talking the talk
Wilson, Marco, Jaime and I conducted the Nautilus Comics Seminar at Powerbooks Megamall yesterday, joined later by Vin and Andrew.
Wilson and Marco handled the art portion with many tips and answers to difficulities peculiar to illustrating comics, while I handled the writing part. It was irksome to realize that I could not connect my laptop to the projector, thus making useless the multi-page powerpoint I developed for my portion, but then again, talking extempore is never a problem for me.
Because I'm quite familiar with the topics I've chosen, of course (and secretly, I'm a teacher). We had a mixed crowd of various ages (from a 7 year-old to a grandmother-type), but everyone came to listen and learn.
Whenever I talk (formally or informally, to large audiences or very small ones), I make sure to inject moments of levity and humor to spike my points. Laughter creates bonding between speaker and audience and allows for a degree of familiarity - you're more likely to listen and retain a lot of information if the speaker is entertaining to listen to. There is no reason not to create an engaging situation, especially in mixed crowds. My big difficulty, as always, is translating my English thoughts to Filipino - but that, in itself, creates moments of humor.
I also got a chance to meet some new and upcoming comics creatives, which is always a good thing. It's good to know that someone somewhere will carry the torch in the future because we old farts will fade away in time.
After dinner at Steak Jack's (great food, miserable service), we had coffee and conversation at UCC (expensive food, good service). We talked about issues that affected us a citizens of our country as well as (inevitably) literature, art and games:
Giving in to terrorism - Our Lady President gave in to the demands of the Iraqi captors of Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz. The militants threatened to behead him (like they did an American and a Korean earlier) if the Philippines did not pull out its military presence in Iraq earlier than scheduled. President Arroyo suffered criticism from the US when she ultimately agreed to pull out. This, of course, triggered the notion that we should never give in to terrorist demands because it encourages them, giving them the correct impression that they can hold entire countries hostage. It is easy to take that stand if the person held hostage is a stranger to you. But I was thinking, would people feel the same way if the hostage was their father, brother husband or son? Or by extension, a member of their extended family? Or a neighbor? Or someone from their chruch or community? From there, how about someone from their province or region? Or simply a countryman? It is a difficult situation and there are no cut-and-dried easy or correct answers. How can we take a consistent stand against horror like this when we can only take a stand when it is comfortable for us to do so?
National Language - this old chestnut is being revived in certain sectors, with same old pros and cons. Ultimately, I believe that language does not equate to nationalism, and that it is only the small-minded who would judge the intagible quality of "love or loyalty to country" based on the language we use. Besides, what is "Filipino" but Tagalog by another word? What of Cebuano? Or any of the other languages found across the different parts of the archipelago? It is easy to be sarcastic and point out that Jose Rizal, our National Hero, wrote in Spanish - the language of the (then) oppressors, but that argument does nothing to clarify matters. The ideas behind the words, the signified beyond the signifier, is what really matters.
Decentralizing government departments - There is a motion to move the various Departments (Finance, Education, Agriculture, Trade & Industry, etc.) away from Manila, where they are all currently located, to other places in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. I actually have no opinion on the matter (how rare!) except that while it does seem fair, there is also a reason why Manila is the capital city of the country. More obvious to me is the logic behind proposing to relocate the Ninoy Aquino Internation Airport to Pampangga - it works for Japan (Narita - Tokyo) and nobody should mind an additional two-hour trip from airport to city.
Florante at Laura - To my chagrin, I could barely remember anything about Francisco Balagtas' poem apart from the fact that it opens with Florante tied to a tree and the villain is Conde Adolfo and that there is a Moor somewhere in the story. In fact, my friends laughed when I asked in what part of the story does the Ibong Adarna poo on the head of some unfortunate person and turn him to stone. I seriously need to reread these works and get back in touch with our literary heritage. I can only blame my Filipino lit teacher for making it a pain to study in high school.