An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

30 April 2007

One night in Dumaguete in 2002

One night in Dumaguete in 2002, I found myself riding in the back of a pickup truck with my male co-fellows at the National Writer's Workshop. Earlier, Allan Pastrana, Gelo Suarez, Baryon Posadas, and Peter Mayshle had been itching to go out. The girls -- Daryll Delgado, Naya Valdellon, Kristin Alave, and Mookie Katigbak, plus the fabulous Michael Morco -- were nowhere to be found, and so I was stuck with the boys. Ian Casocot and a friend picked us up and took us to this small restaurant which I think served very spicy food. There was drinking and heavy smoking, and someone got the bright idea of writing a renga on a piece of table napkin.

At way past midnight, with the boys in various degrees of inebriation, I pocketed the piece of table napkin, and then stuck it to my diary.

I came across this piece of table napkin a couple of years ago, and sent an image of it to Ian, who promptly published it in his blog. Now I have come across it again, suddenly, conveniently, almost inevitably, while leafing through my old diary volumes looking for a name of a person that I have forgotten. But while trying to remember what I recall forgetting, I was reminded of that which I had not realized I had forgotten.

One night in Dumaguete in 2002, flowers began to take root in my soul.

15 April 2007

The words in my blog

I have been rather intrigued with the idea of word clouds when they started becoming popular more than a year ago. I find the idea quite cute, but I thought I'd better wait till my blog gets to a more substantial length before getting my own word cloud.

Here it is now:

I just don't remember ever using the word "ita." It's not a word at all in any of the languages I write in. Also, "est" is more of a suffix than a complete word. But as for the rest, that's pretty much it. Books and writing and reading and remembering and years and time and Manila and work and key and love and life and like. And, well, me. Right there in the middle line, just a little off-center, in more ways than one.

07 April 2007

I wish there were more of me

I recently bumped into an old classmate in one of the first floor corridors of the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, and we got to talking about what had been keeping us busy. We prattled off a litany of works we had to deal with -- she had her dissertation and all other works and readings connected to it, I had the history of the PNP-Special Action Force, plus the tail end of my course work for my graduate degree.

"I wish there were two of me," I said.

"I'm thinking three," she said.

Shortly after that, I saw another classmate on the second floor of the same building, and she was busy with her dissertation as well. Everybody I know seems to be so busy writing something that I get the idea I'm not alone when I say that I am behind in my reading list.

But rather than list down the things I was supposed to read but have not read, I'd rather list down what I did read since my last post about reading.

Here are the books I have actually finished reading since July:
Rizal Without The Overcoat by Ambeth Ocampo
Subverting The People's Will by Luis V. Teodoro (Ed.)
FVR Through The Years by Ben Cal
More Assassinations And Conspiracies by Manuel F. Martinez
Where's Mr. Barnes by Jovenir F. Bataican
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Elite Forces by Richard M. Bennet
Closer Than Brothers by Alfred McCoy
Teasing Secrets From The Dead by Emily Craig
Living To Tell The Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Chronicles Of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Writing Of Fiction by Edith Wharton
The First Filipino by Leon Ma. Guerrero
Demokrasya At Kudeta (Volume 1) by Ding L. San Juan
The History of the Siege of Lisbon by Jose Saramago
Martial Law In The Philippines: My Story by Aquilino Q. Pimentel
Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage by Jose F. Lacaba
Faith At War by Yaroslav Trofimov
The Art Of Fiction by David Lodge
Light On Snow by Anita Shreve
The Knowing Is In The Writing by Butch Dalisay
Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi
Konstable by Margarita Cojuangco, et al

And here are the ones in various stages of finishing:
A Theory Of The Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
How To Walk In High Heels by Camilla Morton
Aguinaldo's Breakfast by Ambeth Ocampo
A History of Warfare by John Keegan
A Question Of Heroes by Nick Joaquin
The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century by Isagani Cruz (Ed.)
The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards For Literature: Short Story Winners from the 1980s
Masters Of The Short Story by Abrahan H. Lass and Leonard Kriegel (Eds.)
Demokrasya At Kudeta (Volume 2) by Ding L. San Juan
Communism In The Philippines: An Introduction by Alfredo B. Saulo
Telling Women's Lives by Linda Wagner-Martin
The Undercollected Works of J.D. Salinger
Muslims In The Philippines by Cesar Adib Majul
My Love Affair With Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor

And then there is the book that I am currently reading, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco.

This does not include the books I have temporarily set aside for future reading after reading their Introductions and First Chapters. And I do not even dare list all the ones I really want to read now. I figured I should take care of the backlogs first -- and then the other books I absolutely have to read for work, which I have not even begun reading -- before moving on to the biography of Chekhov, the Nobel Prize lectures, and other wonderful books I have dreamed of reading for a very long time, not to mention the books that are due to arrive any day now from, which includes the complete Proust!

As you might have been able to deduce, my apartment is a mess of books. My bookshelves are teeming with books, there are books stacked horizontally on top of the books lined up vertically, there are books on top of my desk and other tables, books on chairs, books on the floor, books in my closet, books in my drawers, books on the bed, books under the bed, books in the bathroom, books in my car.

Sometimes I wonder whether I really want to be a writer, since most of the time all I ever really want to do is read, read, read, deeply and consciously and with copious notes, as Prof. Gemino Abad believes writers should read. But while I read, I make numerous stops to write my own paragraphs and snippets of phrases and dialogue, that eventually go into the things I write. How much time should a writer devote to reading, when she should be writing instead? How much writing should be done when a writer is required to read as well? And it does not help at all that this article says that not only do we not read as we think we ought to, we often don’t read the books that we think we ought to. And since writers read on a different, supposedly higher, level than most readers, this just ups the ante so much more.

There really should be more than three of me, if only to drown these selves in the ocean of books that I have created in my own little world and for one lonely me-person to remain in an island in the middle of this ocean and become the writer for the lot.

01 April 2007

Summer's here!

And here's my Powerbook's desktop specially for this season.

Because it's back! The heat, the dust, the yearning for halo-halo and ice scramble from the streets. The heady magenta evenings, the late night dashes to Roxas boulevard for coffee and a walk, the reading of Umberto Eco novels while sucking on strawberry-flavored popsicles. The hulas, the duyans, the beaches, the sunburns, the get-togethers with vacationing cousins, the siestas and old music and comfort food, the rummaging through old wardrobes, the three showers a day. The palay harvests, the coconut smell, the laughter, the childhood, the remembering, the homecoming. The Reyna Elena, the gothic and morbid Holy Week celebrations, the Abuelas dragging the young people to churches for confession and Way of the Cross. The bloody Christ, the Pasion, the wailing women in the neighborhood chapels, the snakes emerging from the grass onto the pavement. The drought, the poverty, the May elections, the controversies, the pronouncements, the mud-slinging, the flagellants, the cenakulos, the grass fires, the ensuing ashes, the Return to Ashes, the Death, the Resurrection, Eternal Damnation, the Book of Revelations, the Final Judgement.

All that mindless tradition, all that magic, all that myth. It's no wonder summer is my favorite time of the year. It's cuckoo country.