Thursday, July 26, 2007

Senior Rambling

"Literature used to be my escape. But now I'm running away from it."

April said that. But I can relate.

I've been using Cinemalaya and the 3-for-100 promo at Dencio's across from the CCP as my most recent excuse for running away from anything to do with reading and writing. April has seen this first hand.

RJ was in town from Dumaguete; I found myself in Mag:net with him this week even if we were never that close to begin with.

Would've been back at Mag:net the following night when Sir Joel requested for an audience while he spinned; sadly, I ran out of money.

Editorial duties for KATIPUNAN has also played its role in keeping me distracted. Nothing like professionalism to get in the way of passion. (Though the politics of it have led to my wondering recently who I'm really working for in this org. Fuck it! Just keep delivering the goods.)

The most creative thing I've written over the past few weeks was a cheesy yearbook write-up at Audrey's request; I doubt that she'll even like it.

The Heights Workshop is this weekend and I've been invited to come and share in the writerly spirit of fellows and panelists; I find myself grappling between that or another three movies at the CCP (and another 3-for-100 after).

And I'm finding all the allotted time under the reading light in my room being taken away by stacks of history and philosophy things I have to go through (and understand) if I expect to graduate.

And that's where I was this morning, reading about the peasant unrest over the elite landlords of Nueva Ecija in the '40s, when Sir Larry Ypil, thesis adviser, called me on my cell, wanting to talk about my thesis.

We hung up after an agreed-upon 1:30PM meeting tomorrow and a recommendation to study up on two writers that "would interest me" (John McPhee and someone else). Then came three texts from him in less than three minutes:

"Can you bring a printout of two of your essays ... I'm interested in the kind of language you use in your work. And your tone."

[beep beep, beep beep]

"And list of favorite authors and books. I want to figure out where you're coming from aesthetically... and politically. hehe"

[beep beep, beep beep]

"and vs naipaul!"

Shit, I need to get my act together! Thesis! Thesis! Thesis!

[beep beep, beep beep]

"Guys dinner-inuman at my house tom, around 830?"

That text was from Cindy. She's supposed to be worried about her thesis too. But give her a break; it's her birthday tomorrow. (Meaning more escapism for me.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Out Now!

KATIPUNAN July 2007: Battle Bruises

Monuments are just as much bruises of a people battered by history as they are celebratory markers of momentous snippets in time. Through them arises an irony of celebrating past battles in a present not worth boasting about, as well as the choosing to celebrate certain moments while neglecting others.

The scene of a monument, and not just the monument itself, then becomes a battle for memory, significance, and tomorrow. This month, KATIPUNAN Travel visits two often overlooked shrines within the metro, and explores the role of monuments in society today amidst their interaction with the urgency of current evils.

"Of Pinaglabanan: The Muse of Sacrifice" by Martin Villanueva and Cindy Custodio.
"Simon de Anda's Lost Cause" by Isel Garcia and Justin Gatuslao.
"Built to Last" by Glee de Guzman.


Also in the issue:
Lance Chua on how Filipinos are truly affected by the peso appreciation boasted by Philippine government. / Sasha Martinez interviews Dean Alfar about Speculative Fiction. / Aga Dela Torre on preparations for upcoming typhoon season. / (Memoir)izing about smiles, solvent, and shit.

(KATIPUNAN is independently published by students of the Ateneo de Manila University. Can be bought (Php40) from staffers and editors around campus. Orders also taken here or at

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Week of July Press

Monday. I text all the section editors, tell them that I'm dedicating Tuesday, 1PM to 4:30, for consultations. I meant for article and/or writing staff-related problems.

Star section editor April replies: "What if my personal life is, like, affecting my performance? Like, yesterday, my dog didn't want to play w/ me, and I was like, sooo sad, you know? So I like, put off researching for my innarview, and I just did it this morning, right? How do I make myself better, or, like whatever? You want me to discuss this w/ you like, tomorrow?"

Sarcasm thankfully. Almost enough to make me quit.


Tuesday. Chips and salsa at Cantina. Kor's midafternoon treat. Chips are gone, still a lot of salsa left. I buy Chippy at Seven Eleven, bring it back to Cantina. Problem solved.

Kor wants to apply for KATIPUNAN, under HR. She asks what the job entails.

"Di ko sure. Kung may problema yung isang staffer, you have to talk to him or her ata, so that the work can still be done and sent to me."

"I can do that."

"Sige, practice... Kor, may problema ako."

"Awww. So, you like, wanna talk about it?"

"No. Not really."

"So, inom tayo?"



Saturday night. Eleventh hour of press. Behind schedule; have to sleep over. I text Niks: "niks, gising na ba kayo sundays 7am? makikiligo sana ako dyan bukas..hehe. overnight press kami ngayon".

No reply.

Sunday, 7AM. Aga's first to wake up. The rest of the edboard still asleep.

"Uwi muna ako. Babalik ako in 30 minutes."

I yawn. "Kailangan ko ng toothpaste, dude."

"Sige, sige. I'll bring." Aga leaves.

Reply from Niks finally received, read 9AM, with bad breath and oily skin: "Just read ur msg. Yes, its ok."

I take a trike to their place in Varsity Hills. Little Aly and Ariana are both downstairs—Aly in a bright red dress—playing with Daddy Je. They kiss Ninong Martin—oily skin and all.

Parang kulang ka sa tulog a,” says Je.

Oo nga e.”

Na sa taas pa si Nikki.”

I go up, Lola greets me at the door.

Niks greets me. “Sorry late yung reply ko. Slept early last night.”

“OK lang.”

Na sa CR pa si Cory.”

Sige lang. I’ll wait.”

Nakita mo yung inaanak mo sa baba?


“Birthday niya ngayon. Nakalimutan mo, no?

“Ay shit. Oo nga, no?” Pause. “Ano meron? Spaghetti? Fried chicken? Ice cream?”

Wala. Kahapon pa yun.”

Ay. Sayang.” Pause. "Pahiram ng towel."


Back at the "office." Twenty-seventh hour of press. Aga finally returns.

"Sorry, natulog ako sa dorm. Kailangan mo pa ng toothpaste?"


Twenty-eighth hour of press. Poet cum head photog Nikay counts with her fingers with April.

"What're you doing?"

"Writing photo captions."

"Why you counting?"

"Syllables. Para haiku ang dating."


Twenty-ninth hour of press. All sections assoc-closed. I'm drained.

"Can I go home now?"

"Actually na-close mo na lahat, so puwede," says EIC Aeli.

"Yey." About to stand up, flop back onto chair. "Teka lang. Gathering energy muna. Parañaque pa ako. Layo."

Energy drink: Coke—my third can of the day.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On Wiesel

To understand who Elie Wiesel is as a writer is to understand a man who wakes up everyday almost with a feeling of being nothing but a worthlessly guilty son of a bitch. I use such candor only to point out the intensity of what this man has survived, and how his grappling over what he calls a “miracle” (and what others would call luck) consumes his entirety and inevitably spills out in his writing.

In understanding all of this through reading his piece, “Why I Write: Making No Become Yes,” the question of why he writes becomes arbitrary, a fly hovering around a wounded man. Writing becomes nothing but a tool for his own personal healing, which he shares with the world in hopes of empowering us in strengthening ourselves.

“I can imagine” is conveniently overused. But it’s a cliché I’ll apologetically employ, because the horror of the Holocaust is something I won’t ever wish to experience firsthand. Often, we just read about this in books, see it in films or documentaries. But Wiesel has lived through it, and perhaps this is an even greater horror than having been killed.

Wiesel’s having survived the Holocaust now makes him a sacrificial child of sorts—for the millions of lives lost. And he truly believes this: that he is now obligated to testify about the horrors of those times, to remind humanity how dehumanized man can become.

“I believe that, having survived by chance, I was duty-bound to give meaning to my survival, to justify each moment of my life.”

Take note of the last part of the quote: “to give meaning to my survival, to justify each moment of my life.” It’s a tiresome mindset to uphold—perhaps even self-defeating. But that’s what the experience of the Holocaust has made Wiesel: a man who flirts with feeling almost unworthy of life. Therefore, when Wiesel writes, “Not to transmit an experience is to betray it,” I believe it is a statement meant to point out who is to gain from his writing: (1) the readers—as a ways to not only honor the dead but also to understand the issues the Holocaust brings to light; (2) himself—as a means towards acceptance, towards peace.

“I write to understand as much as to be understood.”

Writers, or writer wannabes, often wax philosophical about the constant need for a muse. In a deranged way, I wonder if Wiesel wished he could get rid of his. While many a writer find inspiration from persons and places of beauty, Wiesel is inspired by having survived hell in its ugliest light here on earth—a deafening inspiration of muffled screams and “primitive,” animalistic cries.

“Why do I write? Perhaps in order not to go mad. Or, on the contrary, to touch the bottom of madness.”

A peaceful life for Wiesel would perhaps see him do something else instead of writing—if it were to mean not having lived through the Holocaust. Or maybe he catches himself at times in solitude wishing he had never made it through at all—instead communing safely with the others who died, in a place away from the world that allows such atrocities to happen. But that is not reality. That’s not what luck—some say fate—had in store for Wiesel.

I’m guessing that there’s been a lot of accepting on his part, and a lot more of it to be done. But in what little I know of him, and it’s really only through his writing, I see that he’s done well—not that the Nobel Prize winner needs my affirmation. Still, his is a position I wouldn’t trade places for, no matter how great of a writer it might have made me.
Oo, writing assignment 'to para sa isang class. Naka-post dito para mukhang matino 'tong blog ko.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Name Play

Laguna Bay is not a bay. The Philippine Chaplin was called Canuplin. Bencab is not a taxi but a National Artist. GMA is both a TV station and a president. "Pare" backwards was one of our nation's enemies.