Archive of ‘books’ category

pop goes the world: breasts, blankets, and bebang

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  20 October 2011, Thursday

Breasts, Blankets, and Bebang

The Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Southeast Asia. The disease is said to be the third leading cause of mortality and morbidity among Filipino women, and this is due in part to the reluctance of afflicted women to seek medical help until the cancer is well-advanced.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month worldwide. Until a few years back, all I knew about it was that it was all about pink, my favorite color, and isn’t that ribbon logo cute? Until I battled a breast cancer scare myself, I paid no heed to the call for each woman to be aware of her breast health via self and professional breast exams.

Then, during an annual office health checkup that I was dragged to, kicking and screaming, doctors found a lump in my right breast. After viewing the results of painful mammograms and tickly ultrasound exams, my oncologist decided to excise the entire mass in a simple out-patient operation that took only half an hour. To work off my anxiety, after the procedure I walked to the office from the hospital and still put in an afternoon’s work. The biopsy showed the lump was non-malignant. The inch-and-a-half long red scar on my chest is a sobering reminder to take the threat of breast cancer seriously.

My experience made my officemates aware of their own breast health, becoming vigilant with exams and annual mammograms. Last year, one of them was found to have a lump also, but hers was malignant. She fought back and beat the disease. Her success was largely due to early detection.

ICanServe Foundation advocates early breast cancer detection through community-based screening programs, says media/information committee member Carla Paras-Sison, herself a breast cancer survivor. “In cooperation with LGUs, we train barangay health workers [to perform] clinical breast examinations…[we also hold] high-impact information campaigns…produce commercials and organize educational forums” to “spread hope and dispel fear.”

They are at the Power Plant Mall basement every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this month to spread awareness by disseminating information material and raise funds by selling items, proceeds of which benefit the ICanServe Foundation. Visit http://www.icanservefoundation.org to learn about their mission, activities, and events.

Icanserve photos taken 15 October 2011 at Power Plant Mall.

* *  * * *

Along with enhancing their awareness of medical issues, Filipina women can also open up to the idea of exploring their sexuality in a healthy, positive way.  Sexuality is, after all, related to human well-being. Why not attend a workshop and develop your sensual side?

Gaze, the creative brainchild of writers April Yap and Camille de la Rosa, will be holding an Erotic Writing Workshop on November 12 “as a way to celebrate love, longing, and lust.”

Poet and teacher Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, known for her sensuous rhymes and ritual dances, will be presiding over the whole-day workshop at Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. She has chosen the title “Blanket Day” for the event. Participants are asked to bring a blanket and object belonging to their beloved.

The workshop fee is P2,500 and includes drinks, meals, and a certificate. Only 15 slots are available; register on or before November 7. For details, contact Gaze at (0926)725-5208 or send email to ilovegaze@gmail.com.

I’m attending the workshop and though it’s three weeks away, I’m already dithering over which blanket to bring – for certain it’ll be one of the many lap quilts I’ve made – and which “beloved object” – his shirt? my necklace made from his guitar strings? his broad-nib fountain pen? What does Prof. Guevara have in mind for participants to do with these things? I’m excited. “Love, longing, and lust”? They’re always a part of the human condition. Writing, as well as any other method, will help put you in touch with these emotions and perhaps make sense of them and your relationship with the beloved.

* *  * * *

If you love to laugh and cry and laugh again while reading a book, you must read Bebang Siy’s It’s a Mens World. Recently published by Anvil, I first spotted the book at the Manila Book Fair and was intrigued by the title. Was it a typo error? A deliberate naming ploy to attract buyers?

The mystery is solved in the first chapter. No spoilers here, I’d rather you read it for yourself for maximum impact, but this book is full of clever tricks that hook the reader, set her up, and deliver bang-up punchlines that will result in laughter, tears, or both.

Masterfully written in Filipino, it’s a memoir of a Filipino-Chinese girl growing up in a broken home. Though beset by financial disadvantages and adversity, her spirit is not quelled; instead, she fights back with humor, and emerges from the ring wiser and wackier.

Bebang (Beverly) Siy is a creative writing graduate of the University of the Philippines. She was a working student and a single mother to her son EJ, yet still managed to finish cum laude and serve as the UP Writers’ Club vice-president. She works for the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (the country’s reprographic rights organization for authors and publishers). Her poetry and short stories in different genres – romance, horror, erotic – have been published in various anthologies.

It’s a Mens World is available at all major bookstores, and will be followed by an “ala Margie Holmes” book where Bebang presents “advice but in a wacky way”. And what better way to receive advice?

Have your copies of It’s a Mens World autographed at Bebang’s talk on humor writing on October 21 at the Conspiracy Garden Café, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. The event, organized by the Freelance Writers of the Philippines, starts at 6pm. The P100 entrance fee gets you a free beer and a raffle ticket. *** 

Pink ribbon image here. Bebang Siy book cover and author photos from the author’s Facebook page.

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kahlil gibran: the prophet

It was in a small indie bookstore in South Pasadena – The Battery – that I came upon a little book by Kahlil Gibran that I had not read for couple of decades.

 The Battery bookshop, South Pasadena, California. October 2011.

It was The Prophet, Gibran’s tour-de-force of poetry. I was introduced to it in my teens by The Beloved, who pointed out to me the wisdom in its mystical, Biblically-cadenced passages.

I bought that little book  - hardcover, 4.5 by 5.5 inches, with dust jacket, pre-owned – for six dollars, and consider it money well spent. It’s just the right size to tuck in a back pocket or purse, and take out from time to time to immerse in the flow of language and philosophical ideas.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) was born in Lebanon and migrated with his family to the United States in 1895.

He was a painter, writer, and poet. His most popular work, The Prophet, has never been out of print. He is the third best-selling poet in history, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

From the chapter on Love:

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Image of Kahlil Gibran here.

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pop goes the world: indie bookstores

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  6 October 2011, Thursday

Indie Bookstores Thrive

San Francisco, California – When it was announced that US mega-bookstore chain Borders filed for bankruptcy early this year and gradually shut down its stores over the succeeding months, it was a shocking manifestation of the changing paradigm of bookselling.

Borders was one of my favorite places to visit; I could lose myself for hours browsing the shelves, going gaga over the sale and clearance items. I used to get Taschen artbooks there for only $9.95 each, marked down from some impossibly (for me) expensive price like $50 or $70. When it shut down, booklovers and bookstore-hang-outers like myself mourned. Where now, I thought, would I get my ink-and-paper book fix when in the US?

Where huge, unwieldy corporations may flounder and fail, small, independent bookstores may thrive. And that’s what I found all over Northern California. In Fremont, my mother steered me to Half-Price bookstore. The ambiance is like a library; they stock new and used books. They buy used books in good or mint condition from people and re-sell them for much less, making books more affordable and allowing older titles to remain in circulation.

At Rockridge in Oakland, along College Avenue, I was pleasantly surprised to find two indie bookshops – Diesel bookshop and Pegasus Books. Diesel carries new books, stationery, and store logo t-shirts, among other things. They have a good art section and a collection of Moleskines and other journals such as Penguin (the covers are of Penguin titles).

Diesel storefront.

Pegasus purveys new books and old (the latter under the name Pendragon Books). Two pillars at their shop were covered with bookmarks carrying the logos of other bookstores in a warmhearted show of solidarity for the bookselling community, competition be damned.

Pegasus/Pendragon storefront.

At both places there was a feeling of coziness, community, and caring not found at the commercial chains. It’s a struggle for small booksellers to stay financially viable in these precarious economic times, and admiration is due to those who keep the flame burning.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting the Argonaut Bookshop on Sutter Street in San Francisco. It was founded in 1941 and was the basis for the Argosy bookshop featured in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock movie “Vertigo” which I watched for the first time the other night. My stepfather handed me the DVD, knowing I would be entranced by a 1950s San Francisco in moody, textured Technicolor, the streets decked out with finned cars, men in hats and suits, and women in flaring skirts and carefully-coiffed hair. The movie’s Argosy shop is a booklover’s dream, with its wooden shelves crammed with volumes of all sorts of sizes; I want to see the real thing, and what it looks like now.

Not too far away, on Clement Street, is the Green Apple bookshop, founded in 1967 and which now sells new and used books, music, and DVDs. It is “perennially voted the best used and/or independent bookstore in the Bay Area” by readers of various publications, says their website.

Given the ongoing global recession, a decline of the reading culture, and the increasing popularity of e-books (my own e-book collection exceeds 5,000 titles), which are convenient and cheap, brick-and-mortar stores may soon become a thing of the past. Yet as a form or an artifact, I don’t believe the ink-and-paper codex format will ever die out. Physical books will always have their devotees.

Indie booksellers have a more viable business model than the usual, selling used titles along with the new. That reduces waste and encourages reuse and sharing. We sell used books in Manila too – Booksale comes to mind, as do the little kerbside stalls in Morayta and elsewhere in the University Belt. But there isn’t a store in Manila quite like the indie shops I’ve visited here in NorCal and come to love. Perhaps I might open one someday, a bookstore-cum-coffee shop. Now that’s a warm and fuzzy thought.

* * * * *

November will be literary month in Manila, and the National Book Development Board has a couple of important events lined up.

NBDB and Manila Critics Circle have announced the finalists for the 30th National Book Award; winners will be revealed at the awarding ceremonies on November 12 at the National Museum.

Due to space constraints I cannot list all the finalists here, but among them are:   Literary Division – Fiction Category: Blue Angel, White Shadow, Charlson Ong ; Below The Crying Mountain by Criselda Yabes; Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol; and Lumbay ng Dila by Genevieve L. Asenjo, PhD.

Nonfiction Prose Category: Sagad sa Buto: Hospital Diary at Iba Pang Sanaysay, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr.; Sarena’s Story: The Loss of a Kingdom, Criselda Yabes; and Builder of Bridges: The Rudy Cuenca Story, Jose Dalisay Jr., PhD, and Antonette Reyes.

Poetry Category: Bulaklak sa Tubig: Mga Tula ng Pag-ibig at Himagsik, Maria Josephine “Joi” Barrios, translated by Mark Pangilinan; Care of Light: New Poems and Found by Gemino H. Abad, PhD; Everyday Things by Fidelito C. Cortes; and If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly, Simeon Dumdum Jr.

Literary Criticism/Literary History Category: Gitnang Uring Fantasya At Materyal Na Kahirapan Sa Neoliberalismo: Politikal Na Kritisismo Ng Kulturang Popular, Rolando B. Tolentino, PhD; Imagination’s Way: Essays Critical and Personal, Gémino H. Abad, PhD; and Banaag at Sikat: Metakritisismo at Antolohiya by Maria Luisa Torres Reyes.

For the finalists in the Non-Literary Division and other categories, visit nbdb.gov.ph.

On November 16 to 18, two Pulitzer Prize winners will grace the 2nd Manila International Festival at the Ayala Museum in Makati, joining other international and local authors, publishers, literary agents, and book lovers to celebrate books, literature, and the craft of writing.

The event’s theme is “The Great Philippine Book Café”. Among its activities are panels on different topics about reading and literature, performances, book launches, and a book fair. For details, visit http://www.manilaliteraryfestival.com.

Novelists Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, winner in 2008) and Edward P. Jones (The Known World, winner in 2004) are the event’s guest speakers, where they will also engage in conversations and book signings. It’s time to dust off your copies of their books and re-read them, bring them to the Festival, and have them autographed. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these famous authors up close and personal.  *** 

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pop goes the world: pinoy this way

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today29 September 2011, Thursday

Pinoy This Way

San Francisco, California – Every two or three years I hop on a plane for a vacation in the US with friends and family. I divide my precious few weeks’ of leave between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, revisiting old haunts and discovering new.

At Pebble Beach, one of my favorite places to visit. 26 Sept. 2011.

On the plane I sat between two prayerful Filipina ladies, both US citizens. The one on my right at the window seat was chatty. She had just escorted her ailing mother, also a citizen, to Cavite to be cared for there by other family members. “I’ll miss her,” she said, “but it’s not easy to care for seniors in the US.”

The older lady on my left (aisle seat) was meticulously made-up and dressed, a teacher at a college in Bukidnon, handling public administration and law. She was on her way to rejoin her daughter and grandchildren.

We didn’t know each other’s names, but that didn’t matter. “Ingat,” we said in farewell.

When I emerged from the airport doors pulling my luggage stuffed with ensaymada, hopia, and Queensland butter in cans, my family enfolded me in their arms and took me to IHOP for a meal. “We’re sure you’re hungry,” they said. They urged me to eat a bacon omelette, pancakes slathered with whipped butter and syrup, hash browns. (It was eleven o’clock in the evening.)

The next day we went to Target, where the woman behind the mobile phone counter explained in Tagalog-accented English to a tall white man that they do not sell jailbroken iPhones. When he had left, she shrugged at me. “Ganun talaga dito,” she said, knowing I was Pinay even if I had not opened my mouth.

The cashier who rang up our purchases was an elderly Filipina with carefully-waved salt-and-pepper hair and a stylish black-and-white scarf around her neck. She smiled knowingly as my sister and I spoke to each other in Tagalog.

At a Filipino supermarket the day after, I saw shelves crammed with Cream Silk and Sunsilk, Chippy and Chiz Curls, and Ligo sardines; refrigerated cases stuffed with Star margarine, Magnolia Ube with Beans ice cream (made in a California facility), and Pampanga tocino; racks full of San Mig Light, Pale Pilsen, and Red Horse Beer.

The aisles were decorated with fake coconut trees and banig on the walls as backdrops, whereas Target and Wal*Mart had pumpkins and Halloween masks. There was a Goldilocks’ outside and a bakery that sold hot pandesal. “Ibili natin si Papa ng mamon,” I overheard a young girl say. In those few hundred square meters was recreated a little slice of the Philippines, filled with even more bits of the Philippines that the homesick can buy to alleviate the longing for the flavors of Inang Bayan.

My sister at Island Pacific supermarket, Union City, CA.

At home, my sister uses a thick paper towel to wipe the bathroom and kitchen counters clean; she rinses it and hangs it to dry. She reuses these paper towels until they fall apart. “Sayang e. Puede pa naman.” Our leftovers from the huge American portions at restaurants are boxed and taken home; she makes sure we eat them the next day.

When Pedring hits, Filipinos call each other up. “Have you heard about the flooding in the Philippines? Kamusta pamilya mo doon?” We trade news and commiseration.

All this reminds me of Fil-Canadian Mikey Bustos’s “Pinoy This Way” (a parody of a Lady Gaga hit), that became an Internet sensation in April: “Back home, a land far away/ Where we work hard every day/ It makes us grateful, baby, we’re Pinoy this way….Nothing ever goes to waste/ Appreciate, don’t throw away/ Baby, we’re Pinoy this way!”

 

Cultural values embedded through socialization at home, school, and other settings in context are difficult to shake off. They permeate our core, unconsciously, communicated through language and food and tradition and rituals.

No matter how we may intellectualize “What makes a Filipino?” and debate from whence comes identity, the reality is that if we are born in the Philippines we are steeped in it from birth, through communication, behaviors, and expectations. If we are not, it can be learned, and is generally taught by immediate family members who developed their personalities within the context of Filipino culture. It is all carried inside us and comes out when we interact with others.

What’s it all about, wherever the Filipino may be? Work. Frugality. Sacrifice. Hospitality. Food. Family. Because we’re Pinoy that way.

* * * * *

Book Bonanza:  From University of the Philippines professor emerita and University of Santo Tomas Publishing House directress Dr. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo:

“In February of this year, the UST Publishing House launched seven more new titles… all by Thomasian writers…: The House of True Desire, essays by Cirilo Bautista; Selected Poems by Rita Gadi; At Sa Tahanan ng Alabok , poetry by Louie Sanchez; Insectisimo, poetry by Lourd de Veyra;  Superpanalo Sound,s a novel by Lourd de Veyra; Clairvoyance, poetry by Carlomar Daoana; and Body Haul, poetry by Allan Pastrana.” Also launched was Everyday Things by US-based poet Fidelito Cortes.

These books and others forthcoming are part of the “400 Years, 400 Books” Project and will be presented to the public at the closing of the University’s Quadricentennial Celebrations in January 2012. The books are already available at the UST Publishing House Bookstore on campus and in National Bookstore branches. ***

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The 61st Palanca Awards

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  8 September 2011, Thursday

The 61st Palanca Awards

For a Filipino writer, winning a Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature is one of the most gratifying accomplishments one can achieve.

The awards night was held, as always, on September 1, at the Manila Peninsula Hotel. The guest of honor was F. Sionil Jose, a five-time Palanca awardee, who received the 2011 Dangal ng Lahi Award. Fifty-eight other writers were given awards from first to third place, in several different categories in Filipino, Cebuano, Iluko, Hiligaynon, and English.

Also present among the writeratti was Palanca Foundation director-general Sylvia Palanca-Quirino, who spoke of the six-decade long history of the awards. Their family’s dedication in sustaining this program is to be lauded; save for them, there would be no recognition for Filipino literary writers.

Winning a Palanca is something to strive for, a goal, and gives direction to one’s efforts. We hope the Palanca Foundation continues their support of Philippine belles lettres.

It was with tremendous pleasure that I attended the awards night to receive a first prize for Essay for my piece “The Turn for Home: Memories of Santa Ana Park.” The Palanca Award is a heavy brass medal as big as a saucer, hung on a wide sapphire blue ribbon. It comes with a certificate, a wooden presentation box, and prestige, that clings to the awardees like perfume.

With judges.

With De La Salle University’s Dr Genevieve Asenjo (judge, Maikling Kuwento – Hiligaynon) and poet German Gervacio (judge, Tulang Pambata). 

I dedicate my win to my writing mentor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, professor emerita Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo. It was in her creative non-fiction graduate class last year that I wrote my winning piece.

It was also for that class that this year’s second-place Essay winner, professor Jeena Rani Marquez-Manaois, wrote her winning “The River of Gold”, set in Cagayan de Oro.

With Jeena.

With writer Natasha Gamalinda, who accompanied her fiance Rosmon Tuazon (2nd prize, Tula) to the ceremony. She was my classmate, along with Jeena, in that same CNF class of Dr. Pantoja-Hidalgo. 

The role of mentor, I realize now, is highly significant and cannot be over-emphasized. On my own, without guidance, I most likely would not have produced this work. It was Dr. Pantoja-Hidalgo who gave me the guidance to take my memories and give them shape and structure in narrative form.

May other writers be blessed with the same good fortune as to find a mentor as kind and encouraging, whose keen critical insights instruct and set the direction to do even better in the craft, not only technically, but also in the lyricism and “literary-ness” of the work.

In my essay, I weave memories of the Santa Ana racetrack and my personal life. Here’s an excerpt. In this scene, I’ve been thrown off my horse during morning workout (I was the sport’s first female apprentice jockey and trained for several months) and am lying on the track:

“Jockeys rode past me; unseated apprentices were not an unusual sight, in fact it was expected for one to fall several times during training, and since it was obvious I wasn’t dead – yet – there was no cause for alarm. One jockey did stop beside me as I lay in the sand, staring blankly up at the sky.

He halted his horse and leaned over me. I saw him upside down. It was some wiry guy clad in layers of t-shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket. They all looked alike in their helmets.

“Okay ka lang?” he asked.

Of course not, you idiot, I nearly broke my neck when I fell and I could have been paralyzed from the neck down like Ron Turcotte who rode Secretariat who was the greatest racehorse of all time in my opinion and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair until he died in a car accident – Turcotte, not Secretariat, was what I wanted to say.

“I’m fine,” was what I actually said.

We were married at Don Bosco Church five months later.”

The essay will be published in December by the UP-Diliman College of Arts and Letters in their literary journal, “Likhaan”. It will also appear online on their website and on that of the Carlos Palanca Foundation.

* *  * * *

I read with interest last Wednesday’s column here in MST by our opinion editor Adelle Chua, which dealt with the topic of depression. I have beloved friends and family members who suffer from depression, and those of us in their support network often wonder what other treatment methods out there other than the usual would be beneficial.

A friend, American psychologist and Virginia Western Community College professor Dr. Annemarie Carroll, advocates yoga to ease depression, in addition to other treatments such as therapy and fish oil.

Says Dr. Carroll, “There’s a lot of research about using [yoga] for depression and this is what I’m working towards doing with my psych clients. The reason yoga is so helpful is that it teaches people the ability to “ride the wave” of discomfort with breathing – whether that’s physical discomfort as in a yoga posture that’s difficult for you, or in emotional/mental discomfort, as those feelings can come up while doing the physical practice.

“The person then begins to generalize that to their everyday life situations. Any good yoga teacher would be helpful, but sometimes you can find a yoga teacher who specializes in this.”

I don’t know much about the yoga scene in Manila, and was glad to receive word from writer/performer Lissa Romero De Guia about the “Wake Up and Shake Up!” yoga event presented by Art of Living Philippines.

It’s a two-hour event of “Meditation, Yoga and Wisdom”, set for September 14 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati beginning 6:30pm.

The session will be conducted by senior Art of Living teacher Swami Sadyojathah. He travels extensively all over the world teaching yoga and meditation, conducting trauma relief, and “spreading ancient techniques on how to live life with a deep sense of joy and enthusiasm.”

No previous experience in meditation or yoga is required. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat and water bottle. For details call Lorna Nasayao (0917-8484898).  ***

Portraits of Dr Pantoja-Hidalgo and Dr Carroll  from their Facebook pages.

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2011 carlos palanca memorial awards for literature winners and judges

Here are the winners and judges of this year’s Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature – the 61st Palanca Awards.

The awarding ceremony will take place tonight (September 1) at the Manila Peninsula Hotel, Makati.

 

ENGLISH DIVISION:

Essay

1st – Jennifer Rebecca L. Ortuoste (The Turn for Home: Memories of Santa Ana Park)

2nd – Jeena Rani Marquez-Manaois (The River of Gold)

3rd – Rosario Cruz-Lucero (The Stain of Blackberries)

 Full-length Play

1st – Joshua L. Lim So (A Return Home)

2nd – Peter Solis Nery (If The Shoe Fits)

3rd – Jonathan R. Guillermo (Freshmen)

One-act Play

1st – Floy C. Quintos (Evening at the Opera)

2nd – No Winner

3rd –No Winner

Short Story

1st – Asterio Enrico N. Gutierrez (The Big Man)

2nd – Alexis A.L. Abola (Disappearance)

3rd – Johannes L. Chua (Prodigal)

Short Story for Children

1st – Georgina Veronica (Nikki) Alfar (Tom Yum)

2nd – Georgianna R. de Vera (Tatay, Through Wind and Waves)

3rd – Benjamin Pimentel (Gagamba, the Spider from the Islands)

Poetry

1st – Eliza A. Victoria (Maps)

2nd – Lourdes Marie S. La Viña (Stones and Other Poems)

3rd – Simeon P. Dumdum, Jr. (Maguindanao)

Poetry for Children

1st – Cynthia Baculi-Condez (The Universe and Other Poems)

2nd – Peter Solis Nery (The Shape of Happiness)

3rd – Kris Lanot Lacaba (The Shaggy Brown Chicken and Other Poems for Children (and for chickens of all ages)

Kabataan Essay

1st – Mariah Cristelle F. Reodica (The Golden Mean)

2nd – Scott Lee Chua (Of Pixels and Power)

3rd – Leo Francis F. Abot (Gods of the Internet)

REGIONAL DIVISION:

Short Story – Cebuano

1st – Richel G. Dorotan (Ang Tawo sa Punoan ng Nangka sa Hinablayan)

2nd – Errol A. Merquita (Isla Verde)

3rd – Macario D. Tiu (Black Pearl)

Short Story – Iluko

1st – Ariel S. Tabag (Saddam)

2nd – Juan A. Asuncion (Ayuno)

3rd – Norberto D. Bumanglag, Jr. (Ti Agdamdamili)

Short Story – Hiligaynon

1st – Peter Solis Nery (Donato Bugtot)

2nd – Alice Tan Gonzales (Kahapunanon sa Laguerta ni Alberto)

3rd – Kizza Grace F. Gardoce (Pabalon)

GRAND PRIZE DIVISION:

Nobela

Allan Alberto N. Derain (Ang Banal na Aklat ng mga Kumag)

Novel

Maria Victoria Soliven Blanco (In the Service of Secrets)

 

FILIPINO DIVISION:

Sanaysay

1st – Bernadette V. Neri (Ang Pag-uwi ng Alibughang Anak ng Lupa)

2nd – Rosario Torres-Yu (Nagbibihis na ang Nanay)

3rd – Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel (Kubeta)

Dulang Pampelikula

1st – Lemuel E. Garcellano (Tru Lab)

2nd – T-Jay K. Medina (Huling Isang Taon)

3rd – Helen V. Lasquite (Emmanuel)

Dulang Ganap ang Haba

1st – Rodolfo Vera (Paalam Señor Soledad)

2nd – Liza Magtoto (Tamala)

3rd –Joshua L. Lim So (Panahon ng Sampung Libong Ilong)

Dulang May Isang Yugto

1st –Remi Karen M. Velasco (Ondoy: Ang Buhay sa Bubong)

2nd –Layeta P. Bucoy (El Galeon De Simeon)

3rd – Bernardo O. Aguay, Jr. (Posporo)

Kabataan Sanaysay

1st – Mary Amie Gelina E. Dumatol (Ang Makulit, ang Mapagtanong, at ang Mundo ng Kasagutan)

2nd – Abegail Joy Y. Lee (Nang Maging Mendiola ko ang Internet Dahil kay Mama)

3rd – Ma. Bettina Clare N. Camacho (Isang Pindot Sa Kamalayan)

Tula

1st – Enrique S. Villasis (Agua)

2nd – Rosmon M. Tuazon (Mga Nakaw na Linya)

3rd – Christopher B. Nuyles (Ilang Tala Hinggil sa Daangbakal at iba pang tula)

Tulang Pambata

1st – Marcel L. Milliam (Ako Ang Bida)

2nd – Eugene Y. Evasco (Isang Mabalahibong Bugtong)

3rd – John Enrico C. Torralba (Manghuhuli Ako ng Sinag ng Araw)

Maikling Kwento

1st – No Winner

2nd – No Winner

3rd – Michael S. Bernaldez (Metro Gwapo)

Maikling Kwentong Pambata

1st – Segundo Matias (Alamat ng Duhat)

2nd – Joachim Emilio B. Antonio (Sa Tapat ng Tindahan ni Mang Teban)

3rd – Christian Tordecillas (Si Inda, Ang Manok at ang mga Lamang-Lupa)

 

This year’s boards of judges include:

FILIPINO DIVISION:

Dulang Ganap ang Haba

Mr. Roy Iglesias – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Clodualdo Del Mundo, Jr. – Kagawad

Ms. Maribel Legarda – Kagawad

Dulang May Isang Yugto

Dir. Rosauro dela Cruz – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Chris Millado – Kagawad

Mr. Robert Seña – Kagawad

Dulang Pampelikula

Dir. Ricky Davao – TAGAPANGULO

Dir. Gil Portes – Kagawad

Dir. Joel Lamangan – Kagawad

Maikling Kuwento

Dr. Jimmuel Naval –TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Fidel Rillo, Jr. – Kagawad

Mr. Marco A. V. Lopez –Kagawad

Maikling Kuwentong Pambata

Dr. Dina Ocampo – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Virgilio Vitug – Kagawad

Dr. Fely Pado – Kagawad

Sanaysay

Dr. Pamela Constantino – TAGAPANGULO

Ms. Vina Paz – Kagawad

Mr. Lourd Ernest De Veyra – Kagawad

Tula

Dr. Rebecca Añonuevo – TAGAPANGULO

Dr. Rofel Brion – Kagawad

Mr. Alfonso Mendoza – Kagawad

Tulang Pambata

Ms. Heidi Emily E. Abad – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. German Gervacio – Kagawad

Mr. Jesus Santiago – Kagawad

REGIONAL LANGUAGES:

Maikling Kuwento – Cebuano

Mr. Edgar S. Godin – TAGAPANGULO

Dr. Erlinda K. Alburo – Kagawad

Dr. Jaime An Lim – Kagawad

Maikling Kuwento – Hiligaynon

Mr. Nereo Jedeliz – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Ressureccion Hidalgo – Kagawad

Dr. Genevieve Asenjo – Kagawad

Maikling Kuwento – Iluko

Mr. Honor Blanco Cabie – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Roy Aragon – Kagawad

Ms. Priscilla Supnet Macansantos – Kagawad

ENGLISH DIVISION:

Essay

Dr. Federico Macaranas – CHAIRMAN

Ms. Katrina Tuvera-Quimbo – Member

Ms. Thelma Arambulo – Member

Full-length Play

Mr. Miguel Faustmann – CHAIRMAN

Ms. Malou Jacob – Member

Mr. Nestor Jardin – Member

Poetry

Mr. Mariano Kilates – CHAIRMAN

Mr. Joel Toledo – Member

Mr. Mikael De Lara Co – Member

Short Story

Mr. Dean Francis Alfar – CHAIRMAN

Dr. Shirley Lua – Member

Esther Pacheco – Member

Short Story for Children

Ms. Beaulah Taguiwalo – CHAIRPERSON

Ms. Feny delos Angeles-Bautista – Member

Mr. Luis Joaquin Katigbak – Member

One-act Play

Mr. Glenn Sevilla Mas – CHAIRMAN

Mr. Ronan Capinding – Member

Ms. Josefina Estrella – Member

Poetry for Children

Mr. Edgardo B. Maranan – CHAIRMAN

Ms. Mailin Paterno-Locsin – Member

Dr. Lina Diaz de Rivera – Member

 Kabataan Sanaysay and Essay

Ms. Grace Chong – CHAIRPERSON

Mr. Perfecto Martin – Member

Mr. Ruel De Vera – Member

GRAND PRIZE DVISION:

Nobela

Mr. Reynaldo Duque – TAGAPANGULO

Dr. Lilia Antonio – Member

Dr. Fanny Garcia – Member

Novel

Dr. Jose Neil Garcia – CHAIRMAN

Mr. Benjamin Bautista – Member

Ms. Criselda Yabes – Member

 

taste more:

pop goes the world: by any other name

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today1 September 2011, Thursday

By Any Other Name

The debate on Filipino language and identity remains hot as ever, the flames stoked higher recently by Ateneo de Manila University student James Soriano’s essay “Language, Learning, Identity, Privilege”.

It was incendiary and set off an explosive string of comments pro- and -anti on the Internet. I have issues with language and identity myself and have written about them here before. But Soriano’s essay, on first reading, stank of the arrogance of privilege and caste. Referring to Filipino speakers as merely the people who wash our dishes or fetch us from school is at the very least insensitive.

On a second, deeper reading – no, still nothing.

Other writers have “deconstructed” the piece and claimed to have found it “satirical” and like Mideo Cruz’s art, meant to provoke. But why ascribe depth when there is none? The work, hardly well-written to begin with, screams that it was crafted by an unformed, immature personality that reminds me of nothing more than a social climber.

Soriano’s was a straight-up statement of fact and I object to the over-readings. Take it at face value.

From all over the world, reactions poured in. Says the California Dreamer (a Pinoy living in Los Angeles): “The fellow might have a serious attitude problem, but it was not about his attitude but his proposition. There’s always privilege and entitlement, especially where access to knowledge is unequal.  It was mean-spirited to say the least, but wasn’t he just a mirror of what’s wrong in society with a yawning gap between rich and poor, the information haves and have-nots?

“Once more, vanity is the death of us all.  He should’ve kept it to himself because from now on it will be all about a certain (bleep), and not the fact he framed his argument so badly that it fell apart.

“Identity is like water- the more one tries to grasp it, the more it slips past one’s fingers.”

Soriano may have a point in that because of the circumstances shaped by our culture’s colonial mindset and economic exigencies, and some individual families’ affluence, there are Filipinos who speak English better than any of the Filipino languages. Still, there is no call to denigrate the people who speak Filipino through preference, accident of birth, or lack of learning opportunity. And why laud one language over another? We are richer for being conversant in more than one.

We multi-lingual people have the advantage, because the words in the different languages we know have specific nuances; thus we are able to communicate more effectively because we have this formidable arsenal of words. Language is foremost a tool for communication.

This is also the point Carla Montemayor raises in her “How do you make dabog in English?” on Newsbreak Online.

“Since most English people are monolingual,” she writes, “they don’t get this seemingly schizoid shifting from one language and one thought process to another. I, on the other hand, cannot imagine myself using just one language all the time, forever. That’s like having a teaspoon in your hand when there’s a banquet spread before you. Attack with all available cutlery!”

I was in Los Angeles two years when an American friend asked me and an LA-based Filipino friend, “Why do you speak to each other in English and not in Filipino?” We replied “There are concepts we discuss for which there are no words in Filipino; but matters of family and the heart are spoken of in Tagalog.”

That is where identity lies – where the heart is. Language is there to help us articulate what is inside of us, struggling to get free and be shared with others.

* * * * *

My column last week was about first-time novelist Samantha Sotto, whose Before Ever After was published recently by Random House. Her story is a miracle of determination, drive, and dreams coming true. Here’s a Q & A with her:

Jenny:  Is this the first time you’ve written anything or had anything published – are you a professional writer? If not, what is your profession?

Sam: I’m a stay-at-home mom and Before Ever After is my first book. My previous career was in marketing management.

J: Where you educated in the Philippines or abroad?

Sam: I studied at Benedictine Abbey School for grade school and high school. I took up AB Communications at Ateneo. During college, I spent one year in the Netherlands where I studied at the Leiden campus of Webster University.

J: You’ve said elsewhere that Audrey Nifenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife was your inspiration for Before Ever After. In what way is your novel different from TTW?

Sam: I think the key difference is that while Before Ever After spans different historical periods, it is not a book about time travel.

J: You’ve made your characters, except one, non-Filipino. Why did you choose to do it this way?

Sam: This might sound strange, but it was the story and characters that chose me and not the other way around. Max, my main character, popped into my head while I was stuck in traffic in EDSA and told me his story. I just wrote it down.

J: Is there a second novel in the works? Will you set it abroad again?

Sam: I’m 80% done with my second novel. It explores an entirely different concept but is also set in Europe.

J: What has been the most exciting thing so far about this entire experience?

Sam: Holding the finished book in my hands was very surreal. The highlight, however, was when my kids read the dedication of the book.

J: What made you decide to try have your novel published abroad rather than in the Philippines?

Sam: I decided to pursue publishing the book abroad because I wanted to prove to my children that dreams have no boundaries.

The real-life inspiration in Boracay for “Shell”, one of the locations in the book. From the author’s public Facebook Page.

J: It’s been said that Filipinos are not a reading public. How do you think we can increase the popularity of reading in this country?

Sam: I think we should have more accessible public libraries so that people will be encouraged to read.

J: Where can we get your book?

Sam: The trade paperback edition of the book is exclusively available at National Book Store while the hardcover edition is available at Fully Booked. You can also order the e-book version via Amazon, iBooks and Barnes and Noble. People can find and follow me on samanthasotto.com, Facebook, and Twitter (@samanthasotto).

J: Describe your novel in one sentence.

Sam: It’s a fairytale for grown ups.

Samantha Sotto has proven that we don’t have to wait for dreams to come true – we can make it happen. May we all find our happy ever after!

* * * * *

Starting today till September 24 at Silverlens Gallery, catch “Slice”, Kidlat de Guia’s first solo photography show. His wife, performer Lissa Romero de Guia, calls him “the accidental artist”. “Slice” was born of those moments, she says, when “on a whim, [Kidlat] drove to Scout Hill at Camp John Hay. What he found there was completely unexpected: a childhood haunt in its death throes.”

Artist Kidlat de Guia setting up his works for his “Slice” one-man show at Silverlens Gallery. From the artist’s Facebook Page.

The images capture “the eviscerated remains of white clapboard structures in peeling green trim, the ice cream parlor transformed into a garage, debris carelessly strewn on the old tennis courts…[Kidlat’s] knee-jerk reaction to the carnage was to start shooting the beloved space that seemed to have found itself caught ‘in the beginning of the end, and the end of the beginning’. Through the lightboxes these photographs have become, Kidlat allows us a look into a slice of time that may well be gone in the blink of an eye.”

Kidlat is the first of three sons of stained-glass artist Katrin Muller and multi-awarded indie filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik.  ***Email: jennyo@live.com, Web: http://jennyo.net, Facebook: Gogirl Café, Twitter: @jennyortuoste

Image of writer Carla Montemayor here. Image of author Samantha Sotto from her public Facebook Page.

taste more:

james soriano on language and identity

It seems the debate on Filipino language and identity remains hot as ever, the flames stoked higher recently with the posting last August 24 at Manila Bulletin Online of Ateneo de Manila student James Soriano’s essay “Language, Learning, Identity, Privilege”.

It was incendiary and touched off a flurry of comments pro- and -anti on the Internet. I first read it at the MB website on Thursday, the 25th. By next day, Friday (perhaps even earlier), it had been yanked off the site.

Good thing it was retrievable via Google cache and posted here at Citizen Media Blogwatch. I repost here in full:

Language, learning, identity, privilege

Ithink
By JAMES SORIANO
August 24, 2011, 4:06am

MANILA, Philippines — English is the language of learning. I’ve known this since before I could go to school. As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet.

My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English.

In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English.

Filipino, on the other hand, was always the ‘other’ subject — almost a special subject like PE or Home Economics, except that it was graded the same way as Science, Math, Religion, and English. My classmates and I used to complain about Filipino all the time. Filipino was a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes.

We used to think learning Filipino was important because it was practical: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera when you went to the tindahan, what you used to tell your katulong that you had an utos, and how you texted manong when you needed “sundo na.”

These skills were required to survive in the outside world, because we are forced to relate with the tinderas and the manongs and the katulongs of this world. If we wanted to communicate to these people — or otherwise avoid being mugged on the jeepney — we needed to learn Filipino.

That being said though, I was proud of my proficiency with the language. Filipino was the language I used to speak with my cousins and uncles and grandparents in the province, so I never had much trouble reciting.

It was the reading and writing that was tedious and difficult. I spoke Filipino, but only when I was in a different world like the streets or the province; it did not come naturally to me. English was more natural; I read, wrote and thought in English. And so, in much of the same way that I learned German later on, I learned Filipino in terms of English. In this way I survived Filipino in high school, albeit with too many sentences that had the preposition ‘ay.’

It was really only in university that I began to grasp Filipino in terms of language and not just dialect. Filipino was not merely a peculiar variety of language, derived and continuously borrowing from the English and Spanish alphabets; it was its own system, with its own grammar, semantics, sounds, even symbols.

But more significantly, it was its own way of reading, writing, and thinking. There are ideas and concepts unique to Filipino that can never be translated into another. Try translating bayanihan, tagay, kilig or diskarte.

Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience, and even of learning. And with this comes the realization that I do, in fact, smell worse than a malansang isda. My own language is foreign to me: I speak, think, read and write primarily in English. To borrow the terminology of Fr. Bulatao, I am a split-level Filipino.

But perhaps this is not so bad in a society of rotten beef and stinking fish. For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.

It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege. I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections.

So I have my education to thank for making English my mother language. ***

I was stunned. I too have issues with language and identity, but Soriano’s essay on the surface stank of the arrogance of privilege and caste. But wait – read again, and what jumps out is an unformed, immature personality that somehow reminds me of nothing more than a social climber.

But wait, there’s more. The lad was born this way. He’s had that attitude for years. Our Daily Bore found this piece also by Soriano, dating back three years ago.

Filipino as a Second Language

By James Soriano

 2008.12.03

The eve of Bonifacio Day brings back memories of my first days as a freshman in high school, particularly the one where I was sitting in Filipino class listening to my then-teacher, Mr. Pioquid, give an introduction to the course.

I especially remember that the reason it wasn’t boring was because he made a lot of noise by dropping his empty tin can onto the cement floor, and then proceeded to liken our young minds to tin cans which must be empty in order to be capable of receiving new and valuable knowledge. Back then, it struck me as very profound.

But there is one other thing that I remember from that first Filipino session, and that is a small parenthetical remark he made while glossing over the more boring (and unfortunately, the more important) parts of the syllabus.

He mentioned something about us taking an Honors course in Filipino by the time we got to sophomore year. I remember that this struck me as very strange: I could understand taking an Honors course in Math or Science or English, like most other gifted students would in other schools. But why would we have an advanced course in Filipino?

Looking back, maybe I was asking the wrong question. What I ask now is: why don’t most other schools have advanced courses in Filipino?

Oops, dumb question. There are a number of good reasons why we don’t.

For one thing, what is the Filipino language in the first place? Is it Tagalog? Is it Tagalog with tidbits of regional dialects? Or is it a genuine halo-halo of all of our major tongues?

As for me, I really don’t know. Members of the academe are still debating these questions as we speak. Therefore, maybe Filipino is just our cop-out: it allows us to say that we have a national language, even if in reality, we don’t.

Besides, it’s not very wise to master a language that isn’t utilized very often in politics or trade. Our laws, for example, aren’t written in Filipino, and neither are our court rulings and executive orders. They are all written in English. That’s why our lawyers take the bar examinations in English, and those who come out on top, more often than not, are people who are very well-versed in the English language.

The same is true with the language of education. In what language are we taught Science, Math, and Religion? Heck, we can even go beyond that: what is the language of the educated and the elite?

It really isn’t a surprise, then, that people who belong on the upper limits of society, like many of the people I come into contact with everyday, like to laugh at people who don’t speak English very well. English is the language of the man in the mansion, while Filipino is the language of the man on the street.

Besides, English is the language of the professional. It is the key to getting employed. This is especially true nowadays, when the trend is to go abroad where all the lucrative jobs are. If your employers can’t understand you, how can you expect them to hire you? In fact, this is also true with jobs here at home. Do you think call center agents are paid to speak in Filipino?

Hence, maybe I should be thankful that I’ve been trained to value the English language ever since I was a young boy. I should be thankful that I was exposed early to English cartoons and stories, for without them I don’t think I would have developed affection for the language. I should also be grateful that I was sent to schools that put a premium on being able to express yourself effectively in English; otherwise my skills as a student would never have been recognized.

Finally, I should be grateful that I was born in a society that never fails to remind me why that’s important.

After all, you don’t need to love your language to be able to love your country. Right? ***

Reactions ran the gamut from “Sunugin!” to “Hahaha!”

Here’s my favorite so far – a translation by Singapore-based writer Kat Nisperos of Soriano’s MB piece into Bekimon, a speech code said to combine “baklese” (gayspeak) and Jejemon. Nisperos, a graduate of University of the Philippines-Baguio, posted this faaahbulous essay on her Facebook Notes last Friday, August 26, and it has been Shared many times at FB.

Dear James Soriano: Bekimon is the True Language of Learning

by KAT NISPEROS on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 5:15pm

Bekimon ang kuda ng mga brainybells. Knowsline ko na ites even before nyumorsok si watashi sa school. Nung litol gurl pa lang akechiwa, acting teacheraka si mudak with flash cards effect malearning ko lang ang jolfabet in Bekimon. More ng in Bekimon ang mga storybookells at coloringbookells kes, pati cartoonella and songlalus more in Bekimon din! Pati ang piyok sa ballure, Bekimon pa din! Pumaylor pa si madu ng tutorlina para may I train si watashi to kyorsa and kyeme in Bekimon.

 Bekimon din akes mag-jisip, nalearning kes ang style na itembang sa schooliber. Bekimon lahat ng nyobject, numeraka, shorkulation, the works mga teh! Jobservation, jinference, moonsalugells, dancing with the stars, monsoonella, kyorthosynthesis, still in Bekimon! Nahearding din ni watashi ang word of the Lord in Bekimon, thus more ng I say a little prayer in Bekimon din.

Pero ang Filipino, imbey! Imbey to death! More ng imbyernakells kamos ng mga tita kes with Filipino! Aneng, jugas jugas ng shinggan? Wass itong kuda ng learnsalugells. Kuda itembang ng mga jugasera ng shinggan! Kuda iteng sa elm street! Kinukuda lang ites pag babaylor sa mga ateng, pag best in jutos kay yayabell, and textsalugells sa driveraka to fetch galore na si watashi.

More ng survivor in the wild ang drama ng bakla in the real world, and wass akembang magegetget ng mga atengs and manongs and chimi-aas kung wass ko knows ang Filipino. Wass ko namang bet majoldap ang beauty ko sa jeepney! Wazelei! Wizzlebomb!

Cry cry, pero keriboomboomlei kasi smarties ang ate nyes and more ng naging proficient din si watashi sa Filipno. Out in the wilderness (i.e. province lolololol) Filipino ang kuda nga mga cousinboom and titobang and lolobells so best in nakikibagay naman ang beauty kes.

Pero teh, ang jirap jirap jirap.. jirap kyorsahin, jirap kyorlatin, imbey! Wititit na nyortural ang Filipino to me, kumukuda lang akesang ng Filipino sa nyorvince and sa.. ugh, lansangan. (Kyorho ng term!!!) Eh Bekimong neng? Kyorsa, kyorlat, jisip, all in Bekimon bet na bet!  Pero like I pyoked earlybird, smarties akesang so nalearning ko din ang Filipino (in Bekimon!) and for more Gumegermany din akes! Ganda lang!

Pagnyorsok ni watashi sa juniversity nagetrakells kes na languagebells din ang Filipino, wass itong shoryalect! Wass lang itong may I steal from Spanish and Bekimon jolfabets, may systembells, may grammarlyn, may semanticles, fireworks and cartwheels! For more, best in original ang pagkyorsa, pagkyorlat, at pag-jisip ng kudang iteng! Which explains kung ketketloo wass makronslate ang ibang pyok, like shupatembangan, nomo-mes-bakla, baklang nagwawater, at digahan/kyemehan!

Knows ko mga teh, more ng makyorho pa akechiwa sa baklang isda. Filipino daw ang main celebrant sa kudahan, pero carebears mga teh; best in Bekimon akes, sa kuda, jisip, kyorsa, kyorlat, kahit anong kyeme pa yan Bekimon akes!

So I say keriboomboomlei, carebearina lang coz way better itembaloo in a societybells na more pang makyorho sa julok na shorne and fishing pond. Ang Filipino ay kuda sa lansangan (zomg), wass itong kuda ng mga brainybells at edukadang becky.

Sa schooliber, sa la-burat-ory, sa boardroomina, sa joferating room.. wass namang Filipino ang kuda, coz wass itong kuda ng mga mutya ng lipunan (pak!). Best in wit akong signal and na-DC ang beauty ni watashi when it comes to being a Filipino, pero keri lang! Bekimon ang tabas ng dila ng ate nyes and I therefore conclude na forevermore connected na akes everywhere else.

Bet mes? Bet na bet! I have my beckys and parlor gays and beauconessas (whether top, bottom, or versa!) to thank, kung wass kayes wass din akes chechembolin ng ganitells in Bekimon. ***

Amen, sisteraka!

This is the first time I have posted other people’s works in full – I do this only to preserve the texts and to provide a springboard for further discussion for those who are unable to access these works otherwise.

As a communication scholar, one of my major academic interests is language and speech code, therefore my curiosity about this. For now, I shall marshall my thoughts to write a “Pop Goes the World” piece on this issue for next Thursday on Manila Standard-Today. Meanwhile, mga teh, feel free to discuss in whatever language you like. ***

James Soriano image from his Multiply site.

taste more:

pop goes the world: books now and ever after

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  25 August 2011, Thursday

Books Now and Ever After

The major problem faced by creative writers in the Philippines today is that few people buy books by Filipino authors, and this lack of financial renumeration is a disincentive for the creation of literature.

Creative writers struggle because there is a tiny niche market for their work, and this market is dominated by the few established writers who create high-quality output and have managed to make names for themselves over many years of hard work. Writers just starting out looking for publishers? Good luck with that. Lucky breaks are frequently prayed for, but not always bestowed by the publishing gods, who have their bottom line to consider.

The lack of financial incentives for creative writers is a major deterrent to the development of works in the literary field. Why write a short story that may never see the daylight of publication in the very few literary magazines on the market, when you can write a showbiz column for an online website and earn enough to at least feed yourself and your cat?

Journalism provides a decent living for many creative writers, but sometimes it’s not what they would really be doing. What puts food on the table does not necessarily feed the soul. Writing creative works nowadays is seen as self-indulgent, because there is no assurance that the work will be published, or even paid for. In the need to be exposed, many writers often contribute their work gratis for anthologies. In order to survive, creative writers need a day job, and write their creative works on their off-time.

Authors whose works have grabbed the fancy of the reading Filipino public, like the top-selling and mysterious Bob Ong (said to actually be several writers), may make the best of the situation, reaping royalties such as they are. Still, it is debatable if he makes enough from his books to quit his day job.

While creative writers dream of being able to do nothing but write, it’ll remain a dream until present conditions change.

Why are local readers not reading – and buying – the works of Filipino writers?

In publishing, the biggest earners are the textbook publishers with government contracts.

Also doing well are men’s magazine publishers – FHM, Maxim. Literary works, however, are of a different character, and its readers are fewer compared to, shall we say, FHM readers. While readers of creative works may also read FHM, it does not follow that all FHM readers will enjoy reading literary works. Sex sells better than lit. (Perhaps creative writers should write more erotica?)

Because there is a small market for literature, there are few publishers who are still in business – Anvil, among the private companies, and the universities – UP Press, UST Press, Ateneo Press, and De La Salle University Press. Fox Books, founded in 2007 with such lofty dreams for the literary world, went out of business in less than two years, unable to gain a solid financial footing, although it had published interesting works by humor writer Jay David, Layeta Bucoy, Beverly Siy, Sarah Grutas, and other young writers.

It has been said that the Philippines does not have a reading culture comparable to that of the Japanese or the American. We are a still an oral, story-telling culture. The media we enjoy extend the story-telling function to a mass audience. What is the visual stimulation of TV but the modern-day equivalent of sitting around a rocking chair listening to Lola Basyang?

In print, komiks such as “Wakasan” used to be more popular and were the preferred channels for narratives that could be enjoyed by the masses. But komiks were killed by the increase of printing costs, poor pay for writers and artists, and the onslaught of alternative forms of entertainment brought by cable TV and the Internet.

Lack of education and unfamiliarity with the language is another barrier for the Philippines developing a reading culture. If one cannot understand English well, why buy books written by Filipino writers in English? If one cannot read, why buy books at all, even those written in Tagalog and the other Filipino languages?

A related problem is the cost of books. TV is ‘free’, another reason for its popularity. Buying a book can take a sizable chunk from a student’s allowance or from an average householder’s budget. With the majority of the population belonging to the C-D-E socio-demographic, they are potentially the largest market for any sort of product. In the case of books, the cost should be brought down for them to be more affordable and their purchase considered in lieu of other forms of entertainment; however, given that the present prices of books are already as rock-bottom as they can be brought, this is a major issue that will be a stumbling-block for the creative book industry until it is resolved.

A major constraint for the development of a healthy market for creative works is the lack of support or the inadequate support from both the government and private sectors. When an alarming number of the nation’s population lives below the poverty line, when gas prices have shot to the sky, when the world is struggling from the fallout of a major financial depression, less attention and funding are given to art, which many in the mainstream see as a non-essential indulgence or luxury, compared to, say, food.

Government agencies such as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts would be expected to be the rallying point for a development-focused national literature program, and for setting the foundation for Filipino literature appreciation in elementary and high school. Yet without enough funding, such plans cannot be implemented. The state universities, University of the Philippines to name one, have always tried their best in that regard, but again finances are a stumbling block for the expansion of their programs, such as the annual UP National Writers Workshop.

In the private sector, one would also expect that bookstores would be more pro-active in promoting creative works by Filipino writers; however, it will be noticed that they do not give prime display space to local works. Filipino works are lumped under one shelf category, “Filipiniana”, instead of each work being placed where they belong by genre: horror, young adult, etc. along with works of foreign authors, which are given more importance because they sell better.

There is also a lack of marketing opportunities, and writers themselves have to find their own ways to sell their works. Carljoe Javier sold his Kobayashi Maru of Love from his backpack; Axel Pinpin went the indie-publishing route for his Tulang Matatabil and did his own distribution efforts.

Multi-sectoral support is essential to the development of a better climate for the publication and reception of Filipino creative works; how to gain this support is a matter for discussion and planning.

Because people don’t read, they don’t buy, so publishers don’t publish, so writers don’t write. But the lack of buyers does not mean that writers cannot write, or should not write; it just means that they might not earn anything for their efforts.

But there’s always one story that’s the exception to the rule. First-time novelist Samantha Sotto is the talk of the blogosphere with the recent publication of her Before Ever After by Random House’s Crown Publishers imprint. She is the first Filipina they have published.

The novel was born this way: Samantha, who had to take her preschool son to Ateneo in the mornings, would wait for him at the Starbucks on Katipunan across the Loyola campus. Having read Audrey Nifenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife and being dissatisfied with the ending, she set out to weave her own love story, pecking out the tale of Shelley and the charismatic Max Gallus over a year’s time, with much of that spent on research.

Upon finishing the manuscript, she bought a copy of The Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published and followed its advice, going online to search for an agent and finding Stephanie Kip Rostan, whose confidence in the worth of the tale led to her finding a publisher without much trouble.

The book is set mostly in Europe, which Samantha explored as a teenager. Its protagonists are non-Filipino; only one Pinay makes an appearance, when the action sends some of the main characters to Boracay. Overall, it is a good read. Generally I don’t like chick lit or the romance genres, but I loved this one in spite of myself. It’s well-written and  -plotted, complex enough to make it interesting without being difficult to follow, and the ending is enigmatic. It made me and my 13-year old daughter Erika, who devoured the novel in one sitting, sit up one night hotly debating “What really happened to Shelley and Max?”

Before Ever After is available in paperback at National Bookstore and online as an e-book at Amazon.com for $11.99, where it’s in the top ten bestsellers in its category.

It’s proof that even with the glut of content available, tales written with a magic touch will float to the surface and command attention; and that Filipino creative writers who despair of getting published here might try doing what Samantha did and get published abroad, and that way gain a larger audience and the proper renumeration. ***

FHM cover here.  Kobayashi Maru image here. 

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pop goes the world: rizal films in filipino sign language

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 7 July 2011, Thursday

Rizal Films in Filipino Sign Language

Did you know that films are being made in Filipino Sign Language (FSL)?

The development of FSL has its roots in American Sign Language and Signing Exact English. Among the filmmakers who have used FSL in their works is Mirana Medina, who advocates for autism and deafness causes. She studied FSL at the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies.

I “met” her via my column about Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary last month, after she had emailed me her comments. Her interest in Rizal stems from her having been the researcher and film editor of “Rizal sa Dapitan”, a film produced more than ten years ago. Combining this interest and her advocacies, she produced a Rizal-themed film in FSL – “Mi Ultimo Adios”, which was launched last June 21 at DLS-CSB.

Mirana says: “Mi Ultimo Adios” in FSL is the first real translation or interpretation of Rizal’s poems in FSL. It wasn’t a literal interpretation at all. It was poetic in treatment. [University of the Philippines professor and poet] Vim [Nadera] helped us out [with that].

“I know deaf people who are capable of expressing themselves beyond the “usual” signing, [so] I made it a point that sessions between a hearing poet – Vim – and my deaf FSL consultant Raphy Domingo were arranged. We were lucky that Dr. Marie Therese Bustos of UP Special Education Area [an authority on FSL] helped us…the time we met to hold a deaf audition, she was there to interpret.”

To view the film trailer, search for “Mi Ultimo Adios in FSL” on Youtube.com.

Mirana plans to produce four other Rizal-themed films in FSL – she says these are “”La Juventud Filipina”, which has already been shot but needs additional images; “A Las Flores de Heidelberg”; “Canto de Maria Clara”; and the [other] one will [be called] either “ Mi Primera Inspiracion” or “Mi Piden Versos”.”

July being National Disability Month, arrangements are being made to screen “Mi UItimo Adios” in Mandaluyong City on the 22nd. On the 16th, her film on autism – “Alyana” – will be shown at the Benitez Theater in UP-Diliman.

Mirana is now busy editing the film “Asiong Salonga”, directed by Tikoy Aguiluz.

To learn more about Mirana and her advocacies, visit her blog at advocacine.wordpress.com.

* *  * * *

Jose Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, in the English translation by Harold Augenbraum and published by Penguin Classics, are now available at Fully Booked. I picked up what the salesclerks told me was the last copy of the Noli last weekend, but there are still many copies of the Fili left.

The books are also available in a Kindle edition at Amazon.com for $11.99 each. No affiliation with either merchant, I just wanted to let fellow Rizal-philes know about this particular translation.

The only other English translation I’ve read is Leon Maria Guerrero’s, which is fantastic, and iconic to generations of students. I’ve read several chapters of the Augenbraum, and so far I’m happy.

* *  * * *

I received several questions in response to my column last week on e-book publishing. Here’s more on the matter from Flipside Digital Content chief executive officer Anthony de Luna, on the origins and services of Flipside:

“Incessant prodding from authors in the academic and trade publishing communities made us decide early in the year to remove local barriers to the newly-paved e-book avenue that leads to international distribution and readership. Having serviced only foreign clients as a business process outsourcing company specializing in the publishing vertical in our 12 years of operations in various configurations, Flipside reluctantly offered e-publishing on the digital rights management-secure and economically viable platforms of Amazon Kindle, iBooks (iPad), and Barnes & Noble Nook to local authors and publishers.

“Flipside’s goals going in were first, to educate, and second, to enable those who would like to take advantage of technology’s contribution to solving the insurmountable international distribution challenge for Filipino content. It was a pleasant surprise to find a few local companies that already had their feet wet in e-ink–Vee Press of Vibal Foundation for general publishing, Bronze Age Media for comic books, and Salt & Light Ventures for the Christian publishing community.“

Can authors publish DRM-secure books on their own?

“Yes,” says Anthony, “Amazon has Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple has iTunes Connect, and B&N has PubIt! Whether you are an author with one essay or a publisher with a 2,000-title backlist, stop reading now, leave Facebook for a few minutes and sign up with them.”

Do you approach publishers or authors?

“We approach publishers first in an effort to achieve the information waterfall-and-echo effect. We let them know that they can expand distribution and increase revenue from their frontlist (active titles), and bring their backlist (out of print, out of distribution titles) back from the revenue grave without cost.

“We approach individual authors of note, as part of our goal to educate, to generate interest from and stimulate fact-finding by the publisher and author communities at large. In addition, we also reach out to deserving self-published and unpublished authors. Unsolicited submissions are subject to review for editorial quality and international commercial or academic value.”

Anthony answers other questions on the “Flipside Digital Content” Page on Facebook, which you can visit to find out more.

E-books are the present and the future of book publishing. Through this channel, Jose Rizal’s works from the late 1800s are made accessible to a new generation of Filipinos and to the rest of the world. This should give encouragement to local authors who have despaired of getting published the traditional, ink-and-paper, way. ***

Image of Mirana Medina here. Slide of Mi Ultimo Adios here

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