Posts Tagged ‘culture and arts’

pop goes the world: holey week

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 April 2012, Thursday

Holey Week

Last Good Friday, two photos spread all over Facebook and other Internet sites. Both elicited comments of outrage. Only one made it to the traditional news.

One photo was taken by Karlos Manlupig, who uploaded it to Facebook and tagged it “Public”. Inside a church, a uniformed security guard points a rattan baton at a shirtless man whose back is to the camera, his profile blurred to preserve his identity.

(see photo in my previous blog post here)

Here’s the caption Manlupig posted: “FILTHY HYPOCRITES. As I was shooting in Davao City’s San Pedro Cathedral during the observance of Good Friday, I noticed a Tagalog-speaking man instructing this security guard to throw out a half-naked man who is (sic) silently kneeling and praying inside the church, saying that the churches in Manila prohibit persons with mental disabilities and vagrants to enter its premises.

“The security guard then assaulted the poor man without any warning, poking him in the ribs several times using a ‘ratan’ truncheon…I immediately took several burst shots of the detestable incident.

“Suddenly, an old man with a Bible in his hand tapped me on my shoulder and told me that it is improper to take photos of the incident and that it is also improper to take photos inside their heavenly church.”

“What the hell is wrong with you people?” the aghast photographer asked.

In less than three hours of the upload, the image had been shared on Facebook 1,967 times.

The second photo shows a pretty young girl in sexy shorts and sleeveless floral top, her eyes covered with sunglasses, clinging to a cross, in a manner and position construed by viewers as “sexy.”

It was taken in Barangay Lourdes Northwest, Angeles City, where a traditional senakulo was held. The young girl wasn’t the only one who posed that way that day; two other images on the Internet are of a woman in a body-hugging black maxi dress, pink shawl, and sunglasses, and of a young man in a blue shirt and khaki shorts.

Another photo taken there shows two women in a “jump shot.”

Image here.

The majority of the comments on the photos scored the security guard for being cruel and unkind, and the cross-posers and jumpers for behaving inappropriately, showing “disrespect and impropriety.”

Only the incident of the girl on the cross was picked up by traditional media. That of the security guard in Davao was not.

This question, accompanied by the photos, made the rounds on Facebook: “Which of the two was worse?”

A Mindoro-based physician answered, “Both are disgusting! Both are a mockery!”

These two incidents reinforce the perception of our society as a “hypocriciety”, as I wrote about in an earlier column. Religion in this country has been trivialized. Churches and other places of worship are treated as tourist destinations, in the sense that people who visit there behave as tourists would in secular places such as museums or parks.

Worse, the incident of the security guard and the shirtless man shows that poverty and mental illness are stigmas that negatively influence a person’s standing in society; that our culture allows the marginalized to be treated without compassion and respect.

And for this incident to happen inside a cathedral on a Good Friday underscores the idea that Christianity is only lip service to a great many believers.

Poor shirtless man, scorned and repulsed by those who should have helped him. Jesus Christ himself said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

“Blessed are the poor,” Jesus also said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s too bad that they can’t get a decent break here on earth.

Believing is not doing. There are gaps in our sensibilities, great big holes through which common sense has evaporated, leaving a mindset which sees nothing wrong with this sort of behavior.

Can our society change for the better? Or is this decline into desensitization an overwhelming, unstoppable juggernaut? Is there a force strong enough to turn the tide?

Public opinion might do it. Reality, after all, is socially constructed, created by people. If enough people want to bring about change, with awareness and determination they can.

I hope so. Otherwise, we’ll be seeing more images like this next year, if not worse. ***

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krip yuson: lush life

Last year, through the social connectivity magic of Facebook, I had the privilege of “meeting” writer Krip Yuson and  adding him to my list of Friends. From time to time he’d comment on links I’d post on my Wall. One particular weekend, I found a handful of literary links that he was quite pleased with, enough to send me an autographed copy of his newest book Lush Life: Essays 2001-2010 (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011).

I received the package he sent via LBC the morning I had to leave for the racetrack to attend a horseracing event. Excited, and wanting to savor the treat, I took the parcel along with me.

“Lush Life” nestled in the base of the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners (MARHO) mother trophy, created by sculptor Ed Castrillo from brass. The event was held at Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite, from 15-20 November 2011.

Alfred “Krip” Yuson is a prolific, multi-awarded essayist and columnist who writes a column on literature and culture for the Philippine Star and teaches poetry and fiction at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Here’s an excerpt from “Getting Literary in Oz-Land”, first published in Philippines Graphic magazine, 29 May 2006. I love the Heinlein reference:

Walking through the Botanical Gardens [in Sydney] one early evening, I chanced in on a midsummer open-air concert featuring Tchaikovsky’s “1812″. The freebie audience I joined manifested the national character. Aussie couples, families, and large, motley groups were all lolling about in their comfort zones on the grass lawns and hillocks, romancing their beers. Some lay supine on mats, taking in the night sky as the musical strains led to the climactic crescendo-cum-cannonade – which was of course accomplished by real cannons by the bandstand.

Fireworks lit up that night sky to complement the cannonade, the mighty percussion, and ascending, spiraling strings. Oh what a scene to be in, to be part of – no stranger in a strange land, but one in the midst of casual if sublime revelry, all senses gratified, even one’s sense of marvelous environment.

Krip autographed the book’s flyleaf for me.

The collection of 75 essays is “proof, were further proof needed, that [Krip] has few equals in the field of non-fiction,” says UST Publishing House director and University of the Philippines creative writing professor emerita Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo.

The book, she adds, “demonstrates how a life fully lived – its dizzying heights scaled, its dark depths plumbed – combined with a large soul, an ironic vision, an unfailingly playful sense of humor, and the gift of bending the language to his every whim, are what lead to great writing.”

Not only did Krip send me a copy of his book, he also, with thoughtfulness and kindness, sent me a pack of Pei Pa Koa throat lozenges, which I shared with the racecallers at Santa Ana Park that cool November day.

Clutching the pack of Krip’s Pei Pa Koa, I pose with Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park racecallers – Vergel Caliwliw, Romy Cheng Tejada, and senior racecaller Ricardo de Zuñiga, whose father was racing writer and poet Oscar de Zuñiga. November 2011.

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downton abbey mania

It’s escapist melodrama that does not hesitate to employ the cliched tropes of the genre, but there’s something about it that is fascinating and compelling. I spent the past week watching all the episodes – two seasons and a Christmas special – and can’t wait for the release in the fall of the third season, which will begin filming early this year.

“Downton Abbey” is a hit British TV series that has run two seasons, broken viewership records in the UK and the US, and reaped awards and nominations.

Promotional still showing the cast. Image here.

The action is set in a world long vanished, the world of the English aristocracy and the labor class that served them. It is familiar to those who read fiction set in that era, notably the works of detective fiction author Agatha Christie, who herself came from the privileged class and wrote what she knew, setting her books in the drawing rooms and conservatories of grand houses, her characters in a milieu of elegance and wealth enjoying a lifestyle that ended with World War I, which changed the economy and society.

Sometimes we need to escape into a different world, if only to recharge our spirits with something entirely removed from our own reality. This world’s as good as any to visit, if not better than most. The accents and the language alone are fascinating, and there are the fashion and interiors as well, mixed up with history lessons.

Watch it. Learn something. Prime your pump of creativity with something new, something out of the ordinary.

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aldous huxley: crome yellow

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was an English poet and author, a humanist and pacifist. Some of his novels – Antic Hay, Point Counter Point, and Crome Yellow – dealt with the manners and hypocrisy of the upper class, while Brave New World was a peek into a dystopian future.

Here’s an excerpt from Crome Yellow (1921), where Denis Stone, a young poet, talks to the jaded critic Mr. Scogan:

“That’s the test for the literary mind,” said Denis; “the feeling of magic, the sense that words have power. The technical, verbal part of literature is simply a development of magic. Words are man’s first and most grandiose invention. With language he created a whole new universe; what wonder if he loved words and attributed power to them! With fitted, harmonious words the magicians summoned rabbits out of empty hats and spirits from the elements. Their descendants, the literary men, still go on with the process, morticing their verbal fomulas together, and, before the power of the finished spell, trembling with delight and awe. Rabbits out of empty hats? No, their spells are more subtly powerful, for they evoke emotions out of empty minds. Formulated by their art the most insipid statements become enormously significant.”

Crome Yellow was Huxley’s first published book, and is part of the tradition of English country house stories.Though after this speech by Denis, Mr. Scogan deflates him with a puncturing comment (you have to read the book to get the full flavor of the humor), it’s still an enchanting passage that shows how Huxley felt about words and writing, and it captures exactly how I feel about it, which is what I do, and is my life’s work – it’s magic, it’s a superpower.

Aldous Huxley portrait here.

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pop goes the world: mo and rhian – should we care?

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

Mo and Rhian – Should We Care?

With the populace still reeling from the revelations of actress/model KC Concepcion about her breakup from actor Piolo Pascual, now comes another teary scandal, this time from disc jockey Mo Twister.

A video of a crying Mo (his real name is Mohan Gumatay) was recently uploaded to Youtube. In it he alleges that his then-girlfriend, actress Rhian Ramos, had their child aborted last July 2010 in Singapore.

An image of Mo Twister from the video, here.

From his @djmotwister account, he Tweeted, “I have a question about abortion. Should the girl ask the guy what his thoughts are and should he have a chance to stand up for the baby?”

Image here.

He followed this with other, more controversial Tweets: “Because no amount of inconvenience could ever justify treating the supreme creation of God with murderous contempt.” “…even the dictionary defines it, in its 2nd explanation, as monstrosity.” “Young child, don’t ever think you were never good enough. You just had no choice in the matter.”

Finally, Mo posted a photo of what presumably was his own shoulder, tattooed with the words “to the wounds that will never heal, 08/07/10.” The skin was still reddened; the ink looked fresh. (Check out http://www.spot.ph.)

Mo’s shoulder, presumably. Image here.

Rhian Ramos has filed a harrassment case against Mo. She claims that his insinuation that she had an abortion violates Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act). She has also asked for a temporary protection order to prevent Mo from making any more such statements.

We are merely spectators in all this and have no idea, at this point, what the truth is. Did she or didn’t she? Because he certainly did.

In any case, as I’ve said before, other people’s personal lives are none of our business. But since Mo (like KC) has made a private matter public, it is now fodder for all sorts of speculation and gossip.

Is Mo’s revelation vengeance, narcissism, or simply a man in pain lashing out like a wounded tiger, regardless of whom he hurts in his turmoil?

Can any good come out of this kind of exposure of private pain?

Rather than schadenfreudenly feeding off the suffering and misery inherent in the drama, let us deconstruct the concepts that arise and allow it to flow into the river of societal discourse: in this case, the topic of abortion.

Mo raises a good question – does the father of the child have a say in an abortion? The woman usually makes the decision to have an abortion, although it also happens often that it is instigated by the man. There are many reasons why the woman would have an abortion – youth, career, lack of finances, fear of disapproval and anger of parents and family, an unwillingness or unreadiness to be a parent, and the knowledge (or assumption) that the man will not be a good father and she’ll be raising the child on her own are just some of them.

In the end, what happens is that the woman makes the choice because it is her body, and it is her right to decide what to do or not to do with that body.

But why even have an abortion when contraception would have prevented the situation in the first place?

Given that the majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholics, and that the Church wields a strong influence in politics, and that the dominant ideology embedded in this culture is based upon Roman Catholic doctrine (sorry, other kinds of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and those of other, little, or no faith), prevailing attitudes toward abortion and contraception consider them abhorrent and sins against God.

In fact, so inflexible are the attitudes of some sectors of society that back-door influence has been brought heavily to bear against lawmakers passing the proposed Reproductive Health Bill, which in no way condones nor encourages promiscuity, homosexuality, teen – even child – pregnancies, or any of the other “abominations” ascribed to it by the paranoid.

Yet the behavior of teenagers – as opposed to attitudes – tells a different story. As of 2009, based on data from birth certificates, the number of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines was at 195,662, a 70 percent increase from the 114,205 in 1999. Of the 1.75 million live births in 2009, over 11 percent of those babies were born to teenage mothers.

According to the United Nations Population Fund’s 2011 annual report, the teenage pregnancy rate in the Philippines is at 53 births per 1,000 women aged between 15 to 19 – the highest among the six ASEAN countries.

A 2008 news article says the Philippines (where abortion is illegal) has a higher abortion rate than the United States (where abortion is legal), at 25 per 1,000 women compared to the latter’s 23 per 1,000 women. Consider also that the US has a much higher population – around 250 million in 2011; the Philippines has less than half at around 95 million.

The main drivers of the escalating teen pregnancy rate are poverty and ignorance. The RH Bill would try to minimize that, through certain of its measures that would provide sex education in schools.

The discussion of sex is still taboo in many sectors of Philippine society, even if as an activity it is frequently and enthusiastically practiced (see: Philippine population, number of offspring sired by Ramon Revilla Sr.).

But these are pressing issues that people face every day. Birth control, sex, abortion – they need to be discussed, they need to be faced, because people live and die over these matters.

We have a long, long way to go. We don’t even have divorce in this country – the only one left on the planet that refuses to let people start over.

So, should we care? Mo Twister opened up a can of squirmy things living in the dark. We need to drag this all into the light and let clarity, logic, and reason illuminate the important life issues we have long kept on the dark side of our collective soul.   ***

Teen mom image here.

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pop goes the world: kc and piolo – should we care?

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  1 December 2011, Thursday

KC and Piolo – Should We Care?

So this is what happened – a weepy actress/model KC Concepcion went on a popular showbiz talk show, “The Buzz”, to announce the end of her year-long relationship with actor Piolo Pascual, who is rumored to be homosexual.

My first reaction after hearing about the KC-Piolo flap was, “Why should we care?”

“The Buzz” program host Boy Abunda has a talent for making the most trivial issues seem relevant. Of course, the breakup is important to KC, and she looked heartbroken, but should someone’s personal life be fodder for our entertainment? In a newspaper interview, Abunda said, “She thought about it for a long time. She did it to express her pain, but not to the point of hurting other people…Like all of us, she has the right to express herself.”

KC has a right to express herself, and if she wishes to do so on mass media, who are we to stop her? But what does it say about us when we lap it up and feed on the artificially-cultivated frenzy, on the self-exposed misery of celebrities fighting to stay in the lucrative limelight?

“It’s a case of schadenfreude,” is my 20-year-old daughter Alex’s opinion. “Taking pleasure from the misfortune of others.” Just before the KC-Piolo flap, there was the Ramgen Revilla murder, with his siblings blamed for the crime. There’s also the ongoing medical-political drama starring former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her halo brace, enduring with a stiff upper lip and intimations of persecution her “hospital arrest” in the luxurious suite of an upscale medical establishment. We lap it all up.

So when we see famous and wealthy personalities suffering as we ordinary people do, from heartbreak and illness and sudden tragedy, we think, oh, they’re not so different from us after all. But for accident of birth, or the vicissitudes of life, they could have been us, we them.

Modern celebrity culture is based not so much on merit or accomplishment, but upon constant and aggressive self-promotion. Talent or virtue are not required, just a genius for creating a personal brand and building upon it by fair means or otherwise. The objective is to turn one’s self into a commodity that can be sold.

Think Kim Kardashian and her 72-day marriage, a farce put on to generate millions in revenue from sponsors – or so the cynics say. And I’m a cynic. So KC’s televised pagsusumbong sa bayan seems a promotional gimmick, a devise to attract attention, gain sympathy, exact revenge. Where has delicadeza gone, of keeping one’s troubles one’s own, or shared only with family and close friends?

The talk has segued from the breakup itself to the cause of the breakup, which, cannily, neither KC nor Boy revealed – adding to the feel of the episode being scripted. Rumors are rife that it has to do with Piolo’s sexuality, that he is gay. If so, did it have to take KC an entire year to pick up on something that has been tabloid fodder for the past several years? It makes her seem clueless and unobservant, and I don’t want to be disabused of my notion that KC is in fact an intelligent young woman.

Why should we care whether or not Piolo is gay? Is that not his own business? How is it ours? If he is, and has not come out of the closet yet, how does that impact our own lives?

But then, we the masses have a craving for drama and spectacle, no different from the gladiatorial circuses of ancient Rome. Wasn’t it Chuck Palahniuk who said that a celebrity is our own creation of a god-like figure, to be shamed and destroyed in extreme ways later on? The king of ancient seasons sacrificed to ensure a good harvest is reborn in modern celebrities, immolated on the same gossip shows and tabloids that built them up as idols.

Yet what does it mean when someone goes willingly into the fire, like KC or Kim? Does it show a lack of taste on their part, a narcissistic bent, an eager embrace of the celebrity culture by which they live and die?

Piolo has remained silent on the matter, except to apologize “to the public” – not to KC, as everyone has pointed out. One good thing that has come out of this is that the discourse on LGBT matters continues to bloom – to result, we hope, in a more understanding climate of acceptance for every individual regardless of sexuality.

Whether the information about the personal lives of celebrities is willingly given or obtained through intrusion, there will always be an audience hanging on to every revelation. That is how we have constructed our culture; whether the reason for this is rooted in myths of the past or is a modern phenomenon is now moot, as we struggle to make sense of it all, in the face of information overload.

So, should we care? KC and Piolo broke up. It happens. Life goes on.   ***

Crying KC here. Arroyo with halo vest here. Kris and Kim here. Piolo and KC here.

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william empson: let it go

William Empson (1906 – 1984) was a British literary critic and poet.  He and his wife Hetta had an open marriage marked by dangerous liaisons, the frissons of which may have fed his art.

He said this poem – “Let It Go” – was about his decision to give up writing poetry, though it could describe how he felt about his life. Or we about ours.

It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.

The more things happen to you the more you can’t

Tell or remember even what they were.

The contradictions cover such a range.

The talk would talk and go so far aslant.

You don’t want madhouse and the whole thing there.

Consider letting go the strange deep mad blankness in your life. Let it go now.

Image here.

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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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