Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year-End 4: Well Wisher

In the few remaining hours of the year, let us set ourselves, however briefly, to a solemn look back on the things that we have done for the last twelve months. And may we orient ourselves in the coming of the New Year to our newfound resolves. There is nothing wrong with being organized with our personal endeavors. Instead, it endows our lives a more coherent form. Let us then celebrate in the safest way we could!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year-End 3: Thoughts on Rizal Day

I hope it doesn’t spoil the anticipations of the Filipinos for the New Year celebrations with the coming of the Rizal Day. It is not an excuse at all that we have anyway his birthday to celebrate on June. It is in my belief that December 30 is as much as important as the celebration of his birthday, perhaps more. To borrow a line from a local TV channel, tomorrow marks Rizal’s martyrdom.

It certainly would look boring if I am to recount the details leading to his execution. Perhaps it is a better thing to assume that most of us (if not all, for I know that there are still those who care not about history) knows a bit about him. The point of this entry is to reiterate the important of putting our minds in retrospect, especially when they concern events in our history that have made lasting marks to the country.

For one point, I think I am in no position to put forward a meaty opinion about the possible thoughts of Rizal when he sees our situation today – widespread graft and corruption in the public offices; swept almost entirely by blinding promises of game shows; and suspended to our dreams ‘thanks’ to the many forms of entertainment abounding around.

Certainly, I would not want to be a killjoy as well. This is our times and it is kind of crap to twist the present to suit certain things about the past. Rizal may have enjoyed as well the ‘refreshments’ of life back in his times.

But Rizal is one of the exponents of the struggle for freedom (well, technically reforms, but that’s another story) and it would be a bad slap to his memory if we are to succumb to the distractions of the present times – entertainment, fashion, the notorious internet, among other. It would not cause a thing, not even our face, to revere in our own ways the works, in fact almost the entire life, of our established national hero. We have December 30 to do this.

But of course, it is a personal hope that ‘realizations’ or resolves to interconnect our country’s past with the patterns of the present would be a lifestyle. We have seen anyway (through the death of a former president) that we are as much as receptive to national sentiments as open to sensational issues in showbiz. We must therefore reinforce it to a better, loftier cause.

Sharing things about Rizal to the younger generation is one, attending ceremonies tomorrow or involving one’s self into discussions is another (although may already be a little too heavy already to some). But in any case, each one of us should re-orient our thoughts and reflect in the relative freedom that we are enjoying now. Rizal may not the knight-in-shining-armor that completely gave this ‘freedom’, but it is irrefutable that he did his part to ensure this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Year-End 2: Sinking Ships and Reminiscences

Tragedies really home-in on me especially when I feel that I could, in one way or another, relate to it. The sinking of shipping vessels, starting with MV Princess of the Stars to the recent Baleno Nine really, ‘strikes home’.

I have been sailing to and fro for at least two years between Batangas and Mindoro because of a personal relationship that I used to have. And over the course of those two years I have accumulated an envelope-ful of tickets. (Yep, I enjoy keeping souvenirs of my trips, however near that trip may be.)

My first impulse when I heard about Baleno, was to rummage through my ticket-souvenirs to see if I have been to that particular Baleno. Well, no, I did not. I have boarded instead a Baleno Five. But, all the same, I have some things to say about these vessels.

I can still remember that it was a last choice. As I had to make an ambush appointment before some personal relations get severed, I was compelled to board the Baleno. Topping it all of course was that the fare was cheap.

Small and rusty (common I would believe for such things that have spent almost most of their lives on water), filth would the first thing that would greet you. I can still remember that I opted to stand for the whole duration of the trip because, although I am not that the segregator-type of person, the seats were simply dirty. I cannot be so sure about this, but it seemed that the small ship is not focused on passengers but rather cargoes. In the end, I am not that surprised that a Baleno should meet demise like that – obliteration under a fair weather.

They may eventually reason out the big waves, which some travelers to the place say they often feel and see during December, but it really boils down to that singular issue of the ships’ sea-worthiness.

I would agree to those media commentators that we should not wait for sea accidents again and again for us review policies on the sea-worthiness of ships – both cargo and passenger ones – for the very nature of our country, an archipelagic one, should be an impetus enough to specify coherent rules and security for the people and the ships. The habit of issuing tickets to people that should have been given to some one else, as I have experienced, should be stopped now. Importance should be given to the manifestoes, and reiterate to the travelers that it is just as important as their lives, and not just a nuisance in a busy pier-terminal.

Yes, to a certain extent, the agency that handles the ships and sea travel is still existing and doing their job. But look at the seeming monument now of Princess of the Stars? From that recent tragedy, have we seen more stringent measures to ensure the safety of all the people using sea travel? I don’t think so. For in just a span of two years, the news has been replete with tragedies of similar nature.

In this form, I am getting really personal. Indeed. For I personally love traveling by ship, looking out the wide expanse of water ending only to the horizons, the islands one passes by, the occasional dolphins. But altogether, it is not all about the aesthetic side of traveling by sea. It is ultimately on the safety of the travelers on one hand, and the proper handling of the agencies on their rules and policies.

I do not want to see myself getting to that point where I have to force my way through people just to grab one of those short-supplied life jackets.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Season’s Talk Series 6: End of the Series

This marks my continued resolve to defy a tradition that fails to take in consideration the truth, the much needed truth, behind the reason for the present celebrations. I need not tire myself of all the arguments to share the need to uncover the flaws in the celebrations. It boils down to choice, of course, but there comes a time that one should step forward to act. I am be a pessimist, but that is my choice. This is my act.

Season’s Talk Series 5: KM 64: Call for Submissions: Duguang Lupa

Mag-iisang buwan na mula nang maganap ang karumal-dumal na krimeng ngayo'y tinatawag na Ampatuan Massacre, na ibinunga ng kasakiman sa kapangyarihan ng iilang taong matagal nang naghahari at gusto'y sila na lang sa habang panahon ang maghari sa Maguindanao.

Sinundan ang insidente ng pagdedeklara ng state of emergency at, kasunod niyon, batas militar sa Maguindanao. Ito'y upang madakip daw nang madali ang mga Ampatuan at ang mga tagasuporta nila.

Binawi na ang proklamasyon ng batas militar ngunit nananatili ang state of emergency sa Maguindanao. Patuloy ang mga pagdakip nang walang kautusan mula sa hukuman.

Hindi natin alam kung talaga bang ang mga Ampatuan at ang mga tagasuporta nila lamang ang pinagdadadakip.

Ang alam natin ay ito: halos isang buwan matapos ang masaker, si Andal Ampatuan Jr. pa lamang ang sinasampahan ng kaso -- samantalang hindi lang lima sa mga Ampatuan ang sangkot sa karumal-dumal na krimeng naglagay sa Pilipinas sa kawalang-dangal sa mata ng buong mundo.

Tandaan nating malaki ang utang na loob ng rehimeng Arroyo sa mga Ampatuan. Tandaan ang pagkatalo ni FPJ noong 2004 sa isang lalawigan kung saan marami siyang tagahanmga. Tandaan ang 12-0 na panalo ng Team Unity laban sa Genuine Opposition noong 2007 sa Maguindanao.

Sa kanyang keynote speech noong Disyembre 6, sa taunang kumperensiya ng Philippine PEN, winika ng makatang si Ricardo de Ungria ang ganito:

"The silence of art and literature in the wake of the Maguindanao massacre is crushingly telling. Our realities in this country far outstrip our wildest imaginings, forcing us to dig deeper into our personal griefs and solitudes. Which is probably not the right way to go. For where does that put, pray tell, the literature it produces that ought to confront such realities at the same time that it celebrates life? And what does it say of the artists' and writers' engagement with the realities of the time?"

Kung hindi kayo kabilang sa mga artista't manunulat na tinukoy ni De Ungria, iniimbitahan kayo ng Kilometer 64 Poetry Collective na magsumite ng inyong mga piyesa sa Duguang Lupa, isang chapbook tungkol sa Ampatuan Massacre na binabalak na ilabas sa darating na Enero.

Tatanggapin ang mga tula, mga sanaysay na hindi hihigit sa dalawang pahina (sa file na gumagamit ng size 12 na Times New Roman), mga litrato at larawang-guhit. Mangyaring ipadala ang mga ito sa

Tatanggapin ang mga kontribusyon hanggang sa Disyembre 29.

Maraming salamat! Katarungan sa mga biktima ng masaker sa Ampatuan! At sa wika nga ng makatang si Richard Gappi, "Managot ang dapat managot! Wakasan ang walang-habas na dahas!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Season’s Talk Series 4: ‘Back Trails’ Blog

Hear ye, hear ye! A travel/history blog! Come explore with us at
Spread the word.

Season’s Talk Series 3: LagosZine Ad

For every new endeavor, one is almost always compelled to introduce them to as much people as they can. As for us who come up with this little project we really want to spread the word about it. We have just released the third issue of LagosZine (Topic: Kapatirang Pitong Lawa [KAPWA] sa UPLB), samples contents of which are loaded to its blog at Blogspot and can be downloaded for free (yeah, for now) from our 4Shared Account. Dig in!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Season's Talk Series 2: Call for submissions for High Chair 12

High Chair 12 is a special issue devoted to the Maguindanao Massacre.

We are inviting poets and artists everywhere to submit responses to the following questions:

1. What did you feel upon hearing about the Maguindanao Massacre?

2. How could poetry be written/art be made so that it has value to the event?

We are interested in poems (whether old or new, unpublished or previously published) that offer ways of thinking about terror, horror, and other pertinent ideas/terms.

We are interested in essays and reviews that examine the role and state of Philippine poetry and art in the context of the Maguindanao Massacre.

We recognize the need to engage with the Maguindanao Massacre immediately and to ensure, through an ongoing discussion, that the event remains current and urgent. Thus,High Chair 12 will take on the format of a work in progress, with content uploaded by installment from mid-December to mid-February.

The deadlines for submission for possible inclusion in the four installments of High Chair 12 are: December 10, 2009, December 26, 2009, January 15, 2010, and January 30, 2010.

We welcome submissions in Filipino and English. Please visit our site ( to get a more comprehensive idea as regards the work we do and the poetry and essays we publish. Please send no more than five pages of poetry. There is no page limit for essay contributions.

Please email your submissions or queries to (subject heading: High Chair Issue 12). Feel free to circulate this call for submissions to other interested parties. Thank you.

Conchitina Cruz and Adam David (Issue Editors)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Season’s Talk Series 1: Second San Pablo Comics Fest

It has taken quite an effort before when I launched the Navidad Talk Series where I put under it those thoughts I had during that holiday period they call the Christmas season. And I wished to do it once again, not primarily because I want to put forward again my objections against this severely out-of-place celebration, but for the belief that people tend to have more thoughts all throughout this December month. For that I wish to participate.

San Pablo City first: the Komikero Group here led, I think, by Gerry Alanguilan has just launched the Second San Pablo Comics Festival. It was personally quite a treat already, having only reached the level of comics-reading and not exactly comics-making. For most of the day, together with a cousin’s boyfriend, we were busy doing our artwork entries for the on-the-spot art contest. Eventually this buddy of my mine won in our category but I felt a winner nevertheless, having been treated with books and comics and meeting and actually chatting with some local comic artists. Sir Gil Monsanto is fan-friendly, Sir Gerry was exceptionally amiable and The Great Manix Abrera was downright cool.

I have never realized that comics industry (if I can call it that) in the country is still in the boom (having been spent most of the time poring over literature stuff myself). And although it was on a quite sad note that most of our best artists are doing it for foreign comics art publishing, it is consoling that, despite the heavy influences of the foreign (mostly Western) drawing techniques, most of these artists are conscious to put the comics industry in a Philippine context. Bayan Knights, Boy Ipis, Elmer, are but some of the art works that I saw rendered with a touch of being Filipinos.

On a deeper note, it was observed that most of these groups are still well within the realms of the middle classes. And although I have learned to respect that phrase “art for art’s sake”, I still hold on to my belief that every work should be aimed at something coherent, if not useful. For it render these works into abstractions, things that simply exist seemingly for themselves. And thus I admire those comics that I saw there which had, albeit implicitly, social undertones. Of course, of course, it should not always be like that; it would eventually lead to ‘boring-ness’. But again I say it must be aimed at something coherent.

It would be a year again before those comics-lovers convene again and I look forward in assessing myself if I have been charged enough to support and join in the comics world. Mabuhay ang komiks sa Pilipinas!