What do you fear? Beyond the black and white/A zine for the creative soul
p1/Architect Arts Serrano on starting out and taking part in the efforts to resuscitate a a dying street p4/Architect-musician Micaela Benedicto on the joys and fears of making music p7/Branding studio Vigi makes a a 'brutal' statement for the cause of the ‘unlovely’ p11/Illustrator Josh Argosino on art and standing out p16/Theater actress Eri Dürr on the pressures behind the curtain and the role she wants to play p19/Artist Kara Gonzales takes us in to her panic room p20 and p22/Short stories by Miguel Llona and Gel Galang p24/Poetry by Rachel Marra p26/Photojournalist Kimberly dela Cruz on fear in the streets of the city p28/Cinephile Chino Hernandez on the depiction of fear in cinema
MA LA MA YA
Micaela Benedicto Photographed by Czar Kristoff
What kickstarted Malamaya was the premise of designing a magazine that’s purposefully ugly. How far can I take designing something that is deliberately unattractive? One that goes against many of the design credos and aesthetic judgments I hold sacrosanct?¶ It was a challenge mostly motivated by fear. I feared creating ugly stuff, mostly bred by the pressures of working in an industry that despises the un-beautiful, the un-lovely. I was conditioned to create aesthetically-appealing objects.¶ As a person who's had his share of life's ugly realities, I eventually saw the disconnect. Why pass the ugly as beautiful? Why hide the flaws? Why shy away from one's fears and mistakes? Why not show it as it is? Clichéd as it may sound, I wanted to attempt and create an outlet to try tackle the ugly realities that we encountered as creatives, an honest acknowledgment of today's realities and of being human without the masks.¶ Malamaya seeks to be that medium; it is a glimpse at the work-in-progress that is our lives as creatives It asks the questions that people are afraid of in hopes that you, dear readers, may find your way and flourish from insights shared by the featured creatives. I am humbled and honored with the openness that they offered.¶ Welcome to the maiden issue of Malamaya. It’s time we face our fears. It’s time you face yours.▒ Patrick Kasingsing, editor
MA LA MA YA
Noun. Tagalog term for the color gray; Originated from the Filipino root words ‘mala’ and ‘maya’ which translates to ‘Like a maya,’ pertaining to the grayish feathers of this prevalent bird specie in the Philippines.
Editor and Designer Patrick Kasingsing (@patrick_kasingsing) Associate Editor Danielle Austria (@awsmchos) Contributing writer-producers Miguel Llona (@iggy.llona) Kariza Gonzales (@kara.gonzales)
MALAMAYA is published yearly. This zine is distributed free and is not for sale.
This zine is set in Times New Roman and Arial
Arts Serrano on pursuing architecture and taking part in the resurgence of historic Escolta
Interview by Patrick Kasingsing
Arts on Craft
Photos courtesy of one/zero
What is your greatest fear? Why does it scare you? I fear of days when people stop questioning.
Our cities should evolve and be a product of a continuing dialogue with everyone. When we become complacent and accept things as they are without challenging how they should be, it must mean we have failed as designers in ingraining this deep sense of understanding the importance of our built environments. Have you always been interested in Architec-
materials, and it can also be a tactile definition of what a country is. The idea that a single profession can affect so much in the city we live in drew me to pursue Architecture deeper.
ture? What drove you to pursue it as a career?
Iâ€™ve always been interested in Mathematics, mostly because of the certainty it can offer. But what fascinated me the most about numbers is the state of being undefined, thus the name of my studio: one/zero. This state of not having a definition, a figure open to interpretation, has a lot of similarities I feel with Architecture. Architecture can solve the problems of our society, it can be a showcase of modern innovations and building
Your architectural practice (pictured) is based in Escolta. Many practices tend to be based in the metroâ€™s shiny CBDs, but you chose to set up base in this historic street. What inspired this decision? What were your apprehensions? How did you deal with them? The choice of locating
in Escolta transpired from a collaboration with an artists-run initiative in Escolta. I was drawn to their exhibitions, talks and events, and eventually was in-
troduced to the space we now call our studio. They invited us over after a meeting at Cubao X, and then we went to Escolta during one of their Future Market events. We fell in love with the creative energy the building has. Being located in Escolta I guess is logical for us as architects: we want to be inspired by how it came to be. Looking out the windows you see 1920’s architecture, concrete attempts at defining Manila at that time. The architecture is authentic, and it is something we continuously strive for in our designs. You are part of a creative-driven movement to revive Escolta. What would you say are the advocacy’s end goals? What are the challenges you face and how does the movement go about into addressing these? The creative movement that’s happening is organic: it’s each and every one of us, visual artists,
graphic designers, photographers and architects all doing our own practices but coming together to acti-
vate places in Escolta. Reviving Escolta isn’t our primary objective, although it is inadvertently an effect of all our practices. We have a great community that comes together for collective events; we see Escolta as a creative hub. We want to share what inspires our practices in Escolta, and by getting the word out about the district, we draw more people in to actually locate downtown. The end goal is for people to realize that we have a place as authentic as Escolta. We’ve been trying to fake environments in the glossier parts of our cities but already have a district full of character that’s definitely our own. We live in a time of uncertain change, one that is greatly motivated by fear. As an architect, what keeps you hopeful about the future in spite of today’s challenges? When I see the younger
generation just as curious as I was when we were starting out, it keeps me hopeful that we can still make our cities better. We need to be idealists in this time of uncertainty. What’s the scariest decision that you’ve ever had to deal with? What made it petrifying for you? How did you face it? Starting out the studio was
a huge jump, the idea of having no one to guide you
Architecture can solve the problems of our society, it can be a showcase of modern innovations and building materials, and it can also be a tactile definition of what a country is.
but yourself. I always thought to myself that if I keep questioning how I work, how everyone works, and continue that drive to understand how we can deliver better as designers, the studio will be okay. The questioning and challenging drives me further in everything we do in the studio. ▒
Arts Serrano is the design principal of One/Zero Design Collective, an architecture studio based in First United Building in Escolta St., Manila. He is also part-owner of The Den cafe in Hub Make Lab at the ground floor of the same building.
Interview by Miguel Llona
lo s t
Photography by Czar Kristoff
F i n di n g 4
Outerhopeâ€™s Micaela Benedicto on the joys and fears of making music
What is your greatest fear, and why does it
A sense of nostalgia pervaded the lyrics of
scare you? Losing my mind.
your earlier albums. However, in your recent EP, you dealt more with loss and the uncertainty
Does this fear manifest itself in your music?
of the future, and there was a noticeable shift
How do you translate/channel your fears into
in sound—it’s more dreamy and synth-heavy,
your art? It does, in a sense. Our music always
compared to the child-like melodies of your
involves going to another place with your mind. A lot of it, from the first things we ever wrote, are about memory and loss.
earlier work. What prompted this shift, and will
You started your band, Outerhope, with your brother, Michael. What inspired you to create music together? My brother and I have been
playing music since we were kids, although never together until the mid-2000s. All four of us siblings learned instruments, but it was the two of us middle children who were really interested in making our own music. We weren’t part of the band scene though; I wasn’t confident at all with anything I had written before. One day, I decided to just get over this because I was about to turn 27, and unhappy just working the daily grind and living ordinary days. I asked my brother if he wanted to make music with me just so we could say we made an album once in our lives. I quit my office job and we just kept writing that year. This became our first album, Strangely Paired.
this be the direction you take in your upcoming albums? We have a new album coming out this
year, called Vacation. The new single “Holiday,” which just came out, is an indication of how the rest sounds like. The four to five year period between No End in Sight and Vacation was a turbulent, emotional phase for both of us, for different reasons. The details are different, but we both went through some radical changes in our lives. We suffered incredible losses. It also had to do with being in our thirties and being overly reluctant to grow older, or at least there was reluctance in becoming an adult the way the world usually expects you to be. There’s stubbornness and a strong urge to make your own rules. There were a lot of crazy things happening, like time was really running out.
Did you have any growing pains or apprehensions while starting out, or was it smooth sailing from the get-go? When Strangely Paired
came out and got some attention, we started playing gigs and had to overcome another crippling fear—stage fright. At that age, we weren’t really shy people anymore, but we were still reluctant performers. You know those kids that just get up during a party and do their thing, just really owning it? We couldn’t relate to them—we were the complete opposite. We were shaky and nervous.
"Our music always involves going to another place with your mind. A lot of it, from the first things we ever wrote, are about memory and loss."
The music inevitably followed this trajectory. There was already a noticeable shift in No End in Sight, albeit not a very conscious one. This is just what happened as a result of evolving as musicians and trying new things out. But I think the shift to our new set of tracks is greater—there were actual changes in how we worked on it, especially my brother who dropped the guitar and took the production into his own hands. A lot more attention was put into the composition and details, and things have become a lot more cinematic. The songwriting process for me was a long, difficult one, since the subject matter of losing a loved one was insanely difficult. I was in a place that was very dark, but also dreamlike. My brother’s production provided the score for this painful, surreal experience.
How do you balance being a musician and an architect? Do these two disciplines of yours
How do you balance being a musician and
inform each other, or do you make a point
an architect? Do these two disciplines of
to differentiate your process for music and
yours inform each other, or do you make a
architecture? The act of making music and
point to differentiate your process for music
listening to what I’ve created makes me happy, even if it was brought about by experiences that are incredibly sad. Something about hearing the recorded audio and the surprises you find in it is genuinely exciting. There is great fear in writing about love; I don’t know why that is the case for me, but it’s an act of truly exposing yourself. Also the act of being able to complete a track despite having all sorts of doubts about it is quite fulfilling. When you think about the risks you took, and it sounds better than what you had imagined, it ascertains that the decisions you made were right. ▒
and architecture? I do architecture for a liv-
ing, on a daily basis. I do music like a periodic art project. My brother and I don’t always write music; I’m starting to think we can only write a lot in times of deep sadness or when a great urge strikes. Which explains the gap years in between the Outerhope albums. There’s a lot of growing up happening in between, a lot of life experience. We write somewhat in these gap periods, sometimes collaborations with other musicians and sometimes just drafts/experiments of what our next songs could be like.
Micaela Benedicto is a musician, architect, and artist. The upcoming Outerhope album Vacation will be released worldwide by Shelflife Records in 2017. Her new exhibition, Paths of Invisibility, opens March 30, 2017 at Art Informal. Photo credit: Czar Kristoff. The Writer: Miguel Llona writes stories in his spare time, but none of his work has been published yet. He won’t stop trying, though. He is a former managing editor at BluPrint magazine, and is currently a freelance writer until something good comes along.
Vigi gleefully mocks all the tropes in branding: the buzzwords of the now ("Inspiring, iconic. . . innovative"), the oh-so-millennial, super fun, non-traditional brand culture, the quest to iconize and visualize and brandify every fucking thing, even the steps to a creative process. But I scroll down to the portfolio and it's a boner-killer: witty taglines, hand-drawn illustrations, monograms straight out of some Scandinavian logo factory. How vanilla. If Vigi are so above the branding status quo, if they're smart enough to make a joke out of it, why isn't their work catching up?
Nasa Puso Mo Ang Katotohanan Written by Rodney J. Tinambacan for Vgrafiks
IRONICALLY ANTI-DESIGN, laced with innuendo, ultimately sublime: The satirical Vgrafiks 2.0—Vigi for short—website draws you in like some exquisite whore in the cosmopolitan wasteland of Makati. You know it's not love, but you can't pull out. It's a client's nightmare swathed in red, a razor-edged commentary on the business of illusion. An excursion into the vast, empty heart of yuppie culture. . . "It's not parody, Sir Rod!" Vigi's business head Christian Chan protests. "It's a legit website for a legit branding agency with a legit market." This press release is going sideways. "We need to give our clientele what it wants." Mr. Chan strokes his double chin. "Kaya nga red yung website. Kasi swerte." His phone starts to ring. Without a word, he waddles out the door and doesn't come back. Leaving me to look for someone else who can guide me through this dump that passes for an office, where nude shemale posters line one wall and sales projection charts another. Go apeshit over 2.0 the website—take your time, make sure to swallow, trust me, you need it—and meet 2.0 the movement. It's a bold—and hopefully impactful beyond its intention—attempt to solve a first-world problem. Vigi are getting salty about their day jobs. What they're going to do about it might warp the very nature of the enduring circlejerk we call the Creative Industry. A dead end
“So sayang talaga my career,” says senior designer Eugene Tuazon. “My teachers would always ruffle my hair and tell me I was really handsome and talented. Like, I had so much potential.” The lanky Atenean— cum laude, program awardee, NSTP champion—blushes, showing a dimple on his left cheek. Then he gulps. Stares at me with dead eyes. “Two years with Vgrafiks and the most I got to do with all I learned was help send that tube of toothpaste from the grocery shelf to your bathroom. It’s. . . demoralizing.” What a brat. It’s called work, Tuaz. How else do you keep your two thousand-piece Hatsune Miku figurine collection, your dakimakura, your blow-up dolls? But this, too, is true: This shit is getting old. Every year, outfits like Vigi make a living churning out “brand” after made-to-order “brand.” Another logo for another artisanal barberdashery, another “brand manifesto” for another Italian-inspired watch handcrafted in some Guangdong sweatshop, another “identity system” for another dynamically driven all-inclusive global lifestyle experience strategy firm. Watch a shampoo ad from ten years ago. Watch one aired today. Are they any different? How many times this week have you heard a brand use “awesome” or “inspiring” to describe something? 2.0: the long road out
“We all know about the beast that turns people ignorant and preys upon that ignorance. ‘Yung ibang clients, part sila ‘nun. Hindi na kami naniniwala sa kanila. So, we’re ditching them.” Roselle Vergara, a tubby guy with a girl’s name, pipes up as soon as Mr. Chan drives off—for his daily round of golf, it turns out. Roselle is Vigi’s self-branded Bouncy and Irresistible Managing Creative Director. “From now on we’ll work only with people who have something original to say and do,” he continues. “Who get not only the joke,” he scrolls up to the homepage, “but also the truth behind it. Who value the story over the spectacle. Who can take part in intelligent discourse. Who have the balls to invest in something riskier than just another Third-wave coffee shop.” Beyond the message, the avant-garde aesthetic of Vigi’s 2.0 website shows just what creatives can do when they break free from the shackles of 1.0—the sterile and hackneyed and sadly in-demand. “That’s our first move and we’re not yet done with it,” Roselle says, “so watch out for the next big and bouncy update.”
W at c h a s h a m poo ad from ten y e a r s a g o . W at c h o n e a i r e d t o d ay. Are the y any different? How many times this week h av e yo u h e a r d a b r a n d u s e “a w e some” or “inspiring” to describe som ething?
Vigi is also setting up Better, a platform to help fresh grads become the new wave of designers, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders. “You know how it is.” Roselle sighs, brushes dandruff off his shoulder. “Some kid does well in school, learns to be person for others, learns history, philosophy, science—then takes a crummy day job and makes it an excuse to stop getting better. That’s the biggest waste. Better gives these kids the option to build a future for themselves. “We started with Limbo: Life After School, a free talk for fresh grads, soon-to-be-grads, and old bums still lost in the void. Now we’re planning a portfolio development class. We’ve got exhibits and bazaars, so we can help promising youngsters earn extra cash. We’ve got this editorial thing featuring the country’s rising talents— musicians, illustrators, writers, photographers—so the world knows that they’re out there, that they’re looking to work with 2.0 people on 2.0 projects.” Roselle stresses that “2.0 starts not with Vigi, but with all of us.” But the veteran creative—disillusioned or not—Roselle will welcome any day. “Mag-collaborate tayo. Like, there’s this weirdo sound designer, Jorge Juan ‘Potato Prince’ Wieneke V. He asked to work with us on this thing, this audio-visual commentary on the capitalist world. The guy hears things we don’t hear. He’s something else.” Vigi 2.0 not only collaborates with creatives but also with entrepreneurs. Roselle tells the story of CustomThread: “These people have the brightest idea: You set up your own apparel store by designing and marketing your clothes. CustomThread takes care of the rest, from production to delivery. Then maybe you can work with Vigi sa branding part. It’s a platform for artists, designers, fashionistas—who can dream up brilliant concepts but often lack the resources to realize their dreams.” There’s no stopping Vigi now. There’s no stopping Roselle. “Next up,” he says, “is UnLovely. It’s a campaign celebrating the unloved: horrible bosses, cockroaches, math. The things nobody appreciates but should. Because they’re all important. They all have a role. Just like creative people. “And don’t forget about Kids of Vigi, our esteemed internship program. It’s where we cuddle sa CR without being judged. Where we share the things we love to make and do, where the kids learn from us and we learn from them. “This month, we’re making the interns do client stuff. And the dishes. And sweep the floor, walk the dog, scrub the toilet. Because 2.0 is proving risky. We’re losing business. So please, anyone out there, give us some money. You cunts.” The lesson stands: You wanna get somewhere, you gotta suck some dick. Despite Roselle’s insistence on working only with “interesting” collaborators, Mr. Chan confirms by text message that “Vigi still accepts traditional client work. It’s what we profit from the most. : (” But even Mr. Chan, the businessman Roselle calls a “square,” hopes to change that. Even Eugene, that young man of squandered talent. Now his eyes betray a glimmer of the optimism which drives Vgrafiks to evolve into 2.0: a small—but daring—step towards a future that’s “more makabuluhan,” as he describes it. “That’s what I’m talking about!” Roselle starts bouncing on his gym ball. “Branding—the real thing, not the mass-produced, templated marketing drivel we make money off—is a powerful tool for change. All those words and symbols, the promises we keep—they really move people. Imagine the potential of our collective skill, creativity, talent. Imagine the effort we can put into a job when the situation demands it. This time let’s use our power to create something real. Something we can be proud of as a generation. That’s 2.0.” Kaya, guys, bili na kayo ng VigiPak. Para may pang-extra rice ‘yung mga gagong ito. World, let’s 2.0. ▒ This piece was originally published in vgrafiks.com/press.
Illustrator Josh Argosino on the fear and excitement of freelancing and why Style for him is a tool Interview by Patrick Kasingsing Art by Josh Argosino
What do you fear the most? Why does this scare you? I’m afraid of a painful death. I’ve accepted that
I can die at any moment. My hope is that when it comes, it comes quickly. Things I’d rather not die of: debilitating disease, torture, starvation, or exposure. This freaks me out because my end is a loss of control on my part.
has been compared to BenCab, Rob Cham and Josan Gonzales. The last two I can understand. I look up to them a lot. BenCab though? I find that flattering but very underserved. If someone says my work looks too much like artist A’s, I add more of artist B’s style. Style is a tool. I do my best to keep adjusting my mix. Your body of work has a recognizable style.
You are a starting illustrator and designer. What
Would you be open to trying out something new
kind of fears did you have back in college about
and wholly different from what you usually do?
entering the workforce, and how did they com-
Or do you value the consistency of your work?
pare with reality? I was afraid of taxes and not know-
Yes, definitely. My past work dealt mostly with people and movement. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with spaces and more environmental concepts. I have found that context is key especially with cyberpunk, because the environment plays such a huge role in cementing OC (original character) identity. I like telling stories, and I think that having an environment with much lore and detail to draw from allows for a more immersive story experience.
ing how to pay them. Going to the BIR and applying made me realize it wasn’t so bad. Filing my own tax reports and learning the ins and outs of the tax system gave me confidence. I was also afraid of not being qualified enough to get a job. Working as a freelance designer made me realize that it’s okay to not know as much as YOU think you should. As long as you keep setting attainable goals for yourself, things may work out better than you imagine. My goal for the next two to three years is to be an art director for a magazine title.
We live in a time of uncertain change, one that is greatly motivated by fear. As an artist, what keeps you hopeful about the future in spite of today’s
Your work is notable for its usage of color and
challenges? Truth keeps me hopeful. The truth that
wealth of detail. What inspired such an aesthet-
there is a just and good sovereign God who ordains all things keeps me sane. Knowing that gives me certainty and provides me with a great basis for all my presuppositions about the world and its workings.
ic? Who were your inspirations? When I started
drawing in college, I followed Rob Cham’s work obsessively. It was to the point that sometimes people would mistake my work for his. I wanted to find my own style and space, so I decided to go in the opposite direction with my art. I was consumed with the desire to fill my work with detail. It was an overcorrection on my part I suppose, but it felt right. My influences include Hergé, who inspired me to take cues from the ligne claire movement. Other artists I follow are Boneface, Mike Mignola, James Harren, Josan Gonzalez, Ian Mcque, Jakub Rozalski, Simon Stalenhag, Nivanh Chanthara and Pascal Blanché. It is unavoidable to compare one’s work with others, with accomplished artists and illustrators. How did you deal with any insecurities? My work
What’s the scariest decision that you’ve ever had to deal with? What made it petrifying for you? How did you face it? I think the most fright-
ening thing I’ve done/continue to do is to choose to know. It sounds a bit dumb, but knowledge changes the way you live for better or for worse. Knowledge can excuse you or condemn you. The consequences of knowing are terrifying because you never know what they might be or how far they reach. ▒ Joshua Argosino is an illustrator from Manila. He makes magazines at his day job. In his spare time, he writes and illustrates for an online comic called Otter-Worldly Matters. Check out his Facebook page @joshargosinoart for his comics and drawings of “weird things”.
If someone says my work looks too much like artist Aâ€™s, I add more of artist Bâ€™s style. Style is a tool. I do my best to keep adjusting my mix.
A Balanci ng Act Interview by Patrick Kasingsing Photos from Eri DĂźrr
Theater actress Eri DĂźrr on the scenes behind the curtain and finding the balance between passion and career
What do you fear the most? Why does this scare you? My fear is to not evolve—be it
theater, production design, or my day job. I'm scared of being the same way forever. Whatever accomplishments I've had cease to hold value after some time, and soon after I'd drown in anxiety with the need to re-validate myself. What about theater interests you? What keeps you passionate about acting? To be honest, I first
got into theater because of my first love, K. But ever since I got immersed in it, I found that I enjoyed it. Theater became my favorite emotional outlet and distraction from reality. Also, since meeting and working with different people was inevitable, I learned how to interact with others better. You discover so many new things (even about yourself) with every production. You may be filling in the same roles (be it an actor, director, or set designer), but it'll always be different each time. It's what I learn from each experience that keeps me passionate. Theater involves a lot of training and practice. What steps do you take to prepare for your role/s?
Preparing for a new role is a process that can take weeks or even months for me. Aside from familiarizing myself with the script, I deviate from my daily routine to somehow dip my toes into whatever environment or situation my character went through. For my recent play entitled ‘Twenty Questions’ (an intimately-set, non-traditional play about sensuality and relationships), I stepped out of my comfort zone and ended up experiencing so many things for the first time—not to become Yumi—but to understand where she's coming from, why she talks how she talks, what makes her Yumi. Eventually, I adapted a new way of speaking and socializing with people. I found my old self absorbing experiences that could have been hers.
non-issue for you? I had ballet and kulintang
recitals as a kid so performing in front of strangers is no longer an issue for me, though I still feel pressured when I know friends and family will be watching. I automatically begin to think I'm not good enough or I'll make a mistake. I conquer this by simply being in the moment and focusing on what’s in front of me like my co-actors. Convincing myself that they’re the only people existing within that space works for me. Change often breeds fear in life. What would you say is the most impactful change or transition you’ve undergone so far? Beyond theater, I've
gained the most insight from my experience with having five jobs over the span of two years. I’ve already worked in branding, advertising, commercial and film production, theater, and publishing. From multinational companies to local boutique agencies. From 9-to-5 corporate jobs to 2AM call times on shoot location. From an P8,000 per day paycheck to a P5,000 per three months TF. I didn't have savings, healthcare or a stable income in the least. While my batch mates were saving up for their own businesses, I was still asking for pamasahe from my mom to go to theater rehearsals for an upcoming play that
Fear is often associated with performing on stage with a big audience. How did you cope with stage fright as an actor? Or was this a
What would you say are your weaknesses as an actress? How do you cope with it? My lack of train-
ing is my number one weakness and because of this I've been shying away from big auditions thinking I'm far from ready. Evolving into a better actor isn’t just something you can do on your own that’s why I try to get as much experience as I can through smaller productions while saving up for workshop fees. What role are you raring to act in a play? When
wouldn't pay us until show date, which was in two months. I was slowly getting used to being perceived as the disappointing panganay that couldn't find a serious job. But it's not that I didn't know how to "sit still" or "stay loyal to one company", I just refused to waste my time in environments that didn't seem to be the perfect fit for me. Ayokong magtiis sa isang trabaho na hindi ko naman gusto deep-down, tapos marerealize ko nalang yun (I didn’t want to stay with a job that I didn’t feel strongly about and only realize it) when 10 years has already passed. Plus, I was looking for the kind of day job that gave me the time and money to support my passion for theater. Eventually, the perfect career came to me and I've never felt so professionally at ease my whole life.¶ Transitioning from one job to another taught me how to adapt to different environments and temperaments. It also forced me to learn faster and see things through while relying less on other people. Interestingly, theater is one of the best platforms for these kinds of learnings. Perhaps the only difference is: your passion is what pushes you further, not your paycheck.
I was around eight years old, I stumbled upon a DVD copy of the Lyon Opera Ballet's ‘Cinderella’ (1984) choreographed by Maguy Marin. It was unlike anything I had ever seen—a dreamlike performance featuring dancers dressed up as live dolls set in a three-tiered doll house stage.¶ While the Bauhaus masks remained static, emotion was resonating from each dancer's movement. The suspense, sophistication and eccentricity of it all inspired me to get into the bizarre. I have yet to hear about a local production that has gone to such lengths in terms of storytelling and imagery. It would truly be a dream come true for me to be part of such a production in any way possible. ▒
You discover so many new things (even about yourself) with every production. You may be filling in the same roles but it'll always be different each time.
Eri Durr is a freelance production designer and theater actress with a day job in advertising.
Fuck.¶ How can I be in this situation again? I’ve done everything I can and still here I am. Helpless. Struggling. Gasping for air, holding on for dear life.¶ Breathe in, breathe out, I tell myself as I inhale and exhale slowly. Just breathe and it will all be okay. It will all be over soon.¶ They say counting helps. One, two, three… I recite the numbers, just like I used to in kindergarten.¶ But my heart is already racing, my hands trembling; a cold sweat coming over me. Thoughts race through my mind, too fast to catch, even faster to comprehend, with the familiar gut-wrenching feeling that comes with it.¶ Just get to ten, and it will be okay, come on… four, five…¶ The last time it happened, all I could remember were the blaring sirens in my ears and finding myself crouched down, rocking myself back and forth, trying to console myself that the ambulance would eventually go away and that everything will be back to normal.¶ Even when the sirens had gone they continued to ring in my ears. My stomach tied into knots, similar to the sinking feeling while on a theme park ride. I felt like throwing up, this huge lump stuck in my throat that I couldn’t get rid of.¶ … six, seven…¶ It always hurts when it happens.¶ I can’t breathe; it’s as if all the air gets sucked out of my system by an unforgiving vacuum. The more I try to breathe, the more my lungs feel like they’re collapsing. My heart pounds so strongly and so loudly I can swear it would jump right out of my chest, beating like the war drums of old, into my clumsy hands. My trembling hands, my poor, small, fumbling, shaking hands, looking, grasping, feeling for something to hold on to, to clutch, to grab, to steady myself.¶ It always hurts when it happens, and it always feels like it’s never going to end.¶… eight, nine…¶ I always cry, too; out of hopelessness, out of desperation, out of despair, and out of fear.¶Fear of what everyone would think. Fear that it will never get better. Fear that it will always be like this. Fear that this can happen at any time, Written by Kara Gonzales at any place, for any reason. Fear of the unknown triggers that could cause it. Fear that one day it will take over. Fear that despite the meds, despite the therapy, despite my family and friends’ support, despite my own preventive measures, my mental illness will win. Fear that I will eventually sabotage relationships, destroy things that are yet to be; fear that ultimately, I will get consumed and collapse within myself, within the depths of my own mind, becoming the darkest version of myself, again facing death as the only way out.¶ One last deep breath, I tell myself. One more, and you got this.¶ …ten. ▒ The Writer: Kara Gonzales was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety in 2016. She advocates speaking up for those who are silently suffering from mental health disorders and wants to shed more light on the (culturally taboo) topic so that more people can understand what it is really like to be facing these battles everyday. “One to Ten” is a walk through of what she personally feels when going through an anxiety attack.
Clo A short story by Miguel Llona
When I opened my eyes, I saw your cheek flat against the pillow, your mouth half-open. Your beer breath tickled my face. Loose strands of hair covered your eyes, a pet peeve of yours when you’re sober and a mild annoyance I can relate to.¶ The dormitory room was quiet, but echoes from our drinking session still rang in my ears--the laughter, the clinking of bottles, the shrieks over beer spilling on our legs. On the floor, the empty bottles of Red Horse peeked at us over the sleeping bodies of Kathy and Jen.¶ I wished they would stay asleep. What would they think when they saw us lying drunk in your bed, sharing a pillow, our faces within breathing distance of the other? Kathy would look confused then lie back down, putting off her question for the next day; Jen, in her scandalized voice we know too well, would rouse us in her worry that we were on the verge of something.¶ But I didn’t inch away. It would have ruined the sanctity of our closeness, where only a moment of foolishness separated us. I brushed off the strands of hair from my eyes, as if by doing so a new detail on your face would reveal itself to me.¶ I wouldn’t call us the closest of friends, even though you were comfortable sharing personal stuff with me. You’d tell me about short-term boyfriends who replaced you as quickly as when they fell for you, and through your impassioned voice I’d end up hating them as much as you did. You’d rant about your useless course, and I’d agree that yes, maybe you should have shifted out. You’d worry about life after graduation, and how you envied me for already being set for med school. Sometimes, you’d let your emotions carry you to the point of clasping my hand, your grip growing tighter the more you opened yourself to me. It seemed like you were entrusting me to be the sole keeper of your feelings.¶ I found the act strange, but I welcomed it. Your touch closed the polite distance between us that during class hours, I’d find myself staring out the window, my palm remembering the softness of yours while in my head I constructed conversations I hoped we’d have.¶ That evening in your dormitory was a celebration of your freedom, again. It was Ivan that time, or Ryan. You wouldn’t provide details, but you didn’t need to--you just surrendered to your desire to drink, letting your rowdiness mask your sadness at not being good enough again. Our friends tried to lighten the mood. Kathy quipped that maybe
oser boys just aren’t for you, with Jen demanding to know what she was hinting at. It worked, as you kept trying to stifle your laughter with the back of your hand. I kept quiet for most of the night, sipping my beer, wiping the sweat forming on my brow.¶ Your warm breath had dried the sweat on my face as we lay in bed. In your passed-out state, your lips still gleamed as if you’ve just kissed someone, and it made me wonder how many lips have touched yours. Did you reserve a different kiss for every person, the same way you give of yourself differently for every person you love? The urge to brush the loose strands of hair from your face seized me, and I would have done so had you not opened your eyes.¶ They were glassy like your lips. You looked at me as if I had just been in your dream, the same way I imagined I look while gazing out the window, dreaming of moments like this. I felt my chest heaving in anticipation, knowing the distance between us would forever be bridged if only one of us could draw closer.¶ You traced your finger along my cheek, sending a tingling sensation down my spine to the tips of my toes. You inched closer, your breath growing warmer.¶ But I turned away. As I stared at the empty ceiling, thoughts of the future filled my head--of us unable to hold the other’s hand without probing eyes on us, resigned to loving the other in rooms as dark as the one we’re in now, hiding from a world that might not accept the two of us together.¶ I could still feel your breath caressing my neck. I turned my back on you, as if to convince myself of this hesitation. Moments later I heard the rustling of sheets as you turned to the side too. I lay awake all night.¶ We said our goodbyes the next morning. We let our eyes linger on the other’s for a second, broken when you leaned forward for a hug as if nothing had happened. I staggered home with my hangover, and in the following days, all the way to our graduation, the polite distance between us returned, our moment of intimacy shelved to the farthest reaches of my memory.¶ Years later, when I wake up, I find myself expecting your face across from me--cheek flat on the pillow, mouth half-open, lips glistening. But what greets me is the stubble on my husband’s cheeks, his cracked lips, and, on certain days, a strand of hair peeking out of his nose. I’d sit up in bed, tracing the path your finger made on my cheek, trying to convince myself that yes, it did happen, and I did the right thing. I did. ▒
The first time it happened, I squeezed my favorite teddy bear so hard, the stuffing came out.¶ I woke up with Daddy holding me down, his A short story by Gel Galang face looming over me, breathing a little heavy. He was stroking my hair, shushing sounds in between so many “It’s okay.” He told me I was having a nightmare. That I was yelling, so he had to muffle my scream, that’s why my mouth felt slack. He said it was a good thing he was passing by my room to the kitchen for some water, so he heard me crying.¶ Mommy burst through the door five minutes later. Her curlers were still in her hair, her night mask still stuck to her face. She was carrying my sister, still half-asleep, teddy bear clinging to her side. Daddy tried to make me laugh, telling me that it’s good he got there first. Mommy would’ve just scared me even more because she looked like a witch about to eat her next victim.¶ We went to the doctor when it got so bad, I’d fall asleep in class. I didn’t want to go to sleep at night, because the demon would find me. The night light didn’t work, because I’d see that it would be turned off when I woke up to go pee-pee. It didn’t work whenever the figure came. It would be so dark, and all I could feel was its heavy breath, cold hands, and weight on my chest.¶ The doctor told us that it was night terrors. The name was terrifying, but Daddy just stroked my hair and kept me on his lap. I wanted to go to Mommy and hug her tight, but she was holding my sister while she slept.¶ The doctor said I would outgrow it. Kids have night terrors all the time, but she’s probably stressed out in school. Maybe she’s being bullied. Maybe she has to repeat sixth grade, he said. But Mommy said I didn’t have to say goodbye to my friends. She wasn’t going to hold me back. She didn’t tell Daddy or the doctor that, but she told me a little secret instead.¶ Mommy told me there was a way to make the night terrors stop. She told me that she used to have them, too. She called it sleep paralysis, because she couldn’t move even though her eyes were open. But all she needed to do was breathe. One-two-one-two-one-two. The less she fought the monster, the faster it went away. She said I got to choose if it’ll become scary or super cool.¶ Mommy told me that I should close my eyes, because that’s the only part that can
move. She told me to close my eyes and imagine, as in really imagine, the monster disappearing instead of it stroking my hair, neck, and shoulders. Imagine that I was flying away to my happy place instead of the monster sucking the air out from my lungs. It was like dreaming but not really, because I got to say what I would see. She told me to imagine someplace nice, like Ice Cream Land or Dolphin Beach, and I’ll get transported there, like snap snap! She called it magic dreaming. You just say the magic words and your dream comes true.¶ But I never really got to practice magic dreaming. Mommy left, my sister turned twelve, and suddenly my night terrors stopped. I’d still hear scratching at night on the other side of the room where my sister slept. I’d find myself in the middle of dreams and reality, our night light switching off, the darkness forming a shadow, a muffled scream somewhere inside my walls possibly echoing the ones inside my head. I’ve learned to hide my head beneath the covers when that happened.¶ When I’d wake up, I’d see my sister curled up in bed, teddy bear hugged so tight, the head lolls to one side. Sometimes I’d forget she hates it when I stroke her hair, she’d push my hand hard halfway through before looking shocked and surprised to see it was me.¶ It was the same thing I would do before, back pushed against the wall so the monster wouldn’t have space to come from behind. It was just like Mommy said, it was hereditary, this nightmare. If my sister is anything like Mommy whom she looks like very much, she would have to live with the night terrors a few more years. She’ll have to learn about magic dreaming. I’d have to teach her because Mommy’s not there to do it.¶ Until then, I’ll sit by her bed in the middle of the night when the terrors break and her scream starts. I know it’s going to be hard to live in nightmares that won’t stop. All I can do for now is hug her when it does, even for a while. ▒
The Writer: Gel Galang believes that her purpose is to write stories that break you then bring you back. That’s why she struggles every day—except on days when she’s distracted by starting new hobbies, applying Psychology, or kicking ass at martial arts.
Rachel Valencerina Marra
I sat in my office while the ground shakes. It was a hot summer evening and I thought What a way to go, what a way to go. I was in the middle of typing, the edge of the table rubbed against my wrists—words escaped my fingers. I just sat in my office while the ground shakes. From where I am, we rest between two fault lines. On maps, we trace over them a countless times: Oh what a way to go, what a way to go. My mind chanted a prayer: drop, cover, hold, amen and held my breath. I sat in my office while the ground shakes. If the evening allowed a higher magnitude, stronger intensity I’d be one with the wreckage, last seconds spent grasping words. What a way to go, what a way to go. It didn’t last for more than a minute but I clenched my teeth: The epicenter in my chest resumes its own quiet quake. I sat in my office while my ground shakes. What a way to be, what a way to be.
Recipe para sa Bagabag I Rachel Valencerina Marra Mga sangkap: - Ikaw - Alarm clock (mas maigi kung cellphone o smartphone) Mga hakbang: - Bago matulog, i-set ang alarm clock sa oras na kinakailangan mong magising kinabukasan. Kunwari, 6:00 ng umaga. O ‘di kaya’y 6:15—kasi sayang naman ang labinlimang minuto, tama? - Matulog. Bahala ka kung paano. (Nakatutulong ang pagpikit ng mga mata, kung pilosopo ka.) - Magising sa tunog ng iyong alarm clock. (O maging alerto sa tunog nito, kung hindi ka nakatu log. (Hindi ka siguro pumikit.)) ‘Wag munang bumangon. - I-snooze ang alarm clock. Mga sampung minuto pa, kung nanaisin mo. - Bago tumunog uli ang alarm, isipin ang araw na sasalubungin mo. Halimbawa, ang mga report mong hindi pa tapos. Meeting na dapat daluhan. Mga damit na kailangang labhan. Mga kaibigang iniiwasan, atbp. - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito. Ipagpatuloy lamang din ang pag-iisip, maaaring laliman pa ito para sa mas mahusay na resulta—halimbawa, balikan ang huling limang taon ng iyong buhay. - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito. - Isipin: natutuwa ka ba sa sarili mo ngayon? - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito. - Pagnilayan: kung kakausapin ka ng batang ikaw, matutuwa kaya siya sa ‘yo? - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito. - Timbangin: kailan pa naging mailap ang iyong mga pangarap? Naaalala mo pa ba ang mga ito? - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito - Sa pagtunog uli ng alarm clock, i-snooze lamang ito
The Writer: Rachel graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Creative Writing, Bachelor of Fine Arts. After teaching for three years, she now works for the local government in her hometown, San Mateo, Rizal.
V i e w p o i n t Photographed by Kimberly dela Cruz A man peers outside the house of 49-year old Nicodemus Ampuan who was shot to death by unknown suspects, around midnight of February 6, 2017 in Caloocan. Ampuan was killed in front of his wife and, according to reports, he surrendered to Oplan Tokhang. People kept saying that the country is safer now because of the war on drugs, which in reality is a crackdown on drug users and pushers who often ended up dead with a bullet in their head. I find myself wondering who gets to decide who or where is safe when in some neighborhoods, people are being killed just because they once used/dealt in drugs or looked the part, their blood splattering inside their homes or in the sidewalk, some bodies dumped with their heads covered in masking tape. â–’ Photographer and Writer: Kimberly dela Cruz has been documenting the bloody war on drugs since July 2016. She is a freelance photojournalist based in Manila and is available for research, writing, and photo assignments.
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Cinephile Chino Hernandez reminisces on the simplicity and honesty of terror in film James Stewart’s character in Rear Window sits on a wheelchair during the exhilarating during Hollywood's Golden finale of the 1954 classic film. The murderer Age and how slowly creeps towards him, ready to end his life through strangulation. today's scream- With broken legs, there is no way to run. His only weapon: the darkness and a vintage camera with exploding bulbs. As his attacker moves tofests fail to wards him, he shoots him with a bright flash. Bang! He is blinded and match yester- disoriented. He shoots again. Bang! He buys himself a few minutes as day's audacity the man in the dark stumbles in the shadows. Will this give Grace Kel-
ly enough time to arrive with the authorities?¶ No modern day auteur could capture fear as well as Alfred Hitchcock did during his run in Hollywood’s golden age. The English auteur used no monsters, creepy crawlies, zombies and ghouls to keep the horror flowing. Special effects never saved him, though fear was looming in every corner of his cinemascope lenses. Will we ever again experience a moment as frightening as Vera Miles felt when seeing Norman Bates dressed up as his mother? Will we ever hate the idea of heights as much as we did when James Stewart hung on the ledge of the tower in Vertigo? Will we ever hear another deafening scream as Doris Day’s in The Man Who Knew Too Much? Where is our modern day Hitchcock?¶ If there is something more I fear than fear itself is that Hollywood is running out of stories to tell. Are we too invested in comic book movies, shimmering vampire franchises, S&M soft-core porn disguised as romances, and the 100th revamp of that unoriginal Disney movie? When will we get an iconic horror movie moment like that time Tippi Hedren was attacked by birds while stuck in a telephone booth? Will hors d’ouvres ever be served on the makeshift casket of a dead schoolmate again?¶ As twisted as they were, Hitchcock had simple ideas. He understood that terror in cinema did not mean blood and monsters. It was about putting regular people in extraordinary circumstances that put their lives on an uneven keel—to bring the ordinary into the world of the unordinary. Unfortunately, today’s cinema is afraid to re-discover this classic and type of fear. This leaves modern Hollywood stories to feel unauthentic, unoriginal and insincere. To me, dear reader, that is the scariest tale of all. ▒
Where is our modern day Hitchcock? If there is something more I fear than fear itself is that Hollywood is running out of stories to tell.
The Writer: Chino R. Hernandez is a movie addict, foodie and curious traveler. An old soul and lover of art, he spends his time watching films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, pretends to write like Ernest Hemingway and dines out way too much. He currently holds a full-time position as a writer in LifestyleAsia magazine.
MA LA MA YA