Sunday, June 21, 2009

long day for dad

Today is the country’s summer solstice! If in any case you do not know what I am talking about, I will tell you. It is the time of the year that the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined toward or away from the Sun, causing its position in the sky to reach its northernmost or southernmost extremities. In the Philippines, obviously, we are all tilted towards the great star. Sounds like a know-it-all, eh? Thanks to Uncle Wiki. Anyway, I know a thing or two about that astronomical event after having read Nick Joaquin’s short story, but I have a question: Why oh why does it land on Father’s day? I think I have an explanation; a most practical one at that.

It gives chance for every mother to use up what father has on this day, money and all. Hoppy Father’s Day to all—straight or not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

literature in silliman unsustainable

It has just been three young years that Dark Blue Southern Seas (DBSS) is now an appreciative student effort more likely to thrive longer than it is first planned. A project of the Weekly Silliman that’s considered slightly impossible to pursue, it is at present a literary folio that holds esteemed Philippine writers such as Gémino Abad, César Ruíz Aquino, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Susan Lara, Francis Macansantos, Timothy Montes, Christine Godinez-Ortega, Danton Remoto, Myrna Peña-Reyes, the late Ernesto Superal Yee, and many more, in its three editions.

Such is its favorable feedback in the writer’s world that in Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas’s words, it is “…a brave reincarnation of that literary journal, also launched and sustained as an idealistic venture at Silliman half a century ago, Sands & Corals.” It doesn’t take too long that the aforementioned journal is said to be replaced by DBSS; especially that the famous anthology in the 70s to the 90s stopped existing in 2005.

But yesterday, silent news spread that certain university heads have to decrease the publication fee of the students. In order to fully realize this plan, DBSS is under negotiations (I don’t know with whom) that it is to be scrapped off from the Weekly Sillimanian’s yearly budget. These heads have a “brilliant” idea though: create an online folio! Yes, it’s that brilliant. But I like to stress a point. I am aware of the advantages of having an online version of DBSS but this, like anything else out there, should only be an add-on, an option, not a resolute and complete replacement of the book form. Why, do tell, is having the online version flawlessly accessible compared to a digest anyone could leaf from time to time, hand from one person to another, or read under the shade of a mango tree in the comforts of one’s province? No, unless, of course, Barrio Talinis, Purok Seven will go Wi-Fi!

To add more insult, a question has been pointed out by, nonetheless, a high-ranking faculty: “Significant pa kaha ng mga iyana?” (“Are those things still significant?”). There you go. This query is one notable account of how the interest for the art of letters in the university has gone downhill.

The issue of Silliman University’s literary culture does not only touch this little literary journal (I’ve just flared up a bit, considering that I am once an editor of DBSS). For instance, there is the abrupt change of the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop’s three-week sessions into two, making the panelists condense their critiques and the fellows receive lessons perhaps, maybe, sparsely. The excuse is that the organizing committee lacks funds but better instincts, aside from reliable sources, tell me it is the lack of enthusiasm to extend the job. That’s pretty ironic for an annual undertaking that’s nearly inching its way to its Golden anniversary (50 years) and is founded by two English professors of the university. Well, they’re just National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo and her husband Edilberto K. Tiempo lang diba?

It seems to me that this particular person, who has questioned the relevance of DBSS, thinks of the age-old partnership between “literature” and “Silliman” an oxymoron. If ever I’d get the chance (may the Highest Beings forbid) to possess the mind of this amoeba who’d better cut cogon grass or plant kangkong in their watery backyard, I am certain literature in Silliman University, as well as the entirety of Dumaguete City, is undeniably insignificant.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

an excuse

The biggest stirring irony in our lives, no matter how we deny it, is that we are very sure of how unsure we are. We wake up in the morning and think, “What are we supposed to do?” Instead of brushing our teeth and taking our breakfast, we automatically visit the king’s throne and pee. Yes, automatic, like our refrigerator’s defrosting system. Yes, yes, it is caused by the bladder and some other organs but do we really want to see that bowl first thing in the morning? Why don’t we notice first the scent of a new day, the soft light leaking through our windows, or the early morning chirps of our feathered friends outside? I don’t know. I really, really don’t know the answers. Even the sole reason behind this write up is purely enigmatic. Maybe, I was thinking of other things, my fingers moving by their own will, and went on typing all these. Or maybe this is another unconscious attempt to create an excuse of these three realities (or doubts) dawning upon me: 1) Do I have to mention here that the possibility of not meeting some “missed” people for a long, long time is to be expected? 2) Or that the frequent text messaging is becoming less and less frequent? 3) Or that the time logged in cyberspace to poke, update and blog will forever be a college student’s luxury? There are more and more things orbiting in my head actually. I want to get rid of them but they’re there, spinning around, droning, whirring half-truths and half-lies into my ears. Oh well, I should stop being whiny and grow up.

Bye bye.

Monday, June 01, 2009

bye better summer

Summer, for me, officially kicked off on the 24th of March. Just fresh from an overly-jubilant commencement exercise, we thought of plans on what to do before we plunge into the banal world of work even if we didn’t plan that often. As I relive those times, I just wish that my next sets of summer would be as bold as the major undertakings I had in the past few weeks. Here's what I want to do more next time.

Going to Casaroro Falls, Valencia two days after the commencement day.

Enjoying the company of your beloved silly Weekly Sillimanian staff.

Dipping your toes in Lake Balinsasayao, Sibulan, the lake where you almost got drowned last summer.

Celebrating your summer birthday with the closest “acquaintances,” for the very first time, in Dumaguete City.

Hitting white sand beaches of Panglao Island with your family.

Wallowing in the slow turn of the afternoon in your province’s rich heritage, Café Lawis at Dauis.

Meeting some people you rarely see.

Taking the task that's suggested by Ian Casocot to serve as yaya of the Dumaguete workshop writing fellows.

Having lunch at Bethel's Cafe Filomena with people you only read in books before; Cesar Ruiz "Sawi" Aquino and Gemino "Jimmy" Abad.

Capturing in photos what’s left of nature at Lake Balanan, Siaton.

Basking under the stars and moonlight at Rizal Boulevard.

Having dinner at home—your home in the city of gentle people. Or killing your wallet at different spots such as…

Mamia’s Restaurant…

Or its younger sibling, Café Mamias…


Chowking when Qyosko becomes a habit…

Gabby’s Bistro…

Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries…

Dunkin Donuts for the late night brewed coffee fix…

Sta. Theresa…

Chicos with their fine wine and cheese…

Lé Chalét (with their Sunday eat-all-you can breakfast buffet)…


Royal Suites Inn and their unknown treasure, Sizzling Bulalo…

Drinking until everything spins with your literary demigods, Sarge Lacuesta and Mookie Katigbak, at Blue Monkey.

Cooling with much effort at Café Antonio even though it seems futile.

Extending the night until morning time at Hayahay.

Conversing until the wee hours of the morning at Steds Silliman.

Getting the right high on top of a speeding jeepney at Siquijor as you rush to the pier…

Taking a photo of yourselves before jumping off a cliff at Salagdoong Beach, Siquijor.

Or wandering in its mystical grounds when the boat left you.

Or simply settling down in the resort and seeing the Siquijor sunset at dusk.

Meeting Mom Edith Tiempo again and handing a literary folio that’s dedicated to her.

Beating the summer heat at Lalimar Resort, La Libertad…

And if the pool is not enough, you frolic in the seas of La Libertad.

Playing tambays in one of the most enigmatic structures of Dumaguete, the Silliman footbridge.

Riding on the infamous war bus of Silliman University.

Reading bits of poetry at Mariyah Art Gallery.

Receiving the highest honor of the Dumaguete workshop, the Yaya of the Year award, at Labas Restaurant.

Drinking more at Coco Amigos with every fellow intact—complete.

Feeling like a graduate all over again.

Camwhoring in the shores of Zamboanguita because the waters have almost taken your breath away—literally.

Jogging in the late afternoon at the oval, as the sun bids goodbye and goes behind Mount Talinis.

Playing senti as you visit one last time the Rainbow Hub a.k.a. The Weekly Sillimanian Office (though it does not show in this silly picture).

Watching a horror flick at three in the morning at someone’s pad.
o o o

And right now I am wondering when all these will happen again. Nothing’s sure though—all I have to do is look for something fresh in every coming May. And I guess that’s what a new day of summer is for: It breaks you out of the routine and makes you appreciate that there’s something more than the usual stroll in the park—as long as you know where to go and who to be with. Looking forward to a greater summer next year! I hope.