Astig Maging Iba

Whoever thought of Chito Roño’s Spirits’ tagline, “Astig maging iba,” hits, consciously or not, into an ambiguous richness characteristic of poetic expressions. Astig comes from the Tagalog “tigas,” which literally translates as hardness or solidity; the more proper idiomatic translation in English, however, is “cool.” Iba, of course, is “different” or “others.” The intensity of the line comes from “maging,” which can mean either “to be” or “also,” thus the expression is both: “It’s cool to be different,” and “Others are also cool.” Since “iba” here connotes both the self and the other, “Astig maging iba” is tantamount to saying that, paradoxically, “everyone is cool.” But of course, I may be overreading.

Being an avid viewer of primetime shows, I can say that Spirits is the coolest soap that graced the Philippine TV in recent years. Its script and special effects are far from being perfect, but it’s the best we’ve had yet, as far as I can remember. Although plot-driven (with a very fast-paced storyline), the writer (Shugo Praico—is he Japanese, or is it just a nom de plume?) knows how to give his characters depth and motivation.

The episode ends last night with Red, Maya and Thor wondering whether what they saw in the hospital were mere illusions, or suggestions of what actually happened in the past; with Lloyd troubled of his supposed destiny that involves the killing of his friends; with an enigma left on the glass door in the hospital, apparently left by the spirit of Red’s “brother,” which says: “hanapin ang bulag” (I am betting it’s Gabby; she’s one of the lead characters, and she’s supposed to have some powers, but, unlike her friends, experiences a blindness, and is unable to tap her gift); and with Dong and Nato finally having their chances to get the mysterious libretto from Brida (or is it Brita?). Astig.

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