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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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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

entry arrow9:07 PM | Writing and Reading: A Rant of Sorts

I've been guilty of this. But no longer. Starting this semester, I've been telling my students to buy the original copies of books I'm requiring them to read. Absolutely no photocopies. Because I think, as teachers, we have somehow helped create a culture of disregard for books and reading by allowing our students to photocopy pages upon pages of text, with utter disregard for copyright and the authors' bottomline. It has also reduced written works produced with so much sweat and blood and research to the level of the cheap and disposable. No wonder there is a diminished regard for the writing profession in general to the level of the impractical. No wonder people keep going up to me, always asking for free copies of my book, as if they can do the same with an engineer, or a doctor, or a lawyer. Living in a third world country is no excuse. So yes books can be expensive sometimes. But that's paying premium for knowledge gained and a sense of literature found. You're already paying almost P400 a month to cable television that gives you nothing but the WoWoWee kind of stupidity. Why can't you do the same to something that can actually make you think and ponder and learn?

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[3] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Thursday, August 26, 2010

entry arrow1:03 AM | Lucy Patrimonio Jumawan-Sauer: A Lifetime in Dance

For more than five decades, Mrs. Lucy Patromonio Jumawan Sauer has been an innovator and catalyst for dance development in both the Philippines and Australia. “I hope that someday, people will understand where I am coming from,” she has said. “That dance is very important because it comes from the soul, and that there is a division between performance and entertainment. It’s nice to do the traditional. If you are learned, trained, and you have the ability to incorporate, then do it. There is no limitation. Through time, you find your skill and you become wiser and always aspire for a higher standard.”

Mrs. Sauer was a student of Silliman University, a graduate of its grade school and high school. She discovered an affinity for dance at an early age. By the time she was 17, she had already established her own dance studio—the Lucy Patrimonio Dance School. She studied classical ballet with the Anita Kane School in Manila from 1954-1957, and soon she was making her graceful way to the heart of the country’s dance scene. She grabbed the sought-after role as a soloist dancer in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, dancing with Alexandra Danilova, then one of only four of the world’s most renowned prima ballerinas, at the Araneta Coliseum in 1957.



Later, she honed her classical ballet with Margaret Craske at Jacobs Pillow Dance University in Lee, Massachussetts from 1968-1969, where she also studied mime and movement, stage craft, and dance composition. She later studied modern dance with Norman Walker in New York, and between 1972 and 1974, she took up contemporary dance and jazz at the Bodenweiser Dance Center in New South Wales in Australia.

Back in 1959, she was director and choreographer of the Foundation University Dance Company. She also soon became the founder and directress of the Dance Department of the School of Music at Silliman University, where she worked from 1962 to 1972, and founded the group that is now known as the Kahayag Dance Troupe. A Ford Foundation scholarship in 1962 gave her an opportunity to do research on the tribal dances of Datu Tangkilan, the Royal Sultan of Zamboanga del Norte. She focused on the unseen dance traditions of the Suban-on Muslims in Mindanao, with special permission from the Datu. She collaborated on the project with other Sillimanian dance and music luminaries such as Bobbie Vista, Albert Faurot, Miriam Palmore, and Zoe Lopez. This enabled Mrs. Sauer to discover other forms of dances, which she later incorporated in her teachings. One distinguishing mark of her career as a dance teacher is that most of her outstanding ballet students soon became members and soloists of the Philippine Bayanihan Dance Company.

In 1972, she was guest performer of the Philippine House Consulate at Canberra in honor of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. That year, she was choreographer and director of the Philippine Dance Performance in the First Folkloric Festival at the Sydney Opera House. In 1976, then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos presented the Department, under her directorship, a plaque of appreciation for its involvement in pioneering classical ballet in the Visayas and all over the Philippines.

When she soon moved to Australia, she involved herself in various socio-cultural projects, appearing as guest for a variety of TV shows in Sydney and in New Zealand. She became a teacher for Black Theater in Red Fern, New South Wales, and for the Sydney Dance Concert Group and the Bodenweiser Dance Center. She became actively involved with Australia’s Aboriginal people because of her love for Aboriginal arts and ethnic dances. She considered herself an “Aboriginal woman,” and worked closely with aboriginal elders to record their dance traditions. For thirty years, the aboriginal people gave her permission to come to their sacred places prohibited to the rest of the world. As part of her study of Aboriginal dances, she was allowed to go to Mornington Island, a very remote part of Australia where there is no talking, only strong eye contact.

In 1977, she was choreographer for Australia’s participation in the World Indigenous Dance Festival in Nigeria. In 1979, she was artistic director of the Aboriginal participation by the National Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theater in the International Dance Festival in Africa. She was featured in 1979 as the Migrant of the Year in a documentary presented on SBS Televison. She is also the founding director of Bodenweiser Dance Center’s Dances of Asia, the Philippine Arts and Cultural Society of Australia, and the Cultural Arts International and Association of Asian Artists of Australia. She is the managing director of the Contemporary Dance Association in Umina Beach, New South Wales. Throughout her years of influencing people with her art, one of the various recognitions she received was being selected as one of the Great Women of the 21st Century by the American Biographical Institute.

Mrs. Sauer believes that her education at Silliman has instilled in her a form of discipline, which she considers as “the rock that knocked off the stumbling blocks in my professional life.” From the words of Manny Diel in his “Who’s Who?” column, Mrs. Sauer, indeed, is an “icon of the Philippine performing arts—very intelligent, highly spiritual, and an inspiring woman that Filipinos should be proud of.” (Jeahan Virda De Barras with Ian Rosales Casocot)

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[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Wednesday, August 25, 2010

entry arrow7:40 PM | Clarity

Crossroads in one's life often force us to take stock of the things around us. Tomorrow, I leave Dumaguete for a long-sojourn in a foreign place. I know I will be back very soon -- time flies, after all -- but already the immediate future seems to me to be all a merry mix of sweet uncertainty, unmapped adventures, and possible turning points that can lead me to a different path altogether. I don't know. And yet, that unknowingness feels all right.

So now, in the spirit of turning points, I look back at everything in my life until this moment, and I see with a kind of clarity -- perhaps you can call that maturity? wisdom by way of hard experience? -- the many instances of utter confusion and exquisite heartaches that dot my past. As these things had unfolded then, they had held no sense, no reason. They begat only questions, recriminations. I clearly had no patience. Because now, I see them suddenly as key moments -- vital and necessary the way the heart violently throbs and pumps blood to keep us all alive -- that would in fact lead to something better, or at least hopeful, in time. I guess it is only too human of us to never really be able to recognize the future that began, as a seed, shrouded in pain and being lost.

There is a reason why God has given me this and that, and all in His time. I will not question it. I will just hurl myself into the graciousness that is His plan and delight, when he can, in the revelations.

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[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Monday, August 23, 2010

entry arrow10:43 AM | Betrayal

I quickly realize that for the most part we are really clueless with many things in life. This is especially true with things we frankly have no emotional connection with. We cannot know everything. But with some things, we are like sniffing dogs, our senses acute to things not readily perceptible. We are all idiot savants that way. We have trained our hearts to seek out the tiny ebbs and flows of things we love. And having said that, I must say this: yes, dear, I know. I was listening to that conversation that night when the universe turned on one particular topic. And, without meaning to, I could tell what you were not telling anyone. I could tell it by just the slight change in your voice, the slightest urgency for deflection by your words, and by your impassive face that tried to say nothing but betrayed everything.

For a moment, everything came to a stand still for me.

Do you know the funny thing about the heart breaking? It does so without thunder and lightning. It just wilts.

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[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Friday, August 20, 2010

entry arrow1:52 AM | May Master Class Ticket Ka na Ba?



All ready to watch the August 20 show. But maybe I need to put on a shirt first...

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

entry arrow11:47 AM | Cherie Gil Brings Maria Callas to the Luce Stage in Master Class

The Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee and the Philippine Opera Company, in cooperation with Globe and Midtown Printing Company, are proud to present the Tony Award-winning play, Master Class, about the legendary opera diva Maria Callas. It will have its Visayan premiere and Dumaguete run on 20 and 21 August 2010, Friday and Saturday, at 8 P.M., Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium in Silliman University.



Terrence McNally’s play was first produced by the Philadelphia Theatre Company in March 1995; it opened at the Golden Theatre in New York City in November of the same year. The play is based on a series of master classes given by the renowned opera singer Maria Callas at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1971 and 1972. Callas (1923–77), was the greatest dramatic soprano of her generation and also a controversial figure. Her restless and tempestuous personality often led her into disputes with opera managements and feuds with rival singers. However, she was adored by her fans and was the subject of constant media attention, including gossip about her jet-set life with the wealthy Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis.

Although Master Class does delve into the triumphs and tragedies of Callas’s life, its primary focus is the art of dramatic singing. As McNally’s fictional version of Callas teaches her class, she explains to her students, two sopranos and a tenor, just what it takes to invest the music with real feeling, revealing as she does so how demanding the profession of opera singing is. She also reveals her own contradictory personality—proud and egotistical yet also vulnerable and self-pitying. In spite of all the flaws of its main character, however, Master Class, written by a man who has been a Callas fan since he was a teenager in high school, is a tribute to the dedication of a great singer and actress to her chosen art.



Although the play touches on many of the main events of Maria Callas’ life, it is not in essence a biographical portrait. Rather, it is an exploration of the nature of artistic creation, as applied to operatic singing and acting. Maria makes clear that art is serious business that cannot be done by half measures; it demands total commitment on the part of the singer/actress. Being an opera singer can never be an easy career; the singer must give everything to the demands of her craft. This means intense discipline over a lifetime.

Witness one of Philippine cinema’s living legends Cherie Gil in a very rare performance as the opera icon Maria Callas.

Playing the students in her master class are Juan Alberto Gaerlan as Anthony Candolino, Florence Aguilar as Sophie de Palma, Ana Feleo as Sharon Graham, Francis Amora as the pianist Manny.

Juan Alberto Gaerlan completed his Professional Diploma Studies in Western Opera at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts where he graduated with distinction. He has made numerous performances here and abroad and was last seen as Rodolfo in POC’s and CCP’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme.

Ana Guillen Feleo is an Aliw Awardee for Best Actress in a Musical for 2007. She received her music education at the College of Music, University of the Philippines under the tutelage of Professor Emeritus Fides Cuyugan- Asensio. She pursued further coaching with W. Stephen Smith in Juilliard last 2008 when she prepared for her biggest break in her operatic career when she played the role of Musetta in La Boheme.

Florence Aguilar graduated magna cum laude in voice from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music. She was part of the Singapore Lyric Opera’s twin bill production of Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci and of the Philharmonic Chamber of Choir of Singapore’s Bach’s Mass in B minor and I Love My Love concerts conducted by Maestro Lim Lau and Johannes Prinz respectively.

Francis Amora is a BM graduate in Piano Performance from Philippine Women’s University Conservatory of Music and is currently taking up his Masters in Piano Performance in UST Conservatory of Muic under Prof. Raul Sunico.

The play is directed by veteran stage actor Michael Williams.

Tickets are available at P300, P500, P800, and P1000. For inquiries, please call (035) 422-6002 loc. 520 or loc. 250, or 09173235953.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

entry arrow10:02 PM | Manila's Best Improv Comedy Troupe to Hit Dumaguete

Silly People’s Improv Theater or SPIT, the premiere improvisational theater group in the Philippines, is set to conquer Dumaguete City on 15 August 2010 in an unscripted comedy showcase titled “SPIT Live in Dumaguete!” as part of the cultural season of the Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee.



SPIT was founded in 2002 by entertainer Gabe Mercado and a group of friends after Mr. Mercado trained with legendary Second City founder Paul Sills, the acknowledged Father of Modern Improv, at the Wisconsin Theater Games Center. In 2004, SPIT spearheaded Spontaneous Combustion: The First Philippine Improv Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and then participated in the 3rd National Theater Festival where they premiered Sarskwela: Ang Sarswelang Kwela, a completely improvised twist on the traditional Filipino sarswela.

In 2009, they premiered two works at the CCP, including Cambiar!, an improvised educational environment themed show for the Earth Day Celebration, and Dingdong! Death is at the Door, an improvised long-form murder-mystery show for the 5th Virgin Labfest. SPIT also represented the Philippines in the prestigious Los Angeles Comedy Festival in Los Angeles in 2004.

Composed of thespians, teachers, and other professionals from varied fields, the group also does regular shows to packed audiences in some of the best entertainment spots throughout Manila and is a staple of corporate functions with their lap smart yet hilarious brand of comedy.With close to five hundred performances to date, SPIT has delighted local and international audiences with their unscripted unrehearsed and totally spontaneous shows.

The show is a co-production of Little Boy Productions. Tickets are available at P200 and P300 for both the matinee and gala shows. For inquiries, please call (035) 422-6002 loc. 520 or loc. 250, or 09173235953.

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[1] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Sunday, August 08, 2010

entry arrow4:52 AM | Float Like a Feather in a Beautiful World

I must learn to hold this thought, this memory of a Saturday night, sheathed as it was in the subtlest of pain. But what a word. I hesitate to call it "pain." Perhaps it was just selfishness, perhaps not. But it was the first full weekend of August, my birthday month, and I had felt so utterly abandoned.

The day had gone well, much to my surprise. But it was the night itself that made me teeter on some form of grieving, as if I had lost things, as if I had nothing to begin with and I was merely fooling myself. Was it that I watched a movie alone? Fine. I had planned it that way anyway. But later on, to text friends and to have no one answer back ... It felt ridiculous. As if I had become an interloper, an unwanted speck in the wind, synonymous with the void, and everybody else had lives of their own shielded from all my wants.

I went to a jazz concert later that night but could not get in. They had, so they said, no change for the bill I was waving to their face. I stood there for a long time in the entrance, unsure suddenly of what to do, where to go. A few feet away, the music was already wafting like some strange invitation -- and yet there I was, unable to get in.

And then of course I would see him there. Right near the entrance. Like some ghost. He was tall, he was easily seen. I thought, So he has arrived home finally from that place in Indochina. His sister beside him said hello like the twinkling universe. He didn't. He stood there like stone, and afterwards when he passed by me to seek something outside, it was as if I were the invisible air.

Was this how it was supposed to turn out? The nuances of an eight-month love affair's end turned to silence and unseeing?

It was more than I could take. I raced home. Yet I did not want to be home. I grabbed a book -- Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty -- and raced to a downtown restaurant, which was sure to be open for the rest of the night. I did not want to be alone, even if it meant being in the middle of complete strangers. When midnight came, only a scattering of us were left to the devices of our little worlds: some studied, I pretended to read. I felt myself drifting, floating.

And I thought, so suddenly, that it was some strange comfort to know that by the end of this month, I shall be somewhere else far away from this place, where people I know would not see me. It was the only kind of invisibility I craved.

I don't belong here. Not home. Not home when the sight of it bleeds the heart, and all that one has left is the aching breathing that stands for whatever remains of whatever life this is supposed to be.

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[4] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Sunday, August 01, 2010

entry arrow11:22 PM | A Gift

It’s August. It’s the beginning of another season for writers and writerly fests. And a few days from now, parcels—traditionally via LBC—from a certain office in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City will make their way to certain households in the country, and make their recipients, especially the first-timers, glow with unalloyed joy. Their joy will culminate in a certain ceremony on September 1 in the ballroom of a posh Makati hotel. It will be a grand night for many of them.

I envy those people that first brush with that kind of news they will be receiving.

But first, I must admit that this essay was occasioned by a simple question asked of me in Formspring, a social networking site where people who “follow” you get to ask you questions ranging from the silly to the profound to the thought-provoking.

What was your favorite birthday gift ever? a friend wanted to know. It made me think, but oh so briefly.

Because my response was immediate, which was both surprising and unsurprising—the former for the solid conviction I unknowingly had of the matter, and the latter for the context from which that conviction came from. And yet, that “birthday gift” came to me not even as a direct consequence of natal day traditions. And it came from no one in particular.

It was my first Palanca. The “gift” was the notification of my win from the Foundation. And the year was 2002.

I was depressed in 2002, in a cycle that would become familiar, given the temperament that I have, usually arising from some deep dance with artistic impulses. I had graduated from college in 1999, and I was stuck in some shitty job and was now making a transition from the world of journalism to that Graduate School and part-time teaching. I was doing something I honestly told friends I would never, ever do. In 2002, I found myself living again with my mother in our old house because I couldn’t even afford my own rent. I had no love life to speak of, and I didn’t really know what to do with the “writer” thing. It all seemed hopeless.

And to top it all off, somebody gave me the gossipy goods that a bunch of literary “friends” in campus were laughing behind my back because they never thought much of me as a writer. “Ian, a writer?” one of them was reported to have pondered the question. And that he answered his own musings by laughing so hard. That hurt, but I made that slur my impetus to write a story titled “Old Movies.” I wanted to try to submit it to the Palancas, just to see if my “friends” were indeed right. If I don’t win, I told myself, I’d stop writing for real.

I was lying in bed that whole morning one day in August—that season for writing awards. I didn’t want to get up. I thought I was the biggest loser in the world. I was turning 27 in a few days, and I felt old.

Then my mother came into my old bedroom. “You have something from LBC,” she said.

Who would send me a package? I thought as she handed the sealed envelope to me. It looked official. Then I saw the words “Carlos Palanca Foundation.” My hands began trembling. I quickly opened the envelope, and took out the letter.

I gave the loudest whoop ever in my entire life.

I still remember that overwhelming feeling of joy washing over me. It was the sweetest feeling in the world. It still remains one of the deepest, most satisfactory thing in my life.

This is why I don’t think highly of people (especially those who have never won the Palanca) who say with such conceited sincerity that it is all a lottery, a game of chance, a matter of knowing who the judges are.

Tell that to the 27-year-old guy who was depressed and was down on his luck, and who was despairing if anything would ever become of his writing. It meant something. It meant I could continue.

[3] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





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