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Confession: I buy magazines because of the pictures and the layout. Having no formal educational background in graphic design, layout and photography, I had to rely on magazines and observe how they are done. I started feeling bad about my habit when I realized how hard our writers work. They had to research, bulk up their range of adjectives and smoothen vocabulary once in a while and that takes more effort than your average photowalk. However, what I lack in writing is balanced by my desire to read. It goes to an extent where I can’t help but read every shampoo bottle while taking my morning shower. I now fully understand that even those simple descriptive words on my shampoo bottle takes a lot of work to write. This issue was put together to celebrate literature as an art form in many formats. Of course, there is no better person to be on our cover but spoken word artist (not to mention our first internation cover), Shane Koyczan. This by far is the biggest leap we’ve made ever since our concepcion and we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished. We also have Andrea Gibson and Tyler Knott Gregson in this issue as well as other artists such as an interview with our new Art Director, Gab Bustos. A fresh segment was also created to add more writeups in our magazine which is creatively-named Columns (witty, I know). There are quite a number of articles inside from a wide range of topics like Why You Should Stop Reading John Green and How To Win American Idol. Making a literary issue is quite a big risk for us but we know it’s going to be worth it. We need to see something different once in a while just to keep you interested and to, possibly, change the game. I think that writers are underrated and underpaid (according to many complaints on my Twitter feed) so this issue goes out to them. And before I forget, kudos to our Associate Editor, Carl Millan and our Senior Photographer, Pat Nabong for suggesting this theme.
As a writer I’ve always wanted every one to see things the way I see them, which is one of the reasons why I became a writer. I want to impose my narrative line upon those who have a different one, to make them understand what I see and what I think and what I feel, to change their minds and replace them with my own. As a writer you realize early on that you cannot always do that, but you can always try. And try I did. The reason why I wanted Stache to have a literary issue is for the creative youth to have a greater appreciation for the printed word, and, to a degree, the digital text. In the past few months I have started to doubt that there really is a difference between reading from a physical book and reading from an e-reader--except of course for their physical aspects. If your aim is to appreciate the content, to live the lives you cannot lead, to understand what the author means, does it really matter? To put it succinctly, if your aim is simply to read for the sake of reading, who gives a rat’s ass if you’re reading from a cereal box or a wall or an e-reader? I digress. I am thankful enough that Maine Manalansan, Ellie Centeno, Pat Nabong and I shared the same vision of a literate youth, a creative youth which knows and is familiar with the many facets of art—not just its visual aspect—and did not even question whether or not this venture would be a success, whether or not we could pull it off. We did. And I appreciate their backing me up 110% on this. In the past months we have lost Maurice Sendak, Ray Bradbury, and Nora Ephron, and their deaths could not have been timelier—unfortunately. And although this issue’s conception had happened before they died, the team would like to believe that this is our way of paying them homage for their many great works and contributions to literature. This is also for all the writers who had inspired and continues to inspire many lives. Cheers!
Maine Manalansan, Editor-in-Chief
Jared Carl Millan, Associate Editor
STACHE Editor-in-Chief: Maine Manalansan Associate Editor: Jared Carl Millan Marketing Director: Ellie Centeno Assistant Editor: Marielle Misula Marketing Associate: Coco Macaren Senior Photographer: Patricia Nabong Head of Editorials: Koji Arboleda Photographe1r-At-Large: Jelito De Leon Lifestyle Director: Samie Betia Music Director: Lambert Cruz Beauty Director: Thea De Rivera Fashion Director: Ecks Abitona Art Director: Gab Bustos Contributing Writers: Katrina Eusebio, Regina Reyes, Alvin Greg Molina, Karla Bernardo, Elise Montinola, Miles Malferrari, Mae Pascual, Laurice Sta. Maria Contributing Photographers: Patrick Guillermo, Grace De Luna, Angel Castillo, Hannah Magsayo, Adrian Gonzales Illustrators/Graphic Artists: Mary Silvestre, Marella Ricketts, Maura Rodriguez, Pum Briones, Daniela Go
On The Cover
Stylists: Esme Palaganas, Vince Ong Submissions: email@example.com Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/stachemagazine Facebook: http://facebook.com/stachemagazineonline Special thanks to: Christen Green of Faux Pas Productions, Jonathan Elden of Stunt Entertainment, Jhayne Holmes, Mei Bastes, Borgy Manotoc, Nina Defensor, Otto Ferraren, Mike Libot of Jam 88.3 - http://stachemagazineonline.com -
Illustration by Gerd Perez (based on the photo by Jhayne Holmes) Handwriting by Maine Manalansan
Sarah Buendia. Sarah is a fresh graduate of Ateneo de Manila University. She is a cult-movie-obsessed coffee-drinker who writes and draws comics during her spare time. She has an extensive music library with a vast number of discographies from artists like The Strokes, The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys. Sarah also proudly claims to be Julian Casablancas’ paramour.
Mel Kasingsing. Mystery novels inspired him to write literary works since his freshman year in high school. Now working as an Art Director and Layout Artist for Adobo Magazine, he has always been fond of minimalist design, philosophy, architecture, and graphic design. His senior thesis project, Retrospektura, mirrors his passion for preserving the Filipino heritage architecture.
Jansen Musico writes stuff. He obsesses about film on Pelikula Tumblr, curates for PinoyTumblr, and, from time to time, gives his points of view on the pages of newspapers and magazines. If he isn’t sitting inside a movie house, getting fat, or sobbing uncontrollably, he also spends his time working for a multinational company.
Gerd Perez or Gerard Perez, if you want to be more formal about it, is one artsy kid. Drawing is always on top of his list but as he grew up, he also got interested in fashion, photography, sports and blogging. He likes to surround himself with inspiration, keeping him entertained. Fact: he also likes to do the dougie.
James Grr. James is a twenty-something film and music enthusiast with an penchant for making the most mundane things look interesting with the way he captures them on camera. Other than being an editorial and events photographer (spot him at Mei Bastes-organized events!), a comic book collector and a self-confessed Star Wars fan, James is also a budding music video cinematographer.
Chiara Garcia is a hyper dreamer at day, a poet at night. She is passionate aboutperforming and fashion styling but her love for writing is too intense it no longer is a passion, but rather, a part of her. She’s more than meets the eye—a ball ofvarious emotions and thoughts rolled in a 16-year-old’s body. Her only purpose in life is to continuously learn and thus inspire many. But more than that, to do God’s will.
Nile Villa. It was a dare in Grade 5 on who could finish writing a novel that first got Nile Villa into writing. Having been interested in writing short stories, novels, scripts, and stage plays since then, she was the go-to person to produce scripts for her class plays in high school and college. She’s currently a creative consultant for Works of Heart, a youthled social enterprise.
John Alexis Balaguer. He recently graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with honors as a Communication Arts major. His interest in creative writing and art has spawned published works in Ateneo’s literary and artistic folio, Heights and UMagazine. His artworks earned him a Loyola Schools Award for Illustration given by the university last March 2012. This “brooding, slightly mad man” is also fond of film criticism and travelling.
COLUMNS How To Win American Idol “Align your song choices with your singing ability; play your strengths. If you’re a rock star, do not stray too far from your genre. Chances are you will provide a great show for everyone and leave an impression musicians are so hard put to make last.” By Jared Carl Millan, p.6 The Art of The Spoken Word “I thought I had lost this—all the story telling, when time came that I no longer believed in Santa, and fairy tales were considered child’s play to me. I started to miss being able to listen to someone tell a story. Until one day, I came across a certain art form that brought my memories of those bedtime-story-nights back to me.” By Miles Malferari, p. 8 Reasons Why You Should Not Read John Green “If there is one thing John Green could do so well, it is putting his presence into his works and make it resonate. His voice, his intelligence, his presence. And it does resonate, all right. In fact it resonates so vividly it permeates all of his published work, offering instead of brilliant story and fresh ideas a bitter taste in the mouth: A sense of repetition. From Looking For Alaska to The Fault In Our Stars we get the same characters, the same sense of humor, the same narrative, the same story.” By Maine Manalansan, p. 10
Taking Flight “Upon graduation, everyone unanimously felt celebrating college. Congratulatory and goodbye messages were thrown here and there like confetti. But at the same time, a resonating, “What happens next?” is still waiting for an answer.” By Marielle Misula, p. 12 On Being a Writer “I was once told that being a “blogger” does not necessarily make one a “writer,” nor writing long-winding sentences nor writing platitudes and cliches. Perhaps not, but judging whether or not one is a writer based only on those things does not seem correct, nor does it seem completely valid.” By Jared Carl Millan, p.14
10 Ways On How To Win American Idol America has decided, a winner has been crowned, the story has been told. But like any other story we each have in our minds our own ending, one that we wish could have instead happened. JARED CARL MILLAN takes us through the many ways in which one could have won Idol.
10. Never undergo such a massive make over in the middle of the competition. People would like to remember you as the nobody who auditioned and actually made the cut. Let yourself grow on people. This is a singing competition not a beauty pageant; you will be remembered by your voice. How you look like is the least of your problems—Idol has competent stylists to take care of that for you. (See: Erika Van Pelt—she entered the competition looking like Kelly Clarkson which she did not like, and after she underwent a massive transformation to change this and make an impression, she ended up looking like Adam Lambert, for which people disliked her.) 9. Have a pleasing personality. If you’re funny enough and quirky enough and charismatic enough, chances are you will stand out, and that is what you want to be able to do. Most everybody likes people who stand out. Then utilize your charm to back your vocal ability up; if the latter fails you somewhere down that proverbial road, you will have the former to catch your fall, which will give you ample time to dodge the elimination bullet, pick the right songs, and step up your game. (See: Heejun Han) 8. Work extra hard to earn the title. This is particularly applicable if you have made the cut only through the wild card selection: you are not supposed to have stayed and your journey should have been completed, albeit truncated, but because the judges saw something special in you, thinking, against all odds, that you have the potential to win the title, you are given another chance at it. Follow the stylists every advice, showcase your vocal abilities and with your song selection, win the judges and crowd over and prove them that you have every right to stay. Week after week after week you cannot afford to simply give a
mediocre performance, much less a bad one. (See: Deandre Brackensick) 7. Don’t be too cocky. You might not always agree with what the judges say about your performances (because some of their comments and critiques are admittedly so far out of left field and which calls into question their being judges to a singing competition), but they are given their titles for a reason—these are people who has established their names in the music business and has already proven themselves time and again. They know what they are doing—most of the time—and the least you can do is to take their constructive criticism for what they are, which is exactly that: constructive criticism. You as a contestant has no right, as a general, unspoken rule, to question anything they say, and to do this, and blatantly so, will compromise everything you have ever accomplished in the competition. To have the fact that you have given solid performances every week is not an argument you can use to back your case up, nor is it a reason for you to be cocky and overconfident. You will come across as a douchebag. Even with hordes of screaming fangirls—fans, if you will—at your disposal, you will get eliminated. (See: Colton Dixion) 6. Align your song choices with your singing ability; play your strengths. If you’re a rock star, do not stray too far from your genre. Choose the songs you are equipped to sing and songs you are familiar with and songs you have already sung and sung great. Showcase this and your individuality as a musician and chances are you will provide a great show for everybody, leaving an impression musicians are so hard put to make and make last. (See: Elise Testone)
*accurate representation of the contestants’ heights
5. Learn what the word “diversity” means, and incorporate it in your performances. Everybody likes country music as much as the next guy, but that does not mean that because you’re a country singer all then songs you have to perform have to be under the genre. And although it is not necessarily bad to render some un-country songs country, adding your own twang into the songs, venturing out into terrains you’re not at all familiar with won’t do you any harm; on the contrary it will show your versatility as a musician. Furthermore, unlike Step #7, which requires one to have a distinct, unique voice, Step #6 can provide one’s self advantages if one has a powerful range which could slay most songs. Carrie Underwood has done it, so could you. (See: Skylar Laine) 4. Stay on key, on pitch. Sometimes it does not matter whether or not you have a beautiful voice, a powerful voice; all you have to do is sing a song and sing it flawlessly. What good does it do you if you have the voice to belt out a Whitney or a Mariah or an Aretha if your key is
all over the place? (See: Hollie Cavanagh) 3. Don’t let the judges overpraise you. I am not particularly sure how one achieves this without sacrificing the quality of the performance itself; “great” performances deserve a standing ovation, but sometimes the line between “great” and “good” becomes blurred and the latter inexplicably warrants an undeserved standing ovation. So how does one do it? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is this: not everybody likes seeing the judges swooning over a particular contestant’s every performance. (See: Joshua Ledet) 2. Choose a superior winning song. This is your final shot at the title. You are one step away from winning. Do not screw up that final chance to leave an impression. (See: Jessica Sanchez) 1. If all else fails make sure you’re white, and play the guitar.
The Art of the Spoken Word
Many art forms have come and gone and back again. Some are new and some are old, but there is one that grabs attention because of its uniqueness and relation to life, love, and loss. Everyone has a story to tell, MILES MELFERRARI shares hers. Photo by MAINE MANALANSAN
I remember back when I was at the age of the dark being a scary and forbidden place, hide-and-seek was a regular game, and “playing” was literally playing with toys on play grounds, my dad would read me bedtime stories to help me sleep. Narnia and Harry Potter were some of my favorites and before that, Peter Pan and The Lion King. He would always read the stories with so much emotion, making his voice high, emulating a girl speaking, and with a clear and powerful voice when being a king. Sound effects were always a requirement as well as the occasional British accent we (my siblings and I) never thought to be very convincing. Bottom line is, storytelling was something my dad enjoyed doing and we loved listening to it because of the way he read our favorite books—with such emotion and vigor that made it so convincing, we would never realize it was way past our bedtime by the time he’d finish a chapter or two. It is certainly very entertaining to see and hear someone read or tell stories with so much life and belief in their own words. I thought I had lost this—all the story telling, when time came that I no longer believed in Santa, and fairy tales were considered child’s play to me. I started to miss being able to listen to someone tell a story. Until
one day, I came across a certain art form that brought my memories of those bedtime-story-nights back to me. They called it the spoken word, the first time I heard it I thought it was about a bunch of people, simply speaking what they thought, and I started to picture those darkened café-type bar scenes wherein the artist, or performer, is up on stage, accompanied by bongos as she speaks the words mundanely, calmly, monotonously, and the audience are people wearing black turtle necks and skinny jeans and instead of clapping in appreciation, they snap to the rhythm. I found out later on however, that the spoken word is not about all that. I mean it is certainly about actually speaking the words instead of saying them, but what most people fail to realize is that there is a difference between speaking your emotions out from simply stating them plainly, it has become an art form of sorts. You can hear it on the streets, you can buy albums full of spoken word pieces, some would even go as far as to calling it a genre of music since it originates from the blues era, but I think it is an entirely different thing. It is surely an uncommon way of expression but nowadays most people have heard and accepted its presence.
In college circles of the performing arts, organizations, the café’s I thought up to be what happens in spoken word events, although maybe excluding the turtlenecks and the snapping, more and more people are starting to take up this art form of the spoken word. What’s so different about this art from the other forms? Like singing, songwriting, poetry, rap and the like? Easy, it is purely talking. Talking to an audience like how I am talking to you through ink and paper but instead of that, it is done on a stage, like a play only the performers are not acting, they are expressing themselves. Just like how a blues man would show his feelings through his music, so is the spoken word, it is centered on letting out the soul through knowing when to hold back and when to go all out, when to rest and when to sustain, when to speed up or slow down. Since it originates from blues music, it is more focused on rhythm and beat rather than melody. Unlike rap however, spoken word is more free verse; it may also focus on the same things but not as rigid and fixed as rap. When creating a rap you are catching up to the beat and the melody, while in creating a piece from spoken word, the beat and melody are catching up to you. It may not have any concrete melody but the emotion you feel is immensely overpowering. What of instruments then since there is a melody to these pieces? Although I have not been able to witness this first hand, spoken word has evolved into such an art that people have started to mix instruments into the pieces, to add more “flavor” into them. It certainly helps to add to the ambiance and dramatic feel for each piece (so I guess I could be right about the bongos part in the café scene). It has evolved so much that the artist have left their stage and have gone to more modern ways of showing the world their art, you can see their works on the internet, watch videos online, grab a CD copy at the nearest book stores. There are a lot more student organizations. It is be-
coming a widely accepted style and more and more artists emerge into the “music scene” concentrating in this area. One example would be a personal favorite of mine: Tanya Davis— she is known for her spoken word pieces such as “Alone”, “Subtlety”, and “Art” and has composed many albums. She incorporates different instruments into her pieces and makes everything on her own from the words to the notes to the performance itself. The rhythm of how she speaks, when she pauses and holds back, when she speeds up the way she talks and when it all fits in the end in to a spectrum of infused music and soul and words, you can’t help but feel what she feels. This exemplifies what spoken word is, what it stands for. The first time I heard her piece “Alone”, I was moved so much by the words it changed my entire way of viewing things and it made me feel better about myself. Going back to what I was talking about earlier though, how is it related to our parents reading us bedtime stories to sleep? Spoken word is like story telling, sometimes with or without a script. You would need a lot of imagination, a knack for words, a love for rhythm, beat, blues, overall sound— this entire article has talked about what spoken word is really about, that it is also about how you say the words, how you mix different elements with them, how you should believe what you are saying, that it should come from the heart, all these things boil down to one thing, the thing that every artist always tries to achieve and personally something I have yet to conquer: soul. A piece is a piece because of its structure, how words fit together and how the music tags along with it, but without soul it is just that— a piece. Add soul into it, into everything you do actually, and it definitely makes it something. Art. “Art, Art I want you. Art you make it pretty hard not to. And my heart is trying hard here to follow you, but I can’t always tell if I ought to.” –Tanya Davis
Why John Green’s books appeal to many young adults will always be an unsolved mystery. MAINE MANALANSAN talks about why you should stop reading his works.
1. Repetitive plots. Why “young adults” read his books religiously will always be a mystery to me. Some of them might even have John Green marathons because they are so fond of the story because maybe, just maybe, they can relate to the books’ plot. Like Nicholas Sparks, Green is the type of writer who sticks to what he knows and what he thinks will sell: you have your typical chemically-imbalanced girl and dorky boy falling (kind of) in love, but before that happens, the girl does something stupid, reckless, and just plain wtf-able so all hope’s gone for the boy and the girl living happily ever after. 2. Annoying female characters. Alaska and Margo Roth Spiegelman deserve one huge wake-up slap for being such attention-whores. Save a harder one for Green though because apparently for him, sex does not sell, depression does.
from? Maybe the detective is Plato’s seventh-degree grandson, but other than that, his thoughts were uncalled for. 4. Wrong values. To be able to be a cool young adult, you must be: 1.) quirky, 2.) strange enough to have an odd hobby (i.e. collecting books and piling it up in your dorm room, know the last words of famous people, organize deadly scavenger hunts, lie in the dark with a couple of dust bunnies), 3.) someone who has a strange desire to trespass, and 4.) AN ATTENTION-SEEKING WHORE (I can’t stress this enough). 5. Pretentious characters. Everyone is just trying a little bit too hard to be interesting. 6. Repeat numbers 1-5 until you realize once you’ve read one of his books, you’ve read them all.
3. Forced metaphors everywhere. Take Paper Towns for example, when the detective came to investigate where the *(&#^@ Margo went this time, he suddenly talked about a red balloon and it’s string. It’s a great metaphor yes, but where the hell did it come
A new chapter has finally begun after college; a new batch of hopefuls has started journeying to different roads since. But MARIELLE MISULA thinks it pays to look back and mull over how college has transformed lives. Illustration by MARELLA RICKETTS
Three months have passed since my college graduation. Four years have gone by since I started to appreciate sleep, considered as something counter-productive in my book. My facilitator in one of my subjects as a freshman woke me up to a daunting realization that â€œin college, sleeping now becomes a luxury.â€? Describing my college life by the numbers, however, stops there. Truthfully, I have lost count of the requirements my cramming self has accomplished, both old and new friendships that I have either kept or outgrown, exams I have whether bombed or aced, and
the stress-filled deadlines I beat (and even beat me to a pulp sometimes). Remembering how college welcomed me as a wide-eyed freshman, tore me to pieces, helped me discover my knack, destroyed my biological clock, and pruned me to be a better person somehow fills me with exhaustion to the brim. I thank college for giving me a lot to remember and a lot to forget. Now that it has already ended its run, college, however, coaxes me to let it go.
College has inevitably done its job of preparing me for the real world – cutthroat yet worth plunging in. It has thrown in the people who could give me either inspiration or exasperation, the things still waiting to be learned, and the will to carry on with my journey. In college, most come to terms with being a dot in a sea of people still figuring out what the future looks like, knowing that they don’t know everything, and making the right mistakes. It’s a cruel world out there, really. But college should have already tested one’s mettle to survive the daily grind. My Facebook homepage has seen a gradual shift of emotions since the beginning of the year. There were still two months left before graduation yet my friends have long reeked of senioritis, a term referring to a mishmash of emotions college seniors feel before graduating. Some have already expressed the things they will miss and will definitely forget because of college. It has taught people that they can’t get their way around by sucking up to their professors but procrastinating their way through an A does the trick. Well, sometimes. It has done wonders and even a lot of blunders to everyone, you see, from preparing for a big test to getting their hearts broken. Upon graduation, everyone unanimously felt celebrating college. Congratulatory and goodbye messages were thrown here and there like confetti. But at the same time, a resonating, “What happens next?” is still waiting for an answer. The time is ticking: it has been two months since I finally learned to embrace myself as a professional bummer. If it were a job, I could earn so much fortune it could fill a gold mine. I would reward myself with doing nothing but stare into space after pulling an all-nighter just to get school work done. But after graduation, I have all the time in the world to do my internship, experience the fun in funemployment, and even get frustrated for the missed opportunities. From an arena for appreciating college, my Facebook homepage now inhales the air of hope and frustration. Most have already started working their way up towards their dream careers while some still take their time weighing if it’s worth working for money over passion. It gets frustrating when things don’t go as planned and it’s easier to succumb to
vulnerability than to pick up the pieces. Trepidation has always been a company of journeying to the unknown. As you go out of an idealistic world college has carved out for you, you’ll witness that the world doesn’t align with what you believe in all the time. Ideals get shaken up. Relationships may either turn sour or better. People come and may choose to stay or go. It’s easier to be malleable enough to bend to the whims and caprices of the world than making a change one story at a time. As parting gifts, college has given me the gift of strong will, the art of letting go, embracing change, and loving oneself. It’s hard for me to let go of the things I have wont to. People change for the better or worse. Sometimes, they may opt not to change at all. Nevertheless, it’s important to not lose oneself in the process. Get a grip of yourself when treading the unknown, wherever, whenever. It has been a week since I first visited my alma mater after graduation. It was one Saturday afternoon and dusk was about to settle. My journalism bestfriends and I kept on chattering away about our post-college lives. We had the perfect backdrop: we were in a place we called home for four years. We talked while observing a handful of freshmen who seemed to be attending a make-up orientation seminar, judging from the block T-shirts they wore. As remnants of our freshman lives flashed before our eyes, a sweet slice of home should have welcomed me, right? However, everything went foreign. No matter how much I missed that place, I somewhat felt the need to console myself: even if I had to join the freshmen running from one building to another just to get that feeling of familiarity again, I could only watch them who were just about to have the time of their lives from the sidelines. Obviously, I’m no longer infected with senioritis. A part of me wants to linger in college for quite some more, while the other part prods me to move on. College is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I’ll let go, yes. But that doesn’t mean I have to forget.
On Being A Writer
There is a huge difference between a writer and a person who writes. And most people think the former is synonymous to the latter, but is it really? JARED CARL MILLAN tells us how they are different.
One of my many online pet peeves is seeing random nobodies exclaim with profound authority that they are a “writer.” The act, in itself, is not at all wrong—every writer is entitled to do that, but I doubt they would so publicly and so often and so insistently. But there are people, particularly but not exclusively on Tumblr, who think that if they say that “they are a writer” often enough and insist on the particular enough, that eventually they will become one, look the part, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding—the bad grammar, the lousy syntax, the flowery words they so adamantly use on even the most simple sentence that does not need them. On good days seeing such things on my dashboard or my Twitter feed makes me laugh out loud at the hilarity of their claim, and on bad days it makes me want to hurl things at them, things that are solid and heavy and huge and has sharp corners that will likely concuss any head all heads they impact upon. These so called “writers” have about them a curious sense of self-entitlement, one which dictates that because they have something to say, irregardless of whether or not it is relevant, they should air it for every body else to read, and why not? They have their blogs to do it with. The fact that all they really do is churning out word pollution does not occur to them nor will it ever, which makes one really question why they even have the audacity to call themselves writers. They glorify the “writer’s lifestyle.” For them writing is synonymous to the life a writer is so famously
known to lead, the solidarity, the aloofness, the times spent alone writing, the cigarette totem for which many writers are known. They fool themselves that if they can copy these same mannerisms, these same lives that they can immediately branded as a writer. It does not. They are in love with the idea of writing but not of the act itself, nor the bloody creative process it comes along with that all writers, whether or nor they like it, eventually come to love. But what does it mean to be a writer? And more importantly, what makes one a writer? What separates “writers” from the real ones? What is the distinction? Let us begin first with the matter of semantics. “Writer,” as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.” This definition is at once both vague and broad; if one uses this definition to identify a writer, any person who simply scribbles down words can be identified as such. Meriam-Webster simply defines a “writer” as “one that writes,” but that does not set apart a person who regularly writes from a real writer. One can say that, to be a writer, one has to be writing for a living, which is on many levels true. One can also say that one has to have one’s work
published in order to be called a writer, but that would not be entirely correct. Rachael Ray writes recipes, and has authored a number of cookbooks, but that does not make her a “writer.” If it does, is Nicole Richie then a writer? Snooki? Sarah Pailin? Using the above definitions, in the vaguest sense, they could be, but that is not the kind of writer I am talking about here. Not the Stephenie Meyers and E J James of the world. I was once told that being a “blogger” does not necessarily make one a “writer,” nor writing long-winding sentences nor writing platitudes and cliches. Perhaps not, but judging whether or not one is a writer based only on those things does not seem correct, nor does it seem valid. I will tell you what, for me, is a real “writer.” Writing, like any other craft, is a skill. No body is born a writer, the same way no one is born a filmmaker or a make up artist or a performer. (Of course there are those who are blessed with talents which make their work extraordinary, but those who do not have it are not necessarily ruled out of the game and are equally titled to be great in their field.) A “writer” knows that there is no such thing as a “writer’s lifestyle”; you sit down, you write, you bleed, Hemingway said that. A “writer” is a person who is dedicated to his craft--and constantly improving it. A “writer” knows his grammar well and applies it. A “writer” is a person “whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.” Joan Didion said that. A “writer” plays with words, “hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.” Doris Lessing said that. A “writer” communicates what he feels and thinks and experiences in the only way he knows how, which is through the careful arrangements of thoughts in words. And perhaps the defining characteristic of a writer, at least for me, is that he has a story to tell, story which may or may not be contained in a single book, may or may not come across as platitudes or clichés or long-winding sentences, and more importantly, a “writer” does not stop writing until he still has stories to tell.
Never judge a book by its cover, or its contents; sometimes what it’s meant to the reader is what really matters— unless the book in question is Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey, in which there really is no question. Stache Magazine Online’s Editors tell us about that one book that changed their lives.
Pat Nabong, Senior Photographer On The Road by Jack Kerouac
The first time I read one of Jack Kerouac’s novels, I hated it. It was a book that had the intention of narrating Jack Duluoz’s (Kerouac’s alter-ego) first love, Maggie Cassidy. It seemed nothing but a series of incoherent paragraphs that jumped from one thought to another. With its lines that, at that time, seemed too poetic to the point of confusion, it was hard to appreciate the book and I promised myself that I’d stay away from Kerouac from then on. Two years later, after being drawn to its vintage cover, I found myself reading Kerouac’s most prominent memoir, On the Road: The Original Scroll, which recounted his borderless journey across America. Although I was intimidated by the unpunctuated, unedited, continuous block of text that made the book up, I fell in love with it, and the whole idea of a life spent indefinitely on the move and never stopping. More importantly, there is much truth in what a lot of people have said about it, that On the Road is life changing in one way or another. It alters how people see things, makes one feel small, but, strangely, idealistic and hopeful. It instills a fascination for exploration and discovery, which people now associate to a whole new way of life based on the neverending search for meaning, and the “magic at the end of the road.” In all its purity and soul, On the Road is a book that is teeming with life.
Although this contains a superb selection of quotes, explanations and interpretations that support each anecdote, reading this requires you to think, understand and develop answers. Just a heads up, this is not a manual that gives a step-by-step procedure on how to handle situations. It does not and should not encourage creation of tension. It teaches lessons to confront challenges in life with theories from Bonaparte, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Sun-Tzu and other philosophers/tacticians. Relate the battles to what you are facing in the real world and it will prepare you to man-up and look at your problems straight in the eye.
Lambert Cruz, Music Director The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
Ecks Abitona, Fashion Editor Norewegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
First published in 1987, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is a very carefully written novel in which the mannerisms, dress, personal style, and subtleties in behavior are successfully used to create vivid depiction of characters. Murakami is popular for his books that need to be examined for subtle references, a subtext here and there. The style and the themes are extremely different to those you would find in regular European or American novels. He captured a beautiful 1960’s Japan and we are often plunged into Japanese culture, cities, villages, and day-to-day lives as he describes it in the novel. Murakami showed us Tokyo, student life in a city, countryside and other places, taking us a trip throughout Japan. The main character and also storyteller, Toru Watanabe, tells us everything in a meticulous manner despite the fact his life is marked by death and unsuccessful relationships. With all the tragedy and sadness that surrounds the book, it is still a love story. It’s not cheesy, it’s not romantic but Murakami shows love in a more realistic way. The character’s flaws and fates are apparent to the reader, and the conclusion inevitable. Haruki Murakami’s novels have gained great popularity for they guide readers through some of life’s bleakest and most treacherous territory – the cold, dark winter woods of death and sorrow and cruelty – and do so with such wisdom and warmth and this book is certainly not an exemption. Norwegian Wood, if described in one word, is authentic.
I got this book and honestly didn’t expect much; I thought it would be nothing more than your ordinary chick-lit novel but boy, was I ever wrong. Sure, it’s set in high school, from a dysfunctional goody-two-shoes named Mila’s point of view no less, but it takes you to an entirely different plane as she discovers the heart of the underground of Mexico City and enters the world of love, sex, drugs and friendship. With its captivating literary imagery of Mexico City being stripped down to its core and its honest depiction of the youth, you will fall in love with the beautiful and chaotic life of Mila in Mexico City.
Ellie Centeno, Marketing Editor Mexican High by Liza Monroy
Jared Carl Millan, Associate Editor Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Maine Manalansan, Editor-in-Chief Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
When I was barely a teenager suffering the perils of adolescence I found an ancient copy of Jessica Zafra’s Twisted in one our house’s many shelves. A first edition, 1995 copy with thick cover quite unlike what Twisted is printed in now. It was protected by a plastic covering, mildly dog-eared, yellowing. Like any other teenager I was trying to make sense of the world around me. I tried, but nothing ever did, save for that one offensively sarcastic compilation of columns by one Jessica Zafra. I knew from day one that I would not be able to write as sharp as she or as good, as funny, but I could try to be like her. Which was a writer. That was when I knew I wanted to write. When I was barely in college I was seeing the world a bit clearer, but not as clearly as I wanted to see it. I did not know myself still or what I really want to be or how to get there. Then I read “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,” a 1967 essay about murder written by some woman I barely knew. The opening line: “This is a story about love and death in the golden land and begins with a country.” I immediately fell in love. I googled “Joan Didion,” ordered her books online, and immediately I knew I wanted not only to be a writer but to write beautifully, write beautiful strings of words, as beautiful as Joan Didion’s sentences, as beautiful as I could make them. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” is a collection of essays which chronicle the California in the sixties. This book both exhibits Didion’s precise prose and prowess as a literary stylist, and reading this book for me is not unlike reading a book full of promises and knowing that in the end all of them will be fulfilled.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Chopsticks might be the longest book ever written in the history of mankind. Good thing the authors spared us the trouble and made some kind of a picture book. Bordering on a detective story, Chopsticks illustrated the love of Frank and (insert girl’s name here). Each page contained either a newspaper clipping, their chat archive, screencaps of Youtube video that they were watching at that time, or views outside their windows which guides the reader to the flow of the story. It leaves the readers to interpret the photos and to dig deeper than what is seen on the face value. Chopsticks is more than a collection of pretty pictures that can probably garner 10,000 notes on Tumblr. It is the most intimate version of a typical girl-meetsnew-boy love story. It will absorb you in every flip of the page and it will make you fall in love with the love story itself.
PLACES Sit like a princess, eat like a queen. Stache Magazine Online’s resident correspondent, KAT EUSEBIO gives us a scoop of what’s trending in Manila’s food timeline and whether or nit they deserve all the likes, thumbs-up, and reblogs.
If fairytales would happen in this time and in this part of the world, I’d bet that the princesses and evil stepmoms would be delighted in these following places in Manila. Pumpkin carriages and glass slippers be damned, these go-to food stops have challenged today’s restaurant architecture and interior design scene. Equipped with a place to tickle the senses and the good food to satisfy anyone’s fancy, it’s not long before even Cinderella comes to pay a visit. CAFÉ JUANITA Complete with cloths draping from every corner and statues peeking out from the side, Café Juanita channels the romantic Arabic scene from Aladdin. From the outside, it looks small and ordinary but once you crosses the threshold, the eclectic mix of lights, chandeliers and other ornaments will immediately amaze you. As you enter, you could choose a nook for you (some areas are divided by sheer fabrics) thus becoming the prime choice for romantic dine-outs or family gatherings. Besides the wonderful interior, the food is something to applaud for as well, although the average dining cost for each person would be aroung P400, it is definitely worth every cent. They take pride in their signature dish, Kare-kare ni Juanita, as
Cafe Juanita’s ambiance makes the restaurant a perfect date spot.
well as the must-try, Bagnet, which is different from the typical, dry Bagnet we can find in commonplace restaurants. Address: No.2 United Street corner West Capitol Street, Brgy Kapitolyo, Pasig Contact Number: +632 632-0357
Left: Pan de Amerikana’s famous upside-down chairs Right: Odd decoration pieces from VGIB
PAN DE AMERIKANA I pray that the day where car accidents in this area will never come. Who would not suddenly stop in the middle of the road as they catch sight of a beautiful home upside-down? Literally. Netherland is overrated; Peter Pan should try living in Pan de Amerikana. Once you step into the place, you’d see it covered with twigs, vines and glass lamps. You’d also notice tables and chairs stuck on the ceiling, still upholding to their upside-down house vibe. You’d think that with all the money invested in making this place look good, that the prices will be bloated as well. Think again. The place serves good “lutong bahay” food at an average dining cost of P100 per person! The servers are very nice and accommodating as well. Being staged at Katipunan, it’s a good place for students near the area to have an interesting lunch-out during their school breaks. Address: 131 Katipunan Ave. St. Ignatius, Quezon City VAN GOGH IS BIPOLAR Filled with teapots, letters and trinkets, it’s like Alice in Wonderland minus the winding staircases and evil creatures. A place
for the happiness seekers, Van Gogh is Bipolar (VGIB) serves a whole gastronomically delighting experience! Banking on the mood-altering properties of certain foods, VGIB serves quirky yet satisfying dishes cooked up for literally to make us smile. What’s more interesting, Jetro, the brainchild behind VGIB, usually steps out of his kitchen to talk with his guests and explains the reasoning behind the meals. He tells us what the dishes are called and more often than not, they are named after known personalities who are bipolar like Manilyn Monroe’s Iced Lolly or Courtney Love’s Potion of the Day. Their menu varies from time to time but this season, they serve 3,4 and 5-course meals with prices varying from P666-999. According to their house rules, the place can accommodate only 12 diners at a time so it’s good to make reservations beforehand. The place is perfect for couples or a group of friends who want to try out something new and come out having a good time. Address: 154 H Maginhawa St. Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. Contact Number: 09228243051
The Giving Tree They say nothing in life is free, but Mang Hernando begs to differ. ELISA AQUINO and PAT NABONG share how his love for books benefit other people.
There is an ancestral house on Balagtas street, seemingly built with books, and not bricks. The cracks on the exterior’s walls are hidden by the spines of paperbacks, and the stairs are lined with books that tower on the sides like banisters. The man who lives there, a particular Hernando Guanlao, digs through junkshops for makeshift shelves, and sometimes cycles around town with a basket filled with books. People call him “Manong Library” and “si Libro” and his house, “The Library on Balagtas Street.” The library started like a seed in 2000, with an estimate of 200 books from Guanlao’s personal collection. Because of his passion for serving his countrymen, he set up a free library in front of his ancestral house. What makes it
special is not its growing 500-book collection or its unconventional location in the middle of the bustling district, but its free 24/7 service. In fact, Mang Hernando encourages you to come as you are, and leave with a free book. In the hope of discovering the story--the man-behind such a selfless advocacy, we found ourselves on 1454 Balagtas Street, Makati, awestruck as we browsed hundreds of titles. A student was looking for research material, children who were reading looked up to smile at us, and at the end of the street was Hernando Guanlao, saying thank you to a family who came all the way from the South just to donate books. After introducing ourselves, the first thing he says is, “This is junk. There is nothing impressive about this.” Before we
â€œMahirap kasing gumawa ng libro. Hindi madaling magsulat. Hindi madaling mag-publish, mag-print. It takes a lot of hard work, suffering tapos itatago mo sa isang shelf sa bahay?â€?
could object, he gestures to the books, most of them wornout, hand-me-downs, torn at the edges, but he says, “I give life. My goal is to give life [through these books].” He believes in salvation---it is the same with books. Through his simple act of sharing, he liberates them. Across the street, we see a boat upside down. On top of it are several books, exposed under the afternoon sunshine. These books were not saved from the rain a few days ago, so now he dries each of the pages instead of throwing them away. “Eh basura na nga, nagawan ng paraan? Ayun pa, o, sa ilalim. Mahirap kasing gumawa ng libro. Hindi madaling magsulat. Hindi madaling mag-publish, mag-print. It takes a lot of hard work, suffering tapos itatago mo sa isang shelf sa bahay? ‘Di ba? Hindi dapat. You have to share. In giving, you receive. In giving more, you receive more. ‘Yun ang nangyari. …If the books can be liberated, more so ourselves.” Of course, one tends to wonder how all this started, and what prompted Mang Hernando to live a life of service. At first, one would think that he is an immense booklover, or a writer. He laughs, and quickly retorts that he is not. His passion runs deeper, and is rooted in an evangelical aspect— community service. For years now, he has strived to help others through different projects. He and his wife distributed free food to the less fortunate, but he realized that it wasn’t sustainable. He had hopes of spreading goodwill when he started a newsletter that featured everyday people and their heroic acts, but funding was scarce. He offered computer classes, but then realized that the need for it was less urgent. So he decided on what was readily available, and, more importantly, on what would impart knowledge that people will carry for the rest of their lives. We have only talked for a few minutes but we are already so in awe of this man. We see his heart. His intentions are pure---no traces of self-gratification whatsoever. His
eloquence is remarkable and most of all, his humility, inspirational. He offers us cups of coffee and we are taken aback by his goodness. He says that even if he is the one being interviewed, he would rather get to know us, his visitors. We continue to talk about the beginning of his library. “Parang pulitiko ang dating ng aklatang ito,” he says. Seeing our cameras, he uses photography as an example of how we influence other people. He uses books. We see how passionate he is for the community, his main concern being the Filipinos. From his small act of kindness and generosity, which evolved into this advocacy, where does he plan to go next? We are surprised by the answer he tells us, “Why add problem to the problem?” One of the most admirable things about Mang Hernando we will never forget is his humility. Amidst all his noble and compassionate acts, he does not take accountability for anything. He also does not seek for attention. He even tells us that as a human, he is flawed in so many ways. We really see how pure his heart is and his reasons for creating this advocacy, which has changed many, many lives. “Paano kung nandiyan na ang condominium mo, sasakyan mo? Everything is provided for you, paano ka pa matututo? Don’t surrender. Find a way…Simple lang naman yan, eh. Doing good work makes God happy. Eh wala naming mahirap talaga, eh. That summarizes my antidote in life.” After twelve years of his advocacy, the library finally gains its well-deserved prominence after its sudden recognition by the media. He believes that it is now time. Since the library’s rise in popularity, people have been asking him if they could imitate his advocacy and set up their own free library. With a humble smile he says, “Hindi [ko] naman karapatan bigyan sila ng permisong gumawa ng mabuti sa kapwa.” By all means, let the seed that he has planted grow, and take root in different places.
Disturbia What does it take to for a political satire, dystopian science-fiction, black comedy, and crime drama film become a cult classic? SARAH BUENDIA talks about how, and why you should watch Stanley Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.
If you’ve ever read Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, you would know that the first few pages would take you into a seemingly endless pit of struggle, both due to the manner that it is written, and the manner in which Alex, our main anti-hero, is designed as a character. I would therefore not put you into the same situation and use words such as droogs, baboochka and moloko, but would rather defend, in simpler terms, why this inconveniently structured genius of a book is worth reading and its Kubrick film adaptation, worth watching. Stanley Kubrick, a well-respected name in the industry where he worked, and Anthony Burgess, both had the same intention of delivering a set of questions inevitably faced by all, especially about the harsh journey towards grow-
ing up. And by growing up, we do not mean that awkward time in our lives where our voices deepen and we grow hair in inconvenient parts of our body – which is not to say it is not an equally difficult point in time – but the one wherein we begin to re-evaluate our morals and values to what we have come to believe is best for many. The book is divided into 21 chapters, which Burgess intentionally did to signify that 21 is more or less the age when that moment of enlightenment happens. But the story focuses on what happens before that: the ages we have come to know as the stages of exploration, experimentation, false perceptions, but most of all – that word we so often yearn and beg for: freedom.
A Clockwork Orange takes us into the life of Alex DeLarge, whom at first glance, we would not know whether to love or hate. Alex and his gang of four wreak havoc throughout their little town, and Burgess and Kubrick both exhibit the graphic and often gut-cringing scenes that involved torture, rape, and drug abuse. And how could anyone possibly learn to love this type of character? Maybe love is too strong of a word, and perhaps sympathy is a word that would suffice – but Alex, albeit in a twisted way, somehow earns it. He is cultured, having Beethoven’s 9th symphony as his favourite, or have, most of the time, logical or clever explanations – someone whom we all kind of want to be, ideally. But his choice of lifestyle leaves us baffled. How could anyone in this world be capable of doing such horrible things? Freedom. We may try to trace back and assume a tragic childhood, or speculate that he has been exposed to too much violence too early in life, which are both perfectly sound hypotheses. But it only leads to one explanation: because he is free. He recognizes that as a human being, he is entitled to his freedom. And this was how he chooses to spend it. Of course, a lot of us would frown upon this. We may even be outraged at how preposterous this looks like. But don’t worry; you’re free to think whatever it is you want to think, too. Fortunately for most of us, most governments, including that which Alex had to deal with, sides with our kind of freedom. It has then imposed rules on us, on what we can’t do, if we want as little violence going on as possible. So, well, (spoiler alert!) this is where Alex’s downfall begins. When the authorities catch him, he then faces the opportunity to be ‘corrected’ through a process that involved forcing an aversion towards violence. The correction later proves to be a success and Alex is then let out into the world a changed man – or so we thought. The rest of the story is Alex’s life on a battle between who he is and what he has been forced to become. You know, as they say, old habits die hard. But what if they have been murdered brutally and completely stolen from you? What happens to the space once occupied by them? As A Clockwork Orange suggests, it becomes a painful void – a hunger that twists your insides in ways you’ve never imagined. We now then begin to think of freedom as both a bless-
ing and a curse, just like many other things in this world. Nonetheless, it is an undeniable right. One which, whether we like it or not, rests completely on how we ourselves choose to exercise it. We may think of this on the most shallow and profound of ways. We may look at it in the manner in which our parents won’t allow us to go out on a Friday night, or how we can’t smoke weed, or how we can’t be gay. Of course, young one, you can. The question you should be worried about depends not on whether you can, because believe me again and again when I say that you definitely can, but on whether or not you are ready to face the consequences, especially with people around telling you that you may not. It takes maturity to perfectly understand this. As you probably know by now, maturity is not gained overnight. And maturity, at 21 or otherwise, is even a very subjective term. It may mean differently to a lot of people, but it is important to note that it is supposed to be a natural process. It takes experience, pain, living and learning to fully come into terms with a kind of philosophy one should apply to one’s life. Never, ever, by force. My spoiler ends here. Burgess and Kubrick have different takes on how it turns out for Alex. Burgess has even called Kubrick’s adaptation ‘badly flawed,’ and Kubrick of Burgess’s ending ‘never a consideration’. But they were free to do what they firmly believed in, in his book and in his film. And perhaps we have enough reason to think that both men are mature enough to back up their interpretations with sound explanations. And you, you may choose to agree with either of them, or you may have a completely different take of your own. Or you know, just don’t read or watch A Clockwork Orange because, why hassle yourself ? But you should know that if you take the last option, you suck as a human person and you do not have a place in this world. And if you ever feel the need to punch me for saying that, Go ahead. No one’s stopping you.
Girls Gone Wild In an era of Flower Power, burning bras, civil demonstrations, and the Vietnam War, what does it really mean to be called crazy? In times resounding of insanity, Susanna Kaysen chooses normalcy in her own terms and ends up in an all women’s mental ward for it. MAE PASCUAL takes us on Kaysen’s path to recovery, and self-discovery that she may be as every bit of crazy as the patients of Claymoore in James Mangold’s GIRL, INTERRUPTED.
There is no doubt that mental illness is something terrifyingly real that is to be taken seriously and with utmost care. But sometimes, what drives us ultimately to the brink of reason is the assumption that maybe there is something wrong, even when there isn’t at all. Take for instance Mangold’s 1999 film, Girl, Interrupted. A disconcerting take on a teenager’s stint inside a mental institution, here it’s seen that crossing the threshold of sanity to insanity may all just be in our heads. Set in the 1960s where the norm of the time was resoundingly crazy, protagonist Susanna Kaysen (played by Winona Ryder) is a botched suicide attempt, pushed by her overbearing parents to commit herself into upscale psychiatric institution, Claymoore. Here she meets the genuinely insane residents and eventually befriends some of them namely; Georgina (Clea DuVall), her roommate and a pathological liar, Polly (Elisabeth Moss), a disfigured burns victim who can’t accept her physical state and takes refuge in her own fantasy world, Daisy (Brittany Murphy), who was sexually abused and has a fetish for chickens, laxatives, and self harm, and charismatic sociopath Lisa (Angelina Jolie), who is a troublemaker and frequent escapee. As the film unfolds, we see Susanna become more and more engrossed in the reality she has construed for herself, convinced that she really is crazy when she isn’t as pointed to her by her supervising nurse Valerie (Whoopi Goldberg) who gives her this analysis: “You are a lazy, self-indulgent little girl who is driving yourself crazy”. She has seen how others befell the pressures of a system keen on judging others and its riveting effects and warns her to “not drop anchor” at Claymoore. Refusing her boyfriend’s offer to escape with him to Canada when he came to visit her, declining treatments, and shutting out her therapist and verbally abusing her nurse, Susanna chooses solidarity from the outside world. Unfazed over it all, she drinks up her freedom from outside societal pressure and becomes tangled up in the entertainment and troubles (particularly Lisa) she helps bring about on the inside of her walls. In particular, the Susanna-Lisa rapport takes on a more intense form to the point of Susanna falling into depression after Lisa is taken away to see a doctor. When she returns, they decide to break out of Claymoore, consequently leading to the suicide of recently released Daisy; landing Susanna back inside the asylum and the eventual escape of
Lisa who is later caught and returned. Their relationship takes a turn for the worse as Susanna eventually responds to her treatments and is set for release. Taking this as a personal betrayal, Lisa antagonizes and attacks her which ends in bitter confrontation with Susanna telling Lisa that she is dead as her heart is cold. This strikes something in Lisa and puts her on the path to recovery. The film ends with Susanna leaving the place, visiting Lisa one last time and making amends to the other girls, making for an anti-climatic, self-indulgent, and drawn-out conclusion, with the classic syndrome of films trying to tie loose ends and end things cleanly. Instead of subjecting itself to a thought-provoking stop, it lapses into melodrama, making you wish that the film had put a little more faith into its viewers. Mangold has taken it to himself to create a movie that takes itself too seriously—focusing on the confusion brought upon by conflicting personalities and the overdramatic and almost unrealistic garish confrontations between the characters—and not seriously as evidenced by the lack of addressing the treatments or lack thereof of the patients, as well as under-examining the interesting complex personas of the supporting cast. Exception to this of course is the portraytal of Lisa. Angelina Jolie brings to the plate such a passion and intensity to her role as a sociopath, enticing you to watch her every move on the screen. Despite this, she manages to give Lisa a humanity, a softer side underneath her rough and violent personality, that shows her acting prowess and skill, winning her an Oscar for the role. Another notable performance of course was that of Winona Ryder’s take on Susanna, lending the lead her trademark on projecting the character’s emotions and thoughts without seeming to. Her quiet energy blends perfectly with Jolie’s intensity which is quite a shame that the characters they portrayed were not given any fully substantial interaction to truly showcase their skill. It is commendable that Mangold has managed to make an asylum film not overpoweringly political in stand, a feat in itself; as well as make a movie that will certainly probe its viewers to some extent, although it is this fact that gives the film its weakness. Entertaining as it may be, Girl, Interrupted is just lacking in focus and clear direction, which leaves its audience confused and off-put, as if they just left Claymoore themselves.
Extremely Moving & Incredibly Uplifting The events of September 11 is highly investigated affair, the casualties, the country, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell. But what about what happened after the particular? ALVIN GREG MOLINA paints us that picture of a family after 9/11 in Stephen Daldry’s EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
Loss is a frightening word. There are some who don’t rapidly get well accustomed on losing someone, and probably we fall on that group of people. Sometimes, We’re not certain if we just don’t want to try to fathom the concept of loss; perhaps, it’s because we’re afraid of finding reasons and truths behind why some things need to come to an end and why some has to be gone. Truth can sometimes be really painful to accept. It’s easy to say to move on with life; but, moving on is not that easy that could only take you overnight, sometimes, it’s would take us months or even years to go through a process of what we call stages of grief. We go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and sometimes, we get stuck on that part. Stephen Daldry’s films usually have this warm feel approach and great story telling as dramatically seen in some of his critically acclaimed films like The Reader, The Hour, and Billy Elliot; but, in his film adaptation of Jonathan Zafran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, he made a different approach as the story in the film is being told almost entirely from the eyes of a child with autistic spectrum disorder, who has lost his affectionate father in 9/11 incident and is trying to come to terms with it by going on through an adventure, in the city of New York that, he thinks would stretch his 8 minutes with his father. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close seems to be one of those films that you’ll either completely love or totally hate (if you don’t try to fathom the deep sense of the movie). You first have to have long patience and understand that the protagonist of the story has an autistic spectrum disorder – which has a range of conditions that includes autisim, Asperger Syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder. Young Thomas Horn impeccably did an excellent job in portraying Oskar, an abrasive kid who is both precocious and socially awkward- though test results on Asperger’s syndrome turned out inconclusive. As a viewer you must understand that at times, kids with autistic spectrum disorder can sometimes be difficult to handle as they apparently act different from the usual kids. His performance was breath taking as he takes
you to an incredible journey to find where the key, inside an envelope with the last name “Black” scrawled on the front, he thinks his father, Thomas, (as played by Tom Hanks) one of elaborate puzzles that he used to concoct in order to force Oskar to interact with people. Oskar’s attempt to make sense of this event and his contacts to other characters in the film made it more moving. What is more remarkable in the film is Sandra Bullock’s performance as Linda which almost crushed my heart into pieces as she has shown how a mother could be so unconditionally affectionate despite the profoundly unlikable actions of her son, Oskar. Especially heartrending is Linda’s predicament- a scene where she breaks down from hearing Oskar say the words ‘I love you’ just outside the main door after he leaves in a huff is particularly touching. It may appear to be a story about 9/11 and such was the enormity of that event that it would be easy to suggest that this is just an excellently acted and well-crafted story about that day; but, I see that the film does more than use the 9/11 story. The film rather weaves to the tragedy into the story of lives of different people whom Oskar had encountered. It’s more than just losing someone on that very particular incident. Loss is indeed a frightening word because sometimes it would mean permanency and some things can never brought back again to you. It was in truth difficult for him as well as to his mother, Linda. But in the end, the film shows that no matter how hard it is to go through a process of grief, it’ll have to come to its final stage, acceptance. Daldry deserves praise for preserving both the poignancy and pathos of his source novel, delicately portraying both the effect of 9/11 on a sensitive boy and his family as well as that of the larger community around him. True that it would take some time to get to comprehend Oskar on his level, but the very fact that Daldry has retained the inherent eccentrics of his key character is the surest sign that this is not your typical maudlin 9/11 drama. Truly, it’s extremely moving and incredibly uplifting.
BOOKS Get Bossy or Embarrass-Yourself-‘til-You-Die Trying One of the funniest comediennes to have ever graced the planet, Tina Fey did not simply pop out of nowhere. ELISE MONTINOLA proves that Miss Fey still have ‘it’. Photo by Elise Montinola
In the year 2012, Tina Fey is far from an obscure figure. Her square glasses, brown shoulder-lengthened hair, and thin lips have shot straight out from her once-thought doomed mediocrity into instant synonymy with the words pop culture icon, girl power magnate, and person “better than Jesus.”i As the force that breathed fire into the contempo-classic Mean Girls, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update and the shining Sarah Palin, as well as 30 Rock’s neurotic Liz Lemon and her band of network TV crazies, she’s made being a nervous wreck of an adult-human an ironically cool statement; in that sense, I’d say that she’s earned her ubiquity quite well. Her first autobiographical foray, Bossypants, is a testament to this entitlement: her name appears ten font sizes bigger than the actual title, a branding she’s undoubtedly earned to milk for all its worth. Because the easiest thing gleaned from this book is that Tina Fey, with all her idiosyncrasies and flaws in tow, is a person who does all her own stunts, save for the hairy man-arms on the cover. Readers might find that each Bossypants chapter reads like a cross between a tempered but still enjoyable Sedarisarian essay and a non-obnoxious self help guide. These two aspects go hand-in-hand to produce literary success both
in theory (dulce et utile, said Horace ii) and in practice (its bestseller status, but really, its content specifics). At the heart of the miscellany is Fey using her off-beat but still relatable life experiences as quality advice dispensers. Advice, specifically, on how to sometimes claw but mostly stumble your way to becoming a true bossypants – that is, a frontrunner with the drive to kill, but with the EQ of a gooey marshmallow – and once there, how to deal with the pressure that comes with the teenage girl awkwardness that’s never left you. Specifically, you learn things extremely germane to living in this day and age, like: the right to feel comfortable in your own skin amidst a plethora of impossible categories for beautiful that need ticking off; that with great photoshopping skills, come great responsibility; how gay people are not your accessories; the sacred shared space of improvisation and the necessity to be open and generous in order to strike comedy gold, which could easily be translated into any kind of creative endeavor; how to deal with unsolicited advice and the impending judgment from your inevitable naysayers, and, most importantly, how to boss the pants off of any sort of team project by providing surprisingly fresh and simple but extremely sensible tactics in easily digestible anecdotal form.
Although she doesn’t go into the nitty gritty (like the story and the emotional aftermath behind the slash across her face) and although she smoothens over things with her white middleclass ease, Fey still manages to show that she’s the good kind of human, going over her experiences not only to mine them for their laugh value but to submit herself to some painful self-realizations. She puts herself out there, deconstructs herself for all to see, and though all only partially, stopping short of telling us of what her deepest insecurities and anxieties really do to her, does some wonderful things in her light read of a book. She mildly breaks down the wall of the heteronormative, showing her contempt not only for the roles women are expected to conform to, but for the entire man/woman divide. She gives light to the people she’s met along the way, those she’s liked and disliked, and even lets them all triumph as part of the collaborative effort that has led to her success. And she, effectively identifying herself with the rest of the Westernized population, makes the small things stand tall and, in effect, makes us small people stand tall, too. The greatest thing, after the
easiest thing, then gleaned from this book is that Tina Fey makes you realize that she’s playing her 100% self in all her roles and scripts, that she’s the real deal, that her words, though sometimes derivative, are true, meaty, and worthy of all the praise.
Before you fling your bibles at me, I’d like you to know that this is a Family Guy reference. And if Seth MacFarlane, misogynistic tool extraordinaire, went through lengths to have an animated Tina Fey, a woman famous for being a woman among men, say she’s better than Jesus must mean that she’s at least fit to be given honorary discipleship, mocking or not. ii. Horace said that good literature both teaches and delights. Quoting a renowned Roman lyric poetry and critic automatically renders your work intellectual. i.
Book Lovers Never Sleep Alone In 1986, the Philippines was bursting with grit and fervor to topple a dictator. Meanwhile, Primi Peregrino was scrutinizing the world through the dusty books she finds in the bookshelves of strange poets and interesting men. KARLA BERNARDO gives us a glimpse of this endless longing for words in Gina Apostol’s “Bibliolepsy.” Photo by Jelito de Leon
It’s hard to read something like Bibliolepsy and not suddenly want to hug all your books. Bibliolepsy – as defined by the novel’s protagonist herself – is “an endless logo-itch, desperately seeking, but it can’t get no satisfaction.” It is getting tangled up in a realm of words in which you only feel like you belong but not really a part of. It is finding comfort in utterances and pauses never heard, only punctuated. It means having a surplus of feelings and sentiments often only read about but not truly felt, leaving you with a rather dull, insipid taste in your mouth when they are said out loud. It is disarming to have to look at the world through Primi Peregrino’s eyes: she who was born from a comic-artist father and a taxidermist mother who both later threw themselves overboard a ship when Primi was eight, she who name-drops authors not because she can but it’s the only thing she knows, she who falls in love with places and pictures but not always the people in between. The first part of the book is not just an introduction, so to speak, but as a disclaimer: I am here, she seems to be saying, because this is what happened. And we listen. Because if there is anything that a bibliolept is good with, it is with words. No matter how convoluted and complex her life turned out to be, she never completely alienates us. At the end of the day, she is still just a girl trying to make sense of life through the books she has read and the words she found meaning in – don’t we all? – and ultimately, we feel for her. We sigh with her as she tumbles and plunges into affairs with men as complex as her heroes. Sometimes she gets a kiss and a poem written about her, other times a quote from a book she took a peek into, often just a lingering taste of beer and a vague memory of a night in her head. But she reveled every moment of adoration, of despair. She liked the feeling of being the one behind such stirred emotions. There was finally an understanding of what it was like to be the reason behind the scorn or the ardor (or both) – and it intoxicated her. Each of them, Somerset Chong, the brooding, frustrated anti-hero who liked to write about brooding, frustrated heroes; Domingo Cantero whose hands carried the gentleness of a whisper and blow of a betrayal; Vincent Sabado, the shy poet whose charm lies in his apparent rudeness, and all the others – they try to lay claim of each other and for a moment, truly believe it, until the morning breaks,
or the beer runs out, or the short story gets rejected. But this is not just Primi’s story. Somewhere, lurking in the background, in the realm outside her books, is the world she actually revolves in. Much of the novel is set during the height of Martial Law, when the country was just learning to face its own monsters just as much as Primi was. Massive demonstrations came one after the other, to the point where it no longer mattered what triggered what, as long as people were on the streets, threatening to upset the status quo with both dread and determination. It’s not just on the streets, however, that rebellion was waiting to erupt. It was there too on paper, on the poems and stories and novels they read and tried to write. In the midst of cigarette and coffee, Primi and the people she found herself with all wrestled with the dichotomy of being literature students who just wanted their work commended in workshops to artists who secretly longed for the recognition of a Palanca and of the bigger literary community. The frustration, the impatience, the wanting for affirmation – feelings that came into play because of a natural desire to grow up but also the circumstantial need to step up for a playing field larger than their books: society. The EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 is the catalyst that pushes Primi out of her comfort zone of apathy and isolation, into a society that is dying to feel, and yearning to break free. As she is thrust into the middle of the social effervescence by the very reasons that pushed her out of it, she realizes that the ultimate realization of love for the word is finding meaning in them not for what they literally say but for the events they stand for in our lives. It does not matter where you are exactly or what you did, as long as all the moments and the instances lead you to where you are supposed to be. It is up to us to bring in the meaning to the places, to the people. We make the signs. We create the moments. We write the story of our generation according to how we see fit. When we stop seeing ourselves as just readers and realize that we too are the characters, then the entire narrative moves along. The plot can only take us so far, but once we’re there, it’s up to us to make it happen. Pretty much like what our Lit professors always taught us: read, then write. There really isn’t anything to stop us.
The Road Less Traveled To understand JACK KEROUAC’Smagnum opus, ON THE ROAD, one must first understand the circumstances under which it was written and how. PAT NABONG takes us down that road.
There’s a reason why Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is a classic. Other than the legendary story about how it was written—Kerouac, high on Benzedrine as he typed an unpunctuated, 125,000-word novel in the span of 3 weeks—On the Road practically fathered a whole new culture: the freespirited, experimental, and underground beat generation of the 1950s. If you’re expecting a story about a man who drives from the broadway shows of New York to the casinos of Las Vegas, or two friends who stay in one luxurious hotel to another, you won’t find it in this book. It’s actually quite the opposite. On the Road is about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady’s search for ‘it’ as they drove (and sometimes hitch hiked) across America, several times, from East to West, and finally down South towards Mexico, where he found the “magic at the end of the road.” It’s about friendship as much as it is about two men who knew no other life, but life on the move, life spent indefinitely on the road, meeting strangers, falling in love with them, and “mixing up their souls until it was terribly hard to say goodbye.” Given by the way he wrote it, On the Road is practically a big block of text divided into a few hundred pages. There is little attention to grammar and neither is there a lot of coherence in the way the sentences were constructed. Admittedly, if you were reading it in a bus full of people, the passengers’ incessant chattering and the sound of outside traffic would mix with Kerouac’s stream of consciousness and you’d probably end up confused and frustrated. But if you concentrated enough to focus on his words, or if you were reading it in a silent room, you’d follow his train of thought and find yourself close to chanting the sentences in a sort of rhythm, like reciting a poem you can
snap your fingers to. In terms of writing style and pacing, it would often seem like there was no point to it, as if he was going around in circles, pointlessly describing everything he saw. However, this style was justified by the context of the story, which is the essence of traveling for Kerouac—you go around in circles until you find the meaning Kerouac wants you to understand. The book, for the most parts, has the tendency to drag on and on without and end in sight nor a point, but then once in a while you will find a meaningful phrase in a sentence and with that, the book is alive again, as if you’ve found a metaphorical “magic at the end of the road,” as Kerouac would call it. More important than the technicalities of his prose, On the Road’s poignancy draws from the feeling one gets from reading it. Kerouac’s stream of consciousness and his free flowing writing bring the reader closer to his thoughts. In effect, the rawness and honesty of the original scroll makes the book more spontaneous, alive. It diverts one off the road of glamorous and materialistic traveling and instead places the reader along a path of finding serenity- and oneself- amidst poverty and the unfamiliar. Compared to Kerouac’s other works such as Maggie Cassidy and Lonesome Traveler, On the Road is one of his more readable books, but if you’re looking for a story that epitomizes Freytag’s triangle, or a novel that will make sense from beginning to end, you won’t find it in in this book because, well, the road is never straight. It relies more on the emotion one gets from reading it rather than on flawless literary structure. But to the wanderlusters who seek for passion, madness, and adventure, be sure to save some space in your luggage for this book.
All Ombre-d Up! It is not difficult to recognize an Ombre hair when you see one: with its contrasting colors, it simply stands out. And it to do an Ombre hair yourself is just as easy. CHIARA GARCIA shows you how. Illustration by MARELLA RICKETTS
How comforting it is to know that achieving the growing ombré fad is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Generally, it’s the pre-planning and deciding that is more tedious, so you don’t have to fret! As the typical shade of ombrés would involve blacks, browns, reds and blondes, all you need are a bleaching kit and the sincere fancy to stunningly stand out! • Before anything else, research, research, and research! I cannot stress this enough. The effects of bleaching can vary from person to person, depending on your hair type and color. • Slow down, princess! Sadly, you can’t achieve a blonde right away! It can take you about 3 to 4 bleach treatments in order to get that pale, platinum blonde shade. • For Asians or anyone with naturally black or dark brown hair, your hair will first turn from black to brown, red, orange, brown, yellow, and finally to pale blonde!
• To define the term bleach: It is a chemical process used to lighten the hair. In detail, it is the process of stripping hair of its natural oils and color, leaving it brighter and lighter. • In order to reach your ideal ombré look, it is better to have your hair personally treated, especially in the Philippines, for salons are not yet commonly familiar with ombrés. Settle for less drama by avoiding failed ombré expectations! Have a friend come over and do it for you! But then again, go back to Information 1! • Bleaching kits, bleaching kits, where art thou bleaching kits! Don’t worry; they’re usually available at any beauty or cosmetic shops. In the Philippines, why not visit your local HBC stores? Too busy to look for one? I could have bleaching kits sent right at your doorstep for only 400 pesos each, inclusive of shipping fees!
• Bleach treatments are also a must if you want a colored ombré! I heard that the best and safest colored hair dyes are being produced by Manic Panic! Check them out! • Take note! Bleaching will always leave hair stiff, dry, and brittle. This makes it important to condition and moisturize bleached hair often to maintain the hair’s soft texture despite its dryness. A Few Tips! • Do a strand test before bleaching your hair. Not only will you learn how much time you will need to bleach your hair to desired color, you will also find out if your hair is strong enough for bleaching. • Do a skin test to check for allergies by applying a small amount of the bleach onto your skin and wait for a few minutes. If the skin does not get itchy or turn red, you’re good to go. If it does become irritated, don’t even think of applying it onto any part of your body Prepare Prepare! • Small plastic mixing bowl. Metallic bowls are a no no, for they may react with the oxidizing lotion. Use only plastic ones! • Plastic/rubber gloves. For protecting those lovely hands! And to be extra careful. • Hair bleach powder. The ultimate tool! • Oxidizing lotion/ Color developer. For target hair colors lighter than brown, it’s proven that it’s best to use a 12% or 40 vol developer! Ready? Set? Ombré! • Prepare yourself. Wash your hair with shampoo, then condition it lightly. Wear your chosen most unwanted tee (make sure it covers your whole back! If not, try covering it with another piece of cloth or apron!) from your closet just in case there would be accidental spillage! • Prepare the hair bleaching mixture. Put the bleach powder into the plastic bowl, then mix in an equal portion of the
developer into the powder. Blend the mixture until it forms a smooth, creamy consistency. Not too watery, not to powdery! • There are many ways you could have your ombré done. You could have it straight, have the color flow lower from inside out, or have it flow higher from outside in—it’s your call, really. I’d say it’s better to bleach your hair entirely so that you could see the flow of the color easily. Now this part’s for your friend! • Place all the hair behind your friend’s back and brush it as to make sure there aren’t any strands locked together. • Using the application brush, apply the bleach mixture in hair, according to the instructions of your friend. Make sure you apply bleach equally within the inner strands as well. • Leave the bleach to process for about thirty minutes, but do a visual check every 10 minutes until desired hair color is reached. • Assuming blonde hair is the goal: when you see that the processing hair is turning orangey-yellow, you can stop and rinse the hair with shampoo and conditioner. Although take note, this wouldn’t be pale blonde on the first bleaching. Always remember to be careful about over-processing your hair. This may cause your hair to become excessively dry and brittle. But when in doubt, leave it to a salon professional to do hair bleaching for you. Do not hesitate being the boss you need to be by giving them exact instructions though! Nonetheless, enjoy the world of ombrés where random stares but sweet compliments will always come your way! More questions? A tad more hesitations? Want to avail of the bleaching-kits-right-at-your-doorstep? Want me to do your ombré? Want to learn how to temporarily ombre your hair? Feel free to send in all of those ideas, doubts, comments, or queries through my e-mail: chiaratopia@gmail. com!
Due to popular demand, we have incoporated men’s fashion in this month’s Style Guide. Fashion Editor ECKS ABITONA picks her top designers for men’s wear this season. They have all sorts of stuff from tailored, to printed, to.... space suits? Photos from STYLE.COM
Alexander McQueen We’ve always grown accustomed to the avant garde flavor that Alexander McQueen puts on the table but this season’s looks are more traditional than daring. We wanted to make this collection more graphic,” said Sarah Burton, currently the creative director of the brand, “More real.” Indeed, this was different than the past seasons but this doesn’t mean that this makes the menswear any less distinguishable. Although the motif from the resort collection was still evident, there was still a new, more relaxed feeling to the whole collection. The doublebreasted blazer looked stunning, the flesh-toned leather was just genius, and color palette is soothing but a stand out. One might say that the collection is boring if theatrical is your classification of good fashion. I say that stepping out of their comfort zone upholds that McQueen is more extensive than we realized.
40 /Style Guide
Burberry Prorsum The “Come Rain or Shine” collection was definitely more on the shine side than the other. Burberry said goodbye to natural-toned waterproofs and made way to metallic menswear pieces on what looked like futuristic Englishmen that filled the runway as the Milanese sun illuminated and glinted off Christopher Bailey’s creation. The color palette is said to be influenced by one of Bailey’s favorite artists—David Hockney—while the collection’s hand-drawn geometric prints were inspired by the Bloomsbury Group specifically the work of the painter Duncan Grant. The show began with this season’s talk, metallic silk in colors of purple, green, fuschia, and orange. It was a fun 80’s prep collection with a touch of gloss. Despite the questionable trend, Burberry will always provide something for everyone, from short-sleeved shirts and trousers of metallic fabrics to conservative pieces like the classic raincoats, oversized parkas and old- fashioned tweeds. Burberry needed that electric pop risk and it was beautifully executed by the visionary Christopher Bailey, proving that Burberry is without a doubt still in good hands.
Dolce and Gabbana We were taken further back to Domenico Dolce’s Sicilian roots with the impression of their SS 2013 collection at Milan just a few days ago. Everything felt fruity, resonant and refreshing. “We wanted to put our clothes on real men because fashion should be for real people.” Stefano Gabbana said, speaking to reporters ahead of the show. This meant the Italian design giants called on male models from 12-43 years of age of whatever profession who were suitably proud for this opportunity. The men of Sicily walked the runway to the accompaniment of a Sicilian folk band that played a tarantella. The models showed indisputably the fashion for the streets and not just on the stage thus showing acknowledgment not only to Sicily, but its citizens. The Spring/Summer collection is predominantly about stripes in all sorts of patterns and powerful color schemes ranging from nautical blue, white, Parisian red and earthy coral. Everything was accessorized with traditional leather Sicilian oxfords, fisherman’s sandals and overnight bags. It wasn’t just the striped cotton shirts, colorful jackets with prints of knights and solar designs and celestial patterns and the very Hawaiian prints that made everything feel so genuine. It was because, given the season at hand, everything just spoke of summer drawing that desire for the sun in your eyes and sand between your toes.
42 /Style Guide
The software industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and competition is tight like prom night. With hundreds of thousands of apps in the market today, how does one know which ones matter and which ones don’t? Fangirls MAINE MANALANSAN, ELLIE CENTENO, and PAT NABONG tap into their iPhones, quite literally, and share their favorite apps—and explain why they’re worth the MBs.
LIFELOGGER by Maine Manalansan Annual projects like 100 movies a year are very hard to keep track and Lifelogger makes it easier. With every input, you can customize the date, add notes or even add cover photos if you’re really OC about it.
PATH by Pat Nabong Path, a social media app created exclusively for iPhone and Android users, combines the different elements of social media applications like Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. Living up to its namesake, the application’s goal is to document and share the path of one’s life, may it be through music, photos, or words.
SCATTERBRAIN by Ellie Centeno If different thoughts and ideas tend to dart through your brain from various crevices, taking note of each one can help you keep track – this is where ScatterBrain enters the picture. The interface is very quirky, with its ability to let you change the colors of the text and the like – all designed to make note-taking more fun.
SOUNDHOUND by Ellie Centeno Soundhound is a music recognition app with concise song and artist technology that won’t leave you feeling a wee bit ignorant the next time an amazing song you don’t know the title of starts playing on the radio or in the background of your favorite clothing store. ‘STACHE BASH by Maine Manalansan Ever wondered how you would look like with a mustache? Then fret no more, here comes another useless but fun app: ‘Stache Bash. You can select from a variety of ‘staches (from old school to chinese to bushy-redneck) and apply it on your photos. Now you can take portraits like a sir!
FAU Photography |
Styling | H&M | Maura
Model | Bru
UNE Koji Arboleda
ra Isabel Rodriguez
Photographed by: Patrick Guillermo & Jelito de Leon // Model: Tanya Ona // Producer: Carlo P
Pensotes // Special Thanks to: Ryan Melgar
ROADSIGNS literary on the road by grace de luna
THREE SIX FIVE
PILAR PEDROSA PILAR is a lot of things: writer, blogger, artist, a girl, a woman, but above all things, she is her own person. SAMIE BETIA and JARED CARL MILLAN peel the onion that is Pilar, one layer at a time. Photos by PAT NABONG.
On the day I first saw Pilar in flesh, even before she and I exchanged words, the first thing that caught my eye was what she was wearing: a tank top, skinny jeans, ombre-dyed hair let loose, tattoos peeking out of her clothes. Immediately I knew that she was more than what meets the eye. Like writers, all writers, we each have our own reasons for writing. It may or may not be immediately evident in what we write but it is there—if you know how to look and where. In a generation where everything is an instant, where we are forced whether or not we like it to move along and move fast it is easy to lose track of even the most basic things, the little things: the clear blue sky, a favorite song on the radio, the pitter-patter with which the rain comes. And it is not easy to recognize these things even as we deliberately decide to. This is one of the many reasons why Pilar writes. She does not write about things that could happen or would happen; she writes about the things that has already happened and are happening; she does not wait for the narrative come to her; she creates the narrative, herself, out of the little things. “I want to live as
many of my days as riveting as possible. Everyday, I try to find a story, a scene, an experience worth talking about.” She is a note-taker, an observer, a collection of details. She tells stories that have no definite beginnings or ends. Everything stars in the middle of something, and the reader becomes part of the paragraph, as if to say: “I am also here. I write like a diarist, a memoir-keeper.” Before Pilar started to write, she was first a painter, a term used in this context very loosely; she had ever been exceptional at it. The water did not flow enough, the leaves not green enough, painting simply wasn’t enough. Frustrated that she could not paint, or at least paint what she wanted to paint, she focused on some other way to express whatever it is that needed expressing. Eventually she finally found the right paintbrushes and colors with which to paint: words. And it was a match made in heaven. Instead of trying to paint what she had in mind, she began “writing down how I wanted my paintings to turn out, and I found [that writing is] much easier to accomplish.”
Pilar keeps a daily blog she calls “Three-Six-Five,” the concept of which she tries to make as original as possible by avoiding the cookie cutter 365 project; she does not simply post pictures. What she does instead is she tries to write as much as possible, to motivate herself and to sharpen her craft. She has an instinct for reality and precision, which is evident in the way she tries to record everything that ever happens in her life. She wants to be able to keep a clear timeline of her life, to remember exactly where which event happened and where and what she was feeling then, who she was with. Through quick Three-Six-Five entries, she wishes to offer her readers short entries that will linger a little longer. This way, the reader is just as much part of ThreeSix-Five as she is. After reading an entry, the readers will look at their day and find something worth retelling, as well. Which is ironic because when Pilar started writing, only selected amount of people is given access to everything she has put up on her blog. Writing is at once both personal and social act; you write always for an audience,
whether you are writing for yourself or for a crowd. And writing only achieves its legitimacy when one builds up the courage to share it to somebody else. Pilar found this courage soon enough. “No more hiding,” She tells herself, and true enough, “it has been liberating. I feel like I’m truer to myself because there is nothing I wish to conceal or coat over.” There are three hundred and sixty five days in a year. “Make them count,” Pilar says. “Then note them down.” It is a way of mapping one’s self and inadvertently the people you meet. You can always come back to them days, weeks, years later, and you can read back and smile or shudder or sigh with the realization that you have moved forward since then, but there will always be a portal from then to now that you can always pass through. Follow the pages of Pilar Pedrosa Pilar’s life on her LiveJournal (Meet My Tommy Gun), Twitter (@dearpilar), and/ or Tumblr (itouchtouchthings). Pilar’s tattoos are from Dyun Depasupil of 55tinta.
“I am also here. I write like a diarist, a memoir-keeper.”
A POET WITH A CAUSE For ANDREA GIBSON, performing her poems live is more than just about taking the stage. ELLIE CENTENO and MARIELLE MISULA find out how her poetry speaks out the issues that deserve everyoneâ€™s attention. Photo from ANDREA GIBSON.
In the world of modern literature, slam poetry and the name Andrea Gibson have grown to become synonymous over the past years. Having been performing poetry for twelve years and writing ever since she could hold a pencil, all the while receiving awards from different bodies and organizations, Andrea has been one of the very few writers who have made an impact as big as she has in the world of poetry, both spoken and written. With most of her poems focused mainly on social issues such as capitalism, patriarchy, bullying, heterosexism, gender norms and white privileges, she writes with a personal touch and with genuine emotion. “For example, if I’m speaking about war, I might step into a poem with a description of my cousin’s flight home from Afghanistan. I’m personally not moved by poetry in which the writer is not emotionally present in the piece,” she exclaims. She is a firm advocate for social change, and says that her poems “are focused on compassion and taking responsibility for creating a world that is kind.” She adds, “It is the everyday moment of waking up and paying heart-rooted attention to how much destruction there is in the world and deciding every day that the only way to change that is to create.” Andrea believes that people’s minds are not easily changed, but people’s hearts are, and tries to make everything that she comes up with reach the pulses of the listeners. Having taken up creative writing in St. John Maine College, and discovered spoken word poetry in a weekly poetry slam in Denver, Colorado, Andrea writes and performs with such intensity and such passion that
it’s difficult to contain yourself from being moved to tears in her presence. When asked about her ironic fear of performing in front of an audience, she says, “In spite of my stage fright, the stage is where I feel most alive. I started doing poetry slams because I love poetry and I knew my poems were written to be spoken out loud and slam was the one place that handed me a mic and said, ‘go for it.’” Since then, she has already released five spoken poetry albums including Bullets and Windchimes (2003), Swarm (2004), When the Bough Breaks (2006), Yellowbird (2009) and Flower Boy (2011) with Yellow Bird incorporating music and song in each poem. “I started incorporating music because I have so many friends who are incredible musicians; and I was really wanting the opportunity to collaborate artistically with people. It just generally has created a more inspiring artistic creative process for me. I always write to music, and nearly every time I read a poem on stage I have the song I wrote the poem to humming in my chest,” Andrea professes She has also released six books on her syndicated poems with her latest entitled The Madness Vase in 2011. She self-published four books: Trees That Grow in Cemeteries, Yellow Bird, What the Yarn Knows of Sweaters and Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns. Andrea Gibson is now currently working on a new album that showcases entirely love poems and collaborations with a bunch of amazing musicians. WEB: www.andreagibson.org; CDs & MERCH: www.indiemerch.com/andreagibson
TYLER KNOTT GREGSON
TYLER KNOTT GREGSON is a staple when it comes to who to follow on the internet. ELLIE CENTENO learns more about his secret to making great haikus and what he’s doing on the side. Photo from TYLER KNOTT GREGSON.
If you have acquainted yourself with Tumblr long enough, you might have stumbled upon a number of his works being reblogged by the people you follow. You might have seen a haiku that says, “I am a puzzle / Hidden in a dusty box / Missing your pieces” and was immediately swept away. Tyler Knott Gregson knows how to tug the heart strings; he exposes the raw human emotions, serves it to you on a hot plate on a daily basis and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Recalling his first ever memory of writing, he says, “I believe the very first time I ever sat down and wrote, for me and no one else, was when I was twelve. I remember I wrote about a candle in a dark room, and the way the candle was painting the shadows of two people on the wall behind it; and about how the breeze was making the shadows dance.” Tyler had graduated with degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Criminology with a minor in Religious Studies but all the while felt like nothing appealed to him more than writing. He confesses that he pulls inspiration from everything; that he’s always felt like he’s madly in love with the world around him. He writes mostly about love, believing that it’s the most important force on the planet. “It’s what moves things, keeps the clock ticking, as it were. So many people will disagree and argue that, but for me, it’s the reason we are all here,” he adds. Other than writing about the human emotions, he exclaims, “I like to write about so many things. Life. Nature. Things that grow, things that breathe. Big questions that probably have no answers. Little questions that probably are the answers.
Everything. I am so fascinated by what it is to be alive. So very fascinated.” With a project called ‘Daily Haiku’ wherein he writes haikus about love every day, it’s quite difficult to imagine how he never seems to run out of ideas and new material and keep himself from recycling old pieces. He pays attention to the smallest things; the tiny moments, the life-altering ones and everything in between. He never forgets that every day, we are presented with 24 hours worth of new things to pull inspiration from. “I just try to keep my eyes open for all the little breaths that I’m afraid get forgotten too easily,” he tells Stache. When asked what he’d tell writers who are stuck in a rut, writers who are uninspired, writers who don’t have fresh ideas, he says, “Just write. Write write write. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, or why, just write. Get your fingers used to the sensation of pouring out words, even if it’s just your name 10,000 times, and before you know it, each word of your name will be replaced by another word, and those words will spawn new ones. Write until writing is second nature and the words will come. They always come.” Other than writing, Tyler Knott Gregson keeps himself busy with his photography company called Treehouse Photography. He proudly exclaims that he loves both photography and writing, and hopes that it shows in the art that he creates; and it does, it really does. WRITING: http://TylerKnott.com; PHOTOGRAPHY: http://flickr. com/photos/tylerknott
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THE SPOKEN WORD OF SHANE KOYCZAN
JARED CARL MILLAN talks to one of the most successful spoken word artists today, and discusses how SHANE KOYCZAN got to where he is now. Photos by JHAYNE HOLMES.
“It’s sometimes easier to admire a written character than it is to care for a real person. Often it’s [the] written characters that people want to believe they’re like,” Shane says. “Books never judged me.”
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To appreciate Shane Koyczan one must first understand the genre in which he performs: Spoken Word. Unlike traditional poetry, where the words are intended only to be on the page and whose words may or may not be read out loud, spoken word is simply just that: it is spoken, and it has to be for t to work. A performance art that combines the elements of storytelling, monologue theatre, and post-modern performance, spoken word is sometimes accompanied by music, and inexorably the music becomes an important part of the act. The message of a spoken word poetry relies not solely on the reader’s interpretation of it or what the words say in its bare bones, the way most poems are understood; spoken word utilizes the speaker’s method of delivery, his energy, his voice, his intonation, his rhythm, the way his voice booms and the way it softens, they are all part of the equation. And to witness Shane Koyczan perform is to see all those things work simultaneously, in harmony to his spoken word. Shane Koyczan is one of the most accomplished spoken word artists today, and one of the most impressive: He was the first poet outside United States to have won the prestigious USA National Individual Poetry Slam; he founded the spoken word “talk rock trio” Tons of Fun University (T.O.F.U.); he has housed well-received performances across the globe (from amphitheaters to respected music and literary festivals to university theatres); he performed at the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Vancouver International Writers Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the 2007 Canada Day Celebrations in Ottawa, where he opened for Fiest; and he has published two successful books. One of perhaps his greatest performances in recent years was during the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, in which he paid homage to his home country of Canada with “We Are More,” with which he brought the 55,000-seat house to their collective feet. But before he achieved all of this, Shane was first an awkward teenager. “Young Shane was a bad Catholic,” Shane says. “The old Shane is a great atheist.” He was unpopular in
high school, refused to join into conversations, and on the instances in which he was required to speak, his replies will be coming from a list he had made of prepared responses for questions and conversations. He thought that if he said some random stuff, people would leave him alone. Severely bullied growing up, and having had a difficult time coping with a learning disorder, he avoided people. Books has always been Shane’s friends, and found it easier to immerse himself in the printed word, with fictional people instead of real ones. “It’s sometimes easier to admire a written character than it is to care for a real person. Often it’s [the] written characters that people want to believe they’re like,” Shane says. “Books never judged me.” After high school, he pursued a creative writing degree at the now defunct Okanagan University College in Penticton, B.C. “I was fortunate enough to have two great [professors] who got me away from writing truly awful books that I would never ever finish. One of the most important things I learned was to follow through,” Shane recalls of his time at OUC. “It applies to so many aspects of my life.” Nancy Holmes, Shane’s then creative writing instructor, was one of those professors. She suggested that he “set aside fiction and try his hand at poetry.” It was a match made in heaven; Shane soon started a poetry night at a café with his friend Matt Bowen. After he graduated and moved to Vancouver, Shane continued to hone his craft and performed at open mic nights and poetry competitions. Surely enough he found his own voice and performance style, at home, with the help of his cat. “I’d perform for the cat, and if the cat’s eyes got wider, I knew I was doing something crazy. Or if it started looking really scared, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll back it down a bit.’” Shane’s career skyrocketed after he won the title at the National Poetry Slam in Providence, Rhode Island, in which he competed against 250 North American competitors, and became the first-ever winner from outside the U.S.
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“It doesn’t matter why I was there, where the air is sterile and the sheets sting. It doesn’t matter that I was hooked up to this thing that buzzed and beeped every time my heart leaped like a man who’s faith tells him God’s hands are big enough to catch an airplane, or a world. It doesn’t matter that I was curled up like a fist protesting death, or that every breath was either hard labour or hard time, or that I’m either always too hot or too cold.” Those are the opening lines of Shane’s piece called “The Crickets Have Arthritis,” the first of his many pieces that I was acquainted with. And like his other performances, his performance of “The Crickets have Arthritis” that I saw one afternoon at the office was at once both comic and tragic, intelligent and absurd, sending everyone who was listening to him into a rollercoaster of tears and laughter and back again, assigning his social commentary their proper weight. His performances have about them a flawless precision and impressive delivery, with his similes and metaphors and rapid successions of images imprinted in the minds of those who hear him. That is Shane Koyczan, the spoken word artist. But what about Shane Koyczan, the writer? After all, before one becomes a poet, one is first a writer. Before Shane makes his words work out of the page, he first has to make his words work on the page—the alliterations, the rhymes, the meters. “It then follows that if a poem is working on the page, it is sounding good in the reader’s head and should, accordingly, sound even better coming from the poet’s mouth,” says Amy Brown, one of the many people
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who has seen Shane perform in New Zealand. Shane Koyczan, the writer, does not know much, or anything at all, about the Fifty Shades Trilogy, but he is familiar with Twilight Saga and why it is popular. “People are idiots,” He jokes. “A lot of young new readers were hungry for something after Harry Potter ended, [and] many of the people who read Twilight are at an age where they’re fumbling with their own romantic experiences.” Shane, the writer, likes both the physical book and the e-readers. On his very long list of favorite writers and poets, those who take the top spots are: Tom Wayman, Sherman Alexie, Jeanette Winterson, Ivan Coyote, John Kennedy Toole, Richard Adams, Roald Dahl. He gets easily attached to the words he writes, which makes the editing process a grueling experience. He is forced to “hack and slash to make it right. Sometimes there are lines that I love that I’m forced to let go because the piece is stronger without it.” Joan Didion once said that “writing never gets any easier. You’re always flying blind.” When we asked him if that was true for him, he said he wasn’t sure. “Flying blind might not be so bad.” He says. “Landing blind would be more challenging.” As for his creative process, he doesn’t have any. Some days he writes for five minutes, some days he writes for five hours. The key is never to force your writing, because forced writing reads like forced writing, and who wants to read that? If you ask him why he writes, he will tell you that one’s best feature is not always something physical. And writing definitely shows off his best feature.
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“Flying blind might not be so bad.” He says. “Landing blind would be more challenging.”
Skills, talent, vision and knowledge about the field is necessary to become an Art Director. SAMIE BETIA welcomes GAB BUSTOS in the team by showing off his qualifications.
I had the fortunate chance to interview Gab Bustos, the newly selected Art Director for Stache Magazine. He currently studies in the College of Fine Arts, Majoring in Painting at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. At a first glance, you can tell that Gab is an artist at heart. His shipshape, semi- formal, yet trendy style of dress as well as the eye catching tattoos on his arm, which some, he sketched himself, prove his evident knack in the line of the arts. His creativity peeks right through, the moment you get to know him. At some point within the duration of the interview process, he’d be seen doodling on his personal sketchpad with illustrations that have a unique way of telling a story, which gives depth and major significance in this literary issue. Q: What is it about art that made you want to pursue it as a career? Are there any personal experiences that drew you close to it? A: Basically, art has been around my family ever since I was a child. My mother and my sister also enjoyed the creative exercise. Also, the family work which is closely related to interior designing. I started out the moment my cousin taught me how to draw. I guess art was always my medium of expression. I convey my feelings and the things I think about through drawing and painting. I knew that this was something I love. Q: Do you have a particular style with regard to the works you create? Is there a distinct quality in each design?
flux of different types of art. However, the types I’m really drawn close to are Surrealism and Minimalism. Q: What inspires you to continue painting? Are there any significant artists you look up to? Who would they be? A: Yeah, I look up to a lot. My personal favorite would be James Jean because of the Surrealism type of art. But if I were to name one significant artist, it would be my cousin, Gel Jamlang. She is the artist I’ve looked up to ever since I was a little kid. And apart from the many things that she had taught me, she taught me how to live life as an artist. You can get inspiration from everyone around you, and you can never say that you’re the best. Another artist that I look up to once told me, “As an artist, you should always have the attitude of a beginner.” I have a lot to learn. In fact, we always have a lot to learn. Just apply knowledge and gain inspiration from all around you. May it be significant persons, the environment, or even a certain feeling. Q: How does your creative usually go? Do you have a particular routine? A: I am a man with a lot of plans. I’m also known to be very “OC”. I usually have a line of thoughts, ideas, and schemes in my head. When I paint, I make sure that I paint with meaning. At times there are concepts I made up in my head to paint or to draw, but there are cases wherein the moment I paint, something really different comes out. I guess it just flows naturally regardless of what one may think at the moment.
A: I’d have to say that I don’t really have a definite or fixed style in the works I create. I just love to mix and match in-
Q: How has your practice in creating art changed over time? Did the style or manner change at some point?
your life, as to engaging yourself in the world of art. Why so?
A: Sometimes, when I look back at my previous paintings and sketches, I notice the changes that are apparent overtime. Though, the changes don’t really affect my manner of creating art. I guess it’s because you never really notice it until you look back. As you grow, learn, and explore, the “style” grows along with you. I create based on what I see, and exposure to new artists and genres are also factors of this growth.
A: I’d have to say that I’m not really good at expressing myself through words and speech - I’ve always been a frustrated writer. Imagery has become my artillery when it comes to expressing my thoughts, my feelings, and more so, myself. Art is my escape and tool for freedom to showcase what my thoughts wander about as well as inspiration I get from other factors that affect me as a person.
Q: When do you find yourself “inspired” to create art? Are there particular moments or times that motivate you to work? A: Inspiration, well it’s something I think of everyday. Sometimes there are specific days wherein I’m “juiced up”. This feeling doesn’t come as often and you can’t really force yourself to be pumped up to actually do something. You’ll be able to work if you get up and actually make the effort of creating or finishing what you started. Art won’t come to life if you don’t move. Q: Describe a situation that created a huge impact in
Q: Lastly, what would be your dream project? Why choose this? A: In the future, I would absolutely love to try loads of different things. My art isn’t just limited to painting and sketching. I’ve always seen myself as an artist, and I’ve always engaged myself in different fields of art. I personally want to get into Industrial Design because I feel like this is the perfect ‘center’ for my craft. Someday, I’d like to start my own brand where I can fuse the world of Fine Arts – where I can fuse my art and myself - into everyday lives with everyday things. But then again, it doesn’t end there. Gab’s porftolio and site are still on the works, but you can most definitely catch Gab Bustos’s art by following him on Instagram: @gabonthecoast
EVENTS Dope MNL
Contributing photographer JAMES GRR shows us what went down during POPFEST: Dr. Martens x Dope MNL.
PLACE YOUR AD HERE
Huling Habilin ng Inosente by Jansen MuA Myth Modernized by Nile Villa Arabian Nights by Mel Kasingsing Lingering by John Alexis Balaguer
Huling Habilin ng Inosente by Jansen Musico
In less than twenty-four hours, he would be a goner. There was no use in treating him as if he were alive. I had made up my mind. He was a dead man, a dead man who had singled me out. He had requested for my company, a wish I wouldn’t have granted if it wasn’t for the circumstances. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. There aren’t many men who are given the privilege of the death sentence. He was one of them, and I was the only journalist he chose to talk to. There were news vans stationed outside, each with a set of cameramen and reporters all scowling at me as I walked past. Even my own cameraman looked at me with contempt. He wasn’t allowed to go in. But it wasn’t for that reason he despised me. It was because I was about to sit with him, the man convicted of slaughtering a family in their sleep. I was to dine with him. I was to share in his final feast. It was a sickening thought, considering he was accused of eating his victims’ brains. My stomach started turning inside out. They had frisked me, emptied my pockets, and let me walk through a metal detector. I was clean. I had no intention of breaking him out. I had no intention of doing him any harm, not that I didn’t want to. They assigned me an escort, and we made our way. Bilibid was nothing that I had expected. It was not the hell I had imagined it to be. Hell would have been fiery. It would have had rapists castrated. It would have had thieves hanging on roofs by their hands. It would have had murderers dragged by cars on gravel. This place was more humane than hell. This place was still paradise. It had concrete roads, basketball courts, galleries, and even a mini hospital. This wasn’t where evil men perished. This was a haven, although second-class. Evil men did not deserve this. My escort had guided me through a set of narrow walkways, all of which were lined with dozens of tiny concrete buildings. There were men in them, playing games, singing songs, praying for salvation they
don’t deserve. They looked at me, all smiles. Most of them would rot in this place. I was taken to a nipa hut, deep in the heart of the compound. My escort had asked me to walk inside. “The mayor will see you,” he said. The mayor did greet me, with open arms and a smile. He was a tall guy convicted of arson. His sensibility, physicality, and ability to win over people is what landed him his esteemed position, prison mayor. He was careful not to lay a hand on me as he ushered me into the common room. The hut looked small from the outside, but inside it looked three times larger. There was a wooden bench on the side. I chose to sit on it. He offered me a drink, but I declined. I wanted to see him, the man who called me out to this place. “Where is he?” I asked. “He’ll be out soon. He’s just taking a shower.” “Are dead men allowed showers?” I asked for the sake of killing time. “Dead men can do whatever they want on their last day.” “It seems a bit unfair.” “Everything in this world is unfair, Ms. Rosales, even the way we do justice.” “Then what’s just?” “Just is whatever just is. It’s what you decide,” he smiled. He looked like a crazy person, one worn out by years of imprisonment. This guy was nuts, and so was the guy we were supposed to share a table with. “What’s taking him so long?” “It’s been some time since his last bath. Let him have it.” He offered me a seat at the dining table. Like the hut, it was made of bamboo. On it was a quaint table setting — straw place mats, thick drinking glasses, clean white plates, and pairs of kubyertos stained with fresh watermarks. The food was nowhere in sight. The dead man must have ordered lechon, or a slab of prime rib, or garlic buttered crab. He must have requested wine or cold beer at the least. He was the
the type who would do so. He was a mestizo, a spoiled, overgrown man-child who always got his way. The señorito stepped out into the room, his hair still wet and dripping as he toweled it dry. “Kamusta?” he asked looking at me. “I apologize if I took long. I wanted to clean up before the big interview.” The dead man’s face was smooth. It had caught me off guard. I was expecting a rugged man with unkempt hair and sullen eyes. Instead there was this dead man, who looked exactly like the boy he was before his one-year stint in maximum security. He had a smirk on, his big brown eyes directed at me. I looked away and peered into the bowl of food an inmate placed on the table. In it was steaming hot broth soaking big chunks of chicken and papaya—the dead man’s request. “Tinola?” I asked. “Don’t you eat tinola?” His smirk grew wider as he sat right across me. “They cook it perfectly here,” he said. I wasn’t very hungry. He took his time dissecting his chicken. He would meticulously take a piece and assemble it on top a spoonful of soup-drenched rice and mashed papaya. All the while, he was looking at me, perhaps seeing the disgust on my face. This was how an educated cannibal ate. He was organized. It was the stuff of serial killer lore. It murdered my appetite. The mayor had stopped offering me rice on my fifth decline. At that point everything was silent except for the sound of a dead man having lunch. “Would it be okay if I start my interview now?” “I’m eating. You can ask questions right after,” he said in between chews. “Let’s just talk right now, so things won’t be so tense.” “You’re nervous?” He took a drink and smiled, “How else am I supposed to feel?” “Angry?” I asked.
“I’ve been angry enough. It’s tiring. It’s my last day here, so I’d rather relax before they give me the needle.” “So you’re finally admitting that you did it?” The dead man stopped eating and flushed down his food with a glass of water. “You’re really impatient, aren’t you?” he smirked as he rubbed his stomach. “I’m on an assignment.” “And you wouldn’t have gotten it, if I didn’t pick you specifically.” He put up his arms over his head and leaned back on the chair. “Okay. Let’s do it. Ask me.” I took my recorder and placed it on the table. An inmate started cleaning up our plates, while the mayor lit a cigarette and left us alone. I looked at the dead man. His eyes were on the ceiling. “Why didn’t you just admit it when you got caught?” “What kind of a question is that?” “So you’re still denying what you did?” “Do you think I did it? Do you think I killed that man and his family?” “The court says—” “I know what the court says. I know what the news says, but do you think I did it?” “I’m a reporter. I only state the facts, not make assumptions.” He snorted and shook his head, “I don’t believe you.” “It’s my job to stay neutral,” I explained, “I’m not paid to take sides.” “But you would, if you were?” “You’re impossible,” I turned the recorder off. “This is not about me. It’s about you. Don’t make this any more difficult than it already is.” “Is everything all right?” the mayor asked, taking a seat at the far side of the table. “Yeah,” the dead man answered, “We’re good.” I placed the recorder in front of him and continued. “So, despite the decision, are you saying you’re still innocent?”
“I am,” he sighed.”But let me ask you, something. Do you think it’s fair that I’m sentenced to death for a heinous crime I didn’t do? And don’t tell me that you’re being neutral. The media’s never neutral. You guys can always pick and choose which side you want to highlight on your evening news.” “Are we seriously going to argue about this?” “I know you don’t believe that I killed those people. I know you, Patty.” I turned the recorder off. “This is going nowhere.” “Why don’t you two take a break?” suggested the mayor, “I’ll let them serve dessert.” The mayor called one of the inmates who brought us bowls of hot ginataan. I still wasn’t hungry, but I decided to shovel a few spoonfuls into my mouth. The dead man seemed happy about it. “Is it as good as your mother’s?” the mayor asked him. “It’s close.” “It’s too bad she didn’t cook for you this time.” “Even if I’d asked her, she probably wouldn’t. She’s disowned me.” “Why?” I couldn’t help asking. “What else could she do? It’s done. It’s been decided. I’m a guy convicted of something that horrible. I guess that was the last straw for her, and I can’t blame her,” he said as he ate. “And besides, ever since I was taken here, I decided that my life was here. I’ve got people against me outside. They all want me in here. I no longer have a life there. Mine’s within these walls. Well, at least what’s left of it.” He and the mayor shared a quick laugh. “Why did you pick me?” I asked “You’re with the news.” “I know that, but why me?” “I know you.” “And that’s the only reason?” “That’s the only reason,” he answered.
“How long have you been a writer?” the mayor asked. “Five years,” I answered, “I tried writing for magazines and doing freelance work before I settled for the news.” “It must be nice working for the news,” he said. “You get to see places and meet people.” “It isn’t all that. It’s a lot of hard work and—” “Are you seeing anyone?” the dead man asked. “Excuse me?” “Dating?” “No,” I said, “My job’s more important.” “You’re a strict professional. That’s good,” the mayor smiled. “Everyone’s got their own part to play. You’ve got to spread the news outside. And I keep things under control right here. ” “It does seem peaceful here.” The mayor laughed, “Believe me, it isn’t. I’m not saying everyone here plays nice, but most of them are in good behavior, because we have a guest. You have no idea what it was like in maximum security when we took this guy out here just so he can talk to you.” “What do you mean?” “We don’t normally allow it, but this is a special occasion. He’s going to die tomorrow.” I looked at the dead man. His warm brown eyes were once again on me. “How much do you get paid?” he inquired. “You can’t ask that kind of question.” “Why not? I’m dying tomorrow anyway. Who else am I going to tell that to? And you can trust him.” “Why do you even want to know?” “I want to know how much I can pay you to tell everybody the truth.” “You’re shit. You know that?” “I don’t care what you call me anymore, but I know you know the truth, the real truth. I was framed. I was framed by the same people I told the media about
over and over.” “I can’t do that.” “And you call yourself neutral? You’ve already taken a side.” “What else can I do, Kaloy? Do you want me to lose my job? All I can do is tell everyone that you denied your crimes until your last breath. I’m not an investigator. I can’t change the decision of the court. My hands are tied. If I tried, they would kill me. Do you know how many journalists are killed every year? These are powerful people.” He just laughed. I felt my face turn red and caught myself breathing heavily. The mayor was watching us from his seat. “So it’s okay for you just to watch me die than do your job and report the real truth?” “What’s the truth? We can’t prove anything.” “I’m going to die tomorrow, and that’s going to end your story. A week after your station has squeezed everything it can from my death, you’ll just move on to the next assignment.” “That’s unfair—” “What’s more unfair? Me stating the facts or you setting them aside? I’ve told the media everything. Everybody’s watched my trial. If you’re going to ask me the same things they’ve asked me before, then all of this is nothing. Do me one final favor, find a way to tell the truth.”
He shrugged as we started walking to the gate, “I told you, justice is whatever you decide.” He opened the gate for me and let me out. “You be safe now,” he said before heading back. I stood there for a while. The sun was throwing bright orange rays through the prison windows. In moments I would step outside, back to the frenzy of flashing cameras and rabid journalists, back to the hungry masses longing for their fill of live legal drama. And there I was, stepping out of one hell, deciding if I should walk into another.
The walk back to the gate was long. The mayor took time to tour me around the place. He introduced me to a few inmates, and showed me some of the work they did inside. The mayor must have noticed my lack of interest when he stopped to look at me. “Many innocent men are in here, you know?” “I know,” I answered quietly. “But it doesn’t matter once you’re in here. When you’re judged guilty, you’re guilty.” “Sir, do you still believe in justice?”
A Myth Modernized by Nile Villa
Demeter was a kind jovial woman known for her green thumb and her knack for fixing agricultural problems that even men found impossible. Her trademark wide smile fit her wide set features just as rosebuds were always just the right size for their stems. Her voice was so soothing that it could calm any child down; she especially loved to sing to her dear little child Persephone. Persephone was a lovely young lady with long flowing hair and big expressive eyes. She loved to sing and dance around in her mother’s lovely garden. She seemed to have a connection with all the little animals that were discovered on top of the trees and among the shrubs. Although unmarried, Demeter was never dismayed at having to raise a child by herself for she loved her daughter with every fiber of her being. Perhaps this was her only flaw: that she was selfish when it came to the young Persephone. Some say that this was the cause of the shocking events that unfolded in their sleepy little village. The tragedy begins with the lovely Persephone going about her daily duty of singing to the flowers and caressing the trees. What a sight she was to behold during such carefree moments as these. And quite a sight she was indeed to the strange traveler who had come upon their little village, quite by mistake. He could hardly put his attention back to his driving as he parked his car just a couple of lots away. He got out and locked his car in one swift, cool, and soundless motion. His long dark overcoat did not blend well with the bright surroundings in the early morning sun. The jet black Ferrari he drove made the early risers look on with curiosity while the impenetrably dark sunglasses on his face made them stay away as well. He strode into the only eatery in the small village and ordered a cup of coffee even before being asked. “That’s a pretty fancy car you’ve got parked out
there. Where are you headed?” The waitress asked as she poured him a steaming cup of black coffee. “Down south,” was his curt reply. I hear the storms are getting mighty nasty in those parts. I’ve heard stories about the sky being so thick with dark clouds that there’s barely any sun.” A middle-aged man joined in from behind his book. “Oh my. That doesn’t sound very good. Are you heading down there now, sir?” The waitress asked. “That’s a really great garden down the road.” The stranger suddenly commented. You must be talking about old dame Demy’s little yard. Yup, ain’t no other place on earth that can get that beautiful. It’s almost like being in heaven.” The waitress said dreamily. “It seems more like a prison to me! That old hag keeps that little lady of hers locked up behind that fence too much! It ain’t good for any youngster to be alone as much as little Sephy is! I mean, that kid is practically a lady now!” Cried the middle-aged man. “Oh, relax Dionysius! You’re getting worked up over that again! If dame Demy thinks it’s best for her little girl then she has every right!” “I’m telling you, Artemis! If that hag doesn’t loosen her reins first she’ll have a delinquent on her hands! Sephy might even run away today! What with Demy gone to the city for the afternoon.” Artemis rolled her eyes at this. “Don’t mind the old man, sir. Sometimes he acts like he’s had too much to drink! I say Sephy’s perfectly happy staying in that garden of hers with her momma. Don’t you think so?” But the man, who had remained silently thoughtful throughout their entire conversation, was halfway to the door leaving nothing but silence and a ten dollar bill behind. In less than a minute the car was right in front of Demeter’s garden once more but this time it stayed still; engine humming. Persephone’s beautiful eyes were quick to notice the strange vehicle only meters away
from the garden’s outer fence. She looked at it curiously but stood silent at the edge of her little heaven. “You getting tired of playing an angel yet?” Were the stranger’s first and only words to her. Keeping her eyes on him, Persephone walked along the inner side of the fence until she reached the fence door. It had an old rusty lock dangling on it. Her small precious hands hovered over the dirty metal for a moment. The stranger gave her a sinister smile. She gave the sweetest smallest of smiles in return as she used all of her strength to break the lock off its hinges. It didn’t take much since she’d been weakening it little by little, day after day. With the smile still on her innocent young face she ran out and jumped into the passenger’s seat without even so much as a second look back at the paradise she’d known her whole life. Once comfortably seated, she turned her face to look at him. “Even angels need to fly.” He smiled again. With that, the heart black Ferrari—license plated HADES—drove away.
Arabian Nights by Mel Kasingsing
ALIF I cannot understand it. No matter how hard I try to. Ten of them, all dead without question. Suicide. That was the said cause of death, or at least that’s what the management said it was. I don’t believe them. Why would Pigo and Romulo jump off the building just like that? They seemed quite happy and untroubled when I hung out with them during lunch break. And what about Alex? Junior? Gabo? Jopi? Why did they jump off just like that? I shrugged it off and placed my hard hat on the storage area. It was nearing nine in the evening. I walked towards the station then slipped my employee card into the machine’s slot. I had been a worker at the Al Burj for nine months now. There had been accidents, minor ones. But this. I don’t even know how to classify this one. Is it just an accident? Was it suicide as the construction manager had told us? Or, Were they pushed? I walked out of the construction site and stared back at the rising giant behind me. It was a dark monster of a tower, now at about five hundred meters, and still climbing. I expected to feel a sort of rewarding feeling at having contributed to the rising of this monumental structure. The tallest in the world, the placards and promo boards all proclaimed. All I felt was heavy weariness. I heaved a sigh and hailed a cab home. BA Just after two months. I can’t believe that it had happened again. Five workers had leaped off the building. I saw them this time. I was part of the façade testing crew and heard the screams. Five bodies diving from the 50th floor, that same floor from where the ten workers jumped. Something bothered me. The screams
sounded nothing like fright or fear. It sounded almost happy. Ecstatic. The next screams that followed were cries of horror and disbelief. Many workers had seen it too. I prayed for their souls. I later learned that Gardo, a close friend of mine was one of the jumpers. Works halted momentarily as the bodies were retrieved. But I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it at all. Why do they want to end like this? And what is it that makes them happy even as they meet a horrible death? No doubt. Tower construction will be halted again for a month. Or more. Time to iron out the mess, file paperwork, to get new workers. And of course, no work no pay. This is all very strange. Naturally, I was angry at these jumpers. If they had their own troubles, why do they have to let us in on their misery? We’ve been having month long breaks after these incidents and not only has these breaks drained me of the meager sum I earned, I also end up failing to send money home. And they need this more than I do. But what was going on in the minds of these people? It’s what intrigued me more. I had lost a lot of close friends already. The Pinoys are dwindling in numbers. Even the other workers were starting to notice the trend. It was scaring me a lot. Is something or someone out to get us? Is the tower cursed? I dropped off my hard hat and slipped my card into the machine’s slot. I probably won’t be doing this in another month or so. Tomorrow we’ll find out if works will get suspended again. I hailed a cab home.
GIM Three guys jumped off during lunch break. I was at the same floor with them this time. They were a group of fellow Pinoy workers of whom I’m not close with. If seeing them jump from a distance was scary, watching them do it just a few feet away from you was the most horrifying scene my eyes had ever witnessed. That fanatic look on their faces and those crazed smiles, with eyes filled with silent sadness. They were horrific in a quiet manner. I can’t seem to shake these ghastly images from my head every time I close my eyes to relax. Those demented happy looks. They were almost inhuman. One of the workers, whose name was Arturo called out to me. This shocked me. I didn’t know him at all, and had only heard of him from my other friends. “Malaya na kami.” He cried out to me, his face all lit up with a look of which I could describe with only one word. Mad. He then ran with his two other friends near the ledge of the 50th floor and without hesitation, leaped off into space. I gasped in shock and disbelief. Several other workers were there as well. They all rushed down to ground level. I followed suit. As I slid my card on the slot in the gate station, I debated in my head whether to still endure this madness. This mass suicide. It had happened for the third time. What is wrong? Should I stay here? I had to. Pay is bad but it’s still money. I don’t understand all this at all and it’s scaring me. I shrugged off the strange and wary stares of the other construction workers behind me. They knew I’m Filipino. They must be wondering what has gotten into those weird Filipinos’ heads to think of jumping into their deaths a thousand feet off the air. I hung my hard hat on the peg and left the site.
I noticed that they had not adjusted the injuries or accidents tally in the status board outside the construction site. I caught a cab and pointed the directions to home. AKHIR I swept the starry sky with a glance and smiled. It was nearing nine in the evening and everyone’s preparing to leave. But I didn’t move from my spot. No one bothered to call me out. I sat alone on the ledge of the 50th floor, the city at my feet like a distant world from where I am, What am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be going home by now? Home? This is not home. Home is far far away. Definitely not here. They are firing me. All Filipino workers in the construction site are getting the boot after the latest incident. We must have proved to be quite a headache for the developers. And now, starting tomorrow, I’ll be a jobless man. What do I do now? I slapped both my hands in my head and cradled it. The wind was picking up and the hairs on my arms are standing on end with the cold. But my mind was entirely in a different world. Rent’s due for my room tomorrow. Nanay needs money for her treatments soon. Teresa needs money for her tuition on Tuesday. And I can’t even leave this place. I could feel tears streaking my cheeks. It’s their fault! Those stupid jumpers! If they had their own problems, why do they have to
end up giving us with nothing to do with it larger ones? Mga tanga sila. Mga sira ulo. I looked around me. The floor’s empty now. I’ve got it all to myself until morning. I thought going here was an answer to all my problems, the realization of my dreams. But it was nothing like how it was advertised on the newspapers or the posters. It was nothing like this at all. And this unrealized dream had ended so fast into a horrible nightmare. Freedom? Wasn’t that what Arturo said before he jumped? What freedom was he talking about? I shivered as a sudden strong gust rocked me violently. I held on to the ledge. It was freezing cold. Freedom. I get it now. I understand it now. I looked down. It was like looking at the sky’s reflection on a vast ocean. The city lights are like stars. Stars that shone brighter. Stars that were closer and easier to reach out to. I stood up. And smiled to myself. Freedom. And jumped. ________ “Is he awake?” “Amir, give me the jug.” Where am I? “He’s talking!” “Quick, call the medic. We have to bring him to the hospital.”
“Crazy guy. Probably took off after his crazy Filipino friends.” “Yeah. But what a lucky bastard.” “That’s a badly wounded head though.” “Where are the medics?” “They’ll be up soon.” Where am I?
Lingering by John Alexis Balaguer
I. I remember—you, watering your orchids—when it rained all day today, all day just letting hours pass, the dripping seemingly louder every time. Even the ceiling’s bleeding. The dog has left for another’s house, well-fed and loved. It seems happier, barks much louder too. I’m afraid it doesn’t recognize me. And the neighbors cut down your bougainvillea, the untamed flowers blocking the road. How you loved its red blossoms. In the garden, the orchids have drooped down to their deaths too. The floral patterns on your favorite duster are the only ones left in bloom. They’ve made it a doormat. I try not to step on it.
ing, a glow millions of years after dying. But the lamps at the terrace tonight where you once told a crying young me ‘Everything will be alright’, is broken. And yet here I am still basking in eternity. I wonder, looking up at that darkness just among a group of bright lies—that nothing that almost looks too dark—tell me, please, that behind that nothing could actually be a newborn star.
II. It is midnight, or the clock has long stopped that way. Who knows what time it is, how long I’ve slept, or if I’ve really slept at all? I just need a little more. Time has been cruel to your house, and you. We used to call this home. Now it’s a cage-- the double-decker, a hospital bed. And all I do is idly lie and stare, figures turning up in the dirty textures: Jesus, hanging, on the wall beside Exupery’s ‘What is essential is invisible to the eye.’, a huge glaring eye by your portrait, and a demon on the wall beside me. All I have of you are thoughts of you. The faces remind me that you’re gone. Looking out the window to a star that probably isn’t even there, I think I just need a little more sleep. I strap myself with the blanket. III. How long has it been, this clutter? This darkness? In every itch, my skin craves more and more for light, waiting for a warmth closest to that of a star’s linger-