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Places, people ISSUE 1 FEBRUARY - MARCH 2018



Hey reader ,

As I write this note, I’m sitting at the al fresco area of a coffee shop watching people come and go, wondering how to start. I stare into nothingness trying to grasp those perfect opening lines, just a little beyond my reach, just a few feet away from me. But the only words I see a few feet ahead are “love,” “be mine” and “kiss” cut out of red cartolina and pasted on pink boxes stacked in front of pink glowing hearts. I put my pen down and start watching groups of people, young and old, stop every few seconds to take pictures in front of that blessed altar of worship for dear St. Valentine. The elusive opening sentence falls into my lap as I ponder the absurdity of Valentine’s day: “Deviation from the norm will be punished unless it is exploitable.” (Pardon me as I credit a popular anti-capitalist meme for that perfect, beautiful line.) Entering a relationship based solely on love used to be an act of rebellion deserving of punishment from society. Young people who secretly married the person of their choosing, without the approval of their parents, became social pariahs and the shame of their families. Marriages used to be carefully crafted. It was a strategic familial decision where factors such as class, lineage and prospects for wealth played critical roles. Practices varied, of course, across cultures and communities but the general idea was: you don’t have to love someone to live the rest your life with them. What we would call today as a “loveless” marriage was simply a marriage in earlier times. Practical unions established for practical reasons. So, what changed? Romanticism entered the scene. The largely Western artistic and cultural movement took off in the 1800s and transformed what people knew of love forever. Places, people | | 1

Romantics peddled the idea that feelings should far outweigh practical thinking. They put a premium on passion-driven pursuits and encouraged a reckless disregard for worldly necessities. Soon enough, relationships built solely on love became the gold standard and made its way into our list of non-negotiables. The impact of romanticism is evident in contemporary fiction, telenovelas, chick flicks and even gruesome murder mysteries. Whereas older generations selected their lifelong partners based on a sensible set of criteria, we limited ourselves to the grand romantic idea that there is only one person out there we’re meant to be with. And the dynamics of love and relationships continue to change. Wanting to be “more than friends” with someone doesn’t automatically mean you want to marry and raise children with them. Sleeping with that person is not equal to being emotionally and romantically involved. Is that “wrong” or “immoral”? Go back a few centuries and see how holding someone’s hand might mean you’ve got to get married or be disgraced. Point is, no one makes the official rules to these things. Societies have prescribed deeply contradictory versions of the “right way” over the course of history. The jury is still out, after all, on whether love is instinctive or a mere invention of the human race. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own definitions and expectations out of love. We have our own ways of finding a match for those standards, or compromising when there is none. This maiden issue chronicles just one woman’s almost cynical, post-romantic view of love and relationships. Take from it what you will. And perhaps, take a grain of salt -- or sugar -- to counteract the occasional bitterness. Happy Valentine’s day!

Harmony Places, people | | 2


“What will it be? Love as a lock or love as the key?”

Places, people | | 3

“Date night”

“If this is love, I want ten. No, make it twenty.”

“For display only.”

“Does it feel like the real thing too?”

ANGST EXPOSED: On writing & romance Editor’s note: This is an old journal entry that I have lightly edited for clarity (and out of fear that my teenage self would burst from a time machine yelling “why would you do that?” if I publish it in its entirety).

Nothing in life is ever romantic until after they happen. Memories lie. Memories make you

feel as if something was truly good and could never happen the same way again. I was under the impression that I will be a “realistic” fiction writer. That I will tell stories the way they happen in real life. But no one wants that. No one wants to be reminded that while a dreamy picture of a rainy Sunday afternoon spent in bed all day sounds romantic, the reality of it is that you probably haven’t bathed. You feel dirty with an oily face, crusty eyes, and a trail of dried saliva to boot. And I don’t wanna lie. I don’t wanna make things seem perfect like a foggy polaroid picture does. Because at any given moment, you will feel an itch or soreness somewhere on your body, even while kissing the dreamiest of dream boats in fields of green that might hide snakes, or dog poop. I don’t want to lie. But I don’t wanna be crass either. And life IS crass.

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Not Tonight You don’t have to walk me home it’s getting hard to keep a light on There’s no need for your embrace I’m trying not to occupy space Put a pin on that sweet talk I won’t hear it over loud thoughts And by no means should you bring up a shared future I can only see so far ahead into the bottomless pit of existential dread Places, people | | 7

SHORT STORY: Dying to meet-cute She knows meet-cutes don’t happen in real life. And when they do, there’s a reason people gush over them, because not everyone has those stories. The girl clasped the warm mug of hot cocoa as she scanned the coffee shop for the potential other half of a meet-cute waiting to happen. On her right are middle aged men in cargo shorts reading business newspapers. A little to the left are students in sweatpants toting sleek laptops. Off to the center is a mother with limp baby hairs all over her face and a baby sleeping in a stroller. Perhaps if she brought out the Kafka she’s been trying – and failing – to finish, a male subject would make his way over and start a romantic pseudo-intellectual discussion. How dumb, she reprimanded herself with a sarcastic smile, Do you really want someone to cut you off from reading a book just to say they love that book too? And when that happens, will you respond with something more than “Oh cool, who are you?” Places, people | | 8

All she could think of was how unromantic her “how they met” stories have been. One started in a study group and ended on graduation day. Another began in a chat box and ended… well, more like puttered out in a painfully slow and boring death. If she could have something that’s beautiful from the start, maybe it would be less likely to turn ugly in the end. Maybe it will never end. Or maybe, the voice in her head retorted, you should start thinking about what happens in the middle. She gathered her things and got up to leave as she began to feel uneasy about staying too long, even though unsure of where to go next. Her right shoulder collided with a soft thud against the chest of a tall stranger, sending the notebooks cradled against her forearm to the carpeted floor. She hastily bent her knees to collect the scattered things, and then stood up quickly to shoot the stranger a sharp side-eye. The broad shouldered twenty-something has already started to walk past her, his deep voice mumbling an insincere apology. What a jerk, she thought, and went back to her search for a story she could finally fill those notebooks with.

Places, people | | 9

Love Will #KeepFilmAlive Four-hundred and forty five pesos. That’s how much it cost to shoot and develop my last roll of film. The figure only accounts for the price of the roll, a 36-exposure Agfa Vista 200 film worth 215 pesos, and the cost of film development and basic scanning worth 230 pesos. Physical film stores aren’t easily accessible, which means fares or shipping fees could easily drive up the total cost of shooting a roll of film to upwards of 500 pesos. Add in the price of film cameras and hard-to-find equipment, you’ll understand why people say #ShootFilmStayBroke. And when you commit one simple mistake, enough to ruin your entire roll, you can kiss that sweet money goodbye and go on living knowing you blew 500 pesos on basically nothing.

Experiences like this -- like the one time I completely wrecked a roll of Ilford XP2 that contained my Calaguas pictures -- make it necessary to sit back and ponder why I shoot film and whether it’s worth it. So I’ve collected five of my film pictures that made me happy or excited about shooting film. And reminded me why, even as I shoot digital, analog photography will always have a place in my heart.

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“Magic hour” Agfa Vista 200 Konica FP Hexanon Konishiroku 1.8

“Southern sunrise” Fujifilm Fujicolor 200 2012 expired Konica FP Hexanon Konishiroku 1.8

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“Strays and strangers” Agfa Vista 200 Konica FP Hexanon Konishiroku 1.8

“Keeping warm” Agfa Vista 200 Konica FP Hexanon Konishiroku 1.8

“Silver lining” Fujifilm Fujicolor 200 Konica FP Hexanon Konishiroku 1.8

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Places, people: ISSUE 1  

February - March 2018 Theme: Romanticism

Places, people: ISSUE 1  

February - March 2018 Theme: Romanticism