A Small Voice from Marawi

Salamun 'alaykum. I am back again! This is my nth attempt to revive this blog. I hope this time I can stick to my plan and maybe post an entry once a month at the very least. Not very ambitious, but still no promises here. Oh, well. Anyway, as my comeback entry, I'm posting on this blog the speech I read during the Philippine PEN 2017 Congress-- PEN at 60: Reaffirming the Writer's Commitment to Truth and Freedom, held at the University of Santo Tomas on November 21-22, 2017, where, together with Dr. Maimona Magayoong, Prof. Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph, and Prof. German Gervacio, I sat on the Literary Session named Tales from the War Zone: Voices of Marawi.

Here's the full text of my speech:

It was an ordinary, sunny MSU afternoon. I was at my office waiting for my students to submit their final requirements as that day was the deadline and, while waiting, I was listening to the songs from the musical, Grease, and I was reading random stuff on Twitter. I came upon the news of …

Musicals, Musicals, Musicals and Me

Last weekend, I was in Manila with my good friend/younger brother, Tomas. We went to see the musicals, Fun Home and Wicked. Personally, this is something I have always dreamed of. My Bucket List is full of Broadway and West End musicals I’d love to see before I die. My love for musicals started when I was very young. I wasn’t even in Kindergarten yet when I was introduced to the musicals- Annie, The Sound of Music, and The King and I. They were my favorites when I was small. I knew all the songs from those musicals. While my brothers loved to watch Tom and Jerry and other cartoons, I preferred musicals. Fast forward to a few years later, we were already residing in MSU Campus, I was 9 years old and in 4th Grade, when my dad rented The Making of Miss Saigon. This was during the era of the Betamax and we used to go down to Iligan to rent films from Po Video. When I saw that documentary, I was instantly drawn to Miss Saigon and I couldn’t watch it enough. I remember that my dad had to r…

#Throwback: My First Time

#Throwback has become one of the most, if not the most, popular hashtag in the world of social media. As such, I want to share a throwback story-- a story of one of my most unforgettable experiences. The first time I participated in the Philippine Elections, that is, the first time I ever voted. You see, we just had our National and Local Elections the other day.  And, while we are still waiting for the final and official results from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), I'd like to go back to that singular moment when I thought, for the first time, that I was going to die.

It was back in 1998. I had just turned 18 and, like any idealistic young adult, I was very excited to finally get to vote. We left our house for our hometown very early in the morning. I don't remember having slept the night before, I was that excited! Plus, I had insomnia. As we headed to our hometown, which was about an hour drive from the city, I kept myself focused on memorizing the names of the cand…

Obsessed with "My Little Family"

It was my mom's birthday, December 12th, last year when my two very good friends, Bok and Ria, came to MSU to speak at a forum on Career Options for Communication and Media Studies Graduates. It was for the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Department of Communication and Media Studies here in MSU, aptly themed #DYESisIt. It was serendipity that they were planning to come visit by the year's end, just in time for the celebration, and they were both very qualified to speak on the topic. Together with two alumnae of the Department, B and R were able to share and speak about their careers and present endeavors.  And, it was great for the students to have listened to the talk and have a clearer idea as to what path they want to take after graduation. I know for a fact that the very day following one's graduation from college can be one of the scariest days of one's young life because one just has no idea what to do and where to go. As they say, school's out! For goo…

That One December Night in 2003

It was on a night not very different from this night that I wrote my very first blog entry. A few days before that, I had no idea what a blog was or how they worked. Yup, I was that big of a loser! Haha! But, thanks to Ala for introducing me to her dad's (now retired) blog, I found out what blogs were. And, because the first entry of Sir Jim's that I read was very much inspirational and somehow didactic, I initially thought that blogs were only for professionals and for educational purposes, that they should be very formal and all. And then, through Sir Jim's blog, I also found Ala's blog (the old one, now defunct and that's when I learned that blogs could actually be really personal and informal, and that a blogger can just write about anything s/he wants and I, of course, got more interested. I started searching for other blogs of interest. After reading a few blogs and a number of entries from Ala's, I decided to create my own blog. I …

The 6th PILF in Duterte City

It's been exactly a week since I came back from Davao. I went there to participate in the 6th Philippine International Literary Festival, specifically and aptly entitled Lalang (a local word which means "creation") this year. The PILF, a landmark project of the National Book Development Board (NBDB), aims to celebrate literature and promote best publishing practices through discourse on the issues of authorship and readership which shape the local book industry.  It's the first time that the PILF was brought outside of Manila and this year's theme was Writing in Place. Creating Your Place. And, I would say they picked the perfect place for such event because Davao's writing community is very much active and flourishing. This also made it easier for writers, readers, students, and lovers of Literature from all over Mindanao and Visayas to come and participate in the Festival.

As with my Taboan experience, my Lalang experience was great! I felt like I was dr…