Saturday, June 27, 2015

love wins

Can you hear that? Those are the scramblings, shufflings, and murmurings of so-called “Christians” from all over the world now devising a new counter-strategy. I smell panic in the air.

It is because last Friday, June 25, the Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. You can call that 50 States of Gay.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority’s decision, and it had never been said more clearly and eloquently. Please take time to read this; it would be the most illuminating few seconds of your life:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.

This brought tears to my eyes.

Yet, there are some gay people I know who publicly disapprove of the Supreme Court’s approval of the same-sex marriage ruling. Indeed, Filipinos are strange creatures. So I really have to say this: If you refuse to understand what the celebration is for, I think it is only right for you to crawl back to your cave.

One of their reasons is that it makes the idea of “family” meaningless. It made me pause for a second and had the laugh of my life. As what my friend said, life is too short for homophobes and those who keep intolerance a part of their principles. So the unfriending spree on Facebook continues.

Although many of the Catholics and Conservatives in the Philippines are still far from realizing how awfully wrong they are in their understanding of love, developments like this give hope to humanity. It is not for everyone but it is nothing short of momentous. It is an event, little or not, depending on who you ask, that tells us we are on the right direction.

Today marks the day of better things to come. Love wins.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

good news, good times


It has been two years or so since I’ve last written or even completed a poem. Aside from the technicality the craft requires, the prospect of surrendering yourself again to your well of “feelings” can be tricky. And, perhaps, mentally and emotionally difficult.

Writing poetry is like being skinned alive, the rib cage opened, your heart exposed, as all the weight of things that surround you are resting upon your shoulders. Writing the first verse alone would subject you to that macabre transformation. That is why writing, as many have said, can be a painful, lonely job. But I tried to get up from the rut.

Recently I completed one here and another one there. And the struggle gave back a reward. Just a few weeks ago, I received this:

(click photo to enlarge)

According to the University of the Philippines-Diliman website, New Voices will be “a two-volume anthology of poetry and fiction by new Filipino authors writing in English. To be published by the UP Press and possibly in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education, these volumes will provide a platform for new writers to gain literary renown, as well as contemporize teaching materials for Philippine literature in English.

The New Voices anthologies seek to draw attention to a new generation of Philippine writers by filling a gap between the authors’ publication of individual poems or stories in periodicals, and the publication of their first book. New Voices will feature approximately 15 poets and 10 fiction writers.”

15 poets out of how many from all over? Possibly circulated in schools? The joy was electric. And then more news of acceptance letters from other people came flooding in. It became even more unbelievable. So far, from what I’ve gathered, I’d be in the company of Glenn Diaz, Tin Lao, Jason Chancoco, Mia Tijam, and Lystra Aranal. These names are giving me the chills. Aside from the flattery of being one of the country’s new voices in literature, I am just glad I have a voice.


Last Tuesday, June 23, at around 7PM, saw the release of the results of the Nursing Licensure Exams for the May 2015 takers. The suspense was killing me, with every alphabetical update online an exercise in patience. Until it was revealed: My sister passed the board examinations.

I know very well the feeling of rejection and hardship, the seemingly endless missteps. That is why this is the singular news in many years that I have felt an overwhelming happiness not for myself but for another. All my sister’s hard work and sacrifices finally paid off. The purest form of fighting spirit is in her.


The legendary Duran Duran is back after so many years. And they’ve brought along disco god Nile Rodgers and the impeccably talented, genre-defying Janelle Monáe. This music came at the most opportune time. It’s perfect, the stars have aligned. Everybody, everywhere! Step out into the future! It’s time to take the pressure off!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

claiming our independence and #RP612fic

On June 12, 1898, at this house in Cavite, General Emilio Aguinaldo unfurled to the public the country’s flag and proclaimed the Philippines’ independence. So yesterday, we were commemorating its 117th anniversary. This photo was taken two years ago, yet my understanding of independence is still the same: There is no real freedom if we remain blind to the mistakes of our leaders both past and present, remain stuck (yes, a double negative for emphasis) in the same outdated belief and decisions that bring us to nowhere, and keep a close mind to the shifting climate of society.

A change is in order. For instance, paying the bills on time, getting up and exercise, understanding what tolerance really means or claiming the independence we and our future generation deserve by electing the right people for our government. It’s just a thought.

And like in the previous years, to soften the blow of our nation’s drastic needs in a time of celebration, writers and word enthusiasts all over also commemorate the nation’s independence by contributing Twitter-length posts (a form of flash fiction) with the hashtag #RP612fic. This social media event was started by Filipino writer Paolo Chikiamco in 2009.

#RP612fic is all about melding literature and history, whether real or fantastical, with the possibilities that may happen or could have happened. Imagine a story wherein Ferdinand Marcos didn’t become president, a story wherein Magellan made friends with Lapu-Lapu, or Sisa never gone mad. In a capsule, it is all about creating alternate stories, a reworking of what is familiar.

Unfortunately, I found most of this year’s #RP612fic outputs so “jeje.” I remember the works made from the previous years were crafted with so much wit, thought, and imagination. They were written with the classic literature and authentic history in mind, one could compile them for a legitimate anthology worthy of its place in any library. This time though there was too much pop songs, Vice Ganda, and showbiz lingo. You get the picture.

Well, it’s a matter of personal taste. So I made #RP612fic entries that I myself would enjoy reading if I stumbled upon them. Here they are:
Dorothy woke up to a country ruled by a barong-wearing tyrannical and said to her dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” #RP612fic
Tourists were busy gossiping in a mausoleum somewhere in Ilocos Norte when one noticed the forehead of the body in display cracked open. Out flowed a variety of gems and jewelry. #RP612fic
The moment Jose Rizal was shot dead by a firing squad in Bagumbayan, no one knew it was also the exact same time little Aureliano Buendia was taken by his father to discover ice. #RP612fic
Finally, Juan Tamad was about to get up from his idle life when he discovered The Internet. #RP612fic
“Fight with me,” the general said. “You know nothing, Emilio,” Andres replied with a heavy heart as he rode the back of his dragon and flew into the distant horizon. #RP612fic

The last one, of course, was inspired by a storyline in the Game of Thrones novels by George R.R. Martin and Ian Rosales Casocot’s excellent take on the Andres Bonifacio-Emilio Aguinaldo saga in his short fiction “Alternate Histories: Really Short Stories for the Twitter Generation” published in Philippine Speculative Fiction 6 (edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias). Here is an excerpt:
“Tell me you love me,” Emilio said. “But I don’t love you,” said Andres. Emilio sighed. “Then you leave me no choice. You die.”

Remember, claim your independence, Filipinos! Have a great day!

Friday, June 12, 2015

the park's open again

The moment Chris Pratt first entered a scene in Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World,” I couldn’t let go of the idea that he was acting as Andy Dwyer—his character in the exceptional comedy show “Parks and Recreation”—while taking on his alter ego Burt Maklin (although in a more mature way with less pounds of fat). That doesn’t mean it is awful. In fact, Pratt’s character Owen the Raptor Trainer brought a refreshing charisma to the 20-year old franchise. Heck, he made me love those velociraptors and thought of them as adorable prancing little kittens. It was a whole lot of fun. What drags this movie though from propelling to a great man-versus-nature extravaganza is its endless vomit of CGI. It seems like almost everything is computer-generated you can easily point out which is fake or not. Gone is the subtlety of realism, the art of tease, the slow burn big reveal. In short, the things that would elicit awe and make you itch for more, like what Steven Spielberg did for the first “Jurassic Park” movie in 1993. This fourth installment’s monster, the genetically modified Indominous Rex, could’ve been more terrifying and engaging with those notes in mind. Sadly, there were times as if Michael Bay took over the reins and made another “Transformers” film—except with dinosaurs. Instead of a good story, we are served with good digital wizardry. Also, am I the only one who noticed that the non-Americans were the first casualties in the film? Hmmm. Despite these observations, its message shines through all that mess: That everyone needs a “relationship based on respect,” whether one is dealing with a family member, a lover, or even an extinct creature. It is a poignant theme for a typical blockbuster movie. Because at the end of the day, when all hell breaks loose, you have nothing to hold on to but communication and respect to anyone (or anything) that could save your life. Knowing that human beings tend to play God in whatever scenario they are put into, respect is the instrument that balances all. And one more thing: Don’t watch it in 3D.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]