Monthly Archives: September 2014

Davao Writers Workshop: What I Went Through To Check Your Confirmation

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Ever had that nagging feeling pressing you to check your email for no apparent reason? And then you found out your laptop doesn’t work. Your phone has no reception. Basically, you’re screwed.

Saturday night. Two of my closest friends, Abby and Summer, PMed me in FB asking if I’ve checked my email. Since I had a shitty reception at home plus my virtually non-existent non-compliant laptop wouldn’t do its job, I had no way of scanning through my email. Which made me ask this question: why would these two people ask me about as mundane as checking my email? And then I remembered.

Last August – Summer, Abby, and I applied for the annual Davao Writers Workshop. We had to submit our portfolio electronically through Dagmay – the online literary journal of Davao Writers Guild. I applied for the Poetry Category which made me submit at least five poems.

At the time, I only had four poems. You know what I did? I made a poem on the day of the deadline (August 15) about the fox’s perspective from The Little Prince. I named it Chapter 21 because in the novel, the fox is featured in Chapter 21. (duhdoy) I will not see the light of day on that poem because I made a stupid mistake of not saving it before sending it.

After that, every once in a while, I check my email and see if I had made the cut and each time I did, there was no message from Dagmay confirming my submission which made me a bit anxious. Some friends said they usually update a month before the workshops.

And then, at 11 o’clock in the evening on September 27, the organizer of the Davao Writers Workshop emailed the applicants.

I had absolutely no way of checking my email at that ungodly hour. I may be living in one of the Top 5 developing cities in the Philippines but I had a four year old and absolutely obsolete phone in my hands. I felt defeated.

So I waited for Sunday to come to check my email at a net cafe. As luck would have it, all of the cafes were closed. The sun was high up. The heat was as hot as it could ever be. I felt like I was living in a desert. And no way of checking my email.

I went home feeling anxious. Did I make the cut? Didn’t I? Maybe they didn’t like my last poem. Why’d I even make that one as haphazardly as I had done it. I should have edited it some more. I should have planned it out. The what ifs and should haves kept running in my mind as I walk my way home.

And as a futile resort, I tried checking my email through my phone. And wouldn’t you know! It budged. My phone pulled through just when I needed it the most. And I got in the workshop!

To the screening committee of the workshop, thank you so much for considering my poems as worthy of your prestigious event. It is a huge honor to be chosen as one of your fellows.

The Davao Writers Workshop is organized by the Davao Writers Guild (DWG), in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP – Min). This year’s workshop will be held on October 27-31 at Davao City and will be participated by 15 delegates with 4 from outside Davao but reside in Mindanao.

And I’m one of the four lucky fellows from outside Davao!

Peace out!

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Poem: In Another Existence

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A few days ago, there was this viral message about Mars’ cosmic ray scare floating around the interwebs. It said something about turning off all electronic devices as cosmic rays will affect mobile phones. Of course, being the skeptic that I am, I didn’t heed anything about it.

And then I wondered, what if my being a Luddite got over me and I actually turned off my phone? What if I didn’t get to that party my friend invited me to? What if I didn’t meet that guy down at the corner where I usually wait for my jeepney ride home? What if?

Here goes.

Me

meeting you

at that exact corner

where jeeps

and motorcycles

passed

me by

like

the flowing

river

was not

just

coincidence

 

You

with your

wild-eyed silliness

and your

inability

to keep

your bearings

in this

strange strange city

 

asking me

the girl

who basically

has

the city’s map

at the back

of her palm

for directions

was not

just

pure luck

 

It was cosmic rays

pushing us

into that corner

 

 

It was

divine providence

 

It was

a mixture

of luck

and coincidence

and decisions

all leading

to

that corner

 

to that

destiny

 

in another

existence

Poem: Countdown

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It’s been awhile since a wrote new poetry.  I know it’s no excuse but I’ve had a lot on my plate the past couple of months. But now I’m back!  I apologize for not updating you with any new poems.

Here’s my new one entitled “Countdown”.

Cut-off jeans

and flip flops

Sunscreens

and

sunnies.

Is it still summer?

No

it’s not.

I’m waiting for summer.

Wait

Christmas has to visit

with all its

frolicking

and

caroling

it seems like

it’ll last

long

But it won’t

Summer

will come by

soon

What are your thoughts? I’d really appreciate constructive criticisms. It would help me a lot.

That’s it for now.

Peace out!

Mindblowing Seminar

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Mindblowing Seminar

September 13, XU AVR 1, Cagayan de Oro City –  I was very fortunate to have participated in “Over A Cup of Coffee: A Talk with the Writers” –  ‘a literary discussion with the leading local writers of Mindanao.’ Said leading local writers who shared their journey in their specific literary field are Dr. Maria Elena Paulma , Dr. Steven Fernandez, Prof. Rogelia Garcia, and Prof. Arlene Yandug.

The talk was organized by XELLO (Xavier English Language and Literature Organization – a student organization for ELL and English major students in Xavier University) spearheaded by Kristen Senajon. (She also has a blog. Please check her out right here.)

Dr. Paulma started the talk by sharing the introduction of her dissertation. She was suppose to discuss about fiction but she ended up telling her process of writing in general. I didn’t actually take a lot of notes. I was too drawn listening to her. She has this aura that commands attention, not the kind that drill seargents have, but more like the kind Mother Mary had (if ever I did meet her).

One of the things she said that really struck me the most was the quote she shared by Butch Dalisay, “The knowing is in the writing.” Indeed, whenever I write, there’s always this sort of discovery that unfolds before me. Truths that I’ve never actually thought of in my waking moments. Thoughts that have lain dormant in my subconscious.

She also said how a writer’s best friend is the trash can. Haha! How true. Or if you’re more of the techie kind, the recycling bin, which is virtually a trash can.

There is also this dichotomy of creation and destruction in writing. I can’t seem to find the right words to explain how this phenomenon happens but let me paint a picture:

I’m writing. Pen on my right hand. A clean sheet of paper under it. I scribble words that come from my brain and down to my fingertips. Just as I’m about to put that last dot that ends the paragraph, I crumple that ink-filled sheet of paper and shoot that to my make-believe ring, which actually is just a trash can.

I know the picture I painted kinda sounded lame but….I tried.

I asked Dr. Paulma how she overcomes that fear of sharing to much of herself in her writing. She answered me with “It’s like jumping into a cliff. You just have to do it.”

The second part of the talk was about Poetry discussed by Prof. Yandug. She focused more on the structure of poetry and how line breaks are there to make the reader ask questions at the end of every line.

She used William Carlos Williams’ poem entitled Poem (As The Cat) to explain how line breaks work. As far as I could remember, she explained it like this:

As the cat                                 what?
climbed over                            climbed over what?
the top of                                 top of what?

the jamcloset                           and then?
first the right                            right what?
forefoot                                    oh okay, and then?

carefully                                   and then?
then the hind                           the hind what?
stepped down                         stepped down where?

into the pit of                           pit of the what?
the empty                               empty what?
flowerpot                                oh okay, the cat is safe. Yippee!

Now that I think about it, poetry is about suspense.

She also shared her poem entitled “Going Back to the Island”. The poem was published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. If you like to read the poem, click this.

After reading the poem, some of the participants almost cried. Even the host of the seminar, my friend Abby, almost cried.

I asked Prof. Yandug if she thought of ever performing the poem while writing it and she said she never thought of it. My first question was only a set-up to invite her for the Poetry Night and she definitely said yes! It actually pays to have a very thick face.

The third resource speaker that day was Prof. Rogelio Garcia. He’s more fondly called as Sir Roger to colleagues and students. I first met him when NAGMAC (Nagkahiusang Mambabalak sa CDO) conducted a poetry workshop back in July. But, his reputation did precede him. Most of my friends who are English majors have been fawning about him; telling me how he is such an inspiration. And I do agree he is an inspiration.

He discussed the literary genre Creative Non Fiction (CNF) – the youngest literary form in the bunch and focused on discussing the memoir CNF. He also showed the guidelines of CNF (I’d rather not enumerate them here.) and how different memoir CNFs are from autobiographies and biographies. Simply put, CNFs are true accounts of someone’s life (or in a memoir – true accounts of YOUR life) but written artfully whereas autobiographies and biographies are more informative and concerned in dates and times.

Did my explanation make sense? I do hope so.

Last and definitely not the least was Dr. Fernandez – the rock star of Mindanao drama and the DEFENDER OF OUR HERITAGE. Seriously, he actually did get an award from China.

Instead of showing slides and discussing his topic, which was playwriting, he opted to make things more interesting by making us – the participants – ask questions first.

Someones asked him when he started performing, to which he answered that he started performing ever since he was born. And he said all of us perform. We perform at home, in school, in meeting, even that time when we were in the seminar. Even he was performing before us.

Performance is a part of our lives.

He was asked many questions to which he answered very wittingly. Even fellow resource speaker – Sir Roger – asked him questions about his craft. He was asked how he deals with writers’ block to which he answered “sex”. The crowd jeered!

He shared his experiences is the source of his creativity. His quotable quote that day was “You write what you know.”

The seminar was closed by Zara, one of the organizers, with an encouragement: “Writing is for the brave. Be brave.”

I hope this seminar has sparked the young local writers of our city. We badly do need it to uplift and promote our own heritage. As what Dr. Fernandez said, “It’s our own culture. Nag-iisa lang ‘yan. We have to defend it.”

And with that, I will now jump into the cliff (figuratively, of course).

Peace out!

Eraserheads, A Part of my Childhood

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While kids were playing bato-lata ang tagu-taguan outside my home, my mother made me stay inside and read books (which I never really did back when I was younger) or sit with her in the living area watching her crochet blankets and table runners. The closest I got of playing outside was when I root for my brothers when they play jolen with the other kids in the neighborhood.

Back in the 90s, it was a ritual for kids my age to do siestas. I wasn’t much of an obedient kid. Whenever it was time, I feign sleep. Of course, mom would sleep with me and when she snores, that was my signal to sneak out of the room, go to the living area, pop Eraserhead’s Cutterpillow or Circus albums in the cassette player (yes, we had cassette players back then, kids) and dance my butt off. 

I didn’t get along with kids my age. I didn’t like running and sweating. I still don’t. Mainly because I was always the slowest one to run. But whenever I sing an Eheads song, I feel like I’m experiencing the song right that moment. I wasn’t missing out on anything. 

They made me love OPM. They made me have faith in OPM.

So, what are their songs that have been seared in my heart? Here they are.

Ang Huling El Bimbo

Who couldn’t forget the music video with the little kids fawning over the same girl? The same music video that catapulted them to international stardom. I was envious of that girl. *sigh* That was the song that made me believe in young love. And it was actually a heart-breaking song. 

Hey, Jay

Before Gloc 9 released Sirena, Eraserheads had Hey, Jay. They were LGBT rights advocates even then!

With A Smile

Favorite lyrics: It sounds funny but I’ll say it anyway/ Girl I’ll stay/ through the bad times/

That’s what everyone wants to hear! That they’ll stay with us through the bad times. They got it spot on. 

Poorman’s Grave

I remember my fourth grade teacher made us read lyrics to any song we knew aloud in the class. I brought the lyrics of Poorman’s Grave. And being such a competitive little missy I was back then, I sang it in class. I thought my teacher cried because of my astounding voice. I was wrong. Gravely wrong.

Fruitcake

Back in the 90s, our family Christmases would never be complete without a fruitcake baked by our mom. There was this one time when, I kid you not, my mom actually sang the first few lines of Fruitcake. I wasn’t surprised. She is a Beatle fan.

Magasin

That intro. The lyrics. This song actually taught me how to read between the lines. 

Butterscotch

You know hopscotch? In Bisaya, we call it biko-tae. I know this is just a song full of wordplay but it’s fun. 

Spolarium

They weren’t just about the play though. Take this song, for example. There’s a lot speculators that said this one was about Pepsi Paloma – a sexy starlet in the 80s who died of suicide and the controversy behind her death. I leave judgment to you.

I know I couldn’t turn back time but at least when I pop in an Eheads song, it sends me back to those simpler times. I know there should be more in here. But these one right here have a more soft spot in me than the other songs. Forgive me if I didn’t include you Eheads favorite. 

I would love to know your favorite Eheads songs, too

Peace out!

Playlist of the Week: Sept. 8, 2014

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Whoa! With my first playlist of the week post, I think I got the hang of this – sharing the kind of music I’m listening to you guys. It’s always been one of my icebreakers whenever I meet someone new. Eventually we’d exchange playlists and discover different artists both in mainstream and underground. I hope I get to know your song recommendations as well.

Same as last time, my playlist does not completely have current songs. In fact, some have been released for a couple of years ago. They just didn’t break through the mainstream. Some of these songs come from OPM and indie bands I’ve scoured through the interwebs. If you like, you can definitely follow their youtube channels.

So without further ado, here are the songs in my playlist for the week (and in no particular order).

I just found out about this song. It’s been awhile since I’ve spent time with my friends. They’re actually the ones recommending me new songs. This is relatively current (Dec 2013). I’m not that far behind, am I?

I liked the song coz it reminded me of No Doubt back when they were into Ska and Reggae. Plus, the lyrics is quite adorable. The guy is asking permission from his girlfriend’s father to have her hand in marriage. Well, the dad was being “rude”.

Daaaaaaaaah… Just listen to it and you’ll know.

By far, my favorite pinoy band of all time. Well, fans of Eraserheads might chop my head off when see me in the streets but hear me out. Don’t get me wrong. I’m loyal to Eraserheads. They’re a huge influence on OPM back in the 90s. No doubt about that. (side not: Did you know the guy who directed their music video for Ang Huling El Bimbo is also the same guy who directed And Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros?)

Okay, back to reality. But they’re really good. They’re sound is so unique. Plus Armi’s voice is to die for.

If Girls was my happy song for the playlist, Indak is my sad song. You know that bed weather when you just wanna curl and sleep and feel intentionally depressed just coz the weather suggests it? This is a great song for that. Haha!

And since we got into the subject of Eraserheads, I’m gonna put one (yes one, coz they have so many cool songs I might just put all their songs in this playlist just to get this over with.) song.

This is actually the first Eheads song I’ve learned to sing. It was the 90’s. I just learned how to read and this song has a lot of simple words a kindergartener can read. Now that I’ve grown up and have read the lyrics, it breaks my heart.

You could hear the irony, right? The song talks about death and yet the song sounds so happy and fast paced.

It’s Bisaya. I recently (is 7 months recent?) been fascinated with Visayan songs coz of my friends who’ve had their Visayan Appreciation class. Come on, this one’s catchy, right?

For those of you who don’t understand Bisaya, the song is about a girl who’s seen her crush and actually wants to take a photo op with him. Funny, right?

Jazz. The most free flowing and relaxing genre in music. I’ve started appreciating jazz when I was in high school. I always thought that jazz perfectly emulates life; it sounds sad but you gotta get through it and appreciate how it’ll all end.

This song right here is Aretha by Rumer. Clearly this song is a homage to Aretha Franklin. Also, it makes you think how the persona grew up too fast and appreciated Aretha’s songs at such a young age. That’s just my take on it. What about you?

Rumer sounds like the love child of Karen Carpenter and Sara Bareilles. Try and have a listen to it and let me know if you aren’t hooked on her.

So that sums up my playlist of the week. Til then,

Peace out!

Playlist of the Week: Sept. 1, 2014

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I’m not much of a musician. I sing in the shower. I used to sing with my choir once upon a time but now I’m kinda rusty at it.
Anyway, here’s my current playlist for this week. Some of these songs aren’t current. At the latest, these were released a couple of years ago. I discovered some them while watching tv shows like HIMYM, Community, Suits, and Bones. Others, I discovered from friends. There’s even one Bisaya song I liked listening to again and again and again.
Here goes.

This song popped out when Mike Ross was getting paranoid about getting caught as a fraud in Suits. I realized the overall lyrics of the song didn’t match the scene but the mere repetition of the word sacrilege makes the scene it much more powerful.
The song is about someone (man or woman – it’s doesn’t really matter now, does it?) who committed infidelity. The premise isn’t new but listen to the song and you’ll understand and feel the persona’s confusion and guilt. Wait, it does sound like Mike Ross. @_@

I heard this song from Bones. Brennan was examining the remains of the victim (I don’t remember who it was) and she had her headphones on. This song was in her Ipod.
This song reminds me of waltz. Maybe it is waltz. It’s just so light and relaxing. It’s my lullaby whenever I can’t sleep.

Remember the episode from HIMYM when… oh there were a lot of scenes. I don’t remember them all! But I do remember it had something to do with Ted telling Robin how he still had feelings for her but Robin just found out she can’t have kids so she said she “Can’t have this right now”. After the scene, the Christmas tree still blinked merrily as if nothing huge happened.
I listen to this one whenever I’m frustrated. It has this balance of calm and angst.
HIMYM was the reason why I found out about Florence + The Machine. And then I started surfing her other songs.As a bonus, I’m gonna add my favorite song here:

I heard this one from a lot of shows and movies but this one was stuck in my head when they played this in Community. I think it was back in season 1 when Jeff and Annie won the debate contest and this one was kinda like the victory song in the background.
You’ll hear more awesome songs in Community. But more importantly, you’ll have a lot of laughs from these dorky band of misfits. Seriously, who puts a religious married woman, a hippie, an ultra-competitive teen, a jock, a jerk, a weirdo, and a gay guy who’s into dalmatian fetish together in one show? Dan Harmon, that’s who.

Some of my friends were English majors who were taking this Visayan Appreciation class. They were actually the ones who also made me appreciate the beauty of Bisaya. No, they didn’t force me.
This one is a sweetie song. It’s even in the airwaves and jeepney rides I take in the city. I don’t mind hearing this one whenever I’m on my way home.
Wow, and I notice I unintentionally did recommend you tv shows to watch as well. haha! Or didn’t I?
So that’s my playlist for the week. Do you have any songs you could suggest me? Comment away.
For now….
Peace out! 🙂