Wednesday, September 10, 2003


I want to say thank you to those who've downloaded a play or two, read them and wrote me (especially Kristine Fonacier, MTV INK top bazonga).

Writing is mostly solitary but the end goal is, of course, for other people to read what I've written.

It's especially encouraging to me when comments are made, questions asked and conversations started.

It's like watching my child run around, interacting with other people.

For those who asked:

Yes, I do hope The Onan Circle will be produced in the next few months.

Yes, there is a longer version of the play (full-length) and a one-act derivative in poorly written Filipino.

Yes, the characters are named after close friends and associates but the resemblances end there (the thought of one of them grabbing his crotch with a half-smile and saying "I'm hard" is invention).

The reason almost all my plays are minimalist (in terms of staging) is because when I was an actor, we never had the budget for anything, so we made do with what was available. Apparently, that principle is deeply imbedded in my consciousness so I've become very friendly to shoe-string productions (collegiate especially). Give me a bed, a box and a curtain and we're set.

And why do I write about sex? Because, apart from the standard "gender issues are important" rhetoric, I like that fact that it provokes thought (besides, in what other context can I have a text that says "fuckstick" that wins a national literary award?). It is also a loooong reaction against formalist themes - the notion that literature is only about notions of beauty, and that certain matters are too crass or crude. For me, the human experience encompasses the entire spectrum - from our most base carnalities to our heavenward loftiness. Sex is part of that. And I'm glad the judges agree.

Again, thanks for the letters.

the short story in english, today

From Butch Dalisay:

"Let me run through some fundamental observations about the contemporary Filipino short story in English:

First, in terms of form, it derives its inspirations from a whole new set of writers and ways of writing—still predominantly Western, but no longer so stolidly canonical.

Second, in terms of content, the new stories deal largely with the bewildering variety of our unfolding experience--OCWs and the Filipino diaspora, the war in the countryside, the alienation of the middle class, the Chinese and the Others among us, our connections to the supernatural and to the afterlife, the tangled web of our personal relationships, including our sexuality, and Artmaking itself as subject.

Third, in terms of treatment or approach, this generation is an eclectic lot; while realism remains a strong and dominant strain, many new stories have assumed the forms and mindsets of magic realism, metafiction, minimalism, science fiction, parable, comic book, gothic horror, and postmodern parody.

Fourth, in terms of language, our young writers today use English unapologetically, refusing to be burdened by colonial guilt; quite a number of them write bilingually. Indeed we are witnessing the continuing de-Americanization of English, its appropriation by Filipino writers for Filipino subjects and purposes."

You know what's great about his analysis?

It's the fact that the so-called mainstream of serious literature has opened up to embrace other modes and mindsets, including comic book, magic realism and metafiction (although I have massive quibbles with the comic book as literature: with the exception of a regular handful like Maus or Jimmy Corrigan, it is simply not the case - which is why we need to work as hard as we can).

It's writing in-between forms, because our generation is no longer as bound to conventions as those who wrote before us were.

We can write in-between, under, over, beside and within cracks, borrowing tropes, gutting styles, ravaging approaches as our texts demand.

For a generation that has nothing big (no common experience like Martial Law or WWII) to write about...

... there exists everything else to write about.


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