Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Dreamscape of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”

Two years after I accidentally obtained a copy of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, I am now finally done reading the series. The concept of Dream has never been brought into this level elaboration, if not re-imagination. If before dreams seemed only the hazy events unfolding only in the sleeping hours, dreams (or perhaps Dream) have transformed into a pale Lord who/which inhabits our waking and most importantly our dreaming world(s).

One thing I can only say about sharing this little accomplishment is that it will be difficult to recount the stories and the reading experience. Needless to say, you must read the series yourself.

A short line which left an impression on me came from William Shakespeare as he talked to Morpheus on the way to his castle: “…life is no play. We meet people once, and never see them again. There is no shape to events, no point at which we turn to the audience for their praise. No time at which we step behind the stage, to see the actors changing their wigs, and painting their faces, and muttering their lines.” Dreams fuel our lives. Life is not what it is now without dreams. And dreams are reality and fiction at the same time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The 32nd Manila International Book Fair Experience

* one of the entrances to the Manila International Book Fair

in SMX Convention Center

* University of the Philippines Press Booth

* Ateneo de Manila University Press Booth

* school children attending the MIBF 2011

I can readily count on the fingers of my right hand the times I have been to the Manila International Book Fair (fondly called MIBF by others): 1) in 2005 when I met in person then Mayor Lito Atienza [held then in the World Trade Center Manila], 2) in 2008 with a fellow book enthusiast and 3) this year 2011. If before I only went to do random book picking, I can say that I have been relatively successful in this year’s MIBF as I was able to collect a number of Filipiniana books, especially those that I will need for my book project.

* a simple merienda bought from Albergus

* Pastor Hiram Pangilinan in the book signing session of his new book
“Hula, Multo, Faith Healing, Atbp.”

* Trailer Pransis and Jordan, DJ of Perfect Rhythm radio program

The MIBF is a five-day event but one can visit all the booths, skim through the books on sale, in one day. However, each day has highlight activities. On the day we attended, book readings for children occupied most of the afternoon slots in the stage area.

Some booths also have their special activities. As an example, the OFM Literature Booth hosted a book launch of Pastor Hiram Pangilinan, a preacher I have known in a not-so-distant past through his writings. One bonus at the OFM booth was meeting Jordan, the DJ of the 702 DZAS program “Perfect Rhythm”, a half-hour radio show airing every Sunday. My mother always tunes in the radio to this particular station and somehow my ears have become accustomed to Jordan’s greeting as I wake up every Sunday. During our brief conversation, he mentioned that a lot of people treat his program as their alarm clocks.

* book reading session of “The Boy with the Book”

* book reading of Kuya Jun at the Stage Area

* “thou shall be known by the mark”: MIBF marks

In recalling the booths I have visited which catered to Filipiniana books, I can only say that the Philippines has a wide array of written materials, from books on indigenous culture and arts, to technical manuals on medicine or engineering. Not to mention pocket romance books! The only thing that the Filipinos need to have and cultivate is the affinity for reading. Yes, it is good to see people buying and conducting book reading sessions in that kind of activity. But unless we get to the point where reading is as commonplace as smoking in public, we still have a long way to go to entrench the culture of reading in the Philippines.

* This blog entry also appears in Back Trails blog

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recalling Childhood through “Oxygene”

Although I would agree that old objects, antiques, and the like can bring back even the most repressed memories from a very distant past, the same can be said of smell and hearing. This is particularly true for me, as scents of perfume or aroma are processed by my brain to be associated with certain events or people. This is also true for the sense of hearing. I literally grew up with music in my ears everyday.

And so when I stumbled upon the “Oxygene” album of Jean-Michel André Jarre, snippets from my childhood came back to me. I remember bringing a cassette tape of the said album from the house of my cousin (the tape belongs to his father) to our house. Then we would go to an upstairs room, close the windows, put the tape in an antique cassette tape player, and we would listen to the tracks with eyes closed, as if we were in a ritual. In recalling those childhood activities, I cannot say that I have been afraid of the music. It was, to say the least, therapeutic. The cover art in fact reinforced that budding idea that there is so much to be learned about this world. And indeed as of this writing, I can still say that much can still be learned about the world, however dark they may be sometimes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

“The Golden Boy” and Politics Perspectives

I have been reading the Sandman Comics Series by Neil Gaiman in the past few months now and it has been personally enjoying. The concept of dream in this series was extended and in fact every story line is packed with creative lines drawn from both reality and myths. This present blog entry will not attempt to critique each of the Sandman Series’ storyline but will only focus on a particular issue of Sandman (which, by the way, is the last issue I have read so far).

The Sandman issue 54 entitled “The Golden Boy” is part of “The World’s End” storyline, a place where different stories are told by the people stranded by storm in their respective worlds or time.

The term “The Golden Boy” refers to the main character in this issue, Prez Rickard who grew up to become the president of the United States of America. Just before he becomes the president, he was visited by the current president (Nixon) and the two indulged in a verbal swordfight regarding the running of the government. The president was a pessimist. He said to Prez that if he ever gets the presidency, he would be seen (negatively) by the people just like the other presidents and that later the same people will regret their actions. In the words of the president: “You don’t get to make a difference.” But Prez was an idealistic person. And he went on to become the president and fulfill his desire of making a difference to the America he came to know.

That verbal swordfight I mentioned was particularly striking as it conveyed a fact of the common conception (or is it misconception?) of the people on politicians: that they are corrupt and they are no good to make any difference. The ones who conceptualized this particular issue laid down this “political” conception which may have still been dominant during their time (90’s period). But it is obvious that such conception is still present today. It may have been shown through comics primarily for an American audience but surprisingly, it applies too here in the Philippines. The story compels one to think back and understand how we really see our politics and our politicians as well.

In the end I wonder, can any person (no matter how adept one is on the mechanics of politics) really know if a politician is keen or not in making a difference on the place in which he is elected?

* Photo credit: screenshot from the front cover of The Sandman 54
* Quote snippets from: THE SANDMAN 54, October 1993, Published by DC Comics

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Long Way to Southern Peace

The quest for “independence” in the southern Philippines begun with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with Nur Misuari as its rallying leader. The Front then split into Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf, the latter gaining notoriety in the eyes of the mainstream media and the civilians.

And now in recent news a new group has emerged from MILF – the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) with its leader Umbra Kato, carrying the conviction that the current peace negotiations between the government and the rebel groups are leading nowhere.

A new hurdle, a new challenge in the struggle to attain peace in the disturbed lands in Mindanao. Today is part of the gray period when the government and the separatist group(s) are rearranging strategies and mechanisms through which they would deal with each other.

Nevertheless, we hope for smooth, if not quick, resolution regarding this decade-old struggle in the south.

Photo Credit: