Sunday, June 27, 2010


“Nothing to Declare” is an exhibit of contemporary art tentatively scheduled to be held in Manila on October 25-November 25 this year and hopefully in other countries too in the succeeding years.

So what have I to do with a contemporary art exhibit?

We are trying to sell the travelling Lagalag Notebooks to be part of the exhibit to the project curator herself, Dr. Flaudette May Datuin of the University of the Philippines. Yes, she is the Ate of CLSU’s Datuin brothers.

What do the notebooks got to do with it?

First, because the Lagalag notebooks are works of art created by photographers who are all contemporary artists in their own rights. Second, the art exhibit will explore movements “across waters, land, and air…” which the notebooks did, and discourse on migration in general which the notebooks are all about.

Any chance?

May Datuin was excited with the idea. Willy Pascual promised to submit a proposal. Jobarracuda was designated as the point-person in Manila. Me? I’ll just glide in and out whenever I feel like doing so.

Meanwhile, we got to get the notebooks from The Dafinator for a final turnover.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


W.G. Sebald is described by Wikipedia as “one of the greatest living authors” until his death in a car crash in 2001, and “a possible future winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature”. His work is described as “curious and wide-ranging mixture of fact (or apparent fact), recollection, or fiction…” and has evolved a literary genre called creative non-fiction.

On a cool Baguio night amidst the haunting ambiance of the CafĂ© by the Ruins, Sebald was picked and strung with devotion to Nora Aunor, a komiks rental stall in San Jose City, and Oyet’s journey and travails from Sagada to Bangkok to San Francisco. Baguio’s literary elite in attendance seemed creamed but I heard those stories before so I busied myself with other things like finding the rice wine too sour and the house coffee overrated. The pinikpikan will pass but the Palawan chicken is a big letdown. Next time, I will stick to beer and that superb lumpia of a kesong puti and tinapa bits.

I have not read Sebald and don’t intend too. I’ve had my moment of reading someone big and then unconsciously morphing into a poor ape of that great one. If ever I write seriously, it would be me no matter how ridiculous it will turn out.

The great thing about Sebald-ing in Baguio is finally drinking rice wine and beer with Frank Cimatu (who fell asleep midway into the Ghana-North Korea World Cup match during a post-Sebald-ing nightcap at Casa Vallejo), meeting a flickr denizen for the first time, and saying “Hi!” again to a journalist acquaintance.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Hindi ako nagpunta sa taunang parada ng mga Taong Putik sa Bibiclat.

Una, dahil nagbago na naman ang iskedyul nitong si Oyet.

Pangalawa, wala na akong ganang i-shoot pa ulit ang mga nakunan ko na noon lalo na’t madaming mga usisero.

Naglaho na ang misteryo ng ritwal.

Kaya’t pagdaan nina Oyet, Tolits at Cez sa opis para maligo ay pinagtiyagaan ko na lamang kunan ang matigas na putik na kumapit sa balat at pansamantalang nagtago sa mga tato ng pinakabagong Taong Putik.

Sa Siem Reap ibinurda ang mga tato ni Oyet.

Pitong oras ang inabot sa halagang 30 dolyar.

Pagkatapos ay hinimatay itong si Oyet nang makakita ng isang turistang kumakain na pinapanood ng isang bata na sini-shoot ng isa pang turista.

Hindi ko maintindihan ang koneksiyon pero ganun daw yun.

Iyon marahil ang binanggit ng nagtatak sa kanya na isang malaking labanan pagkatapos maisagawa ang ritwal.

Sabi naman ng kapatid niyang nurse ay epekto marahil ng toxin mula sa ginamit na tinta ng pinaghalong katas ng tubo at dinurog na uling.

Nasa ibaba ang tato.

Masdang mabuti at diyan nakalagak ang mga susunod na labas sa lotto.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Katulad ng dati matapos ang ritwal ng pagbabalik sa CLSU ay nagpulong ang mga disipulo ng propeta. Madaming inihanda ang mag-asawang Tolits at Tita: inihaw na baboy, hito, at tilapia; nilagang mga gulay; mainit na sabaw; at San Mig Lights na walang patid ang pag-uho sa sisidlan nitong kaputol na kawayan. Naunang dumating si Sir Ben. Sumunod kami nina Jun at Nine kasama ang propeta. Sina Odang at Pareng Tembong. Pagkatapos ay sina Cez, Reggie at Verjun. Ang mga hindi nakarating ay tinawagan: si Sherwin sa Hongkong, si Loi sa El Nido, si Von, si Rolly na siya na ngayong nagmamay-ari sa Umaykan, sina Joey at Janet sa Saguday. Kasabay ng pagtugtog nina Nelson ang pagbasa ng mga tula, palitan ng mga kuwento, pagbisita sa mga lumang larawang ngayo'y naka-post na sa Facebook, at pagyapos sa isang gabing sana’y wala nang katapusan…

MGA LARAWAN (mula sa itaas): (1) Ang Propeta; (2) mula sa kaliwa ay si Cesar “Cez” Macalinao, Hermogenes “Jun” Lisondra, ang Propeta, si Verjun Dilla, Prof. Ben “Sir Ben” Domingo, at Regidor “Reggie” Gaboy; (3) ang Propeta kasama si Rhodora “Odang” San Andres; (4) ang mag-asawang Tita at Elito “Tolits” Circa; (5) at si Nine Alcanzare.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


After years of absence, Wilfredo “Oyet” Pascual, Jr. is back home in the Philippines. It doesn’t matter that it’s only for a week tucked in between trips to Laos and South Africa. As it has always been, we pause from our labors to renew ties and tell stories --- our homage to him who brought us together and changed our lives forever.

Some 18 years ago, a reedy thinly moustached man in oversized unmatched clothes invited me to dinner. He spoke of poetry over canned sardines and tuna flakes as the yellow tongues of a dozen candles licked at the shadows of his unlit apartment.

From that place spawned a noble project we called Lahar and a dozen poems of which today only 1 survived. Then a period of friendships tested and him barking at me on top of a belfry in Bibiclat, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija telling stupid me to look for certain signs in the ancient bell so we could know if its them Franciscans, Dominicans or Augustinians who had it made.

We travelled our separate ways after that and when we met again, he was deciphering the Spanish text of photocopied old birth records from Vigan and chasing Nora Aunor. That photocopy we later watched in Bangkok as a documentary called “Dara Ken Lasag”. I told him I wanted to do something like it. He told me to go look for them old records in them old churches. I did and started shooting churches which got me to eating noodles.

The shooting that I did eventually got me invited to Lagalag. And my blogged churches and noodles got me a place on the Mondo Marcos book project.

Oyet, the man who taught me everything, is a 2-time Palanca Grand Prize winner and a Free Press Grand Prize winner for essay. He is now based in San Francisco, California and occasionally returns home in Nueva Ecija where it all started…

PHOTOS EXPLAINED: (1) Wilfredo “Willy/Oyet” Pascual, Jr.; (2) Bulan in the foreground sat in as Oyet discuss creative writing with members of the Mt. Carmel Montessori Center high school newsletter; (3) Balong and his Ninong Oyet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


They only have P210.00 between them.

That's what they earned picking up and selling recyclables around the house.

Bulan will add up his share to his growing BDO Junior Account. And Balong since turning 7 last April is saving so he can open his.

But when they saw me making frantic phone calls to sponsors of our Lodge's Adopt-a-School program, they readily volunteered their money.

It was enough to buy 70 pieces of pencil.

I was the proudest father that day...

FOOTNOTE: Aside from their donation of pencils, Bulan and Balong helped pack school supplies for the students of the Felix Pascual Elementary School in Sitio Bulihan, Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. The bottom photo shows the recipients of the gifts. 

Monday, June 07, 2010


What if I accepted that offer to be Noy-Mar’s campaign coordinator in Nueva Ecija?

What if I waited 1 more hour at Rustica’s, submitted that media campaign plan, and took that leave of absence so I can work for Manny Villar?

What if I had convened that network of political operators for Erap?

Then maybe I will be joining that queue at Times Street and submitting a resume for perhaps a government consultancy job. (I’ll take an appointment to the Land Bank of the Philippines’ Board of Directors, or anything that will allow me to travel free.)

Or earned a measly P17,000.00 per month and lost with Manny Villar. (I could have done the job without taking a leave from my work but that attorney something is an A and they lost dahil kinapos naman talaga sila sa diskarte.)

Or had become tired and poorer but can claim having delivered Nueva Ecija to Erap thereby enhancing my resume as an electoral operator. (I did pushed a little for Erap as an atonement to our grassroot partners --- I’m not sure if they have forgiven me for the sin of helping bring down their president --- and gave one mighty shove for Doc Lito Galapon’s Jejomar who would be president someday.)

So P-Noy is now president. Manny Villar and Erap lost. I voted for Nicky Perlas. And our Binay project won big.   

With 3 weeks to go before becoming president, I offer a peace offering of pansit and some to P-Noy and the space to prove himself along with the prayer that I was wrong about him…