Thursday, January 31, 2008

Journal tidbits...

...cuz I want to check in but haven’t had the time of day lately.


Back to Manila. Back to the rush of regular life: sitting in Ching Tan room, waiting for a Theo film viewing, classmates giddy & gigglish over God-knows-what. Earlier did my best to zone out Heights underclassmen & their friends to read thru readings for Third World Lit—only to find out that DM wouldn’t be around. Finished Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner on the plane back from Iloilo. Touching. Poignant ending. Brought a tear to my eye. Bought Katrina Tuvera’s Jupiter Effect at National, Katipunan. Still no Free Press. Lacuesta playing a prank?


George W. Bush makes his final State of the Union Address.

A couple of days back, Suharto died.

Squatters forced out of East Service Road. Rocks were being thrown at military trucks. Dad insists I take a cab. It takes long to get one. Was late for an interview. High schoolers think I’m a worthy thesis topic. Attended a talk by David Guerrero organized by Karla Delgado and AComm. Interesting. But advertising really not for me. I hear Sir Marne’s echo.


Tried an interesting concept: studied for Theo quiz. Think it paid off: B at least. Heard Sir Sawi's in town; his book launch in UST. Did not go. Jessica Zafra came to campus. She lives off book sales. Lucky.

Ted Kennedy & Caroline Kennedy endorse Barrack Obama.

In Kenya, tribal conflict rampart.

Larry will be butchering the latest draft of my academic essay in preparation for my post-immersion consultation next week. This he told me during Lit Night—after he read; before Vince did his John Ashbery inspired reading of 2 originals. After, April & I watched Ricky Abad’s rendition of The Wayside Café by Tony Perez at the Art Gallery. The Death of Memory & now this: Abad’s in his purgatorial phase.

John Edwards drops out of race.

Rudy Giuliani drops out, endorses John McCain.


Scampering to get submissions for Heights seniors’ folio ready. Headache. Printer wouldn’t work. Weather is crazy hot. Acosta on his game during class. When he’s on, he’s on. Smart dude. Heart’s in the right place—or so it seems. A nation’s hope? Not him alone. But he’s necessary.

Waiting for Luigi to email the latest part of our group paper due tomorrow. I want to sleep. In 4 hours, I leave for immersion. I don’t want to go.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


You had once questioned your brother for trusting his spouse over you. You drew upon the chemistry of blood, touched on the inferiority of choice symbolized by rings taken off when washing dishes.

You told me your brother had attended the funeral of mother’s father, that this solitary instance is reborn in memory now that your brother has passed. You’ve mastered the use of clichés: eye for an eye.

Finance prohibited my making the trip. My perceived stubbornness knocked mother off the flight anyway, & now I’m back on. She now pouts while lying in bed.

The decision was yours.

You chose to ignore a faulty argument you made based on hierarchy, as if rank had anything to do w/ remorse or sincerity. You settle for the nephew over the in-law for representation—& that’s what you reduced it to: a political move.

You tell me I should be there, but remind me mom mo sana. I pack claiming principle; I travel, ego bruised.

I inherit all this: the decisions, their consequences, the land, what’s to be reaped, the tension, the voids, the joys, more so pains.

The name I keep, & gender says future unions or births means my passing it on—our very expansion.

Your brother having died because of something I survived: a guilt I inherit as well.

I inherit moments past, prior notions, contentions set forth years back, like how your brother trusted his spouse over you, his blood.

& now as I pack for a slot allotted for euphemisms like your better half, I repeat a notion I inherit as well: she is your wife, I your blood—it is not my choice, but silly science binds me.

& now I’ve inherited failed efforts to lift this whole mess to higher ground, feeling my way through another baptism to this fraternity.

Optimists like to think of death as a moment for change. We've succeeded in cementing what reality has shown us: that death is merely continuation with a cough.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I’m baffled by the cacophony that is our everyday. When I wake up in the morning I like to read. The solitude of being the only one up in coherence w/ authors’ desires to transport me to other places, to made up moments. I place the kettle on the stove to warm my bath. Fifteen minutes to boil: enough to experience 1 good poem, or stroll thru 5 pedestrian ones at least. I never make it to minute-7; the dogs all excite, greeting the sun reaching its peak—they recognize time too: the warmth hints breakfast. I pat them to calm them down halfway thru my 2nd poem. I love the dogs but nothing lyrical to their barking; Dreamweavers rudely upstaged. And just when they quiet, when I think I can commence in silence, the kettle whistles. My day in this world begins, w/ only minutes of escape when focus perseveres, like in the MRT, standing by the entrance, where early conversation is drowned, the hum of air-conditioning is comforting, & where I finish that second poem, probably the last I’ll read in hours, enough to pull me thru, till I’m alone in silence yet again, when all dogs go back to sleep.

* * *

FA Fest opening

I’ll call the opening of Quixote: The 2007 Ateneo Fine Arts Festival last Monday, January 14 a success; a considerable crowd attended the humble ceremony in front of De La Costa Hall—mostly Information Design majors as expected.

I stayed by the refreshments area where 5 bottles of wine stood; this might’ve clouded my judgment of the event.

Acting School of Humanities Dean Benilda Santos, PhD, FA Officer-in-Charge DM Reyes, the FA's Glenn Mas, Ali Figeroa, & Missy Maramara, as well as Marco Lopez of the Filipino Department all graced the event.

beLIEve launch

A lot of what was planned didn’t go well; our e-group is still filled w/ many emails about various concerns from the event, but a lot of people went so I’m calling it a success as well.

The launch of bieLIEve, an anthology of works by Ateneo Creative Writing seniors, was held at the swankier (less writerly) Mag:net Café in Bonifacio High Street, featuring P75 bottles of beer (yikes!).

Once I got over the initial shock, & got my hands on free beer stubs, & got over the fact that all those things in my production sheet were all crumbling down, & got over the fact that no one was going to help me get things back on track, I managed to enjoy a lot of the night.

Was pleased to see many cohorts in attendance: Marie La Vina, Audrey Trinidad (& beau Nikko), Panch Alvarez, & Pancho Villanueva.

Was pleased to see favorite, familiar, & not-so-familiar CW juniors in attendance as well: April Sescon, Sasha Martinez, Verne Ahyong, Trish Elamparo, & Aila Casauay, among others.

Doubly-pleased to see many of our friends from the faculty: Rica Bolipata Santos, Karla Delgado, Marco Lopez, Yol Jamendang, & Migoy Lizada.

Many thanks to those who ordered copies of the book. & to those who stole the sample proofs during the event: pls give them back!

National Artist graces FA Fest

Playwright Glenn Mas likes to jokingly boast of his 9 Palancas (vis-à-vis my 1) in class. Last Friday, during a performance of his Children of the Sea in Gonzaga Hall (directed by Marcee Lacap), Glenn looked as hesitant & humble as ever as National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose was in the audience w/ his wife.

Never did Glenn seem more uncomfortable when he had to ask for Jose’s autograph for other audience members.

Glenn had many funny anecdotes from his conversation w/ Jose:

“It was good, but it was only 45 minutes long,” commented the National Artist.

“Ah kasi, po, 1-act play lang siya,” Glenn replied hesitantly.

& as Jose commended him for the use of metaphor and allegory, Glenn supposedly just nodded in agreement & gratitude, unaware of all those things. (Hahaha!)

Congratulations to Glenn, Marcee, JJ Ignacio (actor, production design), & the rest for one hell of a production.

Especially proud of this one cuz of its distinct Antiqueño feel. Antique, for everyone’s information, is a small province in Panay Island where great people (if not overly-confident assholes) like Evelio Javier, Glenn Mas, & Martin Villanueva (wasak!) trace their families’ roots.

On a sadder note

My Tito Totong passed away this past week after a relatively short battle w/ cancer. He had been holding on for quite some time despite being in grave condition. More & more now we believe that he was only waiting for our lola to go home to see him. She eventually did last Monday; he passed away Wednesday.

While having dinner w/ April & Panch along Riverbanks last Friday, I ran into my cousin Cory. She seemed OK. My prayers go out to her and her Ate Nikki.

Dad, Mom, & Pope will be flying to Iloilo Thursday morning. I’ll be following on the first flight on Friday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Waste land

It’s the hottest morning of the week, & I have a cold.

Yesterday it rained all day—the only time it rained in what was generally a chilly 7 days.

Some are sick & miss a week of school. Some—like me—get sick & don’t miss a day.

Others have viruses of a nature incomprehensible.

Confirmed rumors speak of a prolonged squabble about I’m-not-so-sure-what between those-who-shall-remain-nameless.

Prognosis: remedy needed quick, but I don’t know what it is.*

Months ago, I placed Marie’s poem under a stack of academic readings. Busy. Her deadline came & went w/out my comments. Negligence. Recently I wanted to ask for her comments on something of mine. Selfish. Life has taught me about nonsense like karma. Guilt.

Apologies, both ways, reinforced this week over at a place others still incessantly call Chicken Boy. Now I’ve ran out of excuses.

My tito is dying in Iloilo. How’s he doing? I ask. I just really want to get away from the city.

Eight-thousand bucks to drain a bloated corpse stubbornly holding on. Anytime now, says the doctor. Anytime w/ a per-night rate of 2,000.

Expectations for the next 2 months: a funeral & a 90th birthday celebration. I don’t own a barong, but a tita got me a pair of new Chucks, baptized yesterday in the flooded streets.

We had both spoken about entitlement, how we both didn’t want to feel it. Names we hold dear splashed on covers. Father she used to describe the man others hold in such reverence. While she feels she isn’t entitled, others brown-nose their way into her father’s life. Such is my interpretation. I am a skeptic.

I can relate.

More so now; I think I might’ve disappointed a mother of sorts this week.

You feel so distant, says the boy. Their bodies close, lips inches apart. The girl says nothing, hopes the touch of her fingers would suffice for the moment’s brittleness.

We spoke about seatmates, how the ones in high school are somewhat sacred. Before she was the girl on TV, she & I used to talk nonsense like the shape of our shit.

That’s pretty intimate, says Marie.

Years later April & Sasha interview my former seatmate backstage of a musical production, mention my name. She hesitates. It doesn’t ring a bell.

I saw a man walking along Aurora to the LRT station barefoot.

It was the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

Vince gave his class a free cut.**

He had once shown us around Quiapo to elucidate the magnificence of the city's chaos.

Every January 4, he says he reads a TS Eliot poem.

This year it was The Naming of Cats.

He needed a humorous one, he says. The world is depressing enough as it is.

Last January 11, I sat in his class as they took up The Waste Land.

In response to Sibyl’s dilemma, a student says: My lola is sooo old, right? She’s…like…90 or something…

A petty squabble. A dying uncle. A father one can’t talk to. A disappointed mother. A silence between a girl & a boy. Intimate memories forgotten. Hopes & dreams pinned on a statue.

The world is depressing enough as it is.

*Like I said earlier in the week, ma’am, ayaw kong makihalo diyan.
**He would later deny actually going to Quiapo that day.

* * *


Book launch: beLIEve, a compilation of works by Creative Writing seniors of the Ateneo, will be launched this Wednesday, January 16, 8PM at Mag:net Café, Bonifacio High Street.

Two of my essays & my intro included.

Expected live performances by DJ Mike Oreta, Ernville, Hymn of Siren, Melany, Mayonnaise, & Hilera, among others.

Thanks to Panch Alvarez for the cover illustration (above) for the book.

Speaking of Panch, his December 26 exhibit in Bicol went well: 7 paintings sold. He’s feeling ecstatic; a bunch of us had free pizza this week as evidence. Hoping to post some of his works here.

Congrats, mehn!

Lastly, deadline for contributions for the next issue of Heights extended to February 1.

Contribute na, mga 'tenista!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cause, effect

When something itches, you scratch it. When you scratch too hard, you get a scab. When you scratch a scab, you bleed. When you bleed while you're walking on the street, still in last night's clothes, bed-head look, oily face, people stare & wonder: What happened to Mrs. Villanueva's son?

When you're own brother's dying, you talk to him while he's lying on his death bed.

When you've been betrayed by your dying brother numerous times before, have refused to talk to him for months, your conversation--possibly the last--is brief & forced.

Blood is thicker than water, they say--a statement not always true.

Flashback (riding the theme of blood): When you have major surgery, you lose a lot of blood. When you lose a lot of blood, you need to replace it. When you're in the Philippines, this can be tricky. The hospital's stock was running low on O-positive; parents start calling friends & relatives; relying on the local Red Cross simply wouldn't do.

When you have a nosebleed, you pinch your nose at the bridge.

Then you lean your head back; blood can't defy gravity.

When you've donated recently, you can't donate again. When you have a tattoo, you can't donate at all. When you haven't seen a close family friend in a long time, you don't beg for their blood. When a family friend sees you desperate, he donates nevertheless.

When you kill a pig in your back yard, you save all the blood.

When you're feeling festive, you serve dinuguan on January 1.

If you belief in prophetic meals, it's going to be a bloody year.

When you have blood to replace all that you've lost, you have a better chance of making it in the end. When you're walking again, you thank those who have helped. When someone gives you their blood, you thank them the most. When you have a little humor, you repay him w/ a bottle of red wine, say it looks like what he gave you, w/c helped save your life.

When you're bored, you watch a pro wrestler's life on TV.

When you're a pro wrestler, you play-wrestle w/ your kids.

When you're 300 pounds, an elbow can make your kid bleed.

When you're a pro wrestler, you tell your bleeding kid to mix saliva w/ the blood: looks cooler that way.

When you haven't changed since last night, you take a shower & finally do so. When the wound from the scab excretes something, you wipe it off, clean it w/ alcohol. When you have a small wound on your face, you don't look all that attractive. When you're a guy like me, you don't really care.

You bled. You're alive.

* * *

When you're a noted poet (like Toledo), you release 2 books in a year.

When a proud ate boasts of her little brother getting into Ateneo, you congratulate her. (Congrats, Zoe!)

When a friend from Dumaguete is in town, you go out of your way to meet him. (Kita-kits this week, Twigs.)

When people you're forced to work w/ piss you off, you use venues like this to say Fuck you!

When a loyal friend puts up w/ you on 1 of those nights you were the self you hate being, you say Thank you.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nothing personal...

...but due to professional differences, I've decided to resign from my post as associate editor of KATIPUNAN. Want to make it clear that this was strictly a professional decision on my part based on unfortunate internal developments and disagreements.

I'd like to invite you all to check out the latest issue, my last with the magazine. (Photo endorsements below taken during a recent get-together among friends -- coincidentally many outgoing members of the publication.)

Ms. Martinez, former Art & Lifestyle writer,
showing off my last column for KATIPUNAN,
ironically a manifesto of sorts for the magazine.

Ms. La Vina, former Art & Lifestyle recruit.

Ms. Dulay, former Art & Lifestyle writer.

Mr. Mendoza (with Ms. Dulay and his significant other),
former creative director,
Ms. Sescon,
former Art & Lifestyle editor (not pictured),
as well as Ms. Custodio (not pictured), former Travel editor,
have also decided to resign.

Would like to wish the remaining members of the editorial board and the staff, especially Ms. Reyes (News & Current Affairs), Mr. Dela Torre (Science & Technology), and the remaining writers who have worked with/under me during my time with the publication, the best of luck.