Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Philippines Graphic's 30th Anniversary Issue

What an honor to be on the cover of The Philippines Graphic's 30th Anniversary Issue.

Read about my thoughts on art and writing as featured in "Writers in a Time of Lockdown" by Alma Anonas-Carpio, found within the pages. The Graphic is available in National Bookstore and 7-Eleven Outlets.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Locked In, But Not Locked Down

It's been a long time since I've blogged. Life has taken an odd turn. Some might say it's gone off the rails. If we look at the world as something we own and control, then yes, it certainly has. But if we think of ourselves as beings just passing through, then we can look at recent events and Covid-19 as part of inhabiting a living, breathing planet. We may have forgotten this, that despite the heights our intellect has reached, our bodies stand on moving soil and we breathe the same air in the atmosphere. We are not beyond Earth. We are dependent on it.

I believe this perspective is not a form of toxic positive thinking, as some might say. It does not discount the reality of pain and suffering. What this perspective brings to the fore is the fact that we exist in a world of action and reaction, of interdependence. And without awareness of these interactions, we will continue down the path of disease and self-destruction.

Studies point to the novel coronavirus as emerging from pangolins to bats to humans. When I was young, the elders have always warned me from touching strange animals, no matter how friendly they may seem. They had this innate sense of respect for creatures that live in a different world from ours. They mentioned that the animals may carry disease, of the obvious ones, rabies. While we cry, "Okay Boomer", we ourselves have forgotten to revisit their wisdom and have ended up like prodigal children suffering the consequences. It would be sad to hear the ancestors say, "We told you so."

We may be locked in our homes, but our minds are free to rethink our relationship with nature and our own nature--human versus consumer. Which are we? Which do we want to be? Are we doing our part in respecting the environment and in keeping our distance from others to prevent the further spread of disease? How do we want government to address the current pandemic and the future possibilities of the same? Which leaders do we want to have? Which leaders do we need? Especially in a future where the earth is wide awake, all the elements of disease, volcanic activity, quakes, and rising sea levels will be our undeniable reality, we have to rethink our position and act now.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

2017 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards: Poet of the Year

As if the year weren't wonderful enough with the birth of our silly little boy, Alphonse, I was blessed to receive the Poet of the Year award from The Philippines Graphic Magazine at the 2017 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. Here we are, giving up on getting a good picture together, since Alphonse decided he was way more interested in the ceiling lights:

It wasn't an easy pregnancy. And it hasn't been easy taking care of our son. I've been working and chasing a career in marketing and advertising before I had to quit and get used to life at home. What's even more challenging is how to take care of such a fragile new life while trying to get my life back in order. But the thing is, life isn't this chronology of events nor is it some shelf where everything is ordered and labeled. Things fall in and out of place. This time, things did fall into place, and the years I'd spent exploring poetry, sound, words, spacings and the meanings these create have allowed me to reap such an unexpected honor.

Left to right: PGPI VP for Finance Adebelo Gasmin, rep of PRU Life U.K,. Yours truly with her Poet of the Year award, Second Prize winner for Fiction Scott Lee Chua, First Prize winner Christian Ray Buendia, Third Prize Winner Wayne Benitez Castillo, PGPI president Benjamin V. Ramos and Philippines Graphic publisher T. Anthony Cabangon. Picture borrowed from Sir Krip Yuson.

The event was Alphonse's first formal event. Victor, my husband, told me the baby was looking at me while I was on stage. And then I thought, "Hey, there's a poem in that gaze."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

When Did We Filipinos Collapse into Factions?

Conversing at length with a friend, we came upon an agreement. It is that we cannot be distracted from what we truly must do for our country. You know, at the end of the day, we want a fair society. We want safe streets, without fear of being killed by riding in tandem vigilante, or mugged by thieves. We want hospitals and affordable healthcare. We want trains. We want roads (decongested). We want sidewalks. We want decent jobs with decent pay.

This is why we awoke. We awoke in separate factions. Pro-Marcos. Anti-Marcos. Pro-Aquino. Anti-Aquino. Ka-DDS. Pro-Country. But when you look at the heart of the arguments, you will see that we often look back at the times when our nation was or could have been great. And at each of those moments, there were heroes who rose up and there were leaders who failed us.

I doubt that there is a Pro-Marcos brother out there who truly means to say he doesn't give a damn about human rights victims as long as he was able to enjoy the infrastructure boom and affordable cost of living. I doubt that the Anti-Aquino who polices us to remember the Mendiola Massacre means to reduce the problem to a war between two families: Aquino vs. Marcos.

What is being said is that even after everything, even after our great People Power Revolution, there are still profiteering politicians in place. We are still asking, where the hell are the trains? Why the hell is energy so expensive? Why are the fuel giants still allowed to collude? Why are there no new state hospitals being built? Why can't I afford healthcare? Why are so many Pinoys still living below the poverty line? Why are there still haciendas despite all these talks on Agrarian reform?

Some throw up their hands and sigh "Pare-pareho lang yang mga politiko." But no, they are not the same.

Ultimately we must ask: who is/are accountable for what's wrong and how do we hold them responsible? And then, after we have destroyed this longstanding impunity, we ask how do we move on from here?

With so many issues plaguing the country, we do each other a disservice by labeling ourselves or another a Dutertard or Yellowtard or whatever. These are distractions. It merely fosters a culture of forgetfulness because it adds to our inability to focus on any one thing until it reaches its full closure. #NeverForget: this humble hashtag may yet be the greatest finding of our time. It empowers us to seek out our cause, our calling. Empowers us to ACT on our cause with dogged focus, and not to digress into namecalling the opposing viewpoint like snotty children who just lost in a game of marbles. They have their own role to play. You have yours. If today we must march for justice, then we march. Tomorrow is a new day.