Sunday, December 30, 2007

New year in 2 days


April & I had merienda at a donut joint yesterday in Cubao. She ordered a donut & a torte; I, a tuna turnover.

The torte tasted like the donut with cream on the outside. The donut tasted like the torte with cream on the inside. The turnover: cat food.


Christmas Eve was a bust—not even the roast prime rib was good. The usual: Dad & I out on the patio, beer our company, cursing to the cacophony of socio-political talk. At bit angsty, I challenged him: You think you know everything, always in control, faultless. Went to bed on that note.

Christmas Day wasn’t much of anything either. Tradition can be cliché. The usual suspects came for dinner. Fresh take was to come w/ Ate Jho & family from the States; they brought little but a cute boy (pamangkin ko) who managed to tickle all for a few minutes at a time. We already have dogs for that.


I’m drinking a cup of coffee. There are 3 maids in this house: 1 makes it just right—that’s a given; the other makes it either too sweet or too bitter; the last defies logic: makes it too sour, like the cup I’m drinking right now. I love the timpla of the first maid; it’s just right: not too bitter, not too sweet, not too creamy, not sour at all. Balanced. Tamang-tama.

Doesn’t stand for anything, up to anything. The jolt minus the guts.



Months ago, it was presumed that Hershey, our shitzu, was pregnant. We imprisoned her in a cage, fearful of miscarriage. Weeks later we discovered it was a false alarm. Disappointed (but not guilty), we now let her run around like she used to. We gave her a haircut; she’s so skinny—so unpregnant.

Gold, our female pug, is pregnant: assumption. She’s due this week: another assumption. We incarcerate her in a huge wooden play pen (fearful of miscarriage): minimum security prison. We let her out to the patio every night to take a shit. A few nights ago, I was sitting alone under the stars with a bottle: cliché. Tita left Gold with me. She staggered about like a pig for a few minutes before pausing to stare at me. I stared back. She lowered her ass to the ground. I worry; I’m not a vet. She staggered away. The baby: a brown log.


I got a haircut this week.

I can be trusted again.


From Friday’s New York Times: RANALPINDI, Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader and twice-serving prime minister, was assassinated Thursday evening as she left a political rally here, a scene of fiery carnage that plunged Pakistan deeper into political turmoil and ignited widespread violence by her enraged supporters.

Our neighbors had a videoke party that day; reading became a challenge, though the newly cleaned room would’ve served as the ideal setting.

A between-Christmas-&-New-Year in the past once saw my parents & I spending a good 13 hours in line at the COMELEC offices to register to vote. Two elections this year; didn’t vote in either of them:

epitome of my 2007:

no more hiding behind concern for country. It was a selfish year. Circumstances dictated such. Bhutto died for a concept so distorted that it seems to encourage such self-indulgence: democracy; my 2007 was (dis)honoring her.

TIME’s Person of the Year in '06 was a mirror. I was a year behind.

Too late to the party as usual.

* * *

A few announcements:

Neighbor and "pillar of poetry" Sir Marne finally launched his initial posts for his new pet project. Check it out here.

Heights now accepting contributions for the next folio. Contribute na, mga ‘tenista!

Sarge Lacuesta emailed me a couple of weeks ago. A creative nonfiction piece of mine is being published in the Free Press “this week.” I checked out National yesterday; wala pa yung issue with my piece. Abangan na lang, mga kaibigan.

* * *

Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas wishes

Sel took a photo survey of the Heights edboard and the org's rockstar staffers about what they want for Christmas. Here are the results.

Kat, ang rockstar sa buhay ni Tim, managing editor: “to go snorkeling in Sarangani.”
Martin G., the returning rockstar ng English staff (it’s in the name ata): “a whip!”
Tim, ang rockstar sa buhay ni Kat, English staff: “PS3”
Sel, wasak na taga-survey, special projects staff: “KILIG moment! (with whom?)”
Nikko, honorary member dahil siya ang puwet ng puwetry ni Audrey: “A Job.”
JPaul, pinaka-wasak na rockstar, editor in chief: “a tablet…”
Panch, artist na may exhibit sa Bicol sa 26, business manager: “An EPIPHANY.”
Wyatt, future rockstar ng English staff: “SHIMMY with TIMMY!”
Mau, art editor: “3K lang po.”
Elie, punching bag ko, associate art editor: “Kill MAU!”
Joey, the puwet in my puwetry, secretary general: “is to EAT EVERYTHING and NOT get FAAAT!!!”
Audrey, dating puwet sa aking puwetry, associate editor: “AN OUT OF TOWN TRIP!”

I'll add another...
April, my favorite English staffer (photo from Nikay): "MY Christmas wish? I don't have one."

* * *

A very Merry Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Still in last night's clothes

Spent the entire afternoon in bed; still trying to recover from what was the first three days of Christmas vacation.

My last class was Thursday night, after which I joined Dad for dinner with balikbayan Ate Jho in Makati. Home by midnight.

Woke up early the following day to run a few errands at school. In the afternoon, Drew and I tended to our co-editors role for the senior CW anthology: fighting Quezon City traffic in the glaring heat to canvas possible printing presses. I’d find relaxation that day buying toiletries at SM Makati before happily going home early for a Friday night in (though it would’ve been nice to join Jason, Julio, and the rest of the Heights lasengeros in Katipunan).

Saturday was quite a trip on many levels. Parañaque to Mall of Asia to Parañaque to Alabang. Then three hours to one side of Commonwealth, then to the other side, and finally home when my Tita Chi Chi was just leaving for simbang gabi, circa 4AM. The first part of the day was dedicated to gift-buying, the next for Ate Jho and family (I as alalay). The evening was spent at Zoe’s place for a Christmas dinner cum inuman. Other guests included April, Marie, Sasha, Pancho, Sam Q. and beau, Charz with his new haircut, his new significant other, and twin brother Chad. While the rest took their shots of tequila and gulps of rum coke, giggling along with Charz’s attempts at songs I should know considering my being part of his generation, the architist and I settled for beer and looking grumpy (like driver and houseboy, says April). Truly an enjoyable night.

Flashback. Wednesday: the only other Christmas get-together I attended. An intimate affair at Ma’am Marj’s with Sir Marne, La Verne, and a couple of Ma'am's good friends. Conversing in the small garden over wine and Sir Marne’s music, expressing our solstice reflections about 2007, among other things. A pleasant time was had by all.

Now I sit here hours after waking up, still in the clothes from last night. I smell (not of despair, Sasha). I need a bath. Then what? Maybe TV, maybe a lot of reading. Looks like a good night ahead: a prelude to hopefully another good week.

*Pictures from Zoe's Polaroid camera.

* * *

Currently reading The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer and Gaudeamus Caracoa 95. Waiting on the shelf: Dapitan Prose (stolen from the Heights room), Dreamweavers (from my favorite panelist), The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (from my favorite girl), The Kite of Stars (also from my favorite girl), and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (which I told Sasha to buy for herself—but thanks anyways. Haha.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

She makes me feel

Wednesday. She* makes me feel like I’ve lost it all. Ill-phrased inquiry an attack of character. Or so it seems. She walks paces ahead, crossing the street without even a hesitation for a farewell to hold on to.

consider a child / forbidden to speak / to her father, / like in Micronesia / where uncles serve / as intermediaries, / voices in a vacuum / with only echoes / of suppressed cries.

Perhaps I’ve touched deeper (with words) than where I’ve been to (physically) before, a pain with no tradeoff. My fault. Gone too far.

Huwebes. Katahimikan. Wala ang halakhak mula sa kusina sa baba; wala si Nanay. Si Tatay di ko makikita; nasa Batangas para sa trabaho. Transpo strike, ayon sa balita; wala ang boses ng jeepney drayber: ang destinasyon di malinaw.

A few years ago. Statement shirts are out, says GQ via a friend. They fill my closet.

Two sides to every story. I facing down, nose pressed against dirt while a refusal to hit with words acts like a foot trapping my head in place. Can hardly breathe.

Call (voice in tears): Tell her to go home.

consider the friction / of Time and Tradition, /

Text: If you’re a respectable person…

where men search / for greener pastures, / they say, leaving / children with fathers / and what silence / can entail, echoes /

Maraming tao sa food court, nagkukuwentohan.

of whimpers, howling / of hope lost. crickets /

Ngunit parang tahimik pa rin; ang kuskos lamang ng maunting pag-asa na makikita ko siya, na magusap.

outside chirp— /

Sa oras na nakalipas: dalawang teks, isang reply.

Weekend. Three bottles and more. Forgiveness and more.

My favorite is the green one, BURP! splashed in white. There’s another one: 100% doctor recommended, mother-in-law approved. Irony.

the sound of legs / rubbing together / to the rhythm / of the dangling / of a child's feet.


*Kung iniisip mo na siya yun, baka tama ka, baka hindi. Ngunit kung iniisip mo siya naman yun, baka mali ka, o baka tama ka rin. Importante ba? Baka. Baka rin hindi. Totoo ba? Malamang. Ngunit ano ba talaga ang katotohanan? Anong paki mo? Buhay ng persona 'to. Ako ba yun? Baka. Anong paki mo ba? Ngunit kung interesado ka, salamat. Para sa akin. Para sa kanya. Para sa siya. Creative nonfiction lang, dude. Sulat lang nang sulat.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Finished Coetzee's Youth in a day; Age of Iron is still better. Something too telling about Youth's prose: declarative in revealing consciousness of character, limited third person POV not at its best. Age... much more depressing, heavier to say the least--first person with all its honest flaws. (The real hurts are there; you have to sing to those wounds.) From the lib I take home Voyeurs & Savages of Sir Krip and an old Caracoa from '95. Third World, others claim; Filipiniana is an often used label. It's called Literature, and that's that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trippin' over trip

The Inquirer editorial titled "Indecent junket" (dated December 11) expresses concern (at the very least) over the European trip of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a reported entourage of 200, including 30 members of Congress. Three congressmen who stayed home have since called for an inquiry on this matter.

The obvious question that rises is whether or not these 30 congressmen actually spent their own money for the trip. Of course the question takes on the tone of a rhetorical one for most skeptics that pose it -- I'll have to adhere to such a tone.

Let's run through some numbers. According to their web site, Philippine Airlines -- the carrier of the contingent -- does not offer direct flights to any of the cities the contingent traveled to. In fact, no European city is listed as a regular point of destination. But for the sake of numbers assessing, consider the following: the price of a direct flight to Los Angeles starts at US$813, which translates to around P33,000. Multiply this by the family members coming along on the trip. Quite a hefty amount for a congressman whose monthly salary is pegged at around P40,000.

But let's assess further. As earlier mentioned, PAL does not offer direct flights to any of the stops the contingent made. Common sense says that each of the 200 had to spend a heftier amount for special arrangements. And it was a chartered plain; chartered flights go for even higher. For the sake of argument, let's peg the initial trip to Europe at P40,000 per individual. Multiply that by 200 and you have P8,000,000. How much of this is public money?

And let's not forget the cost for the flights to the stops after the initial landing in Europe, as well as the cost for accommodations. One can't help but cringe if not get completely drunk over the kind of money being diverted from the national budget for the Christmas vacations of these supposed leaders.

I say vacation because what business do we truly have in the three countries our "representatives" visited? The Inquirer hit the nail on the head when they hinted at the kind of hassle the contingent must have been for their various hosts.

Arroyo's meeting the Queen of England is reminiscent of former President Estrada's essentially forcing a brief meeting with President Clinton years back. At least Estrada got a few military planes out of it, albeit archaic ones. What did Arroyo get out of this other than a personal memory of meeting the Queen at an impoverished peoples' expense? What's in it for us? And did she really need 200 other persons -- 30 congressmen -- there with her? How hard is a vacation?

An Inquirer article a couple of days ago reported Arroyo told OFWs in London before meeting the Queen that she was going to boast of the Filipinos' hard work over there. The Queen already knows that, probably has a few of us on her palace staff. The Queen need not meet the illegitimate leader of her people's nurses.

Half a billion pesos spent last year by the President for travel. That's 20 percent of her entire budget. Her budget that comes from public funds. Thirty congressmen took time (and money?) away from their struggling constituents for a little Christmas trip to where our countrymen are sentenced to go mostly as laborers because of the inadequacies of congressmen, senators, and presidents past and present.

Leadership, we call it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Truths, Promises

In the spirit of submitting my second crack at 17 pages of blah--academic paper, we're calling it--I've reproduced below a snippet of what adviser Larry Ypil will be receiving and butchering over the next couple of days.

This is also in the spirit of getting life back on track with things worthy of my attention after my run-in with professional differences (or is it incompetence and irrationality?) last week. Two more days and I'm gone. Bitter? Absolutely.

I digress. I apologize.

Back to the stuff that matters. It's called creative nonfiction, people.

"James Frey’s autobiographical memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was met with rousing approval when it was released a few years ago; an endorsement from popular talk show host and cultural icon Oprah Winfrey only helped catapult Frey and his book. Readers and reviewers raved about Frey’s riveting story, written in the most understated, even wry or deadpan style of prose, which ironically accentuated the gripping horrors of an alcoholic crack addict trying to get his life back in order. It was later revealed that Frey had invented or embellished much of the accounts in the book, and since it was packaged as nonfiction, the literary world, Oprah, and many other readers denounced the work.

"With nonfiction comes the promise of telling the truth. And as evident by the backlash felt by Frey, it is a promise readers are unforgiving about. In fact, it was also revealed that A Million Little Pieces was rejected by publishers in the past when it was being shopped around as fiction; only when it was premised to be nonfiction was it ever accepted. The book did not change, the promises behind it did, and the judgment of publishers and eventually readers clung on to those promises—it playing a large role in their assessing the book’s merits.

"The interesting dilemma is that the promise of truth is not always verifiable. And even if some facts can be proven to be true, one’s rendering of it in words from a particular perspective cannot be controlled or reprimanded, embellishments all but a given in most if not every piece of nonfiction ever written. The attachment to the promise of truth, essentially the readers’ personal attachment to the subject matter, can often exempt the nonfictionist from blandness of his form. There is something problematic here from the writer’s standpoint. Perhaps on the level of craftsmanship, the promise of truth is an unfair element clouding one’s judgment of nonfiction. Feeling violated—or lied to—once admirers of A Million Little Pieces turned their backs on it. Never mind the creative rendering of the story regardless of its factuality. James was a lie, and so were the emotions invested in him for the readers. But it appears the only tension here is based on the simple fact that we do not like to be stooped, for we all emotionally invest in fictional characters as well.

"So is it all a matter of context? In some cases, it may very well be. Unfortunately, the “youngest” form of creative nonfiction just does not get the benefit of the doubt.

"In a bit of irony, the cover of my edition of Frey’s quasi-memoir features a comment from The Boston Globe, calling the book “The most lacerating tale of drug addiction since William S. Burroughs’s Junky.Junky is considered a work of fiction, though it is widely known that much of its content is autobiographical.

"A well-written story is a well-written story. Or at least such should be the case. It is not. The promise of truth is binding—whatever it is that truth is. There is an interesting tension here. And it is one a good creative nonfictionist would gladly grapple with in his work. This is the kind of courage within creative nonfiction that should be celebrated."

* * *

Rumor has it, thesis class teacher Rica Bolipata-Santos won the Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award for Love, Desire, Children, Etc.

All together now, seniors: Libre! Libre! Libre!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Celtics are 10 and 0... home; my home record will be 8 and 0 by weekend's end. Let's run them down: Glenn's invite to PEN conference today, Glenn's gala night of The Death of Memory,* Sir Vim's invite to Writers' Night, Sir Vim's invite to Conspiracy, Mia's invite to PSFIII** launch, Ian's talk at PEN tomorrow, Ma'am Marj's invite to PEN as well, and parents' invite to mass--Holiday of Obligation, says Mom. That's 8 going down to Home and a date with a whore named Revisions, introduced by Larry*** on a Starbucks thesis consultation earlier this week. Kaya by Monday? he asked. Sure, I said. And that's that. There'll be times I'll be stepping away from Revisions, to mingle with Sulking, another I met this week when Boss left Reason and Trust.**** I saw her with Pride, says Dad as I consulted the whole matter with him. I said I wasn't surprised. Redemption is tempting me still, but a prude I insist on being on this matter. I've suffered some loses recently, but, like the Celtics, my winning record's in tact. No use risking another play; I'll just run down the clock. Four more days to go till the end. Then I can rest, my mind free from things that should've been thrown at the frowning waste bin days ago.
*Tanghalang Ateneo stages Glenn Sevilla Mas' award-winning The Death of Memory
**Launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction III at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street, December 8
***Palanca Award-winning poet sets time away from sacred post-graduate thesis for arrogant nonfictionist and his undergraduate thesis on lies and creativity.
****My horoscope today (no coincidence): "Just because someone is higher than you in rank doesn't mean they're smarter. If you think your superior is wrong, say something."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Journalism courses in my university...

...are flawed, or maybe the stuff's just not getting into students' head. Paterno, a sign of hope. He'll boss me around some day. Leadership hindered by competence, or lack there of. Competence hindered by responsibility, or lack there of. Responsibility hindered by common sense, or lack there of. Respect not needed in the face of professionalism. It's hard drawing on the last statement when belief is waning. Paterno, a sign of hope. He'll boss me around some day. Or maybe it will be Ma'am Beni; meeting with her Wednesday. Or Sir Rock; Mag:net might need younger waiters. Or the manager in McDo; they might want to paste articles on Go Big Time cups. Quarter Pounder with Cheese Value Meal now less than P100. The patty goes beyond the edges of the bun. Dry. They sucked out the juice to make the damn thing cheaper. What kind of principles are those? Can't work for a company like that. Paterno. He'll boss me around some day. And I'll boss around some people too. Let's hope they're as loyal as those under me now. I'm meeting some of them later. Cindy wants a beer. I type with my eyes drooping. Twelve hours of sleep last night. Meaning twelve hours of sleep in the last two days. It's 9:43 says the clock on the screen. Time is a lie for too many. 4pm no longer means 4PM, 6PM doesn't mean 6PM, 8PM doesn't mea--you get the point. Days are a lost concept. Wednesday night haggled to Saturday morning. Even then, nothing. Now two pages means five. And majority vote is lost to taste. Cuz I say so. Bosses lose sense of reason, ask for unearned trust. Debt resolved by lesser chance of profit. Sanity all but gone. Edit means rewrite. Independence hinders practicality. Rational thought lost to romance. Cuz I say so. Student paper released last week. A juiceless burger for P99. Paterno, a sign of hope. He'll boss me around some day. Or maybe that Fil-Lit guy who runs the other mag. (Yes, this is/was a rant.)