Thursday, May 27, 2010

Writing, Painting, Bumming...

Of those three, bumming would make up more than half of my life ever since I graduated this March. My laptop crashed at the airport, when I was about to leave Bacolod (after a six-hour bus-ride from Dumaguete). I lost all my recent files since I didn't update my backup copy. At first I was just staring at my laptop, devastated at the fact that I'd lost the four short stories I'd started but haven't finished. Also lost my nonfiction piece where I wrote about Siquijor.

But for some reason, I was relieved. I started to just chill. Two days after it sank in that I really, really did lose those darned pieces, I was happy. I never thought that losing something important can actually be liberating. See, I feel as though I've gotten into a rut. I keep writing, and the more I write (and oh do I write a lot!), the more I get weighed down by everything I've already written. All those stories felt like a hundred-pound weight on my back. I wondered if that was how tortoises felt.

I couldn't seem to go beyond what I've already made.

I don't understand why it happened, but the spontaneity I had when I took writing seriously a year ago was quelled. My finished works became shackles, my memory of them a steel ball I'd been dragging by my ankles. What's already there was burned not only in my hard disk but my brain.

I remember how, when I began, I would write in a frenzy. It all came out so easily. Didn't even need to discipline myself. I was writing out of instinct, sitting and typing from 7am to 12mn (with eating and bathroom and jogging breaks of course). Perhaps that was the time my muse really took over. Though come to think of it, I'm not really sure what a muse is, what my muse is.

When I was in Bacolod, my cofellow, Jordan mentioned something about three sources for one's art: The duende, the angel, and the muse. I guess he was referring to Federico Garcia Lorca's theory of this triune inspiration. I found an ebook of Lorca's book "In Search of Duende" and am planning to read it one of these days, though I'd much prefer a real book version I can hold and use as a pillow to sleep on.

The duende seems to be the one that had me in its grips back then. Lorca uses Goethe's words in defining the duende as ‘A mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained.’
It has a visceral effect on both the creator and the audience. Like the trance music I love listening to, it just takes you away, letting you ride the cadence of light and life. Duende sounds very much like Greek energeia and daimon, then.

Meanwhile here are the other two, the angel and the muse, summed up as light and form: 

"The angel dazzles...there is no way to oppose their light, since they beat their wings of steel in an atmosphere of predestination."

"The Muse stirs the intellect, bringing a landscape of columns and an illusory taste of laurel, and intellect is often poetry’s enemy, since it limits too much, since it lifts the poet into the bondage of aristocratic fineness..."

 It appears that artists are supposed to subdue these two. I think I have a vague understanding of what Lorca means. Maybe it's about not letting the angel sweep us off our feet and direct our hands in weaving our destinies. Maybe it's about holding on to the ground when the muse tries to lift us up to the pedestal overlooking the world's glory and folly.

Maybe its about letting our souls accompany earth and life as it is churned out in this cycle of fire, tears, blood, and death.

Maybe I'm talking too much.

All I really want is to have that ease again. And I seem to be contradicting myself since what I'm writing now is just gushing out of me, mental diarrhea.

I'm guessing all I really needed to do was to sit down and write. Forget about all those lost files. Forget about those stories I've already written.

Time to create new things.

Beautiful things.

A thing is new only once. Beautiful things happen only once. Maybe that's why Lorca wrote "[t]he duende never repeats itself, any more than the waves of the sea do in a storm." That's something I should never forget.

And now I should download iTunes, Adobe, etc. again to get my laptop back (close to) the way it was.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If I had super powers, I'd boss Chronos around

Before Farewell

Where is forever?
Is it on the same spot
I am standing on right now,
or perhaps that clock
taunting me from the wall?

If I move my foot, form
circles on the ground,
I can go on
and on like that clock.
I see you all doing the same;
the bags at our feet invisible
only the circles we are drawing.

None of us budge.
We are right
where we want to be.
Time has never moved.
We were the ones
who left it behind.

I miss my cofellows from both the Iyas and Dumaguete workshops. I don't usually write poems but I have nothing better to do hahaha!
1st Poetry Reading Session of Silliman Fellows at Sidlakan, Obviously we had fun (photo by Misael Ondong)

Iyas Fellows at Negros Showroom (photo by Jordan Carnice)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Prophecy of the 49th

First posted this as a note on facebook. Now am bloggin' it haha (photos c/o Oscar Serquiña, unless otherwise cited):

The Oracle has spoken. 5 yrs after the 49th Silliman National Writers Workshop...

Verse 1: The Batch Mascot
NomNom has evolved into a bug-eating kangaroo and will be featured in Kuya Kim's Matanglawin (I don't remember who took these photos, but they're cute, and you can find more of Nomnom in Facebook)

Verse 2: The Poets

Gian Paolo Simeon Lao = Is the songwriter for the band he established, The Parting

Dominique Allison Santos = Has become the co-owner of Jhutz Cafe

Jacob Dominguez = Has become the lead actor for Oscar's first movie

Oscar Serquina, Jr. = Is the director of the movie "I still believe in True Love"

Verse 3: The Fictionists

Aaron James Jalalon = Upon acquiring his Ph.D. in Creative Writing, leaves everything behind to be the lead singer for the band, The Parting

Jenette Ethel Vizcocho = "The Netty" is the famous leader of the song-and-dance trio, Jejegals

Gilda Ysobel Galang = A convict in Munti, her crime is kept confidential

Anne Carly Abad = Has transferred to another world

Gino Francis Dizon = Has published the book "Fabulous Fabulous Feofle of Angeles"

Jose Carlo Flordeliza = Has been recorded in the Guiness Book of Records for building a house using his abundant supply of books

Ida Anita Del Mundo = Has made a pact with the Palasekan to start a music school. If she doesn't do what she must, there are grave, GRAVE consequences.

Samantha Echavez = Has been declared Cosmo's "Covergirl of the Year"

Verse 4: The Creative Non-Fictionists

Kelly Marie Tulio Conlon = Has established an institute for Latin Dance in Davao

Miro Frances Capili = This Palanca Hall of Famer is not only a singer-dancer, but has been the choreographer of Jejegals ever since it was established (photo removed for safety purposes)

Christina Mae del Rosario = Has chronicled the Jejegals' adventures and conquests in the bestselling series, "jUm3j3j3 DiAri3s Powhz"
I'll prolly be usin' these photos to make the portrait sketches for our batch tshirt. Any complaints, say em now heehee:)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silliman Workshop Day 16-slash-17

I have another ghost story to tell.

I wonder, though, why these things have been happening a lot. It began in Bacolod. Of course, I wasn't the one who saw the so-called White Lady back in Balay Kalinungan, it was Alyza, my co-fellow in the 10th Iyas Workshop. Still, the spirit did hover over my head, and the fact that I didn't see it wasn't comforting in any way.

Here in Camp Lookout/Writers Village, we have cabins assigned to us. Four people to each cabin, which has two rooms with a double-deck bed each. We slept early since we were scheduled to go to Antulang the next day--Wednesday, which is outing day. We had to get up at 6am and leave by 7.

In the Jasmine Cabin (so named because we planted a Jasmine tree just outside), we were five, and it was my turn to sleep on the floor (I had a bed, of course). For some reason, I was roused from sleep at 3am in the morning. It wasn't Day 16 anymore, but Day 17 when I woke. I could here typing just outside our rooms, where there was a small "reception" area, like a living room. I thought Miro was still typing in the wee hours. Through the open door, I called out, asking her why she was still typing. I'd thought, "napaka sipag naman naman nito". I believe she was finishing her piece for the 49th Dumaguete antho.

It was dark, mind you. I thought I saw her sitting there. There was no electricity. It was stuffy in the room. When Miro didn't answer, I stood up, stepped outside our room.

"Why are you typing in the dark?" I pressed. Until I realized it. Her Mac Book was on standby. I could still hear the sound of typing. Through the shadows, I could actually see the keys moving. But there was no one seated on the monobloc chair before it. No one was using the Mac.

That was when I freaked out.

No, I didn't scream. My mind just went blank, as though I couldn't comprehend what I'd just witnessed. "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god..." That was all I could blurt out as I ambled back to our room. Netty woke up because of all my oh-my-god-ing, and the typing stopped.

She asked me what was wrong. She told me she couldn't, didn't hear anything. She was obviously confused about who the hell I was talking to out in the hallway. So was I.

I don't know who I was talking to.

I frickin' don't wanna find out.

I decided to transfer rooms, just to the other side. I didn't want to sleep in our room, on the floor. I was scared the "entity" had followed me.

Grr. I don't even have the proverbial third eye. Hopefully, that thing won't happen again. Hopefully, I won't get up in the middle of the night talking to thin air. Not again. :<

Monday, May 17, 2010

Silliman Workshop Day 15

Director's Dinner


Sweet & Sour Fish


Fried Pork thingy

Pancit Canton

Creeeeeaaaammmy Mango-Jelly thingy

Four Seasons to wash it all down

A hillock of a stomach


(Photo-op with Mom, Edith Tiempo)

Photo c/o Oscar Serquiña

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Silliman Workshop Day 13: Siquijor

Oh my goodness, I've just begun writing about this day when I realized how serendipitous it is that this is the day my co-fellows and I went to Siquijor!


Wow, that's (creepy), isn't it?

I've heard lots of stories about Siquijor. Aside from being told that going to this island is an age-old tradition of the Silliman Writers Workshop, I've heard that this is where the mangkukulam reside--their headquarters. If Harry Potter has Hogwarts, Juan Dela Cruz has Siquijor. Yes, and the tuition is probably much, much lower since it is in pesos, though I'm not sure if they use the same currency. For all I care, they may prefer babies and human liver. :)

Of course, Juan is much cooler, since he practices both the dark and "white" arts. There are said to be mambabarang in the island, a type of mangkukulam that utilizes insects  (barang) to perform magic. I've heard stories about people dying from strange diseases, and when their relatives look at their corpses, they see insects--wasps, ants, centipedes (you get the picture)--coming out of the victim's mouth.

Another story I heard is from my co-fellow, Gel, who told me about what happened to her friend. Apparently, once you get to the island, you're supposed to bite the tip of your little finger. Otherwise, the witches and fiends can easily put a curse on you. Gel's friend forgot to bite her finger, and what happened was that she (or was it "he") fell really sick. That person was brought to an albularyo, a practitioner of (mostly) the white arts. The albularyo held out a water-filled glass over the body of the victim, just letting the glass hover around in circles, and within minutes, the glass was brimming with insects.

See? Is Hogwarts all that cool?

I meant to just blog about a normal day. About me leaping from a cliff in Salandoong Beach and nearly cracking my pelvic bone against the water's surface. About the oldest Balete Tree in the Island. About the fields of brush, coconut, and bananas. About the oldest convent in the Philippines (Can't quite remember the name).

But as I run out of time in this internet shop, I guess maybe I'll just google it later and add pictures and edit this darned entry. I hope the internet back in Writers Village has been revived, cuz really, I can't even facebook properly with that thing. The cicadas are sending far stronger signals than the Smart Bro. Haha.

Monday, May 10, 2010

SiIliman Workshop Day 9

Time sure flies. Hopefully I haven't gained too much weight, what with all the chocolate cake and coffee and vodka/gin (The Bar) and pulutan... so much for my healthy lifestyle, which has now turned into a DISTANT memory. haha :D

Been doin' some running, though, despite the crazy terrain of this mountain. The paths are inclined at quite an unhealthy angle. I'm trying to maintain my running fitness, which I'd previously honed for a marathon, but with Dumaguete, I'm having too much fun karaoke-ing and eating to worry as much as I used to about my body!

Well, I guess it's somehow a relief. A change. It ain't good to be obsessed about anything. Including writing.

Today I picked out a few things that caught my eye. Funny, cuz it was a fly on a plate, an image that caught my mind's eye's attention during our morning critique session.

I noted down the first words/phrases that I can, probably, later turn into a poem or some interesting insight that can be good content for a story. As Mom Edith Tiempo said, "Content is content!"

Here are the words/phrases that first came to mind:

The fly, vultures swooping, circling, mound of rice, spoon on one side with a leftover grain, fork facing the spoon, plate with the ragged edges lined with silver, oil pooled in globules at the edge

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Post-Iyas Creative Writing Workshop: Balay Kalinungan Thriller

Poster c/o Jordan Carnice

I've been in the mountains--Valencia, Dumaguete--for the past few days, and internet has become quite a rare commodity, like drugs you'd get only from black markets...or your neighborhood druggie. Now I have a chance to blog about my last workshop. Later on, I will blog about Dumaguete, haha, if I'm not lazy.

It's been some five or so days since I attended the 10th Iyas workshop in Bacolod. I am beginning to miss the scrumptious food of Balay Kalinungan, the two-bed room with the white lady that hovered over my head, and of course, the people--my co-fellows and the panelists that left us with all sorts of quotable quotes.

There, I was able to re-bond with my highschool friend, Alyza. It's funny how it felt like deja vu. It's as if nothing has changed and we're still doin' our artsy stuff, talking about boys like a bunch of giggly girls (alright, delete giggly).

I've met a bunch of great people, writers in the regional language--Jess, Elsed, Paul, Glenn, Sim... It was such an eye-opening experience to get a glimpse of the sensibilities of those from different areas of the Philippines. I tended to have quite a myopic view of Philippine lit, but now I'm amazed at the plethora of material available to us, only we don't get the chance to explore them. It made me wish I could speak and write at least one more Filipino language aside from my rather poor tagalog.

I'll never forget my tangential encounter with a ghost. I was quite lucky to be knocked out with booze, since I didn't get to see the "white lady", whatever the hell that is (spirit, elemental, some levitating buddha, who cares; it's freaky). It was really like being in a thriller movie. I think it was in Day 2 when, after closing the lights and rolling in for sleep, suddenly something falls, and we hear a clatter in the room. My roommate and I ask each other "was that you?" And of course none of us had moved. I opened the table lamp, and it flickers, along with an electrical buzzing.

The lamp died, plunging the room in darkness.

Alyza and I were screaming like birds (chickens?) until we got that goddamed light to open again. We then found out that a cup had fallen to the floor. Problem is, from its position on the table, it couldn't have fallen. Nope. It just couldn't. Anyhow, that must have been the spirit's paramdam already.

The next day, that's when it happened. That's when the frickin white lady hovered over my head. The freakiest part is that my roommate thought I was reading manuscripts in the dark. She saw the "entity" moving from side to side, like how a little girl does when waiting for her cotton candy. The lady was wearing this translucent, billowing white cloth, eerily radiant in the moonlight. Moonlight that shouldn't have been there since we kept our curtains closed, yet found them open upon opening the table lamp. A number of other things were out of place in our room--the cabinet was open, some things were misplaced...

Well that's one experience I really felt like writing about. About the critiques I got for "Doble Kara" my long short story, basically I need to improve the dialogues, the flow of the plot (the panelists said it's pretty flat), characterization, setting, umm the others are in my notebook. Haha.

Anyhow that's probably it for this post. It was great. The piaya was great. And wow that was random.

P.S. Here's a pic of everyone, c/o vernan jagunap: