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June 2013 THE TEAM

STACHE Editor in Chief Maine Manalansan Creative Director Jared Carl Millan Marketing Director Ellie Centeno Associate Editor Sarah Buendia Assistant Editor Marielle Misula Fashion Editor Ecks Abitona Music Editor Lambert Cruz

Marketing Assistant Coco Maceren Senior Photographer Jelito de Leon Web Designer Marynyriene Silvestre

On The Cover Writers Karla Bernardo, Katrina Eusebio, Alfonso Bassig, Elise Montinola, Alvin Molina Photographers Grace de Luna, Patrick Guillermo, Mayee Gonzales, Christienne Berona Illustrators Vince Puerto, Alyssa Larisse De Asis, Ches Gatpayat, Daniela Go, Tzaddi Esguerra, Angela Espinosa, Mica Agregado, Stylists Joanna Santillan Submissions Inquiries Advertising Twitter Facebook



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June 2013 Contributors



Janelle almosara

Janel gatdula

Anika is a Nursing student struggling with the ways of Manila after growing up in Iloilo. When she isnít busy with schoolwork, you can find her reading Naruto.

Janelle is a 20-something couch potato who likes travelling, eating, and (ironically) working out. She’s currently pursuing a career in advertising, working as a full-time zombie and a

Janel Gatdula recently graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman with a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature. She loves to travel and be able to immerse herself in different cultures. Reading is her favorite pastime as it allows her to travel beyond the pages of a book.

Josel nicolas

MiKa Bacani

Josel Nicolas has been making comics since 2005 and still will continue until he learns better.

Mika Bacani is a (hopefully) graduating Fine Arts major who likes long walks and drawing them out in lieu of Instagram. She’d like to try being a barista

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read your favorite stache issues on our new website:



June 2013 EDITor’s letter

GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING I’m going to give you a few seconds to recover from the shock of seeing Bob Ong’s name plastered on our cover. Done? Okay. Back story: Last year, we dedicated our June issue for literature. We felt that it is a form of art and expression that very few people appreciate. Admit it, we all scroll through lengthy text posts on our Tumblr dashboards, right? We wanted to address this problem and highlight other forms of literature and we did it by featuring spoken word artist Shane Koyczan on the cover. Jared, our Creative Director, suggested that we do a literary issue every year. I suggested that we focus on the Philippines this time around and here we are. When we think about Filipino literature, we either think about Jose Rizal, People Power biographies or rows and rows of Precious Hearts Romance novels. If you’re more adventurous, you would probably think about True Philippine Ghost Stories, Pugad Baboy or cookbooks by Mama Sita. It’s understandable that most of us have this perception of Original Filipino Literature (OFL, as we call it) because we only have a handful of books found in the Filipiniana section in our favorite bookstores. We want to expand the definition of Filipino literature and explore more mediums and ‘undiscovered’ authors in the country. We want to make reading OFL more appealing to the youth. We want to expose the emerging culture of self-publishing and comics in the country. We want to prove that OFL is not dead. Cue: Bob Ong. Not the UP professor, not the trinity of Bob Ongs, but the real BO who has a knack for Comic Sans and probably, Jessica Sanchez. I had the privilege of interviewing him one afternoon (it took 6 hours!) via Facebook (his suggestion) and quite honestly, it was enlightening. He is the bridge connecting Filipino literature and the youth. He writes with a voice that is relatable and light but with meaning. Even though he denied it in our interview, I still personally believe that he is the modern day Jose Rizal. If you still don’t believe that he’s the real thing, he told me to tell you that they are releasing a 10th anniversary edition of Bakit Baliktad Magbasa Ang Mga Pilipino in August. This editor’s letter is already very lengthy but think of it as a warm-up for the rest of the magazine. There will be a lot of interesting reads inside like Jared Millan’s opinion on the whole Dan Brown Gates of Hell debacle and Karla Bernardo’s The 8 People You Become in Your Youth (and the Gilda Cordero-Fernando piece that you should read for each one). We also have a comic page (curated by Mica Agregado and Daniela Go) in the magazine so be sure to check that out! Also, before I forget, I also want to take this time to thank Raymond Ang for the Globe Tatt Awards nom! It’s already incredible that we are included in the amazing list of nominees! And thank YOU for the continuous support and love. Best, Maine Manalansan


APRIL 2013


In the defense of ebooks by Jared Carl Millan

June 2013 Issue 15 Edited by Jared Carl Millan


“The beauty of books that we so readily see is nothing but its mere physicality, the object itself—we appreciate the cover design, its stitching, the quality of paper, the typeface the words are set to, and sometimes the history of the book itself with its dog-eared and fraying and yellowing pages.”

“Friedrich Nietzsche once said that we dislike the truth because we do not want our illusions destroyed, and often when we hear such truths from such foreigners the illusion that our favorite narratives had embedded in our minds is torn apart. The paradise we thought our country was transforms into an image of Pasig River.”



In the defense of ebooks COLUMNS

In the defense of ebooks Most people hold the eBook in disfavor primarily because they consider it a sacrilege to the printed word, but JARED CARL MILLAN finds that maybe they aren’t so bad after all. Art by ALYSSA DE ASIS.


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COLUMNS In the defense of ebooks

As a reader—particularly a reader afflicted with a misplaced apprehension of running out of books to read—I do not only buy books by the bulk; I buy books knowing there is a huge chance that they would only end up in my ever accumulating pile of books left unread. It is something all readers have at one point done, and something I try not to feel terribly guilty toward. In fact the Japanese has a name for it: “tsundoku.” It is “the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with such other unread books.” It may or may not be a manifestation of my materialism, may or may not have something to do with my tendency to hoard even the most insignificant of sundries, but I do know for certain that if there aren’t any books within my immediate vicinity I fret. As it happens, the queen size bed in which I sleep has more books than pillows, and when I am in any place without the company of a book I feel trapped, useless, curiously restless. There is simply something alluring about books, an aura toward which people like me who have spent most of his time since he was very young with his nose—sometimes quite literally—buried in the printed word gravitate. I read and I read a lot. As a writer I can go for days on end without having written a single word but feel guilty when I don’t read for even just one day. I have prioritized and still am prioritizing reading over the company of real people, of even the closest of my friends and family. I’m a reader and I read literally and figuratively to live. You must be getting impatient with me now. I should be talking about eBooks and eReaders and Kindles and Nooks and how they are changing the landscape of literature, you are saying; and I am, in the oblique way with which I talk about most things I feel strongly about. I love books and I love reading. Notice how I did not say only “I love books” or only “I love reading” but “I love books and I love reading”? The allusion to the fact that my most passionate hours are spent poring over words made concrete can be missed in the statement “I love books,” but the allusion to the fact that I consider the physical book with a particular reverence cannot in the statement “I love reading.” What I am saying in brief is that one can love the physical book and not its other, more important aspect—the act of reading. It is important to understand that one is different from the other. We have confused ourselves thinking that the physical book is its contents, which is true for most instances but not always. The argument against the eBook primarily has something to do with its physical aspect—or lack thereof. They say the reading experience is not complete if you cannot hear the susurrus of the pages, the commingled smell of ink and paper, the firm weight of the book in one’s hands. Reading, they say, should be simultaneously a sensory and an intellectual affair. I won’t refute that.

There is nothing quite like seeing books carefully lined against each other on shelves and knowing which ones are your favorites, which ones you haven’t yet read, which ones you value highly, which ones look good together and which ones do not. Even the growing stack of books left unread in my bed and on my bedside table offers a curious sense of beauty and accomplishment. But this territory has more to do with the “collection” aspect of books, the one loosely and terribly affiliated with avarice, and less with the actual reading. The beauty of books that we so readily see is nothing but its mere physicality, the object itself—we appreciate the cover design, its stitching, the quality of paper, the typeface the words are set to, and sometimes the history of the book itself with its dog-eared and fraying and yellowing pages. When we argue that eBooks are not “real” books, the argument is for the physical object and not for reading. The collection aspect is only, at best, the secondary purpose of literature. We forget that inherently reading is all about the relationship between the reader and the author’s work, his voice, his story, the world he’s created, the cadence of his sentences, his grammar, his style. I, too, primarily buy the physical book, and in fact if it is available I often go for the costly choice of purchasing hardback editions, but that has nothing to do with the pledge to only “read the printed word.” Nor do I consider eBooks a lesser variety of literature. A bulk of the classic literature in my library is stored on a portable device simply because it is more convenient for me to lug them around. There is one more thing to remember: one of the many fears toward the eBook is based on the unreasonable fear that readers in general will sooner rather than later be forced to read only eBooks, that the doom of the printed word is nigh. Ebooks, some people think, are a threat, but only fools truly believe that; no one is being forced and no one can drive the physical book out of our shelves— at least not in this century. (If you haven’t noticed, the vinyl is still around centuries after it was introduced to the market and has been gaining a steady amount of sales in the past decade, flipping its middle finger in the face of music industry and mp3s.) Whether or not we admit it, escapism is the reason why readers read. After all, a brilliantly written prose already does that by itself. When we let ourselves willingly to be transported from the tangible and into the imaginary, from the dreary and the physical and the real into something better, what does it matter how and where we read?

You can message or Tweet the author at and @notthecity.



truths universally acknowledged COLUMNS

TRuths universally acknowledged In Dan Brown’s novel Inferno he told us what it’s like to run through the gates of hell; JARED CARL MILLAN will tell you what it’s like to live in it; Art by VINCE PUERTO

This is the narrative that all our history teachers taught us growing up, stories of cavalry and of brave men, stories in which we at one point believed: the Philippines is the land of the free, a country that triumphed against the Spanish and the American and the Japanese and the Filipino dictator gone mad with money and power; the Philippines is a country historically so rich and geographically so blessed. We have the sweetest mangoes, they say, and the most hospitable of citizens. We have the world’s best beaches, and, depending on whose opinion you ask, the best food and the best women. If we were a royal family in George R. R. Martin’s medieval fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire we would be House Tully whose words by which they live are “Family. Duty. Honor.”


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What our history teachers have failed to tell us, or perhaps deliberately neglected to tell us, was the narrative that the real world will tell us, stories so different from the one with which we grew up: this is a county where nepotism reigns supreme, where convicted felons are elected into office. This is a country where presidents apologize on national television for cheating in an election they did not win. We are labeled a “developing” country, and scarcely do we deserve the label: the rate at which it is developing, if at all, is glacial at best—poverty incidence remains unchanged in the past six years. And these such stories are what author Dan Brown has written about us in his new novel Inferno.

COLUMNS truths universally acknowledged

It would be wise I think to come clean at the outset and say that I have not read Inferno nor any of Brown’s novels except for one I did not finish, for I have no patience for bad authors, particularly authors who write sentences like, “Mal’akh hurried now into the lab and retrieved the Pyrex jug of Bunsen-burner fuel—a viscous, highly flammable, yet noncombustible oil.” As it happens, the thesis of this column has little to do with Brown himself, but because he the catalyst of the “issue” I am talking about here, I will start with him first. Here are certain passages from Inferno that enraged certain Filipinos, particularly one Francis Tolentino who despite his being a lawyer seemed unable to understand what “fiction,” even in its most general sense, means: “Amid this chaos of child prostitution panhandlers, pickpockets, and worse, Sienna found herself suddenly paralyzed. All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival. When they face desperation…human beings become animals. “Overwhelmed by a rush of frantic mania, Sienna broke into a sprint through the city streets, thrusting her way through the masses of people, knocking them over, pressing on, searching for open space…She cleared the tears and grime from her eyes and saw that she was standing in a kind of shantytown—a city made of pieces of corrugated metal and cardboard propped up and held together. All around her, the wails of crying babies and the stench of human excrement hung in the air. “Sienna muttered, “I’ve run through the gates of hell.” I do not know which is more embarrassing, the fact that Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Atty. Francis Tolentino exposed himself an idiot, or the fact that this whole twaddle further establishes the fact that hard truths in general make most anyone uncomfortable. And perhaps that is exactly it. This is not about whether or not Manila is “an entry to heaven,” as Tolentino so proudly said in his letter of reprimand to Brown, and it isn’t most certainly about whether or not “Manila citizens are more than capable of exemplifying good character and compassion towards one another.” This is Atty. Francis Tolentino having been bludgeoned by the truth and finding that he does not like its taste. He claims that he is “disappointed by your inaccurate portrayal of our beloved metropolis,” which is suspicious to everyone who has been to Manila, seen or read about Manila, lives in Manila. Dan Brown is only one among the very long list of people who have taken slight to our mother country by saying what is inherently the truth. There is Claire Danes who said of Manila, “The city just fucking smelled of cockroaches. There’s no sewage system… and people have nothing there. People with, like, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no teeth. Rats were everywhere. A ghastly and weird city.” There is Chip Tsa who said that ours is “a nation of servants.” Alec Baldwin

may have said one thing, and Terri Hatcher’s Desperate Housewives character quite another, and every time one more person says something even remotely derogatory about us, we whinge, all the while believing that it is for the love of our country. That is not really true. Friedrich Nietzsche once said that we dislike the truth because we do not want our illusions destroyed, and often when we hear such truths from such foreigners the illusion that our favorite narratives had embedded in our minds is torn apart. The paradise we thought our country was transforms into an image of Pasig River. The men and women in their high offices with their Barongs and Lady Barongs are apparently snakes, or alligators. The girl who exemplifies good character and compassion towards another is in reality a lady of the night. All of our protestations is nothing more than a case of misplaced patriotism. Here is another such manifestation: Filipinos have an uncomfortable penchant for claiming things that they think are theirs, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. (I remember, for Jessica Sanchez’s Manila concert, seeing a commercial in which the words “she’s coming back home” were for a few brief moments emblazoned on the television screen. It seemed to have escaped whoever made the commercial that Jessica Sanchez is half Mexican and half Filipino and that she was born and raised in the United States besides. If she has a home, it is most certainly not here.) The moment we realize any one person with a speck of Filipino blood is doing well in the international scene, we claim that we “are proud to be Filipinos.” On YouTube, in the comments section of every Lea Salonga video we seem to want to remind every one who is not us that she is ours, she is a Filipina, and at least we are good at something. It is not, per se, a bad habit, a vice that as a nation we need to rid ourselves of—we do not. But if we start believing that through such actions we can achieve the same wonder our history teachers have given us with their narratives, we delude ourselves into thinking we are the kings of the world.

You can message or Tweet the author at and @notthecity.




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June 2013 Issue 15 Edited by Jared Carl Millan

WORST JEEPNEY RIDE EVER (And how to deal with it) By Janelle Almosara


A Bookworm’s Pub by Kat Eusebio


+ Book reviews on ilustrado by anika molina a book of dreams by janel gatdula



Worst jeepney ride ever (and how to deal with it) manilascope

WORST JEEPNEY RIDE EVER (And how to deal with it) by Janelle Almosara. Photo by Patrick Guillermo.


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Manilascope Worst jeepney ride ever (and how to deal with it)

We all have our fair share of unsavory moments when it comes to jeepney rides, accumulated over the years of enduring the Philippine’s equally unsavory transport system. There might be tolerable moments, or even happy instances, but we can never deny that most of them are bad bordering on terrible. Riding these “tatak-Pinoy” vehicles however has been a part of our lives almost intrinsically, and dealing with all the drama that comes with it has been our second nature. Here’s a helpful list of the top jeepney pet peeves and a couple of ways to deal with them. Pet Peeve #1: THE PDA There’s nothing inherently wrong with public displays of affections toward one’s boo, but there’s a fine line between sweet and adorable and downright sexual, and once it goes beyond that line, it gets disgusting. No one wants a live show on their way home. Sometimes, they also tend to occupy larger spaces, to the disservice of other commuters. How to deal with them: Try to ignore how them; you do not have much of a choice anyway. But once they begin occupying your seat that only half of your ass is actually “sitting,” talk to them nicely about giving you space. And, well, try to stop yourself from actually sharing your motel discount card. Pet Peeve #2: THE “ISA PA” VERSION 1 One thing that barkers do that gets me on my, and every body else’s nerves is the “isa pa” trick. They would scream at your ears, bang the walls of the jeep, and tell you to move back even if there are no more spaces left to occupy. They would endlessly insist that there is a space for one more passenger, even if it’s very clear that the there isn’t. How to deal with them: You could always put on your earphones on a deafening volume just to shut everything out. Just hold on to your sanity—sooner or later manong barker would realize that there would be no more space for one more person and would let you guys (to finally) go.

Pet Peeve #3: THE “ISA PA” VERSION 2 When you’re in a hurry, because the world despises every one and everything, you’ll end up dealing with the “isa pa” situation. Just so you won’t have to wait for another jeepney, you’ll take the seat of death—enduring half an hour being pissed as hell. You’ll pass humps and sudden stops, slipping your way up and down from your seat until one of the passengers on your side says “para.” How to deal with this: Hold on to the hand railings with a firm grip and stabilize your body with your feet and knees. Otherwise your behind will get terribly acquainted with the dirty jeepney floor. Or better yet, don’t be late.

Pet Peeve #4: THE HAIR Girls who have long hair tend to flaunt their locks. Sometimes, they flaunt it way too much that it ends up on everyone’s face and mouths. What makes this worse is the fact that not all of these girls have pretty—or worse—clean hair. One hell of a bad jeepney ride, I say. How to deal with this: Nicely ask her to tie their hair or to at least, hold it in place. Do not endure this kind of treatment because no one has the right to feed their fellow passengers things that are not meant for eating. Pet Peeve #5: THE SNOBS Unlike on any other public utility vehicles, jeepney rides requires extreme cooperation. In order for you to pay for your fare, you have to ask your fellow passenger to pass it on until it reaches the driver. Unfortunately, not all passengers are cooperative. Some are too maarte to hold your money, some are just, well, pure snobs who does not care at all. How to deal with them: You could tap them on the shoulder and kindly ask them to pass your fare to the driver. But if all else fails, you could always bitch out. You deserve and have the right to it.



the 8 people you need to become in your youth life hacks

THE 8 PEOPLE YOU BECOME IN YOUR YOUTH (and the Gilda Cordero-Fernando piece that you should read for each one) By Karla Bernardo. Photo by Maine Manalansan.

It’s difficult to imagine any other person in the Philippine literary scene today with more influence and clout than Gilda CorderoFernando. Few are able to make a mark in our history through their art, but even fewer do so with continuous flair, aplomb, and with such consistency. And more importantly, few are able to weave together a fine, wonderfully crafted tapestry of works so accessible and effortless, that it’s almost impossible to not fall in love with them at first read. Such is the literature of the great GCF. Her love for the craft is apparent in everything she does: from her paintings to her plays. But it is in her prose that her soul sings the loudest. Through her many words and tales, she has not only opened to us worlds unknown and unexplored, she has mirrored lives familiar and recognizable: our own. It is always interesting how each of her characters are drawn as quite peculiar, with odd tastes or habits,


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and yet they can stand for everyone because of the way their stories reflect the ordinary, the mundane, and the typical, yet also intrinsically, the essential. I’ve always secretly believed that there is a GCF story for everyone. But then, as I went back through her work and tried figuring out what was mine, I realized that because of the abundance of her still-growing work (she is 81, and still has no signs of stopping), it is impossible to choose just one, especially at this point in time where there seems to be an endless loop of transitions and changes. We are always changing, always becoming different people as days go by. In the course of our lives—most especially at its most turbulent, our youth—the least we can hope for is an anchor to hold onto and keep us grounded as life crashes its waves upon us. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find that steadiness it in a story or two. Or eight.

life hacks the 8 people you need to become in your youth

The Dreamer (aka My Life Has Just Begun and the World is My Oyster) Warning signs: A heightened sense of idealism, a strong belief in one’s talents, slightly overbearing confidence in diploma and college graduation pictures Read: “High Fashion” (from The Butcher, The Baker, The CandleStick Maker; 1962) The story of Gabinito, an engineering graduate, who suddenly realized that his true interests leaned more towards the art— particularly in fashion—will make you somewhat hopeful and a bit excited about the possibilities that await you, no matter how scary or uncertain. “At the proper moment, Gabinito always managed to emerge into the street – sweeping majestically past the Cadillacs gathering at his door, in gray Pelham shirt and Countess Mara tie. He was plump as a pin cushion. He walked with an almost imperceptible wiggle. It was whispered that he changed his underwear three times a day. His soft hands with their pinkish nails and well-defined half-moons always smelled of lavender. He was probably the most fragrant man on earth.”

The Lover (aka You Are Beautiful and I Want to Give You All My Love, and Like All Your Pictures on Facebook) Warning signs: Sudden jolts of glee over love songs, a constant need to look at his/her online profiles, sentences suddenly peppered with forevers and hopefully; but also, fear of heartbreak Read: “A Cake Left Out In The Rain” (from A Wilderness of Sweets; 1973) Amy, who is perfectly described by the metaphor in the title (after she is left by two lovers), shows us how easy and wonderful it is to throw our caution to the wind when it comes to love – and how just as effortlessly it can shake us back to reality. “Sometimes he bought a fried chicken along his way and they shared it, she sitting on the room’s window sill and he, comfortably on the moonsplashed branches, solemnly discussing habits of Japanese geishas and picking the chicken clean. While Amy’s family snored away in the distant rooms.”

The Beloved (aka I Am Going To Stop Pretending That I Don’t Enjoy Letting

You Love Me More Than I Love You) Warning signs: A weakening of resolve, a submission to instinct, a bad hangover Read: “A Secret Ageing” (from A Wilderness of Sweets; 1973) Despite what art and what suffering artists say, one day you will realize that there is also fulfillment and nobility in being the beloved—just ask Lorenzo, who at 55, is now starting to miss being young and able and the object of his wife’s earnest affections, and who now realizes he will always long to be the beloved. “Dolorously Lorenzo sat up in bed and ran his fingers through his graying hair. He struggled with the fog of the room to offer her a helping hand and through the mist jaggedly, he saw her wretched face. For we are two of a kind – we are the easilybruised, the forever-adolescent, the always-in-love. Shall we swing on a branch, or walk in a storm, or kick our shoes off in the sand? Bathe me in coke floats, sustain me with rock-and-roll burgers, for I am a rippling Adonis, a virile teenager dancing under a limbo pole.”

The Indifferent (aka I Live In My Own Cave and I Couldn’t Care Less About Y’all) Warning signs: A growing sense of apathy, concern only for the self, sometimes a complete lack of concern even to self Read: “A Wilderness of Sweets” (from A Wilderness of Sweets; 1973) World War II as seen the eyes of a young little girl will definitely pierce through your self-protective bubble and make you realize how difficult it was to grow up in a world of destruction, all while reinforcing the notion of family being the most important people in the world—and the community a very, very close second. “People were dancing in the streets, hugging one another with tears in their eyes and whenever they yelled ‘Victory Joe,’ the GI’s threw showers of candy and gum. One of the chewing gums in a red-white-and-blue wrapper landed on the crossbar of our gate. I picked it up and kept it in my pocket because my brother was dead, my brother was dead and I couldn’t find a flower, but I could save him a piece of gum.”

The Cynic / Broken (aka Life is a Bitch and No One Gets Out of It Unscathed) Warning signs: A creeping kind of loneliness that eats you up at random times of the day, complete inability to see silver linings, fear



the 8 people you need to become in your youth life hacks

of all things spontaneous Read: “A Love Story” (from The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker; 1962) The realization that certain dreams and opportunities might never be realized is something that can cripple anyone, even the most idealistic. This simple conversation story between an unnamed couple about the realistic non-fulfillment of their dreams highlights an issue so often experienced but rather unacknowledged when it comes to people our age: the wilting of our idealism, the succumbing to hopelessness. “’There is never enough heat for museums either, is there?’ she asked. Awkwardly, he put his arms around her and drew her gently to him. She looked up at him, intent and unlovely. She could trace his ribs under the cardigan […] The young scientists kissed. Her eyelids fluttered like dying moths.”

The Insecure (aka Am I Not Pretty Enough? Not Handsome Enough? Not Smart Enough? Not Good Enough?) Warning signs: A exponential decrease in self-confidence, an increasing amount of ice cream and junk food intake, constant comparison of self with hotter/smarter/more successful friend, fear of the word “perfect” Read: “The Dust Monster” (from A Wilderness of Sweets; 1973) Reve, a simple and dedicated housewife, starts feeling unsure and anxious about the current state of her marriage—and thus finds herself having an “affair” with the absurd and with the unreal— creating for herself a fairy tale she never imagined but definitely wanted. “’Be thin, be smart, be gay, be sexy, be soft-spoken. Get new slip covers, learn new recipes, have bright children, further your man’s career, help the community, drive the car, smile.’ It was the success formula. The perfect answer to housewives’ boredom. How to Make Life Worth Living. How Not to be Lonely Though Married. All the women’s magazines. . . were full of these magic cure-alls, couched in more or less the same cottony terms, and they made Reve feel, more than ever, that life had dropped her somewhere along the way like an old slipper.”

The Fighter (aka You Shoot Me Down But I Won’t Fall, I am Titanium) Warning signs: A sudden enthusiasm to take up a sport or any form of exercise, like boxing or zumba, a slew of inspirational quotes on Facebook and Twitter, pictures of idols reposted on


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Tumblr Read: “Lundagin mo, baby! Go for it!” (from Pinoy Pop Culture; 2002) This essay on the native babaylan, spiritual warriors of pre-colonial Philippines, gives a great insight on how important it was for them to channel their souls to dance and locate our “sacred places”— something that will empower anyone to seek the same kind of enlightenment, if only to emerge a better, stronger person. “Our wings are fragile and can break and we have to learn how to put them back on again.”

The Grateful (aka There is a Quiet Kind of Contentment That Comes With Leaving My Twenties and I Welcome It With Open Arms) Warning signs: An overwhelming sense of calm, a reassuring kind of independence Read: “On The Way to Gillie’s Party” (from Pinoy Pop Culture; 2002) This short reflective essay about Gilda Cordero-Fernando’s preparation for a friend’s get-together is illustrative of the kind of satisfaction we all want to have and achieve as we shed our ignorance and naiveté, and move towards a graceful, more learned adulthood. “We toasted and drank. We ate the cheese, the cucumber, the tacos, the dancing and playing the drums. Soul music reverberated throughout the house. Gillie’s party was finally underway. One by one we slipped into the pool, floating face up to have a moon bath. We healed Gillie’s kidneys. We massaged her etheric. We danced in the warm water, calling on Gabriel the angel of water. We danced with our arms linked, dipping in and out of the water. We danced with our foreheads touching. We danced with the fireflies. We floated and floated.”

----* Most of the work featured here can also be found in Story Collection and Gilda Cordero-Fernando Sampler, both anthologies of her greatest works.

You can message or Tweet the author at and @thebombastarr.

The Bookworm’s Pub Beat the gloomy weather with a cup of coffee and a good read – in a more interesting setting, of course. KATRINA EUSEBIO sets out on a journey to find the best reading spots in the metro. Photo by MAYEE GONZALES.

The modern bookworm values not only a good book but also a good place to enjoy it. Since rainy days are here again, there’s no better way to spend those chill afternoons than your favorite read and some comfort food. Be it quirky or classy, Manila has its fair share of prime places to take your books with you (or borrow them from the store yourself):

Price Range: Php 350 – Php 500 Address: El Pueblo Real de Manila, Dona Julia Vargas, Ugong Pasig Contact No.: 6317340

1. Café 1771

In the heart of Ortigas sits a café that banks on its unique ambiance and its friendly staff. Subspace Coffee House gets its charms from the eyecatching pieces if hangs to its ceilings – chairs, giant light bulbs, etc. – and the interesting trinkets scattered around the store. This is the perfect place for meeting old friends or going by yourself to catch up on the good book you dropped last time. Here you’ll spend around 15 minutes just staring at the quirky pieces inside the store. As for the food choices, it offers everything from sandwiches, pastries and a wide range of drinks. What’s cool about Subspace is that when you order their hot lattes, they can draw an image of your choice on top.

The gloomy weather outside might discourage you from greeting your day with a smile. But amidst the pitter-patter of today’s share of rainfall, you can count on Café 1771 to brighten up your Saturday morning. Once you enter the restaurant, you will be greeted by bright splashes of color and whimsy. With this is the harmonious blend of modern chic furniture and glass walls. As you go further inside the store, you’d see a more private mini-library with a whole wall dedicated to hardbound books and the words “Love” and “Believe” adorned in the middle. Their menu catches a little of each kind of dish from appetizers to mains like pizza, sandwiches, fish, meat and casseroles. Also, they have breakfast food of which I particularly recommend their Sour Cream Pancakes with caramelized bananas and candied walnuts (Php 350) and Hole in one corned beef (Php 350). They also sell a beautiful array of desserts, which are both delicious and pleasing to the eye. The staff is particularly courteous and attentive – adding to the overall experience that this place offers. Café 1771 is perfect for families who want a cheery brunch or a group of friends sharing stories and light readings.

2. Subspace Coffee House

Price Range: Php 100 – Php 200 Address: Unit 103, GF Grand Emerald Tower, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center, 1606 Pasig Contact No.: 655-7077 Do you have any more awesome cafes in mind? Keep us posted! And you just might win a free coffee date with any Stache member for you and your friend!



June 2013 book nook


Literature has been a constant catalyst in changing lives, in inspiring to make a detour from the usual line of thinking, and in even moving nations to make stands on a myriad of issues. Miguel Syjuco’s novel Ilustrado is a portrait of how Filipino authors struggle to bring about the changes that the Philippines have been searching for. Can words truly bring about change in a country that has been constantly dubbed as hopeless? Crispin Salvador, the man whom the novel centers constantly struggles with this issue, and the novel begins with his battered corpse being pulled out from the Hudson River. Crispin Salvador is the controversial author in the story. He considers the critiques and insults thrown at him by critics and even fellow authors a trivial matter. After being constantly ridiculed, he finds new resolve to write a novel that will wow the world, but before he can even reveal his manuscript he is mysteriously murdered. His friend and student Miguel sets out to find Salvador’s last work and travels around the Philippines to learn about Salvador’s life. The book limns one hundred and fifty years of the Philippine’s history—the wars, the politics, the all-too obvious poverty. The novel might be heavy and sometimes difficult for the ordinary reader to comprehend—what with the different narratives and excerpts from works and interviews of Crispin Salvador. It’s nevertheless a worthy read, and at times incorporates comic stories from such characters as Erning and Boy Bastos that will make one laugh out loud while flipping through the pages. The novel is not merely a thriller that just revolves about looking for the missing manuscript; it also encompasses the changes that Miguel went through as he searched for answers to the missing manuscript. The novel will tell you bits about his life, his struggles with family, getting high with friends, and even getting a girl pregnant at a very young age. It may not drive you to finish the novel, but as the story starts to unravel you will find it beautiful and hauntingly memorable.


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book nook june 2013

A BOOK OF DREAMS Written by Janel Gatdula

Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s A Book of Dreams is not your conventional novel. It is a work which can be said to resemble a postmodern pastiche with the novel seeming to do away with the traditional valued qualities of depth, coherence, meaning, and originality, combining different elements borrowed from other works and writers. The novel revolves around the lives of six characters namely: Angela, Ruben, Ariel, Debbie, Luis and Cora. And it is how the novel relays their story which is probably the most intriguing aspect of the novel for any reader to find. In order to get to know the lives of these six characters, Hidalgo gives the reader not just one narrative, but multiple ones wherein each character has his or her own story accordingly labelled with their names. The reader is also able to get to know them even better through the character’s dreams. However, the story of the six characters is not the only story which the novel has to offer. Its resemblance to a postmodern pastiche comes from the novel’s utilization of sketches and tales (presented in the novel as having been written by Angela), and the different quotations Angela has as entries in her notebook. These sketches, tales, and quotations are seemingly intermixed randomly with the narrative of the characters. Though the novel may seem to be confusing at first glance, the entirety of it emphasizes on one thing: the art of writing. Each technique used—the sketches, tales, narratives, and quotations—serves its own specific purpose. The sketches emphasize the importance of the narrative; the tales use familiar events or trademarks of famous individuals to reveal the realities of the Philippine society while the individual narratives of the characters show a more personal side by showing the different stories of a handful of people in a more intimate level; and, the quotations found in Angela’s notebooks can be seen as a device used to summarize the ideas presented in the sketches, tales, and narratives prior to it. The great thing about A Book of Dreams is that it takes its readers through a quest not just for the meaning and art of writing, but also of the nation and the self. Not only that, but the novel also presents multiple narratives. These multiple narratives, though seemingly fragmented, end up forming a cohesive novel that is left to the understanding and appreciation of its readers.


metro manila missed connections homepage

METRO MANILA MISSED CONNECTIONS: A LOGBOOK OF WHEN PEOPLE ARE ALMOST FINDING EACH OTHER by Ecks Abitona. Photograph by Maine Manalansan. In the busiest city of the country, with a population of more than 12 million, people are either in a meeting, riding buses and trains, skipping school, drinking milk tea like every other college kid or hanging out at the customer service counter of Fully Booked “idly scanning the reserve list.” Metro Manila, according to the brains behind the blog, is a big enough city that seeing or meeting someone you could are drawn to is bound to happen. Like all the other Missed Connections all over the world, what Metro Manila Missed Connection provides is a venue either to give vent to an access of attraction or to possibly find a “missed connection,” or both. The allure of Missed Connections is the ambivalent sense of anonymity and the curious sense of opportunity it offers; posting a missed connection is almost a futile act, yet infinitely cathartic. Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist’s CEO, who started Missed Connections said that “[it] gives people that second


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chance…They represent persistence in the face of long odds, which definitely adds to their artistic appeal.” Metro Manila Missed Connections is exactly that. Filled with romantic verging on creepy anecdotes of brief encounters, this website lives up to its namesake’s charm and structure. It is not only filled with accounts of factual missed connections, it also reads like the quintessential romantic comedy. This could perhaps be one of the rawest and the most honest social microcosms on the Internet and the more you are in the current, the more you could wish for future reconnections.

You can message or Tweet the author at and @ecksssy.


June 2013 Issue 15 Edited by Lambert Cruz

16 songs based on books By Lambert Cruz

THE future of wanderland by Alfonso Bassig


LAMBERT CRUIZ lists down 16 songs based on literary creations. Art by PATRICK GUILLERMO.


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lists 16 songs based on books

1) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil’s Tattoo The title track is inspired by an 1839 short story ‘The Devil In The Belfry’ by Edgar Allan Poe. The line “beating the devil‘s tattoo“ sounded bizarre to Robert Levon Been. His curiosity lead him to go through it‘s meanings, but on the hand it was a “restless spirit rattling inside of your skin.” They thought it seemed appropriate for the record. 2) Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses An obvious reference to the Greek mythological hero in The Odyssey, Homer’s Epic Poem. “Frontman Alex Kapranos told Mojo magazine in May of 2008 : I like the idea of the gods blowing you away for 10 years. I like the idea of being out in the Aegean - of being lost but embracing it” 3) Vampire Weekend - Giving Up The Gun In Koenig’s track by track guide of ‘Contra’ posted on NME January 13, 2010, he wrote : “I got the idea for the song from a book my dad gave me called Giving Up The Gun. It’s a history book about the time when Japan expelled all the foreigners from the country, closed off all trade and stopped using guns and reverted back to the sword. It seems unimaginable now that humanity could willingly go back to an older technology. It got me thinking about whether you could give up all the things that you have and go back to a simpler way of life” 4) Alt -J - Breezeblocks An article from Interview Magazine, Alt - J writes “The song is about liking someone who you want so much that you want to hurt yourself and them, as well. We related that idea to Where the Wild Things Are, which we all grew up reading, where in the end the beasts say “Oh, please don’t go! We’ll eat you whole! We love you so!,” that they would threaten cannibalism to have that person—it’s a powerful image. “ 5) Ben Gibbard - Bigger Than Love The lyrics were based on an exchange of love letters between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald from a book called Dear Scott, Dear Zelda. Ben Gibbard says “It’s a pretty great read. It’s really romantic and tragic at the same time. I’m very fond of it, and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to pull from it for a while, and I ended up writing that tune.” 6) Foals - Total Life Forever Inspired heavily by Raymond Kurzweil’s theories in his book “The Singularity Is Near” 7) Aqualung - Strange And Beautiful The spell from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a close reference.

8) Friendly Fires - Pala The title track is “named after the locale in Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Island,’ where parrots whisper uplifting messages to the people living there, and Macfarlane says they plan to feature a colorful parrot on the album cover. “The parrots in the book are trained to give uplifting messages like, ‘Live for the here and now’ and ‘Live every moment while it lasts,’ so we thought that the parrot was a good representation of what the music’s like as well,” he explains. 9) Company Of Thieves - Oscar Wilde “We are each our own devil and we make this wolrd our hell” a famous quote from the Irish Poet, novelist, dramatist and critic. Oscar Wilde also wrote that “Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” 10) Panic At The Disco - Time To Dance This is in parallel with Chuck Palanhiuk’s Invisible Monsters. It doesn’t retell the story but uses a few references “Give me envy, give me malice, give me your attention” and “Boys will be boys hiding in estrogen.” 11) Motion City Soundtrack - Invisible Monsters A bonus track off of their 2005 album Commit This to Memory, this is the band’s take on the same Chuck Palanhiuk novel. 12) The Walkmen - Brandy Alexander Another track referencing Invisible Monsters, here is The Walkmen’s, a track from their album A Hundred Miles Off. 13) Mumford And Sons - Timshel This song about water and mountains, from their debut LP Sigh No More, was directly inspired by John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden. 14) Noah And The Whale - Jocasta Based from Greek mythology’s Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in Jocasta’s point of view. She was the daughter of Menoeceus, Queen consort of Thebes Greece and the mother of Oedipus. 15) Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Red Right Hand It refers to the vengeful hand of God from the epic poem in blank verse by 17th century English poet John Milton. 16) Julia Stone - Justine Off of the album By The Horns, the single is inspired by one of the singer’s literary favorites, the character of the first novel in Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. It’s about being present, living here and now and built on ‘I don’t want to worry about what anybody’s going to say when I’m gone! I want to be here right now, not wait for something to make me happy tomorrow’ and ‘Being accepting of what is.’ STACHE 27

the future of wanderland interviews

The future of wanderland ALFONSO BASSIG interviews Karpos’ Stephanie Uy about Wanderland and the future of local music festivals. Photo by MARY SILVESTRE. Calling it the “pinoy version” of Coachella might put off a lot of festival aficionados, but with bands like the Temper Trap, Neon Trees, Nada Surf and an amazing OPM lineup, you’ve got to admit that this is an all-time high for the country’s local organizers. Stache sits down with Karpos Multimedia President Stephanie Uy to talk about the birth and probable future of the summer’s talk of the town when it came to music, Wanderland.

How do you think this will affect the local music scene? It will inspire more local indie bands as they look forward to our festival every year since we make sure that we feature them as well. ...and the concert scene? Well, people will think twice before buying tickets for a solo show. The good thing about festivals, your ticket is equivalent to a number of bands plus a whole day of exciting activities on ground.

At such a young age, what made you start producing shows and concerts? Is this a long-time dream of yours? No. Actually, I’m a Multimedia Arts Graduate, my dream is to study [a] master’s degree in visual design abroad, have an art exhibit there and put up a multimedia company. My cousin Kathy Choy, who works in a music retailing store introduced me and my family in to this kind of business. Since Karpos Multimedia’s main business is graphic and web design, promoting shows are just an icing on the cake.

The bands you’ve selected, foreign and local, were superb. Were they personally handpicked? Yes. My siblings and a friend had favorites and it was a long process but thank God we finally had a good line up.

Weren’t you busy with school? And with other things 20-year olds do? How did you find time to do it? I graduated in De Lasalle College of Saint Benilde last 2010. So I have more time doing the things that I love like travelling and did some freelance jobs in web design and graphics. Two years ago, we eventually put up Karpos Multimedia, a family corporation. You’ve produced gigs that featured solo performances and then Wanderland, an event we think Manila needed. What made you decide to go for a wide scale festival? To be honest, the first festival I attended is an Asian Song Festival in Korea back in 2010. Since I love at least two K-pop bands [laughs]. It’s very different since the languages of the songs are not English. After that, I told my parents that I want to put up a festival once a year. But during that time we’re apprehensive since we are not used to festivals. After promoting five solo shows last year, I realized it’s very exhausting but at the same time fulfilling and that time there were no promoters bringing bands that cater to the genre I love. If other countries can do music festivals, why not us as well? It’s a big, big risk but I’m happy my parents trusted us siblings in mounting Wanderland.


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You can’t “not” make a second or a third festival. You just can’t. Any teasers on who will be on the next? Well, no teasers for now. [laughs] But I guarantee that Wanderland 2014 will be bigger and more exciting. Of course, I will make sure that we’ll put at least one of our favorite bands. Which bands do you hope to bring in the country for everyone else to watch? Coldplay. We assume you go to concerts a lot. Who are your top 5 must-see bands live? K-pop band 2PM, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Foster the People and The Script. We think what you did is very inspiring. Who would’ve thought Wanderland would happen? What can you say to hopefuls who would also like to succeed in the same scale as you? Thank you. God is good. It’s a dream come true. The feedback was so overwhelming until now. First and foremost, you have to make sure that this is what you really want to do. Doing this kind of business is very difficult, lots of risk involved but in the end it put a smile on my face seeing people happy and enjoying every show that we make. Mounting a big festival like this won’t be possible without the Lord’s guidance, provisions and faithfulness. Dream big, always hope for the best and in everything that you do, seek and trust God. To God be all the glory.


June 2013 Issue 15 Edited by Maine Manalansan

will the real bob ong please stand up? By Elise Montinola

+ skins by grace de luna book cover redux by various artists Save black and white and cheap newsprint by alvin molina comic strip page by various artists the monomyth: whose story is it by karla bernardo vagabond by christienne berona


skins Encrypted on the pages of the books our eyes perceive are words that create marks and tinker with our thinking. And as these piercing sentences from the minds of some of the celebrated writers of our country today play roles in our daily living, little do we know they encrypt themselves even on our own skin.

Photographed by Grace de Luna Styling by Joanna Santillan Assisted by JC Santiago Models Jaypee Martin of YEOH Models Pauline Lapus 30

APRIL 2013



“Minsan pala kailangan rin ang lakas para sabihing mahina ka.” Bob Ong, ABNKKBSNPLAKo?!


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“Tama na sa akin ‘yung maligaya ako paminsan-minsan. Para kapag malungkot ako, masasabi ko sa sarili ko:

Minsan naman, maligaya rin ako.” Lualhati Bautista, Bata, Bata... Pa’no Ka Ginawa?



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“Ang katamaran, galit, maling awa sa sarili, at kakulangan sa pasensya ang nagpapabalik sa mga tao sa bisyo.� Bob Ong, Ang Paboritong Libro Ni Hudas


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save black and white and cheap newsprint stories

Save black and white and cheap newsprint The Komis is not dead; ALVIN GREG MOLINA tells us how this artistic craft is being rejuvenated by the very young and the very independent press. Art by Trizha Ko.

You have to agree with me when I say it’s frustrating to find something terribly good but, not given the proper credit they deserve. It’s like newly discovering an incredible song from a band that, apparently, no one cares, or know, about. The frustration of how you find their craft magnificent and how an average Juan listener would spend more time listening to lowbrow music. I remember browsing through vintage collections in some store in Cubao, and seeing some records and Pinoy comics that seemed to have gathered dust together with an old stash of zines. It


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got me thinking “where are our good old pinoy comics now?” I realized that my frustration with good music is just the same with how I find new and brilliant comic artists today are given less thought and prestige in the comic scene. You see, we have hundreds, even thousands of talented artists out there who are trying to make a name in the local comic industry, but only few fellow Filipino value the worth of their craft. In a country where Juans try to be a John or a Jin, setting one’s craft fully Filipino and winning the bloody battle against these aliens has always been quite an effort.

stories save black and white and cheap newsprint

And unlike in the times of Carlo J. Caparas’ Ang Panday and Mars Ravelo’s Captain Barbell, you won’t find any pinoy comics in every corner these days; they have come to fight for their survival against other social and more accessible media available. However, it’s stirring to know how Filipino artists still try to push the boundaries of local comics industry amidst the many challenges they face. Filipinos are an innovative and persevering lot. Although it takes so much time and sweat to make and reproduce Komiks, we just don’t give up that easily. Having no medium to showcase their craft, young and brilliant artists are driven to reproduce and market their own homegrown graphic novels, hence the birth of self-published graphic literatures and the many comic conventions today. Take for an example the book design and publishing outfit, Youth and Beauty Brigade of Adam David and Conchita Cruz, organizes a small press expo called Better Living Through Xeroxography. Here, the self-published craft of young and brilliant Filipino artists around the country, who gambles in the world of independent press, are welcome to have their work be valued and marketed, may it be from books, comics, and zines. It has been in commission since 2010 and has provided huge opening doors of optimism to local independent press. Another is the hailed largest comic convention in the Philippines, Komikon, started by dedicated comic artists and enthusiasts of The Artists Den in 2004. As years passed by, it all grew into a larger venue and now held several times a year. They always put up an indie section per convention and as well as an indie comic event every year. And as for distributing and selling independent Filipino works, Studio Soup and Moar Books have been taking the top indentation. There are also collections of graphic literatures published by a group from University of the Philippines, Grail Comics. Gerilya, also hailing from the College of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines, is the epitome of patriotic arts because their works are inspired by Philippine culture and history. Not only that they do comics, which they used to sell in bangketa as reminiscent of the marketing style of Filipino comic industry, they also venture in other art related activities like street art, graffiti, and

illustration commission. There are several active groups today that our young Filipino artists are very grateful of because they help them carry on in the world of independent press and comic scene. Two of these artists are our very own, Mica Agregado, who has self-published works of Primera and Rue and Trizha Ko who have self-published works and also do book covers in Flipside Publishing. I had a chance to talk and gain insights from independent artist like them. 1. How different do you see our local comic scene now from before? Mica: “ Well, I just started last year, but one of my older peers told me the scene got bigger these days while the genres and the medium are getting more and more diverse. He’s right about that. I think there’s around three big comic conventions per year. We fit snugly in these conventions, but we’re seated with a bunch of other guys doing a different schtick.” Trizha: “It’s funny because I’m not qualified to answer that question and I never really planned to get myself into the comic/zine scene until recently (1st quarter 2013). I found it increasingly frustrating to be placed among an allfilters-on advertising environment in college where I had encountered bigoted, self-involved professors and professorpleasing-starved classmates. (But I did also have professors I looked up to, although I was too shy to approach them about artistic inquiry) I am also way too introverted and finicky for film directing so I figured, “hey, storyboarding is kinda like making comics!”” “What I can say about the comic scene I’ve been exposed to though is that it’s still in its fetal development in terms of subject matter. Ultimately, it’s still superhero or shoujo/shounen fanfic borne out of fandom and the “cool-geek” industry that pervades in conventions. But I can see thats it’s starting to evolve with the more original stories we have (Trese, CFCCA, etc.) Hopefully sometime soon, people will be more open to other stuff aside from actionpacked stuff like the autobio stuff Josel Nicolas is doing.”


save black and white and cheap newsprint stories


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stories save black and white and cheap newsprint

“self-publishing’s a self-contained medium. You control everything you work on right from the content, the print and the distribution. And you can also be experimental with how you present all those ideas lodged into your head.”

2. What are your thoughts about self-publishing? Mica: “Self-publishing’s a self-contained medium. You control everything you work on right from the content, the print and the distribution. And you can also be experimental with how you present all those ideas lodged into your head. For one zine you could be experimental with, let’s say the paper. With zines you could put smaller pages into your thing without looking like a magazine filled with spam subscription postcards.” Trizha: “It’s like internet forums, everyone can join, can say anything they want and most importantly form communities. There’s nothing more fulfilling than forming meaningful and personal connections with people and feel like you’re not alone. I think that’s what’s best about the indie, self-publishing route! No snobby plutocracy.” 3. As a young artist who self-publish, do you find it difficult to compete with other artist (especially those under mainstream and foreign companies)? Mica: “ I do get worried if my stuff won’t be at par with other foreign zines, not so much with the “big” guys. First, they’ve been doing this longer that we did, second, they got better materials. They have such amazing stuff in color using Riso print and silkscreen. But I’m hoping all of that I’ll try to learn eventually. After all it is a craft that takes time to perfect.” Trizha: “Well at the moment, I’m not into this to make money and compete (I’m a regular at Flipside Publishing doing book covers), making art and writing is really therapy for me. I feel empty when I don’t document parts of my life and the funny stories I hear here and there.”

4. What’s the best advice you ever had about pursuing selfpublishing in the local comic scene? Mica: “I was told that continually working on your shtick will get you somewhere, eventually.” Trizha: “Don’t do it for the money coz you’ll go crazy. Advice from Oliver Pulumbarit (Lexy, Nance and Argus). I was in denial for a while because I fantasize a lot about living-on-the-edge just to make good art but what I learned is, it’s health first you need to keep up or the whole system malfunctions.” These young artists are only representation of the many artists we have today, who have so much passion for their craft and for their country. Perhaps the only thing lacking now is how these independent artists is being supported by many, and what we must give them is more hope for local comic industry and independent press. And you have to agree with me how frustrating it is. No. Scratch that. You have to agree with me how uplifting it is to hear all these coming from young and brilliant independent artists like them. It’s true that venturing into this kind of living may not be sufficient to make ends meet; but, they still do it because they love it. And Komiks certainly won’t fade away.

You can message or Tweet the author at and @agmolina.



April 2013


the monomyth: whose story is it? crash course

THE MONOMYTH: WHOSE STORY IS IT? They say that the hero is only as good as their villain, but what exactly makes the hero a hero and the villain a villain? KARLA BERNARDO finds out as she takes us through their separate journeys. Art by CHES GATPAYAT

It starts with his reluctant departure and ends with his triumphant return—we all know how the Hero of every story traverses his journey and reveals his tale. The history of literature reveals that for the most part, the Hero and his saga of defeat and eventual victory is such a beloved, preferred plot that almost all classical works have this for a narrative. So much so that it seems like the Monomyth, as Joseph Campbell calls it, is a prerequisite for a timeless masterpiece or at least an upcoming artist’s unforgettable debut. It’s like the chemical X to success: have a hero, make him suffer, then make him prevail. And


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what is not to love about it? It comes as no surprise that the reason writers and filmmakers churn out these kinds of stories is because there is an audience for it—a continuing, seemingly limitless wanting from all of us. We look for these stories. We flock to them. We want them. Case in point: in the last decade alone, how many blockbuster superhero movies has Hollywood produced? How many sequels and prequels have been created? How many superhero stories have been re-told and rebooted? I am sure that as of this writing,

crash course the monomyth: whose story is it?

cinemas all over the country are showing just one movie alone: Man of Steel. It is the 12th live action Superman film in the franchise, and the 25th superhero movie in the last five years. If that’s not milking the cow for money, then I don’t know what is. And yet, this is not the last of superhero movies—far from it. In fact, our list doesn’t even have to stop at heroes with supernatural powers and it doesn’t have to end at films. From classics like Beowulf and The Iliad to more contemporary series like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, the story of the Hero seems to have cemented its place in man’s predilection with ease—be it books, movies, or television shows. But is the monomyth too limiting a narrative? If it’s all we’ll ever find in most stories, then is it not a dead-end? Joseph Campbell, in one of his most famous works The Hero with a Thousand Faces, held that all hero storylines are the same, and that they can all be traced in seventeen stages, under three major phases: the Departure, the Initiation, and the Return. In a nutshell, it begins with the hero leaving his ordinary, mundane life to discover a world that is so different from his own, with people so much unlike him. This colossal change will require him to overcome a lot of obstacles—most of which will end in defeat—and come to terms with an enemy that will test his mettle, but his greatest challenge will be defeating a far bigger villain: himself. The Initiation will bring about the hero’s demons, his insecurities, his flaws. But it is also these flaws that will propel him to true bravery. Acknowledging his frailty will be his first courageous step, which will eventually lead to his final and most important victory. If we really think about it, it’s hard to imagine a story without this kind of set-up and this kind of hero. So how is the monomyth still relevant? And is there a way out of it? My short answer for that is a no. There will always be a hero, and every tale will be about his journey. Each story, to be an effective one, requires that a character is fleshed out and becomes a better version of himself in the end. And for that to happen, a character must leave his comfort zone, brave through some barriers, before emerging successful. It’s a cycle that somehow all kinds of character have to go through in order to achieve a story with a purpose: be it the lead, the best friend, the beloved, and even the villain. But perhaps what makes the monomyth too limiting is not the narrative per se, but the perspective. “The Hero” is put on a pedestal. He is the underdog, the little guy. He is who we are all rooting for. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to see things from the other side of the spectrum though? The hero’s journey is limited by the fact that it is only the hero whose story we are hearing. But who

said the hero is the actual hero? In one of my fiction classes a few years back, we were once required to look up Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which was a retelling of the classic Jane Eyre. In this adaptation, Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester’s “crazy” wife is actually the protagonist, and Rochester was the villain that drove her over the edge. It brought out a lot of postcolonial (as Bertha was a Creole princess from the Carribean) and feminist discussions in class—things we wouldn’t have considered or even thought of had we not seen things outside the perspective of Jane. Looking closely, Bertha’s story followed the same structure as Jane’s: she left the Caribbean (her departure), she struggled to adjust to a life of a married woman in a cold, alien land like England (her initiation)—but unlike a satisfying and successful ending, her final stage hurled her to a dead-end tragedy. This kind of re-telling is not entirely novel. Gregory Maguire’s famous novels, such as Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister have piqued a lot of people’s interests in the story of the “Enemy,” so much so that it has even inspired a musical. Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad retells The Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus’s wife. And then there’s Red as Blood, Tanith Lee’s short story from the point of view of the Queen. There are two sides to every story, so the cliché goes. There are two heroes to every story too. In fact, there are many heroes, with an infinite number of stories. Each character has a journey and each journey has a pattern. We identify with the heroes because they have been marketed as the people to root for. But the hero’s journey as we know today is already predictable and unsurprising. Their motivations are all the same and clear; sometimes it’s only the setting that’s different. The villain’s story, however, is laden with mystery, hatred, and probably a twisted kind of love. We have no idea what brought them to where they are. Isn’t it more interesting to see what goes inside the head of who they call their nemesis? The monomyth is not a myth. It exists, yes, and perhaps it will always be there, looming over every story, weaving itself into every novel, every film. But it shouldn’t have to be the hero’s alone. They say art is an exploration of the human psyche, and I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the Supermans and Batmans of the world. Give me Lex Luthor, give me the Joker. Give me Draco Malfoy. And Iago. Because I’m done with celebrating with the heroes—let me hear it from the dark side.

You can message or Tweet the author at and @thebombastarr.



Judging The Boo

He is one of the country’s most prolific authors and whose p MAINE MANALANSAN and ELISE MONTINOLA try to fin presence of Bob Ong’s genius; Art by mica agregado, vince


june 2013

ok By Its Cover

persona, on paper or otherwise, one of the most enigmatic. nd out what makes him tick, all the while basking in the vince puerto, tzaddi esguerra and angela espinosa.



june 2013

“Um, excuse me, Philippine book industry, I have stories to tell. Is it okay to write a book without sounding like the others? I am not [a] learned writer, but there might be people out there willing to read [my books]. Is it okay if I try and write in their voice?”

We meet Bob Ong via Facebook chat—really, the only way there is to do it, given all the variables in place. Variable A is the boss man himself, ubiquitous to the Filipino-in-transit-to-adulthood. B’s is a personality that has populated our imaginaries with anecdotal clips of love, loss, and rivers of desolate humiliation, and yet, at the same time, has long wisped us by. Variable B is the date of encounter, absorbed by an epoch where online hibernation is set as the default mode. Variable C is that the magazine is a dutiful fan girl, who’ll follow him into the dregs of any medium. But we are slighted by Variable D: the always uncertainty of Third World broadband. Despite this, we are able to whittle through his (sub)text to recoup the choicest bits of his standard nuggets of wisdom. Our mission: to get as up close as social network-ly possible to the man behind the moniker (a straight-laced nickname to his Bobong Pinoy title), to decrypt the method to his occupational madness, to pinpoint the trajectory of contempo Literaturang Pinoy. Beginning at point zero, the point of germination, our childhood and his. Maine Manalansan: I was really drawn to the format found in your books and it was just so much fun to read. I started reading your books when I was in Grade 4 I think and ABNKKBSNPLAko is easily one of my favorite books as a kid. Did you have one as a kid? Did your interest in reading influence you to become a writer someday? I read that you tried different things like cartooning and music, but why storytelling/writing? Bob: Just the usual children’s stories [and] books. Whatever interested me. I did mention before that I read everything including labels of medicine bottles—just because I can. And yes, a good reading should influence writing. What good is knowledge gained (from reading) if you don’t share it with others? Storytelling comes naturally and is not as technical as cartooning and music. I believe cavemen had a blast with it. And I happen to be in the same league. The way he cheekily prostrates himself, even when we’re but a foot length’s deep into this interview casts light on the thread that has sustained his growing oeuvre of online and print, of non-fiction and fiction, of cubed anecdote and unified story—his bark and bite as narrator. In a sea of long form clerics, lemons, and interlopers, his may just be the most authentic Filipino voice out there for reasons

beyond even his own comprehension. Maine: One of the main problems that we want to address in ‘mainstream Filipino literature’ is the fact that when people think Filipino literature, they either think about serious political biographies about the People Power or Jose Rizal. Bob: Filipino literature [is a] very controversial and political topic. You know, we Filipinos adhere to a certain decorum depending on where we are. We’ve been taught to dress differently when we’re outside (naka-”pang-alis”), or to behave properly inside the classroom, or at the church, or in the company of important people, or our parent’s guests. For many, many years we believed that a book should only be written in a particular way. No, actually, it was worse— we believed that we couldn’t and wouldn’t have other genres apart from the ones we have. Case in point, his fifth book Stainless Longganisa details a certain trip Bob takes to the bookstore, where the lack of variety from the Filipiniana section—where formulaic recipes, classics, and compilations reign supreme—makes him swell up in disappointment. In a way, it seems this formula compels us to look trivially at the trivial if we are in no shape to follow in Rizal’s footsteps with exact precision. Counter to this current, it’s easy to see how Bob’s books, his style, his voice, all really seem like a breath of fresh, trailblazing air. It is a freshness of air that he strongly hopes to maintain, specifically by inspiring young writers to keep learning and absorbing, to write with their own styles and in their own voices, and to keep pushing the boundaries of a “Filipino literature.” Maine: Of course your writing voice is very different from that. How did this develop? Is this the way you talk as well? Bob: I think clarity of expressing yourself comes through age and experience. I think I “developed my voice” by reading authors who really have way with words and ideas. My biggest influences—Dave Barry and Robert Fulghum—are masters of written wisecracks and philosophies. They deliver in a way that only a turd could miss the point. And, no, I am way wordy in real life and I confuse myself in midsentence. I am limited to a pen or keyboard.



june 2013

Maine: You discussed a lot of important issues and topics over the years and I won’t be surprised if people started calling you the next Rizal or the modern day Rizal. If you’ve had experiences of this, how did you feel? Is there some kind of pressure on your part? Bob: Like that stupid kid who shouted “But the emperor has no clothes!?”, all I did was, say, “Um, excuse me, Philippine book industry, I have stories to tell. Is it okay to write a book without sounding like the others? I am not [a] learned writer, but there might be people out there willing to read [my books]. Is it okay if I try and write in their voice?” Maine: This is what we’re also challenging. We want to introduce a new era of Filipino literature. Na hindi lang puro Rizal, hindi lang puro Precious Hearts Romance, hindi lang Philippine Ghost Stories. There are a lot of good, young contemporary writers emerging now who don’t want to be the next Rizal. Bob: It’s hard to consider myself as the next Rizal with all the critics stoning me for my grammar. (Laughs.) But it does feel good to be recognized for affecting change in however small way. Pressure from what? As the next Rizal? It is an undue praise, and you don’t get pressure from that. Maine: How do you see the future of Filipino literature then? And what do you think the youth can do to change the way Filipinos and the publishing industry see our literature? Bob: I’d like to think that things are looking good. I’ve never seen this kind of growth in the local book industry. [A lot] of new “struggling writers” are realizing their dreams of becoming an author, and getting your work published seems a lot easier now compared to a decade ago. There’s still much to be done, yes, but we’re on our way. What can the youth do? Buy local books, support Filipino authors; read, read, read and embrace positive change. Every time you part with your money, you are exercising power, you are making a vote. Where you give your support tells the publishing industry what you want more of. It is a shout-out to the powers that be. Your support to new local authors, the Filipino artists in general, is a message that we love our culture, we want our arts to flourish, we care about the Filipino soul. And perhaps more than his biting wit, it is Bob’s passion that gives texture to his colorful stories, a sincere passion that sways to whatever breeze whips through it. While more and more people realize the power and immensity of the internet, especially as a medium to temperately, productively express and communicate, instead of just as an end user tool to hog attention, we were quite curious about what Bob thought of it now, the cross-spectral monster that it has morphed to, especially in contrast to the internet of his yester-blog.

Maine: Since you already mentioned the words “pen and keyboard,” it’s 2013 now, ano na gamit mong ballpen? Bob: I am relying on keyboard more and more. Tumatanda at patamad na nang patamad. (Laughs.) Maine: At least hindi na kailangan problemahin yung pagtatae ng ballpen. (Laughs.) I read in one of your Facebook posts that you want us to have the next great Filipino novel that can be compared to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. If you were to create one, what would it be about? Bob: No, I’m not saying we should have an LOTR. I’m saying we owe it to ourselves as a nation of rich culture to have great books and stories as “epic” as what the West has. I wish to write one, but that is still way above me. Maine: I’m curious, are there things you dislike about the way the youth use the Internet? Bob: I have “resigned” from the Internet. Twitter is a wasteland. [It’s] really disheartening. Maine: Why do you think so? And how do you feel about the fake Bob Ong accounts that use your name to tweet things like “Retweet for Heat. Favorite for Spurs.” or “Yay ! Excited na ako sa concert ng CNBLUE bukas Minyuk at Yonghwa why so gwapo xD.” The last one I found really funny. Bob: Funny and disheartening at the same time. It’s insane. I mean, if you were given a chance to have another face, wouldn’t you want a better one? Well the internet is giving us that chance, to look better and be judged better based not on our looks but on who we really are, and kids are opting to be trolls and commit virtual murder in the name of their idols. I’ve just set my Twitter’s trending topics to Worldwide because I don’t want to be depressed with the topics that our country deem important. I take utmost care whenever I checkout Twitter feeds. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong about being a fan. What’s sad is that the Internet is a very powerful medium to affect change, but the majority of [its] users are oblivious to that great opportunity to do goodness. Maine: I read in Stainless Longganisa that you exclaimed “bobong pinoy” while watching Erap’s inauguration. Did you feel like doing the same while watching this year’s midterm elections? Bob: With all honesty, I am on a sort of lie low status right now, at least on social networks. The recent turn of events isn’t exactly encouraging, and it makes me feel that all I’ve been hoping to accomplish were all for naught. [Our] nation is morally bankrupt and I’m already contemplating on crossing over to the Dark Side anytime soon. (Laughs.)



APRIL 2013

“I’d like to think that things are looking good. I’ve never seen this kind of growth in the local book industry. [A lot] of new “struggling writers” are realizing their dreams of becoming an author, and getting your work published seems a lot easier now compared to a decade ago. There’s still much to be done, yes, but we’re on our way.”

Maine: The Dark Side, meaning? Bob: Ah, just realizing how big the enemy really is. There’s no changing the world. There’s only changing you. See my cover photo. (Laughs.)

Bob: To the creative youth, you are not called creative for nothing. Seek to build, create and improve. Arm yourself with truth to paint beauty. Express without hurting, care to love, establish harmony. Art is good. It should always be. How is overrated. It’s the why that matters.

Maine: True. But the Internet is the most powerful thing right now, and I still believe that more and more people are starting to actually care for the country, especially with today’s youth. So I don’t think we should give up just yet. But thinking about Binay or Sotto will always lower one’s morale. In conjunction to this and as we’re nearing the end, we attempt to run his starting thesis statement by him again, to see if his conjectures still hold true: Maine: Sa tingin mo, bobo parin ba ang Pinoy? Bob: *walks out, head low, sobbing* And perhaps it is precisely in these snappy, searing, but poignant responses of his, the words in-between his words, that unsheathe the Filipino-ness in his voice. He is found as an easy read, a style that adapts and exposes our cultural manners consciously. But if there’s one thing he’s critical about, it’s his audience, his reception. If there’s anything that Bob Ong has learned learned from years of writing as Bob Ong, it’s that “people see change as Godzilla; it’s a frightening monster.” But he, prodded by us, prodded by the Stache credo, decides to end with these words instead:


“The culture, the art, the architecture, the food and the people - my trip to Italy for an internship opportunity last summer was an absolute blast! It was indeed overwhelming to discover a country that never failed to fascinate me. It was a tough decision to go abroad alone but these photographs just shows I did make the right choice.�


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Stache June 2013 // Issue 15  

This issue, we feature one of the most iconic writers in the Philippines: Bob Ong. Featuring articles about the Dan Brown debacle and a comi...

Stache June 2013 // Issue 15  

This issue, we feature one of the most iconic writers in the Philippines: Bob Ong. Featuring articles about the Dan Brown debacle and a comi...