Tag Archives: fiction

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!

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Different Houses

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Building dreams together is one of the perks of being in a relationship. It makes me look forward for the future. But when the relationship gets awry….
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She met a boy who wished for a simple home in a suburban neighborhood. No qualms and chaos. Just there to have peace and quiet. Now, he is gone.

She almost fell in love with a man who wanted a house on top of a century-old tree. He would build his own tree house and put a sun roof so all the light would come in. Now, he is pursuing someone else.

She fell in love with a man who dreamt of a Pi-shaped house with her. A white Pi-shaped house with an Olympic size swimming pool in between the elongated parts of the house. Now, he is with someone else.

The tragedy of it all? They never asked her what she wanted.
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In all fairness, I still don’t know how my ‘dream house’ would look like. o.O
What does your dream house look like?

Peace out!

Would it?

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I wrote this when I was ‘past the point of no return’ and started noticing that I still liked the things he liked even after we broke up. I know some of my friends hate certain things simply because these remind them so much of their exes. I saw myself not hating these things at all, no matter how much I wanted to, if only to forget him.

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Would it matter if I still love the things you made me love?

I still love the coffee down at the bakery where we used to share a cup. I still love the book you bought me at the thrift bookstore when I didn’t have enough money. I still love the film you made me watch because you said it was amazing. If I still love the things I associate with you, then does that make me still love you?

I found a place that serves better, and I mean way better, coffee than that bakeshop. I bought a book and have actually read it more than a couple of times. I watched a film that made me laugh, cry, and love my life even more when I got out of the cinema. But I still love the things you love, does that make me still love you?

Would it matter if I still love the things you made me love? Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m with good company, if ever you’re wondering. Nope? Oh, my bad.

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Well?
Peace out!

For The Next Seven Days

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For the next seven days, I’ll be posting my shelved written works, both flash fictions and poems, here in my blog. I’ve written them a couple of years ago when I wasn’t emotionally sober. Now that I’ve edited most of them, I’m feeling kind of confident in showing them to the public. Operative word is ‘feeling’. I’m not entirely sure. But, oh well.

Tell me what you think about them, will you?

Peace out!

Ships

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This isn’t one of my flash fictions but it’s one of my loved pieces. I wrote it when I was on the ship for Cebu.

 

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            “Siguraduhin mong may susundo sa’yo dun.”

                        Make sure someone fetches you there.

            “Opo. Naa naman koy nakasabut, Dad.”

                        Yes. Already contacted someone, Dad.

 

            I lied. Who would? The HR Rep? Nope. That snooty Napoleonic bastard was too proud to even shake my hand when he interviewed me. The plan was; I would go off the ship, get out of the port, hail a cab, and go straight to the hotel where the company already booked me.

 

            My dad was always a worrywart when it came to promptness. So at, I kid you not, seventeen hundred hours, I was already in the boarding area of the pier with my things fully scanned and my body done being molested by the lady who sure was a lesbian. Departure was at twenty hundred hours.

 

            18:00 hours.

            One trolley, one dufffel bag, one handbag, and a box full of seafood canned goods and a mini rice cooker; that was all I carried with me. I hired a porter to carry all of it. That costed at least a hundred pesos. I tipped the guy with a twenty.

 

            19:43 hours.

            A thick-browed tall moreno guy carrying a mountaineer’s back-pack occupied the bottom bunk  adjacent mine. He had this huge pastel-colored shoulder bag. Something whimpered in it. He looked at me. I looked at him back. Then, he looked at his shoulder bag.

 

            “Be quiet, Fifi.”, he said in a hushed tone.

            “How original.”, I said in a hushed tone.

 

            He tried to retort but Fifi barked and squirmed inside the bag. He unzipped the bag and lo and behold; Fifi was a  pekingese. He fed the bitch with dried goodies but she was still agitated.

 

            I left and bought a bottle of water at the snack bar.  I didn’t want to go back immediately so I took a few swigs at it at the top deck.

 

            I couldn’t play any intrument at all. I sing. I’m a classically trained opera singer but I never took advantage of it. Started singing when I was in fifth grade. Manang Celly, an old woman in our neighborhood, took pity on me and taught me. She said I remind her of herself when she was young. She was alone; wasn’t married or had any children. She is dead. 

 

            The air was too chilly so I went back. That bitch still annoyed me.  

 

            “Maybe she’s thirsty.” I offered my half-empty water bottle to Fifi. She refused.

 

            The guy said nothing. He squished himself inside the bunk and sighed; a form of surrender. I left him with his thoughts.

 

            20:16 hours.

           

            1 New Message

            Alex

            I’m sorry.

 

            Asshole. We were together for four months but said asshole was too stubborn to admit the last month just wasn’t working. He even blamed himself for me leaving. How pathetic.

 

            Pakikipagsapalaran. Mom’s favorite word. The waves were invading my thoughts. Apparently, musings do have ambient  music. Mom always told me it meant challenging fate. Was this me challenging fate?

 

            I went back to my bunk and slept.

 

            00:53 hours.

 

            That whining little bitch was at it again. I turned over to silence that damned abomination but I was wrong. Fifi wasn’t whimpering. Her owner was. Binangungot. I woke him up and offered him my half empty water bottle. This time, he took it.

 

            “Good thing she’s still asleep.”, he said.

            “Yeah, or I would’ve killed that Satanic incarnation.”, I said.

            He was about to lie down when I said, “Why the fuck would you put that poor dog in there?”

            “I don’t want to pay for that stupid bitch anymore.”, he said.

 

            I couldn’t get back to sleep.

 

            01:26 hours.

 

            I have a band. Well right now, it’s more appropriate to say I had a band. It was a long time ago. At first, it was great. Every night was another adventure; another opportunity to explore the city. Thoughts became lyrics that turn into songs. Hums became melodies, rhythms, and beats. Each of us was into different genres. I was the one into jazz.

 

            Why did I leave them?

 

            Mom was about to be promoted for a deanship in a prestigious school in the city. But, the proverbial institutional politics happened. She moved to Manila and returned to UP for her Doctorate. Dad is retired; living out his pension.

 

            Why did I leave them?

 

            I got offered a job in one of Cebu’s topnotch recording labels. Not as a recording artist, though. I’ll be the one-scouting-for-fresh-talents and dipping-my-hands-into-dirty-old-monkey-business for them. As what that Napoleonic bastard told me, I have a knack for fishing good talents. Talents. That narcissistic dimwit can’t even say artists.

 

            05:30 hours.

 

            Good morning, thank you for….. passengers…. We are currently…. pleased to inform you…docking the ports of Cebu…. In behalf of all the staff… this ship, I welcome you all to the Queen City of the South.

 

            Attention all tourist passengers…… claim ID’s and return beddings at the counter. Thank you…. Enjoy your… Thank you.

 

            “Let me guess, you crossed the sea just so you could give that little mutt to her owner. Please tell me I’m wrong.”

            “How the hell did you know?”

            “ You should just get rid of it.”

 

            06:47 hours.

 

            He was everywhere. Alfred. Alfi. Fifi. My Fifi. He was my Fifi. He still haunts me.

 

            On the corner just outside the pier gates, I was trying to hail a cab when every one of them was already filled. Then, this one cab stopped and popped open the door in front of me. My pepper spray was ready. I peered in and saw him. He already made space for me.

 

            “Good for you.”, I said and sat beside him. He smiled.

            “Radisson….”, I told the cabdriver.

            “Blu. Radisson Blu.”, he said.

 

                                                                                      Fin

Secret

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Another attempt at flash fiction. I hope you guys enjoy.

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She tried her best to hold back her feelings. She just pushed it and pushed it in. It was positive.

 

She whipped her phone out from her pocket. 

 

“Kumusta?” (How are you?), he said.

“Ok ra.” (It’s ok.), she replied. She put the phone back in her pocket.

 

An old woman approached her and handed her a note. She read it and nodded. The old woman left.

 

She walked under the scorching heat. A few blocks away, she turned into a corner. In between two buildings, she entered a scant poorly-made cement road and entered there. Like the walls caving in on her, her heart was beating faster and faster. But she went on. 

 

The old woman was waiting for her. She opened the door and the girl walked in. It was a cozy fully furnished house. You wouldn’t believe the old woman lived there, what with her occupation and all. She offered the girl a seat. 

 

“Buhatun na nato, ‘Nang.” (Let’s just do it, ‘Nang), the girl said.

“Sige.”, said the old woman and pushed a syringe in a small vial and extracted a transparent solution.

“Para asa na?” (What’s that for?), asked the girl.

“Para wala kay mabatian.” (So you wouldn’t feel a thing.), said the old woman.

 

Years later, he is with someone else. 

 

She still hasn’t forgotten.

Milk Tea

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Here is my attempt at flash fiction. I hope you guys enjoy. 🙂

 

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I saw a couple in the tea house earlier; a young couple. Maybe senior college students. They sat in front of each other. The girl was shaking her large honeydew milk tea. The guy followed suit with his chocolate milk tea. The girl wasn’t in her element. The guy noticed that, too. So he tried to do smalltalk with her.

 

Well, it wasn’t working. The guy was asking the wrong kind of questions. The girl had the chance to answer either a yes or a no. And she did. Then, the girl made a great deep sigh.

 

“Where do you think are we going?”, she said.

“I thought you were planning on an out of town trip with your parents?”

“No, this, us.”

 

The guy had nothing to say. He was getting fidgety on his seat. He tried to make eye contact with the girl but all she could do was stare into the marble tiles. The guy tried to tell something. He was mustering the courage to say something. But he didn’t have enough guts to say it out loud. He left. No stomping or theatrical walkouts. He just left, graciously.

 

The girl was left staring at the blankness of the floor.

 

The girl is me.