Monday, June 22, 2009

Shoot Them Hazardous Big Birds Perching On Billboards

Buwayahman, thank you for pointing a stream of unsuspecting bloghoppers my way, also for sharing my amused incredulity over Bench’s Bleak Is Back campaign, but most importantly for sharing this link, which, after reading it makes me feel good about living in a country where a hard working (pun semi intended) Public Works Secretary selflessly multitask as an MTRCB vigilante, a quack bishop, an urban traffic specialist, a cognitive behavior authority, an ethical guardian and alert defender of humanity’s crusade against hormonal urges. No words can convey my deep admiration to Secretary Ebdane that in order to compensate on this inadequacy I seek inspiration at

I am sure Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane is a fine, God-fearing, conscientious public official who took it upon himself to protect us from our irresponsible ways such as possibly enjoying a crotch shot of Marc Nelson in barely-there briefs too much. Though I will say that Dingdong Dantes as a celestial figure with brushed on tan and airbrushed crotch is a hilarious proposition I must say that to some people it represents a wish Santa will be too cranky to grant come Christmas. In the economics-fueled mind of Ben Chan, this makes a lot of sense. The more people see Dingdong’s dong the more the Bench cash register dings.

“Seriously,” David Sedaris once remarked in one of his public talks when he visited Manila. “There is an actual person named Dingdong?”

Which triggers a semi-philosophical question: What kind of mother would allow her daughter to go to the prom with a guy named Ding Dong without getting alarmed or cracking up?

Would you date a guy named Ding Dong?

But I am digressing.

Much as I might admire the dedicated valiance of Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, I will go on record to say that I am conflicted: if there should be a moral standard prohibiting everything obscene then how come our fine secretary is not making much of a ruckus over being publicly plied with Boy Abunda’s nostrils? Is Abunda's flaming nostrils considered Obscene Lite compared to, say, Rafael Rosell's equally flaming bulge? Which is more sinful? Kris Aquino selling products she doesn't patronize or Katrina Halili's cleavage in yet another Bench outdoor tease?

Shouldn’t a mere mention of Boy Abunda and billboard under the same breath a violation of human rights?

But before you, moralists out there take your machetes out allow me to meditate on that Inquirer piece.

Ebdane has ordered billboard owners to remove the “sexy” ads, saying they distract and slow down motorists, including him.

“They themselves know that some of these billboards are sexually suggestive. They (outdoor advertisers) should voluntarily remove these billboards,” he said.

Sexually suggestive? When our very beloved and outspoken president once said her sex life “IS healthy” during on-air interview no one took issue even if that banter of a statement ripped across our collective consciousness and possibly would be a basis of the rise in classified enrollment in a private academy training emotionally scarred assassins. The entire legislative body going all worked up because some beauty surgeon videotaped his exploits broadcasted during evening news where school kids are given assignments to watch for the next day’s news report in class. What is that then, sexually subtle?

He claimed that sexy advertisements contribute to the worsening of the traffic situation in Metro Manila, already one of the worst in Asia.

Yes, let’s blame the billboards and leave MMDA and corrupt traffic enforcers blameless.

Ebdane noted that these billboards make motorists lose their focus on the road.

We can remedy this. Only Jesus Saves! billboard will be allowed and people would rather stare on asphalt ahead.

DPWH Director for Planning Service Melvin Navarro said that for drivers, a split-second look at the billboards could lead to an accident.

Indeed. While we're at it let’s have Mr. Navarro’s cranium scanned for permanent damage.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bleak Is Back

Surely, you have noticed it. How can you not when traffic conditions in this city would have it that you’d sooner finish Proust’s Remembrance Of Things Past than gain a yard forward in EDSA on a Monday evening? And let's not even linger on the tortures of Friday evenings, which is the ideal time of the week to realize your tardy nervous breakdown. That, or your instant induction to Homicidals Anonymous.

Anyway, I’m drifting far from the main mutton of this entry.

Surely you have noticed Bench’s Black To School billboard along EDSA, somewhere in the neighborhood of Estrella and Buendia. It features hip hop star JayR, beckoning you towards carnal thoughts, with a sly smile and not a stitch more than a black leather jacket and white underwear.

I craned my neck hundreds of feet upwards, making a fine impression of Linda Blair the first time I spot it while speeding off to an appointment in Makati. It was a sight to behold and I am not talking in terms of hormonal considerations.

It was a sight to behold because whoever thought of that idea must be licking hallucinogenic perspirations off exotic frogs’ backs. It was beyond cheeseball. It’s a scream!

Back to school terms in Manila coincides with the rainy season, which coincides with the western nations celebrating summer, which if you meditate upon the disparity, is the equivalent of a climate time warp that proves God has a sense of humor. Or, as steadfast Environmentalists would sternly point out, it’s another infallible proof that Ben Chan must have a naughty fetish to have finally come to terms with publicly.

Leather in a tropical country is beyond bravery. Bench is beyond brave, obviously. Bench must be the only global brand I know who refuse to acknowledge the fact that humans have sweat glands.

Since this is a “Black to School” campaign I am naturally giving it more thought than necessary.

“Black to School” is an attempt at wordplay but in this campaign it has the same wit as George Bush buying a dildo. Why didn’t they just made is easy by declaring “Bleak Is Back” and save everyone the trouble?

(Another possibility: "Blank is Back" in reference to the concept.)

And I am interested to know: Which school would have a black leather jacket, an exposed abdomen and plain underwear as standard academic uniform because I’m anticipating long lines in front of its admissions office!

The concept, art direction and execution points into one speculative route: This kind of uniform can only exist in an elite Prep School where the Director of Student Services took inspiration from a scholarly thesis on Tom Of Finland with complementary extensive research in the archives of Bel Ami Online.

This is a very enticing proposition until I realized another aspect of the Black To School Billboard: the crotch was airbrushed that makes me wonder if instead of a penis JayR found the crotch area as ideal storage for one miniature pillow. Or could it be that this is due to the materials innovation made possible by collaboration with Tempur –Pedic to meet the standards of MTRCB, PANA and approvals of the clergy?

Bench used to convey advertising pieces that make you aspire or dream. This is no longer the case with the label lately, I am not giddy to report. "Black To School" makes this more apparent with its simple mission: cardiac arrest from laughter.

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