Friday, April 30, 2004

nick joaquin (may 4, 1917 - april 29, 2004)

It's one of the best ways to go.

In bed, with a newspaper, a nap, a dream, then transformation.

86 years, immeasurable words touching countless readers and writers.

Salamat po, sir.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

sex sells

Of course, after working on the equivalent of a literary treatment for a film (combination magic-realism and other tropes, if you can believe it), I discover that nearly two-thirds of new Indian films have recieved an "A" rating for adult content.

In other words, the very common sex flicks you'd find any time in the Philippines are gaining ground in India. These adult Indian films (shown in theatres) show kissing on the mouth and simulated copulation, which are rather passe by Philippine standards.

Their poster girl? The luscious Mallika Sherawat, who debuted in last year's "Khwaish" ("Desire").

Mallika: God has given me a great body and I will show it off. If you don't want to see it, don't.


a look at process

Here's part of the opening act for my film several drafts ago (it has altered since, so it's okay for me to post without fear of theft). Take note that these are outline paragraphs. My final scriptment has actual scenes and dialogue imbedded.

Also, there is a lot of singing and dancing - O, Bollywood!

This is how I begin writing things like this:

ACT ONE: India, 2004

A pair of young twin women, Savita and Jaya, are sitting on a balcony of their home. Savita, with her marvelous voice, is singing a song composed by Jaya. It is a haunting and poignant song about true love. Suddenly, the original sheet music Savita is holding is blown away by an strong breeze. Jaya fails to catch the paper as it wafts down the balcony and into the busy streets. Feeling responsible, Savita runs after the sheet.

With the music still playing, Savita pursues the paper as it winds through the intersecting lanes, twisting over and around pedestrians. It strikes a handsome young man direct in the face – this is Rishi.

Rishi peels off the score and begins to hum the tune and sing the song. He is a good singer with great potential. He dances in the street while singing as the theme grows and explodes, transforming into a wonderful score.

Savita enters the scene, sings a bit and then grabs the sheet music and runs away.

Rishi falls in love with both Savita and the music. He tracks her down and discovers that she is one of the daughters of a famous family of musicians. He decides to hit two birds with one stone: to advance his non-existent music career by marrying the beautiful girl who can create such great music.

What he does not know at first is that he is in love with one of a pair of twin girls. Savita (the one he wants) and Jaya are as different in temperament as night and day. Both are stunning beauties. In terms of musical ability, Savita is gifted with a beautiful voice, while Jaya is a composer (but unable to carry a tune).

Savita is beautiful and completely uninterested in Rishi. When he tries to create circumstances for them to talk, she ignores him. This does not deter Rishi in any way – he takes it on as a challenge, thinking about how far he would go to pursue his dream of being a star.

Savita’s twin sister, Jaya, falls in love with Rishi. Rishi ignores her, focused on Savita’s beauty and inaccessibility. Jaya tells him she will help him win her sister. She has fallen hard for him, and even if she has to act like a martyr, she plans to get him eventually. Jaya wants to escape her home, escape New Delhi, escape India, and find life elsewhere. She wants to compose great songs in a different place, but thinks that she needs a man by her side. She wants Rishi to be that man.

Jaya writes a song for Rishi to sing under Savita’s balcony. It is a lovely song and Rishi’s performance wins Savita’s heart. She agrees to see him in secret the next night.

Jaya drugs Savita’s drink, causing Savita to fall into a deep sleep, unable to make the appointment with Rishi. Instead, it is Jaya who meets with Rishi.

In a telling romantic scene, Rishi and Jaya meet in an arbor, kiss and make love. Jaya makes Rishi swear to marry her. Thinking that he is talking to Savita, Rishi swears happily. At that moment, members of the family discover them (as coordinated cleverly by Jaya). Rishi stands up and tells the family he will marry the woman beside him – then Jaya reveals herself. Rishi is shocked.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

pinoy literature

Thanks to Manuel Viloria for adding me to PinoyLit: A Philippine Literature Page (and to Nikki for lovingly albeit sneakily going behind my back).

"PinoyLit provides information on Filipino writers, and illustrators, their lives and their work. You can also find a few Philippine short stories, novels, essays, children's literature, myths, legends, folk tales and folklore."

It's a great list and quite an honor to be added.

While looking through the Big Names of Philippine Letters (Gemino Abad, Cesar Aquino, Cirilo Bautista, Greg Brillantes, Carlos Bulosan, Butch Dalisay, Kryp Yuson), I was struck by the lack of more writers of my generation (but was happy to see buddy Luis Katigbak in the list). I believe a lot of strong writing is being done by younger people (and of course all the living masters still continue to amaze us) so it would be wonderful to see creatives like Vince Groyon, Cyan Abad-Jugo, Ruel de Vera, Honoel Ibardolaza and Sarge Lacuesta added.

Wow. This made my film-treatment-stress less horrible today.
love hurts

Gah. It's 4AM and I'm nowhere near done with the film treatment I need to finish by Thursday.

I guess my issue is my incpacity to write romance, which is kind of surprising because I am aware that much of my "serious" fiction plays fast and loose with romantic tropes (though I'm loathe to admit it). Let's face it - what is the common thing I write about? Love and desire.

So what's my problem?

I think it's because, in this case, I set out to develop a treatment doing just that. And it irks me because, honestly, I do not think much of the genre. Because, again honestly, I think it's boring. As old as the hills. Predictable. Angsty. Maudlin. Insert the word.

So, my new approach is to trick myself. I'll pretend I'm writing a drama. Or a thriller. Or a magic realist slipstream (LOL) thing. And by so doing, allow the romantic part of me to just do his thing until he takes control of my typing fingers and wrests the scenes away from the action, the adventure, the comedy.

All I have now are the seeds of a love triangle - a male singer and two female songwriters. But it will change, I'm sure.

At least I hope I'm sure. O, talent! If I need more than any other time, it is now!

Otherwise, it's technique all the way.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

passion: rafael kayanan

I was really big on DC Comics in the early 80's - and among the Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes and other great reads was a character with flaming hair, Firestorm. What set him apart from the pack was the coolness of his look, his molecular-altering power and the fact that he was two people fused into one. The artist who was responsible for the run I knew was named Rafael Kayanan.

At that time, I didn't know he was a Filipino living in the US. In an example of the wonder of friendship and the internet, Gerry invited him to contribute to Siglo: Passion.

And he did- I've cropped a tiny detail from his fantastic piece, which you'll see later this year in all its glory.

Salamat po, sir!

passion: wilson tortosa

Wilson was originally slated to do story art but his schedule ultimately didn't allow it. I was quite devastated, of course, because I really love his line art, and asked him if he could still contribute to the gallery.

And he did - he're's a detail, with the full artwork in the pages of Siglo: Passion later this year.

Sometime in the future, we'll manage to coerce a story from this great guy.

Or die trying.

Thanks, Wilson!

Monday, April 26, 2004

ice monster

The sun of pestilence struck me down with the meaness of a insensate drunk as I walked from the office to get something cold, something very cold to rehydrate my body.

By the time I reached Ice Monster, I had lost approximately 34% of body moisture, my throat as dry as dust.

But they had the thing I've been craving for, the avocado ice bowl in its clear plastic container, sweet and bitter and frosty cold.

And suddenly I am revived, renewed, refreshed - until I consider the walk back to the office under the unchanging odious sun.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

learning to be

My little girl, Sage, has her own blog - so go check it out.

Like Nikki writes, I do have the memory of a goldfish, so this is a great idea. This way, when she is older, she can read about her early life - until she's ready to write her own journal.

It's also the place where I can post pictures of the lovely Sylvanian Families stuff we're getting for her (because, somehow, having pictures of these adorable toys on the same page as a play about masturbation is slightly... um... you know).

speaking of masturbation

I met with Bart Guingona of Actors Actors Inc., the folks who want to stage The Onan Circle.

Apparently, they plan to produce the play and have it do the festival/competition circuit in Adelaide and Melbourne (Edinburgh too but the schedule is absurdly tight).

We're also talking about changing the title and shifting from a literary allusion to something more worldly, like say Circle Jerks (I know, I sputtered coffee all over the resto - I was laughing so hard). I completely agree with the title change, given the realities of marketing and the need for something that is easy to recall. A title change for me is cosmetic - it does nothing to change the meat of the play.

Readings begins next week, and I have the opportunity to work closely with the director and actors to tweak the play as I see fit. The plan is to have preliminary staging by June, a run in Manila after that, then off to Australia.

flawed pacing

I honestly wanted to like the Hellboy movie, but it was just so badly paced that I wanted to cry.

I didn't hate it, but found little to make the case to view it again. I did like the general art direction and use of shadows.

And Ron Perlman gets Hellboy's character down pat.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

fiction from my files

I found this old story that you may find interesting. It was first published in ab ovo.

ang dalaga at ang bu’aia (the maiden & the crocodile)


She kissed him one last time, failing to notice how the roughness of his skin slowly began to turn to the soft lost flesh of his youth, and he realized that it was all he could do not to cry.

And she stood up without a word, with neither gasp nor sigh, and picked her way through the deepening shadows, his heart in her hand, leaving him to die alone. He thought, perhaps too kindly, that it was her way of leaving him a degree of dignity, a painful measure of kindness that nonetheless cut deep into the place where his heart once dwelt.

And finally, when he felt the last of his strength give way, when there was not a scale or snout or tooth or claw left of him, but only a man’s dying body, he sighed.

His dismal human eyes wept no crocodile tears but tears as dry as rivers and as dim as stars.


“Forgive me,” she whispered, as she took the spear and stabbed his chest. It was as if the first strike hurled his senses away from his body. He felt no pain at her savagery, only the unmistakable discomfort of mistaken nostalgia.

A thousand false days whirled before him – of how, together, they swam in the rivers and chased the water birds; how she rode on his back as they hunted the torpid fishes; how she told him that she loved him no matter what he looked like, no matter what he was, that she would be pretend to be a diuata enchanted beyond hope by his charming voice. But none of that happened of course.

She tore out his heart, dulled and almost silent, and held it to her ear. She did not seem to mind that she was covered in his blood, and had added more to her cheeks as she listened. Satisfied, she looked at him looking up at her, helplessly dying and helplessly in love.

“I have to go.”


He had suspected of course that something like this would happen. Many had tried over the years to win his heart. But he had always stood victorious at the end of every challenge, denying all that tried the intimacies and mysteries of his affection. I have grown careless, he told himself. I have fallen in love, he told himself. I am going to die, he told himself.

He could not move, of course. Such was the power of the net fixed by devotion. He had allowed himself to believe her and his belief empowered the net and the net held him so tightly, so securely that he could not even speak.

“I need your heart,” the maiden told him.

He could only watch as she picked up one of the spears that decorated his home, the very spear that a hunter named Lan’sanud had wounded him with. It had taken him years to recover.


He dreamed a reptile’s dream – basking in the sun with his beloved, soaking up the heat of daylight, and swimming away forever beyond the boundaries of the river and into the endless ocean.

He dreamed a man’s dream – denying the gods of the river their rightful due, staring in horror as his hands turned to claws, and being unable to shed any tears that were true.

When he awoke, he was entangled in a net that smelled of coconut oil, crushed ginger and a woman’s sourness.


“Where is your heart?” she asked him, as she stroked the hard edges of his reptilian snout and looked innocently into his eyes. “I know you do not keep it in a tree like Unggoy or in a shell like Pagong,” she whispered into his small ears. “Where is it?”

And with the maiden’s relentless cooing, asking and stroking added to the regular eddies of the river, he felt his resolve weaken and he told her where it was.

“In your chest? Like everyone else?” she marveled. “I never would have guessed.”

He nuzzled against her softness, and, finding solace in the warmth of her caresses and comfort in trust he had just bestowed, fell asleep in her embrace.


One day, she showed him a net that she brought with her.

“It’s to help you catch things with,” she told him. “I feel guilty that you provide all the food when I am with you. I’m going to try to catch some fish.”

He was reluctant, feeling that as a gentleman and the master of his domain he was perfectly capable of providing for them both. But she was adamant.

“At least let me try,” she told him, and he agreed.

But when the afternoon had passed and the net remained empty despite her best efforts, she tossed it onto the rocks nearby, and gladly accepted some fruit he brought to her after striking a tree with his tail.


“Are you lonely?” she asked him once.

He told her that yes, sometimes he was.

“Why?” she asked him, as tears formed in her eyes.

Because everyone is frightened of me, he told her.

“They try to kill you,” she continued for him. “With spears.”

Yes, he agreed, dismayed at her tears. And he showed her his collection of spears that various people had tried to kill him with.

She laughed and laughed, which made him feel better inside.


When they began to speak, it was of inconsequential things. The climate, the temperature of the river, the number of pebbles in his domain. He found her articulate and witty, laughing at his attempts at clever conversation and never ever bored.

She told him he was charming, and gently teased him about his retiring nature.

“You are beautiful,” she told him, when she finally touched his skin, running her fingers across his raspy texture.

His heart echoed the sentiment and he told her exactly that.

They grew comfortable, like an old couple, sometimes not needing the security of words to prove that they were indeed sharing time and space in a place where silence embraced them.


It was a long courtship. For despite what everyone said or thought, he was terribly shy and was never one to rush things, at least not anymore.

She played the demure young maiden, acting surprised at his presence but not at his appearance, and coy in her manners.

He gradually grew to expect her company with every passing day, days they spent in silence, gazing at each other – he, in the river; she, on the riverbank.


He was used to his solitude, and only went out to either answer a challenge or feed on the ailing or hopeless animals that came to his waters to die.

He would spend his days counting the same pebbles around his domain, and the nights listening to the stillness of the forest that echoed the movement of the currents and the secret sound of his despair.

He had begun to think that perhaps he had grown too old to hope for better things, that he would forever be what he was, how he was, until the stars fell from the sky.


She was born without a heart, and she had always felt different. Where others could freely fall in love or cry at loss or smile at sunsets, she was simply hollow.
She had learned how to pretend to be one of them, smiling at the right times, swooning over handsome boys, wailing at village funerals. But inside she knew only emptiness.

She sought out a bruja in the mires where no one dared to go, fearless in her heartlessness, and there she learned of a heart she could own, a net she could make, and a spear that she must find.

When she stood unmoving in the brujah’s hut with a peculiar feeling in her stomach, the wisewoman told her that it was only hope and that it would go away in time.

She sought him out. The great bu’aia.


They first met through glances. His, unblinking and half-submerged in the river; hers, guileless and drowning in the color of mud.

He was surprised to see a young woman so near his home. Only the hopeless or the foolish or the brave ever came to him, and most of the time it was to win his heart which they believed could work miracles.

She, of course, had come to do exactly that, for the emptiness in her bosom was as dry as rivers and as dim as stars.

It's a good thing I live near several clients.

Because in between evening meetings, I can spend an hour of bliss watching American Idol before rushing back into the thick of work.

One of the local channels is running a daily showing of all of the current season, to catch-up with the series in the US. So for people like me who are subscribed to the wrong cable provider (damn you, Destiny), this is a godsend.

I liked the auditions and enjoyed the cullings down to 32. Of course we already know who the finalists will be, but the viewing experience is still great.

Thing is, I actually feel that a lot (and I mean A LOT) of Filipinos will be fantastic in a contest like this. The combination of our propensity for singing plus the availability of videoke bars equal singers everywhere.

our new addiction

Nikki will tell you about the new expenses incurred by our latest thing.

We tell ourselves it's for Sage, but really, Nikki and I are just big kids.

an agency that works

I truly have nothing but praises for the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). In terms of getting things done, helping people out and disseminating information, these guys are the tops.

Props especially to Ms. Babes Cruz of DTI-Cebu, who floored me with her charm and helpfulness (and Jessie at NCR).

This is why I have nothing against having to get up at a forsaken time in the morning to make sure I'm first in line with this agency. Everything is ordered, changes are rational and implemented quickly.

If only the rest of the government agencies were like these great people.

Monday, April 19, 2004

work, work

Boy, things are really hectic with my company this week. In our line of business, sometimes weeks go by with little to do. But sometimes, like now, everyone seems to want everything yesterday. I'm just thankful that we are bearing up.

Apart from the stuff I'm managing, I'll be spending some time this week rustling up new accounts - because new business is always good. If we reach the point where things are just too tight, we'll be able to hire new people to help out, and have funds to compensate their services.

I'm deeply uncomfortable running a largish company. I prefer smaller and leaner operations. You keep overhead under control and can be somewhat selective in what you do. Do I struggle against growth then? No, it's just that I prefer rationalized growth over exuberance. You never know when the wheel will turn; if you're not prepared and have a staff of 20, then it becomes an exercise in pain for everyone involved. Better to be conservative in this respect.


I may fly off to Singapore sometime this week or next, to oversee the animation project Nikki and I are doing, as well as pitch a movie.

I'm having a little trouble with the film pitch. I'm not thrilled with the format and suddenly the thought of a scriptment is terrifying.

But I'll have to do it, so I will.


I met up with Pierre Cruz, one of the talented people I invited to participate in Siglo: Passion.

Pierre is one of my favorite photographers and I admire his eye. We looked over his portrait pieces and selected a few for consideration for Passion's gallery.

This will make two black-and-white pieces in our full color anthology, as Pierre's photo joins the incredible pencil and inks of New York-based artist Rafael Kayanan.

Pierre will also be the lensman for the Passion pictorial, which I plan to schedule sometime in June or July. The logistics of coordinating a photoshoot for 30+ people is, again, intimidating, but I'll find a way. Sadly, some of the creators are not in Manila like Jeremy Arambulo (also in New York) and Hai Ibardolaza (Negros). We'll see what we can do.

talking with martin's ex-driver

The cabbie who drove me back from the photoshoot this afternoon revealed that he worked for singer Martin Nievera for 3 years, and regaled me with stories of Martin's way with the girls.

What is it with people and celebrities? What makes their peccadilloes so interesting? What do I care about yet another story of an unfaithful man?

Perhaps it because we like to see people do the bad bad thing and somehow survive?

Friday, April 16, 2004

why some pinoy copywriters should be hanged

From a promo for Hennessy Cognac - HENNESSY SWEET TOUCH. What does it take for a man to be capsized with the tragic of serenity to a full amount of glee? It has to be in relation to men's sensual vibe with a woman beside him or enjoying his witty moment with all of his vices... Together with your favorite tipple Hennessy VSOP/XO. Because it takes more that a startling gesture for every bottle purchased. Get one now!

For Johnnie Walker promo - Picture out a return of an investment, where a sudden offer gives you the chance to take advantage of an opportunity? You'll think twice don't you?

From Heartbeat Bikini Match - Sense the gorgeousness and creativity conveyed by our dear Sweethearts when they strut their wears off starting at the 15th of April 2004 and every Thursday thereof. So blow your inhibitions away and let your spirit waft free along with the naked beauty of nature.

From Ethel Booba's show - Imagine a night filled with laughter and fun… A night overflowed with pure endearment but wicked thoughts… Where elation suppresses the time of loneliness because you are amused.

And indeed, I am amused.

better tomorrow

If you start thinking about time, you will either long for the past or yearn for tomorrow's promise. Nostalgia versus blind (and always cruel) hope.

When I am swamped with things to do within an amazingly brief amount of time, I occassionally find myself longing for the day or week after next (I was never too great a fan of my personal past because there's little I would change, including the horrible times, because they were instrumental in creating the "I" that I am today - but the future is anyone's to create).

So I escape for a bit.

I think about the Hellboy movie the gang and I are watching soon. Then Kill Bill Vol. 2. Then The House of Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou directs Zhang Ziyi as a blind martial artist who falls into a precarious love triangle, in a war between assassins and royalty).

I think about the books and anthologies I ordered, of sitting in some cool place with a coke and a cigarette and diving into someone else's world for a breath of exotic air - thrilling to Chabon's collection of tales, bouncing on Link's Trampoline and so on.

I think about writing, about setting down the new stories that are popping into my head (in lieu of the film script that I'm presenting to Singapore). I'm imaging Sedna cloaked in darkness and the solitude of the Kuiper Belt, the epiphanies triggered by gravel and of coffins that turn invisible at the most inopportune moment. I'm hearing a new play's dialogue in my head, and the speaker (still sexless and nameless) is invoking a storm of tears.

To get to do all these things, I just need to force today's sun to set and race the hours past midnight. I need to slap today silly, stun it with my speed and work ethic and wit, and make it concede in abject surrender.

It's not so bad, as long as I get things done.

And look, it's almost lunch time.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

be my pet

I'm seriously considering investing in a pet store.

There is a good opportunity in front of me and I've always loved animals, and the location is fantastic - a place where I end up anyway if my best bud has his way.

If I do enter this thing, it will be my first retail (actually, I think the term is livestock?) business.

The first thing I'll do (well, after rebranding and such), is to give the impression that the poor animals are not suffocating. That, and offer replicas of animals (if you really want an animal with a cage but do not want to take care of it). Haha.

Again, we'll see.
please, no fire

The last thing you need, if you're a small agency in the midst of all-nighters handling a nationwide campaign, a relaunch and assorted things, is the possibility of having your office burn down.

I walked into work today to find all the power off at the office, my staff looking peaked and forlorn, and the stench of burnt wiring in the air. Immediately, I flashed back to the time in my previous company when the gym/spa above us blazed away into cinders - our computers were damaged by the subsequent water and we could not work for almost a month, having to relocate temporarily to a cybercafe (which led to moments when designers assigned work ended up playing counterstrike in an effort to raise their own morale). The lost opportunities were enormous, since we had to decline projects because we had to select those we could service in our dressed down digs.

This time, the admin rushed to our office and fixed the problem temporarily, isolating the damn set of lights that triggered that smoked my people out.

Nerves are shot, but there's still much work to be done, so here we are, pretending the acrid smell is part of the working environment.

Gah. Everyone should get hazard pay.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

the play's the thing

I just got a surprise phone call from Bart Guingona, the president and artistic director of Actor's Actor Inc - one of the best theatre groups in the country.

He wants my permission to stage my play, The Onan Circle, which won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature last year. So of course, I'm like "yay, nipple, yay" (to quote Buddha).

"I really enjoyed your play," Bart said, and he should, considering he was one of the judges in my category last year.

It's doubly exciting for me because I will get to see my paper creation live and breathe (and writhe and angst away) on stage. I'm curious to see who will be cast and in what role. I want to see how Bart will stage the scenes, especially my favorite sequence wherein everyone gives their Rashomic version of what happens. I want to see it performed!

Some say that a play is not a play until it's staged. To a certain extent, that's correct - which is why the world abounds with closet dramas. Having your play produced is a vindication of sorts, regardless of whether it makes money or not. The fact it, for the span of an hour, the world is your oyster.

I've known Bart for some time now, stretching back to my first acting workshop with Repertory Philippines when dinosaurs walked the earth. He always gave a good performance - most memorable for me was his role as John in The Lion in Winter. After he left Rep, he set up his own show and consistently produced and staged plays both intelligent and provocative. Which implies that my play is also intelligent and provocative (hahahaha).

So, what a year so far! It's only month 4 and I have a story coming out in Year's Best, a grafiction anthology coming out in September, and now a play sometime during the year. Oh, plus the Simeon Rex project and assorted little things.

Blessed. Yes, that's how I feel right now.

speaking of the palanca awards

If you're thinking about joining this year, the deadline for entries is at the end of this month.

Hurry up and finish your cramming! Find someone who can give constructive criticism, listen and implement changes you feel are destined to make a winning piece.

Then follow all the formatting guidelines, accomplish the forms and have them notarized, and submit your manuscript/s via hard copy or soft copy (yes, you can email the Palanca people and have them shoulder the cost of printing out and binding your stuff - I did that with The Onan Circle) before midnight of April 30, 2004.

Then kick back, relax, live your life and forget about it.

If your stars are in alignment, then you'll receive a little notification around August.

If not, just keep writing.

It's the best way to improve, you know.
thoughtlife: sappy

I got an invitation from my stepbrother to attend his commencement day at Harvard this coming June. The trip would involve not just the graduation ceremony but explorations of Boston and the Northeast - Maine, New Hampshire, etc.

The reason I feel sappy is because I am absurdly touched by the invitation, considering my stepbrother and I watched our friendship crumble into nothing when it was systematically assaulted by familial forces. You know the tropes - insecurity, envy, propriety, and other ugly words. We lost touch (despite the fact that we lived 3 minutes away from each other) and went on living our own lives. We were both in high school then.

I became a writer and a businessman, he became one of the top lawyers in his field.

Years later we bumped into each other at an IT event, and in the span of time afforded by a handshake and a smile tried to catch up on the lost years; but the intertia of our footsteps was too strong, carrying us away in opposite directions without fully getting to talk. We did exchange business cards.

And now, this. I wish I had to funds and the time to visit him in June. We could talk about all sorts of things while driving around the Northeast with the family (one thing I have always liked and respected about my stepbrother is his fierce intelligence - simply put, he's smarter than I am).

But the business needs my presence. And we are flying to the US this October anyway.

But still.

It's good to know.

siglo: passion sneak peek

After a series of delays (on my part as well as from some writers), work on Passion's art has begun.

Miraculous Lan Medina is already done, and let me tell you, his pages are simply beautiful. His work will be colored by Ed Tadeo (hey Amie, can kindly you ask Ed if he wants Lan's originals or should I scan them for him?).

Lan shares art chores with Reno Maniquis (of Maskarado fame) - yes, Nikki's story requires two illustrators, a colorist and a letterer.

But Wilson Tortosa will still be involved (or else I'll have Gerry crush him to smithereens) - he'll contribute to the Gallery. His US convention schedule plus the demands of his regular comics prevented him from giving the necessary attention to Siglo: Passion. But all is well, we understand. Sniff.

Monday, April 12, 2004

easter with sage

I was woken up by Sage pounding at the bedroom door. Groggily, I opened the door and in rushed Sage, shouting "Happy Easter!".

Over Easter lunch, I could not help but be dismayed, yet again, at how quickly time passes. Sage ran around the resto, climbing on chairs, standing on the tables, heedless of danger in the manner only the very young can pull off.

I love this little girl so much - her ability to be delighted by new things is akin to the spirit of wonder I always look for in stuff I read (and try to infuse in the stuff I write). I like the way I'm seeing parts of myself in Sage, as well as parts of Nikki's personality - and Sage's own character, of course. But I do wonder, am I this impatient? I guess so.

A boy tried to ride the same horse Sage was riding, but Sage gave him a stare of such dire implications that he left (only to come back when she was riding the balloon ride - she attracts men like her mother). Of course, the protective part of me wanted to smash the little boy's face in.

But look at how she's grown! Those are huge beanie-type pillows she's hugging.

We spend the rest of day with her paternal grandmother at the Greenhills house, where she played with the dogs and picked flowers, while her parents did the usual adult stuff - converse and eat.

the long weekend

Seven of us left early last Thursday with the goal of leaving the hustle and bustle of Manila behind for the cool tranquility of Tagaytay City. Nikki and I are notoriously difficult to persuade to join expeditions like this (we'd much prefer a plane to overland travel), but we both agreed to come along, have some fun or die trying. Vin, El and Charles picked us up before we linked up with Jason and Cams along the South Super Highway.

Being the writers and creatives that we are, immediately upon embarking on the road, conversation shifted to story genres and the craft that we love. I told the group about the new story I was working on, "The Muse of Graveltown", and the technical story decisions I had to make. We all had a laugh thinking of new scenarios - and I started to have fun.

We checked in at El Paso, with a view of a pineapple plantation. The sun was murderous but the airconditioned rooms were great. I got to wear my new orange rubber shoes (purchased for an astounding P500 at Greenhills - it's so cheap it scares me, even if it is a pair of knockoffs).

Lunch was at this place which overlooked the lake (jeez, I can't remember the name but it did have 3 letters in it). We gorged like pigs on everything we could order from the fantastic menu and continued the romanesque decadence with ice cream for dessert.

We played all sorts of games before heading to the Yonzon's for an evening of wholesome gluttony. Zach and his parents, Boboy and Guia, welcomed us like long-lost friends and relatives and made us feel completely at home. It made me think how impoverished my own notion of hospitality is; when I grow up, I want to be like them. We had more fun with Cranium and, in a fit of hubris, I was unable to spell faux pas - I threw in an "x" instead of an "s" at the end. I couldn't stop laughing at myself.

In the wee hours of morning, I caught my first episode of American Idol - and I agree with Rickey - Fantasia rocks! It's just too bad that it was the Country genre that I watched instead of music I appreciate better. I found out that the one of the Filipino-Americans was eliminated later but as of this time, Jasmine is still hanging on, so great!

Friday arrived and breakfast consisted of a ton of food cooked by Cams, Jayce and El. We gorged again, except for Vin who, in a his piety, ate only fish. Then the power died (just before Survivor - so I had to wait until Sunday to see Lex voted out by Boston Rob) so we decided to spend the day and evening out.

Just so you know, Nikki and I were so dispirited by the absence of our regular Survivor fix that the entire trip seemed futile. But Upwords, Scrabble and other games with Charles pushed us on.

The view had such an effect on me. Well-being and tranquility coursed through my body before my natural impatience took over. I mean, yes, the view is great, but now what?

More food, more fun, extending into dinner at Hapag Kainan and coffee at Sanctuario - I love tawilis! Around midnight, when we returned to El Paso, the power was still out.

We headed back to Manila at that very moment and made the trip back in less than an hour.

Nikki and I were glad to be home, after such an enjoyable trip, and see Sage.

Leaving the city is fine, but coming home is even better.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

our bags are packed

And we're off in a few hours for a couple of days of doing next to nothing at all in the company of friends.

I'm actually thinking about mentally writing a story while I'm there, you know, getting the concept down pat and working out the plot kinks.

cocoa and sugar

We got Sage a pair of rabbits, both male (to prevent unwanted population explosions) and sure enough she loved them.

I don't know if she really understood what happened to the Bird Named Cockroach (death is difficult to explain to a 2 year old) but now she has two replacements she can actually hold.

Nikki and I were thinking of more evocative names but ultimately went for something she wouldn't have a hard time pronouncing.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

this made me smile

Jay Lake's Handy Guide to Genre Distinctions:

Genre Distinguishing Characteristics

General fiction - Nothing to explain

Literary fiction - If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand it anyway

Mystery - Explain what happened

Thriller/Technothriller - Explain how it happened

Romance - Explain who it happened to

Western - Explain what lily-livered varmint gone and done it

Horror - Explain what's about to happen

Science Fiction - Explain everything in technical detail

Fantasy - Explain everything in nonsensical detail

Magical Realism - Explain nothing

Surrealism - Go fishing for ice cream

Though my own take on Magical Realism would be "Explain nothing but beautifully". Thanks to The Mumpsimus.
writing notes

In development:


The Muse of Graveltown
Watching Sedna


The Boatmaker of Apo

Looking for markets:

holy week

And at last a vacation, of sorts.

Just in time, too. The new influx of projects requires my attention and I'm finding it difficult to focus. Too many words are in my head - it's the season of prose inside me.

The sad thing is that I won't be able to do any writing while on vacating with my friends. It would not just be rude to lock myself up in the midst of a social engagement with people I like, it would just be improbable that I could concentrate with all the distractions. I've never believed that writing is a social activity - write first, then talk or discuss.

But I'll bring the laptop anyway - because if the muse forces me to be rude, then sorry na lang.

Friday, April 02, 2004

my life as a quote

I just found out belatedly that I've been quoted by Pinas The National Weekly. The company I keep is enough to get my nationalist blood pumping!


FOR the economy to get going once again, the working man must be given his just and rightful share or his labor, and
to the owners and managers must be restored the hope where there is so must uncertainty if not despair.
Martyr and Senator

THE nature of stories is to act as mirrors for real life. Sometimes the image is flawed or in shadows, twisted or unclear. Yet once in a while the reflection is startlingly clear and surprising in what it shows. Sometimes what we see is too close to the truth.
Playwright and author

I SAY that the duty of justices is simply to “decide cases” and not insist on keeping their version of the pork barrel with one difference: lawmakers cannot touch the money but only identify projects, but the justices have billions at their disposal the oversight of which the House gave up.
ATTY. RENE AV. SAGUISAG, Human rights lawyer and Senator

MAY the Philippines the breathe the atmosphere of the mother country, and a single faith, a single ideal, a single hope, vivify the aspirations of both peoples, called upon to work out their common welfare and to surprise the world with a future of exuberant prosperity.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

reading sci fi

Force-feeding myself short sci fi (Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction 2003), I find myself predictably bored to tears by hard sci fi, amazed at the dismal and plodding pace of the plotless stories, and rendered inert by the ones that are mostly technobabble.

However, the stories that focus on people, that have strong human characters, engaged my mind and swept away much of my hardcore bias. Stories like:

Paul McAuley's "The Passenger"
Charles Coleman Finlay's "The Political Officer"
Maureen McHugh's "Presence" (my favorite)
John Kessel's "Stories for Men"
Geoff Ryman's "V.A.O"
Michael Swanwick's "Slow Life"

What struck me in particular were the deft and observant characterization in "Presence" and "V.A.O", the pacing of "The Passenger", the sophistication, structure and honesty of "Stories for Men", the tension of "The Passenger", and the sheer beauty of the "Slow Life".

These were stories that worked despite the sci fi trappings - in other words, they worked as stories first, rather than works that promote the sci fi "agenda".
I am comfortable with these stories because the tech is not screaming in my face - in fact, if these are representative of the manner of stories told in this mode (and I suppose they are, having been gathered from publications such as Asimov's and Analog), then I think I can write in this mode if I switch certain gears in my head, thanks to the interstitial or slipstream mode cthat accomodates a startling variety of writing styles and genres.

What is sci fi today, anyway? Why are vast tracks of the books available so seemingly moribund? And these are questions asked not only by outsiders like me, but by the very people who write in this mode. As far back as 1999, Bruce Sterling wrote concerning then-emergent slipstream "I wish it was an acknowledged genre and a workable category, because then it could offer some helpful, brisk competition to SF, and force "Science Fiction" to redefine and revitalize its own principles."