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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tigkalalag:Traveling with the Souls

Tigkalalag in Hiligaynon means All Soul's Day or Undas in Tagalog. Although All Soul's Day falls every November 2, most Filipinos celebrate this holiday every November 1 or All Saint's Day. Back home in Bacolod, every Tigkalalag, our family travels early in the morning of November 1 just to pay respects to my grandparents from both sides of the family. My grandparents from my mother side of the family are buried in the northern side and the other from my father's side are buried in the central part of Negros Island.

My grandparents from my mom's side were buried in the town of Murcia while my grandmother from my dad's side were buried in the town of Moises Padilla. Every November 1, early at around six in the morning, the entire family is already cruising down the sugarcane fenced Negros highways in our small van full of pre-arranged flowers shipped all the way from Baguio(Yes, all the way from Baguio!).

My mom's hometown is always the first stop because of its nearness to our house in Bacolod which is a smooth twenty minute ride away. Our first destination is the Murcia Public Cemetery where my Lolo Miguel and Lola Ana are buried. After lighting candles, offering flowers and reciting prayers in front of the graves of my grandparents, our family would often go around the town exploring its other attractions.

One of the seven waterfalls in Mambukal Mountain Resort

The quiet town of Murcia located at the foot of the majestic Mt. Kanlaon specifically its eastern side boasts of the famous Mambukal Mountain Resort with its seven grand waterfalls, Negros fruit bat sanctuaries and hot sulfur springs. Although we would often spend only three hours going around the second class municipality, we never fail to visit many of its wonderful attractions such as the Mambukal Mountain Resort.

Mambukal Mountain Resort

My mom also never misses to visit the public market where she buys mouthwatering muasi or palitaw in Filipino covered in muscovado or raw sugar and sesame seeds. Me and my sisters would indulge on this treat inside our van until we all feel bloated. Not only do we become gluttons with the Negrense kakanin but also with the more common roasted peanuts and banana cue oozing with crispy caramelized sugar paired with ice cold Coke.

Sulfur Spring at Mambukal Resort, Murcia, Negros Occidental

After spending some time in Murcia, my dad would drive our van to a complete U-turn as we head south to his sleepy hometown of Moises Padilla more commonly called by the locals with its Spanish pueblo name Magallon. The drive to the fifth class municipality would take more than two hours drive. However one's journey would often feel like a breeze after passing through an amusing view of the vast sugarcane fields, railroad tracks once passed through by steam locomotives on their way to the sugar central and a majestic southern view of Kanlaon volcano.

Mt. Kanlaon view at Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental

At around an hour before lunch, our family van would arrive at the Magallon Public Cemetery giving us enough time to pay respects to my Lola Remedios' grave. (My Lolo Jesus is buried in Oton,Iloilo that is why we don't visit his grave often) Aside from visiting the grave of my grandmother, countless other dead relatives graves whom I can hardly remember the names were also visited by my family. I would remember visiting more than a dozen graves because my father said that almost all of the people in one side of the three hectare cemetery were all my relatives.

Map of Moises Padilla, Neg. Occ.

The heat of the midday sun added to more than three hours of excruciating travel would often make us all feel hungry. This will lead our family to our ancestral house in Magallon where we would feast in Mama Yoyo's famous cansi or linaga or popularly known as bulalo in Tagalog stewed with unripe jackfruit slices and spiced up with batuan as the local pampaasim similar to sampaloc or kamias to the Tagalogs. Mama Yoyo, my aunt who takes care of the house in Magallon, also prepares local rice-based kakanin such as bayi-bayi, suman latik and sundol's sinfully sweet taste caters to our Negrense tastebuds. Every gastronome will definitely be delighted with the sumptuous feast being prepared every Tigkalalag.

Mama Yoyo's special suman latik

My dad's hometown Magallon, famous as the livestock capital of the province with its animal auction stockyard where cattle, chicken, goats and pigs are auctioned, is one of the most unforgettable places for me. This is the place where me and my siblings would spend a few hours in the afternoon after visiting the cemetery. Bathing in the nearby Binalbagan River or loitering around the vast expanse of our family compound was our common past time. Rowdy kids as we are, me and my sisters would play hide and seek or climb mango and rambutan trees that abound in the area.

Mt. Kanlaon view in our backyard

All Souls Day will always be memorable for me and my family. Tigkalalag every November 1 may not only be a celebration for departed souls but also for the living souls who spend many treasured moments with their loved ones during this holiday.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Shepherding through Jams

Here's a feature article written by one of my staff in the publication. Enjoy!

“We continually tell them that they’re our partner in the mission. Hopefully when they leave Good Shepherd Convent they also become shepherds too. Because they have been shepherded, our scholars should also be good shepherds when they leave the convent”, shares HRD Coordinator of Good Sheperd, Sr. Patricia Perez to their scholars.


Every time a jar is sold, an out of school child’s dream comes true.
It all began when the girl orphans in the Good Shepherd convent learned how to cook jams and goodies. By the time the products of the scholars acquired marketable quality, a rolling cart was made by the convent authorities. The store was not really meant for business. It was simply one of the means to augment income for a growing family through a modest cottage industry.

As products of the convent diversified into different delicacies, nuns were able to send scholars to college and generate funds for their other charities.
The first scholars were reared in the Mountain Maid Training Center on December 9, 1952. Beneficiaries came from dysfunctional families were they experience to be abandoned and ran away from home.

Shepherding these homeless children was never an easy venture for the Good Shepherd Sisters. They had to work hard for the growing numbers of scholars. The nuns of Good Shepherd started to raise funds for their indigents by making and selling strawberry jams.

Strawberry jam making had, in fact, started on a small scale basis as early as 1952. Soon, as the nuns had expanded their knack in entrepreneurship.

The convent also now sells varieties of mouthwatering food products like guava and mango jams, cashew brittle and nuts, peanuts, guyabano and sampaloc candies, pickles and pickle relishes, orange marmalade, strawberry juice and their famous ube jam.
Scholarship Program

With the thrust of giving priority to the Cordillera people, the Good Shepherd Sisters, an offshoot order from the Maryknoll Missionaries, established the St. Mary Euphrasia Scholarship Program.
“God’s loving concern for the people of the Cordillera has been made visible on this hill,” says Sr. Patricia Perez is their groups guiding principle.

Good Shepherd Sisters were inspired by their founder St. Mary Euphrasia’s words addressed to them, and to everyone with whom they work: “Do well all that you do.”

The program of sending the homeless kids to school began when the convent was opened in Baguio City. By 2007, the Good Shepher Sisters have 176 college students enrolled in several colleges like St. Louis University, University of Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, BETI College, Philippine Women’s University, Benguet State University, BSBT College, Datamex, Benguet Vocational School, Cordillera Career Development College, Easter Luzon College, Easter College, ACLC-AMA, and Mothers Alumni.

“Bishop Cenzon suggested that after so many years of helping kids in the region, we should also be working with students coming from the lowlands. However, we are here in the Cordillera, that is why we always prioritize Cordilleran students,” Sr. Perez remarked.

The St. Mary Euphrasia Scholarship Program can be granted to those who are born Cordilleran, those who are financially unable and those whose parents can not afford to send their children in college.
Sr. Perez also said that students coming from the different provinces of the region who have graduated from high school with at least 82% of average are qualified to become one of their scholars.

“They send themselves to college by working in Good Shepherd’s growing ube and strawberry jam industry. The scholars also learn entrepreneurial skills that would help them in the future,” shares Sr. Perez.
“Our working scholars also get other benefits like subsidized lunch, Social Security System benefits and Philhealth,” Sr. Perez asserts.

When asked on what are the reactions of the parents of some of their working scholars, Sr. Perez reiterated that “We hardly had contact with the parents of our indigents because some of them are very poor. They rarely visit them.”

Thankful Scholars

“With the scholarship, my parents are now at ease with my tuition,” St. Mary Euphrasia scholar Arnolfo Sumagui avows.
Sumagui, 21, hails from Mountain Province. He is now on his 3rd year taking up BS Psychology at Saint Louis University.

He utters with sincerity, “My parents really needed help in sending us five children for college.”

A typical week for Sumagui would be a weeklong hardwork in school and a 3-day work at good Shepherd.

“We are happy with our work because we are spending our work days with kind nuns,” 21year old Ifugao scholar Jay-ar Buyaona shares.
Buyaona, a freshman Criminology student of the University of the Cordilleras recalled that before becoming a scholar he thought there was no chance for him to pursue his dream of finishing his college education .

“But now by being a scholar, I can reach my dream of become a policeman,” Buyaona adds.

Both guys also gained friendship with other scholars and learned great values which strengthened them to be shepherds in the future.

“The Good Shepherd nuns also help us spiritually not just financially,” Arnolfo stated.

“We are part of the Good Shepherd family. In return, we will heartily help the institution who molded us into successful people in the future,” the young scholars conveyed.

Beyond Jams

The nuns also have the Works Appreciation Program (WAP), which comes twice a year. The nuns also integrated summer programs by accepting out of school youth with the age of 18 to pursue their dreams of getting into college.

Students who excel in WAP can be regular working students of the St. Mary Euphrasia Scholarship program. Aside from sending students to school, the Good Shepherd sisters also helps farmers by supplying them the ingredients for their products like ube and strawberry jams.

They also hire unemployed mothers to fill in whenever working students are in school during peak season.

“In the Philippines, we have 28 other Good Shepherd houses that do other socio-economic programs and charities. And in the world we have 71 other similar centers,” Sr. Patricia said proudly.

Awards and Recognitions

With all their innovating charities and movements for character building and life changing programs, the Good Shepherd convent is a recipient of great recognitions from honorable societies and the media.

The Convent was also recognized by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) for bringing out quality products made by its scholars. They were cited as a good entrepreneurs by AIM in their case study “Winning with Inferior Resources: A Superior Strategy for Helping the Poor.” Recognition was also given to the Good Shepherd sisters together with their lay cooperators because of their meritorious effort of alleviating poverty.

For the past 55 years, the sisters are very thankful to the customers of Good Shepherd convent for always reminding them to love their vocation as Good Shepherds.

Through the years of working in the Good Shepherd Convent, students have learned values that gained them a change of heart and well-being. They learned the value of work as a person and as a team by contemplating on their Mother Founder St. Mary Euphrasia’s words “Do well all that you do.”

Good Shepherd Convent Entrance

Sr. Perez of the Good Shepherd Convent

Good Shepherd Store

Text By: Rhoda Diana Suniega
Photos By: Danica Denise Redona

Free Burma!

I know this is a little bit late. Well, better late than never. I always believed in what these monks have been fighting for. Feel free to visit the Free Burma coalition site!

Free Burma!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Your Halloween Costume Should Be

An Alien

What's your monster name?

Your Monster Profile

Shadow Gargoyle

You Feast On: Peanut Butter

You Lurk Around In: The Ocean

You Especially Like to Torment: Vegans

No wonder I spook Eki most of the time...hehehe!

What Age Do you Act?

I got this widget from Funny! Try it!

You Are 20 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stripper-Prof gets suspension

This one caught my eye while reading early morning news. Wish my prof was one. That would be very exciting.

"I am a normal woman, with my family and my work as a teacher. I am (also) looking for transgression and sex" says Anna Ciriani more popularly known as Madameweb in hardcore porn videos.

An Italian teacher has been suspended from school because of her extra-curricular activities as a porn star.

The out-of-hours behaviour of Anna Ciriani, who calls herself "Madameweb" in hard-core videos on the internet and at erotic shows, was "not compatible with educational activity", the head of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia education authority said.

Ciriani, dubbed the "porno-prof" by Italy's main newspapers, said she never let her hobby get in the way of her teaching.

"My behaviour at school has always been professional and irreproachable," she was quoted as saying by the AGI agency.

"I am a normal woman, with my family and my work as a teacher. I am (also) looking for transgression and sex."

Five years ago, Ciriani was transferred from her post as teacher of Italian literature in a secondary school in the north-eastern town of Pordenone after students covered the toilets with nude photos of her downloaded from the internet.

Since then she has been giving evening classes to foreign adult students in a nearby town.

Madameweb's popularity surged after a video of her shot at the Venus erotica festival in Berlin last month attracted a wide internet following, prompting the authorities to suspend her from teaching altogether.

An Italian teacher has been suspended from school because of her extra-curricular activities as a porn star.

The out-of-hours behaviour of Anna Ciriani, who calls herself "Madameweb" in hard-core videos on the internet and at erotic shows, was "not compatible with educational activity", the head of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia education authority said.

Ciriani, dubbed the "porno-prof" by Italy's main newspapers, said she never let her hobby get in the way of her teaching.

"My behaviour at school has always been professional and irreproachable," she was quoted as saying by the AGI agency.

"I am a normal woman, with my family and my work as a teacher. I am (also) looking for transgression and sex."

Five years ago, Ciriani was transferred from her post as teacher of Italian literature in a secondary school in the north-eastern town of Pordenone after students covered the toilets with nude photos of her downloaded from the internet.

Since then she has been giving evening classes to foreign adult students in a nearby town.

Madameweb's popularity surged after a video of her shot at the Venus erotica festival in Berlin last month attracted a wide internet following, prompting the authorities to suspend her from teaching altogether.

Text from Reuters
Photo from

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"See! I'm OUT Now" ~Albus Dumbledore

See! I'm pointing my finger at you! and raising my pinkie...

See! I Can Fly...

See! I Got All of your attention now...

See! It's all publicity darling...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


My pimp tagged me recently to post what my desktop looks like. So here it is, a very simple and gay concept with a few icons. I just organized my desktop last week. Thankfully all the naughty stuff are hidden already.

BTW, this is 100th post after barely 5 months of blogging and already 2265+ hits! Wee!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Few Autographed Books

I bought two books of Sir Ed Maranan yesterday. One for me and the other I will be sending to my parents in Bacolod. Just this year, I was able to have the books of Mr. Krip Yuson with special dedication and Ms. Benilda Santos with a very long message made just for me written on its back cover. Sana madagdagan pa ang autographed books ko this Christmas. By the way Dec. 25th is also my birthday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ibaloi Poetry

Here's a poem by my friend Ibaloi poet and co-Ubbog founding member Melvin Magsanoc. Melvin is a rarity. There are only a few poets who write in Ibaloi and Melvin is one of them.

Happy World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day is on March 21, and was declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999. The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to "give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements."

World Poetry Day has existed in some form since at least 1505, according to the National Poetry Day Committee, which was based in Florida, USA, in the early 1990s. It was generally celebrated in October, sometimes on the 5th, but in the latter part of the 20th Century the world community celebrated it on October 15. The tradition still holds in many countries. Alternately, a different October or even November date is celebrated.

Click nyo ang picture!

Inihahain ko sa hapag ng blog na ito ang aking tulang pinamagatang Snatser. Sana ay malasap niyo ang kapusukan ng sarap ng handa ko ngayong World Poetry Day.

this poem isn't about you

By Angelo Suarez

i guess i made quite a joke
of this trade when i said
i'd no longer write
about you.

no more poems about longing.
no more lotuses on ponds
nor storms to flood
the streets

of my city. no more moons
waxing to the fullness
of your absence
no more,

contemplating the distance
between cement roads
& stars---no more,
no more.

but every time i try to write
about something else
the more i find you
in everything


when i write
about the rain i feel
your fingers on my nape;
when i write about my country

i think of us
&the constancy
of continental drifts.
and when i do about god

the more
i accept there isn't
one at all since you left.
now that i try to write about

writing itself,
i realize there's
just no escaping you,
is there, really---as slowly

i notice this
poem, if it's a poem
at all, casually turning into
something i didn't want it to be.

Happy World Poetry Day!

Once I saw Little Boys in Burnham Park
By JM Agreda

Kling Klang
Takatak takatak

Small heads run swiftly and unabated
towards subtle shades of shreds

Kling klang
Takatak takatak

Invisible strings hold the trolls
As they wiggle-wiggle in the middle

Kling Klang
Takatak takatak

Shrieks of rowdy kids that flak
Never missing any beat off track

Kling Klang
Takatak takatak

The whistle engulfed the foggy air
And the little boys were gone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

October Love

I wrote this journal entry three years ago when I was still in love with my BF (best friend). Nahalungkat ko pa sa baul ang file na ito. And what's amazing is that there was so much infatuation-filled emotions poured out in all my journal entries for that same month for my former BF. I love being in love. However, I don't have a special guy that would make me smile lately. Well, love really just come and go. I'm happy alone.

October 9, 2004

I need not tell my parents all the way from Bacolod a potpourri of details for my date on Sunday. This was good because I was a hundred miles away from them. I was lucky Fates sided by me, the Graces sided by me and I was even satisfied with my five hundred peso bill as my allowance for the day. I grinned and greeted the cold October breeze of Baguio City.

The day started out --low profile -- like there wasn't any date at all. Besides was it cause or a celebration? Maybe. My friend and I elevated our relationship to the next level. That is, we started to become the best of friends. It was cause for a celebration despite my staying up late in the most unheard of time exchanging my subtle I LUV U and I MIS U with this guy .

Starbucks was our destination. We were almost inseparable. If I had my favorite Kenya espresso shots during depressed days, he would have a Kenya. If he had a choco frappe with hazelnut syrup, I would order it too. Have I mentioned when he lacked a single drop of hazelnut syrup? It was because of this that developed our eye for detail. It was also because of our closeness together that developed our secretiveness. Our agenda was exclusively ours. But as I've mentioned we were almost inseparable.

I realized that Sunday wasn't a good time to go malling without my trusted umbrella. Having known that Baguio City receives a splash of rain almost every afternoon. I was clad in my "red layered polo glory", straight-cut jeans and all-time favorite Chuck Taylor's. While he was dressed in his casual Star Wars shirt and structured pants and odd looking yellow shoes.

So, we were walking along Session road, one looking for a place to eat, the other anxious because he forgot his Mac and missed his special robotics class. But at least I ate cheesecakes free of charge at Starbucks. He may be nerdy but he isn't "kuripot" or "imot" in Ilokano.

" Thanks Smartass!" I said in all gratefulness. "Say that again?" he replied with all the cheesecake on his face. "Thanks for my this day out!" I believe this was not one of our most intellectual conversations. "You're most welcome bro!" I knew this guy was not given much of a gab. He slurped his frappe while I slurped mine. Then rain was all over the place.

"Bad trip! He didn't bring his car." I was thinking I could hitch that day. A heavy pitter-patter greeted us. Well, there goes my walk along Session Road. He also didn't bring his umbrella. It was either with his girlfriend or back home. Funny how he got his girlfriend. He doesn't show much of his soft side. I knew he had one. "Does this pair look good on me?" he asked while pointing his lips o his shoes. My biased criticism kicked in. "Do you really like yellow?" He only needed to read the lines.

He seemed to look like an ordinary college guy. He returned the pair and started picking a new one while I bobbed my head up and down to the beat of Dice and K9's "Itsumo". He started picking up and I, in my "swimwear" (coz i'm drippin' wet), also packed up.

The date was drawing to a close yet rain was still everywhere. We hailed a taxi with his name on it --- James. Coincidence? He was so conscious of his new yellow shoes. Then had a chat along the way. "Enjoyed?" I inquired. "Yup let's go bar hopping next time!" he answered. "Maybe at Nevada Square perhaps?" I asked. "Sure why not?" he blurted with a smile. I knew I needed another bank account. Thank God I have my financier right beside me. "Bring your car next time" I was thinking of hitching again. Then all the while I remembered the bittersweet taste of the espresso shots I had a while ago--- strong bold and egotistic just like us.

To compliment the story, here's Chris & Cosey's first single 'October Love Song'. It was released in 1982 by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, both former members of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Project 66: The Quest for WWII Igorot Guerillas' Recognition

I went to La Trinidad, Benguet this afternoon to interview fellow Ten Accomplished Youth Organization finalist Betty Listino regarding my latest Developmental Communication feature assignment about Project 66. Project 66, a quest to give recognition to the unsung Igorot heroes of the USAFIP 66th Infantry Batallion who fiercely fought Japanese forces during World War II, is spearheaded by Researchmate Inc. and Outstanding Students of CAR (OSCAR)youth volunteers aged between 12 to 31 years old.

Their group believes that recognition is due to these war guerillas who were never mentioned in textbooks because much of the attention were focused to Filipino guerillas/heroes based in key cities like in Manila and Cebu. The group also aims in educating high school students about the importance of the battles fought by the Igorot heroes like the Battle of Lepanto and Besao as well as other successful battles staged against Japanese forces in North Luzon. I'll be finishing the article in a couple of days. Read the rest of it in The Alternative Magazine Issue for the month of November. For now, I'll show you photos and video teasers of the documentary participated by youth volunteers of Project 66.

Youth Volunteers aged 12-31 act out as gurilla members of the USAFIP 66th Infantry Batallion who fought Japanese forces during WWII.

Although "first timers" in front of the camera, these young volunteers played their roles as soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII.

The entire cast of the Project 66 documentary in one of the location shoot venue in Sablan, Benguet.

Young documentary director Dave Montes instructs youth volunteer actors in a scene reenacting the evacuation of the Osmena's family during WWII.

Project 66 Part 1 Teaser

Project 66 Part 2 Teaser

Project 66 Part 3 Teaser

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MassKara Festival

Masks on sale in downtown Bacolod add to the festive mood of the MassKara Festival.*CGSamillano photo

Oh Bacolod! Everytime October comes, I would remember my hometown in Western Visayas. I miss my parents, my cats, my room and everything that has played an important role in my early childhood to teenage years. MassKara Festival is Bacolod's famous festival dubbed as a "celebration of life".

Repost from today's issue of the Visayan Daily Star.

'MassKara attracting more people'

The 28th MassKara Festival is expected to attract more people compared to previous years, festival director Eli Francis Tajanlangit said yesterday.

Tajanlangit said they have hit the daily 25,000 people foot traffic in the first week alone compared to about the same figures for the whole celebration last year.

"For a first week to hit a daily 25,000 people is something, meaning we are attracting more people now than we used to attract which shows that people love the MassKara Festival," he said.

Tajanlangit said if the trend continues, they will have a record breaking attendance to this year's festival.

He said this year's celebration will feature the first "Electric MassKara" along Lacson Street on Oct. 19.

Tajanlangit said they will be closing 5th Street to North Drive on Oct. 19 starting 2 p.m. The Electric MassKara parade is a dance parade that is smaller in number but with lighted dancers, he said. They have invited the Bayles de Luces dancers, one barangay contingent from Bacolod, and two other experimental groups to join the activity, he said.

Tajanlangit said they are requesting restaurants along Lacson Street to put up umbrella tables outside their establishments so people can eat "al fresco." They will install lights all over the place at night and there will be two major firework exhibitions to be sponsored by Chowking and Pepsi, he said.

On Oct. 20 they will again close Lacson Street starting 4 p.m. until nighttime for the MassKara Fantasy Costume Competition to be held starting 8 p.m, he added.

Tajanlangit said this is the launching pad of Mayor Evelio Leonardia's vision of turning Lacson Street into a tourism belt. He said the mayor is looking at Lacson Street beyond MassKara and that they might also put up something like this in the same area during the Western Visayas Tourism Assembly in November and also for Christmas.

There will also be three live concert stages along Lacson Street on Oct. 19 and 20, Tajanlangit said.

Rudy Reveche, MassKara street dancing committee chairman, said the barangay streetdance competition on Oct. 20 will be participated by about 29 barangays, while there will be 11 entries in the schools category on Oct. 18.

Meanwhile, Tajanlangit said the countdown to the Charter Day is on Oct. 18 and several Manila-based bands will be performing in four concert areas along Araneta Street.

Tajanlangit said that since Bacolod will be celebrating its 70th Charter Anniversary next year they have adopted the theme "Icons of Bacolod." He said "We are starting to focus on things about Bacolod so the festival also becomes an awareness campaign of the things we love about the city."

Tajanlangit said they are expecting the diplomatic corps, expats from Italy, Japan and the Middle East and many others to come for the MassKara Festival. He said this will be a star-studded activity with "Marimar" and "Sergio" having a mall show at SM City on Oct. 20.

Secretary to the Mayor Goldwyn Nifras said a group of showbiz personalities led by Cedric Carreon will compete against the Team Pacquiao in a basketball match on Oct. 19. Philippine ring icon Manny Pacquiao is also expected to arrive during the MassKara Festival, he said.*CGS

Monday, October 8, 2007

Performance Poetry @ Philstar

Here's Mr. Krip Yuson's latest column about performance poetry featured in today's Philippine Star issue.

Performance poetry
KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson
Monday, October 8, 2007

It’s called by many other names. Spoken Word. Slam jam. “Show” poetry. Performance poetry has its own set of considerations as distinguished from those that apply to what is now called “page poetry” — or that which we’re more familiar with, what we see printed on the page.

In poetry classes, workshop sessions, lectures, I usually point out certain requisites for poetry — page poetry, that is. It’s like a simple list of do’s and don’ts.

One: Don’t declare. If you want to declare anything flat-out, write a letter, an editorial, or an essay. Or an entry in your blog site. If it’s avowals of love you express, don’t just say “I love you.” Metaphorize. Say something like “I love you with the breadth, depth, and height my soul can reach when feeling out of sight.” That way, you extend and thus qualify your “declaration.” Nag-ra-rhyme pa.

Or when you’re bereft because your loved one is leaving you for another, don’t just say: “Okay, introduce him to me please, so I can congratulate him, before I turn away, feeling so sad.” Take the cue from e.e. cummings, who wrote: “If this should be, I say if this should be, let me go unto him, and take his hands, saying, Accept all happiness from me. Then shall I turn my face and hear one bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands.”

That bird is a metaphor, especially since it sings, presumably of loneliness, and does so solo. Where? In the distance. So far. So remotely. Exactly where? In the lost lands.

Again, that is extending, thus enhancing, the emotional import of what would otherwise have been just a declaration — which is often the difference between failed and effective poetry.

Two: Use images that fill up the mental screen of the reader. Imagery provides a graphic quality to the emotions or ideas you share. For the most part, images also stand for something else, and are not just what they basically are. We might say that in a poem, a cigar is not always just a cigar.

Birds can represent the notion of freedom, or of flight, or of song. Cummings’ bird, because it is “one bird” that “sing(s) terribly afar,” represents excruciating loneliness and sorrow.

Three: compare, compare, compare. Use similes, or make parallels between your basic utterances and certain images or actions they can be held similar to, or be symbolized by. When you use “like” or “as” then it’s a simile. If you don’t want to compare that way, then you go aggressive and directly apply the metaphor, to wit: “King James is a lion on the court” instead of “King James is like a lion on the court.” Either would do.

There are many other considerations when writing poetry. Prime among these are still the avoidance of stating anything outright, and the need to be graphically inclined. With the latter, one avoids having too many fat and flabby lines comprised of abstractions, of words that signify too much or stand for something too vague or all-inclusive, like the word “soul.”

A poem must rely on a tangential, elliptical, peripheral approach in articulating — in heightened language — emotions, ideas, experiences, insights, oddments, inklings...

Now, poetry has been evolving in a public manner. It is being/getting democratized. Well and good. More and more young people are taking to expressing themselves “poetically.” Sometimes the stance is enough. That is, by declaring radically fresh notions, one then fulfills the simpler requirements of performed poetry.

Thus, Cesare A.X. Syjuco can recite a “poem” in public that goes: “The value of zero times zero is zero./ The value of one times zero is zero./ The value of two times zero is zero...” And so on. When he completes the multiplication table and ends with a flourish by playing a riff on a harmonica, that is his performed poem.

When you read these same lines from a sheet, it appears as “concrete” poetry, which is what is called poetry that jumps at the eye with typographic features that visually enhance it — such as having a poem about rain composed of lines that are indented with gradating margins, so that the poem appears slanting, to suggest rain.

Gimmickry? Well... Some hardnosed academic critics might say so, the same who would dismiss Jose Garcia Villa’s so-called “comma poems” where each word is simply followed by a comma, as a frivolity that passes away after a season. Unlike, say, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” that is all of a solid, variegated suite (a long, sectioned poem) that is also a well-knit compendium of ideas, images, motifs and melodic prosody that gathers up an irresistible centrifugal force. This is why it’s considered a “classic” that’s also suitable to read out loud.

Not all written poetry, or page poetry, lends itself well to oral reading. The more abstruse or complex ideational poem will lose a listener from the word go, unlike Eliot’s “the women come and go...” Sometimes the trick, and trick it is, is to balance the impermeability of a poem with its musicality, as with Villa’s ludic designs on his perennial battle with, or self-proclamation of, divinity.

At readings, it is best to select simple poems that the audience’s collective ear can follow, while they too appreciate the ideas, images and insights that are offered. Or one can conduct shock-jock treatment to ensure captivation, such as reading one’s poem while progressively stuffing one’s mouth with paper until the verbalization is garbled, muffled, rendered unintelligible. Such as what our dynamic young performance artist and performance poet (those are distinct) Angelo Suarez once did at Penguin in Malate.

In fact, that same night, another performer jocked that better, or worse, by reading a poem while having his lips actually sewn up. Ouch. Excruciating to watch, let alone listen to.

Occasionally, this is my beef against performance art or performance poetry, that often it partakers of token or more than token violence. That Gelo also heedlessly threw a shoe into the crowd at Penguin could’ve been an invitation to physical retaliation.

By the by, Gelo just returned from the Ubod Poetry Festival in Bali, where I can only presume he kept his flip-flops on, and yet still thrilled the international audience with his vigor and sense of surrealist empowerment.

All this is by way of lengthily segue-ing into recent poetry readings cum performances that proved exhilarating. The first was the Cesare-led event at the Ateneo Art Gallery, where the first performer was London-based Francesca Beard, whom The British Council Manila brought over for workshop sessions on the Spoken Word..

It wasn’t her first time in Manila. I first heard of her from Vim Nadera, who’s no slouch himself when it comes to entertaining audiences with performed poetry. This time Ms. Beard held an all-day session at UP Diliman where a good number of women signed up. Straight from that first-day session, she joined the Syjuco entourage in Ateneo, but was so tired that she had to go first.

I missed her act, because a televised basketball game caused tardiness on my part. (See, I’m so honest I didn’t blame the traffic.) What I caught was a riveting poetry performance by Trix Syjuco, who also emceed the affair. Her “props” included a chair, black tape that she drew some geometrical shape with on the floor, scissors (Aieee!), and transparent masking tape with which she momentarily sealed the faces of a couple of musicians providing accompaniment, and tied these up with her own.

I can’t recall much of the poem she read; suffice it to say that it had certain “arresting” lines. The same can be said of Yanna Verbo Acosta’s act, which delighted with sheer power of voice and physical stance.

Because one can’t smoke inside galleries, or anywhere at all on the grounds of the Loyola Schools except in the smokers’ pocket gardens that are usually a mile away from anywhere, I sought the solace of my car’s confines (with Jimmy Abad, heh-heh) for an orgy with our lighters. And thus missed what surely was another captivating act, by Maxine Syjuco. Good thing I can always ask her to do it again sometime, since she’s a sister to my godson.

The second gig I caught entire was at Mag:net Katips, with the workshoppers under Francesca Beard joining her in delighting the crowd with an ebullient, occasionally brilliant Spoken Word potpourri, from exercises to games and, well, all-around “gameswomanship.” Oh, a couple of guys held up a fraction of the sky, er, Mag:net’s ceiling: Seige Malvar and Francisco Monteseña — and both were excellent.

The ladies of the night were even more so, all together as well as individually, but it was as a spirited ensemble that they blew the very stage away. Take a bow, now: Maria Abulencia, Yanna Acosta, Alma “Jerri” Anonas-Carpio, Aivie Cabato, Ida Calumpang, Christine Carlos, Digi Ann Castillo, Fer Elido, Josephine Gomez, Karen Kunawicz, Jeena Raru Marquez, Surot Matias, Jen Velarmino and Moki Villegas.

Why, I hadn’t enjoyed myself as much since... uhh, well, I have yet to see Ms. Ansler’s The Vagina Monologues, albeit Ms. Carlos rendered an excerpt from it that night.

Then there was Francesca: light, somber, grave, hellacious, London-lilting, luminous, numinous, invigorating with her Spoken Word pieces — recited, chanted, sung. She was something else. She did several pieces, among them the one she recited in Ateneo, “The Poem that was Really a List,” which starts this way:

“The spade that was really a symbol/ the queen that was really a pawn/ the king that was really a rock-star/ the madman who was really God/ the milkman who was really Dad//... And so forth for nine more stanzas of transfer sequencing, until the last: “the cynic who was really a romantic/ the romantic who was really a sexist/ the sexist who was really a phobic/ the self-sufficiency that was really insecurity/ the love that was really fear/ the fear that was really nothing/ the ending that was really nearly here.”

On the page, would that be a successful poem, despite its reliance on abstractions that were types and stereotypes, or states of mind? I’d say yes, since I read it that way, too, from her 2002 chapbook titled Cheap, which I acquired even cheaper, that is, free, with dedication pa man din.

Exceptions, exemptions rule our lives; so they must... poetry. The types litanized do present images. Besides, irony, surreal undertones and hyper-reality, together with musicality, can combine to hallmark effective poetry.

But here’s another of Ms. Beard’s chapbook poems, this one briefer but more representative of the written poem, although I’m sure she also renders this powerfully as Spoken Word. It’s titled “Power of the Other”:

“This mind crawls like a pregnant cat; like traffic./ I am in love with the scientists./ They use simple sentence structures. Subject, verb, object./ The sun is a star. Fear is an instinct. The heart is an organ./ Each word is a molecule, the link in a chain, a single step along a/ winding mountain path — at the end you look back and see a brave/ new word, a glimmering landscape smiling shyly beneath you./ The scientists are neither charmed nor terrorised./ The scientists are radiant with patience./ They walk calmly, through the woods, through the trees.”

Dig those similes, the detours, sly curvature of an elliptical playground where contrapuntal images don’t exactly collide but relate in a magical way, in a paradox of parallel universes.

Francesca took her training session to Baguio, where she and her workshoppers (teachers and students of UP Baguio, Saint Louis University, Philippine Military Academy, University of Baguio and the University of the Cordilleras) performed at Kidlat Tahimik’s Oh My Gulay restaurant/café/bar (cum theater and art center). This they did till the wee hours of the morning.

Performance poetry goes places. Earthwards, heavenwards. Round the clock it goes, rounding up and rounding off erstwhile straight-jacketed poetry. Betcha by golly wow, oh my gulay, vive le difference and hooray!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

F*ck! All I See is Garbage!

The Baguio City government recently ordered not to collect unsegregated garbage. The ordinance was commendable for the young city mayor showing his guts to help the worsening garbage problem yet it was untimely for him to implement this waste segregation scheme because of lack of information dissemination. The result was a unwelcoming sight of trash scattered in the city's main thoroughfares like Session Road. I hope the guys in city hall will think of a new scheme to address this problem. Why don't they provide waste segregation trash bins in every baranggay collection area so that the people of Baguio will just segregate their own trash there instead of making the city look ugly by not collecting people's trash. Photo below courtesy of

By William T.Belmont

Garbage stinks and garbage reeks,
Especially if it's left for weeks.
Garbage is something I've always abhored,
It smells the worst if it's ignored.
I wish I didn't have to take the garbage out,
But if I leave it then my mom will pout.
It piles up and ruins our seas,
It kills our fish, it ruins our seas,
Why couldn't it find another place to go,
I've got it! Antarctica! We'll throw it in the snow!

Performance Poetry

I attended the Animating Literature workshop sponsored by The British Council and the UP Likhaan Institute of Creative Writing held at UP Baguio last week. Francesca Beard, a performance poet based in London, was the guest lecturer together with other performance poets based in the country (Siege Malvar, Jeena Marquez, Kiko Montesena, Fer Edillo and Yana Acosta). During the workshop, I learned that poetry itself is not only confined in printed matter but can also be performed to an audience. Considering that poetry before started from oral literature passed on from one generation to another, I learned that one's poem could be appreciated by an audience through the incorporation of music, daily pop culture antics, theatrical movements and other aesthetic elements that would help the audience visualize one's poem and suck the marrow out of one's creative composition. On the last day of the workshop, our group composed of college instructors, poets and students performed to an audience in Indie Film Director Kidlat Tahimik's restaurant clled VOCAS (Victor Oteyza Creative Art Space) and Oh My Gulay at the La Azotea Building along Session Road. I performed my poem entitled Snatser written last June. Below are some pictures taken during the rehearsals before the show.

Fer Edillo and friend Ferdie

Chinee Palatino interpreting her poem Tagu-taguan

BWG President Ms. Babeth Lolarga

Francesca Beard performing at VOCAS

Charity and Siege

Fabulous Francesca

Marvelous Rommel

Francesca Beard

Prof. Faye Abalos

Prof. Fer Edillo in his corner

Yana, Faye, Grace & Babeth enjoying the ambiance

Kidlat Tahimik shares some tips

Jennifer and Charisse preparing their lines

F4 look-alike Siege

JM discussing Domestic Violence

Yana and Kiko chit-chatting

Jennifer scribbling her lines

The Performance Poets

JM reciting his poem Snatser

JM as "battered husband" with Marinel

Vim Nadera catching his dream


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