I thought that Katie Couric's interview with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was hilarious and scary at the same time, so much like listening to Miss Teen South Carolina bluff her way through that pageant question about American teenagers and maps. Then I stumbled on this SNL skit. By golly, Tina Fey -- that comedy goddess -- effectively abbreviates the horror that is Palin in her latest parody of the Alaskan governor, who surged only a few weeks ago to the top of the GOP's right-wing delight with her quote about hockey moms, pit bulls, and lipstick...
I'm in Cafe Noriter trying to do some work. But there's this surfer-dude-speaking doofus of a Spanish mestizo -- very burly and quite the chatterbox -- in the next table tutoring this hapless Korean girl some conversational English. I don't know if he's doing his tutoring correctly: right now, he's doing a self-centered monologue about his gym workout, like, "Last summer, I was going to the gym twice a day... These things need, you know, dedication... 'Dedication'? You know that word? Here let me spell it for you... But anyway, I had to diet at the same time, and when I saw my friends eating cake... cake? you know what cake is, don't you? ... anyway, I had to say no. I wanna be healthy. Priorities, you know..." And on and on and on...
Nasusuka ako. I just want to go over to where he is and punch him in the face.
But of course I don't do that. He's way bigger than I am.
"We are such spendthrifts with our lives. The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out."
I live comfortably with the truism of my own invention that to be in Dumaguete—and to be in Silliman more particularly—is to be right at the center of the Philippine cultural world. (Here, you can cough and clear your throat.) Trust me, believing this makes my often very sloooooow Dumaguete days a little bit more bearable, and in many ways it provides me with the perfect illustration that reality is what you make of it.
When I was in college a little more than a decade ago, my barkada—we called ourselves The Midnight Society (and yes, we have an ongoing photography exhibit in the Luce Auditorium Foyer)—subscribed to one notion that defined how we went about our daily lives in campus: boredom was for birds or for the truly unimaginative, and that if you had half a mind, you could always find things that would occupy whatever sense of fascination you have.
It just so happened that even back then, boredom was something you could choose not to have, if you would just decide to do a little bit of something: but the Silliman community back then had a tremendous capacity for cultural appreciation. That capacity ebbs and flows, but there are years when the campus totally goes cuckoo over things cultural. Every single week back in the late 1990s, there always was an exhibit opening, or a film festival, or a poetry reading. Société de Cinéphiles, the film club (now defunct), had monthly screenings that drew in crowds. The Order of the Golden Palette, the artists’ club (now defunct), had bi-annual exhibits that pushed the edge of local art. The Sands & Coral was an annual certainty. And every year, there was a musical or play that showcased local talents. We dared to have nude sketching sessions at the rooftop of Bethel, and staged risqué performance art at the Boulevard that confounded the hoi polloi. We staged one-act plays in the basement of Silliman Church or the rickety ambience of Woodward Little Theater. One time, we had an ambitious all-musical version of Miss Silliman, with tunes from Broadway filling the rafters of the school gym. There used to be a tradition called Renaissance Month held every February, sponsored by the SUSG, that filled our calendars with assorted tributes to all the arts. You simply could not get bored. But the long hangover after Silliman’s all-consuming Centennial celebration in 2001, and then September 11 right after that, kind of gave pause to all that.
Seven years later, one can truly say that culture has made a comeback—big time—in campus, and Dumaguete has certainly regained its old title of, ehem, “Cultural Center of the South.” True, Manila is where most things start their buzz, where mainstream cultural fare gets the most mileage and recognition. Everything is headquartered in the capital after all. But there is already an “industry of culture” in the metropolis, and it is a fact that the appreciation of things like the ballet or the opera requires patronage capable of letting go of disposable income. The provinces—that hated word that has become an umbrella term for the rest of us—do not usually have that kind of audiences who take in cultural education as de facto requirement for the sociable. Even in Dumaguete, a skewed sense of “practicality” demands that one looks at a P150 ticket for a Ballet Manila show as something exorbitant than, say, spending the same amount on a round of beer in some barong-barong in town. How does one then explain to a typical Dumagueteño the wonderful fact that in Silliman we get subsidized prices for the most sought-after (and expensive) cultural acts in the country, where a show that goes for P500 to P1,000 in Manila can be had for only as much as P300 in Dumaguete? And you don’t even have to pay for a roundtrip plane fare?
The truth of the matter is, being in Silliman means that you have the choice most students from other schools don’t have: the chance to see Lisa Macuja dance, or Cecille Licad play the piano, or Bart Guingona act up a storm, or Lea Salonga sing, for something close to a bargain. I always tell my students that their time in college is their rare chance to soak in all these, because after graduation they will be too busy running the rat race to be able to have the time to appreciate things like these.
When I became part of the Cultural Affairs Committee, I learned that part of the challenge of local cultural advocacy is audience development. Which not only means teaching people about the proper appreciation of assorted art forms, but to educate them that art has a profound ability to make us better human beings—and even studies have shown that children exposed to the fine arts show a higher affinity for academic accomplishments. Imagine then, to our surprise, when a local principal recently dismissed our invitation (for his pupils to see one particular show in Luce) by telling us, “Ayaw ra, kay makit-an ra ma nà nila sa TV.” (And parents wonder why their kids are doing badly in school….)
The first half of the current cultural season is now drawing to a close, and it amazes me still that Dumaguete, small town that it is, never lacks for an astonishing capacity to be right there where all things happen. It is a kind of miracle—but what other small city in the whole country could bring in the Cinemalaya Film Festival, Bayanihan Folk Dance Company, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Repertory Philippines, PETA, Actors’ Actors, New Voice Company, the Loboc Children’s Choir, Douglas Nierras Powerdance, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Philippine Philharmonic, and assorted musicians, singers, artists, dancers, writers, and what-not, all in the span of a single year? Only Dumaguete can, it seems.
4:05 PM |
Cinemalaya Film Festival in Dumaguete City Begins Today
The Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in Dumaguete City, which runs from September 22 to 27, brings to Negros Oriental the current darling of Philippine cinephiles, with a program directed by the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Edward Cabagnot. The film festival is dedicated to the discovery, development, and nurturance of independent Filipino digital filmmakers, and it comes to Dumaguete with a one-week program showcasing some of its critically acclaimed feature films as well as short films. Organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Cinemalaya began in 2005 and was enthusiastically received by audiences hungry for good Filipino films that offered more than the formulaic and the stale. The daily film screenings starts at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Audio-Visual Theater 1, Multimedia Theater, with the opening film (open for student passes) and the closing film (open for community passes) to have their Dumaguete premieres at the Luce Auditorium at 8 p.m. All films are open to the public.
SEPTEMBER 22 (MONDAY)
8 P.M. OPENING FILM (SPECIAL SCREENING) Endo Directed by Jade Castro VENUE: Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium Open for student season passes. To be followed by an open forum with Edward Cabagnot.
SHORT FILM PROGRAM TO PRECEDE 'ENDO’ > Mansyon Directed by Joel Ruiz Kultado Directed by Lawrence Fajardo Babae Directed by Sigrid Bernardo
SEPTEMBER 23 (TUESDAY)
10 A.M. ALBERT FAUROT LECTURE SERIES Edward Cabagnot on “Paano Ba Manood ng Indie Cinema?” VENUE: Audio-Visual Theater 1
6 P.M. FEATURE PRESENTATION Tulad ng Dati Directed by Michael Sandejas VENUE: Audio-Visual Theater 1
SHORT FILM PROGRAM TO PRECEDE ’TULAD NG DATI’ > Blood Bank Directed by Pam Miras Orasyon Directed by Rommel Tolentino
SEPTEMBER 24 (WEDNESDAY)
10 A.M. FEATURE PRESENTATION Donsol Directed by Adolf Alix Jr. VENUE: Audio-Visual Theater 1
SHORT FILM PROGRAM TO PRECEDE ’BATAD’ > Tagapagligtas Directed by Ma. Solita Garcia Rolyo Directed by Alvin Yapan
SEPTEMBER 27 (SATURDAY)
10 A.M. ALBERT FAUROT LECTURE SERIES Chris Martinez on “100 I Learned While Making 100” VENUE: Audio-Visual Theater 1
6 P.M. CLOSING FILM (SPECIAL SCREENING) 100 Directed by Chris Martinez VENUE: Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium Open for community season passes.To be followed by an open forum with Chris Martinez, Eugene Domingo, and Edward Cabagnot
SHORT FILM PROGRAM TO PRECEDE ’100’ > To Ni Directed by Vic Acedillo Jr. Putot By Jeck Cogama Nineball By Enrico Aragon
There are specific ages in your life that become a set of defining moments that inevitably compose who you are as a human being. In my own story, turning 16 was one. There was 19, and 21, and then 25 -- that glorious year, and then 28, and then 31. I have a strange feeling 33 will be one of those years. I can already feel the changes in my bones. I've been out a lot lately, because of work, because of things I must do for the Cultural Affairs Committee, because of friends. I haven't been out this much in recent years, and my own new epiphany is not out of some deliberate human design: the universe is trying to tell me something, and I find my feet scurrying to the direction I must go as divined by the stars. Tonight, over good dinner and companionship from a friend newly-arrived from Madrid (somebody I haven't seen for more than seven years), the rain for the Sunday evening pushed me to create a list of 12 things I must do for the coming days. I wasn't trying to become romantic, and the rain certainly was not instrumental for me being suddenly introspective. The list just arrived like some inspired burst of synapses in my brain -- and I knew these were things I needed to do. It will be hard to follow with such drive and intensity, this list. But at 33, one realizes there are things in life you must learn to have faith with, and ultimately, if one must grow, something's gotta give.
12:31 AM |
Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers is Open for 2009 Applicants
Kimi Tuvera has emailed me some information about the Hedgebrook Retreat, hoping there are female writers out there who may be interested. For those who are, this is the thing to know: "Hedgebrook invests in women who write by providing them with space and time to create significant work, in solitude and community, and by developing an international network to connect writers and audiences."
Their website further describes the retreat: "Hedgebrook is on Whidbey Island, about thirty-five miles northwest of Seattle. Situated on 48-acres of forest and meadow facing Puget Sound, the retreat hosts women writers from all over the world for residencies of two weeks to two months, at no cost to the writer. Residents are housed in six handcrafted cottages, where they spend their days in solitude –- writing, reading, taking walks in the woods on the property, on nearby Double Bluff beach or trails around the island. In the evenings, they gather in the farmhouse kitchen to share a home-cooked gourmet meal, their work, their process and their stories. The women who come to Hedgebrook are writing in all genres, and are of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and levels of writing experience."
Go to their website, and download their application for the 2009 residencies. Deadline is September 25.
6:31 AM |
The Midnight Society Exhibit This Weekend in Dumaguete
The Midnight Society is the name of a group of college friends, mostly composed of then Mass Communication students, who graduated in the late 1990s from Silliman University—and who have now slowly come to a professional maturing in the arenas of journalism, literature, law, banking, and the culinary arts, who all share a common passion for the art of photography. Coined by Kristyn Maslog-Levis, the name was based on the nocturnal habits of the group’s members. The group started out with five members, each of whom had to go on a ritual initiation that required completing a task that would require inner strength and conquering fear and rejection. Soon the group expanded to include some of the most creative movers and shakers in Silliman. Today, their number includes Clee Andro Villasor, Ian Rosales Casocot, Ted Regencia, Quddus Ronnie Padilla, Eric Samuel Joven, Kristyn Maslog-Levis, James Renan Dalman, Beth Castillo-Winsor, Daniel Fernandez, Jade Sheryl Yamut-Zapanta, Dinah Baseleres-Ladia, and Aldwyn Fernandez. After graduation, the members of the Midnight Society spread around the country and around the world, each taking their own paths and following their own destinies. This group of close friends has never been in one place at the same time for almost a decade. This exhibit—featuring photography by five of its members—is the beginning of a hopefully long-term collaboration between its members. It’s a reflection of the lives each individual has taken after leaving Silliman University, and it also reflects the invisible tie that binds them together no matter where they are. Through the photography exhibit, the group pays homage to where it all started – Silliman University. The Exhibit opens on September 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium Foyer.
The Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing is launching its latest journal, Writing to the Future: Poetika at Politika ng Malikhaing Pagsulat, edited by Rolando B. Tolentino. The launch is on 19 September 2008 at 3:00 p.m. at Pulungang Claro M. Recto of Bulwagang Rizal (formerly Faculty Center) in the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Writing to the Future is a compilation of essays on the writing processes and philosophies that selected writing fellows from the UP National Writers Workshops 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008 employ in their own writing. The writing fellows featured in the journal comprise an impressive range of genres and a long list of stars in Philippine literature. They are Rebecca Añonuevo, Roberto Añonuevo, Abdon Balde Jr., Romulo Baquiran Jr., Mayette Bayuga, Rica Bolipata Santos, Jose Wendell Capili, Ian Rosales Casocot, Mark Anthony Cayanan, Frank Cimatu, Mike Coroza, Adam David, Raymond de Borja, Lourd Ernest de Veyra, Allan Derain, Ma. Romina Gonzalez, Jerry Gracio, Vicente Groyon, Luis Katigbak, Jun Lana, Marco Lopez, Liza Magtoto, Paolo Manalo, Virginia Mercado-Villanueva, Mario Miclat, Allan Popa, Sandra Roldan, Tara FT Sering, Vincenz Serrano, Luna Sicat Cleto, J. Dennis Teodosio, Joel Toledo, and Lawrence Ypil.
The editor, Rolando Tolentino, is Fellow for Fiction of the Likhaan: U.P. Institue of Creative Writing and professor at the Film Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman. He holds a Ph.D. in Film, Literature, and Culture from University of Southern California. His numerous books of fiction and critical essays have won him awards and recognition including the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Writers' Prize, Manila Critics Circle's National Book Award, National Book Development Board's Gintong Aklat Award, Obermann Summer Research Fellowship's Best Arts Book, and UC Berkeley and UCLA Southeast Asian Studies Program's Distinguished Voice.
The journal is made possible through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
The launch comes directly after National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera's lecture titled "Si Lope K. Santos at ang Banaag at Sikat." Dr. Lumbera's lecture starts at 2:30 p.m.
For inquiries on the journal, contact the Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing at (02)922-1830.
I tell you, nothing kills an urge to blog frequently than a friend or an acquaintance telling you out of the blue, "Hey, I read your blog." I always find myself struggling to reply, and all I can say in return is a genuinely puzzled "But why?" The friend or acquaintance usually laughs back -- but my brain will now be in paranoid overdrive, hoping I have not written anything particularly offensive, and what-not.
I've been getting a lot of these lately, and now I always find myself in edit-mode. Thus the conspicuous lack of personal posts in the past few days (weeks even!). I make do with an avalanche of announcements for this event or that. Fillers for good causes naman. You can also safely surmise from the latter that I've been quite busy with all these things. And I thought August was hard. September pala is the new name for nightmare. But of the very welcome sort. I'd rather be busy than be bored out of my wits. There's already enough boredom to go around with, and bored people to deal with. Me, I just hope to fill my days and find enough time to read a book and get a nice massage at the end of the day.
12:08 AM |
Bart Guingona to Talk About Theater Directing in Silliman University Saturday
This Saturday, September 13, the Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee is sponsoring a lecture by the critically-acclaimed theater actor and director Bart Guingona, who will be in town to perform with Miguel Faustman in Repertory Philippines' Tuesdays with Morrie. He will be speaking on "The Art of Theater Directing" at 5 p.m., at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium Stage.
Mr. Guingona has directed and acted for most of Manila’s major theater companies. For Actor’s Actor Inc., he did Art, Speed the Plow, Closer, Hamlet, Macbeth, Mother Tongue, and others. For Repertory Philippines, he did The Crucible, All My Sons, I Ought to Be in the Pictures, Same Time Next Year, and others. For Dramatis Personae, he did Blood Wedding, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, and others. For Artists’ Club, he did The Mystery of Irma Vep. For Tanghalang Pilipino, he did Cabesang Tales, Country in Search of a Hero, and Ang Kuripot. He also contributes to the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a theater columnist. His company, Actor’s Actors Inc., apart from being a highly acclaimed theater group is also an events organizer that specializes in theatrical events. He writes about performing the stage version of Tuesdays with Morriehere.
6:55 AM |
Repertory Philippines Presents Tuesdays with Morrie This Weekend in Dumaguete
Tuesdays with Morrie, opening September 13, is a heart-warming play that combines comedy, drama, and poignancy, and makes the blend perfectly. Written for the stage by Mitch Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, and based on Albom’s best selling book, Tuesdays With Morrie is a feast for the mind and the heart. The play tells the story of a man named Mitch (Bart Guingona) who meets a teacher named Morrie (Miguel Faustman) when he signs up for one of his classes at Brandeis University. Throughout his college career Mitch and Morrie are close. When it comes time for Mitch to leave, he promises Morrie he will keep in touch. He doesn’t. It is sixteen years before Mitch and Morrie meet again. By this time Mitch is a successful sports writer and Morrie is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Once they renew their friendship Mitch’s visits to Morrie become a regular thing. He flies from Detroit to Boston every week and has Tuesdays with Morrie. And during these visits he begins to learn some of the secrets of life—and death. There are only two characters on stage for the entire act of the play, but they create a world all their own and allow the audience to enter it.
11:17 AM |
Coming Soon Anthology Renews Call for Submission
Editors Conchitina Cruz, Edgar Samar, and Katrina Tuvera are pleased to announce the initial batch of accepted works for the Coming Soon anthology. This list is in alphabetical order, by contributors' last names.
Road Trip by Ian Rosales Casocot Placelessness by Mark Anthony Cayanan Deluge by Daryll Jane Delgado Liaison Manager by Marguerite Alcarazen de Leon Nukimori by Caroline S. Hau If I said I was drawn to the idea of the body by Marie La Viña F for Book Report by R. Zamora Linmark Some Facts You Remember from Ten Years Ago by Sandra Nicole Roldan Unang Tikim by Joseph T. Salazar Kasiping by Christian Tablazon Tres Pulgadas sa Ilalim ng Tuhod by Mary Anne Umali Two Questions by L. Lacambra Ypil
The editors envision the Coming Soon anthology as a choice selection of Philippine erotic literature. As such, the main considerations for selection were the following: (1) pieces should fit the theme of "losing virginity"; (2) works accepted should be of good quality in terms of insight, perspective and craft, and (3) the anthology as a whole should be balanced in its portrayal of sexual orientation, class and generational sensitivities.
Clearly the accepted works so far are not sufficient to complete an anthology that meets the above demands. Hence, the editors are re-issuing the call for submissions to encourage more writers to submit new or revised pieces for consideration.
The editors are renewing the call for submissions. Deadline is Sunday, 9 November 2008. Send to comingsoonantho(at)gmail(dot)com.
Coming Soon is an anthology of erotic poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction on the loss of virginity. The piece must specifically address a first (human, as opposed to something like bestial) sexual experience. The editors are looking for are pieces that depict an initiation into the sexual act, therefore we will not consider works that try to be coy: for instance, please don't send a piece on how some character/persona discovers there is such a thing as fornication, yet doesn't engage in it. They'd consider that a cop-out. Neither are they looking for pieces on giving one's self sexual pleasure. Works submitted should involve at least two conscious people (no corpses, please!), with an exchange of bodily fluids or whatnot. (If there is no exchange of bodily fluids, the work should address the question: But why the heck not?)
Open to Philippine writers in English and Filipino. Past published works are welcome as long as they have not yet appeared in an anthology.
11:05 AM |
Philippine Speculative Fiction Anthology Now on Its Fourth Volume
A reminder. Dean and Nikki Alfar are now accepting submissions of short fiction pieces for consideration for the anthology Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 4. Speculative fiction is the literature of wonder that spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror and magic realism or falls into the cracks in-between.
1. Only works of speculative fiction will be considered for publication. As works of the imagination, the theme is open and free.
2. Stories must cater to an adult sensibility. However, if you have a Young Adult story that is particularly well-written, send it in.
3. Stories must be written in English.
4. Stories must be authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry.
5. Preference will be given to original unpublished stories, but previously published stories will also be considered. In the case of previously published material, kindly include the title of the publishing entity and the publication date. Kindly state also in your cover letter that you have the permission, if necessary, from the original publishing entity to republish your work.
6. First time authors are welcome to submit. In the first three volumes, there was a good mix of established and new authors. Good stories trump literary credentials anytime.
7. No multiple submissions. Each author may submit only one story for consideration.
8. Each story’s word count must be no fewer than 1,500 words and no more than 7,500 words.
9. All submissions must be in Rich Text Format (.rtf – save the document as .rtf on your word processor) and attached to an email to this address: dean(at)kestrelddm(dot)com. Submissions received in any other format will be deleted, unread.
10. The subject of your email must read: PSF4 Submission: (title) (word count); where (title) is replaced by the title of your short story, without the parentheses, and (word count) is the word count of your story, without the parentheses. For example - PSF4 Submission: Magdalena Brings Fire 3500.
11. All submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes your name, brief bio, contact information, previous publications (if any). Introduce yourself.
12. Deadline for submissions is 15 September 2008. After that date, final choices will be made and letters of acceptance or regret sent out via email.
13. Target publishing date is December 2008/January 2009.
14. Compensation for selected stories will be 2 contributor’s copies of the published anthology as well as a share in aggregrate royalties.
Coping with the fact of mortality is one of the first things you learn about keeping pets. You are constantly made aware about how small, and fleeting, life can be. Over the past two months, my older pets have died on me. First, there was Billy, my cockatiel, a handsome bird if ever there was one. Then, two days ago, Alfalfa, my beautiful slate grey mouse. And now -- and this is where my heart bleeds the most -- my princess, Shandi, my brown banded Syrian hamster. She was special. I never usually like Syrian hamsters, preferring instead the easy cuteness of Russian dwarves. But, years ago, I found myself in a pet store, and there was this ball of fur that looked so wet and miserable from the bad conditions of the shop; she took one look at me, and I felt moved to adopt her. That was Shandi, who eventually proved to be the sweetest thing on four legs.
2:12 AM |
The Silliman Piano Festival This Week in Dumaguete
Silliman University embarks on an ambitious three-day Piano Festival, featuring four acclaimed pianists in the Philippines. Ingrid Sala Santamaria and Reynaldo Reyes kick off the program with a gala concert onSeptember 3, to be followed by another gala concert by Rudolf Golez on September 4. Negrense pianist Leonor Kilayco will give a masterclass lecture and performance on September 5. All gala concerts start at 8 p.m.
I'm back home in Dumaguete. This Manila trip was peculiarly and uncommonly sad, despite everything, despite the Palanca even. It's useless to talk about it, and so I'm not even going to. But it's sad to lose faith, perhaps even trust, in old heroes. I'm just happy to be home.