Monday, June 30, 2008

in the papers

I've read Butch Dalisay's article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer about the 47th Dumaguete Writers Workshop fellows a couple of weeks ago. That's why it comes as a shock when I have gotten a tip from Tokwa that we're featured again (it's late June!). This time it's written by third-week panelist Susan Lara. Found in the Art & Culture section of The Philippine Star, the article speaks so much truth that nostalgia find its way again to my head. Memories! Aside from this fact, I'm super happy the book cover I've made for our Sea[sic] anthology is also featured!

If the papers are gone, I can always read the online version here.

Curiosity: Have Ma'am Sue read this blog? Where else could she get my direct quotation which is only found here? I didn't remember her interviewing me. Yay!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

understanding the voice

Especially for a song that has spawned numerous versions in different generation, You’re the Voice is one veritable piece. Written by Andy Qunta, Mitchel Reid, Maggie Ryder and Chris Thompson 80’s, this single is a hit in some countries such as Australia and even European nations, but not forceful enough that it gains the attention of the Americans. Such accountability of this can be recalled in one episode of American Idol on Fox. “I didn’t know the song but I like it,” said Randy Jackson, one of the three-panel judges of the show. But what is more appalling in the talent show, of which the song is performed by David Archuleta, is Simon Cowell’s comment: “[This is] reminiscent of a theme park performance… The song is not for you.” Though it is believable enough to say that Archuleta was not able to pull it off and he ended up looking so artificial on that glossy concert stage, Cowell’s remark is not right. It is downright nasty. Everyone is entitled to sing a song the same as everyone has the right to eat ice cream.

Nothing beats the original but other versions of You’re the Voice can stand on their own. David Archuleta’s is one passable edition, in our opinion. With the Heart band, the spunk and energy of John Farnham is still present, except that it was presented by a woman. Shown in the video, though, differs because it focuses on poverty and war issues, unlike Farnham’s which presented dysfunctional parents ranting off right in front of their child.

With the Heart’s rendition, the song shows how versatile it is as being androgynous. This flexibility also proves that the song is not only limited to the masculine mindset because another singer, Rebecca St. James, rendered it with her very own semi-rock style of singing. Though she’s not much of an original, with her antics closely resembling Fiona Apple’s subtlety and Avril Lavigne’s angst, her other songs are nevertheless good.

The song is a classic—especially the one by John Farnham. As a literary piece, You’re the Voice is very mundanely austere but realistic. It is encouraging its audience (or listeners) to make the world a better place. It may fall as a cliché but its message is encompassing and full of truth that being trite is not an issue. It doesn’t make use of any complex words yet it effectively delivers the message across with such unexplainable uniqueness. If this were to be a poem, the persona is just expressing the urgency to fight against what’s wrong in society.

The song can fit in any generation. It has been proven by the many versions of the song by various artists in different periods in time. There aren’t just four versions of the song, but among the four, the music video by Heart was the loudest. It showed the suffering of people due to war and poverty. It evokes pity from its viewers. We appreciate the song because, aside from its catchy tune, its message is simple and clear. It is universal. It has the voice of everyone.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

burning bridges

Weird may be the proper term. What else would you describe the feeling of wanting when the feeling of hurting meddles my intention of reconciling even though hating may possibly interfere my main objective of connecting? I know “hating” is such a strong word but I can’t think of any alternative yet. That’s why it is just so weird. Living in this world of silence, contemplating on decisions which often contradict the next, is so exasperating that one has to resolve on burning bridges for the sole reason of getting away from the core problem. Or so I thought.

Those who are affected with the intentional (or maybe unconsciously/unintentionally?) burning execution are now in distraught or, perhaps, trapped in an unexpected downer-paranoia. I cannot blame them to feel that way—because they do not know, they do not understand. Then consequently, though they’re not really the main concern of setting the records straight, they would be deeply hurt because they often feel betrayed and backstabbed.

Spoken statements and accomplished actions, no matter how discreetly and stealthily they’re performed, still reach the knowledge of the object of discussion. This is true; no one can get away from that matter. The plan of explaining becomes harder, too, because it goes back to that weird enigmatic feeling of being incomprehensible. Almost everyone says that there’s a concrete explanation to all things but they do not know that this concrete explanation is just as hard to get as to learning how to tie shoelaces when one has amnesia.

Again, it is just weird. I guess I have already fully internalized my dreams of becoming a poet. As what Kahlil Gibran said, “…poets are unhappy people, for, no matter how high their spirits reach, they will still be enclosed in an envelope of tears.” Sigh, I must have fallen once again into one of the trenches explored by many but unfathomable by the inexperienced. I'm sorry.

(for AE)

Friday, June 27, 2008

rain march

The distance you've covered
With your skillful period of parading
Is beauty stomped by your wet feet on the asphalt ground.
Wet as the pools forming in your eyes,
Your parade brings downpour:
Of impersonal assaults
From this shower of beads
Hitting the bed you are comfortably sleeping tonight.

The sight of bathing birds
With their chirps silenced by the hum of the wind
Reminds you of rain puddles forming in your yard.
Clear as the midnight rivulets from the skies,
Your memory brings delight:
Of personal dreams
In which nothing is so much relieving than the night
When the rain kissed every part of your body,
Showed the truest form of your bosoms,
As you march to the tune of its song.

(for June who stays and has loved to walk in the rain)


Thursday, June 26, 2008

the fascination of self *

Fred Jordan Mikhail T. Carnice
The Weekly Sillimanian
June 25, 2008
Last May, as if the Fates had been playing with my literary ambition of getting out of my post- emotional impasse, I became a fellow in the 47th Dumaguete Writers’ Workshop and 15th Iligan National Writing Workshop, for fiction and poetry respectively. Admissions to these gatherings, consisting of 15 carefully chosen aspirants from across the nation, are not determining indicators that one is excellent at the craft. I have always believed that everyone is a practicing writer, therefore, when it comes to workshops for budding writers, pride and ego are the least needed things.
Writing is just too guarded. In a publication, there are editors. In classrooms, there are professors. And supposedly, in the home, there are parents. A comma has to appear at the right place and a period has to feel like something has come to an end. Writing seems to be so sacred that with the influx of internet, when online writing or blogs started booming, every aspiring writer applauded. In this now-favored outlet, no one directs, no one hinders. For in cyberspace, there are no editors, no professors, and no parents. As blogs (which are usually known for narcissistic writings) prevail and become more popular, a lot of the discreetly self-proclaimed thinkers rise up and contradict their content due to its popularity.
There is no need to further elaborate what narcissistic writing is. Writing, in itself, is downright masturbatory, a lonely line of work wherein one has to enjoy it firsthand before everyone starts to love and appreciate the results. It’s kind of stupid to separate “self” from “writing.” Everything starts from the self. Blogs are diary or journal alternatives.
There’s too much pa-concern kuno in this time and age which makes for the pa-scholars to project television-quality concerns on high-brow issues of the world. Due to the dreariness of political, spiritual, and even metaphysical brouhaha, some (such as me) succumb to express write-ups in depressing tones, or perhaps an emotional pitch (which is then condensed into “emo,” as classified by the hypocrites). At least there are people who really feel, unlike those who have an emotional capacity of a paper clip. Thus the discussion about the smallest of things, may it be the dirt on a sleeve or a new music video, may provide the essential buffer to make life bearable.
Those who try to create a glossy impression still fail, even though they sugar-coat their statements with supposedly academic and mind-stimulating thoughts, because they’re just the ones who are trying to be someone else. This bunch of societal A-list wannabees is just overly-decorated with jaded eyeglasses, armed with a battery-powered mouth, clouded in an air of cerebral superiority that they’d just rant off direct quotations from the book of Immanuel Kant or Karl Marx for loss of things to discuss about someone’s personal opinion concerning Boy Abunda’s latest get-up.
If these people define what’s being sensible by conversing about the mysterious smile of McDonalds, the evolution of criticism, or the economic instability of our nation, well they’re better off at Fort Santiago’s dungeons with Beethoven’s deathly sonatas playing endlessly in the cold air. On the other hand, though their sixth degree synonym of an adjective—transforming “particular” to “circumstantial”—really impresses me for knowledge that exceeds a chimpanzee’s, I retain my composure and don’t mind. Clutter in cyberspace, eh? Besides, I think what’s only important in blogs is Google AdSense anyway.
If these writings are truly revolting and pathetic, how much more is that egotistical response of describing such kind of personal writing in the first place? Don’t people have the right to talk about a drinking session like an ode, or play with words about the afternoon rain like a poem, or transform the idea of hatred into a compact vignette? Well, those who do, go on! I have been doing this in my very own public blog and if someone comments that I’m like a high school drop-out who reads nothing that goes beyond the thickness of an Archie Double Digest, I’d slap in their faces the tome of The Great Critics or Science Explained. The alleged ludicrous writing, I hypothesize, grants online balance: light and heavy, funny and serious, important and the not-so-important-but-relatively-worth-knowing.
We have our own words to say. On the web, there’s no intellectual copyright but only intellectual arrogance. Since my intellectual faculties have already been mashed into pulp by the likes of Rowena Tiempo-Torrevillas, Cesar Ruiz Aquino, Butch Dalisay, Leoncio Deriada, etcetera (know your literature kid), attacks toward my being too self-centered especially in blog writing are somewhat ineffective by now. As what I have said earlier, pride and ego are the least things needed.
* this is a revision of an old post

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

prickly heat

The intense high temperatures must have affected some people’s mind. Dumaguete is like one roasted city with its asphalt roads and little business establishments ablaze which is why I fully understand my first statement. Brains get fried up, too (it’s just weird though that we’ve experienced a heavy downpour last week).

And to testify that these cerebral organs also have their chances of being cooked, I have been leisurely lazing around the office this morning when messages from an individual appear in my phone. The publication warmth gives me a sauna bath I do not ask for which, consequently, makes me more irritated to read those messages. Since I usually reject these notices only filled with pure pretense, I pity the poor fellow.

Bullfrogs! That particular moment just makes me wonder why people (such as that message sender) comment on some things in a guiltless way when in fact their main concern is the exact opposite of what they’ve done in the first place. Isn’t this inconsistency in the highest prickly order? Oh well, just correct me if I am wrong.


"Tempt this leaf to fold
under the scrutiny of your sharp eyes
and realize that morning dews
never get too close
to this secret plane."

Jun 25 / 08 (01:09 am)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

the biggest circle of friends

It is official. On the 21st night of June in the year 2008, at Royal Suites Inn, the birth of something so glorifying in the time of distances and nostalgia has finally arrived. The Biggest Circle of Friends (BCF) is now existent. It is, ironies aside, the biggest of them all. A group composed only of Donna Bernardo, Marianne Tapales, and yours truly, this is formed to bring up what The Wednesday Club has wastefully disregarded of its opportunities and to continue what splendid legacy The Union has left to us (or to basically, somehow, get away from this disease of boredom that could drive us into instant insanity).

On this special occasion over delicious food and hearty laughter, we invited Decerey Jumalon as our distinguished guest of honor. Here she witnessed the lasting relationship of three silly people waiting for anything to happen for them to at least have something to look up to while discussing the latest gossip in town. Well, it has been a tradition that certain cliques form annually. Even though the number of affiliates drops and the group name changes every year, the objective of living the sane life in the midst of monotonous cardboard-cutout characters is still present. If asked why it is considered the biggest? Let’s just say that, so far, this has been the largest number of people that shows genuine character to each other (or our appetite for Sizzling Bulalo, Choco Domes and Oreo Cheesecakes is bigger than the rest of mankind).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

tagged by margie

Since Baby Bullfrog (argh! Elena, this is all your fault!) has been tagged and has a few minutes to go online while enduring Cyberlib’s nasty air-conditioning system, he is going to fall for this game.

1. This game starts with 6 weird things about you.
2. People who got tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 weird things.
3. They should state this rule clearly as well.
4. At the end of the list, tag 6 people.
5. Don't forget to inform each newly-tagged person by posting a comment on his own blog.

Okay, here are some of the many silly things that makes up the Bullfrog

1. He loves eating champorado even at lunchtime

2. No matter how late he will be going to sleep at night (or dawn), he would still wake up at 8o’clock in the morning (or 8:30am at the most). Must be his high school military training.

3. He is a cynic or, to add a bit of twist, an idealist pessimist. He has the skill to pull off comments even on the smallest of things.

4. He is cursed with all things digital—in my hands they never seem to last for a year. Just recently, his Motorazr V3x has finally bid farewell. No amount of love and cash could resuscitate this little thing. And as of the moment, his camera is showing signs of surrender. Damn!

5. He draws, sketches, paints, but is colorblind. He’s surely going to have a hard time determining which is which between blue and violet; green, red and brown; and sometimes orange and yellow. It all depends on the shade. This must explain why he colored his apple brown back in kindergarten.

6. He hasn’t memorize the Multiplication Table completely. Well, that’s why he’s majoring in creative writing right now! Who made numbers anyway?

Okay, I am tagging Sam, Eva, Carmela, Marianne, and Mugen. Hah! It's your turn!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

present tense

After hours and hours of contemplating what to do next, as if calendars and time tables have no other use than to completely confuse my sensibilities, I have finally laid out my class schedule: pop culture and gender studies on Monday-Wednesday-Friday mornings, playwriting at two every Monday afternoon, three hours of studying children’s fiction next, almost four hours of poetry every Thursday morning, followed by three hours of critical writing in the afternoon, and lots and lots of free time. Free Time. Actually, this so-called “free time” is just a decoy. I awfully need every second of the clock to work on my various writings under the subjects which are mentioned beforehand, considering that I have to juggle my duties with the university paper and my regional org while wait for the impending weekly meetings with another writing group as I sip some Frappuccino with a close buddy. Heavy? I am not really sure. Just want to say good luck to my hands and to my almost-drying brain.


Friday, June 13, 2008

caution: mind-dead ahead

"I’ve always been lonely. I’ve even chosen a lonely path; writing.
That’s why you can call me a loner for writing is masturbatory
just for the reason that I write. That’s why most writers are lean.
No, not because they’re frequently masturbating. They’re just lonely.
Lonely for they eat alone, alone which make them eat less
for they have no one to talk to while biting, munching, and digesting.
But I eat a lot yet I am lean. Maybe I am only lonely.
Not even a writer. No one should proclaim one’s self as a writer."

June 6 / 08 (08:55pm)

purge day

Nothing is scarier than having decided to remove something you once held so dearly; not even the thought that today’s Friday the 13th. This has been said to me again and again: To solve a problem, pull the problem out of the system. And that’s what I have just done. From contact numbers, Friendster, Multiply, Facebook accounts, to blogs, I’ve finally deleted them for the sole reason that it might help me get out of the mind-numbing sensation of floating in midair. Reason—this is the only thing that I find sensible right now. If not, then what else? What else could I do? I don’t know. I guess I only have to wait for the waters to settle and see what will happen next.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

now plurking

Almost all reviews I’ve read refer this as a Twitter clone. The only problem: I don’t even know what a Twitter is (but I’ve heard of it). Alright, call me a dweeb this instant but I must have some good points for finally paying attention to this new cyber-social media service. Like many other gimmicks emerging in the net these days this Plurk, almost-ridiculous but catchy, got my attention in a blogpost I’ve read. Since it looked cute upon my very first sight of it, I signed up. The term microblogging also made me curios and headed on to make an account. What is it? I guess it’s better if you’d check it out for yourself here.

Click here for my Plurk account.


Monday, June 09, 2008


“You looked so sad! Why are you so depressed?”

Goodness gracious. No matter how hard I cover up my unhappy state with molar-to-molar smiles and gaily attitude, these articles of unwanted tension stemming from something that was ought to be forgotten just naturally exuded from my being. Last Saturday—when I, Marianne, and Donna left the sweet confines of Sans Rival—I heard that statement above being called out from afar. I thought the call was for someone else but upon knowing from whom the message was my happy mask simply got off my face like a limp banana-peel. He was a teacher; someone who I thought only had the command of reading great literature but also of reading depressed auras. (Nah, the latter part is just a joke.) As for the query, I didn’t know what to answer so I just flashed my metal-wrought pearly whites for added arrogance and disbelief. I was not sure if it worked, though. Anyways, I realized I'm bad at pretending nowadays.


Thursday, June 05, 2008


Summer, I thought, have just kicked in. But upon looking at the heap of clothes, books, gadgets, and other necessities on my bed, I have realized it’s the time again that I have to face another tasking school year. Yes, hopefully, this would be my last year as a student. Though the premise of opening the door to finally get out of college is not that promising, I guess four years in the university are enough to buildup what is needed to be built up. My things are packed up and a few hours from now I will be riding on a fastcraft, ferrying towards this island that, as what I’ve said in an old post, have “stoked up the coals of my imagination and extinguished the flames of my heart.” This is the best and worst thing that I could define what Dumaguete is to me. Well, right now, I think I am all ready to face this city again. Crossing my fingers, I wish the last part of my given definition would change in time passing. Because my things are all packed up; complete.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

catharsis for two things

When cutting a line to form a verse thinking the mundane is subjugated in poetry, when falling for the temptations of serpentine sentences thinking it’s alright in fiction, or when believing the facts can be twisted to add eccentricity thinking it’s forgivable in nonfiction, it's time for one to change his/her mindset as early as possible. Seriously.

I have just been in exile. In literary exile, to be exact, for I and my literary pieces have been subject to analysis, highlighting flaws and stupid mixed metaphors devilishly playing within my woven words. Wait, not in exile in the sense that I am banished from this field but in exile for I have been detached from my ideals that I have considered right and sufficient.

Just months ago when personal-internal crisis jarred my entirety in chaos, creating lines of poetry and paragraphs of fiction out of the ethereal gloominess that shrouded me, I shifted my focus with much effort to the only friend I had at home: the PC. The two of us had been nice to each other; he provided me stuff that loaded my attention bag to its fullest while I bear his glaring monitor. It was through his constant cyber-charity that I found doorways out of the prolonged remorse. These were the writing workshops’ call for submission of entries.

Page upon page in the internet, I immediately chose three prospects: The IYAS in Bacolod, and the national workshops in Dumaguete and Iligan. Since I had been writing “something” during my state of melancholia, I’d better fry my works in the pan of the authorities. The unlucky thing was that Bacolod had already closed its doors so I was left with two options. Without any hesitation, I applied both. I even said to myself, “What if I got into both workshops? My, heavy decision! I’ve got to choose which one I should participate. Feelerette!”

And then the messages came. I received the Dumaguete message first, informing me that I passed. What was more ironic was that I was at Dumsville when I got the tip (happy). Then the day finally arrived that I had to leave the province (happier—at that moment). Back in my hometown, my mother said someone called from Iligan (happiest). I instantly became a writing fellow in the 47th Dumaguete and the 15th Iligan National Writers Workshops, for fiction and poetry respectively. The rest was history.

If statements such as “What use is this piece to me?” and “I need to be rewarded and I don’t get anything from this!” make you fidgety, then these workshops are not your avenue yet. I readied myself for hard-hitting comments since most of my pieces were written for therapeutic purposes, not mainly literary. As much as the nearly-autobiographical concepts sliced through me in the process of writing my fiction and poems with such self-inflicted pain, the realization of mistakes and required developments proposed by the workshop panelists were definitely sharp and piercing.

Now after a month of bashing works into pulp they could make use as jam for morning sandwiches, I basically have to thank the aches of my inner being that I have been able to explore the outer landscapes of existence. This whole thing screams emo but this is the tad fact: those two writing workshops have been the much-needed catharsis to both my sensitivity on certain matters and, of course, my unfurnished love for the letters. To Rowena Tiempo-Torrevillas, Myrna Peña-Reyes, Cesar Ruiz Aquino, Butch Macansantos, Dave Genotiva, Butch Dalisay, Danny Reyes, Susan Lara, Ernesto Superal Yee, Lito Zulueta, Leoncio Deriada, Christine Godinez-Ortega, Rosario Cruz Lucero, Antonio Enriquez, Victor Sugbo, German Gervacio, Steven Fernandez, and Ralph Semino Galan, thank you very much for the insights.

And to my fellow fellows, both from the Katsubong Troupe of Dumaguete and the Hipon Gang of Iligan, your raucous but pleasurable company never fail to spark up even the most dormant energy and brain cells in me. With you, I’ve learned a lot of things other than those which reverberated in the workshop sessions. I love you, bullfrogish feelerettes!


Sunday, June 01, 2008

being a hipon

Grammar check, language competence, poetic deficiency, and many more, these various features for criticism just never fail to pull us down from what literary pedestal we are standing on. Feelerette! In the 15th Iligan National Writers Workshop that ended last May 31, we were mere fellows and the likes of Leoncio Deriada, Rosario Cruz Lucero, Christine Godinez-Ortega, Tony Enriquez, Man Gervacio, Victor Sugbo and Ralph Galan were the masters.

Well, they did send us monsters. The almost-daily mentioning of “this is an attempt…”, “the problem of this piece…”, and “this will work if…” still ring in my mind. Obviously that’s the purpose of a writing workshop; to be assailed with comments and lessons that stem from one’s very own glory piece.

In my case, who finally got into a serious workshop to have my English poems critiqued by established Filipino poets, I considered myself lucky (except for the colds and cough that I got for being enclosed inside the Elena Towers Hotel with artic air-conditioners). The remarks I received were Level 7.5 Bad (in a range from 1 to 10) and this rating proved that what I thought was enough was never adequate. Remain humble and continue writing. We, fellows, all learned this: Pride in the field of writing never works so what better way of receiving hurting analysis and study is to become a hipon. Forgive the Kafkaesque inside joke here but this was the most effective technique to execute when one had to agree with the Panelists’ observations other than nodding while smiling at the same time with tears welling up in our eyes (this is an exaggeration).

The origin of this “becoming a hipon” still stemmed from one of my many adventures in the Dumaguete Workshop so explaining the whys and the hows here is tasking. Let’s just state that a hipon is basically a shrimp and that a shrimp has scales, scales which strengthened our outer look that subsequently gave us an almost emotionless and expressionless face when we, fellows, decided of metaphorically transforming into one during the sessions. Now, I’m back in Tagbilaran and still coughing.

(Top row L-R: Erick Dasig Aguilar, Xer Jason D. Ocampo, Ma. Elena L. Paulma, Marion B. Guerrero, Efmer E. Agustin, Krisza Joy P. Kintanar, John Lorenz S. Poquiz, Fred Jordan Mikhail T. Carnice. Bottom Row L-R: Sarah Jane D. Sebastian, Leonilo D. Lopido, Samantha G. Echavez, John Philip A. Baltazar, Marius Angelo G. Monsanto, Luciano L. Abia IV, Niño Manaog, Evangeline B. Gubat)