Thursday, July 31, 2003

sometimes being small does not matter

We won the big telco's corporate website account, and what made that fact even sweeter was that we were up against some of the best people in the industry, people I know. We ended up in a "face-off" against the premiere design company and somehow won.

One of the things my life has taught me is that sometimes, even if you're small, it pays to have a loud voice. Heh.

shots in the hinterlands

My 12-hour workday was focused on getting the proper shots for one of our food clients.

And really, Alabang and Bicutan are as far to my mind as Madagascar and Sierra Leone.

It's like a different time zone there, different people, almost a different mall culture (and since we handle work two of the big mall chains, I am able to discern just who is being targeted).

Still, it was an enjoyable shoot. I was reminded again how much I hate polarization-resistant mirrors, too much glass and nosy crowds who kept looking for the artistas for the "movie" we were shooting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

fragment: tomb

ALL: Darkness can mean many things.
There’s evil and fear
solitude and ignorance
greatness and despair

M3: And death.

ALL: And death.
Death the inevitable, the final arbiter,
the corruptor,
the final stage,
the final word.

M3: A last breath.

ALL: Tomb.

W1: A burial place. A crypt of darkness.
The dead’s resting place.
Their final bed.

ALL: Tomb.

M1: The final.

W2: The inevitable.

M2: Dark and

W3: Cold and

M2: Airless and

W1: Cramped and

M3: Black

ALL: Tomb!

M3: This darkness calls to mind
a fragment I hold.

ALL: Tomb!

M3: I recall a final sunset,
a farewell brilliance of orange and red.
I recall a final touch of water,
a final taste of coolness.
I recall a final bout of laughter—laughter?
No. Tears, I recall tears.
Tears of my sisters as they stayed by my side,
as the sickness devoured my body
and my mind began to slip
slip slide slip and slide
slip gently into dreamless sleep.
Sleep. Slip into sleep.
Sleep never again to
Sleep never again
Sleep never
Yes, I slept and so sleeping
fell fell fell fell fell
into darkness.

M1: Now a certain man was sick
in the town called Bethany,
the town of two sisters
named Mary and Martha.

M3: Sleep. Sleep.
Yes. Let me sleep.
Let this darkness carry me off into dreamless sleep.
Carry me.

W3: And this was the Mary who had once
anointed the Lord with fragrant oil
and wiped His feet with her hair,
whose brother lay at death’s door.

M3: Dim my vision.
Dull my senses.
Carry me off into rest.

M1: And Jesus loved them very much.
So the sisters went to Him and said,

W2: Lord, oh Lord,
the man whom You love is sick.

W3: And Jesus said

M2: Our friend just sleeps.
I will go to wake him up.

(Man One and Woman Three begin to wrap a light gauze or similar material around the body of Man Three as he and the others speak.)

M3: Wrap around my body the cloth
of sleep, night’s dressing gown.
Wrap my hands cold so cold
void of warmth and tenderness.

W1: But when He arrived at Bethany
our brother was already four days in the tomb.

M3: In darkness I am hard.
Darkness is harsh and cold
wrapping both young and old
the brave and the bold.
Rich men and poor
are all alike.

W2: Then Martha came up to Jesus,
tears in her eyes,
quiver to her lips,

W1: Lord, if You had been there sooner
my brother would not have died!
But even now I know
that whatever You ask of God, Lord,
God will give to You,
for You are His Son.

M3: Wrap my body
and sing the lament
for I have gone away
away away away away
never to be seen again.

M2: Your brother will rise again.

W1: Of course, of course,
at the resurrection of the last day.

M2: I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me, though he may die, shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

M3: Sing me to sleep.
Voice a lament to my passing.
Never again will I hear your songs.
Never again
Never ever

M2: Where have you laid him?

M3: Never ever never
ever never
ever never
never ever never

W1: Lord come and see.

M3: In the darkness it is cold.
It is cold and it is dark.
There is no sound.
There is no light.
I am alone

W2: And Jesus wept.

M3: Shed your tears.
You shed them in vain.
Sun’s time has given way to night’s time.
Light over to darkness has surrendered.
Cry not, waste not, weep not.
I am trapped by the dark
and the dark is so cold and strong.
Cold and strong and cold and dark.

M2: Take away this stone.

W1: But Lord, his body has been there for
four days. There will be a stench.

M3: In death there is no smell, no time, no light.
The dead do not see, do not hear, do not smell,
do not know, do not care, do not live.
Four days are ten days are a hundred thousand
upon hundreds of thousands are but one day
in an eternal night of death.

M2: Did I not tell you that if you will believe
you will see the glory of God?
Take the stone away.

W2: And we did.

M2: Father, I thank You for hearing me.

M3: The dead have no ears.
The color of sound is black.
Black sound is sound black.
Sound is silence.

W1: And Jesus stood before the empty tomb


(There is a pause. Then the lights come back on stage in force, and Man Three breaks the cloth that binds him, and rips the cloth off.)

M3: Light.

(Woman One and Woman Two rush to him and embrace him.)

M3: Oh my Lord
the tomb was dark
and cold and lightless
and the silence was so great
and the tombstone so large
and my body so cold
and I—
Lord, oh, I—
Lord, my Lord.

M2: Lazarus, Lazarus.

W1+W2: From womb to tomb
from tomb to life again
from darkness to light
death to life
journeyed Lazarus.

M3: This is all I remember.

vignette: simpatio (sympathy)

When Domingo Rodriguez brought home the bull that was fated to turn his heart into stone, he was twenty six years old, newly married and desperately in love. The bull, thick muscled and handsome, was an unexpected prize Domingo won in a moment of spontaneous participation in a knife throwing contest at the Mercado du’l Tres. He threw the blade without thought or hope and struck the target perfectly, triggering a resounding cheer from the gathered crowd that provoked a sudden vision of his new wife accepting the magnificent beast as a gift.

Gialina, his young wife, was at that moment, washing rice for their evening meal. As the polished grains passed from her hands to the cooking pot, she reflected on how her life had changed, from an existence seemingly doomed forever in a remote barrio in Pagadi’an to a new home in the outskirts of grand Ciudad Meiora itself, delirious in the excesses of her husband’s nightly embrace. Despite the fact that her heart was filled to overflowing with adoration for Domingo, what she could not know was she was about to be given something that would prove her absolute ignorance in the matters of the heart.

The prize bull, so central to the destruction of the young couple’s marriage, knew nothing of his destiny. All he longed for was someone to love, for despite what his appearance suggested, he had lived an extraordinary life. He followed his new owner home with an impressive dogged docility, for following instructions was the least of his marvelous range of skills. When Domingo attempted to lead him through rocky ground, he chose their path, heading catercorner instead of directly ahead, navigating the worst of the fields.

The bull's true owner, the Most Excellent Primo Orador Betina du Zabala, beside herself with rage and grief, had intended the beast as her special companion. As the Grandmaster of the Spoken Word, she was versed in many secret methods of power, including the bildungsroman form of twisting moral identities and the calculated use of haplology and edulcoration. She had invested years of craft and patience, from the time the animal was a calf all the way to his adulthood, with the goal of having someone she could talk to when she grew older than old.

Betina du Zabala wept when the bull was discovered missing. She did not know where the bull was, how it was stolen from her estate, who stole it or why. She had no idea that it had changed hands many times in the span of a day and at that moment was trudging towards its new home. What she did know, what she swore with all the power of her art of expression, was that whoever kept her bull would be the beneficiary of an abundance of curses.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

lost and found

If all goes well, we'll see the entire Lost series (including the unpublished Lost #3) soon. Details are still being worked out but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Truly, one of the most frustrating aspects of independent publishing is funding. I was thinking of publishing #3 in digest size to keep the cost lower than if I had it printed in the same size as its predecessors. However, it struck me how silly it would be to have #1 & #2 larger than the final installment. I don't know.

There was also the plan of releasing it on a CD but somehow it didn't work out.


One of the reasons this has come up again is that I met an editor last week and one of the questions she asked me was where was Lost #3.

I tell you, I wish I had enough money to blow on this thing, but priorities, priorities. Maybe if I skip the next 60 or so TPBs. But I don't think so.

It just kills me that I have all these pages by Arnold Arre doing nothing.

In the meantime, here are the two covers.

The front is by Carlo Vergara. . We have Immacolata, wearing Santino's wings in the background. In the foreground, we have the Makers - Toogy, Cybs and Dors along with Pepper.

The back cover is by Marco Dimaano. As in the previous issues, the second story is written by Nikki Alfar. The first one was about Immacolata, the second one was about Santino, and rounding it all up is this one featuring Albert the dead guy.

Marco's eye for details is astounding. That's Toogy in the center surrounded by the Strong and the Lost.

I am truly irked by this latest coup attempt.

It is obvious that in this country, due process and rule of law are irrelevant if you have guns, money, political power or the so-called support of the masses (purchased or otherwise).

Everyone has an agenda, yes. But must we take to streets each and every time? Or try to overthrow the government and at the same time risk not just the lives of people but also continue the economic death spiral of the country?

We all live together in this damn country and no one's agenda is more valid than the next. We need to see beyond our personal selfishness and think of the greater good.

Or perhaps we are not ready for a democracy (or what passes for our pathetic version of it). Perhaps we need something more similar to the old dictatorship or a Singapore-style government.

Enough of this charade. No one benefits from these short-term and short-lived attempts that give no thought to the general betterment of the country. By taking their grievance out in this manner, these rebels have managed to marginalize everyone else.

The damage to the entire economic ecosystem affects all of us.

I want stability in this country I love.
coup d'etat

I first heard of the latest coup attempt last night while waiting for the elevator to take me down to the lobby of the condo where I live.

In the prior days, there was news about the dissatisfaction of a group of junior officers from the Philippine Navy and Army and President Arroyo's moves to pacify them. Obviously, her parley attempt failed.

This group of rebels call themselves Magdalo, the same name used by the revolutionaries who fought to break Spain's colonial rule more than a century ago. The even use the stylized letter K (for Katipunan) and the color red.

Among the list of their demands are the immediate overhaul of certain military and government systems, the end of corruption, an increase in their pay and housing benefits, as well as the suspension of the government's practice of selling arms to the very groups it is fighting - prompting a palace representative to call the entire rebel position absurd.

The rebels took over a portion of the Ayala Center, setting up booby trapped bombs and sequestering themselves at the Oakwood Suites. "If this explodes," one soldier said, as he put up a bomb, "Then sorry for you."

Ousted President naturally denies any participation.

It's amusing to watch various government officials take positions in the ongoing charade.

I'm tired of living in a country like this.

But you know what? The ability of the Filipino to use levity to deal with serious situations has come to fore again. Here's a text message I just got right now:

"I'm inviting you and all your friend to dinner at the Outback Restaurant next to the Oakwood Suites - my treat!"

And so we laugh even if the joke is on us as a nation.

Ha ha. Ha.

Friday, July 25, 2003

work stuff


I'm delighted with the challenge of our new sandwich account. We put together a plan that ought to make a difference. With the great design skills of Carl and Bok, I'm already guaranteed the aesthetic. What remains to be seen is if my fundamentals are sound.

feel good

Kestrel IMC's designs made it to the shortlist of the top 2 agencies considered for the crown jewel of the largest telco's suite of sites. It's a big thing for me because of the size of my operation and the quality of the competition. The former company I worked for is the other remaining agency, after the elimination of the other heavyweights, particularly the one that sounds like an equation.

It would be great if we are awarded the account, but really, just being up there is no small matter for us. We won one of the other sites earlier this year and have completed the information architecture, design and html phase.

For this new one, we have a "face-off" next week and frankly, I can't wait.

beyond khaki

Our materials for the one of our apparel clients have started coming in and on the whole they look good. We just need some color tweaks but we should be on schedule.

Sometimes, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the small details. I'm just glad that my partner and staff are more than capable.


If I sit back and think about it, my new company has managed to acquire the beginnings of a great portfolio.

In our business this is quite important because potential clients unfailingly ask to see what we've done for whom.

With the variety of work under our belts and the name clients we're slowly getting, I think we have a good shot of going the distance.

Of course there are certain things and circumstances beyond my control, but the strategy is to focus on what we know and do it right.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


Sorry about the silence. Here, have a read.


The horrible thing about a powerful storm (apart from the damage in terms of lives and to business and industry) are the outages that serve to remind me that I live in a third-world country (aside: here in the Philippines, outages are commonly known as “brownouts” rather than blackouts for reasons that escape me).

Living on top of building in an apartment that clearly was designed for artificial air during a power outage means long and intense hours of humidity and heat (despite the rain). The design of our windows cleverly forbids the passage of breezes, errant or otherwise, so with aircon and fan dead, you have no choice but to stifle in the darkness.

I hate outages almost as much as I hate traveling by land in a vehicle.

With no electricity, I have no computer, therefore no writing (and please, do not ask me to write by flashlight or candlelight in longhand). No games on PC or whatever platform. No books, comics or labels. No smoking (because of poor ventilation).

Add to that the heat that makes an amorous intentions very taxing.

And across from my building, I can see the gigantic “Peace” sign of Meralco, the electric company, in its brightly-lit glory.

Peace indeed.


That stands for Key Retailers Meeting that attended with one of our apparel clients today at the New World Hotel.

The highlight for me, of course, was the fashion show. Lovely ladies in really tight tops and bottoms strutting their thing within arm’s reach. It was almost enough to make my partner and I decide to get in retailing ourselves.

There’s something about models and their vacuous visages, half-smiles and arms akimbo that gets to me. There’s that particular gait, that swishy walk with hip-popping action, that charms me. Those that have confidence radiate it like a thousand candles. Those that have no business on the ramp tempt me to hurl my drink in their direction.

But on the whole, how can I not respect people who make a lot of money by just strutting around? If I had their looks, I’d do the same thing.

Or get into porn.

and then there were…

I visited my old workmates the other day to see how things were doing with their company. I had heard all sorts of nasty things over the industry grapevine (Manila is small, and the industry is smaller) and wanted to see if there was any truth to the aspersions.

The answer is yes, but not the degree that the savage rumors would have me believe.

My friend, the head honcho, elected to leave, as well as other prominent figures, leaving a tighter, more-focused company that should be able to succeed in the future.

Standing around that office, smoking with friends, made me feel sad about all the changes they were experiencing. Many people were laid off and surgical changes were put into place.

It’s always terrible to let people go. However, the survival of the business is paramount, after all. I feel like a scarred veteran who is not too jaded to still be saddened by the demands and realities of running a show.

Here’s to the old crew at the old company – I wish you guys only the best.


Actually, the entire tech portion of our industry is in trouble.

Gone are the days of the easy millions developing this or that system, application, database or enterprise whathaveyou.

Companies have now either developed in-house competencies or outsource portions of the development work to really cheapo outfits (mostly undergrads or new grads). Giant companies have entered the small and medium market with impossible to beat pricing and competence.

What is realistically left? Content management, light apples, the occasional site, the small projects. Or things that require little development or customization, perhaps use of existing modules, things like that.

There is still money, yes, but it is difficult to project a sustainable business based on serving that need alone. If at all, tech should be supportive, not the thing itself.

Tech-idiot that I am, I’m just glad I never truly got my feet wet one way or the other (barring the occasional technobabble pitch).

negative appeal

One of my friends won an account by claiming inability to perform the task required.

After the briefing, he told the client – “We can’t do this. No one can do this. If the other bidders say they can, please put me in touch with them because we can sell the technology to the US.”

Apparently, the client was told by all the other bidders that it was possible, and my friend was the lone voice of truth.

It’s a good thing to hear in this day and age when false proficiencies are offered in the hope of landing a deal.

And I’ve had enough of that, really.

life lessons from the cove

After playing Tropico 2, here are the top 10 lessons I learned:

1. It pays to have whores. Sex calms everyone down.
2. Give people a drink. Beer and rum make people happy.
3. People may be happy for a while because of something you’ve done for them, but happiness is fleeting.
4. Everyone has something to bitch about. If you want to succeed, listen to most of them but make no promises.
5. Manage your money well. The aesthetic gives way to the essential.
6. Rule with a firm and occasionally erratic hand. Be consistent but once in a while have someone killed for the sake of anarchy.
7. There is a difference between a wench, a skilled wench and a courtesan. Their price.
8. Some people need structure. Some need to be free.
9. You can live a meatless existence, if you can only grow corn, bananas, papayas and sugarcane.
10. Tobacco makes people happy. Absolutely.

di another day

It’s over between Diana Zubiri and me.

It seems that while she is a photogenic bombshell, on TV or in person she is quite underwhelming.
Thus ends my prurient interest in her.

Aubrey Miles on the other hand, despite her new tendency towards GP-rated films with less skin (brought about, no doubt by the fact that she co-hosts a noontime show and needs to keep a somewhat wholesome image), still rocks.

So that’s it. Aubrey’s number one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

death to lonely planet (or why I vehemently abominate overland trips)

One of our clients has a requirement that entails me going south of Manila (yes, another morning of getting up at 5AM tomorrow).

Other people have no issue with the distance, but to me, anything beyond Magallanes is already “out-of-town” – implying a need to prepare the panoply of things needed for a long trip like a suitcase, Imodium and foreign currency.

Friends know that getting me to agree to go anywhere beyond the city environs is no mean feat (traveling by plane to the provinces or abroad is a different matter). Here’s the reason why.

One summer when I was around eleven or twelve, my mother decided that the entire extended family and hangers-on would spend the holidays at Fort Ilocandia in the hinterlands of the North.

I didn’t want to go, having already made plans to spend the summer doing nothing at all. Well, maybe buying new comics, raising my fish or reading old books. Something like that. I was feeling quite anti-social.

My mother did not take my refusal nicely and forced me to pack my bags under dire threats that only a mother choosing to horrible can utter. Furthermore, since I was a bad banana, I was forbidden to ride either the van or the car with the family. Instead, I had to take the bus by myself.

Little did I know that the bus ride would take 15 years. I spent hours upon hours upon hours trapped in a sealed air-conditioned bus inhaling the stench of some unhappy kid’s vomit and the triggered mega-perfume blasts of the lady across the aisle from me. The bus moved at a snail’s pace and thousands of light years would pass before the driver decided that it was a good idea to let me pee.

I arrived at Fort Ilocandia emasculated by my experience.

Something broke inside of me and thereafter whenever I had to ride any land vehicle for more than an hour or so, I am beset by nausea, discomfort, dizziness and an unhealthy mix of real and psychosomatic symptoms. I whine and bitch and yell and groan and fiddle and scratch at the windows, pick at the seat cushions, rattle the headrest of the driver while my inner child rages, rages at the dying of the light.

I go stir crazy. My ennui level is always crimson, a perfect 10 danger rating. I become very very very ugly.

I need to be pacified. I need to be distracted. I need to be entertained. Or just tranquilized and woken up when we arrive at whatever godforsaken beach we’re going to (though it better be better than jaw-droppingly beautiful – the place must must be at least achingly sublime… or else).

I don’t believe in seeing nature up close – if I actually have to ride a land vehicle to get there.

I’d rather take a plane, then a short (up to 30 minutes) ride to whatever sight or view, do the requisite “ooh, how lovely” and then return to the hotel, take a long hot bath and order room service.

Lonely Planet can go screw itself.
critical thinking and the filipino

Every so often, I bump into a person who seemingly lacks ambition to go beyond his station in life. While there is nothing instrinsically wrong with being content with what you have (well, some of the time, for some people), it just surprises me that there are those who are willing to stay in whatever position they have at work instead of rising up to leadership or management roles.

It has been observed that we are great at repetitive work but cringe from acting when a situation needs leadership.

Why is that? A recent article from the Star by Doris Ho is especially illuminating.

It seems that part of the answer is found in our schools, according to a 1988 study (A Moral Recovery Program: Building a People-Building Nation). Schools, it claims, are highly authoritarian with the teacher as the center of focus. The Filipino student is taught to be dependent on the teacher and to record verbatim what the teacher says and to give this back in the original form with little processing during examinations (and rote recitations). Teachers reward well-behaved and obedient students and are uncomfortable with those who ask questions and express a different viewpoint (this is true even in during my time at UP - a theatre teacher interpreted my need to understand background and context via queries as a challenge to his authority). The Filipino student learns conformity and passivity. Critical thinking is not learned in school.

The Filipino is raised in an environment where we have to depend on our relationships with others in order to survive. In a poor country where resources are scarce and where systems meant to respond to people's needs can be insensitive, inefficient or non-existent, the Filipino becomes very dependent on kinship and interpersonal relationships.

Our sensitivity about hurting established relationships controls our behavior. We are constrained from making criticisms no matter how constructive, so standards of quality are not imposed. We are inhibited from exerting more effort to improve individual performance because trying to get ahead is not considered acceptable.

The struggle for survival and our dependence on relationships make us group oriented.

If the reason, then, is societal, is there any way we can change this? We need to be able to change the way we think, to be able to learn how to critique and accept criticism. We need to learn to act when situations demand action. We need to know when to lead and when to follow.

We need to recapture the essence of the old Filipino - free to think, act and lead; and not perpetuate this destructive behavior we learned at the hands of the various oppressors - to be slaves, to conform, to be docile.

And that is my not-very subversive thought of the day.

Monday, July 21, 2003

song of the south

When we talk about good Filipino writers, the usual Manila-centric list is easily turned upside down. There are many excellent authors in the Visayas and Mindanao “holding up half the literary sky.”

I first met Vince Groyon when Sarge Lacuesta and I attended the Silliman University Writers Workshop in Dumaguete City (Negros) way back when.

(We were all so young and burning with a dangerous zeal for writing, as if every word was a drop of blood fraught with meaning, imbedded with the secrets of the human condition. Doc Tiempo was still alive then, and with his wife, National Artist Edith Tiempo, taught us much in the few weeks that we there – sharing texts and critiques and techniques and passion. I remember the shivers I felt when my UP compatriot Maria Elena Paterno, known for her wonderful short stories for children, read her sensuous short story “Oil”.


Anyway, Sarge went on to win a couple of Palanca Awards for his fiction, dividing time between writing and managing his own ad agency - sound familiar?)

Vince now teaches at De La Salle University and won the Palanca Award for the Novel last year. His book, The Sky Over Dimas, is about Bacolod and the lives of people there. It's published and available wherever good books ought to be found.

all approved

Yup, the "be-there-at-6:30AM" technique did the trick.

While waiting for actual office hours to begin, I kept sleep at bay with Bendis Daredevil. I tell you, this guy, he has dialogue down pat.


I'm considering accepting a sandwich company as a new client.

Apart from the challenge, I'm already imagining all the food.


Sunday, July 20, 2003

you must choose

It's been a while since I posted an amusing link.

Here's one - choose:

To be alone for the rest of your life. No romance, no sex partners, no one to snuggle up with in bed, until the day you die.


To be married to someone you absolutely loathe, for the rest of your life, and be unable to leave that relationship.

Make your choice and see what others decided on this and many more scenarios here.
simpatio (sympathy)

I've been thinking about writing a new short piece about sympathy. Not in the sense of an emotional accord, but in its magical sense - an affinity between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other.

It is about a man who loves children for the wrong reason and most likely it will be a Hinirang story.

comics scripts, play and other writing progress

Very very slow. I need to take a vacation from everything.

Kestrel gets priority because it's still in its infancy. The good thing though is that we seemingly have a lot of work. I'm just thankful we Carl and Bok onboard.

weekend TPB reading

Bendis Daredevil Vol.2, massive and hardbound.

Loeb & Sale's old Batman work: Long Halloween and Dark Victory.

I found all three offered at an astoundingly low price and decided to take advantage.

falling asleep on friday night

I was just so zoned out this weekend. But I really wanted to see the other guys because it was a particularly eventful week for most of us (and if you know how much our lives crisscross creatively, you'd know how the success of one is the success of the others).

There was reason to be happy - a confluence like this occurs with the same timing as a grand alignment of planets.

The problem, however, was that I was falling asleep in the restaurant.

Geez, just like an old man.

We ended early and I finally got my much-needed rest.

belting it out on saturday

Yes, we went to Music21 and sang our hearts out.

I channeled Martin Nievera for most of the early morning hours and collapsed in bed exhausted - but happy.

Earlier that day, Nikki and I took Sage out for our usual family meal outside the condo. I tell you, this little girl is amazing. She has no fear of the escalator and insists that she step on and off it.

2003 eisner awards and the death of pamphlets

There is that miserable segment of humanity that deplores awards - they consider the accolades irrelevant.

I'm with the other side, who recognizes the value in honoring excellence as a means to encourage and to set as an example of what to exceed.

The Eisner Awards, of course, is the biggie for comic books. And I am delighted that most of the winners were truly among the best reads of the past year.

In particular, I'm happy that Mike Mignola and his (then) 8-year-old daughter, Katie, won Best Short Story for what was truly the best short story in graphic format that I've read this past year - The Magician and the Snake. Mignola pere also won the humor Eisner for the incredible The Amazing Screw-on Head.

Brian Michael Bendis won Best Writer - well-deserved for his continuing work on Alias, Daredevil, Ultimate Spiderman and Powers.

Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze garnered him the Best Writer/Illustrator (once again I'm struck by the fact that I have to wait 10 years for the Trojan War to finish), while Tony Millionaire won for Best Writer/Artist—Humor.

Mike Kunkel's tender Herobear and Kid won Best Title for a Younger Audience.

Best Graphic Novel went to part-Filipino Linda Barry for One! Hundred! Demons! (I wish there were more of her).

Bill Willingham's Fables walked away with Best New Series as well as Best Serialized Story for his first story arc. (I actually think that someone else deserved this more, but that's just me).

An interesting comment from presentor Frank Miller, before presenting the award to Lynda Barry:

"Our future is not in these little pamphlets that kids can barely afford. It's hobbling us in so many ways ... Our future is in books, in graphic novels. This award, I believe, will be the centerpiece of these awards very soon."

A sentiment echoed by Kyle Baker (why oh why isn't his wonderful run of The Shadow left uncollected?):

"I'm on Frank Miller's side and graphic novels are the future - and monthly books, they're dead."

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, July 18, 2003

number one

I tried my best to get some sleep last night but the humidity plus a dozen other things I was thinking about didn't help in any way. Instead, I tried to write and finally got to sleep just before 5AM - just in time to wake up for my early bird camp-out at the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).

I surprised the guard who was just setting up the chairs when I got there.

"Wow, ang aga ninyo!(You're so early!)"

And the reward? I got priority number one, got my thing done with minor corrections, and stand poised to have my new company's first ever promo approved - barring an act of god or truly human idiocy.

fascinatingly horrible

That's how Nikki and I both felt about Jill Thompson's manga take on Death.

Really, it's like a road accident where you're told that a motorcyclist has been torn apart by a ten-wheeler up on the road ahead.

You know it's horrible, you know you don't want to see something so ugly, so tragic, so terrible, and yet...

You look. And then react.

"Oh my God!"

It was so bad we had to see how it ended, so in a way it worked because we both read the damn thing.

I won't even bother with anthing remotely resembling a critique. This book is punishment in itself.

mother lily and sexy girls

Since Carl has let the cat out of the bag…

Discussing financials and percentages with Mother Lily of Regal Films was a surreal experience. I was there in my equally surreal capacity as Carl’s manager.

Let me just say that that bit I wrote about impossible circumstances and impossible decisions is true.

(Adding to the dadaesque nature of the proceedings was meeting potential First Lady Susan Roces for the first time. Now that is a lady who has maintained her serene beauty all these years. And such a pleasant and well-spoken person too.)

Regal Films was awarded the film rights to Zsa Zsa, and talk moved into casting over red wine and unending food.

And who did I volunteer immediately?

Diana Zubiri!” I told Mother Lily, barely able to control my DOM leanings.

“She’s with Seiko,” she said. “But possible.”

“Um, Aubrey Miles?” I ventured, crossing my fingers (and isn't this water shot great?).

Carl ribbed me later about how I tried to move my sexy girl agenda.

Sympre naman,” I responded, trying to imagine Rochelle Panganiban in a bustier.

Other names were bandied about, which I cannot mention being “part of the family” (ooookay), but a couple of them were very interesting.

Very very interesting.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

not very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

When you have to get up at 5:30 for a photo shoot that lasts until just past 12 noon, you'd understand a bit about my sluggish feeling.

After that, I went to the DTI only to find out, that despite what I initially saw when I first made inquiries there, getting a permit number is a living hell. For one thing, there were a gazillion people there with their own agenda, all waiting for their turn. Some had been there since early morning. It was impossible for me to get anything approved despite the fact that I waited on the off chance that I'd get a slot. Feh.

So this is the plan: Tomorrow, I'll get up at the crack of dawn and be the first in line. I don't care if I have to bring my own breakfast and reading material. The only thing that truly sucks is the fact that, naturally, the entire building is a no-smoking zone. Double feh.

I just hope I can get the entire promo approved in time for printing.


After lights, the next thing I loathe about photo shoots are locations with lots of mirrors.

Mirrors wreak havoc with everything - blocking, framing and lighting (again). Today I finally composed a great shot, having motivated my talents to smile like their lives depended on it while carrying trays piled high with art-directed food. The lights were great, nice and leveled, and we took the shot - only to see on the Mac that one of the mirrors caught another mirror reflecting someone in the kitchen.

There really nothing more to do than be cautious and aware of what's where. That and having a lot of tape - masking, electrical, double adhesive and the regular clear kind.


That's it. I'm falling asleep even as I write this and its only 6PM.

Early dinner and off to Dreamland.

Apologies to my unsavory pirates and scallawags at Tropico 2. Not tonight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

recommended reading?

It seems to good to be true. Here:

"Every year, come January, I have made a habit of searching out lists of recommended short speculative fiction (that is, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, up to novella length). I then read as many of the recommended stories as possible before the deadline for voting in the Locus Awards.

Because the only award for which I vote is the Locus Award, I try to follow Locus' rules for annual eligibility when compiling my list. That is, magazines are eligible based on cover date, and books are eligible in the year in which they became generally available.

My list is compiled from Rich Horton's year-end summaries posted to, Tangent Online's Recommended Reading List, various award shortlists, the monthly recommended reading lists by Mark R. Kelly and Rich Horton in Locus, my own reading, and other miscellaneous sources

And look what's at the alphabetical head of his 2003 Consolidated Recommended Reading List:

Short Stories

"L'Aquilone du Estrellas", Dean Francis Alfar (Strange Horizons 1/03)
"Hunger: A Confession", Dale Bailey (F&SF 3/03)
"The Great Game", Stephen Baxter (Asimov's 3/03)
"The Dog Movie", Albert E. Cowdrey (F&SF 4/03)
"Fairy Tale", Gardner Dozois (Sci Fiction 1/03)
"Boys", Carol Emshwiller (Sci Fiction 1/03)
"The Pineapple Girl", S. Evans (Abyss & Apex 3-4/03)
"Start with Color", Bill Kte'pi (Strange Horizons 3/03)
"The Tale of the Golden Eagle", David D. Levine (F&SF 6/03)
Sideshow and Other Stories, Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean Press)
"Frankenstein's Daughter", Maureen F. McHugh (Sci Fiction 4/03)
"The Haunting", Joyce Carol Oates (F&SF 4/03)
"Shutdown: Retrovival", Aaron A. Reed (F&SF 3/03)
"Incursions", Kit Reed (F&SF 5/03)
"555", Robert Reed (F&SF 5/03)
"The Machine", M. Rickert (F&SF 1/03)
"June Sixteenth at Anna's", Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov's 4/03)
"Death Penalty", Leslie What (Sci Fiction 2/03)
"Castaway", Gene Wolfe (Sci Fiction 2/03)
"Graylord Man's Last Words", Gene Wolfe (Asimov's 5/03)

It is just one person's opinion, of course, but anyone who puts a story I wrote on a short list of recommended reading (with authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Gene Wolfe) does more than light up my day. I feel like doing cartwheels. Here is someone literate (read his Live Journal and see all the stuff he reads) and who doesn't know me from Adam - and he thinks my story is okay. And his list includes print anthologies, magazine fiction and online fiction.

To quote Carl - "Wow."

And if, and if somehow beyond my wildest dreams, "L'Aquilone" is even nominated for any of these big awards, then... wait, wait, too much blood in my head for a moment there. But then again, it's all right to dream a little, right? Right.

That does it. I need to write more.
a sea change

Five fathoms down and all aside, let’s talk about change.

To me, change is not about being able to adapt nor about being flexible. The moment you adapt (both in business and life), most likely you’re on the tail end of something. You spend too much time doing catch up (of course, it is a different case if you’re changing because you want to learn).

It’s all about initiating change, being the one who activates the new life scenario or the one who takes steps to do something different or the person who decides to think in another way.

It’s taking the proverbial bull by the horn and directing it somewhere (and at many points in life, the status quo of inertia is damning).

Become Change.

Don’t get me wrong. There is much to be said about adaptability.

But really, if you’re unhappy in your job, for example, you can a) do nothing; b) adapt to the unhappy situation (rationalize, sublimate, whatever); or c) leave and find another job. Or the best choice, given certain circumstances – d) put up your own show.

Change is about taking control of the situation and not vice-versa.

And you need to develop your power of discernment to identify times when you need to be the Changer and not the Changee. It is not always wise to act. But it is more foolish to be paralyzed by the Unknown.

Certain circumstances require you to change the way you think, act, love or do business right there and then.

After all, impossible circumstances require impossible decisions and may create impossible results.
questioning beauty

is every swan an ugly duckling?

Are there ugly ducklings who grow up to be…ugly swans?

If so, where are the ugly swans? Why don’t we see them in any of the nature shows on Discovery or National Geographic, or in the glossy mags or picture books, or in the calendars, mugs, tees and other merchandising materials?

Are they marginalized? Are there sad little ponds somewhere where the ugly ducklings who tragically grew up to ugly swans trace hopeless little circles in the indifferent water?

People-wise, you hear about ugly babies who grow up (painfully, at times) to be knockouts – however exceedingly rare. You also hear about lovely kids who grow up to wretchedly hideous (and we’re talking external appearances here, none of the “oh-but-she’s-a-beautiful-person-inside” line of rationalization).

How often do you hear of ugly children who grow up to be ugly adults?

For that matter, how often do beautiful infants become beautiful grown-ups?

Barring accidents or cosmetic surgery, is physical beauty truly a case of wait-and-see? Or can an undesirable tendency (either way) be prevented?

How far does parental genetics come into play?

Common Filipino observation 1: Beautiful people produce ugly babies (look at almost any Filipino actor-actress combo).

Common Filipino observation 2: You are more likely to be beautiful if one of your parents is ugly and one of them is beautiful. But chances are, you’ll take after the ugly parent.

Common Filipino observation 3: Ugly people produce ugly kids. It’s all downhill except for benevolent mutations (or if you are very fair-skinned or mestiza, then you can actually pass yourself off as beautiful).

So if we are to believe these “common observations”, then beauty is truly rare or accidental. Or just subjective.

Even ducks know the difference.


One of the things I loathe about photo shoots is getting the lights right.

A somewhat challenging scenario today involved different levels of light for the restaurant we’re handling.

The menu board had a different level and color from the common light, the signboard had a different intensity from sunlight and we spent a long time moving the photographer’s lights around – spots, giant diffusers and lots of wires and accoutrements.

This is one of the reasons I delighted with digital photography. You can take as many test shots as you like and keep correcting until everything is just right.

That’s one store down and three to go. The art director in me is just glad there’s free food (and my fees, natch).

think promo

Being in business, I’ve adopted the attitude of being willing to learn about many things. Increasing my base knowledge enables me to be more flexible in my thinking, more creative in considering solutions for various challenges.

The lesson of the past few weeks has been to think “promo”.

Honestly, it was a challenge for my mind to hold the very notion of a promo inside, add what I knew or assumed, and come up with something. Because I never join these things.

I see something offering a million bucks, and it doesn’t register – or maybe I’m just too lazy to be bothered with filling up raffle coupons or collecting labels to be sent out. Premiums, raffles and whathaveyou rarely get me going.

So the challenge is to create something that would interest even me (because it is easy to copy something that has been done, and more satisfying to innovate).

Now I watch TVCs closer, read the promo mechanics in posters and print ads, collect coupons and look under bottlecaps.

There is undeniable power in promos. Time to see if what we have cuts it.

Monday, July 14, 2003

their lives in our hands

Nikki and I have moved from Europa 1400 (the medieval simulation game) to a pair of building games.

Beach Life comes from Marco (wink, wink). You get an island and have to create a resort and attract people to it, while fending off sharks,dealing with heatwaves and equipment breakdown and whiny guests. The details are nice, the scenarios are challenging and the Ibiza background muzak is cool.

In Tropico 2, your role is that of a Pirate King, ruler of an island full of despicable 17th century seadogs. You need to stage pirate raids, take prisoners, keep your men knee-deep in rum and so on.

Yes, we're playing God again.

Sunday, July 13, 2003


You see a beautiful flower, its petals barely opened, yet you can immediately ascertain that it is a thing of rare beauty.

Daring not to disturb it for fear of marring its fragility, you step back and decide to admire it from a respectable distance. It's final colors hold the power of potential.

Then another person comes and plucks the blossom.

And you watch, bewildered, as the person walks away with the bloom that was never yours to begin with and you feel a certain awkwardness of not-quite-loss.

It is, after all, just a flower and there are presumably innumerable others, just as precious in their beauty and rarity, in other places.

So, do you regret the loss of something that did not belong to you?

That's how it is.
I love manila

No, I don’t actually have a set of maudlin but heart-breaking anecdotes about how the city has become part of me, like the skin on my back that I rarely see (unless I deliberately look).

I didn’t experience any recent senses-shattering “Road to Damascus” epiphanies nor did I have a dream where the disembodied voice of the city spoke to me (polyphonic hemidemisemiquavers – the cadence of Old Manila, the bluster of Pasig, the faraway cries for attention of Alabang), revealing secrets.

But recently my love for this city has come bubbling up from the wherever it lay dormant.

The lights of Roxas Boulevard (Dewey, when I was growing up), the exploded intestine glamour of Cubao (the old COD yuletide display abandoned forever), the growing mall-entity in Makati (devouring what was once open air, repurposing the world “glorietta” to mean under a Dyson-sphere roof), the solidly 80’s entrapped Greenhills (now to be dragged screaming by two new decades into the undecided future), the not-so-secret iniquities of Quezon City (where flesh of any orientation is always available, always).

It is huge and sprawling, messy and loud, populated beyond reason by people rushing about on their own mad or beautiful agendas. It is doomed, like a tragic hero, like a woman damned by the sins of her ancestors, by the corruption and malaise and self-interest of its servants, stewards and safekeepers. It devours its own refuse, imbibing an endless cycle of filth and hopelessness and frustration and anger – it has long since ceased to even blink at acts of violence, random or premeditated, and reads about itself in the dailies and tabloids with no remorse. It is stagnant, foul and helpless in the face of needed change.

And yet (of course there is “and yet”)…

It preserves multiple oases of wonder, clean and well-lit, green and fresh-aired. It has moments of profound silence, of immaculate emptiness – that’s where it thinks and dreams. Its cataract eyes can still see, sometimes, beyond its miserable condition and that's when the city prays – because whether we accept it or not, the city is a creature of faith. It looks up, almost blind, and prays for rain, for relief, for the ability to hope, to grow, to change. It does not wish, it cannot wish, but rather imagines with the all the dim power of its secret places how it once was, how it could it be.

I love Manila because (and this will sound absurd) it is quintessentially Filipino. Give us a typhoon that batters us half to death and immediately after we will pick ourselves up and go to market or get a haircut or go out on a date. Plant bombs and kidnap us and you will see how one of our greatest failures (and strengths) is our collective inability to understand the meaning of the word “terror” (we also think that “democracy” equals “ochlocracy”). Tell us that it will be a difficult year (worse than the year before) and we will shrug our shoulders and go Christmas shopping anyway. Tell us that we are impoverished and we will erect new malls surrounded by billboards, and in the same breath attempt to position Smoky Mountain, our renowned mountain of trash, as a tourist attraction. We understand the need for roads, weep at the uprooting of trees and do it anyway.

I love Manila because I see myself, and I am horrified, gladdened, chagrined and vindicated.

I am part of something that is impossible to contain, not even by words, which have all the power to do so.
zsa zsa zaturnnah: beyond gender politics

Carlo Vergara's segment on Knowledge Power came out yesterday and I was happy with how the feature went.

The reporters and editors were able to show the important thing behind the surface gloss attributed to Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah: that it is a story about us Filipinos - how, despite the strange and often inexplicable things that occur in our daily lives, we choose to laugh and move on. Regardless of gender or whatever class, categories or other distinction people attempt to use.

Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah is not Darna. It does not try to be the "new" Darna. It is Zsa zsa - it is itself.

Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah is not about homosexuality, though it is easy to categorize it as being a flagbearer for that agenda. It is about people. To pigeonhole the text as simply "gay" is to see only a fraction of its worth.

If you still haven't read it, go and get a copy.

(Thanks to the Madman for the vidcaps).
in the sanctum of the madman

After dinner and coffee, we're here in Marco's room, taking advantage of all the neat stuff in here - games, anime, manga and more.

More when I get home.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

i must be strong

I've decided to finally give up comics - in pamphlet (periodical) form - and instead just get my fix with the trades and original graphic novels.

The most difficult thing to shake the new comics conditioning that has practically become part and parcel of my genetic make-up (I hope it doesn't pass on to Sage). I've been a comic book addict for years, way before anyone thought of compiling stories in a reasonable manner, price and timetable. (In fact, for the longest time, the only compilations were the few books in the vein of Sons of Origins and the only OGNs were the oversized things like Superman vs. Ali). Marvel and DC had no true blue trade reprint program, and all the independents were locked in pamphlet form, and the mini-series was an untried concept (I was there when the very first one, Contest of Champions, was released in its 3-issue glory).

I'd line up every new comic day at Krishareth, Filbar's or ComicQuest at the old Padilla Aracade at Greenhills. I was at La Salle during Grade School and saved up my allowance to buy my comics. Believe it or not, a hundred bucks could buy almost 10 comics at that time.

I never questioned the periodical nature of comics. It was simply the way things were. And since I collected multiple titles that were released during different weeks, I'd be at the stores at least once a week. Actually, more than once a week, since I was also busily devouring back issues (I remember my quest to get all the pieces of the Dark Phoenix Saga - only to loose a key issue to Aureus Solito, who became a playwright too, among other things. It was only in Seattle, years later, that I'd get X-Men #138).

But comics had become part of my routine, like eating and breathing. Any spare money I got went to comics - my regular monthlies or bi-monthlies and all the back issues I wanted.

Even as I entered college, the habit was still with me. My collection would shrink or grow depending on the state of my finances, but even when I was desperately poor (reduced to having my girlfriend pay for my lunch) there was always some way to get new comics.

After college, work gave me more disposable income and you can guess where some of it went. ComicQuest became so much a part of my life that I found my best friend there, and his parents became my god-parents when I got married. I even managed the Megamall store when it first opened (I remember working during Christmas Eve).

When I worked abroad I quickly pinpointed where the comic stores where and continued my purchases - though by that time I had a discernable preference for trades.

And so on until this week's new comics day. I looked at the pile I automatically made and began to strip issues away with a heavy heart. I ended up with two trades and my final issue of JSA.

So why am I doing this?

1. It doesn't make sense anymore to buy periodicals. Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and all the other publishers have fantastic trade programs. In Marvel's case, for example, the final issue of a story arc would not even be cold when the trade collection comes out. The general tendency of these companies' editorial policy to create stories that can be collected. Unlike before where the vast majority of comics where stand-alones or two-parters (multi-issue stories were rare), if you pick up a random comic book chances are you'll have the middle part of a long story. And it doesn't read well by itself, needing the full context of its companions to make sense.

2. TPBs look great on the bookshelves, unlike comics that must be stored in boxes. Apart from display value, having TPBs on the shelf allow easier access. Rediscovery and rereading are such pleasures.

3. TPBs last longer because of the perfect binding, and you get the sense that you are reading something of gravity (despite the subject matter). The weight and heft are lovely.

4. TPBs look like books and are treated as books. This is important because you can't get just any comic title in bookstores like Fully Booked, but you do have a choice from the plethora of trades in stock.

5. Some works are only available in TPBs, like much manga (Akira, Battle Royale, early Blade of the Immortal).

So what am I giving up?

Only the "freshness" of new stories as they come out. But really, if I need to know what's going on in any regular title, there are tons of sites on the internet to let me know.

But having said all that and reasoned it all out, I can't help but feel a little sad. Like I'm willingly giving up part of my childhood, something I'd held on to for years.

It also brings into focus the publishing strategy of Kestrel (yes, most likely it will have to collections, which are expensive to produce locally, or stand-alone issues - no more multi-part stories like The Lost).

So, in a way, it is goodbye to comics. I just hope I can rise above the weekly temptation (I do hangout in a comic store, for heaven's sake).

I just submitted to the workshop group my critique of the five fiction pieces submitted for my review. On the whole, these were excellent first drafts by a mix of writers of various pedigrees, and I am happy to see that the works bore the imprint of much of the ground we covered during the initial vignette sessions.

When I read a story with critique in mind, I look first at the overall compositon - the narrative flow, the use of language, the structure and theme. Everything must work in unison to create a satisfying reading experience. Next, I take a look at the finer points - characterization, description, dialogue These are the elements that form the body of the work, the details that make or break a piece. Finally, I read it again with a look at the margins and the agenda - these are no fluff pieces after all, but works that strive to rise above the mean, which means that they are written with excellence as one of the primary goals (of course THE prime goal is to tell a story, but that story MUST be well-told).

Bhoy Evolvo is a future fiction piece, a story about friendship and loss and the epiphanies that attend distance and time. Its eponymous lead character is a product of failed science, but does not cease to find meaning in his brief existence.

The other four are set in the shared realm of Hinirang:

Camorra takes us into the mind of a man interviewing the most feared man of Ciudad Meiora. In the course of the narrative, we discover the genesis of Don Roberto Camorra's career, the choices he makes and the implications thereof, defining more of Hinirang's setting and the people (and beast men) who walk its streets.

Tulisan y Ladron (Thief & Thief) is an enjoyable romp with sharp characters and dialogue, showing us a part of the world of Hinirang's ne'er-do-wells. It is a story about deception and about how ambition can be disguised as apparent helplessness.

Isa Pang Awit (One More Song) is a textured piece set during the Day of Return, when the dead come back for a brief sojourn with the living. Introspective, textured and complex, it deals with questions about the human condition.

The Secret City begins as a personal Tsino story and shows us the origin of Lujing Béishu, the City That Chose Its Own Path - the enclave of the Tsino exiles in Ciudad Meoira.

As I said, all good pieces, well-imagined and with the potential to be gems of writing - after the requisite hard work in revising, tweaking and rewriting (all necessary tasks for even the best of writers).

After reading these five pieces, I desperately need to find time to write myself!

Friday, July 11, 2003

vignette: scriptease

No, no, it’s just won’t do. You didn’t set the scene, it’s as if you expect the audience to know-


-just how everything goes. Remember that they’re only watching, not making decisions for the characters. It’s the characters that-

I know-

-make the choices, all the decisions that bring them to whatever point-

Wait, wait-

-we’ve placed them in. You’ve got to make it real, go for truth-

I am going for truth.

Well, not as it reads here.


Or here.

I don’t-

And especially here. I mean, read it yourself, you have-

I think I did-

Look, you have Chris and Angie just going for the idol. I mean, why? What’s their motivation? Is it love? It can’t be because we have no warning-

It could be-

Nothing at all that prepares us for this sudden romance, this, this, out-of-character declaration of undying devotion-

It’s just an “I think I may be in love with you”, nothing undying-

But that’s just the point! In comparison to the status quo, which, if I may remind you, was a perfectly blah relationship-

I wouldn’t call it “blah”.

It is “blah”. That’s what it is, “blah”. Look, they’re friends. Just friends-

I don’t-

There’s a term for that-

I don’t-

Gah. I hate it when this happens. What’s the word?


Not “quotidian”, you know, more Greek-sounding, like “plebian”-


Exactly. What they have is platonic, and suddenly, suddenly, it’s whoosh! Love!

But love is like that.

Not in my book. Not in this script, it isn’t. You have to-

I think I have prepared the audience.


Act One, Scene 12, the diner scene. Look.

What am I looking at?

Look what they’re talking about. See what he says here? And then what she says? And then the telling pause?

The telling pause?


They’re ordering food-


They’re ordering food! He wants a burger with everything-

And she wants a fruit bowl, exactly.

Exactly? Exactly what?

It’s a metaphor.

It’s shit. We’re not doing a fucking art film. It’s action-adventure. The target audience is stupid.

No, they’re not.

They are. And this-

Why do you-

-this talk of burgers and fruit bowls won’t mean anything to-

I think it will, you have to-

Oh, come on!

(A telling pause.)

I think I need a break.

I think you need a refresher course in writing.

Thursday, July 10, 2003


Aztec Camera's smooth-as-silk cover didn't do it.

But the original version by Van Halen did.

When the opening chords of the former #1 song rushed out of the speakers, Sage revealed the rocker in her blood and began dancing -

I get up, and nothing gets me down.
You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around.
And I know, baby, just how you feel.
You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real

- swinging her arms, clapping her hands, moving her little butt to the beat, her eyes wide, her laughter in counterpoint to David Lee Roth's vocals. This led to her jumping around the bed, bounding over her parents, twisting and tumbling and all the while singing in the language of the Wee Folk, while we watched her and marveled at the impossible existence of this wonderful child, our own little girl.

(Earlier today, at the common playroom on the roofdeck, Sage monopolized one of the mini-cars. A little boy, a couple of years older, asked her if he could use the vehicle. She turned to him and unleashed a torrent of words whose power went beyond meaning and semiotics. The would-be carnapper (polite as he was) left her in peace. Ah, she is my daughter.)

damn you, fully booked

I passed by Rockwell for a client meeting and checked out Fully Booked and was quite offended to see that they had a fresh batch of new comic trades, including stuff like Kia Asamiya's Child of Dreams and a variety of other things. I had no cash with me (which was both good and bad) and Rockwell is notorious for having nary a friendly ATM that would accept my card.

There's something about seeing so many trades in front of you, their colors vying for attention. "Buy me, buy me..."

Damn them all.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

royal reading

Part of my haul this week is the second volume of Tokyopop's Battle Royale reprintings(Koushun Takami & Masayuki Taguchi, English adaptation by Keith Giffen), which continues the bloody series of vignettes that comprise the master storyline.

The pacing is brutal and the sensibilities are delightfully Japanese, down to the absurdist conventions that make the entire concept work. Often melodramatic, always harsh, the story is uncompromising in depicting what happens when an entire class of high school students are forced to turn on each other to survive, in a send-up to the classic troupes of literature like Goldman's Lord of the Flies.

What part do friendship and loyalty play when the context of such social conventions are removed?

royal thrashing

On the other hand, Time magazine's recent film reviewer gave a thumbs down to Battle Royale II, the sequel to the cult classic that provoked a storm of controversy when it was first released. Ain't It Cool News had similar sentiments.

I have no problem with that. Rarely does a sequel do justice to its predecessor - you count it on the fingers on one hand, beginning with Godfather II.

I'll see it anyway and see how the director (the ever-so-polite son of Kinji Fukasaku, the previous director who passed away) handled the narrative as an ongoing concern.

The agenda seems to be two-fold: to complete his father's unfinished work; and to provide social commentary, using terrorism as his platform.

We'll see.

more moore

The other book I got was Supreme: The Return, the companion volume to Alan Moore's Supreme: Story of the Year.

In this reimagined Superman cycle, Moore mines the Silver and Bronze Age for sublime nuggets and mixes in his own strange ores (no doubt from Ideospace or whatever crap he's sadly pushing over at Promethea).

The thing about Moore is this - when there is a story involved (versus a ideology be it magickal or otherwise), he invariably succeeds. When his agenda is something else disguised as a narrative, then he's one of the shittiest writers on the face of the planet. Believe me, it isn't a matter of intelligence or taste, it's a matter of expectations and propriety. (If you want Moore's prose, then pick up his 1996 novel Voice of Fire).

For more Moore go here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

i left mine in a banana tree, once upon a time

Some people believe that love, when it comes about, has the power of surprise and the force of an earthquake, more than enough to level whatever sensibilities or defenses one has, signalling an inevitable capitulation. And it happens in the blink of an eye, like a thief in the night. (But it never stays in one place, for opportunities for havoc are everpresent.)

Others believe that love, while initially based on some degree of attraction (physical, mental or a killer dress sense), starts as not-love but grows into love over time, as two (or more) individuals engage in the politics of discovery and the romatic game of peek-a-boo.

Some believe that love is a choice, oblivious to factors of chemistry or rules of attraction. These people exercise the power of selection and downplay the influence of the heart. Love, and its attendant manifestations, follows later - and this is important, because the appearance of love is often mistaken as love itself.

There are also those for whom love of others is simply not in the cards. Not because they are inept nor incapable of loving, but because, in the great totem pole of things, it simply does not command priority at the current time. There are more important things, more valuable experiences - and there is a difference between love and sex.

Some people, burnt by horrendous experiences, callous partners and destructive circumstances have either sworn to never love again or have been so traumatized that the very thought of love brings on a staggering series of dolorous flashbacks, enough to break their fractured hearts over and over again - a single word spoken by a stranger can cause the stars to fall.

Some are simply incapable of love - to some degree. These people can love family, even friends, work, art or cause, but cannot love the Other. Reasons are numerous, much are valid, some require deep analysis. These folk walk like giants - towering in their solitude, but moving nonetheless to some destination known only to other imaginary creatures.

For some, love is as vast as the endless night sky. For others, it is partitioned, like pie slices, from a finite whole.

For some, love does not run out; its source overflows. For others, when love is given away freely, it is never reclaimed, and the net loss is felt; the heart may regenerate, or it may not.

Some carry their hearts out in the open, ubiquitous like cell phones (pumping, texting ineffable "Gud AM"s).

Others wear their hearts in armor (adamantine, impossible to open except for the secret word that can be found by accident or circumstance).

Some, like me, leave their hearts hidden in the leaves of a banana tree (a clever place, enough to fool a crocodile - but not someone who is cleverer than you and a crocodile).

When I read about other people thinking about love, I imagine all these things.

Monday, July 07, 2003

filipinas I...admire...on FHM's 100 Sexiest Women list
plus the requisite "duh" or three

It's been a while since I did a prurient entry or a list-type thing. So here a combo:


#88 Aleck Bovick - My 19-year-old building-mate and occassional elevator-buddy has a bod that wasn't fazed (well, not too much) by her scandalous Best Actress Famas win. Surprisingly, she's quite short in person but very maputi.

#73 Assunta di Rossi - You know what makes her hot to me? Those lips that seem to promise exquisite oral gratification. I mean, she's pleasant to listen to - get your mind out of the gutter.

#59 Claudine Barretto - I've had a crush on her since I saw her in this movie set in the UP Diliman campus years ago. This afternoon, I saw her sipping a drink at Greenhills. Quite lovely.

#49 Ara Mina - Coming along nicely while flexing her acting chops (she won accolades for her role in Huling Birhen Sa Lupa), this lady has appeal to spare.

#41 Alicia Mayer - And only for her boob-hugging pose on a mag cover. Otherwise, she better fits the "duh" list.

#23 Patricia Javier - Whoo! And I still don't have her videoke collection!

#13 Joyce Jimenez - Still lush and with a cropped haircut that begs to ruffled (must...calm...down...).

#9 Rochelle Pangilinan - The leader of the Sexbomb Girls is how a sexy Filipina realistically could be - jumping around.

#6 Aubrey Miles - Lovely lady, what can I say?

#2 Diana Zubiri - As I said before, this surprisingly young woman was robbed of the number one slot, by Halle Berry.

But really, who is #1 in my book?

#1 Nikki Alfar - No BS, Nikki easily wins out (she's also eligible for a MLF thingie), she's the hottest babe for me.

'nuff said (and not just for brownie points, but I know I can expect a...reward... Oh, yes).


#93 Maricar de Mesa - Oh my God, who let this walking, badly-drawn manga, look-a-like in? It's one thing to have tits, honey, another thing to have a face that scares the bejeezus out of me.

#64 Sarah Meier - People who believe their own press releases are condemned to a life mistakenly thinking they are beautiful. When she took the ramp at the Levis show during the last Fashion Week, I wanted to throw the pretty mini M&Ms at her "oh-behold-my-attitude face".

#28 Katya Santos - Jason may have issue with this especially, but some people are just not meant to bare all.

#25 Nancy Castiglione - A boob job will not save you and your precious accent.

#12 Heart Evangelista - Pardon me while I throw up my dinner.

#7 Maui Taylor - It's those misplaced eyes, collagenic lips and Bello-crafted chest.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

wholesome sex

Or so they claim.

The Sexbomb Girls, thought to have vanished to wherever overnight flash-in-the-pan sensations go, are still going strong.

They made their singing debut with hits like "Bakit Papa" and "Venus", injecting the naughty lyrics with a whole lot of bouncing around that really made me smile (yes, I'm a fan).

"Spaghetti Song", the carrier single from their second album "Round 2", has all the requisites of a hit - memorable, danceable, singable (I just remembered Carl telling me about it in the stairwell). Even Sage knows how to move to the dance.

And, of course, they're sexy in a very Filipina way. Exposing a lot but not everything; looking fresh and clean and young and like they're having the time of their lives. They are very different from the slutty Viva Hot Babes, headlined by Maui Taylor and her false assets.

As a block, these girls made a significant dent in FHM's list of 100 Sexiest Women - with Rochelle and Jopay as higher ranked standouts.

True, they're no Diana Zubiri (who, if I may digress for a moment, was robbed of the top spot in the list by...Halle Berry - can you say unfair comparison?), but how can you not love them?

All these girls are one of the reasons I'm enamored by the current Zeitgeist. After all, if the prevalent spirit of the times involves girls bouncing around singing about spaghetti, then life cannot possibly be all that bad now, can it?
a new kc strange adventure

KC Strange, created by Nikki Alfar & Marco Dimaano, makes her second appearance in the latest issue of Hainaku (published by PsiCom). In the spirit of the type of hijinks she gets involved in, there's a bit of a fight, a bit of mistaken identity and a whole lot of fun. KC Strange was created way back when The Lost was still new but we never found enough funding to give her her own book. She had a vignette in Ab Ovo#2, though. Someday...

This issue also features Marco's Game Girl, illustrated by Honoel Ibardaloza, as well as the latest episode of TXTMen - by Nikki, Armand Canlas and Jason Banico.

Look for it - soon - in bookstores everywhere.


At the swimming pool today, Sage decided that she could jump into the water just like the other kids. I had a series of heart-stopping moments (really, my daughter and I were just begging for bullet time plus the requisite swirling camera) but everything turned out fine. She's a fearless girl, this one. Just like her mom.

She knows that I'm there to catch her.


what is the smell of a persian resto?

KFC, of course.

Behrouz (sp?), the restaurant I get physically ill just thinking about, was our choice for dinner spot last night. Actually, it was my choice. So why did I choose a place I couldn't stand? Because it felt wrong to impose on the group my own particular idiosyncracies too often, since everyone but me likes the place (well, honestly, I felt it was a lesser evil compared to the other place the guys liked - where live chickens ramp-modeled along the muddy floor). Next time, we're eating at Gloria Maris, and let the dimsum-haters be the ones to generously adjust.

Anyway, I steeled myself for the inevitable smell bombardment, but when I finally had to take a breath inside, it was not just pleasant, it smelled wonderful.

Because KFC had opened a branch next door.

So now, I have no issue with the place - but don't expect me to use the ginayat-gayat na buhok ng kilikili spice thingie. There are limits to what I can take.

The big topics of conversation were, as usual, life, writing, art and comics plus my initial critiques on the short stories the gang submitted. I promised I'd email them something "formal" within the week (assuming I get a chance to block time beyond the call of a struggling newborn company's needs).

weekend reading

Unstable Molecules is a great read. Written by James Sturm (who wrote what Time Magazine considered the best comic of last year, The Golem's Mighty Swing), the volume goes into the pysche of the Fantastic Four as people, not heroes, with almost no reference to their powers. It's about epiphanies, relationships, frustrations, hopes, dreams and loss.

It's intelligent, creative and screams of the indie sensibility. Go get it.

Friday, July 04, 2003

listen...i can hear the wheel turning...

It was with stunned delight that Marc and I greeted the news that the big clothing brand we made a huge push for signed our proposal. This wonderful news would have been impossible without the help of the true stars of Kestrel IMC - our staff, especially Carl and Bok , whose designs were simply sublime.

This is Kestrel IMC's first client and both the opportunity to create and the financial gain are pure sugar rush. I had been having difficulty sleeping for the past few weeks, waiting for the outcome of our three biggest pitches. I'm just so happy that the first is already won.

I hope we win the two others (yeah, yeah, I know that hope is cruel, but really, at the end of the day what else do you have?).

I pitched for the second one this afternoon, taking over an hour to blah blah over all the materials, ideas and rationales. At the end of it all, I fielded questions ranging from the expected to the bizarre, but I think I passed with flying colors. All that remains to be seen is how the other agencies fare (we are in the minority because the big agencies are in the game as well).

I swore that I'd never put my company up against these giants, not on their turf (tri-media), but it is a different thing altogether when they come thumping down our little street.

It means conflict and we'll see if there was any truth to the David vs. Goliath story.

the alfar internet cafe

I was finally able to set up another computer system in the bedroom, which brings the number of PCs in our home to two.

If you walk in at the wee hours of the morning, you'll most likely catch Nikki and I playing games - with a PC devoted to each. It's funny because suddenly there is no waiting in line for one of us to finish using the computer. With the addition of connectivity, we can even do multi-player.

The next stp is to open services to the people next door and charge by the minute or something.


At my grandmother birthday bash last night at Club Filipino (she turned 90) I was struck by the ratio of women to men in our clan. We males are simply outnumbered by a huge margin, something like 6 or 7:1. Which means that the patriarchal agenda of passing the family name is doomed to oblivion.

We didn't bring Sage due to the lateness of the hour, and indeed, she was sorely missed by everyone.


I just finished Christine Norrie's Cheat, published by Oni. This thin volume of india-ink illustrations took the term maudlin up a notch and failed miserably to engage. I don't know. It just reads wrong, like something Andi Watson would write.

The only thing I liked was the miserable ending, which should really come as no big surprise.


Better developed was the collection of Mark Waid's first arcs on Fantastic Four (I know it seems like comparing apples to oranges, but the bottom line is the quality of truth in the narrative).

If you put aside the elements that make it a four-color adventure, you'll see the delightful interplay of character and agenda - a family that is enjoyable to observe.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

beware the random song

Tobie, Carl, Nikki and I (snubbed by El and deprived of Vin) decided that it would be fun, for our first singing outing, to punch in random numbers in the videoke machine and then just try to sing whatever song was spewed out.

Well, the system had the first laugh of the night, as "My Heart Will Go On" stunned our sensibilities and good humor.

But sing the damn thing we did, before freeing ourselves to embrace other less maudlin numbers, San Mig Light and isntant coffee.

The night ended with an a cappella rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream", a fitting end to another work day, highlighted by my meeting with the other agency and photographer I was to work with on behalf of our new fastfood client - and an unexpected afternoon with Vin, discussing writing.

The impromptu sing-a-long was a good release.
vignette: rodentine

From his vantage point high on the flying buttress overlooking the massive inner hall of the Katedral Grandu, Rodentine fought the tears that threatened to overwhelm his small, small form.

Far below him, his bride-to-be, the beautiful and pious Criselda Aljonsa Piedra ei Marquez, waited behind her magnificent hand-tooled seda veil; her eyes, brimming with unfathomable sorrow and unforgiving hope, hidden from the mummuring crowd that filled the vast expanse of the glorious cathedral of the Tres Hermanas.

The music had stopped long ago, giving the ugly buzz of unbridled speculation unfettered wings. Where is the groom? Where is Antonino? How could he desert her at the altar? How could he do this?

Rodentine (who believed with all his miniature conviction that he was the missing man known as Antonino Cervantes Domingo) shook with fury, causing the fur on his back to stand on its end, his whiskers to twitch convulsively, and his hind paws to attempt to gouge furrows in the ancient consecrated stone where he crouched, helpless and held hostage by the vision of an abandoned love.

“Ahem,” the slender rat beside him cleared his throat carefully. “Er, so that’s, that’s her?”

Rodentine whirled around to face his companion so quickly that for an endless moment he teetered on the curling edge of the buttress, before gaining a pawhold.

“Yes,” he said simply. “Yes, that’s Criselda.”

“She’s…attractive enough…” Moseline observed.

“Of course she is!” Rodentine whispered, giving Moseline a dark look that presaged a terrible storm of words waiting for sudden release. “I’m supposed to be there. It’s me she’s waiting for…that everyone’s waiting for.”

“Um,” began Moseline, twitching his nose, “…but you’re a rat, like me.”

“NO!” cried Rodentine, bounding away as his tears finally broke free. “I am a man! A man!”

He gritted his teeth and wiped his tears away as he retreated into the shadows. How could this happen? How can this happen to me? Oh Criselda…

“Ah…Are you, are you all right?” Moseline asked from a respectable distance. “I didn’t mean to upset you. But this, this is crazy talk. And you frighten me. Well, just a little bit.”

At that moment Rodentine just wanted to curl up into a ball and vanish from Ciudad Meiora forever. For part of him had begun to believe that perhaps what Moseline said was true – that he was a rat, was born a rat, and, after living the terribly brief existence of a rat, would die a rat.

The evidence of his senses was impossible to deny.

He looked like a rat, was as small as rat. He was a rat.


Despite the dizzying work schedule I've willingly committed myself to (and, really, it's not so much of a complaint as an observation), I've been trying to find time to write.

I'm halfway through the graphic novel (sorry, Jayce, just a few more days) and, in a fit of mad nicotine inspiration, have begun two new stories for Hinirang, tentatively titled "Comoraton (Rodentine)" and "Mes du Fantasma (Ghost Month)".

"Comoraton (Rodentine)" is about someone little who dreams of something big and woman who discovers more about herself than she cares to know.

"Mes du Fantasma (Ghost Month)" is about that time in the year when the Tsino stop buying anything, a lost love rediscovered and about the economics of the dead.

Who knows when I'll find time to actually complete these? But at least there's some new fiction leaking from my pen.

red room

If you have some time, go and check out Moose's spankin' new blog, Red Room Diaries.

It's freshly minted with a little bit of poesy.

Hey Moosetafah, put a tagboard!


An interesting hands-on part of my work (despite what you think, I'm not really desk bound, though I'd rather stay in air-conditioned comfort really) is looking for suppliers of various things and checking them out when we do find them.

For examply, my partner and I spend the better part of yesterday looking for a particular glass bottle. Not just any bottle, mind you. It had to be clear but with a tinge of green, small and sexy as hell. Well, eventually we made our way to a glassblower's shop (foundry? workplace? Shades of Europa 1400!) and were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of glass products.

I had an odd impulse to suddenly start jumping around, to windmill my arms with abandon, to see if the laden shelves would follow the domino principle - but I behaved myself.

Having found the bottle, made inquiries as to production quality, time and delivery, I secured the cork supplier's information. Just like one of those linear RPGs where one thing leads to another.

It's off to Quiapo and Divisoria then.


Tuesday, July 01, 2003

first day

My first day at the new Kestrel IMC office was like slipping into an old pair of shoes that feel odd but comfortable.

With no wireless internet service from Meridian, I was reduced to buying a number of dial-up cards from ISPs (who knew there were so many of them? How do they make money?). The connection speed was so slow it made my Destiny connection at home seem like Flash running to save the universe on his time-treadmill. Amazing the things we take for granted.

In the middle of the day, I visited my barber for my regular shave and marveled once again at the 24 year-old wife of the 60+ year-old barbershop owner. Nasty things came to mind, of course - particularly how this man's children felt given the fact that their stepmother was young enough to be one of their children.

On the whole though, I feel very fatigued. My body feels heavy and tired. I long for something like 72 hours of sleep.


I don't remember if I've posted about this before, but anyway...

Nikki and I suffered through the abyssmal production of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, adapted from the novel that Nikki liked very much (and which I found, well, poorly imagined and written).

The entire thing had lousy production values, looking like it was produced for, oh, 10 pesos. The acting was atrocious, the lighting and effects easily below par. It wasn't even so terrible that it was a must-see, it was just pathetic.

The disappointment comes from high expectations, given the fact that Gaiman was beside himself with delight about the series.

Feh. I'd rather watch the season ender of Dawson's Creek. Yes, indeed.