Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love Thy Books

The surplus of books we see when we visit Book Sale stores seems to be a formative evidence already of the gradual phasing out (so they say) of those bounded papers. The advent of tablets makes the possibility of their existence closer to reality than ever.

However, if one would just look back into the not-so-distant past, one will hopefully realize their importance to people’s daily living, to people’s conviction, and to people’s aspirations.

Martín Espada’s poetry book entitled “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands” contains a poem which exhorts a message, a message of recollection, when books were still as subversive as those famed ‘subversive’ personages like Ché Guevara. It is a personal hope that you get to breathe in the essence of the lines.

The King of Books (for Camilo Pérez-Bustillo)

The books traveled with Camilo
everywhere, like wrinkled duendes
whispering advice.
The fortuneteller clawed his palm
and warned him
about ElSlavador,
where the guards
search for books at the border,
plucking at pages
like the pockets of a bearded subversive.

The books were bandits,
bootlegging illicit words
like Che and insurrection.
For the books,
a rifle jabbed in his spine;
for the books,
an elbow pressed against the chin;
for the books,
electrical wires slowly waving,
branches of cruel sparks.

And the captain in camouflage
tied to instuct hm
with a wall-hard smack
and ratonal fascist philosophy;
the guards worked to convince him,
propping him on the cot
with the same interrogation repeated
till morning slipped into the cell
and spread across the floor unnoticed;
the Marines fought to persuade him
by stern quiet in the jeep,
dropping him marooned
without money or books
at the border.

He was not persuaded.
In his apartment books breed,
an infestation of books,
Piling, spilling,
a horde of printed words like grasshoppers
blackening the nightmares
of treasury police and army captains
in El Salvador,
a plague commanded
by Camilo,
the King of Books.

Reference: Espada, Martín. The King of Books in “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands” Rebelión es el giro de manos del amante), pp. 66 & 68. Curbstone Press, 1st ed. 1990.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Here Comes Pulp Summer Slam 12: The Apostles

Musicians, music enthusiasts, and poseurs alike will troop again to the battlefield that is Amoranto Stadium on April 28, 2012 for the 12th year edition of the Pulp Summer Slam. I have been absent from this much-awaited annual music for three years already and I hope to get back again to the grounds of Amoranto and get drowned again to the sound of guitar riffs and drum thumping.

This year’s slam will feature six foreign acts: Arch Enemy, August Burns Red, Bless the Fall, We Came as Romans, Periphery, and Darkest Hour, most of which are of metal and/or hardcore background. But beside them, it is also good to anticipate Filipino bands to rock the stage to be set up in Amoranto.

Apostles, slam now!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Unlucky Friday the 13th

Fussing over a simple day such as 13 seems to be a folly already. Or even to the point of being ritualistic (that thought about rituals comes from the book by Harald Gruendl entitled ‘The Death of Fashion’ which I am devouring right now). But let us give this day to those who find Friday the 13th unusual and spooky. After all, there will only be three Friday the 13th this year. Another bonus for them is February 29.

A simple musing would reveal to us how people can give vivid meaning into an otherwise simple thing such as this day. It will always be an unlucky day if we think and say so and perhaps our subconscious mind would urge the body to put itself into inconvenient situations just to prove that contention. Better stick to what it is: that 13 is just a number, nothing else.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Clash Between Life and Living: The Tragedies in Mindanao

.It’s a wonder how a small change in word spelling could serve as a thin thread dividing life and death. People make a living to sustain life. But living, when done in excess, conquers the very thing it seeks to sustain – life.

That’s exactly how I see the recent tragedies in Mindanao. We have seen piles of dead in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro when Typhoon Sendong raged through these southern Philippine cities. In the aftermath, what flowed with the volume of flood were tree trunks, presumably cut down from the forests in the areas to be sold or marketed. It seemed like it was the Ormoc tragedy again.

And then yesterday the night news was replete with details of the recent landslide in the province of Compostela Valley in Mindanao. Twenty five people, perhaps more as I write this, were killed as mud made its way from the mountain down into the village called Napnapan. Most of the residents there get their living from mining.

What was too disappointing in this tragedy was that it could have been avoided. DILG, Department of Defense, and the DENR (if we are to take the statement of the presidential spokesperson) have advised already the local government officials of the potential dangers in the place. The spotlight now switches to these local officials who will have a lot of explaining to do. Geohazard maps (care of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau) have been issued already stating that the place was already landslide-prone. The place was reportedly cleared of people. But if it has been really cleared, then there should have been no casualties. Again, spotlight is trained to the local government.

I have seen the worth of geohazard maps. Having seated as part of a team for a disaster-related project spearheaded by a government agency, I am well aware of the need to heed the results of geohazard mapping. To see this blatantly ignored in the case of Compostela Valley shows our disregard for the efforts of the government bureaus to serve and (potentially) protect the citizens from harm. What has been missed was proper coordination among government institutions and the people and proper dissemination of information to the locals. Thus, another set of casualties for a tragedy.

Beyond these sad facts is the sickening anticipation of blame games among government officials on who or which to blame for this tragedy.

* Photo credit: msnbc.msn.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Remembering Ché Guevara through Arab Spring

Seeing a series of news about the political and social unrest in Syria and Bahrain yesterday (where many Filipinos right now are having a hard time leaving these countries) recalled to my mind again the so-called Arab Spring, which in fact is still spreading. True, the countries involved in this may have different political settings and background which prompted protests and demonstrations (not to mention revolutions) from the people. But the fact that they are in close proximity with each other clothes them in a general view that they most probably share more or less the same end desires. End of long-standing regimes perhaps. Or perhaps the establishment of democracy in those countries.

Some quarters even trace back the Arab Spring in the post-9/11 period, when the United States acted on the alleged terrorism in their country (which brought down the famed Twin Towers of the World Trace Center) primarily directed to the Middle East. Whether it was for the betterment or for the deterioration of the fate of Middle East (and Northern Africa for that matter) is yet to be seen. Perhaps this Arab Spring would serve as the current political barometer.

This very Arab Spring made me remember again Ernesto ‘Ché’ Guevara, an Argentine-Cuban revolutionary who was instrumental in the success of the Cuban Revolution against the Fulgencio Batista regime. While the Fidel Castro-led Cuba was starting up, Ché was busy too spreading the same revolution in Latin America. Such desire ultimately led to his death in the forests of Bolivia. But I wonder how Ché would take this sudden Arab Spring. They may not have a rallying leader but the people in those Arab countries definitely have a rallying thought and desire. Ché’s plan of liberating countered from the clutches of regimes has taken its manifestation in the Asian and African continents. Will a same kind of ‘Spring’ be seen soon in Latin America? That may be too soon to think about. It would be better to learn from the unfolding history in those Arab countries.

*Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dwarven Song About Old Wealth and The Hobbit

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light...

I am having goose bumps as I write this. Part of the upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie is a song by the dwarves who were with the hobbit Bilbo Baggins in their journey to Lonely Mountain and I am listening to it right now. The song, seen and heard briefly in the first trailer, was simply eerie and moving. It only makes you anticipate more the movie. I have only read part of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings and since the movie would not be released until after twelve months, I will have enough time to finish them (although I already have an overview of the books).

The Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit release one out of the limitations of this physical world and make you enjoy and live, at least temporarily, in a world or even worlds not bounded by constricting physical laws. High fantasy indeed is an apt description. Personally they also make me appreciate more the craft of (verbal) storytelling. I wish I’ll be in the moment when I could discuss the story and its intricacies under the night sky and the night stars, out there in a field.

Outside the books we could make our own adventures and journeys if we desire for it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Year Ahead

Now that the dust of the firecracker explosions has settled and the night is no longer punctuated by them, let us arise and move on with the coming of the New Year. Rest days are over. Face the more adventurous year ahead.