Sunday, March 31, 2019


My heartfelt gratitude goes to everyone who remembered and greeted me on my birthday yesterday.

People say you become wiser with age. Although wishful thinking dictates it has a smidgen of truth, I just think you become equal parts jaded, dumbfounded, and generally exhausted, especially with all the happenings in this world.

But the fortunate thing here is that (if you are fortunate enough) you find people around you who are as jaded, dumbfounded, and exhausted as you are. Kidding aside, what I want to say is that you have to have a support system, and I am thankful I have my family with me and very few friends who I can genuinely call friends throughout these years. And pinpointing them out is hard, TBH.

Many fear the coming of 31, that it’s like jumping over a cliff with unknown heights, or finally crossing the three decades prior with inadequate life skills and experiences to prepare you for the next decades or so. I guess some of these are true, some not. There will always be questions that will continue to nag you. Have you done enough?

Have you corrected and made peace with the errors you’ve made in life? Are the choices you make benefit you and you alone? And after everything you have achieved, are you truly happy?

These are valid questions, concerns. Ultimately, to me, what matters is that you know deep within your compass that you know where you are supposed to be, what you are supposed to do, whatever your age is. To hell with where the rest are going and are doing.

To borrow and paraphrase a few words from our queen mother RuPaul, shantay wherever you want to sashay.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

birth month

The Two-Headed Calf
Laura Gilpin

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.


I am drawn to this poem by Laura Gilpin again and again in the past few days and I still couldn’t prevent myself from being pierced by what it is trying to convey. This is one of the few poems that has the same effect on me as “Allowables” by Nikki Giovanni and “The Diameter of the Bomb” by Yehuda Amichai did when I first read them. It just leaves me like a massive wreck, my nose stuffy and my eyes puffy.


Perhaps the reason why I gravitate to this poem lately is that there is this one revelation last year, in 2018, that keep recurring to me in the present. It is the shock of finding out, as I was cleaning my contact list on Facebook, that a person—a person who is once close to me—now has a profile that is labeled “Legacy Contact.” The term meant a person has passed away.

The information came to me in 2018. The actual person left three years prior. The thought bothered me the past few days because, on the year of the person’s departure, I received a message from this person and I chose to ignore it. It was a one-worded message: “Fred.” It was like a call, it sounded like a concern, or an opening to a confession that needed attention, but I kept silent for reasons that were deemed appropriate during that time.

Today I wonder what would have been our conversations like if I had responded to the message. I will never know.


I didn’t give it much thought until recently, when I had been to several birthday gatherings of friends and family in just two weeks, that I realized this month, March, is my birth month. Yes, I am turning a year older in a couple of days. How fleeting time is, right? How short-lived the days could get when you fill them with distractions in an effort to finally say you accomplish something right in your life.

So this begs the question: Is this all there is to it?

Will there be another time in this repetitive existence when we (both) look up into our respective skies and see there are twice as many stars, as usual, and feel everything is all right? Still all right? One could only hope so.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

58th silliman university national writers workshop fellows

Silliman University, together with the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, presents the 58th edition of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop on April 29 to May 10 at the Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Camp Look-out, Valencia, Negros Oriental and the SU Campus. Here are the 10 writing fellows of Batch 2019:

Arielle Abrigo (Antipolo City)
Alsteine Diapana (Cebu City)

Jefferson Del Rosario (Danao City)
Dave Pregoner (Lapu-Lapu City)

Kaisa Aquino (Quezon City)
Catherina Dario (Muntinlupa City)
Samuel Evardone (Metro Manila)

Creative Nonfiction
Donna Patricia Manio (Imus City)
Cavite Riddick Recoter (Metro Manila)
Maria Gliceria Valdez (Davao City)

Tara Eunice de Leon and Jhudiel Brigid Plando will join them as special fellows for fiction and nonfiction respectively. Two applicants have also been invited as special workshop mentees: Alter Hofileña (Misamis Occidental) and Geormie Yanoc (Mabinay, Negros Oriental).

The panel of writers/critics for this year includes Director-in-Residence Anthony Tan, resident writers Cesar Ruiz Aquino and Ian Rosales Casocot, as well as regular panelists Alfred Yuson and Marjorie Evasco. They will be joined by guest panelists Rica Bolipata-Santos, Simeon Dumdum Jr., Susan Lara, Grace Monte de Ramos, and National Artist for Literature Resil Mojares.

Beginning last year, the Workshop has been accepting manuscripts for Balak (poetry in Binisaya) with corresponding English translation. The inclusion of Balak has further enriched workshop discussion regarding the craft of poetry rendered in different languages and the cultural nuances that underpin such expression.

Founded in 1962 by S.E.A. Write Awardee Edilberto K. Tiempo and National Artist Edith L. Tiempo, the workshop is the oldest creative writing workshop of its kind in Asia. It was recently given the Tanging Parangal in the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The Silliman University National Writers Workshop continues the legacy of the Tiempos in giving value to literature and creative writing in the Philippines.

For more information about forthcoming events during the workshop, e-mail Workshop Coordinator Lady Flor Partosa at or call the Department of English and Literature at (035) 422-6002 loc. 350.  

[ article lifted from the Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center Facebook page ]

19th iyas national writers workshop fellows

The IYAS National Writers’ Workshop of the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City proudly announces the 12 Fellows for 2019.

Elizabeth Joy Serrano Quijano (Binisayang Sugilanon)
Maria Cristina I. Canson (Hiligaynon Binalaybay)
Nicole-Ann T. Lucas (Hiligaynon Sugilanon)
Isabella Kathrina S. Villarojo (Binisayang Dula)
Ryan Cezar O. Alcarde (Filipino Tula)
Alec Joshua B. Paradeza (Filipino Maikling Kuwento) 
March Anetonette S. Ortuoste (Filipino Dula)
Jefferson G. Del Rosario (Binisayang Balak)
Sigrid Marianne P. Gayangos (English Short Story)
King V. Llanza (English Poetry)
Jose Luis B. Pablo (English Poetry)
Edmark T. Tan (English Poetry)

Last year’s IYAS Writers Workshop had Dr. Marjorie Evasco as director and Ms. Grace Monte de Ramos-Arcellana, Ms. Susan S. Lara, Dr. Ronald Baytan, Mr. Em Mendez and Prof. John Iremil Teodoro as panelists. IYAS Project Director Atty. Raymundo Pandan, Jr. and workshop founder Dr. Elsie Coscolluela had also joined the panel.

The IYAS National Writers’ Workshop is co-sponsored by the University of St. La Salle, the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

This year’s workshop—the 19th edition—will be held at the Balay Kalinungan Complex of the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City, from March 31 to April 6, 2019.

[UPDATED 03/31/19]