Friday, March 17, 2006

sisig & haggis

I attended the launch of Latitude last night, in the company of friends. Being mostly a hermit-writer (in the sense that I really don't attend these functions and thus am not part of any powerful or influential or popular literary circle, being mostly content with the trying to do something with speculative fiction), it was a change to meet up with several writers whose work I admire, and well, to talk shop.

The last time I spent at length with Sarge was at the UP Writers Workshop waaaay back in 1992. Back then, none of us knew just how far any of us would go, consumed more with what we were writing in the present in the context of short-term planning rather than projecting possible futures into the far reaches of time (to us, then, 15 years ahead was inconceivable; the arrogance of youth presumes time is frozen to its advantage). But I came upon a post by Paolo Manalo that lists, in part, that particular workshop's roster, and it is amazing: "The other writing fellows of that time (batch 1992) included: Dean Francis Alfar (Salamanca), Rebecca AƱonuevo (Nakatanim na Granada ang Diyos), JB Capino (Lam-ang), Michael Coroza (Dili't Dilim), Ruel S. de Vera (The Most Careful of Stars), J. Neil C. Garcia (The Garden of Wordlessness), Vicente Garcia Groyon (The Sky Over Dimas), Angelo Rodriguez Lacuesta (Life Before X), Hansel Mapayo (Sanggi), Chris Martinez (Welcome to Intelstar), Doris Olivar-Aquino (Karugtong ng Isang Pangarap), Eric Ramos (Azucena), Auraeus Solito (Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros) and Roberto Ofanda Umil (Oda sa Kaldero)." And, of course, it included Paolo Manalo (Jolography). And to think that for the most part of the workshop, I was thinking about how to get a particular girl into bed.

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So I was happy to see and talk to Sarge Lacuesta, of course. And to celebrate his anthology, a literary mix of haggis and sisig. The event was sponsored by both Anvil and the British Council which meant good food and endless whiskey for everybody. (A note about me and whiskey: we are mutually exclusive. I do not have a sophisticated enough palette to appreciate its intimations of smoke and peat moss. I know I promised Sarge that I'd get drunk with him, but it really wasn't to my taste.)

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Cynthia Alexander (who is married to Scotsman) performed with her group and what amused me was this one man whose sole contribution to their set of songs was to clap his hands...once in a while. I remember Nikki saying "Hey, I can do that!".

In midst of things, Butch Dalisay (one of my favorite Filipino writers) came over and told me to apply for the Scottish workshop (the name is a tongue-twister and is so complex that my brain recoils from my attempts to recall it). I do know what it is and it's an amazing thing. Even more amazing because Butch offered to sponsor me/recommend my acceptance, along with another recommendation from Krip Yuson. I was floored by his kindness, and his belief in my ability as a writer. I'm not sure when it is (it's a month-long sojourn to a castle in Scotland) but I do know it is something I'd love to try. Who knows, maybe I'll even get part of a new novel or something done.

I also reminded Luis Katigbak and Yvette Tan to begin their stories for the next volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction. I take every chance a get to tell writers about the anthology, and to submit stories for consideration. (I'll be making the general call soon-ish, and like before, will be more than happy to read through works of unpublished authors).

When I got a chance to read from Hollow Girl: A Romance, I selected the sexy passage that leads up to a devastating leave-taking. My friends told me later that I sounded like I was narrating a sequence in one of the role-playing games I manage. What amused me was my discovery that some of my prose does sound interesting when read out loud. But how it sounds is always secondary to how it reads, to me, when I am in the process of writing, and later, editing. (It's different for plays, naturally, which must sound right).

Sayang wala si Bing Sitoy. I've never met her or talked to her, but I love her writing. Ian! Ipakilala mo naman ako, via email!

At ngayon, balik trabaho.

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