fusion Restaurant not only satisfies your craving for non oily authentic Japanese food, the serenity and mood that is evoked by the setting, with its dimmed lights, quiet atmosphere in contrast with the hubbub in the Makati district, will definitely satiate other senses.

Mangetsu means full moon. In Japan, there’s a festival in October when people take a break from harvesting, sip their tea and eat luscious mochi (rice cake) while watching the beauty of the full moon.

The Japanese chef was very enthralling as he animatedly chopped the vegetables with gusto. He was a sport, smiling at the camera and sometimes posing.
It’s hard to describe the flavourful  sauces that were blended with the Filipino taste buds in mind.  But the tuna that melted in my mouth was not easily forgotten. This place is something to be shared with friends and family.

Les Miserables: A Haunting Movie

Google Images

      How many times I have watched Hugh Jackman take off his shirt, flex his muscles, looks at you as if he’s going to eat you alive, I have lost count. How he fought to get this role of an ex convict, shrunken faced and almost robbed of any future in the real world is beyond me.
Jackman’s roles in the past were usually of a devil may care, vagabond nature ( as in Wolverine and in Australia), but his role as Jean Valjean is a complete turnaround, one that will place Hugh Jackman’s name in league with Clark gable(Gone with the Wind) and Charlton Heston (Ten Commandments).

      The film Les Miserables set to hit Philippine theatres on January 16, 2013 is a British musical drama composed by   Claude Michel Schonberg. The original French lyrics is by Alan Boublil and Jean Marc Natel with the English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer . It is based on the nineteenth century French novel by Victor Hugo.

       This cinematic magnum opus directed by Tom Hooper (winner of an Oscar for his direction of The King’s Speech) takes us again into the grease-ly past of nineteenth century France in the throes of a revolution.

      This ambitious undertaking, turning the stage production into a film, has elicited curious and confusing reactions, notably a critique who said it is “unlike any you’ve heard before” and then at the end says nothing really was changed.

      The story of Jean Valjean is not new to many of us. It has as many adaptations in film and television as say, Batman, except that the story of Valjean is steeped with pathos such that no literary masterpiece has ever achieved.  The title which means “The Wretched” is actually very popular in its French name, “Les Miserables”.
      The hero Jean Valjean , who was portrayed by Friedric March(1935), Michael Rennie (1952) and Liam Neeson (1998) among others, is now essayed on screen by the male magnifique Hugh Jackman.

      Jean Valjean, locked up in prison for stealing bread for his sister’s children gets 19 years of hard prison life, and gets out only finding ostracism in a society that can judge a person as easy as looking at a yellow passport that meant one is an ex-convict. Perhaps it is unthinkable for us and at the very least hard to understand how one could be imprisoned for a piece of bread when many politicians steal in front of our eyes, and call it pork barrel.

       I have seen almost all the adaptations and so far the latest has a viselike grip on the core of the story. The songs rendered  live by the actors while acting in the moment presents us with a fresh take on the now too familiar storyline. Expect more in this film. More drama, more magnificent backdrops as in the snow capped mountain scene where Valjean seemed to be imploring the heavens, and the chain gang hauling the galleon to harbour to name a few.
Jean Valjean’s miserable life becomes meaningful, ironically, when a working class woman, Fantine (played by Anne Hathaway), gives him her illegitimate daughter Cossette (played by Amanda Seyfried). Valjean becomes a father to Cossette.

       Hathaway is brilliant in her performance without really trying. Perhaps it is one of those circumstances when an actor is given the role she is meant to do and she wakes up one morning as this particular character. Hathaway has always been cast in cute, yuppie roles (One Day),as a  romantic partner(Love and other Drugs), cuckolded wife(Brokeback Mountain) but never a desperate mother fighting for a child’s well being.

       As tears gush and the audience realize the same hell the destitute Fantine lives in Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream”, one cannot help but become enmeshed in the struggles of the protagonists.

     Jean Valjean, in a twist of faith becomes well-off, takes up the name Monsieur Madeleine. He becomes a respected businessman and mayor of his town. Cossette grows up to be a lady, and falls inlove .

     But Monsieur Madeleine (a.k.a. Valjean) is finally overtaken by his past, when a police inspector by the name of Javert ,  ( played by Russel Crowe ) finds out Madeleine’s real identity. Javert is an obdurate lawman who sacrifices compassion for strict rule.  He knew Valjean when he was a prison guard. Obssessed in capturing  Jean Valjean, he follows him everywhere.

      The musical grandeur of the songs, the sweeping panorama of France in conflict and the stunning performances of the cast is what will set this movie in film history. There’s something in the film that cannot be captured onstage and this is the chance to see the musical in a wider and grander spectacle,  one that is hard to equal. The perspectitive is more real and immediate, and the cinematography flawless.

       The recurring motif of sacrifice is the universal theme that sets this story apart because it is what makes humans soar. Selflessness.  People actually believe in the goodness of Jean Valjean and secretly wish that they can have this characteristic in themselves.

        One example is Valjean’s fight with his conscience in the song ‘Who Am I’?  The authorities catch a man mistaken as Jean Valjean . As we know , Valjean is now Madeleine,  the respected mayor of the town. One of the turning points in the movie,  Jean Valjean  asks himself ‘Who am I’? Can he let a man suffer in prison as he suffered knowing he is innocent?

        To echo the film’s star Hugh Jackman’s sentiment in an interview, the actors were given freedom to reinvent their own depiction of each character and freedom to sing the songs with a conviction of operatic singers having a bad day . The imperfections of Hugh Jackman’s singing made it perfect which I think is what the director wanted in order to bring more humanity and soul to the movie.

        Never has Wolverine’s clenched jaw, warped eyebrows and angry disposition made sense until this movie.

        Prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be haunted, and to all Hugh Jackman fanatics, if you have tears, prepare to shed them now.