Sunday, November 25, 2007


The number 4 in Chinese connotes death. Ming Tsai refuses to plate his dishes with elements numbering 4 in pieces, save for that one time he made spicy chicken with 4 different spices. Chicken of Death, he named the dish if my memory serves me well. A man may choose to forgive; rarely does he forget—betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow. A man I know has been in conflict with his brother for a number of years now. Things have been said behind backs, accusations thrown about like no-look passes. A plate was almost thrown toward one’s head. If it weren’t for an intrusive yaya, blood would’ve have spilled. And to think one brother is already in his fifties, the other in his sixties. Now the man I know has a brother with cancer. Stage 4, rumors say. Metastasized this means, or spread to other organs or throughout the body. The man’s wife hints of reconciliation, ending a cold war a few months old. The man says he’s been praying for his brother. Physical and emotional healing, he pleads from God on his kuya’s behalf. Hopefully this allows him to reassess his life and what he has become. The man’s son begins, Can I just say something? violently scratching the back of his scalp. I’m not talking to you! his father retorts. Then don’t be an asshole, the son mumbles; he bites his tongue. Folk Catholicism is appropriating misunderstood religious practices to a community’s culture. False Catholicism appropriating faith to one's personal convenience. Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein. Physicist, they call him, though Psychologist (or Theologian) wouldn’t have been so fallacious in concept. Genius regardless. A man has Stage 4 cancer; tumors are spreading all throughout his system. Some people make a living by putting together six slabs of wood, varnished, sometimes painted, only to be buried. Knock on wood. A man has Stage 4 cancer; his brother, a nemesis, reduces possible death to a possibility of confession. This brother has a son, six years removed from a battle of his own. That son can’t help but wonder what he himself was supposed to realize, what he feels he missed, who he had wronged, what God wanted him to confess, for apparently possible death is but redemption for a nemesis in this Catholicism that prevails. Chicken of Death, I’m guessing, is best served with steamed rice; relative is serving 4 pieces of it—pun or bad luck.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Maling akala

Something called holistic formation dictates that all of us--regardless of course--take a class on Politics and Governance before graduating. Argh. And to make things worse, my professor's a former congressman. Last I checked, he could be considered as one of those lesser-of-the-evils. But he is a politician, and he speaks like one--says the right things amid a culture of everyone doubting him. So the grudge is noticeable. And I continue to squirm in my corner seat in the classroom, often failing in the goal of just keeping my mouth shut.

Below is a snippet of the draft of the reaction paper I'm supposed to submit to him today. My point: what I hate about Politics and Governance more than the sheenanigans of people in the deceitful field is that they've become the scapegoat for an otherwise stupid people--us.

The state of national affairs in the Philippines can be simplified to a simple loss of manners and a breakdown of what would be widely considered the objectively righteous norms of social decorum between individuals. And it is only when we collectively acknowledge this can anything truly described as change take place.

It is rush hour. The MRT train is crowded—we’ll draw on the sardine can cliché here. A man is standing far from the train’s door. The next stop is where he takes a jeep to go home. Every man for himself: it’s another cliché. He’ll bump and squeeze his way nearer to the door as the train is still moving, hitting women and old men in the process. He calls them nuisances, considers them all insignificant. It’s ironic: all those people he pushed out of his way were all going out at the next stop as well. Yet at the next stop, they are all met by a hoard trying to get into the train. The ones inside barely make it out before the door closes. Every man for himself. I’m the only one that has to get somewhere, the only passenger with things to do.

It is interesting how our idea of politics comes from the Greek concept of a city-state—a polis. I use the term interesting because if my B-average in Philosophy is indicative of comprehension, the polis was run by individuals who people classified as not worthy rather able or gifted—as if blessed by higher powers. It entails a set hierarchy of humanity (women weren’t even considered humans) and also entails a looking down on certain groups of people. And perhaps here we may find a philosophical basis to why government has become everyone’s favorite scapegoat. There’s rarely an emphasis on our responsibilities as citizens of the city-state beyond choosing leaders and making sure they do what they do. Never mind what we do as employees, employers, fathers, sons, neighbors, followers of law, etc. We are lesser beings anyway. Others argue it’s the implementation of laws—or lack there of—that allow such irresponsibility to prevail. But isn’t that adhering to the idea that we are less human than our leaders? Is it so that we do not see the value of order and respect without the threat of legal punishment?

A taxi driver scratches his head; he says where you need to go is not where he is headed. He tries to close a deal where you’ll pay him an additional P50; maghahanap buhay lang siya eh. Apparently his is the only family that needs to be fed, the only kids that need to be sent to school. His head is the only one throbbing. Apparently.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Heights launch!

HEIGHTS Tomo LV Bilang I
16 Nobyembre, Biyernes
3:00NH Colayco Pavilion
Ateneo de Manila University
Tampok ang mga likha nina:
Anne Carly Abad / Victor Anastacio / Erika Bacani / Justine Cabrera / Anne Calma / Douglas Candano / Mikael Co / Michael Coroza / Allan Derain / Genevieve Go / Elie Javier / Mookie Katigbak / Marie La Vina / Petra Magno / Kristian Mamforte / Kevin Marin / Miguel Mercado / Kimberley Ong / Wyatt Ong / Danton Remoto / Edgar Samar / Ali Sangalang / Carina Santos / Jason Tabinas / Alyza Taguilaso / Audrey Trinidad / Martin Villanueva / Mau Wong

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I woke up this morning... the sound of my mom's clamoring downstairs and the voice of my cousin singing in the bathroom.

I checked my email to find 10 messages from my boss, all forwarded musings about current events. I checked the news to find the Celtics are 5-0 and Norman Mailer -- creative nonfiction luminary -- is dead at 84.

I'm called for lunch only to sleep another extra two hours. I walked down to the kitchen at 2PM to find bangus minus almost all its meat; I ate instant noodles instead with the dog asking for biscuits from underneath the kitchen counter.

I like to end my days feeling tired because of productivity. I'm tired, but today I've done little.

I checked my makeshift calendar; the coming week's going to be one of the more hectic starts to a semester I've ever had. I use this as my excuse for doing nothing today; buwelo is to mean a harnessing of energy in this context.

* * *

Three days ago I registered for what is supposed to be the last time at the undergraduate level; my being forced to take Philosophy of Religion in Filipino threatens this expectation. A good friend volunteered to tutor, guaranteeing her patience and her mocking as well.

My mom took the MRT -- against her will -- for the first time that day. She was supposed to sign for my tuition payment only to find the University does not accept her credit card. My mom took the MRT -- against her will -- for the first time that day for nothing.

* * *

As my teacher for two semesters of freshman English, Vince Serrano wore his locks in a ponytail and had us all watch Mike de Leon's Batch 81 and Bayaning Third World while pushing the music of Sonic Youth.

As my teacher for Poetry Seminar when I was a junior, Vince switched to shorter locks, heavily-gelled, while bringing to class audio recordings of Eric Gould and Ezra Pound if not inviting us to Quiapo for poetic inspiration.

Fast-forward. Senior year. Second sem registration. Choices for my last free elective: (1) Fiction Workshop with Krip Yuson -- full; (2) Third World Literature with DM Reyes -- full; (3) Third World Literature with Danton Remoto -- full as well... Modern Poetry it is -- my fourth semester with Vince who now has what others have described as an 'emo' haircut.

* * *

I've come to the realization that I've stopped praying. My religious beliefs -- more so affiliation -- describe it as that moment in between Signs of the Cross. Beyond rudimentary customs, I feel it's that moment of centeredness and self-communion, opening oneself to what others hope to be a higher power whereas I the possibility of something simpler but perhaps more elusive: peace of mind.

* * *

Out of loyalty to close friends, I went to the grand finals of Nescafe Soundskool yesterday at the Philsports Arena (Ultra) in Pasig. Most of the college bands I didn't fancy, save for a select few including Hymn of Siren (of course).

A band called Lazy Susan won; I don't even remember their performance. But of course I was unattentive; did not even avail of the free cup of coffee that came with the P50 ticket. I'm sure the judges knew what they were talking about (or so one would hope).

The night was also a showcase of a lot of the more popular bands in the local scene today.

Watching Rivermaya with their new vocalist was like blasphemy, my abhoring it the only semblance of justice in the world during their two song set.

Everyone after Urbandub was a bit of a let down for me personally (no Terno bands unfortunately), though the energy of Bamboo and Parokya brought life to the stadium in the end.

Manalac's freakishly hyper, messiah-like performance took choke hold of his disciples while converting the few cynics in attendance; Chito led a stadium-wide sing-along of the comic anthems which have made his band so damn popular for all these years.

As for Hymn of Siren, well, they were one of the best among the college bands, I think, hitting the stage with their mentor band, Imago, for "Walang Misteryo," then doing their original, "Ilusyon."

I still remember Marcee singing Imago hits during breaks on campus and now she's on stage with Aia while Cindy, who once called herself the most dispensible Siren, is now receiving offers to session for Imago during Myrene's absences.

It's been truly a pleasure to witness those two achieving dream after dream. Ang galing!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

KATIPUNAN: Expression Expansion

About the Issue

We believe in expression -- the expression of joy and sadness, of contentment and of anger.

We believe in the expression of faith, and the celebration of God with customs one feels the strongest affinity to, like Christians finding solace in a Buddhist temple.

We believe in the expression of progress, that it leads to ingenious inventions and beneficial innovations, like the solar-powered jeepney.

We believe in the expression of discontent, more so if an alternative is also presented, exemplified by a simple on-campus issue like a proposed dress code.

We believe in the expression of loyalty, and proving that one is worthy, but only if other loyalties are not trampled on, and only if the institutions in question are worthy of one's proving himself, issues brought to our attention by the tragedy of Cris Mendez and the alleged involvement of fraternities in his death.

This October is essentially our art issue, and with it we explore the concept of expression -- its limitations, its strengths, and where it can still be pushed, given sincerity in intent, to achieve a transcendental level of honesty.

And we view art as a language of expression that helps us to not only crystallize realities, but also question them, and maybe even change them for the better.

[Read or Download Issue Here]

Included in the issue...

Zoe Dulay and April Sescon write about the Ateneo Art Awards and how "the most prestigious award for an emerging artist in the Philippines" seeks to advocate modern art, and how art is expanding itself and the language used to express the experience of man.

Martin Villanueva and April Sescon on award-winning writer Alvin Yapan, his venture into filmmaking, and his award-winning short film, Rolyo.

Mina Reyes investigates fraternities, their practices, and their relevance in light of controversies about questionable initiation rites which allegedly led to Cris Mendez' death.

Isel Garcia and Glee de Guzman visit the Leng Sian Kiong Temple and look into Buddhism and why even Christians are burning incense before the altar of Buddha.


EIC Aeli Alba asks what now? after the Erap verdict

I (memoir)ize about frats, the nation, and lost ideologies

April (from the Ateneo Fine Arts Program) shares her frustrations about art -- specifically on campus

and Head photog Nikay Paredes focuses on the Burning Man ("When we are strong enough to destroy what we are able to help create, a new kind of beauty emerges.")

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Reading list (and nagmumuni-muni)

"Kick is seeing things from a special angle. Kick is momentary freedom from the claims of the aging, cautious, nagging, frightened flesh. Maybe I will find in yage what I was looking for in junk and weed and coke. Yage may be the final fix."
Finished reading the dryly written but ironically transgressive and personal Junky by William S. Burroughs. As a person always asking why?, I was looking hard -- perhaps too hard -- to find that moment in the first person narrative where a confession takes place, a semblance of an explanation from Bill himself about why he allowed his life take the course that it did. I never got it. At least not directly. Reflecting on it now, the story of this one life in what was the world then was testimony enough.
"Self-deluding, vain, narcissistic, self-obsessed, and yet curiously perceptive about the sickness of the world if not his own malaise, Burroughs both offered up and was compelled to provide his psyche as a form of petri dish, within which were cultured the obsessive and compulsive viruses of modernity." -Will Self
* * *
The tips of five Mongol pencils standing tall in a container on my desk aren't sharp at all, rounded in fact, like the tips of overused crayons. The pencils lean against three inverted pens and two upright ones and a highlighter gagged by a bright orange cap. Somewhere a writing pad has curled up edges but nothing written on it. Drafts of what we'll call poetry for now pile up; comments on them written days ago, quality the epitome of questionable.
I came up with a short story concept the other night, wrote a rough outline of part of it, which filled up a good four to five pieces of scratch paper. But I can't seem to get myself to start writing it. It's weird, new for me -- but I kind of feel fearful of starting. If I do, I'm afraid I'll rush to the end, which I'm known to do, and the story will fall flat -- as is the fate of most of my stories. Then I'll delay major revisions for months, which is standard for me, by which time I'd probably lose the feel for my characters -- if at all I ever had it -- and the desire to finish will be the size of a tear drop.
* * *
In brighter news, we're back, motherfuckers!
We're finally releasing KATIPUNAN's September-October issue online, but hard copies are still for sale; just leave a message, email, or text.
Check out the issue here.
The usual promotional hype I write will come in the coming days. It's our Art Issue, so click, read online, download, buy, support!
* * *
"How pure, Platero, and how lovely this wayside flower is! All the herds pass by it -- bulls, goats, colts, men -- and it, so tender and weak, remains erect, mauve, and delicate on its lonely bank, uncontaminated by any impurity.
"Every day, when at the foot of the hill, we take the shortcut, you've seen it at its green post. Now, it has a little bird beside it, which flies away -- why? -- as we approach; at other times, it's filled, like a small glass, with the bright rain from a summer cloud; now, it allows a bee to pilfer it, or it accepts the fickle adornment of butterflies.
"This flower will only live a few days, Platero, though the memory of it may be everlasting. Its life will be like one day of your spring, like one spring in my life....What wouldn't I give the fall, Platero, in exchange for this divine flower, so that it might daily be a simple, unending example for our life?" -L: The Wayside Flower, Platero y yo by Juan Ramon Jimenez (thank you, Ma'am Marj)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's after Halloween...

...the start of November; thousands of my countrymen are in cemeteries (hopefully dry but I hear rain from outside my window); millions of kids are taking off capes, wiping off make up while their dentists wait for their teeth to rot; hundreds of my fellow schoolmates continue to pray for the best as they take a hack at this online enlistment thing.

Among those I've spoken with, Japs, Drew, and I are the ones who survived the two days allotted for the seniors' enlistment. Many will call us out on our stupidity; I like to draw on labels like 'sacrificial lambs' or 'purists' -- or 'keepin' it old school' if we go a hip-hop route.

Xander's probably in front of a computer right now, YM messages pathworking his screen, cellphone inbox filled with FA inquiries. I wonder if April got that painting class she wanted. Sha seems to be buggin' about wanting an English elective AISIS won't let her have.

I've heard stories about students going miles in the wee hours to find an internet cafe to do this. Somewhere in Basilan an Atenean looks for wi-fi next to the grave of his lolo. No one benefits from this. We're all going to have to line up anyway regardless. Why add complications to an already painful process?

They say it's easier on the AISIS people, as if clicking on classes was too hard of a service to render -- isn't this what they volunteered for? And now we have entire blogs dedicated to hatred towards them; I've never seen a group of people so desperate to be despised.

As for people like Japs, Drew, and I, we'll make do with the old process, which wasn't so bad to begin with. We'll take those hours we would've spent in front of a computer to enlist. We'll use them for something more satisfying. We'll save ourselves the trouble.

And now the three of us -- and I'm sure quite a few more -- sit around with our fingers crossed, hoping there will be Philo and Theo classes in English left; hoping most juniors won't be interested in taking Fiction under Krip Yuson, or that Vince has still got some space for my third go-around with him in Poetry.

If not, how does an elective in Chinese Medicine sound, Japs? Drew -- Math 19 na lang tayo, dude.