20 March 2017
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 renew the rental because I wanted to keep on watching it. I was in love all over again with musicals. It was a good thing that my parents were huge fans of musicals, too, so, at my young age, I could ask about Broadway and West End and all those wonderful musicals that ran there.
When I was about 12, during a vacation in Manila, I would go with my aunt to her office because I didn’t want to be left home alone. I stayed at the office the whole day and, of course, I’d get bored and just spent the time sleeping or writing whatever I could think of. One day, Mommy Minda, another aunt who went to the same office, found out that I loved musicals and that I loved singing along with them. She was so amused because I knew so much about Miss Saigon and other famous Broadway musicals. Now, Mommy Minda actually spent some time in the US and was actually able to watch a number of shows on Broadway. The next day, she brought her Sony Walkman Cassette Player (remember those?) and the cassette tapes she got from her visits to Broadway. She had Cats, The West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and, of course, Miss Saigon. Oh, how excited I was! From that day on until it was time for me to go back home, all I did was listen to those tapes. There wasn’t a moment of boredom and I was absolutely smitten.
And, from then on, every time I went to Manila for vacation, those tapes were ready for me. That went on for years until I’d saved enough money to finally buy my own copies of Miss Saigon, Evita, Les Miserables, and The Phantom of the Opera. In cassette tape format. CDs were too expensive at that time and, well, it wasn’t until a few years later that I got my first CD player (my HS graduation gift from my parents) and Discman (thanks to my aunt who went to the States and got me one for a present). Hehe:-)
I never stopped listening to songs from musicals and reading about them. I followed the Tony Awards year after year. Of course, it became easier with the Internet and YouTube. I also found out more about Filipino musicals. The very first cassette tape I bought of an original Filipino musical was the Gary Granada-penned Sino Ka Ba, Jose Rizal?, which I really enjoyed. This was the original studio recording featuring Gary Granada, Noel Cabangon, Bayang Barrios, and Lani Misalucha. It was so good and I really wanted to see it performed on stage, but there was never really a chance. Same thing with Rak of Aegis and Caredivas. But, maybe one day, I will be able to. :-)
Locally, I am a huge fan of our very own MSU-Sining Kambayoka Ensemble and MSU-Sining Pananadem. Both troupes would sometimes perform stage plays and musicals and we also have the MSU-Darangen Cultural Troupe, which I also love, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do plays or musicals, or any singing at all. MSU-IIT has the renowned Iligan Performing Arts Guild (IPAG) and I am one of this guild’s biggest fans. Dances, stage plays, musicals—name it, they perform it! I always try to go down to Iligan to see their performances whenever my schedule permits it. I’m just really a sucker for stage plays and musicals.
I have been fortunate enough to have seen a few world-renowned Broadway and West End musicals here in the Philippines. First of which was Miss Saigon back in 2000. That was my SSEAYP year and when we came back to the country in December, we were treated by then presidential son, Jayvee Ejercito, to front row seats in the Manila performance of the well-loved musical. It was an experience I will never forget. It was my first real taste of a Broadway/West End musical. You can imagine how happy I was! My excitement was beyond description! I remember that as soon as news came out about the Manila production of Miss Saigon, I couldn’t keep still. I wanted more than anything to go watch it. In fact, on our way to our Pre-Departure Training for SSEAYP earlier that year, I sang I Still Believe in the bus that took us to Tagaytay. I introduced myself as a huge fan of Miss Saigon and since they were coming to Manila that year, I wanted to sing a song from the musical. This meant that, very early in our friendship, my batchmates already knew how crazy I was about Miss Saigon. So, when we found out that we had free tickets to the show, we were all so excited but most of them were more excited for me than for themselves. Haha! :-)
When we were finally there, as soon as the show started, I was already having such a difficult time keeping it together! I was trying my best to not sing out loud. I was mouthing the songs as if I were some sort of coach to the actors. All the actors were truly remarkable and the dance routines were the best! From the time I saw The Making of Miss Saigon when I was a kid, it had been a dream of mine to see Lea Salonga and Monique Wislon in a musical. But, the show we watched had Cezarah Campos as Kim. I admit I was disappointed at first because I wanted it to be Lea Salonga so badly. But, as soon as the show started, I totally forgot my disappointment. Ces Campos didn’t disappoint. She was so good that I just forgot that I wanted to see someone else play her role. Will Chase was Chris, Robert Sena was Thuy, Leo Valdez was the Engineer, Isay Alvarez was Gigi, Ronn K. Smith was John, and Lisa Kapps was Ellen. They were all amazing!
I knew the story from beginning to end, I knew all the songs, but watching it in person was different. All the emotions and feelings were intensified a thousandfold. Listening to the cassette tapes and the CDs later had me crying every single time, so imagine what watching the musical in person did to me. I was bawling my eyes out. That part where Thuy wanted to take Kim and she had no choice but to show him his little boy, Tam, and Thuy went berserk and wanted to kill the little boy, I was about ready to shield the mother and son! When Kim shot Thuy and killed him, it felt to me like I was the one who shot him. And, when Thuy’s ghost appeared before Kim, I was so scared. I could feel Kim’s suffering as though it were mine. When she swore to give her life so her son could have his chance at the good life, I realized how parents, especially mothers, were really capable of the ultimate sacrifice if it meant happiness and a chance at success for their children. They’d give up anything and everything for their children. It’s the truest and most unconditional kind of love that exists in this world. When Kim pulled the trigger, even if I already knew this would happen from the very beginning, a little shriek of pain and surprise escaped my lips. I was still crying when the lights came on and up until we were giving the actors a standing ovation. It was a beautiful experience. And, I promised myself I’d have more of it.
In 2010 and 2012, the musicals, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, were brought to Manila respectively. Wicked and Chicago, too, in 2014. Singin’ in the Rain and La Soiree were both in Manila in 2015. I could only sigh when I read blogs and other social media posts as well as news articles about these shows. It broke my heart that I couldn’t go watch them. Manila was so near yet so far, as they say. My schedule didn’t permit it and I didn’t have enough extra money to spend. After all, it wasn’t just the tickets that I had to pay for, I still had airplane tickets to think of. But, I hated feeling that way. And, as fate would have it, Les Miserables came to Manila last year. I knew I couldn’t miss it. And, I wasn’t willing to miss it. So, I started saving for it. I asked my friend, Tita Pie, to purchase tickets to the show for me and Tomas, who by then also decided he had to watch it, so that we couldn’t back out or anything.
Same as my Miss Saigon experience, finally watching Les Miz in person was so different from just listening to tapes and CDs, watching videos or watching the movies. By this time, I’d had the Les Miz movies and both the 10th Dream Cast Anniversary Concert and the 25th Anniversary Concert in my collection and had them on repeat over the years. Of course I’d read the original novel, too. I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew the songs by heart and I knew who were going to die and when. But, watching the musical on stage felt like it was my first time seeing it. From the time Jean Valjean appeared, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I was so overwhelmed. Not just by the fact that I was finally watching Les Miz in person, but because of poor Valjean’s story.
As the story progressed, my crying also progressed! Haha! I was crying at every scene. Well, I guess Les Miserables is bound to make you feel miserable in some parts at least, right? All the characters were unforgettable. There’s Valjean who was imprisoned for something so petty and later on decided to disappear and re-appear as a new man and protector of Cossette, a little girl he saved from the hands of an abusive couple, the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers, who were cruel and abusive had no other means to live than by being the thieves and con artists that they were. There’s Fantine, a good woman who was left with no choice but to be a prostitute just so she could send money for her little girl, Cossette. She was that proverbial mother who would do anything for her child. There’s Eponine, the girl who was in love with her friend, Marius, who in turn was in love with Cossette. She was just waiting and hoping to be noticed by the boy she loved only on her own. She even tried to betray her own folks to protect Marius and Cossette. Marius and the other young revolutionaries, led by Enjolras, who wanted change in their country, but who all perished, except Marius, at the hands of the authorities. Marius, who had a heart full of love and was suffering from both young, sweet love and idealistic love for country. As he went back to their favorite meeting place only to be welcomed by empty chairs at empty tables and sang his farewell, he just lost it and that was one of the best performances in the musical. Javert, who spent almost his whole life tracking down the criminal Valjean but, in the end, realized the latter was a good man after all. He devoted his whole life to his work-- trying to capture the other man; he was actually just doing his job. And, when he realized he couldn’t send the man who save d him to prison, he decided to end his life. He lived for his job and, if he couldn't do his job, there was nothing more to live for. It was his character that I cried so much for. Well, aside from Valjean, Fantine, and Eponine, that is.
By the end of the show, I was a wreck! I cried so much! So many things were running through my mind. One thing that struck me was that the characters are familiar to us because they’re bits and parts of ourselves. They are us, we are them. These stories and musicals tug at our hearts because we somehow know exactly how the characters feel at certain times because we, ourselves, have been in similar situations. We have dreamt of the same things, we have fought for the same things, we have wanted the same things. And, somehow, we still do. We are all Les Miserables, in one way or another or at certain parts of our lives.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this entry, Tomas and I were in Manila last weekend to watch Fun Home and Wicked. We’d been talking about wanting to go see Wicked, but we weren’t a hundred percent sure we could because there’s this other event in April that we were saving money for. What did me in, though, was when I checked the schedule and found that there was one weekend we could catch both Fun Home and Wicked. Because I’d decided that I was going to watch Fun Home no matter what and we’d been talking about watching Wicked ever since we saw Les Miz and we were given those Wicked promo leaflets, we thought that was a sign. That was the universe telling us to watch both. So, we bought our tickets immediately so that, again, there was no turning back! So, no April event for us! Uh-oh!
Well, Wicked was wicked! It was great! The women who played Elphaba and Galinda were really good. Carly Anderson, who played Galinda, was reminiscent of Kristin Chenoweth. I guess whoever would play Galinda had to somehow be like Kristin Chenoweth, after all she is the original Galinda. I just thought that Carly Anderson was much more similar to Kristin Chenoweth than Jacqueline Hughes was like Idina Menzel, the original Elphaba. Anyway, both Anderson and Hughes were unlimited in talent. Being compared to the original actors who played the roles may be unfair but, in this case, I only compare them because they were really that good. It’s not easy to live up to the original actors, especially when these actors gave such iconic performances. Steven Pinder as The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Bradley Jaden as Fiyero, Iddon Jones as Boq, and Emily Shaw as Nessarose were all as wickedly talented, too!
In contrast to Miss Saigon and Les Miz, I’d only seen a few parts of Wicked on video. I just recently got a copy of the Original Broadway Cast Recording, so there were but two songs I knew by heart- the famous Defying Gravity and the very touching For Good. I enjoyed the musical immensely! It was magical! The stage was so alive with colors and shapes! The dancing and singing were outstanding! To say that it made me laugh and cry is an understatement! Carly Anderson has perfect comic timing! Oh, and Bradley Jaden was super hot! Did I mention that? Hehe:-)
On a more serious note, watching Wicked made me think about what's happening in this country right now. You know, how some people, who are misunderstood, are seen as wicked. The Wizard wanted to take away the animals’ ability to speak because, to him and his loyal followers, that’s the only way to achieve unity and peace. Elphaba wanted to protect the animals. She was really good, but because the Press Secretary Madame Morrible spread terrible rumors, she was seen by the Ozians as wicked. Now, I don’t want to say who’s who here when it comes to Philippine politics. I’ll leave that to you. But, the role of the press is on point! *winks*
Also, when Elphaba and Galinda performed For Good, my tears started falling. Everyone in this world just needs that one friend who would understand him/her. Other people may think we are wicked, it doesn’t matter as long as there’s that one person who believes in us. And, it made me realize how one person can actually change everything for us. One person- one good friend- can change us forever.
Wicked the musical is made to suit children’s sensibilities, I think. Especially compared to Gregory Maguire’s novel on which it is based. This is why it’s very light and so much fun to watch. But, one can’t miss the hidden meaning or message. It is successful that way. There’s nothing like a story that’s light enough to make you laugh so hard and focus on the good things like friendships and relationships and, at the same time, make you think of politics and what’s wrong or what we’re missing in this world.
I first found out about Fun Home when it won as Best Musical in 2015 Tony Awards. My friend, Jhed, was in the States last year and they watched Fun Home in New York. He told us about it when he came back and it slipped my mind that it was actually that musical. After a few months, I found out that the musical was coming to Manila. I wanted so much to see it but, again, my schedule and lack of money came in the way! So, I had to let it go, but I was secretly praying and hoping that it would, by some miracle, have a re-run. God must have heard the desperation in my prayer that He actually granted it. Fun Home was going to have a limited repeat this month. I was ecstatic! I knew I couldn’t let it pass this time.
I’d read so much about the musical and seen so many YouTube videos of some of its parts and of interviews of Alison Bechdel, the author of the graphic novel on which the musical was based and whose autobiography the graphic novel actually was, of the original Broadway cast (Beth Malone, Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn, Emily Skeggs, and Sydney Lucas), and of Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, the award-winning writers/creators of the musical. I’d also gotten my hands on a copy of the graphic novel. I’d watched a few videos of Alison Bechdel doing workshops and giving lectures, too. I also got myself the OST. I was hopelessly in love yet again! I listened and cried to the songs every night.
In February, I was finally decided on going to Manila for Fun Home. I wasn’t going to miss it for anything in the world. So, I talked to Tomas and told him that I was going even if I had to go by myself. I had to watch it! If you actually know me or have read enough from this blog, you probably know how obsessive I can be about things I love. And, at this point, I was absolutely obsessed with Fun Home. In fact, I don’t think I’d been as interested and excited about anything for quite some time.
The musical intrigued me like no other musical had. The story is something fresh and new. I have always loved father-daughter storylines, but this one was different. The main character, Alison, was a lesbian cartoonist and her father, Bruce, was a closeted gay high school teacher. Growing up, she never knew her father was gay. When she went away for college, she realized she was gay and she leapt out of the closet, wrote to her parents declaring she was a lesbian, and, after a few months, her father committed suicide. Her mother told her how she (mother) had always known and how she had to deal with it and handle things days and days and days. Her mother showed so much strength as she told her story. She had to deal with so much crap all her life, but she just couldn’t leave because, well, being a married woman, she had a responsibility. No matter how miserable it got, she had to stay. She suffered through it all in silence.
It is also the story of Alison’s journey towards finding and accepting herself. The story is also her way of saying things that she never got to say to her father. For her, writing and drawing about her life was her way of trying to make sense of what happened. She wanted to know what’s true and dig deep into who and what and why and when until now gives way to then.
Watching Fun Home was cathartic for me. As is usual, I cried an ocean of tears. This time, though, it was somehow different. Fun Home is so precious! It’s so relatable. Their family life. Their secret struggles and problems. I mean, what family doesn’t have those, right? We may deal with different issues and struggles, but we all have them. Every household has a skeleton in the closet and each family member has to deal with it in his or her own way. This is how the musical resonates with everyone watching. We see ourselves in each of the characters. Also, it reminds us of how, as children, we were so oblivious to what went on around us and as we grow up, we realize that the small things that we took for granted are actually the ones that would make us understand the big things.
Bruce lived a sad life of secrets and, as a result, he became the angry, pretentious, perfectionist person that he was. Everything was fine so long as everything looked fine. Everything is balanced and serene, like chaos never happened if it's never seen. He became abusive to his poor wife who, on the other hand, was always in denial herself. In the end, they all suffered. It wasn’t his fault that he was gay, but he thought he made the right choice when he married Helen and eventually had a family with her. But, he only became miserable. It was not his wife’s fault, too, that she was swept off her feet by his sweet words and promises in the beginning. She thought she was doing the right thing when she chose to stick by him despite knowing the truth about what kind of man he was. She, too, became miserable. When she advised her daughter to never come back and not give her life away like she did, she was setting her daughter free and doing her the greatest favor of allowing her to fly.
Aren't we all like Bruce and Helen? We always try to do right by other people and forget ourselves in the process. We try to choose the easier path only to find ourselves lost and in the most difficult of situations. What's worse is we often take people with us in this dark place we create for ourselves. People we care about. People who care about us. And, in the end, we end up miserable and bitter. If only we knew early on the consequences of our choices. If only we knew how to remain truthful to ourselves. If only we were kinder to ourselves. If only we saw what we needed to see. If only we knew where to look. If only we chose to focus on the small things.
The Manila production was so good! My trip was so worth it! All the actors were perfect for the roles. Of course, my dream and bucket list item to see Lea Salonga perform in a musical was realized. And, she is even better than I ever imagined her to be. I can’t find the perfect word or phrase to describe her except that she is the Lea Salonga! The first Asian to ever win a Tony and a Laurence Olivier! She played Helen so well. When she sang Days and Days and Days, there wasn’t a single person who wasn’t crying. It was so powerful. The restraint she had as she was singing just made everyone cry and hurt all the more. She broke even the hardest of hearts. Her performance, though short, was haunting.
The kids who played Small Alison (Katie Bradshaw) and her siblings were so good, too. They literally put the fun in Fun Home, which is the shortened version of Funeral Home, the Bechdel family business. When they danced and sang Come to the Fun Home, it was difficult to not dance and sing with them. It was the most fun and happiest part of the play. It’s a very important part because it makes the musical a compleat experience. And, those kids were so talented! I loved them so much! When Small Alison sang Ring of Keys, she takes you to that definitive moment you find out that you are not alone. That despite whatever quirkiness or weirdness you have, there are actually people like you and you realize it’s not wrong to not be what everyone expects you to be. That moment when you recognize yourself in another person. And, Katie Bradshaw's performance was exquisite. Oh, and, Laurence Mossman, who played a bunch of male characters in the musical, wasn't going to be outdone. He did very well, too, especially in the special production number, Raincoat of Love.
Eric Kunze, who played Bruce, was great, of course! Being the Broadway star he is, one wouldn’t expect anything less. Just like Lea Salonga, he was larger than life. There are parts when you’re supposed to get annoyed with the character and he was so successful with that. But, what made his performance more meaningful was how he was able to still make the audience feel and understand his struggles as a closeted gay man. He had such a hard time his whole life, pretending to be someone he wasn’t. He was all heart and it was really impossible for our hearts to not go out to him. Eric Kunze's performance of Edges of the World had to be the most poignant moment in the musical. It was so beautifully sad. I had this urge to give either him or Lea Salonga's Helen or both a hug. And, assure them that it was alright. Their situation both as a couple and as individuals is never easy. When a story makes you understand and accept people who are way different from you and things you thought you’d never understand or accept, you know it’s special. That is what Fun Home is. That’s what it does.
Cris Villonco outdid herself in this musical. She really gave the character justice. She was really, really good. Although she played a lesbian, her role is the most relatable to everyone because she was the one walking down memory lane to understand what happened in her life. She was the one coming to terms with the tragedy that happened in her family. And, she really is just like everyone of us who is constantly in search of that something she might’ve missed that actually resulted in what and where she was. When she sang Telephone Wire with her father, where she wanted to tell him things she never had the chance to tell him, I just lost it! I was crying so hard that I was already having a hard time breathing. I had to cover my mouth because I was afraid I’d cry out loud! Especially when she sang, "Doesn’t matter what you say, just make the fear in his eyes go away…" It was so heartbreaking. The things that we’ve never told our loved ones who have gone ahead, oh, what we would give if only to have that one chance to tell them we understood and that it was okay. Just one last chance. :-(
And, last but not the least, my favorite in the musical was Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante. She played Medium Alison. I didn’t think it was possible, but her performance made me forget Lea Salonga. She was that good. She pulled it off so well, I swear! She was such a revelation. She was so on-point awkward and so funny. The awkwardness of Medium Alison was perfectly captured in her performance. Her Changing My Major couldn't have been done better. I truly, truly loved it! It brings you back to that moment you realized that you were in love for the first time. That time in your life when things finally made sense. That time in your life when you felt, for the first time, that you were complete. That time when you finally understand everything and, all of a sudden, everything just becomes clear. That special time in your life when you come to terms with who you are and you accept yourself wholly. The amazing thing is this part is when she (Alison) realizes that she’s indeed a lesbian and the audience realizes that it’s the same for everyone else. Whether your first experience of love was hetero or same-sex, it’s the same experience. Love awakens your spirit. It makes you excited about life. All you want and all you can think of to be with that special person. You become a changed person. You finally know what you want and what makes you happy. And, once you know that, you can never go wrong. Mikkie Volante's performance was such a breath of fresh air. She gives you all that! And, she really worked very well with Yanah Laurel, who was also really good and effortless as Joan.
As a whole, Fun Home was the most beautiful musical experience I’ve ever had! It was stripped off of spectacular effects and all those fancy things we see in many musicals, but that exactly is what makes it the best musical I’ve seen so far. It’s like seeing a person’s bare soul. It’s more about the feeling. It digs into your very capacity to understand, accept, and, most importantly, forgive. The way it touches your soul is something that cannot be said of all musicals. Also the fact that it tackles a very sensitive issue but makes it relatable is so special. It opens not just eyes but hearts to something that, most of the time, we refuse to talk about or even see/acknowledge. It makes us want to reach out to people in our lives whom we might’ve pushed and shut away. It gives us the strength to reach deep into that part of ourselves, that beautiful part that we have chosen to hide away from the sun. It gives us the courage to show the truest versions of ourselves out in the sun for everyone to see.
I want to congratulate everyone involved in Fun Home for such a great job! The actors, the staff and crew, the director, the writers, everyone! Thank you for giving us Fun Home! Thank you for giving so much of yourself in this musical! Thank you for giving us back a very important part of our humanity! Thank you for helping us find what we have lost! Thank you for showing us a way out of the dark! Thank you for reminding us of what we have forgotten! Thank you for showing us forgiveness and accepatnce! Oh, Fun Home, you are everything! Thank you, thank you!:-)
11 May 2016
#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.
|(c) PPCRV Website for May 1998 Elections|
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 candidates I wanted to vote for. For president, I had Raul Roco in mind. I remember he was the candidate most young, idealistic voters were supporting. Much like Miriam Defensor-Santiago is this year's choice of the youth. And, oh, in 1998, MDS also ran for president for the second time! First time was in 1992. (Thank you, Val, for the reminder!) Anyway, Joseph Estrada won the presidency in 1998.
For vice president, I voted for Oscar Orbos even if I was the only one in my family who did and even if most of my friends didn't even know him outside of his popular TV program at that time, GMA's Debate. I had always liked him. I always remembered that he was part of former President Cory Aquino's cabinet and he was called "Wonder Boy" because he was young and promising. Somehow, that stuck to my mind. But, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won that year's vice presidential race. In my head, I went over my list of 12 senators down to municipal mayor and vice mayor, and one or two councilors. I was so careful not to forget anyone.
Because my parents and my brothers went to our other hometown to vote, I was left under the care of my aunt. As we got to the the Elementary School where our precinct was, we found out that my name wasn't in the list. But, my other aunt, who was based in Manila was in the list so I got to vote in her behalf. Haha! Shocking, right? So much for the idealism I initially had, but that was pretty much how it was done in our town during those times. When a name was called and nobody answered, anybody could just go and vote for that person. No IDs required, no proofs, nothing. Even a 12-year-old kid could vote. Yes, I did see some 12-year-olds or maybe even younger inside the precinct being guided by some grown-ups as they cast their vote.
Back to my story, when my aunt's name was called, I was trembling when I came forward. The teacher who was assigned at the precinct had her son beside her and it so happened that this boy went to the same high school I went to. We were acquaintances and he knew I wasn't the person being called. I was mortified, but I pretended to not recognize him. He just smiled at me. My head was held high, but I was feeling really small at that time. One of our companions told me to hurry and assured me that I wasn't the only one doing that. As I entered the small classroom, some of the grown-up guides rushed to me, sat me down and started pointing out some names of councilors. After they were sure I shaded the names of their councilors, they finally left me at peace. I was taking my time because I wanted to make sure I didn't make any mistake.
By the time I was in the middle of the list in my head, my aunt (companion) told me she was done and that she would wait for me outside the classroom. I signalled okay and continued to take my sweet time. All of a sudden, there was a commotion outside and people started to rush inside the classroom. We heard gunshots. We immediately got down and tried to take cover. My aunt called out to me and I rushed to the door, but there were too many people running towards the classroom. The door was too small for all of us. I fell butt first on the floor and because of the people rushing in, I couldn't get up until I felt I was being stepped on. I fell on my back and I no longer remember if I was screaming or what, but I clearly remember I was having a hard time breathing. I just lay there waiting for what could have been only a few seconds but felt like hours. I remember everything was in slow motion. What got me out of that weird sort of trance I was in was someone grabbing me so I could get up. They had to force me to get up because I was half inside and half outside the room so they couldn't close the door.
When I finally gathered my wits, the door was already closed and my aunt was nowhere to be seen. I noticed that next to where I fell there was a piece of wood that had a huge nail protruding out. I tried not to think of the fact that had I fallen on that piece of wood, that nail would have stabbed me. But, I had no time to have an epiphany or anything like that because the armed men were banging on the door. The teachers kept it locked and were crouching behind it. We heard more shots. No one knew whether they were warning shots or they were really trying to shoot at us. We found out later that they were the incumbent mayor's men and they wanted to take the ballots from our precinct because it was one of the precincts that "belonged" to the opposition. More and more gun shots were heard. I never felt as scared as I felt at that time. I wanted to cry, but there were no tears. All I could think about was finding my aunt.
I saw one of my cousins sitting on the floor right across me so I crawled towards her. I asked her where my aunt was and she told me that those who were waiting outside the classroom ran to the houses behind the school compound when the incumbent mayor and his men came. I told her I had to find my aunt. Feeling that she couldn't stop me, she told me to run to any of the houses outside of the school compound because every house there was owned by our relatives. My aunt had to be in one of those houses. As soon as we felt like the mayor and his men had left, the head teacher assigned there opened the door a little to take a peek outside. I ran towards the door and asked her to let me go out because I had to find my aunt. The teacher let me out and closed the door again as soon as I was out. I don't exactly know, until this very day, where I got the courage I had at that moment. I saw that the armed men were still in the yard and I did see the mayor pointing to this and that direction. He was wearing a good pair of Raybans, that's what I clearly remember about him. There were actually some other people who came from the other classrooms who were already talking to the armed men. I ran towards the back of the classroom I came from and there I saw a gate. I ran as fast as I could to the house closest to the gate. It was a few meters away, I think. I used to do Track-and-Field back in High School, but I don't think I'd ever run like that! I was literally running for my life! It was like shooting for an action movie.
The funny thing was, yeah, now I can say it was funny, but it wasn't at all funny at that time, as relief flooded over me when I got really close to the the gate of the house and I was thanking God because I was finally safe, I found myself face-to-face with malong-clad armed men, from inside that house, running towards the gate. No, running towards me! They were probably on their way to the school compound to fight back, I obviously didn't have time or interest in finding out. The thing is, when I go back to that moment, I can't help but think that if those men mistook me for the enemy, they could have shot me.
I ran away from the house and as I was approaching the next house, the sound of gunshots rippled through the air again. I wanted to take cover because it felt like they were just behind me. But, there was really nowhere to go. I just ran and ran! Finally, I got to the next house. To my surprise, the people in that house were just talking as if nothing was happening. We could hear the exchange of gunshots, but they remained very calm. I was the only one scared. The owner of the house asked me who I was and where I came from. When I mentioned my mom's name, they told me they were her cousins and that my aunt, whom I was looking for, was just in the next house having breakfast. Having breakfast! Haha!
So, finally, I found my aunt and she was laughing at how scared I was. I was embarrassed, but I started laughing, too. And then, I felt a jabbing pain on my side and chest area every time I had abrupt movements. That was when I noticed that my blouse and pants, even my kombong (veil), had soil and shoe prints all over them. That meant that people really stepped on me left and right! And, I noticed that I had a huge scratch, with dried blood, on my side. I realized I was actually closer to that nail than I thought. I told my aunt about my experience. She just dismissed it like it was a normal occurence. Perhaps it was, during elections in that place. No one made a big deal out of what happened. No one fussed over the fact that I almost died. They did remind me, though, that whatever happened I shouldn't tell my dad about my experience. That's when I realized that it acctually was a big deal. If they didn't want my dad knowing, then I must have really been in danger. That's how it works, you see. To get things under control and avoid more trouble, you don't go telling the men in your family as they will be forced to fight or vindicate you. And, that may mean bloodshed!
Afterwards, we went back home safely. And, soon, I forgot how dangerous the whole experience was because it slowly became, to my mind, the greatest adventure of my life. I never voted in that municipality again as the next election I was registered, finally under my own name this time, in our other hometown. That scratch on my side, I wore like a badge of honor. Sometimes, something like that could afford you bragging rights. I was very young, I liked bragging rights. Of my friends, I was the one with the best (election) adventure story to tell. It ultimately became a source of pride instead of embarrassment. It was actually a rite of passage and I made it out alive and laughing. And, I could survive anything after that.
That was eighteen years ago today. I am happy that some things have actually changed as time went by. But, I feel sad whenever I hear that there are still many towns in this province that have elections as scary and violent and many people still experiencing the same or even more dangerous elections until today. I hope all of that changes and we can all finally have peaceful elections in every single town. Also, I wish the story above were just a product of my imagination; I wish it were just a scene from an action movie. But, it happened. I experienced it. While I'm grateful that I came out of it alive, I know now that I shouldn't take pride in that experience. That shouldn't have happened. That should have been only for the books. That, all that, should change. No one should go through that kind of fear and helplessness. Change comes from the people, I know that. It has to come from everyone of us. So, I pray that we gather enough strength and courage to bring about that elusive change.
I want to share here my #Halalan2016 thoughts, which I posted on Facebook yeaterday. Here:
Ngayong araw na ito, masaya ako. Una, kasi panalo na si Presidente Duterte. Pangalawa, mananalo din si Bise-Presidente Robredo, in shaa Allah. Mula umpisa, sila na talaga ang napili kong iboto kaya masaya talaga ako. Dito sa amin sa Marawi City, sa Lanao del Sur, at sa kabuuan ng ARMM, solid na #DuRo ang mga tao! Dami kong natanong at nakausap, e, kaya alam ko ito. Nakakatuwa. At sa totoo lang, nakaka-proud na hindi nanalo dito si Bongbong Marcos. Pangatlong rason ng kasiyahan ko 'yun. Pang-apat, nanalong muli sina RG Hataman at RVG Lucman. Tuloy ang #ARMMazing! Pang-lima, para sa Marawi. Mukha kasing parating na rin ang pagbabago. Inaamin kong may kaba pa rin sa puso ko at ng lahat ng taga-rito pero pinipili kong manalig. Pang-anim, ayun sa partial and unofficial results, mananalo rin ang mga kandidato mula sa pamilya namin! Congrats sa inyo, Kuya Fiat at Kuya Froxy. Si Ate Mela naman sa Kolambugan, final at official na, first vote siya! Congrats, congrats ulit! Alhamdulillah.
Dagdag dito, marami akong na-realize. Una, bilang guro ng Panitikan, kailangan kong doblehin ang aking efforts sa pagmulat sa kabataan hindi lamang tungkol sa buhay kundi tungkol sa kasaysayan, lalo na ng Pilipinas. Ang muntikang pagkapanalo ni Marcos ay tanda na kulang sa kamulatan ang mga Pilipino ngayon kaya mahalaga talaga na ang mga susunod na henerasyon ay maimulat sa katotohanan. Pangalawa, saludo ako kay Grace Poe at dumoble, tumriple ang respeto ko sa kanya matapos kong mapanood ang press con niya kagabi. Si Mar Roxas din, dumoble ang respeto ko sa kanya nang marinig ko ang mga salita niya sa sarili niyang press con kanina. Mula pa noong umpisa, siya ang second choice ko. Pangatlo, hindi alam ng karamihang Pilipino kung gaano sila ka-suwerte na ganu'n kadaling nakakaboto sila at nakakapagsalita ng walang takot. Noong botohan, mabilis nilang tinapos ang pagboto dahil sa init ng panahon o kaya dahil sa dami ng tao. Dito sa amin, sa ilang mga munisipyo at lungsod, kailangang bilisan ng mga tao dahil sa takot na mabaril sila o masabugan sila ng granada o kung ano mang bomba. Kahit kita ng dalawang mata mo ang lantarang pandaraya, pagbili ng boto, pananakot at pagkitil ng buhay, kailangang tumalikod ka na lang, magtago na parang nasa action movie o umiling at huminga ng malalim kasi takot ka na hindi lang ikaw ang patayin kundi buong angkan mo at pati mga bahay 'nyo ay madamay. Napakalungkot pero ito ang katotohanang hinaharap ng iba sa atin habang ang iba nama'y balitaktakan sa social media ang pinagkaka-abalahan. Hindi ko sinasabing mali itong pakikipagbalitaktakan at pakikipag-debate sa social media, naisip ko lang talaga na hindi alam ng karamihan kung gaano sila ka-suwerte. Pang-apat, mas kalmado na ako ngayon. Oo, medyo OA pa rin ako kumpara sa ibang tao, pero malaki na ang pinagbago ng temper ko. Mas mahaba na ang pasensiya ko. Pang-lima, natuto akong manalig at mas rumespeto ng iba't ibang opinyon. Pang-anim, mula noon hanggang ngayon, nag-uumapaw ang pagmamahal ko sa bayan ko.
Meron lang akong hiling sa lahat, igalang po natin ang naging pasiya ng taong-bayan. Time out muna sa pagiging nega. Ilang oras pa lang po, hindi pa nga po lumabas ang official results na galing talaga sa Comelec, e. Baka naman po pupuwedeng bigyan natin sila ng pagkakataon na patunayan ang mga sarili nila. Kahit ilang buwan man lang. Opo, maging mapagmatiyag po tayo dahil responsibilidad natin ito bilang mga mamamayan pero sana naman po ay ilagay natin sa lugar. Inuulit ko po, ilang oras pa lang po. Magtulong-tulong po tayo tungo sa kaunlaran ng ating minamahal na bansa.
May hiling din ako sa mga nanalo na at mananalo pa, huwag po sana ninyo sayangin ang tiwala at boto namin sa inyo. Hindi 'nyo man po kami kilala, ipinaglaban din po namin kayo. 'Yung iba nga po sa amin, nakipag-away pa sa mga kaibigan at kakilala nila. Kung ano-ano na po ang itinawag sa amin pero ipinagkibit balikat po namin kasi may tiwala po kaming mapapatunayan namin na kayo nga ang dapat na mailuklok sa puwesto. Ginawa po namin ang aming parte, kayo naman po ngayon. Makakaasa po kayo na susuportahan namin kayo pero, siempre, babantayan din po namin ang mga gawain ninyo. Binabati ko po kayong lahat at kasihan nawa kayo, tayong lahat, ng Panginoon.
Mabuhay ang Pilipino! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! :-)
14 January 2016
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 good! Well, there's Graduate School and Post-Graduate School, but that's another story. Fresh grads normally want to earn right after graduation. I personally think that the forum was very successful and the speakers were able to inspire the students. But, that's not what this entry is about.
Back to B and R's visit, I was so excited about their coming because they had with them my very first Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures ever! They promised to get me no less than Cosima Niehaus and Alison Hendrix, from my all-time favorite Orphan Black, for Christmas even if I don't celebrate Christmas. Hehe:-) At first, R made me choose between the two and, of course, it was a no-brainer, I went for my most favorite TV character-- the super-cool Cosima, but then, great friends that they are, they decided to get me both Pop! figures. I was as happy as happy could be! And, this is why I decided to start a Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures collection, which I am calling "My Little Family."
One might wonder why a person like me, who is in her mid-30s, would be so excited about these toys. For starters, Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures are not exactly toys; they are collectibles. I believe they are especially made for serious collectors. And, except for books, I have never been this excited and enthusiastic about collecting something. Call me a geek, a weird woman-child or whatever, all I know is I am just in love with my uber-cute friends! And, I can't shut up about them and especially about the fact that, after a few years of wanting to start a collection, I've finally found the perfect things to collect and go totally nuts about! Haha! :-)
And, now, I'd like to introduce you to the first of my precious Funko Pop! babies! In this picture, she is swimming in an ocean of my original collection-- my beloved books! Oh, and her sestra, Alison (my second one), was just taking a power nap when I sneaked Cosima out to take this picture. ;-)
|These, I love! My most favorite picture! |
Presently, B and R are keeping the other clones: Helena, Sarah Manning, and Rachel Duncan (without pencil). We're still waiting for word on a small concern we have over Rachel's box and when that's settled, those babies will be coming home! With them already at hand, I only need to get Rachel (with pencil) and Felix Dawkins to complete the Orphan Black line of the Funko Pop! Television collection! I can hardly contain my excitement! :-)
|The Funko Pop! Clones|
|Felix Dawkins, the foster brother|
And, after Orphan Black, I want to collect the Star Wars, the Harry Potter, the Game of Thrones, the Friends, the Orange Is the New Black, the Big Bang Theory, the Arrow, the Hello Kitty, the Flash, the Once Upon a Time, the Peanuts, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Back to the Future, the Clueless, the Breakfast Club, the Dodgeball, the E.T., the Edward Scissorhands, the Fast and Furious, the Gremlins, the Chucky, the Friday the 13th, the Thundercats, the Nightmare on Elm Street, the Wizard of Oz, the Halloween, the Hellraiser, the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, the Kill Bill, the Pitch Perfect, the Rocky Horror Show, the Shrek, the Kung Fu Panda, the Karate Kid, the Matrix, the Exorcist, the Universal Monsters, the Despicable Me, the Hunger Games, the Silence of the Lambs, the Marvel (especially the X-Men), the Heroes (Superheroes), and the Disney (Toy Story, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Frozen, Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Pirates of the Carribean, Robin Hood, Tangled, Lilo and Stitch, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Brave, Mulan, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Inside Out, Aladdin, Finding Nemo, Bambi) lines! Woohoo! That's A LOT! So, if you happen to want to give me something for my birthday (in March) or for no reason except to make me smile, you can get me a book or a Funko Pop! Vinyl Figure from any of these lines! Haha! Wishful thinking! ;-)
30 December 2015
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 ala-ism.pansitan.net) 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 thought it would be nice to have my own space in the worldwide web. That was how this blog was born.
It was no surprise then that my first ever entry was about Ala and how I admired her. I remember writing that she was my inspiration in starting a blog. Fast forward to a few years, she did more for this blog. She actually did the current design I'm using. It's already been years, but I've no plans of changing it because this design was done with great care and effort. She personalized it for me. She asked me what I generally liked as a person and what I wanted for my blog. She asked me to send her a few pictures for reference or so she'd know more about what kind of personality I had. She talked me through each step and was kind enough to ask my opinion. And, when she was finally done, the design turned out to be perfect! I wouldn't have been able to come up with one that's better or more suited for me even if I had the talent! As I like to say, everything about the design is just so ME! Wouldn't you, dear reader who actually knows me personally, agree? *winks*
Thank you, Als, on both counts! :-)
|The note she wrote on the journal she gave me just before she left for Australia|
Now, exactly twelve years and twelve days after that night, this blog is barely alive. Be that as it may, I'm still proud that it has survived this long. So many things have happened. There were, no, there are so many things I want to blog about but never get around to doing so. I actually don't get enough time to really sit down and blog anymore, plus the Internet speed in our place can really test my patience even on good days. What I do make sure of is to write on my offline journal. That, I can do anytime and anywhere. So, it would seem that this blog's no longer of any use now, right? Is it time to retire it? After all, most bloggers I used to follow have, themselves, stopped blogging. It has crossed my mind, time and again, but then I always remember why I started blogging in the first place. I always go back to that December night. I wanted a place in the worldwide web where I can just say whatever I wanted to and talk about anything I liked or all my thoughts. I wanted to be able to express myself without being afraid of judgment or rejection. It was going to be my personal place, after all. I wanted my own space in the Internet universe. Well, we have Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for that nowadays, but it wasn't like that in 2003.
This blog has done me a lot of good. Aside from the friends I found through blogging and a few citations I got for this blog, which really helped boost my confidence, it has really helped me in so many ways. I want to say that it did some good on my writing, too. More importantly, this blog afforded me the courage I needed to write for people to read and not just for myself. It taught me a lot on what I did write about and from the reactions I got. I did use to blog about different issues, my take on many things and goings-on in the world. I really got to use this blog for the very purpose I created it. Until it reached this present point of almost non-existence. And, now that I'm thinking about it, it would be a shame to throw all that I've started away, wouldn't it?
This blog has seen my growth, personally and professionally. There are opinions I had of some things, that I blogged about, that have changed through time. There are more that I feel even more strongly about. I am still the very same person I was that night of December 18, 2003 and yet also not the same person. This blog is proof of that. Going through the archives, for the first time in years, allowed me to learn about myself more. It's almost like reading about my growth as a person from another person's perspective. And, maybe if only for that, I've decided to keep this blog.
The coming new year is the perfect start for me and this blog. I can't make a promise to make it as active as it used to be, but I'll definitely try to bring it back to life. In this age of microblogging, tweeting, and posting statuses every two minutes, I'd like to go back to feel-good, old school blogging! In shaa Allah, 2016 will see this blog's resurrection. I think that's one good item to add to my New Year's Resolution. And, this makes my 2016 more exciting than it already is! I can't wait! :-)
Happy New Year, everyone! May 2016 be greater and better in all aspects for everyone of us! May our 2016 selves be more successful, more content and happier! Let's, all, make the most of it! Yoohoo!!! Mwahugs, everyone! :-)
29 November 2015
As with my Taboan experience, my Lalang experience was great! I felt like I was dreaming. To be in the company of international, national, and local writers I've only read about or studied and discussed in my Literature classes felt surreal. Seeing and catching up with seasoned as well as emerging writers I've met in the workshops, the ReaderCon, and Taboan also added more excitement and happiness to my already-oozing-with-awesomeness experience! Well, when the "big names" recognize and remember you, address you by your first name, and ask how you're doing and if you're still writing, it's enough to give you mini heart attacks.
|Me with Bebang Siy|
Among others, I finally met Bebang Siy, whom I wrote about a few blog entries back, and Manix Abrera of the KikoMachine Komix fame! I've been a fan of both writers since the very first time I read their work. I felt I just had to introduce myself and I did! I kept telling myself it wasn't a good time to be shy. Haha! And, my courage paid off! I ended up becoming friends with them. In fact, when I approached Bebang Siy (which took almost all my strength to keep it together), she recognized me immediately. She knew me from FB because my blog entry about her reached her. You can imagine how happy I was. They, Bebang and Manix (ehem, ehem, nickname basis!), were both so friendly and nice. It was amazing to know that, despite their fame and success, they've remained very humble. Manix even seemed to be really shy at times. It appeared to me like they haven't really grasped the extent of their popularity. And, my God, they were both hilarious! Not that I didn't expect that. Haha!
|Me with Manix Abrera|
Oh, and I also met Charmaine Carreon, a.k.a. Shane Carreon, whose poetry I've been in love with for a few years now. Although we've been FB friends for a while now (thanks to our common friend and my best friend, Roger Garcia) and we've exchanged a few messages, we hadn't met in person yet. Meeting her was yet another one of those moments when I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And, even if, afterwards, I spent almost all my free time with Shane, Sol (that's my uber-prolific yet very humble Hiligaynon writer friend), and Roj, and I'd become very comfortable in their company, I'd still see a little version of myself excitedly dancing around making me feel that all of this was just a dream. Haha! And, did I mention that my roommate was Kristine Ong Muslim? Prolific writer, internationally published, award-winning, read and studied in US universities, with hundreds of short stories and a handful of novels to her name! Yeah, yeah, little BabyPink, dancing around! See?
|Me with Shane Carreon|
Meeting these amazing writers in the morning of the first day of the Festival was a good sign and I knew I was in for a wonderful experience. And, true enough, it was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had. I fangirl-ed like there was no tomorrow and, if given another chance, I'd do it again. And, again! I don't think I will ever outgrow my being a fan of all these great writers. There are some who have become friends and personal acquaintances of mine, but I still find myself in some sort of euphoric trance whenever I'm with them or talking to them. And, I admit that without a morsel of embarrassment in it! :-P
Anyway, enough of that, let's get back to why I was actually in the Festival. I was there to be a panelist/speaker in the panel entitled New Mindanawon Writings, and also to be the moderator for the So What Do Readers Want? panel. Both panel discussions were so much fun. Actually, all panel discussions in the festival were really interesting. That made it difficult and sometimes almost impossible to choose which panel to sit in and listen to. But, all the panel discussions I did decide to join were absolutely great. I learned so many things and got to know more about some writers I've always been interested in. An interesting panel that comes to mind right now is the one about Wattpad and how this new platform has changed readership and even authorship in the Philippines. It was pointed out that Wattpad can no longer be ignored. It is, indeed, difficult to ignore something that sells more than a hundred thousand copies when, normally, we have a hard time selling only a thousand copies of the "more literary" ones. We also got to meet and listen to foreign writers like Okky Madasari of Indonesia, Ondrej Neff of Czech Republic, and Noel King of Australia among others.
|Me with Okky Madasari|
I was particularly drawn to the novelist, Okky Madasari, who is definitely an inspiration. I take her to be a very brave and outspoken author, especially based on her choice of themes and subject matter in her work. I do hope her novels will be available in the Philippines soon. To me personally, her being a Muslim from a traditional and conservative background adds more to her charm. Her work is often taken as a tad too controversial in Indonesia, but she says that she takes it as her job to show, even through fiction, some realities that some people refuse to acknowledge. With her in the panel were Mia Alvar, Jose "Butch" Dalisay, and Ondrej Neff. The discussion was truly inspiring and enlightening.
The panel I moderated, So What Do Readers Want?, was like a one-panel summary of a ReaderCon. The speakers were book blogger Aicha Amano, Filipino ReaderCon founder and organizer Honey de Peralta, and young writer Marc Josiah Pranza. Aicha talked about herself as a reader and the very interesting phases that she's found herself in from the time she started reading to the present. Honey talked about reading communities, book clubs, and reader conferences. When it comes to that, she is THE authority, I'd say! My experience in the Filipino ReaderCon 2013 was unforgettable. I had so much fun there and also made a few friends. I have Honey de Peralta and her friends to thank for that! Josiah, on the other hand, talked about what young readers (college-level) like to read nowadays. It was a very informative panel and because there were so many things that they could and wanted to share, we didn't have so much time for the open forum. We only had time to entertain two questions from the audience. But, the two questions were really good ones. I really enjoyed the panel discussion especially because I've always taken it upon myself to promote the love for reading. And, when Honey said that she didn't believe that Filipinos were not readers, the statement got a resounding approval from the audience. And, that made me really happy! :-)
|Aicha Amano, Honey de Peralta, and Josiah Pranza|
|Me with Gilbert Tan|
Before the second day of the Festival ended, I sat as speaker in the New Mindanawon Writings panel. The description for our panel was "Meet the emerging writers slowly making their mark in the literary scene of the island." There were supposed to be four of us in the panel: Rolly Jude Ortega, Nassefh Macla, Kristine Ong Muslim, and yours truly. But, Nassefh didn't make it. Our panel moderator was Anvil Publishing head honcho, Karina Bolasco.
We all talked about our (literary) works and how we actually work. I, in particular, talked about how being a Meranaw, a Moro, and a Mindanawon helped shape me into the writer that I am or the writer that I want to be. Kristine and Jude talked about their works and their experiences as writers. Jude talked about how his hometown, Sultan Kudarat, not only shaped him as a writer but shaped almost all of his works as well. Kristine talked about how she actually didn't write much about her place or her being Filipino. Their talks were really interesting. I loved listening to their every point. The exchange with the audience during the open forum was also very interesting. It was altogether an eye-opening and fun panel discussion. :-)
What I realized after everything that was said and asked during the panel discussion is that Mindanawon writing is so rich and, at the moment, so full of promise. We've produced some of the best writers the Philippines has ever known and we will continue to produce great writers. And, we will continue to write of and for our beloved Mindanao and for our country as a whole. There are so many promising young writers in Mindanao right now and I hope we can help open doors for them the way the people who worked hard for this Festival to come to reality are helping open doors for us. Thank you, PILF Team! :-)
|Me, Jude Ortega, and Kristine Ong Muslim|
Here's the FB status (without the photos) I posted as soon as I got home from my Davao trip:
Kuwentong Lalang, ang 6th Philippine International Literary Festival!
|Our little colorful family|
Surreal kung surreal! Noong isang gabi, nasa Davao ako, kasama ko ang mahuhusay na manunulat na sina Roger Gracia, Shane Carreon at Early Sol Gadong, nilibre kami ng hapunan ng diyosang manunulat na si Jhoanna Lynn Cruz (na siyang pag-aaralan ko sa aking tesis) at ng partner niyang si Mags Maglana. Napakasarap ng pagkain sa Tiny Kitchen! Lalo na ng mango sans rival nila na may pagka-mango float ang dating! Hahaha! Sarreh, Shane! :-P
|Lunch with some of the biggest names in Philippine Literature today|
Kahapon, kasama naming nananghalian ni Roger ang pinaka-rak en rol na Pinoy komikero na si Manix Abrera! Kasama din namin sina Isagani Cruz, Voltaire Oyzon at Eros Atalia! Pagbalik namin sa hotel, nakikain pa ako sa French Fries ni Macario Tiu. Nakuha ko pang makipagbiruan kina Eros, Manix, Roger at Karlo David! Wattpad pa more! ;-D
|Me with Mac Tiu|
Kagabi lang, nag-dinner ako kasama sina Kristine Ong Muslim, Shane, Sol, Voltaire, at Roger. At tila na-Budol Budol Gang kami ni Shane sa kanyang post-modern take sa Wattpad! May naisip na experiment si Voltaire at may gustong mag-shyangel_17 at lonelycafe_21! Hahaha! Pagkatapos naming kumain, naghiwa-hiwalay na kami at nagkape kami ni Roj sa baba lang ng hotel. Nag-isip-isip kami kung good idea ba na bumili ng sapatos doon o pag-uwi na lang. Bumaba sina Shane at Sol at nag-decide kaming magpunta sa LitOrgy na, sa mga oras na 'yun, ay kasalukuyang gianganap sa may Sales Bar sa Sales St. Kasama rin namin ang sikat na sikat na Cebuano BisRock vocalist na si Insoy Ninal (Missing Filemon). Noong nasa LitOrgy na kami, napakarami pang kaibigang manunulat ang nadatnan namin doon. At habang nakikinig sa mga estudyanteng nagbasa ng kanilang mga tula, naisip ko na napaka-promising ng future ng panitikang Dabawenyo! Magaling ang emerging writers nila at napakasuwerte nila kasi napakahuhusay din ng mga nagtuturo at gumagabay sa kanila. Sobra din akong natuwa kasi nakita namin doon at nakapag-reconnect kami nina Teomie Nale at ng kapapanalo lang ng award na Shem Linohon, na parehong galing pa sa Bukidnon!
|Me, with Jombits Quintos, John Bengan, and Jepoi Javier|
At, habang nandoon kami, ipinahamak kami ng super riot na si Bebang Siy kaya natawag kami sa stage para magbasa ng mga tula. Nagbasa ako ng tula ni Mesandel Arguelles. Pero iginanti naman kami ni Ronald Verzo na seryoso at Ingglesero pala sa totoong buhay! Haha! Nakipag-chismisan kami kina Jombits Quintos, John Bengan, Jeffrey Javier at Jude Ortega sa may rooftop. Sinagad talaga namin hanggang closing time ang gimik! At, bago maghiwa-hiwalay ay nakaisip ng magandang project si Bebang. Hindi ko muna sasabihin kung ano 'yun pero laugh trip ito! New ito sa New Mindanawon Writings! Haha! :-)
|Me, Ricardo de Ungria, and NBDB's Graciela Mendoza-Cayton|
Ilan lamang ito sa mga pangyayari sa labas ng mismong festival! Hindi ko makakalimutan ang 6th PILF! Maraming salamat! :-)