Friday, September 30, 2011

about the heart

Last Sunday, September 25, was World Heart Day. It was celebrated worldwide. I knew it from a news report on television, snatching my attention like a flimsy feather to a gust of wind since I visited doctors to—you’re right—have my dear heart (among other organs) checked just a few months ago. And to make the long story short, nothing really serious.

But that pattern of visiting the doctor (doctors, in the plural, to be specific), recalling the pains, doing some tests, waiting for results, and visiting the doctor again scared the bejeezus out of me. It knocked a few thoughts in my head and resulted into this:

My poem “Response to a Doctor’s Findings” is in this week’s Philippines Graphic (3 October 2011). Shot of the magazine’s cover you see right up there. I just find it a little bit funny, this piece coming out the morning after World Heart Day (I got my copies last Monday). It looks like a wily stab at humor. Maybe the publishers know. Maybe it is pure coincidence.

But what I am really sure of is that this seems to be a lovely year for me. I won’t stop the stars from aligning, suggesting beautiful things. This is good for me, good for my heart.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

defeated yesterday

The umbrellas were. And everything that was on me, actually.

Early in the morning last September 27, Pedring proved to be a typhoon for any rational man in Metro Manila to be wary of. But since no message of work being canceled came to me, I set off with the faintest idea at the back of my head that I deserve an Employee of the Year Award. Not even the sixteenth typhoon that visited our country could stop me.

Outside, the winds so strong, I felt like in any minute I would ascend to the heavens like Remedios the Beauty. And what downpour that day poured. I pitied my swaying umbrella, but I still honestly thought of myself lucky compared to those who were drenched in their corporate uniforms and trendy BPO getups. Whereas my umbrella swayed, enduring the elements, theirs had seen better days. At least that made me smile.

I arrived in the office just to receive news that we would have a half-day work in the interest of all employees’ safety. I was not sure if I would meet this piece of info with enthusiasm or disappointment. The howling winds in the elevator vents and shaking glass walls of our floor were not helping me clear my mind either. I busied myself with work, work, work until 12:30pm.

When I left the office, the weather did not change. It got worse. Insert heavy sigh here. So I stowed my weary umbrella in my bag, zipped up my jacket, and braved the storm while singing Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah” on the way home. I arrived home safe and sound.

Monday, September 26, 2011

her royal birthday

It was no surprise, the other tables emptying as the night progressed, which could probably be provoked by the ruckus we all made. We celebrated Mo’s (insert preferred number here) post-birthday (September 22 was her birthday), and I sometimes believe birthdays are supposed to be like that. Wild, large, and tight. And yes, I’m still talking about birthdays.

The notorious Jologs of the Dumas-Goethe workshop—an expanding circle of indefinable fellows other than, well, notorious—converged at the Elbow Room last Saturday, all giddy since the last time we met was in May. Giddy may seem to be too shy a word; the following photos speak for how it all turns out.

Ynna Serena, The Bullfrog, Yumburger Miro, Real Lady Netty, Child Star Phillip, Single No More Keith, and Her Highness, Mo.

With Bea, lady in yellow, who we rarely see. And that woman with the lovely smile, that’s Peachy.

We are puggeh.

Thats Mo’s pseudo-G.I. Greg, who posited we were in Pampanga.

The circle. Next stop, Netty’s birthday.


And speaking of birthdays, lets segue to familial matters here. Today is my sister’s birthday. And also the day Ondoy wrecked havoc on us last year. Let us just pray the storms will keep us strong.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

how to break the ice after a fight

Since we have enough silence to build
a museum or a public library, can I speak
of our close(d)ness now? What about
the static of midnight television,
the closing of doors, that wordless
goodnight, that (eve/mor)ning snore?

Yes, we are allowed so much hurt
but I can only permit this much.
What we always know of lea(r)ning
(on/from) each other we discover
by not doing so. Our wind chimes
tell us this: there is weariness in inertia.

So this time I try to speak your idioms.
So this time I try to follow your nods.
And this perfume (f)licking the air
between us? Just rub it generously
on your pulse. I can tell if it is worthy of days
when only my skin’s musk invades me.

We know it is too (early/late) to tell
if the (ab/pre)sences we fill those days with
benefit our better judgments. There will
always be afternoons that never stop waiting,
always ahead of us. Like habits of desire,
vivid and steel-sharp.

But this is what I am grateful for:
at least we never get to the point
of breaking the (d/w)ishes,
the precious porcelain (c/v)ows
we have received on our wedding last June.
So tonight, in bed sweating, we both (g)listen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

published and not complaining

My poem “The Lost Monkeys of Tamugan,” a melding of the myth and the personal tale, is published in the September 10 issue of the Philippines Free Press, along with fellow katsubong Bron Teves’ “The Queen’s Gambit.” Read them here.


Lately, I’ve been churning out poems, setting aside drafts upon drafts of long narrative fiction, and though it is no easy feat, I am not complaining. I think it is a blessing. My only “issue” (I don’t know how to describe it) here is the constant urge to rework a piece the genre usually hints at or even demands. See, the aforementioned poem that is sent a month ago to the publisher now looks different today, at least in my growing list of drafts. Ah, the (un)petty concerns of life.

Anyway, as what I’ve said, I am not complaining. I shouldn’t be.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

founders friend

Touchdown and Take Off
August 24, 2011

Yes, I decided to visit two cities in one day. Original plan was to stay in Dumaguete upon arriving (until the 29th of August), but due to circumstance I decided to pay my dear hometown a visit on the very same day. Land on Dumaguete in the morning, cruise to Tagbilaran in the afternoon.

Fast forward, or six days later, it was not surprising knowing the expenses I made. I checked my little book of transactions and discovered my spending doubled compared to last year’s August break. Yet there was no pang of guilt here. I think it’s all worth it.

One Day in Bohol
August 25, 2011

Brought my parents to the grocers, went with them to purchase things needed for remodeling the house, and met a handful of my high school classmates on the eve of my leaving for Dumaguete. The latter and I returned to our recently-favored pastime: singing/reading lyrics. Yes, apparently, all I can manage is read lyrics on the videoke screen like poetry.

At least it’s poetry.

The Epic Journey Back
August 26, 2011

To encapsulate le grande expedition to the city of gentle people: I arrived at Tagbilaran port at 6:45AM, and then knew Dumaguete fastcraft trip at 8AM was cancelled due to rough seas. When hesitation to leave started to sink in, I met someone who also planned on hopping onto the same boat. Karamays are always helpful. We both decided to brave the longer route—take the earliest trip to Cebu (7AM); take a taxi cab to South Bus Terminal (9AM); take a bus to Santander Pier (9:20AM), of which the whole trip took three hours; take a ferry boat to Sibulan, Negros Oriental (3:30PM); and finally, take a tricycle ride to reach Piapi, Dumaguete (4PM).

I was supposed to reach Dumaguete City as early as 9AM. Nevertheless, this time I can truly say, better late than never (my mantra since Elementary was ‘better absent than late’). So next time someone says there’s no other way, I’d slap the idiot hard on the face.

After this Tolkienesque journey all-for-the-sake-of-lakwatsa, things started to get better: SU Cheering Competition, Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot Si Remington Special Screening, dinner at Sunburst, drinks at Sundown, and a day-breaker meal at Qyosko. Smiles were drawn on our faces.

The Sand Bar Vanishes

This time, there was ‘Walang tulugan!’ indeed. After our 4AM meal in Qyosko, off we went back to our respective homes and packed our things that would shame The Flash. We converged at Portal West Building by 5AM. A couple of expected people didn’t show up. (To the pits with them!) Anyway, there were nine of us, and it was relatively a healthy number for such trip.

I couldn’t really remember what time we left the city since I was drifting in Pillowland the minute the van went zooming to Bais City. We arrived at our destination point at a time and weather that were good for seeing the dolphins but bad at frolicking at the famous Sand Bar. Why? The seas were high, the Sand Bar was gone.

Gladly enough, a big crowd of marine mammals graced our presence. I believed my sonic message of “You better show up or else… or else…” was effectively relayed to the depths of the ocean with my planking atop the banca’s outriggers.

August 27, 2011

And this, people, is the story behind “Founders Friend” or “FF” (statements are altered for privacy/due to unreliable recollection, many thanks to our favorite horse):

“She’s happy with her job. She travels a lot. She’s even happy with that hectic job. Why can’t we have that life? And she has a boyfriend! Someone who likes to see her all the time!”

“Oo nga. Lahat nalang ng mga lumalapit sa’kin may masasamang balak! May dalang ice-pick pa!”

“At least may lumalapit sa’yo.”

“But this year’s founders feel a little bit lighter noh?”

“Actually. Drama is sooo 2010. Forget closure. It’s time to move forward.”

“That’s why we need someone just for this week.”

“A special friend for a week.”

“Yes, someone who’s like a what-happens-during-founders-stays-only-in-founders kind of person.”

“Like a Founders Friend!”

“Yeah! An FF! ‘Hey, can you be my FF tonight?’”

“I like that!”

A few hours later, before the sun peeked out from the Escanyo horizon, the characters in the story disappeared one by one.

In Search of That Elusive Person
August 28,2011

It’s hard to say no to a one-way ticket to Drinks-All-You-Can ticket for the price of a bucket up here in the north. This sounds like a joke but two Sundays prove otherwise. And that day is officially the last day of finding for that elusive Founders Friend.

With the Hibalag booth area at the university spitting fireworks to close the week-long event, El Camino and its fund-raising (with the said ticket), luring lawyers, future lawyers, and the usual visitors, were touted to be an interesting checkpoint. And whether the search was successful or not, depending on how one saw the outcome, the day ended strangely well, maybe because of the reason for coming up with this excuse: find the post-founders friend.

National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo’s State Funeral
August 29, 2011

I attended a vigil of Mom Edith’s wake last August 27, Friday. Familiar faces were there, and I guess they were present for the same reason why I needed to pay respect to someone who graciously poured wisdom to people who shared the same thirst of her passion.

The State Funeral took place two days later. I had a 3PM flight to catch, and though I knew I won’t be able to follow the final walk to the burial grounds because of this, I woke up early to see her one last time. It was the right thing to do.

Reunions and Anniversaries

Still not reeling away from this little bundle of grief I carried during my days and nights of merriment (yes, I hide feelings very well) because of Mom Edith’s departure, I rounded up the culprits for one last August lunch in Dumaguete at Gabby’s Bistro. In simple words, I needed company. Again, a few went poof at the last minute for reasons both trivial and logical, but it was fine. It is always lovely to cap things on a pleasant note—all smiles and lively chatter. The gathering went well. The leaving did not.

Well, a lot knows it’s like that when it comes to Dumaguete. Always.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

books launched and received

Last Friday, September 2, the book “Under The Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry” was launched at the Ayala Museum.

A part of the 4th .MOV International Film, Music, and Literature Festival, the anthology which is edited by Khavn De La Cruz and Joel Toldeo, is a “compilation of 150 Filipino poets: from the renowned and the known to the upcoming and the knowable. It explores the topography of the phenomenal, social, and lingual developments of contemporary Philippine poetry.”

My poem “Stones” is in it, along with works from contributors like Gemino Abad, Jose Marte Abueg, Cesar Ruiz Aquino, Jose Wendell Capili, Mikael de Lara Co, Jose Dalisay, Lourd Ernest De Veyra, Lav Diaz, Simeon Dumdum Jr., Marjorie Evasco, Marc Gaba, Eric Gamalinda, J. Neil Garcia, Marne Kilates, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, Marra PL. Lanot, Bienvenido Lumbera, Eliza Victoria, Alfred Yuson, and many more.

The table of content is definitely enough to whirl me to fantasyland. Tin Lao would agree with me.

The event was a strange gathering: mainstream and indie personalities, entertainment bigwigs, and foreign ambassadors and bands took the stage and gave readings of select poems from the book. Though the museum was crowded, I managed to see familiar faces (Alyza Taguilaso, Anne Abad, Jimmy Abad, Arbeen Acuña, Keith Cortez, Noelle Leslie dela Cruz, Eva Gubat, Gian Lao, Ned Parfan, John Iremil Teodoro, Krip Yuson) and say hello to new ones (Erica Gonzales, Jose Jason Chancoco, Lope Cui, Jr., Dakila Cutab, Christa De La Cruz, Jacob Walse-Dominguez, Bebang Siy, Denver Torres, Ronald Verzo).

Also on the same night, I received a copy of the Dream-Pop Issue of Paper Monster Press. My apologies though; I forgot who to thank to here for handing me the little chapbook. My poem “Ghost,” as mentioned before, is in this interesting outing.

So, that was it. In other words, it was a long night.

Monday, September 05, 2011

how sleep can be defined in sestina

Sleep? What is sleep but a still moment of escape,
a practice better suspended in litmus clouds,
or cumulus, or cumulonimbus, or stratus in layers
levitating like sheets of linen above closed eyes,
where light could sift through their folds and head
to corners and creases and places night holds.

Sleep! The epilogue that the waking eye holds!
Defined by flows and circles, shapes that escape
conventions of space, all forms of sleep head
to where they are contentedly in a blur: clouds.
This has a reason: spires and streets tire the eyes,
And glass buildings split-slice bodies in thin layers.

Question: Does one need two mirrors to face layers
upon layers of the self, wherein a hand holds
the multiplicity of sameness, gripping the eyes
with images so grand no marvel could escape
the practical lips? No, what are needed are clouds,
real but invisible to touch. Like thoughts in the head.

Some say sleep does not appoint dream as the head,
the principal in every meditation, since it layers
itself with elucidations on living. They say it clouds
logic, lifebuoy of occasional foolishness. Yes, it holds
some truth: Dreams give the wrong reason to escape.
They trick people not to look with their own eyes.

Question: So why trouble on things not seen with the eyes?
Response: Answers are buried beneath the head.
Question: But why trouble on intricate plans of escape
to dreamscapes when most truth lies in layers
of falsehood, in patterns? Response: the sleeper holds
too much weight he wishes to rest on the ninth set of clouds.

Sleep comes not only at night; it heralds the clouds
as day approaches, like one morning a man sees them, eyes
them skimming the sun over the skyline, in bed that holds
him, cradles him in the next hours ,where his head
rests on layers of blanket, of blankets in layers.
He closes his eyes, defines sleep: There will be no escape.

But nothing holds certainty as beautifully as sleep, to escape
with eyes briefly in peace, to see between the layers
of random thoughts where clouds could set sail in the head.

[ a revision of an attempt last year ]

Friday, September 02, 2011

winners of the 61st carlos palanca memorial awards for literature

It’s that season again. A couple of favorites and buddies turn up in this year’s list of winners, and here’s one great holler to fellow katsubong Joshua Lim So for winning first prize in full-length play and third prize in dulang ganap ang haba. Congratulations to everyone. There’s still next year, so better write those works now.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

another one

My poem “Ghost” is in the Dream-Pop Issue of Paper Monster Press (along with my dear fellow hipon, Eva Gubat). Lifted from their Facebook page, here is the list of contributors. The launching took place last August 27 at Espasyo Siningdikato, Dasmariñas Cavite.

LITERARY Jim Pascual Agustin (Tubig-alat sa Ating mga Mata)
Jack Alvarez (Chemistry)
Joyce Marisse Amon (Sending Out)
F. Jordan Carnice (Ghost)
Marella Jem Castro (“I Suppose You Are Real,” said The Velveteen Rabbit)
Jose Jason Chancoco (Astral Travel)
Gigi Constantino (Light Captured)
Christa De La Cruz (Reprieve)
Danilo dela Cruz, Jr. (Ang Araw na Para sa Kanya)
Lolito Go (Sa Pagkalalake)
Eva Gubat (How Somebody Mimicking Joy Williams Would Talk One Morning)
Sinta Isaac (Espongha)
Mark Alvin Jabrica (Listen To Your Mother)
Melay Guanzon Lapeña (Continuity Study)
Veronica Laurel (Waking)
Jenni de Leon-Slater (Colin)
A.B. Mendoza (Dry As Leaves)
Patrick Quintos (1:00 a.m.)
Thirteen Salonga (Encounter #1)
Dott Seki (One Man Universe)

MUSIC The Dunes (Going Under)
Eggboy (No Way Jose-Alternate Version)
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (Postlude to Fervor)
Identikit (Tiny Fractures)
The Informations (The Wind and The Stone)
J-Solo (Riding Waves, Passing Time)
KR-O.K (Run To Me-Beegees Cover)
Lipstick Tears (Will You Please)
Minimal Pop (Le Rêve)
Monochrome (Grey Sky Manila)
Neuter Lover (Find)
Phantom Sizemore (How To Kill a Giant Robot)
Pogs (Sticky Dreams)
The Standards (Espinosa)

Jesus Tejada
Bunny Rose
Tilde Acuña
Chris Bird