Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Once Upon a Book Launching

SO THERE WE WERE at Kahayag Cafe, 11th of March 2006, for the joint launching of two Cebuano books: my first collection of poetry (Iring-iring sa Tingbitay sa Iro) and Januar Yap's maiden book of fiction (Ang Aktibistang Gi-Syphilis) published by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under its UBOD New Authors Series. Now I know book signing can be such a compelling reason to get a masseuse handy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

La Aunor, In the Eyes of Lea Salonga

From the posting of Ron Maceda, a Noranian, in an e-group composed of the Superstar's fans:

Last night, the international star proclaimed on national TV that Nora Aunor is a genius actress and a great singer. Lea guested on Loren Legarda's Real Stories aired every Friday on Channel 5.

Asked if any local star gets her starstruck, Lea candidly answered: "Nora Aunor."

The Tony awardee admitted to having watched some of the Superstar's films on TV and professed her admiration for her acting style. "There's this one movie scene where Nora's face seemed blank. And only her eyes were acting," she said. "I was impressed. I remember saying to myself: that woman is a genius!... And she's a great singer, too."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Three Poems

COMING TO TERMS with the cold, with its dark undertones, has been constant in my poetry. Here are variations on the theme, with a bit of revision since it first saw print on the pages of Philippine Graphic (8 April 1996) and the anthology Likhaan: Best of Philippine Poetry and Fiction 1997 (UP Press).


They come wind-
willed, without a creak
from the rusty gate.

Those who went
are here again, shouting
for their shadows.

My breath clouds over
everything when I
call back. No more

the barking dogs. I
swing the windows wide
and wonder why

the sky lately looks
starved of stars. I
gather myself,

cold. I hear nothing
but birdbone stuck in
the wind's throat.



I remember, and the breathing
of the drowned draws the ripples.
The waves drowse no more,
wobbling the boat while the wind
blows out the weathered hats
of fishers. I stand wordless at
the breakwater's edge and hear
the burst of spume. Storms recur
in my head. Now returns all
the shipwrecked. All the dead.


Flitting by are swarms of fishes.
In the coral within my skull skulks
the coelacanth and I, diving
deeper, peer at it, prying it loose.
As it surges off, unhooked,
my depth-deafened ears hear
the scabrous clarity of scales. I blink,
resurfacing in the eye of the surfs.
Only the remora remains, mossy
in the rustling waters of memory.


This is just to say how I envy the sea
gulls. Theirs is the blue of both sky and water
in one fell swoop while all I can see

are but the odds and ends of leavings: fishbones,
a litter of shells, stranded sargasso... Your bottled
letter found me among these ebbtide

souvenirs. On this usual shore. I stumbled,
tripping over it. Now I know the wind's a guide,
goading the waves on until even my feet

wavered, as when I hurled this missive, this
reply folded like a wing. May air ripple through it
like a sigh. This is just to say goodbye.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Extracts From The First Two Books I've Read in 2006

From E. ANNIE PROULX's The Shipping News:

"One of the tragedies of real life is that there is no background music."


"And what we fear we often rage against."


"... he was wondering if love came in other colors than the basic black of none and the read heat of obsession.."


"Was love then like a bag of assorted sweets passed around from which one might choose more than once? Some might sting the tongue, some invoke night perfume. Some had centers as bitter as gall, some blended honey and poison, some were quickly swallowed. And among the common bull's-eyes and peppermints a few rare ones; one or two with deadly needles at the heart, another that brought calm and gentle pleasure. Were his fingers closing on that one?"


"... we are only passing by. We only walk over these stones a few times, our boats float a little while and then they have to sink. The water is a dark flower and a fisherman is a bee in the heart of her."

From UMBERTO ECO's How To Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays

"The mass media first convinced us that the imaginary was real, and now they are convincing us that the real is imaginary; and the more reality the TV screen shows us, the more cinematic our everyday world becomes. Until, as certain philosophers have insisted, we will think that we are alone in the world, and that everything else is the film that God or some evil spirit is projecting before our eyes." (How To React To Familiar Faces)


"A writer is someone determined to extend language beyond its boundaries, and he therefore assumes full responsibility for a metaphor, even a daring one." (How To Use Suspension Points)


"It is enough to tell the truth. Naturally, truth comes in all sizes." (How To Write An Introduction To an Art Catalogue)


"Human beings have always been merciless with animals, but when humans become aware of their own cruelty, they began, if if not to love animals (because, with only sporadic hesitation, they continue eating them), at least to speak well of them. As the media, the schools, public institutions in general, have to explain away so many acts performed against humans by humans, it seems finally a good idea, psychologically and ethically, to insist on the goodness of animals. We allow children of the Third World to die, but we urge children of the First to respect not only butterflies and bunny rabbits but also whales, crocodiles, snakes. Mind you, this educational approach is per se correct. What is excessive is the persuasive technique chosen: to render animals worthy of rescue they are humanized, toyified. No one says they are entitled to survive even if, as a rule, they are savage and carnivorous. No they are made respectable by becoming cuddly, comic, good-natured, benevolent, wise, and prudent... Simply put, we must love-- or, if that is downright impossible, at least respect-- these and other animals for what they are. The tales of earlier times overdid the wicked wolf, the tales of today exaggerate the good wolves. We must save the whales not because they are good, but because they are part of nature's inventory and they contribute to the ecological equilibrium. Instead, our children are raised with whales that talk, wolves that join the Third Order of St. Francis, and, above all, and endless array of teddy bears." (How To Speak of Animals)