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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

entry arrow11:53 PM | Luis Katigbak's Robot Boy and Hepa

I was a college student then, way before I even became a "budding" writer. I was already reading the fiction of J.D. Salinger and Bret Easton Ellis, and was angsty to the core. The universe was both romantic and oppressive then -- that beautiful netherworld only the very young (and naive) can inhabit -- and I kept wondering to myself, "Why were there no stories like this about young Filipino boys (and girls) like me?" Where were the fiction of young, raw emotions? The rage of hormones? The anger of existential despair? There was only Jessica Zafra, but her sense of irony made things funny. I wanted them raw, like a gaping wound. And then I picked up a copy of Happy Endings many years ago. It was authored by a young U.P. writer roughly my age. His name was Luis Joaquin Katigbak. And his fiction spoke to me. And I felt so jealous, because here finally was a writer who spoke of my generational yearnings, and I wanted to be in his shoes. But by God, this young man made me start to write, and write, and write. Years later, we would become friends, and I still wonder if he knows how much he has actually influenced me. (Yes, Luis, 'wag kang papalag!) These days, I keep egging him to do a novelization of his First Graphic stories (his early stories centering around an advertising agency of that name). He only keeps smiling. But never mind that. Luis has a new story out in Philippine Graphic, and here is an excerpt:

I was standing on the edge of a thirty-story drop when I heard Hepa’s voice. "At the risk of, you know, stating the fucking obvious, I’ll just say that this is not one of your better ideas." The surprise of hearing his voice in my head—exactly the way I’d imagined it, over twenty years ago, a voice I can only describe as fuzzily gruff—almost sent me flailing off the roof all by itself. I turned around. I saw a stuffed animal and a small robot with a robot dog, looking at me expectantly.

They looked oddly familiar. My mind swam through the last two decades of memories, trying to find something to connect them to. It didn’t take long to reach the bits and pieces that remained of my childhood: A star on the wall, dark blue curtains sporting a pattern of marching toy soldiers, ice candy with real mango bits, local reprints of ’70s US comics, that relentless early-morning dread before every single day of grade school—and, finally—

"...Robot Boy?" I said uncertainly. "Hepa?"

"Right the first time," Hepa said. "I hope you’re not expecting a prize."

Read the rest here. Better yet, buy a copy of the magazine.

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