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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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Sunday, March 24, 2013

entry arrow1:47 PM | Café Midnight

It would not be too hard to believe, sometimes, that if you bleed a Dumagueteño, you would get caffeine.

I am talking of the young sort of Dumagueteño—these creatures who inhabit the new cafes mushrooming everywhere. This increasingly discriminating crowd know their Colombian from their Java quite well, and some of them have elevated the coffee snobbery with breathy mentions of French presses and self-roasted beans, and who can then quietly condescend with a measure of grace this way: “No latte for me, milk ruins coffee”—I’m talking about you, Greg Morales.



Most of them, of course, are college students—the denizens who best define Dumaguete—who need that extra rush to the brain to get them through the midnight hours grappling with the insane volumes and reams of data needing absorption before the next day’s exams or paper deadlines. They buzz with such academic fervor, these islands of students spread everywhere in the city at night: medical students, and business students, and medical technology students, and education students—all kinds of students—bent over their laptops, dancing the fine line between spreadsheets and papers and temptations of Facebook and Twitter. Their horde wouldn’t be quite noticeable in the sum of things if Dumaguete were a bigger city: but small as the city is, the crowds that buzz in such places as Qyosko’s Café Espresso, The Bean Connection, Café Antonio, Café Mamia, Bo’s Boulevard, Poppy’s, and the absolutely last resort we call Kofficcino are more than noticeable. They create a kind of spectacle. In a city that goes to sleep, they are the only signs of waking life.

I should know this. They are my people.

This crowd, of course, requires only four things: [1] that the wifi is fast, [2] that the coffee is robust and affordable, [3] that the outlets to plug in laptops and pads are scattered aplenty, and [4] that the freedom to stay for as long as they pore over their books are unfettered. The generosity with which most of these local cafés attend to these requirements is astonishing—and I get the feeling they don’t really lose out in the bargain. (I’ve noticed that places that do skimp on wifi because they fear the slow turn-over of customers, for example, are—to use a local term—almost always gilangaw. Most likely this is because the tech savvy who do eat out feel the Scrooge-like pinch of not being able to Instagram their meal. And to quote Willie Revillame: “You don’t do that to me!”)

You sense among these people an arcane knowledge of some sort of time table: afternoons are best in Poppy’s where the hazelnut mocha is addictive and the natural light is comforting, but the café—so near Silliman—closes way too early. Around 10 p.m. or so, most of them will find their way to Qyosko or The Bean; in these popular places, the thing to do is to brave the crunch and the tight spaces for a share of the wifi and the affordable food—arroz balao and buttered garlic chicken and an assortment of all-day breakfasts, with a cup of latte to wash it all down.

Bo’s along the Boulevard, when you can afford it, seems perfect for the coffee nomad. I tend to spend hours and hours there, my productivity stoked by its easy ambience, for some reason. It helps that its barista staff are the friendliest in town—and you know their names, too: Allan, Mac, Christian… And sometimes, it is that barista factor that makes a café home. It is the same with The Bean. But what I love the most in The Bean is its devilish concoction in their moist chocolate cupcake. Every night when I am there—and it is often—that round piece of heaven calls to me like a long-lost lover, rebuffed only by the thoughts of having to endure extra minutes at the treadmill. (And yet, often, the cupcake wins.)

The Bean, alas, closes too soon after midnight. And so, for many, the only place to really grind away the night till it turns to morning is the 24-hour haven of Qyosko—where they play the best dance/house music around 2 a.m., for some reason. Around that hour, the midnight crowd surges alongside the ones poring over their books, and the place becomes full of people demanding for their burger steak or their lomi or their pochero. Where do these people come from, and why are they not asleep? is a question I have learned never to answer. But Qyosko has become home to many of us, and so have many of these cafés.

Except for the sad ones.

It’s past midnight now in the McDonald’s along Perdices Street, and I cannot think. They have turned the music up much too loud for some reason I suspect borders on the diabolical. How else can it be? The sound pounding my ears seems designed for repulsion, perfectly tuned to keep my residency in this establishment to the barest minimum, its welcome extending only as far as lining up at the cashier. We want your money, the blasting music says, but please go away soon. I understand the capitalist notion of keeping occupancy flowing, but there are subtle ways of doing it: paint your walls orange, for example. But what you have is indeed sound conspicuously designed not to make you feel welcome—and I resent that. Because I have just ordered my tumbler of perfectly banal iced coffee, and have just settled on one small table planning to read a few essays for Monday’s nonfiction class. But I cannot read. And I cannot think.

I call over one of the busgirls. She ambles towards me like a robot. “Can you please turn down the volume of your music?” I ask.

“Yes, sir,” she says in that tired way that betrays she has heard this request before, and has no intention of ever complying.

True enough, I wait five more minutes—and nothing happens. The infernal racket McDonald’s calls music continues. So I make it win the battle. I give up. I get up, and I go home. I reason away that you do not stay in a place that does not make you feel welcome. The only way anyone can repay such discourtesy is not to give it your business.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

entry arrow10:19 PM | No Way

I will have nothing to do with something where, to get anything in return, you are asked to be an asshole.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

entry arrow7:48 PM | Confessions of Some Reluctance

When I am secretly accused of doing something wicked that I have not done, I am amused. And I think I have enough of an imagination to go ahead and commit it -- expectations demand it. I have already been found wanting, I might as well abandon the scale and leave it reeling.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

entry arrow8:52 PM | Films From StorySpace

Eleven short films by student filmmakers from Silliman University are slated to make their premieres on 11 March 2013 for StorySpace: The Fourth 61 Short Film Festival at the Audio-Visual Theater 1 of the Multimedia Center.

The short film festival, which is sponsored by the College of Mass Communication, the Societe des Cinephiles, and the Cultural Affairs Committee, brings together the works by students from various colleges in the university.



In Jo Simone Vale's Ugma na Lang, six-year-old Clarence has decided to run away. As he steps out of the comforts of his home, he is daunted by what lies beyond the protection of their gate. In the end, it's up to Clarence to discover how far he can indeed run.



In Greena Pesalbon's Trust, Jonathan and Sarah are newly engaged and totally in love. But there's a bump in their relationship when Sarah goes missing. It is now up to Jonathan to find his lost love ... or is it?



In Tara de Leon's Temperomine, graduating senior Mark dela Cruz isn't a model student. In fact, he might not be graduating at all. An opportunity he can't refuse presents itself, but will it be really worth it?



In Pamela Lazalita's Sinking Hearts, Rhea meets Chris in the summer. It is love at first sight for the both of them. Everything seems to be going perfectly but a devastating truth will soon crush their entire relationship.



In Henzonly Alboroto's Shutterlife, Max lives and breathes pictures. Faced with problems which he feels he can barely take, he seeks the comfort of photography -- but soon discovers that it’s going to take more than pressing buttons to save himself.



In Handen Cadiente's One Way Out, Krista is dying to escape from two things: her rocky relationship with Michael and her nightmare of a crazy woman who seems to want to kill her. When a car ride goes awry, it is up to Krista to save herself, or die trying.



In Jennis Miranda's John, the title character is contented with his life. He doesn’t mind that his room is a pathetic excuse for a dumpster, that his aunt seems to never let him have any fun, or that his best friend seems to never run out of things to talk about. Then he meets Leslie.



In Melissa Pal's Jeepney, Casey goes to work aboard a jeepney thinking it would be another ordinary day. Little does she know that destiny has a few tricks up its sleeves: she has to face the word "closure."



In Raymond Cutillar's F*ed, Alixander is a graduating student but he has just received an F from a particularly trying teacher. Now he hatches some plans, most of them desperate, to redeem himself, to get a grade, and to finally graduate.



In Nolan Rhey Saraña's Evelyn, a young man gets his heart broken by his cheating girlfriend. He escapes the city, but soon finds himself attracted to a mournful spirit which has trapped him in a world where only the two of them exist. How does he escape Evelyn's spell?



And finally in Stephen Abanto's Dagit: Have You Got Time for a Story?, Esteban and Manu meet, and a spark of something electric seems to overwhelm them. Then one of them starts to tell the other a story of epic proportions -- which will decide ultimately what is going to happen.

The event marks another turning point in creating a film community in Dumaguete City. I believe many of the entries of this year’s festival ups the ante in terms of quality and imagination. It is high time that Dumaguete starts becoming known as a film hub in the region. Film from previous editions of the festival, such as Mahogany Rae Bacon’s Marry Me, Stephen Abanto’s Café Les Back, and Razceljan Salvarita’s I Am Patience, have represented Dumaguete City in CinemaRehiyon, the annual festival of regional films.

The jury for this year’s festival includes Maria Cecilia Genove, Annabelle Lee-Adriano, Moses Joshua Atega, Earnest Hope Tinambacan, Sonia SyGaco, Brian Arbas Rimer, Yvette Malahay-Kim, and Marx Itturalde. The winning entries will represent Dumaguete in next year’s CinemaRehiyon.

Admission to the festival is free.


UPDATED:

The following films were adjudged winners of the various categories in StorySpace: The 4th Sixty-One Short Film Festival held last March 11, Monday at 7 PM at the Audio-Visual Theater 1 at the Multimedia Center:

Best Short Film: Ugma na Lang, with director Johannes Simone Vale
Winner of the Special Jury Prize: Jeepney, with director Melissa Pal
Achievement in the Cinematic Arts: Dagit: Have You Got Time for a Story?, with director Stephen Abanto
Audience Choice Award: Ugma na Lang, with director Johannes Simone Vale
Best Director: Melissa Pal for Jeepney
Best Actor in a Leading Role: [TIE] Steven Joseph Credo in F*ed and Mardie Gabriel Limbaga Erojo in Ugma na Lang
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jhenzee Jardin in Jeepney
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Noel Canobas in F*ed
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Johannes Simone Vale in Shutterlife
Best Screenplay: Raymond Vincent Cutillar for F*ed
Best Editing: Stephen Abanto, Jed James Wasawas, Henzonly Alboroto, and Johannes Simone Vale for Ugma na Lang
Best Cinematography: Stephen Abanto for Dagit: Have You Got Time for a Story?
Best Original Musical Score: Kokoi Guinto for Ugma na Lang
Best Original Song: Finpot for Shutterlife
Best Sound Design and Editing: Jerry Angelo Catarata for Ugma na Lang
Best Production Design: Melissa Pal for Jeepney
Best Costume Design: Miguel Salvania for Dagit: Have You Got Time for a Story?
Best Make-up Design: Nicole Villanueva for Dagit: Have You Got Time for a Story?
Best Poster Design: F*ed

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

entry arrow5:19 PM | Thirteen Fellows Accepted to the 52nd Silliman University National Writers Workshop

The 52nd edition of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop is slated to start on 6 May 2013 at the Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Camp Look-out, Valencia, Negros Oriental. 

Thirteen writers from all over the Philippines have been accepted as workshop fellows. They are Corina Marie B. Arenas, Nolin Adrian de Pedro, Patricia Mariya Shishikura, Brylle Bautista Tabora, and Lyde Gerard Villanueva for poetry; Tracey dela Cruz, Sophia Marie Lee, Rhea Politado, and Patricia Verzo for fiction; Jennifer dela Rosa Balboa, Ana Felisa Lorenzo, and Arnie Q. Mejia for creative nonfiction; and Mario Mendez for drama. They will be joined by special Singaporean fellows Christine Leow and Nurul Asyikin from Singapore Management University.

The panel of writers/critics for this year includes Director-in-Residence Susan S. Lara; Dumaguete-based writers Bobby Flores Villasis and César Ruìz Aquino; and guest panelists Dean Francis Alfar, DM Reyes, John Jack Wigley, Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., Ricardo de Ungria, Marjorie Evasco, Alfred Yuson, Gémino H. Abad, and Grace Monte de Ramos. They will be joined by two foreign panelists whose names will be announced later. 

The workshop, which traditionally lasts for three weeks, is the oldest creative writing workshop of its kind in Asia. It was founded in 1962 by S.E.A. Write Awardee Ediberto K. Tiempo and National Artist Edith L. Tiempo, and was recently given the Tanging Parangal in the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

This year, the workshop is co-sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Embassy of the United States of America in Manila, and the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.

For more information about forthcoming events during the workshop, please email Workshop Coordinator Ian Rosales Casocot at silliman.cwc@gmail.com or call the Department of English and Literature at (035) 422-6002 loc. 520.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

entry arrow1:51 AM | Ronald McDonald is an Ungracious Host

It’s past midnight in the McDonald’s along Perdices Street, and I cannot think. They have turned the music up much too loud for some reason I suspect borders on the diabolical. How else can it be? The sounds pounding my ears are designed for repulsion, perfectly tuned to keep my residency in this establishment to the barest minimum, its welcome extending only as far as lining up at the cashier. We want your money, the blasting music says, but please go away soon. It is indeed sound designed not to make you feel welcome—and I resent that. I have just ordered my tumbler of perfectly banal iced coffee, and have just settled on one table planning to read a few essays for Monday’s nonfiction class. But I cannot read. I cannot think.

I call over one of its busgirls. “Can you please turn down the volume of your music?” I ask.

“Yes, sir,” she says in that tired way that betrays she has heard this request before, and has no intention of ever doing.

True enough, I wait five more minutes—and nothing happens. The infernal racket McDonald’s calls music continues.

So I make it win the battle. I give up. I get up, and I go home.

You do not stay in a place that does not make you feel welcome. The only way anyone can repay such discourtesy is not to give it your business.

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

entry arrow5:09 PM | Songs to the Tune of Life

I choose my songs as commentary on my life at present -- one song on a constant loop sometimes going on forever, until every sound and nuance of it get under my skin, to remind me in a subliminal way what must move forward, and what must be undone.

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