Thursday, July 28, 2011

mine included

Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry
Edited by Kvan Dela Cruz & Joel Toledo

Translations by
Piya Constantino, Eduardo Dayao, Mikael de Lara Co, Paula Maria Diaz, U Z. Eliserio, Ryan Fuentes, Luisa A. Igloria, Cecilia B. Imperial, Marne L. Kilates, John B. Labella, Aila Lenard, Paolo Manalo, Mark Pangilinan, Chuckberry Pascual, Sue Prado, Nonilon V. Queano , D.M. Reyes, Sandra Nicole Roldan, Amoz Ezra Salazar, Ronald V. Verzo II, and Xenia-Chloe Villanueva

For the complete list of works and contributors, click here.

Book launching on
2 September 2011 (Friday)
Ayala Museum, Makati City
6 o’clock in the evening

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


There is no stopping
the current of words washing up
on the curves of our tongues.
They roll ceaselessly, abundant
in waves of syllables
only divided, separated
by the many hands
of our crooked coastlines: langgam
crawls on Manilan walls when
it flies over the waters of Panglao
or zips across Agusan skies.
I guess this could not only be
a matter of geography, syntax,
or the origins of story and art
at the ends of history and heart.

Like all legends,
the firstborn tale burrows deep
in the folds of the past,
inconspicuous, the same way how
we can never tell
what differentiates blue and blew
unless one is gestured at:
“Look at the sky!”
“Feel the wind!”

Sometimes words belie
their true intentions:
stay leads to move,
calm equates to danger,
and threat stands as a proxy
for reveal, just as eyes
could conceal itself as blind.

Until we find our panabot,
our many renditions of katwiran
even if our mouths continue to spring
the strangest breed of identities,
we must learn the basics: love
never means love
at all times.

Monday, July 25, 2011

tears dry on their own

1983 - 2011

If not for this talented young girl, the likes of Duffy, Estelle, Paloma Faith, Lily Allen, and even the soulful but shy Adele would practically be heard little in the airwaves. Her songs make up the soundtrack of my melodrama a couple of years ago, and it is sad knowing that I won’t be hearing more from her in the coming days.

[ image lifted from this site ]

Friday, July 22, 2011


A lot has been said about distance,
But what about doorknobs? Rarely
Do their weight and girth beg one
For scrutiny. Let’s turn one over now,
See its gears, knots, screws and spindles,
See what we can make of its anatomy.
Study it, shun the memory of departure
In a corner. Or somewhere hard to reach.
Leave room for these common complaints:

This should turn the other way.
This locks itself twice already.
The key gets stuck.

As infants, we know how close-
Open works, our small palms blooming
And unblooming to the chants of tireless
Mothers, yet now we wait for a doorknob
To turn, the hinges of doors to swing wide
In welcoming angles. On the other side,
The dusts on the mats remain unmoving,
Like something fragile is left for granted.
Somehow, we ignore our own deductions:

There was not much space here.
The air was dense around us.
This was too tight.

But whatever mechanism
These knobs hold within,
How their turns mimic the calls
Of seconds that have passed,
Take a couple of steps back.
We can never be too sure
Of the promise of a doorknob’s
Clicking. Stay away from it
And lean next to the windows.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

it all ends

That’s basically what it is all about. The Harry Potter books were one of my early affairs with literature, which were all preceded by Bible stories, a small stack of Hardy Boys, a humongous pile of Goosebumps, and that thick tome of fairy tales from around the world. My attachment grew as the years go by, from grade four in the late 90s to second year college.

Fast-forward to another decade and I still cannot help but find a hint of familiarity in the boy wizard’s life—a story richly told by Jo Rowling whose rags-to-riches story is a triumph equaling Harry Potter’s fate. The series then cemented my first impression that reading would not be some simple phase like toys, afternoon cartoon shows, and pimples.

This first impression, surprisingly, and much to my relief, lasted.

I was glad there were movies to fill the void when the seventh book finally rested on my shelf. But just last week, the concluding film of the series rolled its credits to the score of John William’s nostalgic “Hedwig’s Theme.” Time does go by so swiftly it is heartbreaking.

Directed by David Yates, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was not perfect. (I still insist the third film by Alfonso Cuarón, and even among the books, Prisoner of Azakaban is the best). They could have done better with Snape’s boathouse scene. The swirling smokes in the pensieve, the trails of apparating Death Eaters, and some spells look all the same. Some ripe stories are altered or forgotten.

There are more nitpickings inside my head but all these are trumped by the gist of it all: the freshness of the familiar, the defeat of all things evil, the inventiveness of a world where memory and magic serve something more than to inspire awe but also friendship and love.

This is what I see of the end, and it is like going back to the very beginning, going back to what captured my childhood imagination. Everything comes full circle, and it is bittersweet. Maybe soon, the pains of my nostalgia would all be gone, but the scar would still linger like Harry’s, perhaps a reminder of how great everything has changed. I believe all will be well.

P.S. The 3D is good except for one catch: the glasses get foggy and wet. You will see.

Monday, July 18, 2011

response to a doctor's findings

The doctor pulls bones,
muscles, tissues, all white
in that ghost of a film
from the brown enve-
lope. I hear it shuffle
with the rest of the do-
cuments inside, as if breath-
ing huskily, owning up the pain.

Some sounds are not meant
to be heard yet I close in.
A series of fluctuating graphs
is studied next to a list
of linked letters and numb-
ers that make no sense.
I consider having my eyes
checked the following week.

A joke, how this one diagram
curves into a smile and mocks
at my failure to figure
the codes siphoned
from my own body.
Incomplete right bundle branch.
Emphysema. Acid reflux.

The charts are laughing.

But there is none of these.
Only a nod and a smile,
real, finally, from the doctor
who hands a prescription.
Before leaving, we
exchange possibili-
ties, assurances and re-

Your heart is strong,
the doctor says.
In my head,
No, doc, it’s not.
I just think
there are mis-
takes that will al-

ways be right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 philippines free press literary awards winners

Team Jologs strikes again! Here are the winners of this year’s Philippines Free Press Literary Awards that capped last night at Club Café, Makati Sports Club. Netty, you make us proud. And for those who didn’t land in any of the three spots of the two genres, being a finalist I think is enough commendable honor. Congratulations to all!


1st - Caroline Hau, “Recuerdos de Patay”
2nd - Jenette Vizcocho, “When You See A Dog”
3rd - Michelangelo Samson, “Erscheinung”


1st - Luisa A. Igloria, “Zeno’s Paradox”
2nd - Timi Siytangco, “How to Kill a Whale Shark”
3rd - Andrea Teran, “Weight Without Gravity”

Monday, July 11, 2011

first time feels great [update]

In this case, yes, it does. Last month, I’ve received news that I made it in the first cut of contributors for Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry. It’s great because it would be my first time to be anthologized. I thought it would be no big deal, until I saw the final list just right now.

The anthology, which (previously) aims “to present 113 poems from 113 poets, in commemoration of our 113 years of Independence—of being Filipinos, of being Filipino writers,” is now changed to present 150 contributors due to the overwhelming number of entries received. And here they are, finally, whose one poem has already been selected by the editors, Khavn de la Cruz and Joel M. Toledo. This list is epic.

December, 18, 2008 Anne Carly Abad

The Unfaithful Men Diego Jose Abad

That Space of Writing Gemino Abad

In Place of Emotion Anina Abola

I, Pontius Jose Marte Abueg

Ika-anim na Sundang: Gabud / Sixth Knife: Whetstone Ericson Acosta

eraserase002 Arbeen Acuña

Sea Fireflies of Mindoro Jim Pascual Agustin

Fruit of Knowledge Arnold O. Aldaba

Wala Na Sa Quiapo Ang Nazareno /
The Nazarene Is Not In Quiapo
Kislap Alitaptap

Seaman Rio Alma

Train Dodge Jovsky Almero

Shoes Tofi Alonte

Apat Na Larawan Mula Sa Tagaytay Ridge / A Short Quartet
From Tagaytay Ridge Donato Mejia Alvarez

Pointing According To Heraldina Panch Alvarez

Bir-it, Jan-ny! Angelo B. Ancheta

F/light Mark Angeles

Anumang Leksiyon / Whatever Abides Rebecca Añonuevo

Dalawampung Minuto / Twenty Minutes Roberto Añonuevo

Sa Dulo ng Malay / At the Edge of Waking Teo Antonio

Hands Down Lystra Aranal

Eros Mesandel Virtusio Arguelles

Three Variations Cesar Ruiz Aquino

The Lion A.M. Azada

Entropy & The Shrike Amado Bajarias

manoy Desiree L. Balota

Laberinto / Labyrinth Romulo P. Baquiran, Jr.

Mga Tala Sa Isang Pagpatay / Notes On A Political Execution Joi Barrios

Futura Melissa Villa-Real Basmayor

Eksena Sa Susunod Na Siglo /
Scenario For The Next Century
Ariel Dim. Borlongan

Because Pandesal is never the same in another country Dave Buenviaje

Touch Me Not Regine Cabato

Carnivalesque Jose Wendell P. Capili

Pagdidilig Ronan B. Capinding

Ha-ha-ha Ronaldo Carcamo

Stones F. Jordan Carnice

Tsunami Blues Lito Casaje

The Smallness of the Everyday Ian Rosales Casocot

Hinatak Sa Kahulugan / A Catch of the Infinite Pull Marella Castro

Barber Shop Brainstorming Jose Jason L. Chancoco

Learning Curve Ayrie Ching

The Yoyo Routine Frank Cimatu

Kundiman Mikael de Lara Co

Stabat Mater Kristian Sendon Cordero

Magnanakaw / Thief Michael M. Coroza

The Current Keith Cortez

P'wera Contra Dakila Cutab

Multiple Choice Lope Cui, Jr.

Bound For Saudi Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr.

Brutalism Carlomar Daoana

On the Feminine Ramon Damasing

Ang Katiwala Mes De Guzman

Speed Ainne Frances dela Cruz

After Impeng Negro Christa I. De La Cruz

ang dalawang puso / the twin hearts Khavn De La Cruz

Absence Muse Noelle Leslie dela Cruz

aporia Nikki De Los Santos

Preparations for History Karl R. De Mesa

Paramdam Iñigo de Paula

The Ambivalence of Staying A Tree Ricardo De Ungria

Supremacy of the Text Lourd Ernest H. De Veyra

Rebolusyon / Revolution Noel del Prado

Social Blowtorching Transcends Scab Worship A Despi

Definition of Respite Glenn Diaz

In Memoriam Lav Diaz

Tinkling Alain Russ Dimzon

The What Jan Brandon Dollente

folding boxes Jacob Walse-Dominguez

The Last Rain of Summer Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

In Baclayon, Reading Levertov's For those whom
the Gods love less
Marjorie Evasco

Siberia Israfel Fagela

english lyrics to a japanese seduction Bendix M. Fernandez

Erotica Boni Fojas-Almirante

Smooch King Luis H. Francia

Blinds Marc Escalona Gaba

Hydrazine Eric Gamalinda

Coda J. Neil Garcia

Procorpio's Night German Gervacio

What Else Lolito Go

Blind Date Eva B. Gubat Ramil Digal Gulle

Death Poem Exercise 64 Asterio Enrico Gutierrez

What I Don't Tell My Children About My Hometown Luisa A. Igloria

Tandang Sora Neal Imperial

Morion Marne Kilates

How The Americans Liberated Northern Luzon, 1945 Philip Y. Kimpo, Jr.

The Revolution Will Be Printed, Not Televised Jeanilyn Kwan

Tampuhan Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta

Tagubilin At Habilin / Will And Testament Jose F. Lacaba

Ina / Mother Marra PL. Lanot

What Ol' Injun told the carnies Christine V. Lao

Here, at your grave Gian Lao

O Elaine Lazaro

NPA Mula sa Tatlong Daang Salita at Dalawang Pulgatang Pagitan /
From Three Hundred Words and Two Inches
in Between
John Francis C. Losaria

Kartolinang Ibon / Craft-Paper Bird Bienvenido Lumbera

Ganoon dumating ang balita / How the news broke Soleil Erika Manzano

A Better Good Morning Carlo Angelo V. Marcelo

The Life and Times of a Seditious Poet Edgar B. Maranan

Estranged Luchie Maranan

Saleslady Pia Montalban

Balimbing V.E. Carmelo D. Nadera Jr.

On the Way to the Market Joanna Nicolas-Na

Dark Birds In Winged Chapel Homer B. Novicio

hyperlink Emil Os

Mag-aabroad inin akon mga buhok /
My hairs will travel abroad
Voltaire Q. Oyzon

Philippine Eagle Doms Pagliawan

Alibangbang Sa Ulan Agustin Pagusara

Ars Poetica, As Actually Practiced R. Torres Pandan

Disturbances Ned Parfan

The Soul of the Town Allan Justo Pastrana

Prehistoria Carlos Piocos III

Nang Salakayin Mo Ang Aking Pananahimik / The Night
You Assaulted My Deep Silence Axel Pinpin

Vers. Zosimo Quibilan, Jr.

Bunso / Lastborn Jun Cruz Reyes

Sa Ganang Akin Po Naman Ay Ito Lamang Ang Ipinamamanhik /
Thus Do I Humbly Express Myself
Fidel Rillo

Eternal Juju Recurrence Virgilio A. Rivas

Euston Road on an Autumn Afternoon Deedle Rodriguez-Tomlinson

Despedida Ardiente Patrick Rosal

Today After Time Immemorial Darylle Rubino

Carabaohood Roger B. Rueda

SpaMusic Jose Leonardo A. Sabilano

Correspondent Joseph de Luna Saguid

Meandering Joel Pablo Salud

Vocabulario Edgar Calabia Samar

Poem About Nothing Rafael Antonio San Diego

Pugot / Beheaded Benilda Santos

Massacre Oscar Tantoco Serquina, Jr.

Balikbayan Box Tanya Sevilla-Simon

Yang Pagtagad Kang Alyana /

Waiting For Alyana
Danny Castillones Sillada

Ang Bisita / The Visitor Beverly W. Siy

I Love Poetry Bert Sulat, Jr.

How To Enjoy A Concert : Mula sa concert notes
ng Francisco Santiago Hall ng PCI Bank / From the concert notes
of Francisco Santiago Hall of PCI Bank (now defunct)
Ramon C. Sunico

Blueprint Christian Tablazon

Leviathan Alyza Taguilaso

Banal Na Buntis John Iremil E. Teodoro

Weight Without Gravity Andrea B. Teran

Para Sa Fountain Sa Harap Ng Post-Office Building / For The Fountain
In Front Of The Post-Office Enrico C. Torralba

An Appointment, And Variation On
Federico Alcuaz (or Monolgue as Portraiture)
Ricky Torre

where my Barbie was safe, lest, if it came out
in the open
Denver Ejem Torres

Sa Panahon / On Seasons Charles Bonoan Tuvilla

Ang Tiwalag / The Defected Roberto Ofanda Umil

The Blues R.M. Urquico

Every dawn you dig your own grave Czeriza Shennille Valencia

Independence Day In Hong Lim Park Eric Tinsay Valles

Nimbus Joel Vega

Crime Scenes Eliza Victoria

Rekindled Santiago Villafania

Vestibular Michael Carlo C. Villas

I think therefore I ant Arlene J. Yandug

The Ten Most Memorable Moments with D. Thus Far, & Why
I Can't Let Her Go
Alfred A. Yuson

This is grand. Many of these are people I look up to, while some are old and new acquaintances. The launching of this anthology during the 4th .MOV International Film, Music, & Literature Festival on September 2, 2011 would be interesting. Thanks for the tip, Arbeen, Tin and Eva!

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I would like to think
it never ends that way,
what falls down must break.

I condemn this pronouncement.
Just see the motes gliding back
on my bed this morning, golden

and sincere. Say, if I will fold
this blanket into a diamond tonight,
would I be spared from such claim?

Geometries are the only means
to make shape out of all this.
Consider the cushion and its stuffing.

All I want is something true.
No breaking. Yet this is what you said:
“I don’t sway that way.”

You went beyond the three quiet words
I longed for. Even the gesture of a smile.
Restraint does slip from your hands.

Or this time, from your lips. Have
faith, something hair strands hold,
clinging on damp pillowcases.

I know I have rested fairly
to last me days when the sun
seems shrouded with too much clouds;

even a stab at my wakefulness
would bear no sting more severe
than the bite of an ant.

But I guess I recalled too much forgetting,
walked on the same street again,
and slept a little too much.

And this is why I feel anger
for all the beds we have lounged upon.
There is not enough burden

that could leave a dent on them
for us to understand how heavy
the aches we both carry.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

something beautiful

Former students are still students. That is why last Friday (July 1), I left early from work and went to Toyota Foundation Bldg., Asian Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman, for its printing press’s midyear launching of nine new books, which included Beautiful Accidents, a collection of short stories by my former “teacher” in Silliman University, Ian Rosales Casocot (in quotations because technically I was never enrolled in his classes).

This book contains the award-winning stories “Old Movies,” “The Hero of the Snore Tango,” and “Things You Don’t Know.” In it is also the brilliant “Group Study,” which first appeared in Dark Blue Southern Seas 2008. I won’t share why that particular one is brilliant because it just is—with a wink at the sides.

Schoolmates attended the launching, specifically from the college paper, The Weekly Sillimanian, which surprised me a lot. I have never seen them in a long time. There were professors and fellows I met in different workshop batches. There was Prof. Leonor Magtolis Briones, former treasurer of the Philippines, who was our graduation commencement speaker and who also asked for my works when she knew I dabble in writing and left me very flattered.

And last but definitely not the least, there was the (formal, finally) introduction to those who composed the LitCritters of Manila: Dean Francis Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Vincent Simbulan, Alex Osias, Kate Aton-Osias, Andrew Drilon (who left earlier and absent in the picture above) and Charles Tan. Ian was our moderator back in college for the Dumaguete chapter of this reading-writing group, so, to put two and two together, it became SOP that night that the two groups ought to have one magisterial photo.

It was a beautiful gathering. And I think it was no accident.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

the places we have visited

I had this project in mind for a long time, and it only came into fruition early last year. Its entirety is not done yet, the process is slow, but I am working on it hard. Very hard. It’s just about rendering the places I have visited into verses. These places are in the Philippines, yes, since I guess I have to “celebrate” them as a way of giving back after providing me the means to “produce” something. The Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls, Eiffel Tower, or the Grand Canyon would have to wait.

I know all this is particularly not a novel idea, even old, but it is worthy of my attention, keeping the practice alive. Thus, I am glad to see this practice find its purpose in the pages of Philippines Graphic. My poems “The Trail to Nagsasa Cove, Zambales” and “The Church Floor in Siquijor” are published in this magazine’s July 4 issue. (And there was “Stones” in the June 13 issue with its origin going back to the cities of La Libertad and Tagbilaran).

Though I’ve sent them to the magazine a month ago, of which by this moment they look and feel a little bit different now because of revision (and more revision), happiness washes over me, like I have written them for the very first time.