Tuesday, August 31, 2004

if you call me

Nikki has an amusing post about names and I thought I'd write about it too - because it made me think about how different roles and circumstances determine my name.

1. If you call me Dean, then you could be a friend or an acquaintance, a business partner or client, or one of my staff members. This is the name I prefer to use, although it always feels odd when my wife uses it. I guess it's because I'm used to her calling me something else.

2. If you call me Dean Alfar, then you could only be Dino Yu. I don't know how we ever got started on calling each other by our semi-full names, but there it is. Or you could be any number of organizations who think "Dean" is a title and are thus giving me honor by calling me this. When I'm invited to speak or judge, organizers are tickled by the fact that I look so young for a dean of a college.

3. If you call me Deanbo, you're most likely my mother, my aunts or uncles, members of my step-family, family members in Los Banos or the US, my doctor godfather, or someone trying to be cute. I'd urge caution if you attempt to use this name for me - I'm liable to think you're "feeling close". Unless you're my brother-in-law Richard, in which case, your variant of Dimbo is fine.

4. If you call me Manong ("older brother"), you're one of my beloved siblings (hi Jo!)or one of my younger cousins on my mother's side. This is also the term I use to call almost every older male person I meet who drives taxis, guards buildings, sells cigarettes and plies food.

5. If you call me Dad, Daddy or Daddy Dimbo, you can only be Sage. Though sometimes, I'm Sage and she's Daddy, or some other permutation involving me, her, her mother, her nannies, and all her friend's names. And, unless you want to look stupid, you have to remember which name she has assigned to you.

6. If you call me Cutie, Sweetie or some other embarrassing thing, then you're my wife, who, in addition, likes to use adjectives that are certainly not in keeping with my quiet, unassuming, wallflower nature.

7. If you call me Ponytail, then you last saw me many years ago and are in for a surprise. You used to watch me enter a house with Nikki (my then-girlfriend) and wink at me when we exited. "Tumira nanaman si Ponytail" (no, I will not translate)

8. If you call me Mr. Alfar, you're someone looking for a job, asking for an interview, soliticing money, are from the government or are that perky girl from the bank I dislike (no, I still do not want your credit cards, any of them, thank you).

9. If you call me Sir/Ser Dean or Sir/Ser Alfar, it's not because you think I'm a knight, but because it's a Filipino cultural need to attach some sort of honorific to show courtesy and respect - which means you're one of the barberfolk, a Comicquest girl, massagefolk (visually-impaired or sighted), one of the juniors of my clients, an employee of one of my partners, a current or ex-Magic player, or one of the nannies of Sage.

10. If you call me Hambog! (loosely translated as "arrogant shithead!"), you're my maternal grandmother in a really bad mood. It used to devastate my cousins Kim and BJ and I when our grandmother, reddened with emotion, would call us this most senses-shattering invective. It was used rarely, and when she called me this, tears would inevitably follow.

11. If you call me Dean Francis Alfar, then you're probably the Palanca Awards or National Book Awards people, or a magazine or online zine editor, and you're probably writing to inform me that I've won or been selected for publication (woot!) or am a loser with a capital “L”. This is my professional name, as it appears in all my writing and on my business card.

12. If you call me Salahuddin, then you're one of my Muslim cousins, and I will probably try to throw away the pork chop I'm eating (or quickly pile it on Nikki's plate) to avoid censure.

13. If you call me Tangkad (tall guy), then you're one of the merchants I visit infrequently, and you are using the age-old technique of assigning outstanding traits to people who are not exactly friends, to remember them. But you forgot to keep it yourself and addressed me as thus. I want to be present when the woman you call Taba (fatty) evicerates you.

14. If you call me Mr. Bean, I will kill you. One time, during my tenure as the Philippine Head Judge for Magic: The Gathering, I deplaned in Davao and scanned the crowd for the persons who were supposed to meet me. And there, hoisted above beaming faces of young card floppers was a huge banner that said "Welcome to Davao, Mr. Bean!". So, don't.

To close, an excerpt once overheard at university; a girl angrily arguing with her boyfriend on the payphone:

GIRL: You can call me a bitch, you can call me whatever you like, just don't call me!

Monday, August 30, 2004

bee's knees

Sage surprised me at the office this morning, and, spotting the digicam, told me "Daddy, picture please." What followed was an impromtu photo shoot with my favorite model.

Sitting on the couch, we had hairy moments when my model-of-the-day kept losing her balance (I asked her to hold her knees then rest her chin on her arms). Undetered and laughing (because it was a lot of fun to tumble around the soft couch), Sage finally got her balance and began to pose. I'd instruct her to look this way and that, to look happy or sad and, like a professional model, she did it.

Our next layout involved a huge Vitra print as a backdrop. I have a number of lovely shots (man, I'm glad she takes after her mom!). I asked her to stand in front of the board and just be herself. And she did, cutting the session short when too many people came to ogle her.

A model, after all, needs her privacy.

play fragment: fontologia


If you could just, just-

Whatever it is, I'm not interested.

That’s just what I, what I mean. Look, I can’t even-

You have that stupid look on your face.

That’s just it. That’s just it. How anyone can get a word in edgewise is-

What? What?

I’m just trying to-

What? Just say it then.

You’re impossible. You’re obviously in trouble and you deny -

Fuck you.

No, no, you’ve got it wrong. I’m not the one fucking Palatino, am I?

You wish. You wish, you trashy queen.

GARAMOND: (laughs)
Does Arial know you’re fucking her husband?

You’re a real piece of work, aren’t you?

So, what? It was nothing? You just happened to fall into bed together and-

That’s none of your business.

Isn’t it? Well, I should think it is my busi-

Look, just, just stop, okay? Let’s just stop this.


Shut the fuck up, Garamond. I’m tired. Let’s do this, let’s do this some other time, okay?


Sunday, August 29, 2004

chow yun fatter

While rummaging through old photos, I came across a series of shots circa my Hong Kong days. One of the things I loved about living there was the fact that business attire meant business attire, and I had a number of suits to wear. Balenciaga, one of the price-friendliest brands, had an extensive selection to choose from, and with my nice little paycheck, I could afford to buy one when the mood struck.

In the Night Market across the harbor, more choices beckoned, with stylish cuts and wonderful fabric that seemed one-of-a-kind. Or, I'd take the bus to Stanley Market and shop for silk ties and crisp shirts, and have a drink before heading back to the Wan Chai.

It was in HK that I first decided to shave my head, which, in combination with my penchant for wearing my favorite long coat, resulted in an amusing incident of mistaken identity. I am tall for a Filipino, and my features often have foreigners mistaking me for some sort of Japanese or Chinese or Latino hybrid (at airports, tour guides attempt to herd me along with Japanese tourists).

I entered a department store in Central and began to innocently browse the men's department. From the corner of my eye, I began to detect a slowly growing group of people following me, sales attendants and shoppers, smiling and point and whispering among themselves. Perturbed, I turned around and asked, in English, what was going on.

"Oh," the girl said, and proceeded to blush.

I furrowed my brow, smiled in confusion and tried to go my way. The small group continued to follow me and I finally understood what the fuss was about when I overheard one of them say "Look, it's Chow Yun Fat!".

Um, no. I walked to them and tried to explain that I was not the star of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" but that just triggered a cascade of Cantonese and Mandarin and more beaming faces. Helpless in the face of unmastered languages and so much hope, I pulled myself out of the orbit of their fantasy and hurried out the store.

Earlier in the US, at a huge convention, I was stalked by some girls and a guy carrying a camera. I was wearing a black trenchcoat and dark glasses and my hair was longer and slicked back - I was there to look for toys and games to market in Manila but took the opportunity to indulge in rare winter wear.

At the point of irritation (I hate people following me, makes me feel like I've done something wrong unawares) I turned around to confront the white girls. Before I could say a word, they stepped up to me, with big smiles.

GIRL 1: Excuse me, but could we take a picture of you?

GIRL 2: With you?

ME: What?

GIRL 1: We wouldn't mind paying.

GIRL 2: Is $10 okay? That's what the others charge.

ME: But why do want a picture of me?

GUY: We loved you in "Replacement Killers"!

Um, no. I told them that I was not in a movie with Mira Sorvino, and in fact was not a film actor.

GIRL 1: Really? You're not just saying that?

ME: Really. I'm sorry.

GUY: But we want your picture anyway.

I finally consented and they snapped merrily away, exchanging places and photographic duties. And since I had already stripped the wrong impression from their minds (or so I thought), I felt less strange about posing as someone else for people I didn't know from Adam.

And I didn't charge them $10 (but maybe I should have - that's still a lot of pesos).

Friday, August 27, 2004

open histories

I've stolen the book that Nikki was reading, The Double Life of Doctor Lopez: Spies, Shakespeare and the Plot to Poison Elizabeth I by Dominic Green.

I am thoroughly mesmerized by it - it seems almost custom-written for me - with Elizabethan history and court intrigues (against Philip II of Spain and Don Antonio, the exiled Portuguese king) interspersed with a scholarly analysis of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.

This is one of the genres that I absolutely love (and Nikki, of course, knew it, bless her heart): books that are firmly grounded in history and tell stories about people and circumstances that most fiction glosses over. I like the details, the slavish devotion to the minutiae of the milleau, and the overwhelming sense of history. I enjoy reading non-fiction of this mode, books like Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History, Big Chief Elizabeth : The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America and Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened the East all by Giles Milton or The Great Wave : Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan by Christopher Benfey.

Eventually, I'd like to write something like this. A novel that balances the act of reportage with creative and literary sensibilities. I just need to channel Ambeth Ocampo and I'll be on my way.

But even if I never do, texts like this have proven time and again the value of research, even if just for the sake of maintaining a high level of verisimilitude in one's writing. God is in the details, after all.

Along a similar vein, here are a few of the online resources I use for the kind of stories I like to tell:

The Internet Sacred Text Archive - everything from texts relating to the philosophy of Thelema, many of them written by the occultist Aleister Crowley, to the key texts of Confucianism, to The Hymns of Orpheus translated by Thomas Taylor. And the Bible too.

Encyclopedia Mythica - entries on folklore, mythology and legends

The Skeptic's Dictionary - A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions (and how to think critically about them)

The Language Construction Kit - go and create your own language

Vivisimo - my preferred clustering search engine (because sometimes Google is just too messy)

best for less

Two buildings away from my office is a canteen that has a secret.

In this non-descript eatery is found the Holy Grail of Garlic Cheese Sandwiches.

Served pressed and toasted with butter on top, the creamy goodness of cheese melds with the tang of garlic to produce a truly awesome gastronomic experience.

The best part is this: it costs only P10, making it all the more incredible. You're okay with one, happy with two, a pig with three and really hungry with four.

repeat the feat

It seems actor Vandolph has a thing for serious vehicular mishaps.

A couple of years ago, he slammed into a truck in the North, resulting in an extended hospital stay for him. His girlfriend, riding shotgun, was less fortunate. She fell into a coma and died a month later.

This time, the vehicle he was driving along Katipunan dove into a huge construction ditch. In the car was girlfriend #2, who, thankfully, did not slip into a coma.

Oh, and his handlers were quick to reiterate that Vandolph was not drunk. At 3:30AM.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

comrades in expression

surviving the zeroes

Thanks to the magic of the internet (and Quay, the conduit in Dubai), I was able to touch base with an old college friend, Joey Alarilla and congratulate him: his work, "Surviving the Zeroes", won 3rd Prize in the essay category of this year's Palanca Awards.

Joey, online editor of INQ7.net, wrote about his daughter Sam and the first generation born during the Zero Years. The online newspaper will publish it soon, so watch for it.

Joey, Quay, Pauline, Dino, Lisa, Nikki and I (with Ponjun, below) were part of TINTA, a literary org that preferred to sing bits from Les Mis, play endless card and word and RPG games, read comics, argue, eat and fall in love.


Raul Roco Jr.'s exhibit of paintings opens on September 1st and runs until the end of that month. Entitled "Prisms" (and part of the larger "Six Solos" show), his mostly abstract collection is all about the hidden colors of light and the beauty of simplicity. The venue is the Pasig City Museum in Plaza Rizal, Pasig City.

The last time we got to talk was when Ponjun represented his father, then-presidential aspirant Raul Roco, at the launch for Siglo: Freedom. We chatted about art and writing (Ponjun is also a poet) and comic books (he has one of the most impressive Thor collections around).

But what I really remember him for is how, during college, we would skip classes and hie off for the casinos along Roxas Boulevard. There I struggled to master the secrets of Big/Small while Ponjun shook his head in disbelief.

Afterwards, I'd visit sporadically, never daring to play any of the card games (but if they had Magic: The Gathering then, I'd have given them a run for their money) but slowly creating my system for Big/Small. And sadly, reality proved the game's title correct - I lost big and won small.

And since I'm off on a tangent anyway, I've actually entertained the notion of designing a casino game and living from the royalties (or residuals?). Except that I suck at math and am more concerned about whether or not I can smoke while playing. The August 2004 issue of Playboy has an interesting article about just that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004



One of the most interesting words to erupt in the Filipino language is the term "jologs".

I've always wondered what it meant, exactly. Like many others, I always thought it was used in a pejorative sense - until one of my sisters proudly declared herself happily jologs (well, she said it because I was accusing her of being to "soci" for her own good, and she defended herself by claiming a commonality with the whatever jologs means).

Poet and essayist Paolo Manalo tells us what it means.

This is a well-written essay that still reads well a couple of years after it was written. Paolo's book, Jolography, collects the poems (and this essay) which garnered him the first prize Palanca Award for Poetry in 2002. He is also one of the writers featured in the upcoming Siglo: Passion, with Andrew Drilon illustrating.


I finally decided to defragment my computer, and one of the initial steps was to review all the contents and delete what I really don't want: old games, silly downloads, unused programs and other files that do nothing.

I found out that a) I am a porn packrat, and b) I have way too many bits of writing that I never finish.

While I do believe in leaving certain pieces of writing alone when I don't like what I'm writing or get bored with it or when the characters simply won't cooperate, I think there has to be a time to simply junk the junk, so to speak.

So I deleted many of them, those poor abortive efforts at something different, something new. Of course, I salvaged what I could, and saved the ones that insisted that they would work things out with me in the near future.

Among the ones I discarded was a series of stories set in Hinirang that didn't go beyond three or four paragraphs. Hinirang is a very cool setting for a lot of different tales, but the ones I begun where just so... ick - stillborn experiments with language, tone, POV and structure. I'll probably write one or two more in the setting before I walk away from the Katao and the Ispancialo.

Among the ones I saved (mostly plays) are The Butterfly Emporium (fast becoming the play I can never finish - began sometime in the last century), Interstitial, Isa Pa Para Kay Alan, and the mega-length drama version of The Lost (my sadly uncompleted comic book that didn't see issue #3). It's harder to flush down hundred-page scenes because I find dialogue more fluid to work with (therefore, their potential for revival is a tad greater).

I saved what little "poetry" I've written (note the quotation marks - because I honestly do not consider myself a poet) because they, in general, make me laugh with their mock-gravity and charmless parsing.

Among the story fragments, I've found a few that I still like and will probably continue. Most of the vignettes, I kept. These guerilla writings usually bear fruit.

So now it's just the same old step. To actually sit down and write.

It's an odd feeling, collaborating with my younger self.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

salon shots

A few days ago, I completed a photo shoot for my salon/spa client. Along with incredible photographer Pierre (who says "hi" to you, Pauline) and talented stylist Guada, we had the task of creating images that my agency can use for upcoming campaigns and materials.

One of the perks of working with professional models is how easy they are to direct. They know how interpret my instructions. And they know how to look beautiful or sultry or whatever - they know their angles and such.

Costume changes, make-up changes, location shifts, lighting and camera positions - we had it all covered. In fact, I felt I barely did any work.

But I guess that's how it is when everyone knows what to do.

It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, art direction is a lot of fun.

hit and run

Early this morning, we got news that Nikki's brother - actor Ricardo Cepeda - was in an accident. Through various phone calls and a visit to the hospital, we found Rick (with his actress wife, Snooky Serna) in relatively good condition (if you consider having a broken arm now set with titanium a good thing).

That night, he was riding his motorcycle down Katipunan Avenue when suddenly two cars zoomed down the road, in a frenetic race to only God-knows-where. One of the cars hit his bike, and Rick hurtled into the air before gravity and inertia took care of the rest. Dazed and hurting from a broken arm, Rick tried to crawl off the road, and was helped by a friendly Pizza Hut delivery guy (which is why, henceforth, we will patronize Pizza Hut despite the thick crust ickiness, because they have proven to do "more than the usual").

Two hospitals later, he had surgery, hounded by the gossip rags and newspeople from different channels.

I'm just glad he's alive. Too many people perish on their bikes.

Monday, August 23, 2004

dessert mints

Nikki taught herself hard code and redid her blog all by herself (no web authoring tools at all - sheesh). Go now and relax your eyes.


With the office so close by, I'm into more walking than my usual taxi riding. It's especially invigorating, given the fact that several of my clients have their offices close by.

Of course, given the oppressive sun, I'll probably darken to match my usual black polo. Or, with the sudden downpours, I could get soaked and get sick. But all that's okay, really. I feel somewhat healthier and even entertain the notion that I may be losing some weight.

I am a brisk walker (as my poor wife can attest, having to play catch-up from a mountain or two behind) because I usually have to be somewhere at a given time. But nowadays, I add a little extra time so I can actually look around, view buildings, watch people and observe the odd little patches of emptiness that mark the spaces between Mini-Stops.

I am a non-smiler (as my friends can tell you, when I respond to a greeting with a dismissive wave) because the street isn't exactly the best place to catch up on life. But recently, I've tried actually replacing the grim nod and the curt wave of the hand with a half-smile and eyebrows raised in delight.

Today, feeling like a character in one of those interminable novels where absolutely nothing happens, I walked from my home to a client, less briskly and somewhat smiling as my cigarette fought the wind to survive.

It's my new relaxation technique, in leather shoes.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

opening for king

First of all, thank you to Pauline. If you click here, you'll see the trouble she went through to do something for me. It was surreal seeing a picture of something I've been imagining - because until this very moment I don't have a copy myself (argh!).

And, silly fanboy that I am, I absurdly thrilled to be next to Stephen King, and a story away each from Neil Gaiman and Ursula Le Guin. Not that it really matters... but in a peculiar way relevant only to myself, it really does. I feel like the opening act for one of my favorite bands!

And more importantly, both my wife and my daughter are named (along with my country) in the little introduction!

Thank you, Pauline - forever and ever amen.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

anghang ng buhay


vignette: red

I was eleven years old, all ribcage and elbows, when Anna came over to swim at our house. It was difficult time for my family, having gone through - only months before - my grandfather's sudden admission of the existence of another family that sprang from his loins.

Anna was sort of my quarter-cousin then, I don't know, I never got the hang of the naming conventions. All I knew was that we held my grandfather in common. When their family was formally introduced to us in a rented room at an old Chinese restaurant, I remember being struck by how tall she was, after I found out that she was barely a year older than me.

The day she came to swim, I was all alone in the house. I had forgotten that she had called to say she was coming over and was very uncomfortable with her presence. For one thing, she was a girl, and at that time in my life I was becoming acutely aware of things like breasts. Also, I found that I couldn't even make conversation (later in life, I would realize that I somehow resented her family for being living proof of my grandfather's infidelity).

I waited for her by the pool while she changed. I recall how I tried to think of something else, anything but how she would look in a two-piece. When she came out of the cabana, she was covered by a large red t-shirt that left everything to imagination.

"Hindi ka ba lalangoy," she asked me, standing at the edge of the pool's deep part.

"No, no," I said. "Okay lang ako dito."

"Sigurado ka?" she asked, tying her hair in a ponytail. With her arms raised, I caught a guilty peek at the color of her bathing suit, a startling yellow floral pattern where her legs made a "y".

"Oo," I told her. "Ikaw na lang." I didn't want to get too close to her, and the very thought of being wet with my budding cousin-of-sorts was just too much. I shook my head again and gestured for her to jump in.

For a moment, she was suspended in the air like an angry red bird of odd proportions. Then she broke the water's surface with a fantastic splash, making me twist around to avoid getting wet. I don't remember what I said, maybe I was laughing or shouting something silly, but I do rememeber that when I stood up to look at her, all I could see was a red t-shirt lurking under the water.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


I am so used to email and instant gratification via SMS that receiving multiple hard copy letters by mail is an event.

Everything arrived this morning.

First were a pair of envelopes bearing the familiar Carlos Palanca Foundation crest. Replacing the traditional telegrams (those abrupt and tersely worded missives that condensed both kudos and award night info in as few words as possible), these letters were on formal gold-stamped letterhead and are nice enough to frame. So yes, I am officially informed about the two Palanca Awards I'm to receive on September 1st at the Manila Pen. Having the physical letters is evidence enough that my past and current happiness is not just some cruel dream sequence.

I used to collect the telegrams when I started winning, until I misplaced them along with all my clippings and the out-of-print stories I published in the early 90's (National Midweek, MOD and others).

Second was a note from Gavin Grant over at Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, a small literary magazine I submitted a story to. As a form rejection letter, it is as terse as a Palanca telegram. Rejection used to hurt, but now my attitude is to just shrug my shoulders and move on. Not every market can be conquered with the first salvo, after all.

I'm considering writing a quartet of stories that are interlinked but stand alone, and rotate them between markets (keeping in mind the edict against simultaneous submissions).

Third was a thick envelope from James Frenkel & Associates, bearing, along with my contract, my first-ever royalty check. The amount doesn't matter, being in actually an advance against royalties that sales of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror Seventeenth Annual Collection will generate. What does matter is that L'Aquilone du Estrellas, the crazy story that got me published in the first place (and this year metamorphosed into a winning play) is in the collection.

Now if only Fully Booked, Powerbooks or A Different Bookstore can get their new stocks in (I do have an hardcover author's copy coming my way, but who knows when that will arrive).

So, three letters - a pair of congratulations, a rejection and a royalty check. A combination I'm more than willing to live with.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


After attending a wake, I found myself in Riverbanks, that mall owned by traffic czar Bayani Fernando (whom I've always felt to be a bully of sorts - and guess what, majority of mayors agree with me).

The reason I insisted on going there was to check out Billy the Pirate's competition. True enough, the DVDs were P10 lower than my suki price at Greenhills, but the selections were not stellar. I did manage to find 3 films I wanted to see:

Osama (2003) - Directed by Siddiq Barmak, Osama is the story of a 12-year old girl and the Taliban. It was the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2004.

Azumi (2003) - Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura and set in Tokugawa Japan, this film follows the life of an assassin girl.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - Michel Gondry directs Jim Carrey in what seems to be the performance of his life, in a tale about erasure.

Now to get some viewing time in.

Monday, August 16, 2004


2004 National Book Awards: Jason, Jaime, El, Charles, Dean, Nikki, Vin, Carlo, and Marco

Carl and I emoting during our featured set at Music21 (haha)

Backstreet Wannabes: Jaime, Vin and El

Andrew and Nikki looking for a rock song

I shaved it but somehow retained a "halo" effect which is kinda cool (and not quite visible in black and white)

Sage is officially 2.5 years old!

Sunday, August 15, 2004



We won! Yes, we did! Siglo: Freedom received the National Book Award for Best Comic Book (along with Mars Ravelos' Darna by Mango Comics) last night!

Thanks go all around to the people who made such an incredible thing possible: the creatives (Gerry, Arnold, Hai, Carl, Lan, Nikki, Andrew, Marco, Jason, El, Yang and my co-editor Vin); Nautilus Comics - Jaime, Choy Cojuanco, Pat and Marj with Kestrel IMC and Questventures; our distributors and outlets; our readers; and of course, the Source of All Things Wonderful.

This anthology started with a need to do something different, to push at the boundaries of the medium we love, and to see if critical agenda could be so obviously promoted. I wanted comics with teeth, that used its abilities to do more than entertain. I wanted something that would provoke thought and overturn the sad notion that comics were limited to just a certain kind of reader. With the help of friends old and new, Siglo: Freedom delivered.

It's my first National Book Award as an editor (and creative, I guess, although really the award belongs to everyone involved, because it was a collective effort and no single person has the right to claim the achievement as his or hers alone) and it covers my comics work for the previous year. I am so thankful to the Lord because of His abundant blessings, giving me encouragement in the three aspects of writing I engage in: plays, fiction (via the Palancas) and now, grafiction.

I am all the more driven to produce Siglo: Passion, the next logical step for the anthology's evolution (on our terms, in our selected context). My faith in the assembled set of Passion creatives is rewarded with every bit of new work that comes in. For example, Ariel's inspired and inventive pages knocked my socks off when I saw them at ComicQuest (well worth the wait, my friend!).

I also believe that the act of creation should never stop, not while we can imagine and act to make things real. And so the gang has already started throwing ideas around, in terms of what happens after Passion. Too early for anything definite, but I'm leaning towards either doing something that is the polar opposite of Siglo or perhaps something for children, those readers who will become the next generation of creatives.

The latter part of this year and the next one should be quite invigorating. In addition to everything I've mentioned, I hope to see Alamat Comic's 10th Anniversary anthology (go, Budj!), the whole gamut of comics from the University of the Philippines, and more stuff from established and upcoming creatives. That's how things should be.

Thanks again to the Manila Critics Circle and to Ruey de Vera for a touching citation (and kudos to Zach and the Mango crew!).

fan boy

It was good being in the company of powerful writers again, those authors whom I look up to: Krip Yuson, Cirilo Bautista, Gemino Abad and many more. I didn't get to chat much, but that's what the Palanca venue will be able to provide.

I was happy to see Siglo: Passion creative Vince Groyon pick up the Best Fiction prize for "The Sky Over Dimas". This man of Negros (one of the few writers who is a lot taller than I am) is one of the best writers of our generation and deserves the recognition that comes his way.

During the awards ceremony, I also could not help but be dazzled by Rosario Cruz Lucero, author of stories like "The Death of Fray Salvador Montano" and "Doreen's Story" (both Palanca prizewinners). I am quite impressed by her ability, consistency and discipline. Fanboy that I am, I asked for a picture.

Thanks to Charles, I got a copy of Hai's book, "The Greediest of Rajahs..." and watched the gang pounce upon the fact that mysterious author had a picture on the book flap.

El signed his first book for me, "Ang Parusa ng Dwende". I am particularly proud of my young friend because in such a short time he has become one of the movers of our little industry.

In conversation with the Yonzons, I happily learned that Lastikman (written by Gerry and illustrated by Arnold) is scheduled for release this November, at the same time as Jam, the Mango all-woman anthology that Nikki is editing and writing for. We spoke about challenges we faced in common - price points, distribution, sponsorships, ad revenue and other commercial concerns. The Yonzons are wonderful people and I wish only the best for them and their endeavors.


After a failed attempt to have dinner at Malate (involving horrendous traffic, heavy rain and an altercation with the police), we opted to have dinner at Burgoo's in Rockwell, gorging ourselves in the manner of happy, starving people. I believe that creatives must be creatures of appetite (of some sort) - to many, this means San Miguel Beer; to us it means lots of food and conversation. We like to eat and talk a lot (actually, it doesn't matter if we're celebrating something or not), and we did more of that over coffee at Country Waffles, before voicing our happiness at Music21.


I promise to put some up by tomorrow, over the DSL line at the office.

Oh, and you know the saying "Hair today, gone tomorrow"?

Yes, I did do something.

You'll see.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

kid lit

For all the aspiring children's fiction writers among us, the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2005 PBBY-Salanga Prize. The contest is co-sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and The National Library. The winner will be given a cash prize of P25,000.00, a gold medal, and an opportunity to be published. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day on July 19, 2005.

If you can write for 6 to 12 year olds in English or Filipino, join up. There's a lot of time - if you start soon.

For contest details, click here.

Speaking of children's literature, make sure to pick up Siglo: Freedom creative Honoel Ibardolaza's The Greediest of Rajahs and the Whitest of Clouds, his first children's book, published by Adarna House and to be launched at the International Book Fair this week.

Hai's story won the Palanca Award last year for Short Story for Children. I just feel bad that we won't be able to see him at the National Book Awards over at the World Trade Center this weekend - he's up to his neck with the pretty ladies, the bastard.

And of course, pick up and marvel at Elbert Or's first kid lit illustration extravaganza!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

ang mahiwagang buhok

O, para sa mga nais makakita ng aking buhok (yan ang dingding ng aking bagong opisina, pula talaga):

Hindi berde at hindi kulay mais, ewan ko ba - pero ayan, kita na ang totoong kulay sa may anit ko. Nagsimulang parang lumang copper, umabot ng blondie, naging khaki at ngayon, yan siya.

Papakulay pa ba ako? Pwede, kung tigasan ko ang loob (si Katrina nga, kada-buwan, kaya!) at kung kaya ng bulsa.

maligayang bati

Sa aking paboritong kalbong manunulat, Andrew - sulat pa!

At sa kaisaisang tinik sa hardin ng rosas sa Kestrel, Hiyas!

Monday, August 09, 2004


Like a sex-starved prison lifer suddenly teleported to an anything-goes seraglio, I am so happy with the DSL line we got for the new office.

Sure, it's nothing like the fast line that I had in Hong Kong, but it sure beats the dial up we've had for a year.

Nasty downloads, here I come.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

sloth's lover

While it is not wrong to hope (we all do, from time to time), it is something that needs to be managed. The romantic notions of impossible dreams, true love and happily ever after all contribute to the ultimate cruelty of hope. Nothing stops anyone from dreaming big, from wanting something (or someone) so terribly, from wishing that all of existence's underpinnings were based on Barney's "I love you, you love me" song. But my problem with majority of these people is that hoping is all they ever do.

They want to write but do not make time, citing the impossibilies inherent in their schedules and the minutae of their daily lives (you cannot write until you make time to write, by prioritizing what is important to you).

They want accolades but are paralyzed by the fear of failure, creating in their minds tiresome circles of analyses (when learning to walk, you will fall; when performing in front of an audience you can screw up - that's how things are).

They want a bigger salary, a better job, a larger home, a better car, to be thinner, to leave an abusive relationship, to have a successful business, to have someone who loves them for who they are - but they do not act. Instead, they stay where they are, their posteriors lovingly caressing the same familiar indentations of their favorite chair or bed, and hope.

There is comfort in hope because it demands no action. It is a palliative for the passive, sloth's lover. Hope holds you in her arms and coos in your ear, promising everything, promising nothing. It is insubstantial and destructive alone, without action, without motion. In solitude, it pretends to spin in pretty circles and is wonderful to behold, sometimes elegant and sometimes wild in its illusory gyrations, psuedo-oscillating in the sweetness of its imagined context.

It is beautiful, yes.

But if all you want to do is watch, I'll leave you to your marvelous visions and miraculous tomorrows - I have things I need to do today.

Friday, August 06, 2004


I fell asleep at around 9pm last night which is very odd because I usually stay up until 2am, reading, puttering around, sorting books and comics, eating an evil midnight snack, playing games with my wife or writing. But I felt so exhausted from my last client meeting of the evening.

So when I woke up at 4am, I couldn't get back to sleep. Normally, I'd use the opportunity to write - the world as quiet as the day before its birth, the rain falling silenty outside my 6-foot-tall windows, the mind refreshed and raring to take on words. But I couldn't. I still felt tired and unable to do a thing, possessed by an unmistakable hebetude.

When true morning came, I got ready for a breakfast fashion show at the Manila Peninsula and dispiritedly worked my way through salmon bagels. My mind was nowhere near the usual level.

By lunchtime, I helped my staff move all our stuff to the new office and oddly, it was after nearly breaking my back attempting to move heavy pieces of furniture myself that I got invigorated.

My mind simply had to find a better way to handle the demanding physical tasks, juggle logistics and help determine placement of things. I'm more than happy to have staff members who are motivated, bright and shining with goodwill. If they weren't there, I don't know how my partner and I could have handled the move.

By late afternoon, my mind was fine but my body exhausted - oh, but what a lovely office we now have. We worked alongside the carpenters, electricians, painters and sticker people (for the glass portions), phone guys and feng shui consultants (we need to put a plant or a fountain in the center of the office, and I need to face the east, along with the petty cash) - all doing last minute things on a Friday.

I'm happy we beat the beginning of the Ghost Month and will be up and running next week. There are still a lot of things to do, but the most important things are done.

I actually look forward to cleaning up tomorrow so that when we begin work on Monday, everything is spic and span.

But tonight, I just want to sleep.


And thank you to everyone who called, texted, emailed, commented and tagged me about the previous entry. It is wonderful to be surrounded by so many good people who share in the blessings from above.

Thank you again!

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Please forgive the barely-concealed happiness that follows:

I've received word that that my One-Act Play, "The Kite of Stars", won 2nd Prize in this year's Don Carlos Palanca Awards! Based on my little story that could, I returned to my stylistic roots and wrote the play as a minimalist choreo-poem.

Think I'm happy? As if my heart were not already trying to leap out of my chest with delight...

It turns out that my genre short story, "Hollow Girl: A Romance", also won 3rd Prize in Futuristic Fiction! The very same story that my friend Jeremy is illustrating for Siglo: Passion. A genre that I considered anathema to write (because I'm a fantasist in truth).

The double shock of being a double Palanca Awardee this year is a welcome panacea from my world of business and clients, and has done wonders for my writerly self. The last time this double award thing happened was ten years ago, when "Island: The Musical" and "Loving Toto" won for Full-length Play and One-Act Play, respectively. I was stunned then, I am stunned now.

I am also happy to hear that majority of the winners this year are first time authors, which points to the growing power of new voices (but of course I'm glad that the occassional dinosaur like me manages to stand my ground).

(Now, if Siglo: Freedom accomplishes my not-so-secret wish, it will be a hat trick that continues 2004's outrageously generous nature.)

Thanks to my true muse, my best bud and Big Guy Above from whom everything flows.

All these, for you.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

celebrating the media

Thanks to Pauline for pointing out the online link and to everyone who called and said "Hey Dean! Nasa Inquirer ka, with a picture on a couch!".

The reporter tried to distill everyone's talks and presentations (which took the entire day, by the way) into pithy paragraphs that did not exactly get things right. For example:

In "Out From Under: Voices of Independent Media," Dean Francis Alfar of Kestrel Studios talked about his passion for comic books. The man behind the comic book hits --"Darna" and "Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah" said the youth is starting to again appreciate Grafiction (graphic fiction).

I am not responsible for the success of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah (that's my buddy Carlo Vergara, of course) nor Mango Comic's Darna (that's Zach Yonzon and YES - by the way, we'll see you at the National Book Awards next week, Zach, with fingers crossed for both Siglo: Freedom and Darna!). And El should be happy because his term "grafiction" may have entered the critical (if not popular) language.

But my stand on the proliferation of manga-style comics was made quite clear:
"Manga is very popular among the young," he said. But Filipinos don't love their own, he complained, as they have neglected their own "komiks," whose illustrators have become the toast abroad. We shouldn't let this happen, he said.

Of course, I said a lot more (including a softer anti-manga stand in the context of artistic cycles and popular influences) but again, any opportunity to talk about grafiction is a chance to expose more people to the thing we love.

Give me a podium and I'll speak forever.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

fiction: into the morning

Katrina suspected that, like her, her mother hated going to the family reunions. An outsider would never know it, not from observing her mother: her face was made up in the same meticulous way, eyebrows primly penciled in MAC Eye Kohl, her hair done up with the usual exaggerated care that was meant to look accidental, and her coordinated St. John ensemble of beige and lilac projected unhurried elegance.

But at twelve, Katrina knew her mother more than any other person, more than her nine year-old sister Lexi, and definitely more than her father, who wordlessly drove their golden SUV down the mostly-empty provincial highway. Katrina had learned to read her mother when she was four years old. After a disastrous incident involving a cherished vanity mirror, Katrina began an ardent education in her mother’s secret language. Before long, Katrina could pierce the meaning behind her mother’s signifiers: the flicker of pursed lips, the quickening of an iris, the wiping of invisible sweat from dry palms, the deliberately misused word, the subtle variations of laughter, the underlying color theory of her mother’s select palette of cosmetics.

Katrina had only been to family reunions twice, both on her father’s side because her mother’s family was thin and dispersed across three continents. She had looked forward to the first time just after her eighth birthday, dimly recalling her father’s rare stories of his large extended family. But when she arrived, Katrina was struck by the cacophony of strangers, numbed by the countless embraces and pinches and unfair questions (“Don’t you remember me? I held you when you were born”), and terrified by the way she was expected to experience familial love at first sight. By the time lunch was served, she could not be found. Hours later, one of the hunting parties led by her disheveled mother found her curled up on the floor of the back seat of the SUV, semi-conscious and dehydrated. Her mother did not scold her then, but from what Katrina’s dazed vision relayed, there was a tempest that intimated devastation on the way home. It never occurred. Her mother was occupied by Lexi’s explosive temper tantrum, a mad conglomeration of mercurial demands and tears only a five year-old could orchestrate.

Her father exacted a promise from her to behave before they left for the second reunion. Katrina agreed and quietly settled into the backseat, already itching in her black tulle funeral attire. She did not want to upset her father, who was mourning his father’s loss heavily. At ten years old, Katrina considered herself a little adult and respected her father’s sorrow. Her mother, and even Lexi, gave him wide berth, and the long trip was conducted in arduous silence. Katrina wished that the day and night would pass at super speed but her desire seemed to prolong the journey instead. Her mother just looked blankly ahead at the unfolding highway, unblinking despite the drying effects of the air-conditioning. When they arrived, Katrina was shocked to discover a range of exhibited emotions, ranging from the caterwauling of her grandmother to the raucous gambling tables headed by some of her uncles. There was a reprise of the painful greetings and impossible questions that she somehow managed to endure, drawing strength from her stoic mother’s firm smile. But when Katrina realized that she was expected to kiss her dead grandfather, she abandoned all commitment to her vow to behave and promptly fainted. She came to in her mother’s arms and listened with her eyes closed as her mother fielded a thousand invasive questions and a barrage of unsolicited advice. She tried to apologize to her mother, but ended up crying instead, tears that were interpreted by many as genuine grief. On the way back, Lexi leaned over and called her a bitch, which did not surprise Katrina in the least. Lexi had a foul mouth and was a child, after all. Katrina chose not to tell her tired mother and instead turned away from her younger sister and watched the coconut trees roll by.

But now, on the road again to reunite for someone’s homecoming, the last thing Katrina expected was for her mother to speak up.

“I’d really rather not go,” her mother said, the suddenness breaking the immaculate silence with the force of a gunshot.

“What?” her father asked, shifting into a higher gear. He had decided to leave early to make better time, and no one gainsaid him.

“Can we, could we go back?” her mother asked. “Or we can go somewhere else. Tagaytay, Los Banos, we know people in those places.”

“Are you crazy?” her father said, sparing his wife a sharp glance. “We’re expected. We do this every other year. What – what sort of stupid thing is this?”

“Don’t call me stupid,” her mother said calmly.

“Don’t act stupid,” her father said, increasing the SUV’s speed.

Katrina listened to entire exchange with a sick feeling in her stomach, like her pre-dawn breakfast had turned to worms and stones. Lexi, asleep on her side, was oblivious to the entire conversation, and Katrina entertained the notion of waking her up for no other reason than to break the spell of discomfort that had settled on the once-again silent trip.

“Stop the car,” her mother said, in almost a whisper.

Katrina watched her mother’s face through the side mirror, angled away her father. It looked to her as if her mother’s eyelashes were burdened by the enforced curls of Estee Lauder’s Illusionist. A tooth exposed a smudge of Clinique's Moisture Sheer. Several strands of hair were conspicuously out of place. To Katrina, a student of her mother’s tongue, language surfaced and receded on her mother’s face.

“No,” her father said, flicking the lights on and off in the early morning gloom.

“Let me out, Gerry,” her mother said quietly. Katrina saw the darkness that thrummed beneath her mother’s request and tasted the bitterness that circulated in the air. She wanted to tell her father to stop the car but could not speak.

“No,” her father repeated, flooring the gas, jolting everyone.

As Lexi stirred from her disturbed sleep, Katrina and her mother exchanged an accidental look. In that instant Katrina felt the weight of her mother’s fatigue and drowned in its depth and immensity. Her expressionless face exhibited the rhetoric of goodbye.

Please, Katrina spoke in their secret language.

Forgive me, her mother’s dead face said, as she opened the door of the golden SUV with a precise and wounded economy of motion, and jumped out into the morning.

Before the door slammed close again, the fresh provincial air invaded their climate-controlled environment - forcing Katrina to close her eyes - and dispersed the lingering scent of her mother’s perfume.

Monday, August 02, 2004


the dean alfar cultural correspondence index

Very simple. Look at the list of choices below (left or right) and select which one applies to your sensibilities best. Be honest.

When you're through, give yourself 1 point for every left choice you made. That score is your DACCI score - which shows the percentage that you'd agree with me in most conversations.

Let me know how you do.

1. Marquez or Rushdie
2. Fantasy or scifi
3. "In the mood for love" or "Spiderman 2"
4. Ryuichi Sakamoto or Avril Lavigne
5. Plays or symphonies
6. Chocolate or cinnamon
7. Tapas or kebabs
8. Hong Kong or Tokyo
9. Blog or paper diary
10. Coke or pepsi
11. Seven Samurai or Rashomon
12. New thick novel or day trip to the mountains
13. Dylan Thomas or John Keats
14. Survivor or American Idol
15. Love is what you make it OR True Love
16. Le Guin or Tolkien
17. Street Fighter or Tekken
18. Bibot Amador or Soxy Topacio
19. Don Carlos Palanca Award or National Book Award
20. Short story or novel
21. the present or the past
22. Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke
23. Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet
24. Olivier or Gielgud
25. Ferdinand Marcos or Cory Aquino
26. Dumaguete or Manila
27. Cathay Pacific or Northwest Airlines
28. Tausi Spareribs or Ribeye
29. Sondheim or Webber
30. Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore
31. Grant Morrison or Brian Michael Bendis
32. Mike Allred or Jim Lee
33. Batman or Superman
34. Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah or Darna
35. The Doors or The Grateful Dead
36. Inquirer or Star
37. Butch Dalisay or Kryp Yuson
38. Softdrink or beer
39. Turn-based or RTS
40. Settlers of Catan or Upwords
41. Dine or Dance
42. The 80’s or The 90’s
43. Counterspell or Lightning Bolt
44. No watch or wristwatch
45. Les Miz or Rent
46. The Cure or Echo & the Bunnymen
47. Bloom County or Calvin & Hobbes
48. Eastern Zodiac or Western Zodiac
49. Brutus the Barber or Hulk Hogan
50. JSA or LSH
51. "The Braille Encyclopedia" or "The Lottery"
52. Google or yahoo
53. Fried fish or soupy fish
54. Porterhouse or tiger prawns
55. Mango or strawberry
56. Christian Espiritu or Pitoy Moreno
57. DVD or movie house
58. Imodium or Tylenol
59. Condo or town house
60. Taxi or car
61. Impulse or wait-it-out
62. Shadowland or happyland
63. character or plot
64. hotdog or popcorn
65. 7 deadly sins or 7 habits of successful people
66. win-lose or win-win
67. vodka or gin
68. New York or Las Vegas
69. mp3 or CD
70. ice cream or cake
71. New Order or Joy Division
72. Tomine or Clowes
73. Zhang Ziyi or Audrey Tatou
74. D&D or Worlds of Darkness
75. Vogue-era or ray-of-light-era
76. wrestling or soccer
77. give up writing or give up smoking
78. call or text
79. prose or poetry
80. Egypt’s Museum of Antoquities or the MOMA
81. red wine or white wine
82. The Simpsons or Friends
83. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny
84. watercolor or pastel
85. anchovies or onions
86. pesto or meatsauce
87. drive or ambition
88. tighty whities or boxers
89. hotel room or beach
90. buffet or ala carte
91. empty screen or empty page
92. porn or world peace
93. multi-author anthology or single author collection
94. leather shoes or rubber shoes
95. early or just on time
96. Reds or lights
97. talk or listen
98. Chabon or Eggers
99. natural or artificial light
100. Degas or Renoir

non-manic monday


After breakfast at Seattle's Best (which turns out to have more than just one good thing to eat - now it's two), I went to my real estate development client and presented their alpha website, which was approved with small changes. I like this client because of their direct approach to things.

A large-scale site is never an easy thing to do, but I believe in the team I assembled to handle design and copy.

The danger in web design is feature creep, and I've managed to keep things within the scope of original agreement.

I think I do have to visit Tagaytay soon, and see if all the fantastic photos give justice to the multiple clubs and residences we're writing about. Perhaps sometime before we leave for the US in October.


With the moving day set for this coming Saturday, my crew is beginning the process of packing things out with an eye towards creating the least disruption. We have live projects going on and can't afford untoward interruption.

I'm just a bit overwhelmed by all the junk I've found in drawers, including missing papers, food and books (gads, I feel like Vin). I even found money, which made me happy (so I got a Shawarma - roast beef wrapped in a flour sheathe with onions and garlic sauce).

I need a better way of keeping my non-digital files organized (hmmm... maybe a secretary? Just dreaming).


Over the weekend, I've been musing about the structure of the new play I have in my head. I think the best way to describe it is in terms of writing a piece of music for an orchestra, with certain voices in harmony or even counterpoint.

I really don't know how I will write this, but I've decided to just jump in and learn from my mistakes. I think I've reached a certain comfort zone in playwriting and need to challenge myself a bit, otherwise, I'll just coast along, doing more of the same. And while to some that's okay, for me it will be no more than inspired ennui. I need to do something I haven't done before in the form I'm most familiar with.

So, a choral piece that is not a musical should be challenge enough for now.

Something about letters. Or something.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

artsy fartsy


The truth is, while I enjoy a mindless Saturday doing nothing as much as the next guy, I'd really rather engage in new activities that stimulate my mind. By necessity I am focused on my businesses during the weekdays, so I enjoy other things that make me think in different ways - as my means of relaxion.

Nikki and I met with the members of the small creative pool that is handling one of the TV show we're developing for the local market. A half-hour comedy series is not easy to write, and it is vital that all preliminary steps be performed correctly before even a single word of dialogue is written. I helped guide the group in creating the character sets, determining the foci and names of the characters, the principal sets for the series and formulating the mix of the initial pilot. I'm advocating a master storyarc with three minor arcs (of varying degrees of importance) that all dovetail and resolve in the final act of each episode.

We have high hopes with the skill sets of the people we've put together - from executive producer to director to the writers.

We'll see how it goes.


If you like documentaries and are tired of the much-acclaimed Moore docu, go and see "Imelda", easily one of the best docus produced that I've seen.

We caught a screening at the Podium and it was simply superb. It helps that the key figure, our most famous First Lady (previously one of the 10 Richest Women in the World), is a fascinating study in contradictions. I am impressed by her story, told fairly, with all her naivete and ambition and heartfelt philosophy on the role of beauty. Creatures so compelling are inadvertantly rare, best viewed in a hothouse environment of time and context.

With very minor flaws that do not detract from its quality, "Imelda" deserves all the acclaim it has garnered, including an award at Cannes for Excellence in Cinematography.

With our minds enlivened by the film, I was delighted to bump into Flim later, and of course we spoke of the medium. After some ribbing about my seemingly Khavn-idolatry (because of my now-yellow hair), we talked about Fritz Lang and the reason why Philippine cinema is stunted.

I encouraged Noel to start making more films (his last acclaimed one was 1993's "Necro Concerto"), to let his eye loose on the unsuspecting viewers again. "I'm retired," he claimed. I told him that he could retire the man but not the eye. With multiple awards and screenings in Berlin, Japan and other countries, I don't see why he can't add his quirky films back to his to-do list (in addition to his MTVs and such - speaking of which, kudos to Avid Liongoren for winning Best Director at the recently held MTV Philippines Awards show).

Speaking of docus, National Geographic is looking for pitches for their new shows. I've been asked to pitch for a couple (Secrets of the Dead, Inside) but while concept development is not terribly difficult with the right mix of minds, I don't think I have the discipline or time to actually go and be involved in one. Also, if short films tickle your sensibilities, Cinemalaya is offering a number of grants if you knock their socks off.


I saw the first four pages of Carl's finished colored work for Siglo: Passion, and it is an exciting departure from his "established" style. His choice of palette is restrained but bold, with color underscoring the intensity of the balloon-less story.

Over at Jeremy's, I was impressed by a single panel of his finished Siglo: Passion art. His palette is muted and wider, bringing to life the details and textures of the millieu. I thought his black and whites kicked ass, but this is just awesome. What rcoks my boat even more is that it is my story he's illustrating.

For most of us who are used to working in greyscale (due to printing costs), color is a new experience. Tobie's quirky lines hum with energy, infusing Quark's story with an off-kilter vigor that strikes between the eyes.

I cannot wait to see everything together - Marco, Gerry, Jonas, Ariel, Hai, El, Zach, Andrew, Reno, Lan, Ed and Joel.


After much prodding, I'm reinstating the informal "Living Workshop" I begun last year, wherein participants and I learn from each other the process of writing fiction.

I believe in conversation and exercise as key approaches to teaching and learning. Critique and analysis are futile without action.

I look forward to writing with this small group.

after-dinner theater

To cap off an artsy day, Carl and I took the stage in front of a small audience at Music21 and performed a pair of Broadway tunes, complete with emoting - just for laughs. When I realized that everyone was giving their best, I cajoled Carl into going in "performance level" and thank goodness, we managed to pull the songs off to appreciative applause (or maybe just polite applause LOL).

I miss acting. Truth be told, I think I love acting onstage as much as I love writing plays. There is a certain adrenalin high in performance, in giving paper characters life. I miss my days with Repertory Philippines, performing at the Insular Life, the William J. Shaw and other venues.

All in, a great day for the artsy fartsy in me.