Tuesday, February 28, 2012

first publication of the year

My poems, “How to Hate the Apostrophes” and “How to Not Write Another Story,” of which I think should be read together and in that specific order, are in this week’s Philippines Graphic (February 27, vol. 22, no. 39, Justice Serafin Cuevas on the cover). I may not have released anything last month, perhaps opening the new year with literary fireworks, but February’s fine with me. It’s better late than never, right? So, let’s keep things rolling, shall we? Good.

Monday, February 27, 2012

perennially lonely

The entire weekend could have ended with a ho-hum sigh of discontent if not for an invitation to an art fair somewhere in Makati. After I handed my broken, beloved camera to its service center (which begs for a different post) late Saturday afternoon, I met up with Sara, ogle at quirky things in the said gathering of buyers and sellers, until both of us thought we have better things to do. Like have a couple of drinks and talk about better things to do.

In the course of the night, Yas from Alabang joined us at a pub near SaGuijo, a café-cum-bar wedged in the maze of San Antonio Village. Eva was supposed to be with us but she had
spiels to do, Sam was practicing how to drive (and joy-riding the entire night), and Philip was happily in love and could not even respond to our calls. Also, someone long thought to be a ghost of the past apparated from somewhere nearby. The latter was a proof of the dangers of proximity. It all happened, unplanned, but it was nonetheless charming. I guess spontaneity is that one rare gem of occasions.

To commemorate the 555th post of this schizophrenic blog, here are some of the things that make up our banter:

  • How a broken compass works as embodied by a person who does not want to read maps.
  • How camera repair service costs as much as a new camera.
  • How a camera is needed in every occasion.
  • How a camera captures what you miss in the blur of an occasion.
  • How people could have beautiful cars at such a young age.
  • How people do not want to have beautiful cars in a lifetime.
  • How that long weekend in June could be the perfect opportunity for trying out that new car.
  • How people need a beautiful beach in every vacation.
  • How rhum becomes the training ground for beginners in a little city somewhere in the Visayas.
  • How most of us face a computer for hours at work.
  • How sub-zero beer works like magic.
  • How three bottles of beer could get you an extra-large shirt.
  • How a family name could scatter all over the country.
  • How a name could sound truly Filipino based on semantics, syntax, and pak! factor.
  • How a name could be pretentious.
  • How a name, a face of the person behind that name that is plastered on a book , which is edited by the person with that name could be the ultimate form of pretentiousness.
  • How that could be a result of miscommunication and graduation gift surprises.
  • How artifice and pretention could easily make an event.
  • How artifice and pretention differ from art and preservation.
  • How some people need to attend the annual Cosmopolitan Bachelor Bash.
  • How some people need to attend the annual FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women.
  • How saddening it could be when a friend who organizes or sponsors these two events forgets to give you your VIP pass.
  • How cigarette differs from electronic cigarette.
  • How an electronic cigarette could only provide a thin feel of smoke.
  • How nicotine makes you addicted to cigarette.
  • How nicotine gum fails at replacing the cigarette.
  • How a climb to Mount Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak, makes you regret of smoking cigarettes.
  • How a climb could be risky.
  • How people take risks.
  • How people should take risks more often.
  • How people keep themselves away from risks.
  • How people see themselves as risks.
  • How any small house, dilapidated or not, could be a venue for emerging, indie bands.
  • How doing so could further establish one’s indie cred.
  • How reconnecting with an old acquaintance sparks new connections.
  • How reconnecting with an old-recent(?) acquaintance sparks something more than connection.
  • How connections should have never been established in the first place.
  • How social media hide in a veil of goals to connect people.
  • How social media perpetuate a culture of delays, especially in writing.
  • How social media sate our human desire to be liked, mentioned, relevant, on the loop.
  • How social media could be a seed for art.
  • How art should always be separated from religion even if it touches on one.
  • How limiting and selfish one’s take on art could be.
  • How artists should be torchbearers of production and not polarization.
  • How polarization could be a fuel for production.
  • How many workshops need funding, as usual.
  • How plagiarism could be a result of subconscious idolization of the text being read.
  • How idolization blurs the line between praise and indolence.
  • How much themes could business owners think to refresh their line of motels.
  • How motels could offer perks with a frequenter’s card. For example, an umbrella.
  • How dental braces perfect and ruin a smile.
  • How longganisa tastes like when dipped in soup.
  • How a face registers to other people, as exemplified by this concern: “I hope he finds someone. Gusto ko siya makitang happy. Parang perennially lonely itong batang to.

And that, people, is how good friends who have never seen each other in a long time talk and backstab at each other from five o’clock in the afternoon to five o’clock in the morning. Yes, we are varsity players in this game of talking too much without really saying that much. Or so it seems.

Friday, February 24, 2012

the new book

This is perhaps one the most exciting news I’ve ever heard in a long while.

“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world. The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life.”
- J. K. Rowling

Thursday, February 23, 2012

job(lessness) in literature*

What are we doing and thinking? It was one broad question. Thoughts were running in my head. But when the same question was anchored as to how I see myself in relation to Jose Rizal and the nation, my focus settled on this assumption: I think the very germ of what we are currently doing and thinking is we are escaping.

We escape to possibilities. We find escape to find respite or simple entertainment. We become escapers as practicing writers.

And this is where I think the problem lies. We have escaped too much, too regularly, that we have distanced ourselves too far from reality.

What made Jose Rizal a force to reckon with was his ways of unmasking the troubles of this country. He reminded people through two novels about corruption of the government, the unjust treatment in the society, and a whole lot of other abuses. In other words, Jose Rizal showed truth. Or, rather, what was true and stirring in his time.

So, what truth could we show now? What could be our primary concern? Here is one truth that seems to be very palpable today: job and the absence of it. Not only in reality but also in fiction.

Hundreds of stories have been spun about love and other feelings. There are also abundant stories about trips to the outer space. Even the occasional rubbing of elbows with creatures of horror has its fair share in today’s literary scene (especially with the rising popularity of the so-called speculative fiction). But when it comes to human labor and its nature, we read very little about it.

As far as I can remember in local literature, we have the secretary Miss Mijares and the carpenter in Kerima Polotan Tuvera’s “The Virgin.” We have the real estate agent Divina in Rosario Cruz Lucero’s “Good Husbands and Obedient Wives.” There’s also the group of people who cope with getting fired in Ian Rosales Casocot’s “Yeah Baby Take It All In Bitch.” As for stories from foreign authors, we have the diagnosis analyst in Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Interpreter of Maladies.” There’s also the baker in Raymond Carver’s “A Small Good Thing.”

On the surface, these may seem just another set of stories on relationships, lives bumping or stumbling on another, but the characters’ jobs here are crucial, figuring not only as cosmetic devices but also triggers of emotion, of psyches, shaping the general environment of the story.

Today, instead of something that bears considerable weight, work merely receives the wallpaper treatment. A job is often thrown in as just another detail, an extra, something as minor as the main character’s smooth skin or brand of shoes.

Whether the work is done behind the computer, behind the wheel, behind the sink, behind the chopping board or behind the planggana, it is under-represented, if not entirely missing. This is not much of an argument but an observation.

One would probably argue that life itself is work, but that is of course another story. What I am trying to bring up here is the very means of acquiring money for the food on our tables, the very means of living that strangely exists like a ghost in fiction. You don’t see anything, but you’d know it is there, somewhere.

With a little bit of Googling, I found out that the unemployment rate in the Philippines was reported at 6.4 percent in October 2011, a considerable drop from the previous month’s 7.1 percent. It sounds reassuring but not entirely.

Although this sounds like an economist’s report, it must not be denied that young professionals make up a good chunk of the workforce in the Philippines, especially in the BPO industry. And with the class of 2012 graduating soon, jobs would once again be at the center in many people’s lives. Therefore, the youth will always be involved.

As for the young writers, I guess they ought to be aware, just like how Rizal is aware of almost everything.

The essayist Alain De Botton said that people “rely on writers to help explain the world” to them. So, have writers explained the world of the daily toil sufficiently? Should there be a need to explain it? And why don’t we just leave both the working class struggle and the high society’s eternal discontent to men behind journalism?

Given its very subjective nature, it is no wonder work in literature tends to be sidelined as an accessory. But the answers to the questions mentioned earlier would all boil down to this fact: We are in hard times, affected in one way or another.

The overall weakening state of the world economy alone paints a picture that we are linked together by consequences. And it is strange a strong theme such as this is ignored. But why is it ignored? Young contemporary writers have reasons, of course. Work could be plainly boring. It could be inessential. It could be too distancing from pop culture. It could be anything.

But the novelist and journalist John Lanchester has a detailed idea in his article “Why Fiction Breaks Down.” He said that although fiction “can be fantastical, wild… incoherent, even mad,” it has “to feel true. It has to generate a world of its own and create a satisfying internal order within that world.”

“But there are limits, and one of them is to do with unlikeliness.” He said “Fiction copes badly with unlikeliness. The bizarre is fine. But sheer unlikeliness, improbability, things that simply shouldn’t have happened or feel as if they couldn’t have happened, even after you know they have—that is likely to break a fictional world.”

And because of this unlikeliness, along with his deduction that modern work is so complicated one can’t thoroughly explain in fiction the “complex realities of different working lives,” a story about work tends to collapse.

In other words, the nature of predictability of what we already know or seem to know (e.g. CEO, window washer) tends to be unbelievable compared to what we are unfamiliar with (e.g. Remedios the Beauty ascending to the heavens, Piscine Patel boating with a Bengal tiger). We can be appalled by the most ordinary of things.

But this is, of course, just another reason, and which, if tweaked a little further, could also be considered an excuse.

I asked a couple of young practicing writers (who are also taking full/part time jobs) on how they see the relevance of work in literature.

Marguerite Alcazaren De Leon, web writer, said, “Whether we like it or not, we live in a capitalist society, so making a living has become a primary concern that informs our decisions and actions.”

Glenn Diaz, freelance writer, also said that “As far as realist fiction is concerned, economics entraps and frees people and, therefore, the characters. In the Philippines especially, where the distribution of wealth is highly uneven, good literature should attest to it.”

Some had another outlook though. Copywriter Mo Francisco said, “I guess it’s not so important unless integral to the story. Citing a job is an easy way to help characterize a person, setting, etcetera, but things shouldn’t be dependent on it.”

From the side of the established writers, their takes are much more encompassing than particularizing. The fictionist and essayist Susan Lara said, “Anything could be a worthy subject of a literary piece, as long as you can make it interesting, and of course, resonate.”

The poet and critic J. Neil Garcia does not think that livelihood is any more worthy as a literary theme than other themes. He said, “Human experience is fair fame. The literary treatment of human experience deepens the understanding of it.”

Differing opinions, yes, just like the types of work we have. There’s the blue collar job and there’s the white collar job. Others don’t have a collar at all.

With this year’s Philippine Arts Festival theme, “Tradisyon at Inobasyon,” the concept of the daily toil could be as relevant as ever. With tradisyon, we could acknowledge again the fundamental hard-working Filipino. And with inobasyon, we could acknowledge the developments of how work shapes us and how we shape works. We could both face the past and the present.

It is not that stories about love or the mananggal aren’t enjoyable. It is not that there are no recognizable truths in those stories either. I simply think the time calls for it, to resurrect and highlight the real face of labor, warts and all, in literature.

Work may be a tedious matter, even daunting, but it would always be a part of the human condition. And with literature, we could grapple it down, tame it. This is the strength of the written word. I guess Wislawa Szymborska, the Polish poet who died last February 1, says it best with her poem “The Joy of Writing.”

Writing, to quote the last two lines of the poem, is “The power of preserving./ Revenge of the mortal hand.”


Presented last February 9 for the conference session “Under 35: Young Writers and Their Milieu” in the 2012 Taboan Philippine Writers Festival at Fontana Leisure Park, Clark Field, Pampanga.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

12th iyas creative writing workshop call for submissions

The 12th IYAS Creative Writing Workshop is now accepting applications. The workshop will be held from April 22 – 28 at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City. Fellows will be given a grant to cover board and lodging and partial transportation subsidy. The panelists will be Dr. Marjorie Evasco, Ms. Grace Monte de Ramos, Dr. D.M. Reyes, Dr. Genevieve Asenjo, Prof. John Iremil Teodoro, and Dr. Ronald Baytan.

Applicants, using a pseudonym, should submit original works of any of the following: Poetry (6 poems); Short Stories (2 short stories); or One-Act Plays (2 plays).

Use font size 12; submit 5 computer-encoded hard copies of entries, bound or fastened, in separate folders, with in data CD.

Submissions must be accompanied by a sealed size 10 business envelope containing the author’s real name and pseudonym, a 2x2 ID photo, and a short resume; entires must be mailed on or before March 11.

Entries in Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tagalog, or Filipino may be submitted. Fellowships are awarded by genre and by language.


Darlyn Simbiling
Iyas Secretariat
University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City
FOR INQUIRIES:darlyn_omori@yahoo.com


IYAS was an experience. With Ma’am Elsa Coscolluela sparking a wonderful idea in my head, I learned a lot from this workshop. I believed it would be my last, too. Unless, of course, I would stumble on another creative block.

Friday, February 17, 2012


You confessed
You were excited
To what I can become.
Courtesy, of course,
Or something kinder,
Told me, I do too,
For you. For us,
This was just
Another shot in space,
As minute as electron
Emitted from solids,
Metals, like this bus
That I would not want
To go anywhere but here,
Staying put in the now.
Outside, the trees
Whizzed by, resisting
Horizon’s gravity.
It is true then; not everything
Could hold on to anything.
You had the words
Of an old wise man.
You had the look of one.
But only more refined,
Only more unintentionally
Energetic, youngish.
I listened closely,
Closer, to every tremble
In your voice, the pauses
Made from every bump on the road
A clever skip in a grand concerto.
I expected more brilliance
As cosmic as the depths
Of dark matter from you,
Expanding alien knowledge.
But what I got was a flutter
Of wings, of likely possession,
Nonetheless expanding,
Like an age-old warmth
That sprang
From the brush
Of your knee
To mine.
And mine
To yours,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

how to reason there is no reason not to love despite of

The intrusive nature of words,
How they could force us to heed them.

The vernacular we seldom speak,
The click of letters now foreign in our mouths.

The clink of coins in the pockets of tailored suits,
How the cries of currency do not differ in tin cans.

The silence we cover next to our excuses
Like a patch of paisley on white-silver silk.

The lies that stand as truths for our convenience,
Their heft more than what we could ask to bear.

The pyrotechnics we could hear but never see,
That we are either too far or too close we shield our eyes.

The messages withheld but are composed in our heads,
Our only ploy is that we are ahead of our time.

The calls of siloys on crosshatching limbs of the talisay,
Whether these are songs of love or the absence of it.

The instances when everything is our love song,
From the blare of horns to the crush of paper crumpled.

The questions, “How are you?”, “What is wrong?”,
“When would that be?”, “Who are we to refuse?” and “Why?”

The asphalt vapor that rises from the streets at midday,
Smelling like dogs and petrol between our distances.

The perfume that blankets a department store,
One of the few places where bliss are sold in martian bottles.

The whiff of pandan that drifts out of the widow’s house;
Her plate of rice paler and softer than her fingers.

The widower and the musk of freshly tilled soil,
That nothing could be more earth-bound than this.

The orphan in search for a trace of lavender in his pillow,
In search for the meaning of belongingness.

The winds that sculpt a once shapeless cloud,
That it could be an omen, telling and to be feared.

The stains we leave on the wooden table with our drinks,
Their sweat an imprint of neglect.

The cats that stare straight at our eyes at night,
Their calm resolve we constantly envy.

The affliction of recalling faces but not the names,
Our only hope introductions will be forever and requisite.

The possibilities of not knowing where the train goes,
Whether this south is our south or theirs and vice versa.

The means we warrant the joys of a storm that has passed,
Divining the skies for the first, minute hint of sunlight.

The elaborate anatomy that defines our features,
Slipping away after seeing too many cycles of the moon.

The stillness that throbs and dawns in most afternoons,
The shadows around us longer, wider, deeper.

The red bicycle with the flat front tire in the garage,
Rust claiming its territory on the chain and brakes.

The simple instructions we always fail to read,
As if there is not enough room for our inadequacies.

The time when our lips once meet as we lay on the grass;
A discovery of how brief an abundance of green tastes like.

The tang of history on our tongues,
One that nothing could ever wash away.

The spices nothing could seemingly wash away,
That our tongues deserve the torture of never forgetting.

The secret, bitter prayers we know too well,
Our guilt becoming mantras, as human as skin.

The scheming, sweet consolations we know too well,
Our mantras becoming human, as guilty as skin.

The insouciance we have for kamingaw,
That there are other maladies to attend to.

The way water seems to resist our touch,
As if there is no other way to forgive than to keep trying.

The little souvenirs we have bought for our beloved,
Those that would rest at the end of a drawer someday.

The things we shelf at the back of our heads,
Only to tip over with the slightest trigger of remembrances.

The edges of torn paper and blades of grass,
That they are among the few honest faces of mistake.

The few honest faces of mistake,
How they appear right and true in the beginning.

The prophetic wisdom of a mango to a virgin,
That not everything that smells sweet is ripe and true.

The dust between floorboards and other disregarded spaces,
Remainders of our former selves, quiet and growing.

The disparate objects we claim to have meanings,
As if this coffee is brewing a conspiracy of sadness.

The days when we comb our fingers through our hair
And wonder, why now? When will this ever end?

Yes, there are things that resist to be understood.
Such as love and other excesses, such as hate,

Such as shapes that resemble nothing we have seen before:
Straight, curving on one side, bulging, and at times completely

Crooked. There may not be enough kindness in this world
To keep our faith rooted in the crevices of our palms,

But by all means let them be, perplexing
And impenetrable. For it goes without saying

We do not reason when we love.
There is no reason not to love.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

in the foothills of talinis

Just before the overture, a group of people occupied the stage, bearing nature instruments like the budyong (conch shell) and bamboo, and then playing them in rhythm to a video montage in the background.

This was one of the opening presentations of Handulantaw, Silliman University’s preview of the 50th Cultural Season that would start on June 2012 until May 2013, at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium last January 27. And this particular number was a melding of melodies and verses with my poem “In the Foothills of Talinis.”

Handulantaw, in the words of the show’s director Dessa Quesada-Palm, “constitutes a collective act of remembering. It has fragments of the past fifty years and more, a cultural mosaic of the locale that continues to shape, instruct and inspire this generation of artists and cultural workers in its own being and becoming. It is a necessary conversation that invites retrospection and looking forward. Hence the deliberate connection of handum/handumanan (‘reminisce/keepsake’) and lantaw (‘looking forward’). And that is the grace of a rich history, that in putting together and making sense of its parts, what may seem so disparate, belonging to distant contexts of time and space, are brought together in a narrative that becomes accessible, real and meaningful to the present.”

The presentation of my poem was followed by a string of brilliant performances: Kwerdas, Silliman University Gratitude Goodwill Ambassadors Women’s Ensemble (Valencia folk song “’Day Baling Mingawa”), College of Performing and Visual Art’s Rondalla (folk song “Pobreng Alindahaw”), the cast of Godspell (“Light of the World,” excerpt from the play), Silliman University Jazz Ensemble (“[I’ve Got You] Under My Skin”), Silliman Kahayag Dance Troupe (dance based on the poem “Bonsai” by National Artist for Literature Edith Lopez Tiempo), Jem Robert Talaroc (“Black Bird”), and much more.

All of these were witnessed by media representatives from across the country such as ABS-CBN, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Cebu Pacific’s Smile Magazine, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Magazine, Esquire Magazine Philippines, Philippines Graphic Magazine, Business Mirror, Good Housekeeping, Zee Lifestyle Magazine, Visayan Daily Star, MetroPost, Bohol Chronicle, Negros Chronicle along with the city’s university papers like The Weekly Sillimanian, Foundation Times, The NORSUNIAN, and The Monthly Paulinian.

More stories about the evening are found here, here, here and here. And there are more to come.

Truly, it was a night of talents, of what was to come soon in the Dumaguete, a place where culture and the arts were ingrained not only in the city but also in those who peopled it. And I am glad, even for such a short period of time, that I was a part of it.

Special thanks to Sonia SyGaco and the members of the Silliman University’s Cultural Affairs Committee for giving me this opportunity.


In the Foothills of Talinis

We have come so far
from the shore,
away from the city,
becoming gods
of our distances.

Now here we are
more alien than snails,
our lungs baptized
with what is once known
and new: this air of Valencia.

Deep beyond the tangle
of copses a yap of a dog,
a clump of muted fireflies,
a groan of a waterfall,
a cologne from wild flowers.

Or this: a sun that hunkers
between hills like the crest
of a deified rooster.
Hear it crow majestic,
gold sweeping green.

Now look for a fern,
a quiet promontory,
or just a forest floor.
We have come so far,
rest would be at hand.

Friday, February 03, 2012

insert ignorance here

There are times when I am mightily offended by my own unawareness of things, the abrupt revelations only underscoring my ignorance. Take for example the news of Wisława Szymborska’s death (1932 - 2012) last February 1, a Polish Nobel laureate for literature whose name I could not even pronounce well (until New York Times reveals to me it is ‘vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska’).

I never knew her until that date. And what a shame I have come to know her just recently, a woman with works that I have found to be potent and affecting in spite of their seeming ease and fragility. I am both moved by embarrassment and awe. While reading one by one the articles about her all over the internet, I came upon this poem that I thought had aptly ushered my entrance to her oeuvre. The last two stanzas speak of her quiet brilliance.

A Tale Begun
Wisława Szymborska

The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.

Our ships are not yet back from Vinland.
We still have to get over the St. Gotthard pass.
We’ve got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw’s center,
gain access to King Harold the Butterpat
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouché.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.

We’ve run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven’t got the trucks, we haven’t got the Mings’ support.
This skinny horse won’t be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars’ captives.
We’ll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.

We don’t know who to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the prince cardinal will decree,
which names Beria’s still got inside his files.
They say Charles the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation let’s appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
change faiths,
pretend to be friends with the Doge
and that we’ve got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.

Time to light the fires.
Let’s send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.
Let’s untie the knots in the yurt's leather straps.

May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.

But not so far
that it sees into the future.
Spare him
that one gift,
O heavenly powers.


In a few days’ time, there will be an occasion that would, if the gracious heavens are on my side, allow me a chance to show what I could present, expound what needs to be clarified. If the proceeding goes the other way around, then it would be one for the books of ignorance. I could only hope for the former, of course, with a dash of poker-facing and loads of self-assurance. Let’s just say I’d be facing a crowd, probably a very inquisitive one, and I always have an issue with that. Period.

I have been keeping this to myself since August last year, to minimize the mental drumbeating of its coming. But I guess today’s the right time. I better start looking for my full-body armor for this one.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

19th iligan national writers workshop call for submission of applications

The Mindanao Creative Writers Group, Inc., and the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE) are accepting applications from writers to the 19th Iligan National Writers Workshop (INWW) to be held on May 14-18, 2012 in Iligan City.

Panelists this year are Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, Leoncio P. Deriada, Merlie M. Alunan, German V. Gervacio, Steven Patrick C. Fernandez, Ralph Semino Galan, J. Neil Garcia, John Iremil Teodoro and Christine Godinez-Ortega and this year’s keynote speaker, Victor N. Sugbo.

Fifteen (15) slots, five each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and one (1) slot each for the Manuel T. Buenafe Writing Fellowship (MTBWF) and the Ricardo Jorge S. Caluen Bursary for Creative Writing or a total of 17 slots are available for writing fellowships to the 19th INWW.

Applicants are required to submit five poems, or, one short story, excerpt of a novel, or, a one-act play in Filipino, English or in Sebuano, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Waray, Chabacano (with English or Filipino translations) along with the applicant’s biodata, two 2X2 photos and a certification that his/her work is original. Please submit a hard copy and a CD with the manuscripts encoded in MS Word. Those submitting excerpts of novels or works-in-progress—please provide a one-page summary of the novel. Unpublished works are preferred and applicants who have attended regional workshops are given priority.

Writing fellows will be given free board and lodging and a travel allowance. Applications must be postmarked on or before March 30, 2012. No applications or manuscripts will be accepted if sent by fax or e-mail. Applicants are also advised to keep copies of their manuscripts since these will not be returned. Announcements of this year’s writing fellows are released during the third week of April 2012.

Applicants to this year’s workshop may download application and other forms here.

Send all applications to the 19th INWW Director c/o OVCRE, MSU-IIT, Iligan City. For more information call Pat Cruz, Leda Gonzales or Ofelia Taneo at telefax (063) 2232343; or e-mail: inww_ovcremsuiit@yahoo.com


This year’s the nineteenth edition already? That was fast. I can still picture Elena Tower in my mind, the lonely couch outside the conference hall, the rooms, the shrimps, the falls, the long ride to reach the falls, and a whole lot more…

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

the month of what?

I have been pretty absent here lately. Demands of the daily toil just keep on breeding like a nasty viral disease. Aside from this routine, there are these self-imposed deadlines that need to be confronted. A close acquaintance of mine said, “If that makes you happy.” Well, of course, woman. This makes me happy.

And didn’t I mention earlier today’s the beginning of February? No? Really? Anyway, to kick off (why not literally, eh?) this month of excessive capitalism on flowers, chocolates and motels, here is a lovely poem (lifted from Sam) by the American poet and novelist Kim Addonizio.


Kim Addonizio

They hang around, hitting on your friends
or else you never hear from them again.
They call when they’re drunk, or finally get sober,

they’re passing through town and want dinner,
they take your hand across the table, kiss you
when you come back from the bathroom.

They were your loves, your victims,
your good dogs or bad boys, and they’re over
you now. One writes a book in which a woman

who sounds suspiciously like you
is the first to be sadistically dismembered
by a serial killer. They’re getting married

and want you to be the first to know,
or they’ve been fired and need a loan,
their new girlfriend hates you,

they say they don’t miss you but show up
in your dreams, calling to you from the shoeboxes
where they’re buried in rows in your basement.

Some nights you find one floating into bed with you,
propped on an elbow, giving you a look
of fascination, a look that says I can’t believe

I’ve found you. It’s the same way
your current boyfriend gazed at you last night,
before he pulled the plug on the tiny white lights

above the bed, and moved against you in the dark
broken occasionally by the faint restless arcs
of headlights from the freeway’s passing trucks,

the big rigs that travel and travel,
hauling their loads between cities, warehouses,
following the familiar routes of their loneliness.