Sunday, November 30, 2003

siglo: ice, ice baby

The venue for SIGLO: FREEDOM's soft launch has been moved to the Ice Vodka Bar in Greenbelt.

It makes me smile to think that we're celebrating the publication of an indie-spirited book in the heart of beautiful people country.

As a soft launch, it's mostly a friends & family affair, especially given the venue space limitations. But come Grand Launch in January next year, we'll devise a bigger celebration.

sowee, daddy

Last night, as the gigantic Christmas tree was being dressed up with old-fashioned lights (not these rice lights so in vogue now), Sage broke my glass poetry award.

She knew she did something wrong, because after a while she came up to me and said "Sowee, Daddy".

Now how can you keep a stern face in the face of such an apology?

Saturday, November 29, 2003

eight years

Monday marks eight years of marriage for Nikki and myself.

Eight years. Imagine that.

In the course of eight years we've gone through multiple homes, changed careers, set up businesses, bought too many books and comics, travelled back and forth, lost Kotik, and collaborated on our most wonderful joint venture - Sage.

We recovered one of the posed-by-the-Christmas-Tree-pre-wedding-shots we had a photographer take, with me twenty million pounds lighter and with absurd frou frou hair; Nikki, as always, was simply beautiful - it boggles my mind to know that I'm married to someone who is everything I've ever wanted in a partner.

Wife, I love you.

book lust

I'm ludicruously easy to shop for during Christmas. Socks and underwear - and I'm delighted.

But this time, I actually know what I'd get myself (because to ask anyone for it induces much too much guilt in me).

It's the twin hardcover slipcased complete works of Gary Larson, one of two favorite cartoonists of all time (the other one is Berke Breathed, the creator of Opus and his friends). Borders sent me email telling me I can pick it up at their Las Vegas branch (or any branch for that matter).


It's time to write my father, I guess.

the human touch

There is nothing like going to a spa and getting the full treatment.

Once in a while, I reward myself by going to (what has become) my favorite spa along Roxas Blvd.

After a hot dip, wet and dry sauna and a battering massage, I like to go up and have a glass of red wine while looking at the city lights.

Friday, November 28, 2003

opening shots

I need to redefine the meaning of "mob".

The opening of SM Marilao, which I handled the photo shoot for, was quite an experience.

After Henry Sy (tycoon owner of all the SM Malls and SM Prime and many many other things) opened the doors, the crowd surged in like a tidal wave, fighting over balloons and flowers, in a chaotic motion that brought to my mind the title of one of Gerry's works - ochlocracy, mob rule.

So into dervish mode we went, matching the seething crowd, taking shots of opportunity as madness ensued.

Much later, when things calmed down, we went around and took the requisite shots of everything else.

But, my God, nothing matched those first moments.
vignette: messiah (amaya, aya and orison) - for forlorn

With a clarity born out of desperation Amaya struggled to remember the Ward of Words, one many-ringed hand staunching the flow of blood from her gutted stomach. The pain did not bother her as much as it used to – her training as an apprentice under the tutelage of Master Needle saw to that. But loss of blood weakened her, and that she could not allow.

In front of her, the Reekreader, one of the inhuman Grotesqueries bent on destroying all of the world of Forlorn, twisted its three heads and laughed in malicious cacophony. From the center of its torso, a razor tongue extruded suddenly, lunging catercorner at its intended victim.

“Whip,” Amaya uttered, releasing power in the form of a spinning white cat-o’-nine-tails that circled her in defense. The whip struck the black tongue thrice in successive violence, forcing it to be retracted by the beast.

“W-warp,” one of the Reekreader heads shrieked.

“W-worms,” the second head shouted.

In a span of an instant, Amaya’s Ward was covered by undulating spiny worms that drew the eldritch energy from it, dispelling the conjuration.

“W-wrath,” the final head crowed, causing a fiery halo to flare into existence over Amaya’s head.

In that moment, Amaya felt a roaring head cascade over her face, setting her hair aflame. She barely had time to cover her eyes, burning her one remaining good hand in the process.

She quickly thought of a candle, of a storm lantern’s flame, of an open blaze, and drew on her memories of touching flame, of being burned. She latched on to the memory of Master Needle and the red-hot iron brand that he used on her breasts, and remembered how she had conquered fire, conquered fear, conquered pain.

The halo discorporated as quickly as it was dweomered into existence.

“So you like playing with fire,” she smiled as ashes of what was once her hair fell around her face. “So do I.”

She empowered a Gesture, the Stroke of Inferno, into the air, thinking how close this encounter was, how she almost died. But before she could complete the compass circuit, the Reekreader’s tongue split into seventeen sections and flayed the defenseless woman, cutting, gouging, ripping and shredding skin as if it were the finest vellum.

Amaya had no thought except for how, in the end, devotion to pain could not save her.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


With Buddha as the unwitting witness and potential sacrificial bull (a la Old Testament contracts), Vin and I committed to do Codename: Forlorn, a series of short stories (vignettish) in the fantasy mode set against the backdrop of despair (and guess what, it ends in tears, natch).

I've resisted writing fantasy like this for some time now because I feel that the genre is ultimately bereft of value - but that's just the jaded part of me talking. The truth is I love fantasy but in terms of good writing over the past years, well, let's just say "slim pickings" is putting it kindly.

Even the magic realist mode which has become my default style is contextualized within the framework of reality. I prefer stories that are interstitial, with a modern sensibility, because of their power to be relevant, to comment on the human condition, without having to degenerate into a questy thing or a battle against darkness or similar hogwash.

A more important thing that fantasy can do (as opposed to how I saddle it to comment on the human condition) is to provoke the sense of wonder. Magic does that (as opposed to sci-fi which projects into the future and leaves you feeling nothing). Magic should do that.

Only time and social convention have bestowed upon a chosen few fantasy books the imprint of being "literary", and thus of worth, of value, Tolkien and Le Guin's bodies of work being prime examples. Everything else, and I mean everything, is bereft. Pretty and entertaining but ultimately sound and fury signifying nothing.

And that, I suppose, is "okay".


Nikki and I are off at the crack of dawn tomorrow for the first of our mall shoots - this one at Marilao, Bulacan. I think I can take the trip - it's not so far, right?


can't we just all get along?

After playing these PC RPG games for a while, you get to thinking why everyone has to fight in the first place.

Can't we just...ignore each other?

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

fish be with you

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been adding more fish and seafood to my diet.

Saranggani, a place that specializes in bangus (milkfish) has become one of the favorite restos at the office.

At Marina, I finally decided to avoid ordering the pork things I usually have and had the tuna steak instead (Nikki had the scallops and looked great).

Today, we had lunch at the Manila Hotel and had the salmon with béarnaise sauce (by the way, I don’t know about you, but it seems that Manila Hotel has lost much of what used to make it The Hotel to stay - though the Champagne Room is still as romatic and expensive as ever).

The only fish concoction I avoid like the plague is any piscine soup dish. Wet fish is just unappetizing – the way the flesh is mushy, the way the soup is fishy, ick.

Monday, November 24, 2003

siglo: freedom

We're having two types of paper: a yellowish one for the hardcovers and a whiter one for the softcovers.

We're also finalizing the soft launch (tentatively December 20, folks!) but will make sure that our retailers have copies of the book before then.

How soon? How about next week?

Vin and I are also in the process of throwing around ideas for SIGLO 2. I'm thinking about SIGLO: MIDNIGHT and have begun to shortlist creators for our take on a hundred years of horrors. We will definitely break the "10 creators" conceit in favor perhaps of something thicker.

And in color. If it all works out, we should have that in time for the September 2004's book fair.

And maybe, just maybe, a TPB collecting all of THE LOST (including the unpublished thick issue #3 plus an indie take on Crossword Girl). But just maybe.

Arnold! How do you feel about a MYTH CLASS TPB?

more writing

As the year draws to a close, I need to plan out all the writing projects I'm involved in, outside of work (so scripting for Singapore or doing TV doesn't count). I've been remiss and let many a personal deadline pass unheeded, so I need to work double time to catch up.

Here's what's currently on my plate, all sharing thr ultimate deadine of March 2004:

Codename: Naked- For a new anthology featuring a character I like a lot in a risque narrative that MUST end in tears (grafiction)

Codename: Fierce - Space opera that ends in tears (grafiction)

Codename: Hiniranga - Picaresque story with girl that ends in tears (grafiction)

Codename: Nirvana - Lesbian schmesbian that ends in tears (play)

Codename: Veranda - Two sisters love the same man. Guess what, it ends in tears (play)

Codename: Ring Tone - Adultery while watching TV, that may NOT end in tears (play)

Codename: Canine - How do you bark? Look, no tears (fiction)

Codename: Silencio - Hush (fiction)

Codename: Hegemony - Rules (fiction)

vignette: bite

She decided that it was too hot to stay in the house. Besides, her two year-old daughter looked like she needed some air.

So outside they went, keeping to the shade afforded by the various roofs of the compound, hand in hand.

The mother talked to one of their neighbors, the woman who kept dogs. At last count, she had four, all trained and behaved. The little girl squinted at one of the dogs as she held on to her mother’s skirt.

What broke the stillness of conversation was the sudden movement of the dog: running, growling, teeth sharp and bare; followed by the shriek of the little girl, the dog biting deep into her arm, rabid shakes of its head left right left right, worrying with its teeth, merciless and relentless.

Time becomes subjective.

For the mother, everything is too fast, time tripping upon itself as stacked events resolve as quickly as sleight of hand tricks upon a dazzled audience. In the flurry of activity, she has time to only to deny reality, because this cannot be happening, and everyone knows that the first thing to do is to question what’s what in the off chance that it will go away like a figment of imagination.

For the dog owner, everything turns cold as the sweat on her upper lip. History repeats itself and everyone is condemned to perpetuate the cycle. In her mind there is the epiphany, small but as bright as the sun, that no one is safe from repetition, including her dogs. Her second thought, before she raises her hand to shoo her beloved pet away, is how she’s going to explain that she has no money to pay for anything: besides, the child probably provoked the dog – that’s part of the cycle after all.

For the child, everything is slow, like the sluggish passage of the day between the time she wakes up and the time her father comes home to play (sometimes with a treat). She watched the dog run towards her and she thought only to smile before the pain, brilliant and searing, overwhelmed her. Then her arm became the center of the universe, its gravity expanding at an impossible rate, pulling everything within hearing distance of the wounded stars.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

and yet, it will all be the same, a hundred years from now

the domain of spirit is fraught with loss
with every step you must measure the cost
in the face of abuse
you must learn how to choose
to carry someone else's heavy cross
the power of no

The parenting books were right. Sage has decided that her favorite word is “No”. It’s “No” to a tickle, a bath, dinner or whatever instruction you can think of.

Actually, even when she means “Yes”, she now is fully able to say “No”.

So it’s funny when she’s asking for something and I ask her back “Do you want this?” and she answers “No” – only to realize that contrary to what she said, she did want it.

She’s realized the power of “No”, because in fact she hears us say the word every so often. “No, be careful with glass.” “Sage, no, you must eat your dinner before you play again.” “No, Sage, it’s your bedtime.”

The thing is, we have to say “No”, otherwise she won’t learn that some things are just not meant for her to touch (like sockets) or that some modes of behavior are unacceptable (like crying just to get her way).

On the other hand, she also says “Yes” occasionally (albeit sounding like “Yesh” – she has difficulty with the letter “S”, so her name, according to her, is “Shage”).

And also “Please” (“Pleashe”).

Thursday, November 20, 2003


There is a vault of words, you see. I know where it is but I can't, for the life of me, tell you how to get there.

The path is not perilous, but long; not impossible to negotiate, but time-consuming. When I go there, I carry several candles, a pack of cigarettes, a sheaf of paper, a brush, dry ink, an inkstone and some water. The candles let me see my way through the tedious passages, the cigarettes allow me to measure time and distance and at the same time indulge my smallest vice, and everything else is for when I get there.

I use the long hours to think about what I will look for. When I was younger, I would be beside myself with excitement - the sheer vastness of what I could choose from was enough to make me giddy. When you're young, you never think about catachresis, you go for volume, you go for flash, you go for fury.

Now that I'm older, I'm learned to temper my expectations. It is not that I've become jaded, only that I've learned about economy, taste and never using more than I need.

As I walk, I think about the story in my head. I look at the swirls and eddies, its lambent formlessness, its almost-shape. I imagine strands of conversation, bits of description. I know that there is a plot there somewhere, but the words I currently possess lack the affinity for the new idea.

I've done what others before me have done. After each of my past visits, I stretched the capacity of my memory to retain the new words I touched and contextualized. After many years, I have my own little syllabary, a working vocabulary that is sufficient enough to impress those with more lackadaisical leanings. But after a while, I need more. More combinations, more arrays, more juxtapostions.

I realize that in the end I'm writing for myself, and that the words are like a potent drug.

The question of whether that perspective is right or wrong has become irrelevant. What matters is what the reader thinks, and ultimately that reader is myself.

Therefore I determine what is right.

I determine what I write.

I think about things like that along the way, engaging myself in a degree of dialogue - after all, a chance to practice is always good, and the ear listens to anything especially when there is nothing else to be heard.

I used to want company when I travelled. Someone to talk to besides my snide self. But the very nature of the path is that it can only be walked in solitude.

When I get to the vault, I always stop and take a breath. I didn't use to. But now, with age, I must. Besides, I know that all the words I want are within, waiting for me, so there's no rush.

When I am ready, I enter, my mind emblazoned with the symbols of my agenda - which is important because it is too easy to get lost, to get sidetracked.

I never stay longer than I have to.

It is as if as soon as I get there I long for home.
happy reads

By mid-December, the following comic books, by my barkada of creators, should be out in the market:

1. SIGLO: FREEDOM - a florilegium of old and new writers and illustrators, edited by Vin and myself

2. ZSA ZSA ZATURNNAH TPB - The collected edition of Carlo Vergara's 2003 National Book Award winner.

3. ANGEL ACE NEXT - The latest installment of Marco Dimaano's title, with contributions from special guest artists.

4. CHERRY BLOSSOM HIGH - Jason Banico spearheads this "girl's manga" release from PSICOM, with work from a lot of us.

5. MYSTIC MACHINE MAHARLIKA - by Jason Banico (prolific, ain't he?)

Now that's a great 4th quarter!
and that's me in the santa suit

Ah, the two ladies I love more than life itself.

Sage didn't want to sit on Santa's lap all by herself, so Nikki had to sit with her.

Christmas is tailor-made for Sage. She adores all the decor, the lights, the colors and all the activity.

We went and got the big family Christmas tree and will soon schedule the trimming event (hopefully the bigger one will be more difficult for Sage to pull down, like she did the smaller one last year).

I want to buy Sage everything for Christmas. But sadly, when I looked at the price of the smallest faux house, I was stunned to learn it cost over P13k. Eek.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

past is past

I’ve never been a big fan of memory (partially because I have a terrible one) but I know that there are many who look to the past with frightening devotion. They cannot imagine better days.

When we live out of memory, we’re tied to the past and to that which is finite.

When we live out of our imagination, there is only the infinite.

be agressive

The little project that Nikki and I are involved in as writers made the cut into the Final 5 (out of 100) at this big animation pitch slated for the first week of December in Singapore.

This is the kind of challenging pitch I would have enjoyed if the alignment of the stars only permitted travel for me during that time.

We hope that someone from Disney, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Italy’s Mondo Television bites.

If someone does… I’m treating everyone to a cup of the outrageously expensive Blue Mountain Coffee at UCC.

pikachu, i choose you!

Sage is so in love with the gigantic Pikachu card her Ninong Vin gave her. She loves lugging the thing around (its taller and wider than she is), propping it up against a wall, then calling out various parts of the electric mouse’s anatomy (she’s puzzled at the difference between her ears and Pikachu’s – though the color yellow or the stripes or the tail seem to bother her not a whit).

So now I regret throwing away all my Pokemon cards. Ninong Dino, if have any to spare, time to ante up!

Monday, November 17, 2003

siglo status check

It's out of our hands now.

We've submitted the final package to the printers and should see the book by late next week (fingers crossed). If (there I go, hedging again) all turns out well, we'll have a limited hardcover run as well as the regular softcover version. Clocking in at over 140 pages, SIGLO: FREEDOM was certainly a challenge to put together, but the results should be worth all the time, effort and sleepless nights all the creators spent (especially book designer Carl who put the entire thing together).

We've done nothing like this before - having a themed anthology with creators both established and fresh, in two formats, with a soft launch in December (watch this space for the final details) and a big launch in January 2004. We're looking at newspaper ads and TV guestings, at SIGLO posters, bookmarks and t-shirts, along with booksigning, campus and coffee house tours. Yes, there's quite a bit invested in marketing.

Will everything come to pass?

Watch and see.
vignette: the lady of tongues

I began my apprenticeship at House Savor when I was three years old.

My mother had died earlier that year, leaving my father alone to raise me. It was a task he felt he was unable to do, reasoning that a day mason could hardly stay at home. Within a month, he placed me at the Orphan Box, paying for the eleemosynary privilege with what remained of his savings before he vanished from my life completely.

I had barely been in the Orphan Box for a week when the man who would be my teacher found me. Anon Slight claims that he had a prophetic dream in which he found a fallen nest. Within it were eggs, all broken except one. He took that egg to his mouth, extended his talented tongue and touched the perfect shell with its gastronome tip before experiencing the closest thing to Epicurean nirvana. When he woke, the illusory taste receding from his palate, he understood what the portent meant and found me.

Which is how it was that I grew surrounded by things that made taste, above all else, my primary sense. I thought that I would be an Epicure like my adoptive father as my taste grew to encompass my world.

Anon Slight was vindicated by my perspicacious nature. By the time I was eight, I could identify any food by taste, list its ingredients, method of preparation and where it was it cooked. I could tell the gender of the cook, where her thoughts were predisposed to venture as she worked and exactly how many times she stirred the olla podrida. Outside the kitchen, I could taste the air and know that a storm would be arriving in six days, catch a snowflake on my tongue and surmise when spring would come or discern the diluvial temperament of the river by sampling its waters.

I thought I knew much but in truth I was inchoate. My tongue’s training had only begun.

I had no way of knowing how House Savor would be only my first stop in my journey to become Sybal, an assassin like no other, known to others as Silent Malady, Wicked Osculant or The Lady of Tongues.

The Harlot Ennead had yet to come for me.

Friday, November 14, 2003


I remember the first time I was struck hard by covetousness. I was around eight or nine years old and hanging out in the house of a playmate, Allen.

Now Allen was a rich kid, an only child who lived in a bigger house with a multitude of maids, but he was very nice, not stuck up at all.

That particular afternoon, as we played with Lego in his room, I noticed a pile of oversized comics. Now until that point in time, I thought that comic books were of a single size, you know, comic book size. But Allen had gigantic ones.

Intrigued, I started reading and was introduced to the adventures of Tintin and Snowy, as well as those of Asterix and Obelix. I loved them. I wanted my own copies.

“Where did you get these?” I asked him.

“My mom got them in the States.”

It was then I realized that I’d never be able to find them in Manila.

And I so wanted them.


I went home in the grip of envy.

The following day, I dropped by his house to read. He wasn’t there but one of their helpers let me in his room. I started to read about Captain Haddock and Calculus, Cacofonix and Getafix.

I also thought about stealing all of his big comics.

Or some of them. I quickly thought it through and crossed the line.

I took one of them: Flight 714, starring Tintin. I stowed it in my bag and walked home.

I spent the night waiting for the inevitable phone call from Allen or his parents, accusing me of being a thief, and I had prepared all my denials, my ironclad alibis, my rationales and justifications.

I didn’t get a call that night. In school the following day, Allen treated me exactly the same way. Maybe he hadn’t noticed it yet, I thought. I gave it time, and in the two weeks that followed I waited for him to suddenly punch me in the face.

It never happened.

Gradually, Allen and I grew apart, making other friends, in a way that seemed very organic, very natural. We continued to see each other in school but we were both growing up, and moving on to other things. Up to this day I think the decline of our closeness was not related to my misdemeanor.

Or maybe it was.

As for Flight 714, after I stole it I never read it again. There was almost a physical pain linked to the act of opening the cover; guilt does that. I thought about returning it and coming clean.

One day, I visited his house and just dropped the book off. It did not erase the fact that I had done something wrong, but it did a lot to assuage my guilt.

The lesson I learned was that while I may not have gotten caught stealing something, the unchanging fact is that I had done something wrong. And the guilt and stress and loss of many somethings, some invisible, is not a good trade off.

And now, having all the Tintins and Asterixes as an adult, I know I owe the friend of my childhood something greater than an abject apology.

Thursday, November 13, 2003


Food, on the other hand, is more pleasant to shoot, though the discipline of food styling takes more than just an eye for what looks right.

Soon, Marc and I will have to get a stylist kit, complete with droppers, tongs, gloves, scooper, spritzer and all the necessary junk to make stuff like ice cream (using mashed potatoes) and so on.

Bok, one of our designers, had a field day with his food shoot for our culinary studio client – and his perk was that everything could be eaten afterwards.

mountain denied

Feeling like the Joseph (and Mary), I tried to get rooms for next week’s projected trip to Baguio. I called a gazillion hotels of varying pedigrees but everyone was fully booked because of the Ad Congress.

So we cancelled the shoot and plan to go to other malls our client owns around the country instead. In a way I am happy because I don’t need to go insane from the overland trip and my separation anxiety with Sage is nullified. But part of me was also looking forward to just getting away from the city (though of course everyone in the ad biz would have been in Baguio so la de dah) and picking up some ube and strawberry jam from Good Shepherd, as well as finally going to Café By The Ruins.

Some other time then. I need to think about planning a series of aerial shoots in a helicopter.


As we enter the homestretch, I am simply floored by the quality of work the Siglo creatives have submitted.

Vin and I are absolutely delighted by how things turned out, especially since it is only in the final editing process that we see all the stories side by side.

Look at the line-up, and keep in mind that all the stories are about freedom.

We start off in Jolo, down in southern Mindanao, during the 10’s and the fall of Bud Bagsak, the last Moro stronghold. I have a little abecedarian story about language illustrated by Andrew Drilon.

Next we visit Panay in the 20’s, where Nikki Alfar and Marco Dimaano tell us about a self-proclaimed Filipino emperor through the eyes of his wife.

Cebu is the next stop in the 30’s where a vaudeville magician experiences a certain epiphany, as told by Jason Banico and Honoel Ibadolaza.

Gerry Alanguilan takes us into the war-torn 40’s Laguna and into the personal struggle of one man against what seems to be his family doom.

An impending marriage in Chinatown is the backdrop of Elbert Or’s 50’s nuanced story about duty and choice.

Arnold Arre takes us into a barbershop in Baguio City during the 60’s, and from there into the distant future.

Honoel Ibardolaza tells a quiet story set in Negros during the Marcos years.

Vin Simbulan takes us to Batangas in the 80’s, where love takes second place to parental will, illustrated by Elbert Or.

San Juan is the location of Marco Dimaano’s take on escapist freedom and a wish for a better world – all in the 90’s.

And finally, Andrew Drilon ends the anthology with his meditation on the need for an oasis in the midst of the noise of the Naughts.

Patience, camel. You will see it soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


One of my hats is that of an art director, and I find myself constantly challenged by new projects. For example, just when I thought mirrors were difficult to shoot or that very young children were the hardest talents to motivate, we land a water account.

With over a dozen different containers ranging from small bottles to tall dispensers, we had to come up with images we would ultimately use for the campaign we were cooking up.

But water is water, right? How difficult can it be to shoot?

The thing with water is that you need to shoot against white or a very light background to give the impression that the water is pure. You need to have creative lighting and blocking to nail the feeling you’re trying to show. You have to make the water sparkle, even if it’s inside containers.


So shadows become the enemy. But too much light brings about too much brightness. So a balance has to be found. Everything in the environment has to be controlled (and I shudder at my assignment next week in chaotic Baguio City). And I even got some exercise playing water bearer with several of the big multi-gallon bottles.

All in, I think we did great. The best part was lugging back to the office one of the hot/cold dispensers our beloved client gave me.

Don’t you just love perks?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

little kali

I’m in search of a replacement DVD remote controller to replace the one that Sage mysteriously ruined (mysterious because it has nary a scratch – and no doubt that its her because she plays with it).

The irritating thing is that no universal remote accommodates the brand of my player (because its new, a salesperson tells me).

And believe me, it’s necessary – because I want to see the entire contents of the various DVDs we have, and not just what is first available manually.


I do so want to see the new Diana Zubiri movie – much more than any desire to see the final Matrix film.

For “Liberated”, Diana and 3 other performers went on a four day-long “sensuality workshop” in which they spent their time naked.

What irked them though is the fact that Seiko Films filmed the entire thing, for their “files”. Indeed.


It looks like we’ll be able to submit the Siglo materials to the printers on schedule, thanks to the Herculean efforts of Carl.

If things go as planned, we will not only have hardback versions of the book, but also a variety of marketing materials including bookmarks and tees.

Me, I just want to see the thing as one complete entity.

Monday, November 10, 2003


Despite my misgivings (actually, it's more an emphatic hatred of travelling overland), I'll be going up to Baguio next week for four days to direct a photoshoot for a client. I'll have my favorite corporate communications writer (Nikki) and photographer (Pierre) with me, as well as one of the nicest clients I've had in a while.

So I need to mentally prepare myself for the ardous 86,537 hour trip (or so it seems to be, the actual travel time is about 6 hours), and ready to hurl myself into the midst of the Advertising Congress, happening at the same time in the Summer Capital. I hope to see Marco if his agency attends the gathering.

After that, I'll most likely have to fly to Cebu and Davao pretty soon to handle shoots in those places as well. Which is no problem since I'll take a plane. It's really the overland that gets me.

(I don't know. I must be getting older. A few years ago, I'd be travelling every month, sometimes twice a month, to places in the country as well as abroad, and I didn't mind. Now, all I can think of is how much I'll miss my little girl.)

Sunday, November 09, 2003


The cause of much dismay is how people mistake intensity for love, especially after the giddiness of the first phases of a new relationship (the honeymoon after the sweet barrier of propriety and fear and hope and fantasy is finally breached).

Suddenly, metrics are applied (“How come you don’t call me as often as you did?” Or “Aren’t we seeing each other today? We used to see each other everyday.”) by one party to the other, letting insecurities run rampant - as if the lessening of obvious loving signifiers signals deterioration or disinterest.

But the fact is that every relationship evolves. It changes as time passes, as circumstances occur, as the parties involved grow or stagnate. To long for things as they were at the beginning, to impute upon those magical moments the notion of what is ideal, is to poison what you have where you’re at (although, to be fair, there is nothing wrong in wanting something as innocous as a "thank you").

Subscribing to the idea of an ideal scenario is tantamount to disregarding the reality of what you have – and by no means is it necessarily ugly or uninspired. It is simply different, a different set of moments en route to another scenario.

When you demand of your partner to make things like they were before, you’re asking that person to regress – because you’re afraid, because you want only the glitz, because you cannot handle the truth: that change is constant, that people grow, that the relationship is an entity sometimes arguably independent of what you think.

If this is how you think now, then just how will you handle a marital commitment? Ten years into your marriage, will you turn to your partner and express your longing for how things where in Year One?

A relationship is not like the corpus of your favorite author – wherein if you do not like what he written in his latest novel, you can always pick up one of the older books he wrote that you adore.

With a relationship, you are always on the current page, and when the hand, having writ, moves on, you move on to the next page or chapter as well.

Or you could decide you don’t like what you’re reading and tear up the page.

If you don't mind the sound.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

taxi tip: triggered meters

As a long-time taxi rider (sold my car many years ago after all the expenses of gas and parking plus the irritation of traffic made me want to shoot people or at least get out of the car and smash their faces in), I've picked up a few lessons. And it's time to share.

Be aware that a number of cabs have nasty meters. If you've barely budged and the meter looks like you've traveled to Baguio and back, you're so obviously being victimized.

These cabs are custom desgined so that the driver is able to cause the meter to spike at will. The most obvious places are below the meter, on the steering wheel or the area adjacent to the gas pedal. The most novel trigger (so new I just found out about it today) is hidden behind the head of the driver, under the seat cover of his headrest - so if your driver seems to nod a lot...

Who's guilty? Almost all of the Wallis taxis (they reason that it is justified because they have the highest boundaries in the land - P1,400), MGE and a lot of the small taxi companies (with only 1 or 2 units owned).

Who do they like to victimize? People who are blatantly not regular taxi riders, fragile women and people fresh from the provinces.

The best thing is to inform the driver that you know exactly how much you usually pay. If you have no clue, try to look world-weary. Failing that, throw a hissy fit, threaten to report him, take out your cell phone and call the authorities (though you should judge if your fit is warranted because you could get stabbed seventeen times like that poor girl from Publicis).

Or you could ask him to stop at a safe place and just get another cab.

If a person's lifespan was measured in words (and the ultimate number of words one can speak before keeling over is unknown), how often would you speak?

Would you remain mute and become an immortal (short of death by violence)?

Would you speak to your beloved? Your child?

Would the world become a silent planet of writers & artists and readers & viewers?

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Sometimes when things just get too hectic or senseless, or when the pressure to do things weighs a little bit too heavily (and not just for Big Things, but even for the most mundane responsibilities – taking care of your kids, putting food on the table, paying the electric, water, phone, cable and food bills, paying the helpers’ salaries, attending to the business), it is important to just step back and just…stop.

In all honesty, the world will not end, nor will the stars falls screaming to ground just because you took a moment off.

It seems that for a lot of us, anxiety comes in the minimum size of XXL, in pairs or trios or six-packs – because everything adds up. After all, you are not alone. But rather than indulge in trichotillomania, do something about it.

Look: you play peacemaker on behalf of estranged friends and relatives (and see more sides than you care to); you get involved as the dispenser of wisdom in someone’s latest heartbreak (and realize how draining someone else’s travails are, or how petty, or how abyssal); you act as parent for someone else’s child (all the while juggling your own worries, asking yourself, perhaps unkindly, why such situations happen in the first place); you loan money or time or thought or skill to someone who asks for it (though its not as if you had much lying around, but how can we, as good people, say no?). You bite off more than you can chew, increase your load and work until your emotional core is exposed.

There is a limit to how much you can handle, and there is nothing wrong in setting everything down for a while. You need to do this on occassion - otherwise, you risk either dramatic collapse or slow degradation.

Take the morning or afternoon off, get away from everything, and park yourself in your bedroom on your bed and stare at the ceiling. Then just relax, consider how everything is transient, how your worries mean little in the greater scheme of things, how someone somewhere loves you. Think about what makes you happy, what makes everything worthwhile, be it faith or agenda or inertia. Remember what matters. Look again at what you believe in, indulge in a little solipsism (whether you believe in it or not is beside the point) then nod off to sleep.

It doesn’t matter if you dream or not. This is not about dreams - often they are arbitrary, and true dreams are hard to come by.

When you wake up, the world will not be changed; your concerns will not miraculously vanish. They’ll all still be there – where to get money for tuition and books, the problems with the choir, the impossible client deadline, the overextending houseguest, the Sisyphusian school schedule, the termination of a love affair, the emotional extortion, the burgeoning discovery of sexuality, the petulant child, the cold mother, all your unaddressed issues of hate, guilt, recrimination and fear, things that are neither salubrious nor pleasant – but now at a bit of distance, and perhaps with less devastating force, and definitely with the advantage of perspective.

What you do next is up to you. Just remember that while you cannot control the circumstances of your life, you can exercise control over how you deal with things.

Breathe, my friend. Breathe.

At last we have an internet connection at home.

Feels great!

Monday, November 03, 2003


Project One Hundred is almost complete, our little contribution to the local grafiction scene for this year.

The actual book title is SIGLO (the Filipino term for “century”) and it will feature ten stories across ten decades by ten primary authors/creative teams – all on the concept of freedom through the years, edited by Vin Simbulan and myself.

In addition to the regular rogues gallery of comic achievers, we invited a pair of youngblood storytellers. And that, if everything works out, is how I envision SIGLO - as an annual themed anthology with strong writing and great art by a mix of established and new storytellers (and not necessarily from the comics field).

In this maiden publication, we have Gerry Alanguilan, Arnold Arre, Honoel Ibardolaza, Elbert Or, Andrew Drilon, Jason Banico, Marco Dimaano, Vin Simbulan, Nikki Alfar and myself. In addition, the book will feature art pieces by Lan Medina (Fables, Silver Surfer) and Leinil Francis Yu (Superman: Birthright) and brandish a kickass book design by Carlo Vergara.

We’re in the exciting stage of receiving finished artwork and everything looks great.

Watch for it this December.

the devil-girl stayed at home

Yes, poor Sage had a fever during Halloween night and missed out on trick-or-treating with the rest of her cutesy clique (a princess in a golden gown and crown, a bee, a ghost and an Indian boy).

However, they all came by later and shared their loot with her, making her quite happy (though chocolate is still “yucky” since it stains her fingers when it melts).

while daddy and mommy played

Later that night, also sick, I went with Nikki to the gang’s Halloween slash Happy Birthday Jason party (happy bday, Jayce!). Vin booked a hotel room (we all suspect he’s on the board of directors with at least two hotels), Carl whipped up his special pasta with chicken and mushroom sauce, and we initiated Charles into the intricacies of Cranium – not a game for the painfully shy or someone who cannot hum a tune.

It was, as Marco mentioned, a very laid back party and I was glad since my head was filled with mucus. But despite that my team with Alex and Marco trounced the others, twice, much to the chagrin of Dino and the best efforts of Nikki to pantomime “one trick pony”.

Ah, we’re just a bunch of kids, aren’t we?

elemental evil

My latest PC game addiction is The Temple of Elemental Evil, based on the eponymous classic D&D module.

While character creation is fun (and the entire game abides with the 3rd Ed rules) and combat cool, the painfully slow screen panning is enough to drive one insane.

Still, I love it.

Ah, I’m such a sucker for shit like this.

bald truth

And I’ve given in to temptation and shaved my head again.

Will put up the old pix again soon.