Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good Fridays

On Good Friday, I am told to keep silent; Christ is covered w/ purple cloth in church.

There was 1 summer when my family & I spent the day quietly playing mahjong in our garage. Mom or Tita would occasionally stand to fetch another glass of water to fight off the hunger from fasting. I sat on my Monobloc chair the whole 5 hours we played, my crutches not far away, I too lazy to use them. During the hour when we would normally be preparing for dinner, I hobbled my way up to my room where I caught what was left of the Seventh Heaven marathon on TV.

I don’t remember the Good Fridays of my childhood, at least not the ones spent in Jakarta. I know Holy Weeks were actually spent in school; classes ended in June & Indonesia, a Muslim country, relegated the week to the level of Christmas—all the more insignificant w/out the practice of gift-giving. Wikipedia tells me that Good Friday is a national holiday in Indonesia; I’ll have to take his word for it.

Of course in the Philippines time freezes during Holy Week, or at least news does, papers often deciding not to publish on Good Friday & Black Saturday. I’m speaking from a Manila perspective here, where bored individuals can have the pleasant experience of driving the streets of a ghost town.

Various church communities have their own customs. It’s safe to say that the Stations of the Cross are being recited nationwide, while the pasyon or senakulo is being performed at varying levels of extremism.

In Pamapanga, many volunteer to get flagellated as penance for their sins. In Boracay, many who are simply happy to get off from the torture of school or work get laid.

This year, Good Friday was the day after my father, a supposed apostle (the priest being Jesus), washed my feet in front of other parishioners, symbolic of the Last Supper.

Bored of the house, April enticed me to the park to play basketball. It was my 1st time in that park in 8 years.

I let her shoot the ball for a while, content w/ simply rebounding & passing the ball back to her. I’d occasionally put the ball back up from a few feet away, but mostly I let her play.

But then I tried a free throw, w/c bounced around on the rim before going thru the net.

And I was back.

Seventy-five percent free throw shooter I was once. And for a while I was back to when that was.

I dribbled between my legs as I limped to another spot on the floor, just outside the key to the left, my favorite spot.


A pseudo-side-step to the left. Nothing but net.

And I was back: back to when I would fake off defenders, stepping back for that jumper. I was back to being fed the ball from the paint, banking it off the board.

I was back to that time when I would play sick, would spend halftimes of intramural games not w/ my coach & team but w/ my mom on the sideline, taking asthma & cough medication, burning because of fever but still on my way to my 20 or so points.

I was back to mocking the parents of kids who defended me. I was back to leading the crowd in cheering for my team, especially when I scored.

I was back to that kid that didn’t have to talk because people liked him already—he had game. I was back.

Feeling it, I dribbled to the right from above the free throw line, dribbled behind my back to switch to my left for a step back…then…I landed awkwardly on my left foot, sending a shock to where my left knee used to be.

I grimaced.

I saw April under the basket. I threw the ball up.


The Catholic meaning behind Good Friday, the Crucifixion, is 1 of liberating man from sin, while realizing that God, thru his son Jesus Christ, is one w/ us. On the court of my village’s public park on 1 particular Good Friday, I somehow relived joys I had closed doors to—because I was just too good then, in another lifetime.

Over the past 8 years I wouldn’t allow myself to be seen on the court, limping around, trying to be someone many would attest to my once being. But alone w/ April on the court made reliving safe, made dreaming momentarily possible.

Liberation from pride.

We shot the ball some more after that brick, April & I. But then it was time to go home.

When we left the court, there was nothing sad about it. The past is the past. The present is the present—and that’s walking home w/ someone I love more than I ever loved anyone. That’s being w/ someone who makes you feel that you’re worth something, deserving of a few minutes of reliving in a world that teaches you not to regret.

That’s the formula to a future freed from temporal joys from a silly game of putting an orange ball thru a hoop. It’s a future where the presence of a god is left unquestioned, for the 1 who holds your hand as you limp home is reason enough to live.

Photo courtesy of Audrey, taken during the awardees' dinner of the 2008 LS Awards for the Arts.

* * *

This is being posted an hour after I finally woke up, after a night split between Bonifacio High Street, Edsa Shangri-La, some not-to-be-mentioned joint, & the new Mister Kabab along West Ave. It was an evening celebrating/consoling w/ Drew, Cindy, & Kor, a day after we marched & received our diplomas from the Ateneo. The celebration continues tonight at my house, then tomorrow at a place in Ortigas.

People have been asking me how it feels to finally graduate. I really don’t know. Cliché: It hasn’t hit me yet. Celebrations are still to be had, then of course the needed rest from those celebrations. I imagine one day in the coming weeks, I’ll wake up & reality will set in: I have nothing to do, but I’m supposed to be doing something, supposedly to earn that paycheck. Writing about it won’t preempt the feeling so I’ll deal w/ it when it comes. As for now, a few more moments w/ loved ones, especially individuals who have been a part of the past 4 years up on that hill across from a 24-hour McDo.

Here’s to Batch 2008!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Given 15 minutes to talk about leadership, a former congressman taught those in attendance how to properly breathe. And thus a Holy Week reflection from yours truly came to be:

Sometimes it’s the simple stuff that gets lost by the wayside in this world. Maybe it is just a matter of the way we sit, the amount of air we allow to flow thru our bodies, the energy it gives us.

And maybe that’s just it right there—energy. Einstein reduced us to mere embodiments of it, & perhaps there’s a point to that too: we meddle in silly stuff like biology, complicate it w/ psychology & sociology in a world where economics & politics overwhelm us into a sickness we even bother to describe as societal—never mind the strain you give yourself being content w/ shallow breaths, shortening your life as you speak.

But of course science has prolonged life expectancy. Reality has dictated the need for the added years: to see things thru, to make up for things. The immediacy of now cannot achieve its own bliss; we live in a world tainted by management concepts: invest now, reap later. Later often becomes unworthy of the wait.

Under such a way of life, every hour hurts except the last. Still, we live under the notion of prolonging that end, living in such sadness if not like zombies.

Perhaps there’s wisdom in saying it’s all about interaction, & not on the molecular level or ones made in the contexts of boardrooms. I’m talking of a level higher, transcendental, w/c allows the silly things of this world to merely fall into place.

I’m talking about a horizon seemingly comprehensible to only Gods or saints. Paul once claimed in a song a remedy for times of trouble. Churchgoers claimed it was God; others puffed not quite.

I shake my head to both notions—in between moans like whiffs of smoke on my ear as I cradle my love’s head w/ one hand, the other firm around her thigh as my torso seeks reprieve in the warmth of her, a cozy portal to the heavens or what we men would like to believe is God’s dwelling.

But never mind perspective—that’s what we’re trying to rid. Let it be, said Paul, & there’s a simplicity there we should not rape, a silence we should not break w/ deafening impositions of silly things like meaning.

I hear the echo of a poet: read the lines before diving in between them. Never mind if he was coddling his nth bottle in a beerhouse where kids half his age sing along to Top 10 hits off-key. He remained seated upright on a Monobloc chair amid a table of intensity—icy ground about to break because of silly things like what we believed.

The poet remained calm, taking in his lung’s full capacity. If only he then he alone was to keep the moment afloat—it’s in the energy he was open to, the energy he allowed to exude from himself.

There will be plenty of time for squabbles in lifetimes science so sadly prolongs. For now, let it be, let it be, whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Yesterday: Possible tornado hits Atlanta. (The week before, a close female friend came out to me.) That’s how the caption on CNN said it. Possible—as in probable but uncertain. The evidence led to such a conclusion, yet we hold back, afraid of being wrong, more so for being right. Maybe it was the honorable thing to do: to leave the cause of shattered windows, collapsed buildings, (unrealized love), to merely a hypothesis. The best political team on television relays only arguable opinions anyway; why state fact now? And what does politics have to do w/ weather? Or children hurt? Or the possibility of lives lost?

One injury is life threatening, read another caption. A scale to suffering inferred. One life is threatened; death is (thankfully) uncertain: Konswelo de bobo. Hundreds w/ injuries. Only 1 could die. The odds are good, or so we rationalize in times of distress. Hundreds w/ injuries, grimacing in pain from that piece of glass in a shin, that deep cut behind the neck because of swirling debris. Hospitals working double-time, no life left behind, especially that 1 that could die—he needs all the attention possible. The world plays the game of mathematics: 1 is better than 99; 100 is perfect. One-hundred screaming in pain, houses & workplaces in shambles, but only 1 could’ve died. He’s lying on a hospital bed now, not thinking about anyone but himself, eying the steady drops from dextrose bottles w/ family nearby, holding on to the rail of a hospital bed we might as well use as a metaphor for hope. (“No, I’m not mad. In fact, I’m proud of you.” I said this & I meant it. But…) They’re not thinking of 99 others, 99 families. In the future, they will say that they thought about the others, prayed for them as well. Today, they think of no 1. One injury is life threatening, reads the caption in a private room of an Atlanta hospital. A father whose daughter looks to be discharged the following morning smiles, Who cares?

CNN Center hit. News people become the news in their own network. The core of the network ruffled by swirling winds, but the show must go on, so might as well make the network the show. At least for a little while. Everyone pulls for the victim. Everyone needs to play that card sometimes. Just to make sure people care. Cuz when you’re hit at the center—your core—you begin to question. (Life is a lie.) Funny thing about people caring: you never know if they really do. Why should you believe after discovering things about them so late in the game? But this game is political, isn’t it? (“I’m proud of you. I really am.”) You’re over-questioning, I hear people saying. I hide behind a notion: the center was hit.

* * *

March 14: Happy Birthday to Mom! Happy Birthday to Ma'am Rica's mom (How I know these things is beyond me)! Happy Birthday to Wyatt!

Shocking: While April was being productive working on her Modern Poetry paper, I decided to be productive in my own way by opening my 3rd email account (for professional use that people tell me will come after I get my diploma & find a job) as well as my 1st ever (Finally! others say) Multiply account: Not that I'm much for taking photos but I might as well make my presence felt in such venues. Don't worry: I won't go all Facebook on you guys. And apparently I do have a Shelfari account but its emptiness speaks of how much I've bothered to care about the damn thing.

Oscar moment: Would like to thank the committee behind the Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts—Sir DM, Sir Larry, Ma’am Rica, etc. Would like to congratulate my fellow winners for CW—Chua, Robles, Tabinas. Would also like to congratulate friends in the other categories—Liana, Cindy, Marcee, etc. Thanks to April (of course), Marie, Panch, & Aga for showing up at the ceremony. (Pleasantly surprised to see Ma’am Susan Lara as well.) Ba’t di ganito yung Palanca? (Hahaha.)

Stage right (L-R): Marcee Lacap (Music), Aaron Roselo (Graphic Design), Cindy Custodio (Music), Martin Villanueva (Creative Writing), Jason Tabinas (Creative Writing), Andrew Robles (Creative Writing). Photo courtesy of Cindy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Surpassing proverbials

It was past 6PM when April & I arrived in Makati. From the MRT station, we passed thru SM & Glorietta before walking out to Makati Ave. Along the side of 6750 & Shangri-La stood armed guards, while on the opposite side, jeepneys w/ banners indicating the particular groups they were carrying parked in a long line, some protestors looking out from on top of the jeepneys to where bright lights beamed, where muffled voices led in the occasional chants.

The pedestrian underpasses were closed off; the crowded roads deterred vehicular traffic from passing thru. It felt like we were the only ones walking toward the Ninoy Aquino monument; I overheard the crowd of people walking the other way, office workers judging by their attire, concerned over whether or not there would be rides to take home.

By the time we reached the monument near the HSBC building, much of the crowd was already beginning to leave. The official Ateneo contingent was heading back to campus. I noticed Harvey Keh leading the group, along w/ Leland De La Cruz, Norman Quimpo, & Dr. Norman Marquez.

I bumped into Aga De La Torre, my former Science & Technology editor, who was surprised to see April & I. We were just there to observe, I insisted; the cause I support in other ways.

Maybe it’s not about the streets of EDSAs anymore.*

Before the last senatorial elections, Keh exemplified a new age of protest, releasing in a widely circulated email 10 scenarios that would make him want to leave the country. In a way, the protest worked; the election results generally serving as proof that such intellectualized rumblings could make some semblance of a difference. In Makati, Keh went old school on us—taking to the literal streets.

April & I stood quite a distance away from the main stage; a big screen to our right served as our only true view of what was going on. Nikay, Trish, & Aila were w/ us, along w/ Matanglawin’s Maki Lim. Opportunistic vendors sold water, fish balls, corn, & candy. To our left, street kids sold homemade GLORIA RESIGN pins—the only sign of their awareness. They entertained themselves by dancing to the music that would boom from various speakers. I swear there was 1 boy who was masturbating—at least pretending to—to the wisecracks of his buddies. Another boy stood up when a foreigner—a blonde in her mid-30s—invited him to dance.

It became clear that dancing was a big part of this whole practice. The songs I could only assume were leftovers from past EDSAs, as evident by the fact that only persons who seemed old enough to be EDSA veterans knew the lyrics. Those who were still reproductive concepts of would-be parents in ’86 just watched, maybe bobbing their heads, maybe moving their feet.

I had been reading Jose Lacaba’s Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage, had been reading about the student activism of the ‘60s & ‘70s. It was a different time. My ears perked when the current NUSP president was called up to the stage that Friday in Makati. In a way, he inherits Edjop’s role. He pales in comparison.

They say the leaders in government have changed but the rotten system is still the same. Funny how the opposition posed by the youth hasn’t changed either—even using the same songs sung during our fathers’ fight years ago.

Indeed, the ‘60s, ‘70s, & even the ‘80s were a different time. The intelligentsia turned the streets into a refuge as well as a platform to fight, to preach. Alleys led to the same avenues, leading to the same proverbial EDSAs & Mendiolas. And the singular spotlight would always follow.

But now, our metaphorical thoroughfares lead to a multitude of places, EDSAs & Mendiolas dispersed into a million different sites—whether physically on local ground, or in territories of the Diaspora, or in little niches on the Web, lost amid a host of more entertaining distractions. The spotlight is no longer singular, & gathering attention is a feat in itself, & so is keeping focus.

Just as our formidable enemy—conveniently dubbed the system—has never changed, neither has our collective response. Edjop & company helped bring forth an intellectualized discourse to the streets ruled by the youth—that was their battle. Ours is harnessing the dissent dispersed throughout various avenues into 1 common intellectualized voice—loud, heard, irrevocable, & just as much about the long-haul than the immediate.

The lights suddenly brightened at the various press platforms dispersed amongst the crowd. Jun Lozada was on stage; live updates follow his every statement. Like many before him, he has transcended the role of whistle-blower; he has become a symbol, & oddly enough, a constitutional expert in many respectable news shows. People are listening; they believe him; rightfully or wrongfully, he has taken advantage.

This is what the rules of this game entail—taking advantage. But doing so in dated ways is tantamount to doing so the wrong way.

Just make us proud.**

My father was tickled when in a high school economics class I was required to do something that he did—create small business ventures that would profit. But I’m sure he was prouder when I decided to take up something he has no interest in—writing—and I began receiving attention for it. There’s wisdom here w/ regard to our bigger picture as the young Filipino middle-class.

Proverbial fathers are amused when their sons imitate them. They become proud when their sons take their own stake in the world—become men doing things in their own way.

*Former Bukidnon representative Neric Acosta during a lecture at the University
**Fr. Jose Cruz, SJ, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, during a farewell address to graduating students

* * *

Well, it’s official: I passed Philosophy of Religion in Filipino under Dr. Rosario, w/c means I’ll be graduating. Spent the week finishing up my clearance; generally went smoothly.

Got measured for my graduation toga yesterday, w/c set me back a whopping P450! And to think we don’t even get to keep the toga. All we get to take home is the string thing that we will wear around our necks & I think the patch w/ the seal of the University.

Thoroughly enjoyed joining Vince & some of his Modern Poetry students during their Quiapo trip yesterday. As Vince said, few Quiapo tours can beat witnessing a political rally & seeing an international film shoot. Bought a couple of bottles of Tsingtao in Binondo w/c I will be enjoying tonight.

Speaking of Vince, here’s an interesting link he sent me—a rant about writing workshops.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Toying with reality

Reproduced here is a paper I delivered to a panel compromising of DM Reyes, Rica Bolipata-Santos, Exie Abola, Karla Delgado, Anina Abola, & Elbert Or this past Tuesday as my final requirement for graduating from the Ateneo Creative Writing program. Because of the 10-minute limit, the paper presented was a shortened extraction from my 25-page academic paper submitted the week before.

Creative nonfictionist. I believe to be called one is a rebellious commitment to view lived experience in different lights, and it is a rebellious commitment to find imaginative uses of literary techniques, all in order to best render in words the exposition of facts and the human experience beyond what can be witnessed in a lived dramatic situation.

It’s not as easy as writing a moment from one’s past. At least that’s not how I make this type of writing out to be, why I’ve chosen this path for my training as a writer in the Ateneo.

Perhaps the most common designation of creative nonfiction is a type of writing which employs literary skills in the writing of nonfiction. I think the key word we find here is literary, meaning it should be considered literature, side by side with poetry and fiction. There is an art to creative nonfiction, some would say is an art, demanding from its author expression, creativity, and craftsmanship in conveying and commenting on lived experiences or in exposition of researched facts.

A creative nonfictionist holds a similar responsibility as that of a journalist (or any writer of nonfiction for that matter) in that he cannot invent actual facts or events. His material must have been witnessed or discovered. But his edge over the journalist (some would call it his demise) is that he can “invent”—consciously or subconsciously—the lens through which his readers are to be informed of these facts and realities.

Viewed in this manner, creative nonfiction speaks of an innate propagandist quality, a level of imposition that becomes more and more subtle or pronounced the more adept one is at rendering his intent. It could be a form of protest, rebellion, a middle-finger, if not simply an eye opener.

What I call an arrogant and artistically competent mix of literary technique and disciplined journalistic reporting, Tom Wolfe and his New Journalism movement, introduced to me by my original nonfiction mentor, Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, shattered my dated views of nonfiction and introduced me to a level of experimentation I thought only seen in modern poetry and film.

Wolfe led me to Hunter Thompson. After Thompson came Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, and a lot more of Wolfe, with his longwinded dialogues, moments of stream-of-consciousness, and even sound effects from engines. And the best thing about all these undulations and warps in language and form—with punctuations manic, freewheeling, jumping off the page with all-caps and italicized sentence fragments, word fragments, sound snippets—was that they were all used to talk about what was real. Things that really happened. Things that mattered. The human experience with social commentary and a whole lot of style.

The attitude seemingly being advocated here is one of a sort of complex and serious sense of play.

While New Journalism made waves in the United States around the 1960s, Nick Joaquin had already been displaying such creativity in reportage here in the Philippines in many of his character profiles, in the articles he wrote for publications like the Philippines Free Press, and in essays like “The House on Zapote Street.”

These examples can be considered landmarks in the writing of nonfiction in that there appeared a conscientiousness to render moments in a manner that delivered the inherent messages of the experiences more creatively—not just in the way that traditional journalism taught. Traditional ways of conveying had inadequacies in capturing totalities. Too literal became too simple.

I was hooked, high, drunk on it all. All this was affecting not only my writing but my views on creative nonfiction and the standards I think it should be judged by.

I think we must begin, when assessing a creative nonfiction piece, with the notion that just because something really happened, it does not mean it is real on paper nor is it worth reading about. It must be rendered believable and significant. The literary technique most often used in creative nonfiction is that of narrative, or conveniently described as having been written like a work of fiction. I think the widespread use of this technique is only natural.

Though I have used the narrative form in my creative nonfiction many times, and I believe in its effectiveness, I have certain qualms about just limiting oneself to this one technique in rendering reality; often it could use the aid of other techniques. An explanatory science essay about cancer, for example, may not have a narrative in it, but is definitely creative nonfiction if, let us say, the author uses war as a metaphor to elucidate how chemotherapy drugs work at the microscopic level.

Again, what we have here is defiance over what’s expected, a rebellion, a middle-finger—if not brash stubbornness. But isn’t stubbornness a sign of commitment?

I won’t begin to deny the cathartic element of writing but in reading a personal essay, there are those who like to credit the element of courage in proclaimed creative nonfictionists which allows them to write private accounts of their lives, making a story narrative out of it for everyone to read. But if creative nonfiction is to be called literature, judging it must go beyond the commending of a writer’s courage to reveal himself.

Being a creative nonfictionist entails you have stories to tell or points you want to make. But it also entails the maturity to know when something is worth sharing or not, the discernment to see if there is something there beyond just sharing, the patience to realize this, and finally, the creativity and facility to choose the right techniques to render these stories and their messages. And it is with regard to the latter point that courage should be celebrated—the courage to exercise one’s creativity and imagination in service of the truth.

An interesting event cannot turn into an interesting story without a competent writer. You may have died and resurrected three days later but without an able chronicler with the right facility to relate the experience in written word, the experience is all for naught.

“He’d Rather Be Relevant,” which received recognition from the Palanca Foundation, is perhaps the most personal piece I have ever written. It is autobiographical through and through, chronicling my personal battle with bone cancer when I was in high school. But it is written in the third person. The character M was talking to an observer, the writer of the piece.

Now I’ve been accused of being weird before but there has never been a point in my life wherein I was talking about myself to myself. It all happened, but never in the way that the dramatic situation literally presented it.

I respond to those who question the ethics behind this by saying that the presentation of the dramatic situation was secondary to the piece’s point, which is still based on objective truth—things that happened to me personally within the context of a greater and dynamic socio-political setting. But I was after the effect of intimacy found in a conversation within an enclosed space like a room. Readers were discovering M together with the narrator as opposed to being imposed upon reflections directly from an I. “He’d Rather Be…” was a feat in craft, at least this is the feat I hold most dear—more than the cathartic element of sharing a personal story or winning an award, though the award was nice.

Creativity can be expressed in so many ways in nonfiction. As already touched on, Tom Wolfe plays with language and form when rendering a scene in service to symbolic meanings he may have discerned in the interactions he witnessed. Wolfe saw or felt something beyond the apparent and literal worth sharing.

I often take snippets from past works I have written, a journal or blog entry, a verse of poetry, a news article, even a list from a yearbook to help add another, perhaps less literal dimension to the transference of facts, ideas, and emotions to my pieces. It is a form I have been playing around with because of my being drawn to the resulting abstractedness in which concrete ideas are organically rendered. Thoughts are not always linear in real life; I think we would be doing the human experience a disservice if we always expressed them linearly in writing. I used this technique for my essay, “Jakarta.”

A complication of truth, some would accuse. I say a greater effort in conveying truth’s complexity.

Joan Didion used similar techniques before in her masterwork, “The White Album,” which is a piece consisting of seemingly unrelated narrative passages, interview transcripts, psychological reports, and even packing lists—perhaps the only way one could summarize the fun and turbulent ‘60s for a writer who lead such a colorful life.

Emmanuel Torres’ “Macho” was an ode to the jeepney and jeepney culture as told through description, narration, dialogue, and even found poetry using the phrases painted or stuck onto the vehicles themselves.

This sort of combining of varying passages was also the technique used by Annie Dillard in “Seeing,” leaving us to wonder what it is all about amid our marveling over the fact that we are convinced that it is about something profound—whether singularly specific or subjectively organic.

Here, a piece some would accuse of even lacking a concise thesis is lifted by creativity and craftsmanship to the level of art—one eliciting emotional investment from the reader and not relying on mere sentimental reflections on personal experiences in doing so.

Here, we lift reality from predictable journal entries about instances in time followed by reflection in logical flow to that of the dynamic interaction of the two with other aspects of the human experience which cannot necessarily be explained literally.

Here, we somewhat step into the realm of poetry, which poet Marc Gaba says holds “the task of meaning.” Often it is said that poetry is the use of one thing to mean something else, and I had always been intrigued about this elicit realm which the poet seemed obsessed to tap into. This transcendental—some would describe as spiritual—element was clearly a part of the human experience yet in literature always left to the hands of the poet.

Poems are visceral, essays are logical, and that’s that. Well, why so?

The meaning Gaba wrote about is one, perhaps, hidden in the tension of contrasting images. Easily, this is a method many nonfictionists, including myself, have appropriated. As mentioned earlier, I have used metaphor. Many have rendered scenes in their essays in a manner of language similar to that of Conchitina Cruz in her prose poetry. And as a form seemingly often presented in literal statements, what could be more trailblazing than for creative nonfiction to borrow from poetry the concept of the meaningful unsaid.

In the end, it really is a sort of complex and serious sense of play that drew me to creative nonfiction, for the discerning reader can differentiate an apt usage of technique from a mere moment of unprocessed sharing. Creative nonfiction takes ownership of one’s material, however much one is affected (or unaffected) by it, and ownership of the decisions behind one’s rendering, whether the truths one discovers move him to a cold starkness or—as often is the case with this brash 22 year old writer in front of you—a liberal sense of experimentation.

Unfortunately, a lot of the bits w/c support my views had to be cut out because I really wanted to say my main points w/in the 10 minutes. And I had to edit some parts to allow for a more "enticingly arrogant" rhetoric so the reading wouldn't be too boring (performance na 'to!). The panelists had supposedly read the academic paper in full anyway so I guess they were able to fully see where I was coming from. And the feedback was relatively good, save for Anina jokingly implying that a lot of the ideas were not mine rather Larry's.

And of that mentor of mine, well, he wasn't around, though the presence of his spirit was duly acknowledged by yours truly before my reading began. I texted Ypil & asked if he was still coming while the other presenters were up at the podium. His reply: "Sorry, I had to buy an electric fan."

* * *

Another speaking engagement & reality check: Yesterday, during the School of Humanities Open House, I (along w/Glenn) was asked by Sir DM to address the incoming freshmen of CW and their parents. As part of my introduction, I remember saying, "My time as a student of the Creative Writing program culminated just this past Tuesday during my thesis defense." It hit me then that this graduation thing is for real.

But we can't breathe easily yet, my friends; keep your fingers crossed. Judgment's still out w/ regard to Philosophy of Religion in Filipino. During my 15-minute oral finals, I spoke for a mere 5 minutes. I rushed thru the whole damn thing to make sure I wouldn't forget any of the points Audrey tutored me on. "Mukhang namamadali mag-bakasyon si G. Villanueva," said Sir Rosario. Patay!

Let the vigil begin.