VOLUME 1 Â· FEBRUARY 2018
The Official Literary Journal of The Spectrum
VOLUME 1 Âˇ FEBRUARY 2018 The Official Literary Journal of The Spectrum
The Spectrum is the Official Student Media Corps of the University of St. La Salle. Its editorial office is located at the USLS Student Activity Center, La Salle Ave., Bacolod City, Negros Occidental 6100; it can be reached through the telephone number, (034) 432-1187 local 172 and e-mail address, email@example.com. All rights reserved. No part of The Spectrum may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Media Corps. All contributions become The Spectrum property and the Editor-in-Chief reserves the right to edit all articles for publication.
About the Cover
Itâ€™s debatable whether being first matters or not. When your looks are designed by genetic makeup, your sense of things by derived sources, alternatives are an unlimited pool. Youâ€™ve been an inexact duplicate of something else along the way: a mimic. But are you merely just a second-rate copycat? The question swims in ambiguity.
Photographed by Nichol Francis T. Anduyan
A face is found to be generally considered attractive when it is symmetrical and average. At the same time, we find that supernovas are beautiful. The way the mind perceives things is very strange. We desire what’s new yet there would be resistance to change. So what exactly do we want? Where exactly do we place ourselves in a world that values conformity but also, upholds uniqueness? This idea of the inevitability of imitation portends the birth of The Spectrum’s literary journal, Joust. The name itself brings to mind combat yet it is not steel meeting steel that we envision. Rather, we yearn for a meeting of many minds. This debut issue tackles a multitude of phenomena, tendencies and processes. Perhaps, we might agree on things, or maybe you’d come marching up to our office to give us a piece of your mind. Nonetheless, read on, dear cavalier, and let our thoughts dance.
Andrea Nicole C. Farol EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Photographed by Jowan Dave G. Guides
It’s Been Said Before by Andrea Nicole C. Farol | art by Cedric Lance M. Militar
lready. A most common word, but one that connotes something done. In the existence of this word, man accepts that there are things that he will only just know or want or will do that already has occurred. This brings to mind, in the light of plagiarism issues and accusations in the government, academe, business and art, one might wonder, what exactly is original? Ages before, man had already recognized that he is a follower. Be it in the concept of religion, tradition or specifically, art. Famous philosophers Plato and Aristotle delved in the ancient critical and philosophical concept that is Mimesis. Both believed that art was perfection and imitation of nature. And perhaps it is true. Art is defined as “a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power”. To a small child, art would be drawing his/her family, his favorite cartoon character, a flower or anything that comes to mind. To a seasoned artist, it could be a creative imagery of as simple as a can of beans. And as we can see, art is the imitation of what we experience. Symmetry is originally seen in nature as evidenced by the Golden Ratio. And what did artists do in eras such as the Renaissance? They strived to produce the most perfect of creations known to man, as proved by Leonardo da Vinci’s works. The famous artist was influenced by the desire to exude the beauty of the human body. But in literature, the idea of mimicry is much more complicated as words can hold too many meanings and be twisted to one’s delight. What one feels and what we have been able or want to experience are what we put into words. And 8
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human as we are, despite the multitude of differences we have to live with, we come together, not absolutely all but a pair or cluster, maybe, in a single point. Consider mythology and religious books. Both contain common themes, stories that give the same moral lessons, the same story structure and same build of some featured characters. Yet, these were put into writing by different people living distantly from each other. One might then conclude, that the idea of imitation in literature is due to the fact that the human way of experiencing things can transcend beyond cultures, literacy, technology and beliefs. The odds might be too low for a young man living in an untouched tribe in a remote place could pen a novel as one a millennial living in the suburbs can produce but their experience may run parallel with each other. Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis, a masterpiece of literary criticism, delves into various works of Western writers as they represented everyday life in their own respective periods, influenced by the social conventions and mindset of the times. It begs to make one wonder, why exactly does man delight in taking something real and portraying it, through different mediums, as realistic as possible? Why is it so enjoyable to see works which are slices of life? Is it because we can’t help but imitate reality? The inevitability of mimicry in literature could also lie in the test of time. As humans evolved and simple civilizations grew into megacities, the increasing complexity of things were mirrored in the complexity of how they were presented in writing. A 16th century scientist’s big achievement could be discovering gravity or a new element while now, discoveries involve complicated research on more difficult areas like in the subatomic level. Taking that thought into literature, when one wakes up to find that all these
ideas are taken and many have twisted these ideas in almost every way possible, the occurrence of imitation can be seen in a different light. Also, as time passes, some works become obscure and their ideas can be delivered in a fresh, new way. Thus, in the scheme of things, it can be said that the idea of mimicry is relative. As defined, literature as an art exists to cater to manâ€™s need of a catharsis. And as humans face different versions of similar adversities, we will share the same thought albeit the stories weâ€™ll tell will be sewn in varying ways.
Her Great Depression by Maria Angelica M. Ape | art by Keanu Joseph P. Rafil
To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.” As Esther’s mother suggests her dementia should be taken care of as if it were a bad dream—something that can just be forgotten—Esther, as a matter of fact, feels that madness is like being trapped in a bad dream in which she cannot wake up from. Esther Greenwood is Sylvia Plath’s slightly altered persona in her novel, The Bell Jar. The story, however, does not revolve on the the protagonist portraying martyr-like acts. And while most of today’s projection of mental health in media orbits around blaming one’s instability to men, society, or themselves, Plath successfully stowed away. Although excoriating on it, Esther blames mental illness for her mental illness. The topic on mental health has been embedded in literature since time immemorial; dating from the Victorian-era up to today’s young adult best sellers. Through the years, the stigma associated with mental illness has long been remaining intense despite high prevalence rates of mental health problems globally. Its promotion has been largely ignored and has been projected differently in media—may it be through radio, tv, film or print. Years later, books novelizing mental health depicted that somehow the romantic kind of love is a remedy for depression and anxiety to be cured. Needless to say, mental illness seems to be even less understood now compared to the previous generations. But not all books portraying mental health were executed poorly. In the last few decades, there had been a number of books that authentically illustrated mental health. Aside from fiction, authors share their experiences in raw, first person 10
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accounts through publishing their own memoirs. “I was trying to explain my situation to myself. My situation was that I was in pain and nobody knew it, even I had trouble knowing it. So I told myself, over and over, You are in pain. It was the only way I could get through to myself. I was demonstrating externally and irrefutably an inward condition.” In “Girl, Interrupted,” the story is told from the account of a young woman’s long-term stay at the McLean Hospital, a top-rated psychiatric hospital helping those living with conditions such as addiction and borderline personality disorder. The story overlooks the lives of female patients suffering with severe mental illnesses. Though the story was short-lived, the memoir opens dialogue regarding false diagnoses, the stigmatization of those receiving a mental health diagnosis. A theme in the book shows how sexist
attitudes of the time period may have influenced perceptions of women already struggling with any types of mental illness. In addition, fiction which explores mental illness has basically made a genre of itself; although some young adult novels can be romanticized to suit some younger generation’s taste for romance. In retrospect, familiar classics too show the tenderness and vulnerability of the issue. “And it was then Cecilia gave orally what was to be her only form of suicide note, and a useless one at that, because she was going to live: “Obviously, Doctor,” she said, “you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.” In some ways, The Virgin Suicides is kind of an anti-coming-of-age novel. Its protagonists are in a transition stage ranging in age from thirteen to seventeen, from being a kid to an adolescent. Ironically, they don’t even make it past adolescence seeing that the imagery of Lux’s bra hanging on Cecilia’s crucifix shows that even religion and sex show the juxtaposition of the bra which is symbolizing sexual awakening, and the crucifix symbolizing sacrifice—maybe even death. A reason why reading and mental illness are both combined, is when the two are put together, they both become very personal—like how readers acquire vulnerability because they may relate to it in their personal lives. What’s most important though, that even in fiction, writing about mental health should be in a way, responsible and true, not something backtracking progress in combating the stigma it pertains. Since mental illness is so widely misunderstood, it may not be readily apparent to authors why depicting it accurately is so important and compels others to give their full attention.
We Got Counterattacks for the Post-Truth Culture by Katherine E. Co | art by Katrina Y. Nemenzo
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t is not strange to see the power of literature and words, coupled with authority, abused to serve one’s own personal motives. The truth per se is manipulated to fool the next wave of information receivers. When these people aren’t aware enough, they may just accept the data as truth, or in an instance when they have full faith in these information disseminators—opinion leaders, as we usually call them. But when we live in a society divided by lies—which through our biases, we might have subconsciously believed in—then it is no far than a society of fools perennially going round the wilderness, eliminating each other in a thrust of self-preservation and irreconcilable differences. However, there is something hopeful in all this: ignorance is a choice. The fight against fake news and an age of post-truth (defined by Oxford Dictionaries as a word “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”) seems fruitless in a sense that it is, unfortunately, led by power. And that power is money. How did former President Marcos and his cronies get away with corrupted money amounting to billions? How do druglords smuggle illegal drugs into the country? That’s how. That’s also the same answer to why trolls spreading misinformation and ire amongst people online do what they do. It’s a sad reality, but C.R.E.A.M.— “Cash rules everything around me.” Money seems to be the key to our fantasies—to feel self-sustaining, to feel powerful, to feel in control, to feel attractive, to feel like you’ve achieved perfection, to feel like you’ll never need anyone again—like it’s the only way to be happy. But there is another weapon we have that’s strong enough to fight these forces. It is the ability to not be ignorant; in other words, it is being smart, being wise, being open-minded. It is understanding how deception works, and why we are oftentimes deceived so easily. It is understanding
how we are products of our culture, but also how we can always stray away from it in times when it hinders progress or when it blocks us from the truth. It is seeing our biases in the real light, and choosing what we want to keep and what we want far away from us in the pursuit of a sensible and truthful way of life. Yes, that’s the better reality—we have a choice. And with that leads to the same weapon used to destabilize us—words. For writers, we have the power of the pen, but writer or not, a skilled public speaker or not, our words influence and they matter. Engage in healthy, well-informed arguments, open-ended dialogues, and constructive discussions. But use it with caution. You don’t want to be the one subconsciously spreading wrong information and aimless arguments. Biases are natural, but do look at them in a realistic light, because you have to face it: your culture and the way you were brought up isn’t perfect. Don’t think you are infallible. Drop the pride that consumes your being and clouds your reasoning. Our biases can cause us to easily believe in something and not believe in other things. So be the enlightened one who opens his/her mind to learning. It’s not about how “Others are right”, but it’s about “You may or may not be right”, so think a lot more and be the better brain. Words are a gift, and so is our ability to think and reason. Let’s all help each other hand in hand to not become the society of mindless fools that thrives on lies. The process starts with an individual effort but it requires mutual effort to achieve progress. And most importantly, these same weapons can be used the same way fake news and destabilizing movements are made to do: to inflict some sort of damage. In vigilant words, use your weapons wisely.
Zines in the Philippine scene by Ian Kristoffer V. Ga
ines have evolved from a merely lesser known form of literature to a transcending platform for art and literature. The first zines appeared in the 1930s, when science fiction enthusiasts began to self-publish and trade their own volumes of fan fiction. These were called “fan magazines,” or just simply “fanzines”. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, fanzines found home in the underground punk scene, where followers of various bands would sell their homemade ‘tribute’ publications at shows. Meanwhile in the ‘90s, feminism and punk converged in some counterculture communities, creating a third-wave feminism movement named for the first zine to identify it: Riot Grrrl, associated with bands such as Bratmobile, SleaterKinney and Bikini Kill. Zines have long been used as a method of political organizing in activist cultures and subcultures. They’re becoming more and more popular in the Philippines as what sets them apart from the mainstream magazines in bookstores is the craftsmanship they possess; how they are intricately handmade and photocopied and distributed by the author. Frankly speaking, the millennial that I am is foreign to this thing called zines. However, my research led me to realize that millennials are wellaware of this form of literature, even citing that zines promote social justice, relevant movements, art and poetry. If you have the talent, artistry, and printer to help you, you can actually produce your own zine. In an article by Alyana Cabral entitled, “How the zine can be a tool for change”, she states that zines are produced as a reflection of the authors’ views and as a proposal for the future, adding that it is essentially a manifesto and an art form rolled into one. Basically, Cabral elucidates how creating a zine is likened to promoting one’s prized beliefs while being artistic at it. The fact is that this method makes it more appealing to the millennials who are proactive in pushing for their beliefs and appreciative of art as well. Unlike mainstream publishers who invest so much in heaps of copies 14
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which I think is a great idea for them to reach a bigger audience. For zines, the bigger the audience, the easier the message is spread across entities. By that, zines need also to be photocopy-friendly for mass production. The more rustic the paper looks, the greater is its appeal. Since zines are by itself an art, zine authors should tap their creative juices and formulate a work that contextualizes a certain socio-political climate. With the Philippine setting teeming with subjects for zines especially the societal issues we are being pressed with, it is with no surprise that zines like those by Conchitina Cruz, depicting women empowerment, are prolific with the medium . Philstar columnist Gaby Gloria said that “anything can be an idea,” sharing how even one’s love for tapa is a pretty valid reason to make a zine. I must say that the subjects in zines can be anything under the sun, as long as it is relevant and impactful to society. Collaboration is key when it comes to zines. It is ideal that authors must work for a unified goal and mindset so that the clarity of message is magnified. How perfect would it be when great artists and writers go hand in hand and go about confronting societal issues head on. The fact that zines are considered political in nature is unmissable. They appeal to me as tiny drops to an ocean that can still create a ripple effect, with the ocean being society. As in the words of David, “Small press publishing is fortunately broad enough politically that it can address everyone across the class spectrum, but it also addresses a specific enough concern that it fortunately becomes overtly political. It is in that sense that the small press is truly anarchist.” Truly, breaking free from the conventions of life through art is what zines are for.
Think twice before you speak? by David Willem L. Molenaar | photographed by Martini M. Falco
he Philippines is an archipelago filled with rich cultures and unique dialects. Yet wherever we go, we are discriminated by our use of language and where we live. Having grown up here in the city of Bacolod, I was always exposed to the dialect, Hiligaynon. I learned to understand it and speak it and I continue to use it as my main means of communication to my family, friends, and passersby. Although, due to my dad’s inability to comprehend the language, I have to speak in English. English was always practiced in school but most of us tend to ignore the famous line, ‘Speak English Always’, written in almost every classroom. Even if its sole purpose is to remind us what language 16
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to speak. I remember speaking fluent English in class and my classmates would make fun of me because I sound “funny”. I understand how a foreign language may sound funny especially when we are so used to hearing our own dialect. But laughing at someone trying to speak it just hinders that person to learn it. Eventually, they would drop it and settle with what they already know. It is sad, really. I still do not understand the need for us to judge and label our fellow Filipinos. Our friends from the great north, Metro Manila, would see us, from the province, as people with low social status. It may not be all, and I am not here to generalize, but there are definitely some out there.
I see two main reasons as to why they would do this. These are economic and cultural reasons. Economically, we all see the power to be centered around Metro Manila. In the online community, specifically in games, there is constant “race”-shaming towards Bisayas. Apparently, being from Visayas and speaking the local dialect entails you are dumb and incapable of the things these bashers are capable of doing. I just find it confusing how they’re being racist towards their own race, the Filipino race. Inquirer columnist Winnie Monsod put it, “Metro Manilans are the favored offspring” insofar as wealth distribution and economic programs are concerned. Making them assume they are above us, hailing from the provinces. Culturally, we think Metro Manila is the center of society. It has always been the center of media, and TV shows. We even hear their language in all the shows. It really makes us think that everywhere else is unappreciated. Even our president, Rodrigo Duterte, thought this as well saying, “You have always looked at Mindanao as a distant star. But we are Filipinos just like you”. Even though we are constantly judged by everyone when we speak anything but Filipino, there are a lot of things I would consider as pros in being multilinguistic. As a Filipino that looks like a foreigner, I am a victim of so much talking behind my back. But to be fair, I don’t blame them. It’s not all that common seeing a foreign-looking person who speaks the local dialect fluently. And so people tend to talk behind my back using the local dialect in hopes that I would not understand. Some foreigners try their best to speak the local dialect but end up giving up because of the constant mocking of their accent with it. Still, some of us appreciate their efforts and try to encourage them to speak it more. Being fluent does not necessarily mean you know how to pronounce a certain language word for word, have good grammar, and not have a thick foreign accent as you speak the language. The ability to express yourself through speech or writing would not completely make you fluent,
but it is a good start. Having your audience understand what you are trying to put out there is definitely one way of knowing you are fluent. A published article I once read showed that it is indeed possible for people to write a novel, or any form of literature, using a language they they do not natively speak. In fact, they could write them in such a way you would not expect a non-native speaker to write. Vladimir Nabokov is a great example to this. Natively Russian, he and his family emigrated to England after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1919. He stayed there for quite a while which made him understand and learn the English language. With the help of his son, Nabokov wrote the first half of his works in Russian, and the second half in English. The reason why he did this is so that he would be able to share his works to both Englishmen and Russians. He was never made fun of when he made this move, then why should we make fun of Filipinos trying to create something or even just speak the language? We should all be open to the possibility for someone to create something beautiful and share it with the world by using different languages. Who knows, the next big German novelist could be a pure-blooded Filipino.
Face Value: The Good in Good-looking by Iris Denise N. Rivera | art by Glen Jed J. Descutido
irror, mirror, on the wall Who’s the fairest of them all? Not unlike most children, I grew up reading fairy tales and short stories where good conquered evil and princesses met their princes and happily ever afters ended at just that. I was revolted by the Evil Queen and when she fell to her death, I cheered along with Snow White and the dwarves. 18
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Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters were despicable to me and I never bothered to learn their names. They were just that—ugly stepsisters. Matilda’s marching Principal Trunchbull was the substance of my nightmares for weeks. I had the image of evil pictured in my head: a wrinkled hooked nose, high-pitched voices from big blubbery lips, beefy arms and big yellow teeth. As a teenager, I became interested in the
complexity of villains and I started to understand why it was so easy to find them repulsive. In most fairy tales, the primary antagonists are, at least in some way, portrayed as physically unattractive. The typical characteristics, especially for female antagonists, are at least one of the following: fat (Ursula the Sea Witch), old (Evil Queen’s disguise), and ugly (Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters). Take Roald Dahl’s stories for example, he introduces his villains by narrating their unlikeable traits and then proceeding to describe in detail how unattractive they are. In his James and the Giant Peach, the antagonistic Aunt Sponge is said to be greedy, selfish, cruel, and unsympathetic. Along with Aunt Spiker, she abuses and torments her own nephew and this is evil enough as it is. It sets the stage for two evil characters who are out to get the protagonist. But then Dahl goes on to detail Aunt Sponge’s appearance calling her morbidly obese with a grotesque appearance. Aunt Spiker is also described as having sunken eyes and a balding gray head. In contrast, the characters at the forefront of the story provide a problematic context, as well. The un-good-guy-ness of the antagonists is further emphasized by the fact that the protagonists of fairy tales all have large bright eyes, slim waists, and immaculate hair, and they always win. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is the epitome of this context. The story revolves around how Snow White’s beauty drove her envious royal stepmother into homicidal rage. It was also her beauty that caught the heart of her Prince Charming leading to her happy ending. Sure, her kindness and responsibility is portrayed, however, it’s never part of the storyline. The symbolism used is a simple enough concept to understand at face value. Children need to be taught that evil is bad, revolting, and ugly. But storytellers often forget that the same could be said for the opposite—that the very human characteristic of physical unattractiveness could be considered evil. You would think that 21st century fairy tales and other children’s stories would evolve from their 19th century origins. Despite the elevated status of women in society, the emphasis on looks and beauty is still as prominent as they were in the 1850’s.
The message this brings to readers, especially young girls, is that beauty should be a significant quality for females to possess in society. In fact, this also affects the perspective of boys, as well. These stories bring them up to believe that beautiful women are the ones most deserving of happiness. As Language and Literacy Professor Dan Hade put it, “Children’s literature is the only class of literature not produced by those who read it.” This fact gives authors, editors, and publishers a level of authority and responsibility as to what kind of literature children consume because what a reader consumes in childhood influences how they view the world as adults. When the status quo for fairytales is ugly-bad, pretty-good, the child is advertently taught to conflate beauty with morality. Hideous villains raise children to idealize beauty above all. A society then grows up not wanting to be ugly. There may be people who want to be bad and edgy instead of good, and some people who may even want to be poor instead of rich. But you will most likely never meet anyone who wishes to be ugly because the media we consume solidifies the idea that good things come to the beautiful. Beyond literature, digital media has also started to encompass these ideals. Advertisements target insecurities such as body hair, pimples, weight, and skin color as if these don’t naturally occur on the human body. Television shows turn persons who are not conventionally (by the Eurocentric standard) beautiful into secondary characters that remain the butt of jokes as if only the flawless are worthy of screentime. Hollywood has time and again casted Caucasians for Asian roles as if the ratio between the population of China and of North America wasn’t 1.3 billion to 579 million in 2016. These issues are as real as this journal, and until these outdated standards and tropes are left in the past, until appearances become less integrated into a story, we become responsible in educating children that fiction does not reflect upon their reality. It becomes our responsibility to evaluate their understanding of the story and correcting them if necessary lest they mirror their concept of morality with what they see in the mirror. joust
The Bubbles of Masculinity by Joshua Martin P. Guanco | photographed by Nichol Francis M. Anduyan
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anhood is a personal passage. It is the road traversed by boys who become men through various acts, rites, or anything in between that encompasses the essence of pure masculinity. To many, becoming a man begets an unrivaled ego and an air of respect whose sex compel them to do more work than their feminine counterparts— protecting the family, fixing the broken pipelines, killing off pests, carrying the heavy equipments, and providing the money needed for their families’ daily expenses. Men are bestowed by this preconceived notion that they should be apt to cross out the things in the list imposed. But what if it all went reverse? Discovering Manhood in Soapy Bubbles is a creative nonfiction written by Nate Martins for The New York Times last September 2017. The reader-submitted essay covers a personal journey of him and his discovery of manhood in one of the most unlikely yet lovely source—his wife. The essay starts off with Martins recalling about his youth wherein he would always stare at wonder and confusion on why his family’s female members would always wash the dishes whereas men sit back in idleness. In turn, those very accounts, would then propel Martins into veering off the type of man he was to become. He decided to be different than those men whom he shares the same blood. Cohabitation with his then-girlfriend meant a risky decision-making: owning up the household chores. Everything was fine up until the point where Martins’ true masculinity exuded untapped machismo he was withholding through the years of watching her partner do all the chores. After a necessary yet unwanted episode of their relationship, Martins discovered that masculinity is not measured by the kind of things a man does, but the type of person he truly is towards his partner. It was not about the things he should be doing but rather his being loving, caring, trusting and understanding toward his partner through the harshest winds life hurls at them. And who was responsible for this awakening? None other than his girlfriend. The prevalence of masculinity—or at the
extreme, machismo—all throughout the course of history can be linked to a Jungian concept called the ‘animus’ which is half of the anthropomorphic archetypes embedded in the universal unconscious of humankind. Carl Jung postulates that people of both genders posses the animus— the inner masculine personality that transcends the human psych. However, men exhibit it more than women. In the essay, Martins decided that he would be a “different kind of man” due to sheer machismo he witnessed when he was young that led to the ill-perceived image of his father and the eventual divorce of his parents. It can be hinted that Martins tried to repress his animus to keep the relationship smooth-sailing from all the fragilities his inner macho brings. He kept on doing this until his unconscious regurgitated all the masculinity he has repressed in the previous years. He became anxious over the fact that his girlfriend was doing “manly” labors than him; his anxiety made him feel as if he were only half the man his partner expects of him like a boy with a refusal for the realities of manhood. Jung’s explanation of the universal unconscious and animus culminate, stressing the truth that nobody can hide from their truest selves. Man is man because of cumulative experiences encased by and in history. Virility is unavoidable as it has engraved itself in the universal unconscious of the masculine sex What this implies to society is that personality and identity are interwoven with the fibers of people like us throughout history. It is a predicament bestowed upon us. The persistence of machismo is a byproduct of the animus of every man who has come and go, and the same goes for marianismo and the anima in which both at are the extremes of the spectrum of masculinity and femininity.Through this, this should be moderated not overused in everyday life. Martins unfolds one of life’s most precious lessons through the use of word choice. He displayed in his essay that being a man does not always mean doing all the things by oneself, sometimes being a man means opening himself to others aside from his soapy bubble. joust
Cinematic Déjà vu by Glen Jed J. Descutido
orget the popcorn, get that cheesecake and grab a slice because I’m going to tell you something. Earlier this year, Flatliners, a film about five medical students who triggered near-death experiences in an attempt to find out what lies beyond the borders of life came out in cinemas worldwide. Did it seem like it’s original? Did it seem like it’s new? Yes. Wrong. Well, I honestly thought it was, unless you’re already old enough to know that 28 years ago, five medical students, with Kiefer Sutherland in the lead, wanted to find the same thing out. Yes you’re right, Flatliners already existed way back 1990. But so did The Mummy. Tom Cruise wasn’t the first one to encounter the undead; it was Brendan Fraser way back 1999. Or was it? Wrong again. It was actually Arthur Byron from the 1932 film of the same name. So, how many more of these? A lot actually, but if we keep on going these pages surely wouldn’t be enough. Remakes, reboots, loose sequels, whatever you call it, have been a part of the silver screen way before our generation was born. You’d probably get the groans of rejection or the stares of denunciation for watching one because unfortunately, in the present time, negativity tags along with it, prompting people to loathe a film when one is such, not giving it a fair chance. Now, take a bite of that cheesecake and listen closely. The complaints against remakes actually spike up from one-to-exaggerated since most of it are for revival by commercialization. That’s why we get a handful of bad unnecessary remakes take 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street as an example. Production companies risk money to take more money and in line with this, creativity gets 22
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compromised. Sticking to used plots are bad for the innovation of literature and storytelling especially if the remake does not show anything new knowing how it should be better. Would you eat a resold cheesecake? I certainly would not. However, remakes are beneficial as much as it is detrimental to the film industry. We actually get a handful of remakes in a year because whether we like it or not, some of them actually work. Similar to how 1983’s Scarface, 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven and 2011’s Fright Night are Hollywood masterpieces. Dig deeper like how you dig on your cheesecake because there are really good films which are actually remakes of older ones. Not only do they work, they lift up new directors’ name unto the pedestal like Zack Snyder who helmed the remake for the George Romero classic, Dawn of the Dead. Remember Pennywise the Dancing clown? Yes, both from the 1990 TV Miniseries and the 2017 film. Both manifestations are the same yet all of them are as iconic as the original from the novel. You didn’t see it coming didn’t you? It actually originated as a novel, a different medium of storytelling, yet we still get the same terror and excitement whenever we experience it despite being used three times already. The story was well brought up from different generations, transforming the novel into a script, eliminating subplots and changing scenes that might not actually be necessary and appropriate while still being consistent with the subject. The differences were a stretch, ranging from crossing out sexual scenes that were present from the novel to developing the character to be bolder than its 90’s miniseries counterpart. Above all this was the novel’s author, Stephen King’s approval even wanting “to let everybody know that they
should stop worrying because the producers have done a wonderful job with the production (of the 2017 remake).” Another example of a change that worked well would be 2006’s The Departed wherein there was an addition of symmetry between the characters of Jack Nicholson and Martin Sheen that was absent in its original film, Infernal Affairs. Most audiences actually has this belief that nothing beats the original (and with it, remakes should not exist) and I, for one believe that the complaints aren’t heartfelt (because, I’m guilty) for the reason that we still get different versions of CSI’s and Shake, Rattle and Rolls. If originality is the main issue here, sequels or spinoffs wouldn’t be existent. Remakes that are well-thought of are actually here for a retelling of a story through the lens of a different time and culture. The most popular genre to be remade is horror and it greatly shows the difference between the scares the original film had, than how it is done now since filmmakers and writers consider the audiences’ present tolerance on fear induced by movies. Not all remakes are bad; one should just give it a chance. You might be laughing now because humans as we are, we do. Its commercialization is actually on us, we still watch them anyways. Just like how someone would munch on a cheesecake, whether it has toppings or not, they’d still eat it. It’s in how different it would look like now than the productions before, how it would feel considering developments and generations, on how it’s told and how it would play out with our senses. It’s in the flavor; it’s just like cheesecake, doesn’t matter if it’s strawberry or blueberry, the fact of the matter is it’s still cheesecake. No. It’s delicious. Now finish that cake. joust
Minimal Means More written and illustrated by Jowan Dave G. Guides
’m sure ‘minimalist’ is quite a familiar word to most of you. It gets thrown around blogs, websites, sources in which your phone wallpapers are based from. To categorize minimalist images and pictures, however, is done with ease—plain colors and a few elements present, no apparent drop shadows or three-dimensional characteristics. Now, social media sites have opted for a flatter look compared to being more pronounced years ago; a trend that’s still at large. The clothing brand Supreme earns more followers through their use of white text on a red rectangle while Kanye West’s Yeezy brand sports black on black on black, and cream on cream on cream shoes. Google, Facebook, Uber, Instagram, Airbnb, and many more shows the popularity of this flat and 24
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minimalist design. The recent trend of minimalist, flat design is criticized as a design labeled as “lazy”, “easy to do” and “brings no creativity”. However, I think the total opposite of it. Attention to the principles of design is much more emphasized when implementing the minimalist style so let’s not confuse minimalism in design and art. Although they collaborate, they are two unlike fields. How we see art totally depends on our contending takes on art pieces just like literature, for the reason that the author has something else in mind. On the contrary, graphic design is a whole different story. We design to communicate to our audience, the consumers. We design having a goal in mind—interaction with the user. I mentioned that the principles of design
would be stressed and rendered with importance in minimalist design. Underestimating this substantial concept I suppose separates experienced designers from beginners. First, the use of grid. In any visual composition, even in photography, the use of a grid is so crucial. How do we make use of the rule of thirds and margins? We make a grid. Grids are among the basic things to consider when composing a page. Second, the use of typography. Typography usually is not given enough attention in composition. The designers at Apple use Helvetica, a simplistic font for their interface because they value readership the most. Third, when your product is known to millions of people from all walks of life, make sure its interface is accessible. Next, the use of white space. Allow the readers to take a pause for a while and have a resting place for their eyes. Lastly, an emphasis on balance. The visual weight is key in a composition. So, why did I mention these principles? For when you choose for a minimalist design, you would rather note of these matters than entertain other modes and styles. A white page with a slab of text is not just a white page with a slab of text. Certainly, designers must take into consideration
the font and position of text, its readership and legibility, to give a sense of luxury and usefulness. It is put that way because the reader needs to absorb the text on the page, and nothing more. Blogger and designer Addison Duvall wrote that, “Minimalist design is like an optical illusion. The end result might look clean and simple but the whole intent is to trick the viewer into thinking they’re seeing something easy and effortless. If you do, then the ruse was successful. But don’t think that it takes less time or effort to achieve those results. If anything it takes more time.” So, whenever you say that minimalist design looks easy to achieve, remember that the designer, wherever he/she is right now, is smirking right at you. Moreover, German industrial designer Dieter Rams says that good design must be beautiful as well as useful. Rams says that the aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used everyday and have an effect on people and their well-being. The more you look into something beautiful, the better of an impact it has on your well-being. I surmise most of the minimalist design only aim to be understood. You know what this means, even if you will not put depth in it. Aside from that, there’s this statement making rounds in the Internet; among creatives and designers saying that, “Design is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.” Honesty, simply put, is the main goal of every designer. Be certain that you won’t be needing to explain things. Just imagine having to read a manual of something you use everyday; minimalist design amplifies that goal even more. Although minimalist design has a handful of negative implications, what it aims to achieve— readership and functionality—however, are met with importance. It makes sure that the readers do what they are supposed to do. It makes sure that the message goes through without distractions. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter may stir enough drama in their own turfs but imagine if the timeline itself demands to be an issue. joust
Years of Again and Again by Hezron G. Pios | art by Seth V. Pullona
arning: this piece contains one to many repetitions more than necessary. However, repetitions, as some experts would argue, are also a method of assertion—which means to say, illustration or proof. Exhibition Notes, a 1058word prose poem by Filipino poet Conchitina Cruz in her poetry collection There Is No Emergency, does just as that, and displays how attentiveness in a person’s reclusive universe can be sporadic, and attain stasis at the same time. The poem begins with the persona’s staccato remembrance of pre-puberty until adolescence: At six I lost my first watch and gave up on biking. At eight I wanted a cow and a fridge to put the cow’s food in, and also a music box. At thirteen I broke a tooth in a dream and for days tapped each tooth in my mouth with my tongue, searching for cracks. At seventeen I lived with three strangers and at twenty-one I got chicken pox exactly two weeks before graduation. Look at the word ‘at’ penned four times at 28
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each beginning of sentences. That is an emphasized indication on the use of repetition. Beer to wine. Couch to a chaise longue. Landmarks to street signs. The word ‘perhaps’ rather than ‘maybe’ as the latter can make the persona ‘officious’, Cruz itemizes preferences in a straightforward manner by saying ‘I prefer’ then annexing the contrasting metaphors; a poet possessing sovereignty over the persona. Although the issue of the persona’s language proficiency is not put on a hot seat, this could be excused by poetic license or suspension of disbelief. I would rather rent for life than be responsible for a house. // I would rather spend a weekend up in the mountains than in the city, but this was not always so. // I would rather not have a conversation begin with “We need to talk,” although experience has taught me that what follows is not necessarily terrible news. I think photographs of shadows are inevitably elegant. // I think it is better to walk in the middle of the street and get hit by a car than to walk on a dark sidewalk and get mugged.
// I think a cab with a rosary hanging from its rearview mirror is safer to ride in than a cab without it. // When I am bewildered I think of olive trees half my size which I must have seen on a trip long ago or merely read about. Implied as a female, the subject of the poem underscores the day-to-day living with a flair for details. It compels the reader to render more attention through human senses and, at the same time, to contend with our thoughts, our beliefs frequently and with potency. I cannot look at a painting without reading its title first. I feel awkward making the sign of the cross. I feel compelled to write words with my index finger on dusty surfaces. I have a hard time watching movies with scenes of rape and torture in them. There are two or three things in my life that I regret. I am pro-choice but am amenable to a reproductive health law that excludes abortion. I am embarrassed to belong to one of two countries in the world with no divorce law. I read the news after I read the classifieds. I despise cops and evangelists. Habitual record-keeping (a recurring activity) is concretized by these lines: There were years when I signed my name as well as the date and place of purchase in every book I bought, and there were years I did not. There were years I recorded in my journals and there were years I did not. // There were years I wrote thank you notes and snacked on cheese and crackers and there were years I did not. Emphatically, writing seems customary to the persona, hence the listing and mental notes regardless of materials. Stream of consciousness curbs the poem uninterrupted; its structural significance. Cruzâ€™ works are often catalogued, experimental or lengthened almost like prose, and this piece is no exception. Her rigorous vocabulary exhibits intricacy over organic unity, excluding containment and brevity. Moreover, Exhibition Notes transcends more than line cutting. The narrative matters. The
situationsâ€”at times plain like TV consumerism, geography, or booze; other times controversial like economics, sex, religious standpoints, and literary awakeningâ€”overlap from sentence to sentence. From relatability to ambiguity, this poem dubs Cruz as an adept surveyor of lingo punched with interior life but keeps her poetic tone and reiterations grounded: When a man is in bed with me I leave the cat outside and ignore its meowing by the door. When a man is in bed with me I say screw even when make love is a distinct possibility. I am more likely to pick up a book with a beautiful cover even if it is by an unknown author than a book with a hideous cover even if it is by an author I love. In addition, Exhibition Notes marks both as a centrifugal and centripetal piece in manner seeing its nonlinearity, how it zeroes in and out from the persona, offering microscopic and macroscopic frames of reference: I am always a little disappointed when the person I am calling picks up the phone. // I think dictionaries are more reliable than novels. // I think swimming pools are far more bearable than oceans. // Sometimes, on my way to work, I see myself walking across the street. I feel the urge to follow myself, but soon enough, I change my mind. Furthermore, Cruz permeates with substance. And Exhibition Notes is merely a spectacle among her unorthodox aesthetics and eccentric human truths. Her fondness for repetitions may not all the time echo cyclicality as they could come in the forms of recollection, or indecisiveness telling us to confront what must be duly confronted on our own consolation. Brava to this exhilarating demonstration of poetic voice which has a haunting message of going through the same phases, elements, and conditions even without the accompaniment of your past self. Exhibition Notes is on its path to being a widely-preserved and repeated legacy.
What Must Be the Immigrant’s Sentiments: On George Scarbrough’s Tenantry by Christiana Claudia G. Gancayco
ost often than not, there is that certain stigma and sense of tragedy an immigrant carries along his luggage. Especially in a world like ours, where people the likes of Trump parade society, the narrative of most—if not all—immigrants is a bleak, monotonous one that holds nothing else for them besides their struggles. It is one challenge for one to exist in a place he is aware he is not welcomed. It is another to try and call it home. Given the context of racism and discrimination in the pages of our history—even up to now—there is almost a uniformity in literary works on migration: the woes and tragedy it entails. However, this is exactly where George Scarbrough’s poem Tenantry is a cut above the rest. Surprisingly, the underlying theme of his poem is a sense of homeliness in the face of migration. Now, with the brutal context of the matter, one should ask: is Scarbrough being insensitive by ignoring to talk about the immigrant’s harsh reality? Is the positive tone of his poem a mockery to the dire plights of most immigrants? Let us see. Aptly, the poem begins by talking about the perpetual task of an immigrant: journeying. The persona then speaks about always being ‘temporarily in exile’, but then immediately follows up in the next sentence by saying, “each new place seeming / after a while / and for a while / our home.” The persona’s sentiments are further expounded in the second stanza that regardless of the miles of the strangeness of a country stretched, still ‘the earth ran before us’. “It was the measurable, / pleasurable earth / that was home. / Nobody who loved it / could ever be really alien.” The next stanza is a lengthy one that swoons about the beauty and homeliness 30
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of nature, likening a country to a ‘mansion kind of dwelling’, calling each new place a ‘room’ of that mansion. For the persona, it was only a matter of getting acquainted with the ‘whole house.’ This is one positive and idealistic manner putting migration—perhaps the most positive yet. Contrasted with the plight most immigrants face, it may be akin to a fairytale perspective for the average immigrant to afford, but is nonetheless stressing the matter of perspective. The persona zoomed out to the bigger picture rather than dwelling on the micro details of an immigrant’s life, which is another painful tale among countless others. Humankind’s spiritual connection with Mother Nature is given more emphasis; to welcome and to heal it rather than speak about its harshness our reality already has multitudes of. The point Scarbrough was trying to get across is clear: the Earth is our home, therefore, regardless of which country we are in, we are home. And perhaps the reader might nod in agreement while reading the poem. It washes them with a notion for world peace, making the reader look beyond geographical lines, borders, barriers, walls—or whatever else society wishes to name indifference. The line of separation is exactly what Scarbrough was attacking in his poem—by ignoring them. “Where ever it stood, / it stood on earth, / and the earth welcomed us, / open, gateless.” This line subtly revokes the validity of the lines man drew to separate one people from another, as a result breeding contempt and animosity. Dissecting the poem deeper, a critical eye would see how Scarbrough put emphasis on the phrases “after a while” and “for a [little] while”. He mentions the former two times, referring to how long until each new place becomes
home—alongside the latter, referring to how long until that new home remains home. He mentions the latter in two more occasions, when he talked about safety and beauty. “the real wall of the mountain / in whose shadow / for a little while / we assumed ourselves safe, / secure and comfortable / as happy animals / in an unvisited lair./ This is toward the latter part of the poem, where it slowly becomes apparent that the rose-colored lenses in which the persona views life is not so rose-colored after all. As it turns out, Scarbrough was not ignoring the painful truths of an immigrant. The poem is not a sugarcoat to their disdainful plights. Scarbrough’s approach was to talk about it by not talking about it. The subtlety of his style makes for a more powerful impact. The penultimate stanza is a giveaway to the immigrant’s cutthroat truth: ‘which is why perhaps / no house we ever lived in / stood behind a fence, / no door we ever opened / had a key.” It is a double meaning message that speaks of how immigrants are as houseless as much as they are homeless, having to dwell in makeshifts for survival’s sake. “It was beautiful like that. For a little while.” Scarbrough could not have capped off the poem in a more precise manner. The succinct measure and word choice make for a lingering, bittersweet feeling to make the reader contemplate on how the harsh truths of life, but also the fact that one outmatches the other. Scarbrough wrote a strong and optimistic persona, alluding to how humans are masters of their fate and the ‘happiness is a choice’ mentality, to point out that those who are given the shorter end of the stick and to illustrate what it is like for them. The poem brims with a realistic optimism. joust
A Hugot for Hugot by Starlene Joy B. Portillo | photographed by Mariano O. Javier
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he 144 pages of Depinisyon: The Art of Hugot by Mark Anicas is reminiscent of several things: First, of a lengthier and (a tad) more substantial Filipino version of Lang Leav: Ika’y nakita ko Ako’y natagpuan mo Tayo’y nagkagustuhan At sa huli’y nag-ibigan. Although, the book presents variety in the form of definition drabbles reminiscent of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary. Minus the coherence. Minus the sophistication. PANSIT. Pagkain na pampahaba ng buhay. Sana pala pinakain natin ng pansit ang relasyon natin, baka sakaling humaba rin ang buhay nito. It also speaks to an 11-year old musings: Eskwela. Paaralan. Naalala ko pa noong hinihintay mo ako sa labas para sabay tayong pumasok. Ngayon, diretso na lang ako sa classroom. But alarmingly, most of Depinisyon seems to come straight out from a distant personal memory: one which featured a time wherein preteens sent out daily gm (group message) texts to friends containing passages from the likes of 100 Love Quotes and Text Messages. Mahal. Gas, bigas, prutas, gatas. Pero hindi ako. Two years after its release, Depinisyon remains to be one of Psicom publishing’s most online-purchased book. What singles it out from other Filipino-written works perhaps is that the title in itself screams of what currently sells for the masses: hugot. The word, roughly translated to “drawing from deep within”, has become a recent genre expressing sad emotional undertones applicable across a variety of forms, may it be in poetry, one-liners, jokes, or dialogue. It comes as no
surprise that the modern Juans have become fixated with the trend, given the telenovela and local movie conditioning. As viewers, they appeal to relatable intense emotions. As readers, however, they are starting to equate hugot to literature. Hugot culture in its entirety is not unfavorable. It has always been a valid form of expression. The problem lies in the generalization that to be artistic is to be sad; in turn, sadness is the only depth there is. In a way, it has limited sentiment. Love, being one of the most celebrated themes in poetry globally, is often reduced to one standpoint where there are many. Out of platonic, erotic, familial, selfless, among a handful of other denominations, people relate to unrequited love most because it is something pervasive. Be that as it may, a poet once told that poetry is making the personal universal. Reversely, hugot brands the universal personal by becoming a commodity. Which means to say, the prominent Filipino poetry is growing generic. Which means to say, personas are compromised in the attempt to be understood. But then again, readers and writers alike forget that poetry is not entirely about understanding what is written; it is in feeling. As in this text from the book aforementioned: Chewing gum. Nginunguyang pagkain. Ang relasyon natin ay maihahalintulad sa chewing gum. Matamis sa una hanggang sa nawala ang lasa’t itinapon na. The reader can comprehend what is being said and consequently liken it to a personal experience. But does he/she feel a connection? No. Because relatability and empathy are different. Nevertheless, one can never really point a finger because all trends are a form of generational adaptation. Seeing as the attention span of millennials has been reduced to audio-visuals and one-liners, it makes sense that the literature divulged in become bite-sized as well. But there is more to brevity than hugot. The challenge, therefore, lies on how to make do of what is given because in the end, it’s not about what you write about, it’s how you write it.
Cervantes’ Dawn of Humour by Alvin Legario | photo by Mariano O. Javier | art by Karen D. Panganiban
knight, clad from head to toe with tested steel, bound by his oath to chivalry, does not seem like an odd image to conjure.. Put this knight in an era where he is obsolete and no longer in demand for service, may seem more queer. Now, picture a frail man past in his prime, suited from head to toe in his old family armor with a pasteboard visor for a helmet, riding on a skinny and clumsy horse venturing on umpteen adventures with his so-called “squire”, in the Renaissance era Spain. This is the 34
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mind-bending comedy that is Don Quixote. Alonso Quijano of La Mancha had enough money to settle down till the last stretch his days but this was not the road he wanted. After reading many books, Alonso, now a man fascinated with tales of knighthood and their code of chivalry, turns his back on retirement then decides to turn a new leaf, dons his old family armor, saddles up his old horse Rocinante, and changes his name to Don Quixote, to depart for a sense of adventure with his servant turned-squire, Sancho Panza. This
tale is made up of three different parts, rich in escapades that will surely put modern day humor in shame due to the fact that Quixote’s adventures (and misadventures) tackle morality in the eyes of the so-called knight. The narrator states that the moisture of (Don Quixote’s) brain was exhausted from so much reading that he went crazy. This creates a self-deprecating humor centering upon the Don himself. The author Miguel de Cervantes himself says that he wrote Don Quixote in order to diminish the influence of those “vain and empty books of chivalry”, as well as to provide some jolly, unique, and occasionally sensible elements for his readers’ amusement. This story engages the reader in a way that makes the reader laugh, but also stresses back about morals such as the time when the Quixote abandons a boy, leaving him in the hands of an evil farmer simply because the farmer swears an oath that he will not harm the him. This can reflect on the contrasting scale between good and evil in which heroes are not necessarily inherently good and villains are not necessarily evil seeing that it all depends on one’s perspective. Cervantes’ narrative uses satire the way it was originally intended that leaps much levels compared to the Filipino humor often challenged for its misuse. The main humor in the novel arises from the slippage or gap between Don Quixote’s “insane” or abnormal foresight of the world and the true to life vision of what the world is. Don Quixote, an old man, has consumed so many romances of chivalry depicting high-born acts of knights guilty that he has been impacted with to conjure himself as a knight purely for love by Altisidora, the raunchy maid of the Dutchess. The maid eventually becomes the downfall of the knight signified by the part of the book where Don Quixote takes his leave of Altisidora one last time and says again that he cannot be with her. Altisidora finally snaps and tells him he’s an ugly old man and that she’d never love him. Don Quixote just shrugs and rides
away. As a chivalrous knight, Quixote respects the wishes of his so-called fair maiden. Take note that he cares not for the stinging insults, for just like every human being, he has his faults and he accepts them. Miguel de Cervantes’, Don Quixote - considerably named as the first modern novel - remains undaunted among the finest books written in the Renaissance period. As a new translation of the modern Spanish classic is reprinted, Harold Bloom claims that only the English playwright Shakespeare comes close to Cervantes’ genius. The psychopath, the academic, the aficionado. Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. The knight in all cases, symbolizes malicious grit, in which the human spirit pushes forward although faced with many difficulties. This book is a must-read, for it will open your eyes on the true essence of human morality in the perspective of a tormented soul. joust
Romeo and Twitter by Chad Martin Z. Natividad | art by Shara Mae L. Pelayo
iterature, by itself, is accomplished work. That being said not necessarily in quality, for its elements are often weighed like inspected jewels, but in terms of completion, or the understanding that it is post-creation handiwork, from the first word inscribed to the last. Inevitably, years pile up on all forms of compositions, with many outliving their authors. Popular and ingenious works that prove promise are knighted as classics. Their content, then lives on in whole, only rarely revised to an extent; or otherwise reintroduced through translation. In a climate of technology, literature has perched on a new and branching platform: social media. Fresh forms of literature have blossomed by taking advantage of the faster and more accessible variant to pen and paper. And recently, one of the most prominent of those platforms is Twitter. Twitter is easily recognized by the basic unit for all its user-made content, called Tweets. Each tweet, or post as for other mediums, previously 36
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had a strict limit of 140 characters each (updated to 280 just this year). Literature evolved from the social mediaâ€™s currency as various forms of reinvented prose and revived poetry forms have since then slowly emerged. In fact, the social media has even inspired a Twitter-natured book composed entirely of tweets alone. Hatched inside a dorm, Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin, two 19-year old male students from the University of Chicago published a book in 2009 entitled Twitterature: The Worldâ€™s Greatest books in twenty tweets or less. Whether or not the book mentioned is in fact a compilation of trimmed literature in the form of tweets or just a collections of tweets related to literature, is a fact subject to your opinion. Within the tome, youâ€™ll find yourself reacquainting with ancient titles and authors such as Beowulf, Tolstoy, Dickens and Shakespeare; to more recent ones like Harry Potter, Kafka, Twilight and The Da Vinci Code. Amounting to more than 80 literary names,
the book cannot possibly copy word for word of the originals. It does not intend to. The books, reimagined in tweets, echo a different tone that may or may not impress its predecessors. Possessing modern slackerisms and social-network slangs, the tweets somewhat preserve the voices of the classics, minus the traditional lengthy elaborations and lyricisms, which to a hardy professor, would equate to all literary elements in general. In the Metamorphosis by Kafka, Gregor bluntly puts: I curse the day I inexplicably transformed into a gigantic, six-legged metaphor. As narratives, the series of tweets or thread, barely mimics the original chapters or scenes, often warped to match the improvised mix of juvenile humour and sometimes exaggerated wackiness. In one chapter, a dying Romeo says his final words with a last-minute wondering: O, I am fortune’s fool! Maybe just a tool. And so I die. BTW that other woman I was into before Juliet? Would’ve been a safer bet. Common texting abbreviation and cultural references of today that would otherwise not have been possible in traditional dialogues have reduced notorious monologues into informal chatter. “Tis pandemonium down here. Would ROFL but it’s very hot,” tweets the protagonist of Paradise Lost by John Milton. Those being said, it is safe to say that the book was engineered for comical relief and not deliberate homage. Otherwise, it does not succeed if modernization were an intention. While it is possible to recognize familiar characters, it would be almost impossible to relate with others titles if the reader himself is not wholly acquainted with the original text. The signature use of aphorisms, which may have been possibly intended to emphasise the protagonists, often sacrifice the premier identity of those character such as Oedipus by Sophocles in the line: It’s the king! He’s yelling at me as the sheep bleat and I tweet. Cell phone use probably upsetting both. While it can be effective for some like the frank Holden from Catcher in the Rye as he tweets: I’m surrounded
by phonies! I bet you’re all phonies, too. Ugh. Operating on familiar satire, the profuse integration of millennial lingos makes the book’s humor more suited to that of the generation of the authors’ themselves. Often too explicit for younger audiences and possibly less culturally relatable to older ones, the so-called reinventions are too age-specific to be considered general amusement. Then, there is brevity. It is not clear whether the authors had seriously meant for a mass crash course on literature, which would be an indirect pun on their part if ever. But by the grounds of bite-sized reading material, their book definitely works for the typical individual who gasps at their own attention-span. Twenty-tweets or less at a 140-character pace is equivalent to an average of 2800 characters. This means that the reader can enjoy an entire act from Macbeth in merely a couple pages. However, the reader cannot rely on those pages for a proper academic reflection. While this may prove convenient to the fastpaced audience, there are still too many shortcuts in terms of implications and potential that prove the quicker way is not always the best way. Aside from Twitterature, several other figures of postmodern literature like 6-word memoirs, chat fictions or haiku reviews take advantage of the virtual nib. And what all have in common are their nature of minimal length. To accommodate today’s audience, they had taken away a lot of literary elements in order to suit the current mental load. In some cases, linguistic techniques are filtered out to achieve the more distilled variants that we see today. While Twitterature does not speak for all post-modern styles, it shows us that a cut from timeline is also a trim from custom literature: whether for humor, to suit a particular audience or to succumb the cram of a character limit. But for now, Twitterature thrives better in Twitter. As literature, a tweet may not yet be the next haiku, but it is getting the idea.
A Singin’ of the Science by Lyle John L. Balana | photographed by Nicci Bernelle D. Aguilar
ith terrible portents hanging over humanity’s head, like World War 3, global warming, burgeoning economic collapse through excess assimilation and the like, it feels safe to revisit works that deal with post-apocalyptic themes, namely those that deal with the survival of humanity after the world as we know it has ended. For this purpose, Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is chosen, a novel that deals with cloning and its possible consequences. It is interesting to observe that the cause of the end of the world in this novel is specifically of pollution. In this world, the rife pollution has caused, among other things, global cooling and pandemics. What ravages the world is not one big event, a popular reset button, but a combination of disasters that stem from a single cause. This lends a sense of authenticity, and that this novel would stick to relatively realistic consequences. 38
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What man does in this setting, he pays for in full. Now, why is this distinction important? At the beginning of the novel, as the world has fallen, one large family has managed to create a bubble of safety around themselves. For dint of efficiency, perhaps, or excess convenience, they have chosen to save themselves, using the formidable resources at their disposal- education and money. They isolated themselves from the environment, as it has been established that there were diseases everywhere- none must be touched. With their foresight and careful investment of skills, the family is paid off in safety- they endure civilization’s demise. The use of disasters at the onset of the novel allowed the author to immediately shape the setting she wanted to focus on, which is the development of a community. The main stage for this novel is not the end of the world but its genesis, and the decisions that drive this genesis forward.
The scientists in this small community then discover that everyone is universally infertile. The first wrench in repopulation has turned out to be the most severe; you can’t make new plants from barren soil. The scientists are easily explained away by the community’s superior education, and their equipment by superior wealth, but the universally infertility of everyone seems to come out of left field. It is a plot device in this sense, necessary to carve out the path forward and ignite the materials in set towards the novel’s main commentary. With the plot device forcing them to find other solutions, the community resort to cloning to revert the infertility through multiple generations. This is an experiment, run through tried-and-true processes, which has borne salvation. This entire setup is produced to show us that insofar, the reason is because of the scientists’ adherence to empirical dogma driven by human creativity. Tools, repeated over and over in ever efficient iterations, are no more than the hand that guides them. This is a two-part process that requires angles as well as weight, but in this scenario, only the weight seems prominent. The cloning process is executed, and the clones gradually regain the power to reproduce naturally. But then, something occurs. The clones decide to reject sexual reproduction process, sticking to cloning. This creates another problem for the aging community and is the lynchpin of the novel’s point: tiresome repetition always starts from safe environments or pretensions, misguided prejudice. The clones choose to stick to what they know—cloning. Their reasoning has weight but no angle. There is no reason for them to play it safe. They would not simultaneously explode into tiny pieces should they reproduce sexually, but they choose to clone because these clones are not actually “human” in a sense. As clones, they seem to have abandoned free will. They attach themselves to directives that work. And in the safe environment that they wish to maintain, prejudice against the inverse of what a safe environment is fostered. No clone must deviate. The
directives must be maintained. When a clone gains humanity through separation from the community, prejudice arises. The individuality is shunned. The clones viewed the creation of something other than their safe repetition as dangerous simply because it is different. But this is eventually their downfall, since as they lack the view of angle, they could not see that safe environments do not only exist spatially, but also temporally. Their environment is durable but not sustainable. And only the individuals see this, as they are not slaves to obdurate repetition that values only what is proven safe. As the novel closes to the rebellion of an individual named Mark, who decides to take fertile members of the clone community and create a community of his own that would run in the terms of angle and weight, the clones’ safe environment has become unsafe. But unlike their human predecessors, they are unable to save themselves. They still know everything their ancestors know, but their ancestors knew that though their options—money, knowledge, and capital—were durable, they were not sustainable. Equipment required to maintain the durability of the community failed over time because the processes that made it sustainable fell with the world. Since the clones focused on creating a safe environment instead of making a sustainable one, which is what sexual reproduction would have led to, they could not save themselves. Such a simple option was present until the end, but they were unable to use it, because they were not human and they could not resort to different levels, or angles, of reason operating at the same weight, or urgency. The novel is a commentary not only of the dangers of conformity but of the importance of keeping a free, flexible mind. In the face of disasters, approaching everything with a hammer doesn’t turn everything into a nail; it makes the hammer ineffective in some situations. As the clones failed to learn this, they paid the price that all the factors present lead to—extinction.
Poems by Hezron G. Pios
Mic, Word, Mic Who’s to say my lines interrupt someone else’s when the mic’s a hand’s reach and my instinct tells me to kill the lump in my throat? Yes, yes. You’ve done this before. I hate your school of thought. My brandishing of proverbs, like light, collects above your head holding eye contact. Words becoming Word. Thank you for listening, I said over and over. The mic refuses to shut up.
POE T RY
a spiel the mystery is this: what more can you say if i already said the things that matter before you even got to say them? i know what you don’t know how to put a finger on, sleepyhead. speaking in a tongue not yours will only worsen the case. so cut the crap, tell me about my mistakes. was it my mocking of who you’re praying to during religion class? was it in the grumpiness of my greeting this morning? we always make a scene until there are too many cameras flashing behind our backs but think twice in ending it first. how do we resist, then, being the center of attraction? you have to say i’m wrong, and i have to say i’m sorry. then explain, explain, explain. to me, to you. there’s no space for second-guessing. there’s no space for—
King of Comedy Okay, if you’re the funniest, why not make a stunt about leaving your office this instant and never take it back? You’ll do a great favor to history books and bayarang midya which won’t even dare to revise. Headlines will set your name in bold below a photo of you sobbing for real. To be honest, I am tired of rolling my eyes every time I see your face on the screen, giving bad speeches. I don’t blame you if you think what I’m saying seems incomprehensible but a vacancy in the seat can be considered phenomenal at this moment. For a year or so, you’ve invented gimmicks not even the false hero buried in the Land of Heroes managed to come up with. It’s not in the howness of things if ever you get to be thrown to the nearest dumpster but the manuscript in which you, and your invisible gun, and your checkered polo will be devoid of meaning. It’ll be a best-selling work of art: the public pirating copies for themselves and their children’s children. You’ll be quoted as the dog whose tongue cannot tame the word disente, whose Change meant versions of nanlaban. I’m patiently waiting for the punchline to punch you really hard. Let me punch you really hard.
POE T RY
Poems by Chad Martin Z. Natividad
en route raindrops scratch the window like a dog’s paw; a stroke not meant to hurt, but to warn. i have reached the city proper now: the endless sea, and the rice fields replaced by sidewalks and malls. but I am holding on to a fresh memory of the sea— how it reflected the sky’s mood like a mirror, how it attempted to reprise the blue song. i look to where the sea would have been but it does not return the view, instead, I see people shuffle like waves, their day’s work floating on their faces. hello, waves the windshield wiper, to arching billboards. good-bye, it ushers, to latching rain. the lights around here are mechanical, like a past lover’s eyes: glares that signal the presence, or lack of downpour. i drove to get home. but I can’t help trust I’ve already passed it, some number of miles ago.
Conditional An electric fan spins inside a room, on no particular number. All four of its buttons are erect, yet it churns nonstop. The repairman made sure of this. By removing a bolt, he forced Infinity into the worn-machine. Now its blades only turn indifferently. But this is a bedroom, with walls, and tiles and ceilingsâ€” where occupants leave without the slightest goodbye, and lamps and fans are unplugged without excuses. At the end of the day: an electric fan remains an electric fan, only if someone is there to thrust it with current when itâ€™s idle, or to take another precious bolt, should its ghost shy away.
POE T RY
Seats I am sitting on a chair that has ceased to rock since. It’s made up its mind, and neither the neighbour’s barking dog nor the battered fallen mango could persuade it, otherwise. I imagine: if it were meant as a boat could it have made the same choice, when its feet were carved for waves, and sand, hardening—an indicator for impotence. If I were a chair, I would like to be this one. A patient listener despite missing a few bones. Will I not creak at all the lives my sitter is not living, who knows? Yet I know this: while I can, I want to hold you the way steady chairs do. If I shake, while you are in my arms, do not take that for diffidence, rather get to know the girl who carved a bell at the branch of a tree, in her passing. What do you feel when you remember the night you laid your head by my knee. I’m sorry. I know I never made an effort to apply varnish on my words. For why make a surface gleam when in the inside it has long proceeded collapsing. In the meantime, will you grant me this: sit a while beside me when I invite you to sit, if it were not for the mosquitoes and the evening cold. I know you are spent, love, so am I, but together, I believe four legs can be steadier than two.
Poems by Keanu Joseph P. Rafil
Lumot Lumot. Lumot na ang nakabalot, Sa apat na kanto ng sementong kinatatayuan ko: Dumi, basura, at alikabok na pilit tinatakpan ng bulaang kinang. Lumot. Lumot na ang simyentong, Daan ko patungo sa sabi nilang kalidad na pagkamaalam at pagkamabuti. Pero, ito nga ba’y daang may patutunguhan? Lumot. Lumot ang kulay Ng unipormeng taon kong naging pagkakakilanlan At naging sagisag ng pagiging tuta sa Among Walang Mukha. Lumot. Lumot ang ulam ng mga taong nakaupo Sa mga silyang gawa sa pananampalatayang tagilid. Gamit ang hapag na kay tagal nang basag. Lumot. Ito ang naglalarawan Sa institusyong alagang-alaga ang maskara nito. Mukha’y natatakpan man, ngunit ang langsa nito’y umaalingasaw. Lumot. Ito ang babalot sa medalyang isasabit sa’kin sa pagtatapos. Bitbit ang apoy na pilit pinasisilaban Para sa pagbabagong noon pa ma’y walang pagkakakilanlan.
POE T RY
The Sound of Home Why do you sound like my father? After he was demanded by mother to pay the overdue bills. To cover those holes up on the roof instead of the one he has drilled on her heart. To leave the woman he met at a smoke-lit room once upon a lonely midnight. Why do you sound like my brother? After father threw a fist knowing he flunked another boring subject, thrice. After I drank all his stocked beers in the fridge that one night I couldn’t sleep. After knowing his life is a catastrophe, and to survive it is grey. Why do you sound like my mother? After she knew that father is not the same man he married decades ago; That the kids she used to cuddle during thunderstorms are near yet miles away, That the life she mud-crawled for was a wreck, and always will be. Why do you sound like me? After I knew father couldn’t leave the woman he met on a smoke-lit room once upon a lonely midnight. After I knew that his life is a catastrophe, and to survive it is grey. After I knew that the life she mud-crawled for was a wreck, and always will be. Why do you sound like everyone else? After they knew I’m still sluggish after sleeping for two days, and days after it. After they knew that I am full when I haven’t eaten for four days. After they knew I dropped out of school when I am just at home, jailed in my room. Why don’t you sound like somebody else? Telling me that it is always a new day, after sleeping for two days, and days after it. Telling me that I could look more alive than dead, knowing I haven’t eaten for four days. Telling me that it’s a vast world out there, after knowing I am just at home, jailed in my room. Why don’t you sound like that somebody?
“Para-paraan” Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Hindi sa kung ano ang dapat o sapat, Hindi rin sobra o salat. Walang halong tamis at alat. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Doon ka at dito naman ko. Espasyo sa pagitan nati’y sinliit ng mga bato. Buti nga, para malinaw sa akin ang mga baral sa puso mo. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Walang libel, walang tayo-tayo. Sapat na ang nginingitian mo ako, Sa tuwing magkasalubong tayo. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Lupa mo ang lupa ko, hangin mo ang hangin ko. Makita lang kita sa mga sulok ng aking mundo, Umaaliwalas, nagkakakulay agad ito. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Sa paraang walang kanta ang maibabagay, Dahil mas pinipili kong ‘wag bigyan ng himig Ang isang kantang walang gustong sumayaw. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Tahimik. Kalmado. Payapa. Walang gulo. Tulad ng dalampasigan bago ang isang bagyo. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Na sa tuldok nagtatapos ang lahat ng kwento. At ikaw, ang kwento ko. Ikaw rin ang tuldok nito. Mamahalin kita sa paraang alam ko. Sa anong paraan nga ba? May paraan pa ba para mahalin ka? Alam mo ba na mahal kita?
POE T RY
Poems by Christiana Claudia G. Gancayco
An Ode to the Blue Moon Once, I dreamt of you donning a crimson shirt, telling me day-to-day stories happening in parallel worlds out there. Once, you showed me that the moon to a star-studded night is like the missing pearl to a jewelry set. Once, you gave me a bracelet laced with words and our favorite stars—Altair, Vega, Sirius, Rigel, Pollux—each handpicked from the constellations that bind us. Once, you likened me to a wildflower; the one you said you’ll pick among the ballerina roses and the asessippi lilacs. Once, you hushed my lips with a finger and spoke, with solemnity, about the still point of a spinning world; of common grounds amid warring disparities—Briseis to Achilles amid the Trojan War. Once, you asked me what my choice of color was. It took me a while to answer as I tried to decipher the color of your eyes—a shade no watercolor could fathom. Once, you held my palm wide open and placed two pebbles in it. You said they were our hearts and I should keep it safe for the both of us; that it was your heart, as much as it was mine. Once, you kissed the top of my head because you said it was the closest you could get to kissing my thoughts. I said that would be like kissing yourself. Once, I woke up and immediately looked outside the window if you were there. Only the stars and dark sky greeted me, but not the blue moon. Once, you happened to me; and to this day until the last there shall be, it is both a blessing and curse that it could only be for once.
Anathema of the heart Everything And nothing All at once That’s what You are; Or, more aptly, Were. You were a lot Of things, but Not the one Thing it took To silence my Demons; and go Beyond mere Words. In the End, you were —are— Only one More name To tug heavy In the heart.
POE T RY
Braids unfurling Locks limp on your fingertips, you braid my hair carefully though not as careful as my mother would Yet only as careful as you think you should. Your fingers are feathers, adjusting the bundle of strands, tightening the locks of hair with a quick force taut as the knot between us crushing everything bone, breath, prayer, tears every thing oath, poem, half-truths, heart Lying words, words, words between us How can you let us unfurl like this?
An Ear to Play by Lyle John L. Balana
he reporter cleared his throat, shaking off the tension in his young shoulders, and begun one of many questions. “So, Monsieur Dechard, of all the tests you have taken, which was the hardest one?” The famed contestant Daqueir Dechard was in the room. It did not look like an interview room at all; it was lined with the white-and-green bricks of a public, well-used building, gum and cobwebs vying for space in the dusty grooves of the walls. There was a smooth, yet dirtied, glass panel on top of each wall. It was impossible to tell if they were meant to be moved aside, for ventilation, or if they were meant to offset some unforeseen budget cut. But Ser Dacqueir did not mind. This room would do. “In all the years of my life,” the great savant began, “I have taken plenty. It would be a waste to walk you through the things I have seen and the hardships that I have met. As you very well know, I have been a prolific son of the quiz-shows. I begun in Vetrinali, where the professor Venkoff un Standgrich plied the streets on his motor-car platform, blaring a challenge to both rabble and resplendent. Answer me! The Professor had said. And I answered this call, and here I am.” Dechard shifted in his seat. Perhaps the plain wooden plank was too much for his sedentary derriere. “But in truth, the hardest challenge was in a certain journey that I have chosen to undertake. This is a very curious test, dear sir, because up until now I have had not the answer that I seek. And I hope, that one of these days, I would come upon a very satisfying reply.” The famed person Daqueir Dechard looked at the reporter, and his eyes were heavy behind the even heavier eyebrows of his face. “When I was a youth in Vetrinali, I was what they would call a scalawag. I spent my days playing in the mud. I shaped armies out of the clay, yes, with my very hands I made worlds.” Dechard’s eyes, which never left the reporter’s own, twinkled as he said this. “There were wonderful wishes, oh, so many wonderful wishes, that I never wished to let them go. I held them close to my heart, like cards, and day by day, I would play. I would measure, in my grip, four to five handfuls of the substance, and then create at my behest all the treasures of the world.” Dechard licked his lips, and the moustache that it wore over its upper part rippled like so many waves. “Here was the hardest challenge, o reporter, one which I have barely dared to answer. It is this: what, in Vetrinali, could young Dechard wish for, in his heart of hearts? What was his desire?” The reporter shook his head in confusion. He did not know; why was Dechard asking him this? “Think, mister reporter. What would old Dechard want?” The quiz-champion seemed urgent. The lip became chewed, tossed all over the teeth, a bone of red sinew that threatened to break into an array of wounds. “It is of paramount importance that you answer.” The reporter’s face became white. He did not know. He was not a quiz champion. Suddenly, Dechard rose from his seat, no longer awkward. His great brown palm, outstretched and terrible, smacked against the reporter’s face, filling his vision with darkness, his nose with the sour smell of cold sweat. The feeling was but for a moment, as Dechard, in a very un-Monsieur manner, slammed his head against the desk. It was hard enough to break skin, but not hard enough to wound bone. The reporter’s brain rattled against his skull, knocking him unconscious. Blood crept from the sizable gash on his scalp, brushing past his cheek and his open, drooling mouth in a sluggish puddle. Dechard threw off the coat around his shoulders and stomped away from the table. He stood by the door, as if expecting it to open automatically, then, filled with the inner rage of the impatient, he slammed his meaty fist against the wood. Once, twice, thrice; the sound rang hollow. Before he could go through with the fourth, the door was sucked to the side, not by hinges but by a pneumatic joust
engine that gave out a hiss as it did its job, and he continued his physical tirade as he rolled out of the interview-room. Scarcely had he gone a step when he was stopped by the head scientist, whose name he did not care to know. “Dechard,” the scientist started, threatening to roll over his rage with a calculated efficiency, “the mimic. It is imperfect. Patience.” “Patience?” boomed Dechard. “We have been in this case for days. I am trying to wrap your head around the system. I investigate various copies of the reporter, the only witness to the murder of the grand Dechard, disguised as the grand Dechard, and we have got nothing to show for it? Lies, this is an affront to nature.” “Dechard, patience. This is a new technique. Undetectable to them. You have damaged a primary template! That does not bode well as we try to get closer and closer to the reporter’s psyche.” “Drat that noncooperative reporter!” Dechard fumed. “Must I play roles when we can approach this the sane, rational, detective-driven way? You try what is left of my patience more than I try yours!” “And I am in your great debt.” The scientist made a little bow. “More time, more time; then the case is yours. There is nothing else that I ask of you but time.” Dechard seemed to consider this, his head cocked to the side. He liked this mannerism of the original Dechard. It was nice that he was getting it so well. “Of course. Of course. I will get dre--no, orders are to act until bedtime. I shall see you then. Scientist.” “Same to you, Dechard. I shall now check on the template.” The scientist watched Dechard until he was nothing more than a broad blot, then went into the room. Dr. Miles had regained consciousness in the few minutes spent arguing with the Dechard template. The cut to his head was nasty enough to bloody the whole right side of his head, but a trip to the clinic would fix everything. “Well?” Miles managed to sputter. Blood leaked from his lip. “I hope this is worth it. I hate this line of research, Myra.” “Relax.” Dr. Myra sat across him. The seat was still warm from its last occupant. “The non-invasive postnatal cloning process is going as planned. He’s got the mannerisms down already. The next couple of months we’ll start with his psyche.” “I still can’t believe Dechard went through with this. Well, I could understand, because he didn’t want to be turned into a wetware chip that’s basically a brain on a disc, but still. Eight months out of the public spotlight. The man must have been crazy with attention deprivation when they hauled him back to Standgrich Stadium.” “Better that being forced into clinical death so we can study his brain processes. This unsuspecting template is perfect.” Dr. Myra allowed herself a small smile. “He doesn’t even know.” “Does he, Myra?” Dr. Miles cast a suspicious glance towards the door. “Does he?” Daqueir Dechard snuck out of the gap between the supply closet and the outgoing warehouse. It was always the weakest link in their compound. It was just on loan from the government, so there were bound to have some glaring design flaws. The supply closet was an afterthought, added to the main complex three years after everything has been set in place by the old facility before this was a research institute. It was poorly built on one side, paltry mortar giving out in places to show the harsh warehouse lights beyond. For a man of his strength, strength the real Dechard never had, it was a simple matter of punching his way out. They were so confident, too. No CCTV compounds in his usual path, because in his past life he had been a detective. He would see through them, no doubt. But they were too cheap to put cameras in the bathrooms and in the storage units, so here he was. He always knew he wasn’t the real Dechard. It was part of the initial deception, the ruse. But their 56
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first steps worked too well. The isolation, the constant profile studying, the practices, the heavy magnaroom scans- they all meshed to accelerate his transition into the new identity. They never noticed that he was not an officer playing Dechard. He was Dechard playing an officer playing Dechard. That last head slam was specifically for Dr. Miles. He had always hated that pretentious bastard and wanted to do more, but too much would have him sent to the psychiatric wing, and he was unsure whether additional adjustments would erase the perfect mix of mental mimicry within him. The desire to escape, and the means to do so. Concessions would have to be made. He would be back one day to do the rest. He stepped inside a rush order delivery truck. It was filled with new wetware parts; floating brains inside a foreboding capsule filled to the brim with sickly green nutrition paste. This was to be his fate, to be one of these Dechard-type processing units. He wondered when humans made the switch, but he decided not to think too much about it. Dechard was more of a data regurgitation guy, not a critical thinker. The truckâ€™s engine started up, and he took it as his cue to sit among the containers. He picked one up and stared at his reflection, almost lost in the sharp angles of the pulsing brain within. He would hit the driver on the chin and over the head, then stab down on his face to break all the bones. That was the way to do it.
Of Men and Boars by Alvin Brian S. Legario Hunt “We’ll climb those mountains, hike up Ajurs pass, and then fight the forest cannibals to find our way down the slopes of Yerna valley to the other side.” “Isn’t it easier to just cross the bridge?” “Yes.” “So shouldn’t we-“ “No.” Sir Dale always said strength is honed, not inherited. For ten years he served under the king as a commander. He never lost a single battle. When the king died, and his heir took the throne, the new king relieved my uncle of his duties, gave him lands, riches, and servants, but took the most important thing he could ever take – his purpose. Uncle was born to serve, never to be served. For ten years his routine was undisturbed but now everything was different. He drank the remainder of his days in his keep, until my father left me to him. Now his mission was to breed me into a perfect knight to inherit his titles, and hope one day I will come close to becoming him. “Ye’re soft Hunt, or should I say cunt? How can you ever be a good warrior with that attitude?” he said laughing. “Very clever sir Dale, or should I say sir Ale? Drinking makes you fat, uncle, pretty soon your armor will be indistinguishable from a horse’s armor.” “Am I drunk? Or do I hear a mouth of a wolf, but see the body of a fox. If ye wer-” “Over there uncle. I see it.” The boar, almost as big as a cow, grazes on a bush of berries. Its huge flaps of fat and muscle underneath the brown fur bristling with each mouthful of the rich bush’s fruit. Its tusks long and sharp digging into the dirt each time the beast lowers its massive head to eat the berries that misses its mouth. Such a greedy and disgusting work of nature. “Take the kill, boy,” the barrel chested Sir Dale said with a silent but heavy voice. “Aim low, aim true. Breathe in, draw back. Breathe out, loose.” Those words. They sound... familiar. “Draw!” “FATHER! WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO MOTHER?!” “Close your eyes, son.” Father said. “Aim!” “MAMA! MAMA! NO!” “Loose!” Her cry still echoing in my ears. The arrow bolted out of my bow with a burst of speed. It hit the tree in front of the boar and cracked, splintering in pieces. The boar, now angry, prepared to attack its predators. Just as the boar prepared to gorge us with it’s tusks, a squeal was heard in the distance. The boar’s stance quickly changed and charged in the direction of the squeal instead. A smack landed just below my neck. Sending me on my knees. “Ye hesitated boy! That monster could’ve fed us an entire fortnight!” Sir Dale boomed. I looked at him with a blank face. His bald head moved as he frowned and looked at me, the silver whiskers on his cheeks flowed all the way down to his neck. It was hard to imagine Sir Dale in his youth, a boulder of a man, long blonde hair, and clean shaven. The pride of our family. The only feature remaining from his youth now were his eyes. Blue and bright, just like... mother. “Ye need to learn how to be a man, Hunt.” He said, his voice calm but commanding. 58
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“Why did ye miss? You’re an even better shot than me.” “I-I’m sorry uncle. I was... lost. I won’t miss again.” He pulled me up to my feet with his arms as big as tree trunks and patted the dirt away from my breeches. “Yer lucky there was another squeal. Ye know what that means?” “He’s not alone?” “And with that, more dinner.” Skol “HUWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!” I should’ve never left the den. I should’ve listened to mama. I should’ve just waited. “Don’t be ssssscared young pig. I won’t bite. I only ssssswallow.” The titanic snake hissed, slithering closer and closer. Its vile curved mouth opened wide, showing its pink flesh within, its sharp yellow fangs dripped with green ooze. Each wriggle it made, its slimy and thick body expand and contort, a gigantic mass of brown dotted with black, slowly made its way toward me. It looked at me with malice, its indigo eyes enticing me to go down from the ledge. There’s no more space to edge further away, only cold stone against my fur. I close my eyes and believed it was the end. “GET AWAY FROM MY CHILD!” She came bursting out of the bushes, charging full speed at the snake. Right before the snake could react, mama pierced it with her tusks and threw the snake down the ravine. “Mama!” I screamed, running down to mother. “Skol, my child, my baby boy. Are you ok?” I buried myself in her warm soft brown fur. I expected her to be mad, but she embraced me and nuzzled her nose to my belly. “I’m ok mama, you’re here now.” “Listen to me next time ok? There are monsters lurking in every tree here.” “Scarier than the snake?” “Yes. I saw two earlier while I was picking berries for you.” “Berries? Where mama?” “I’m sorry, I dropped them. I ran to you as fast as I could.” “Can we go back for them mama? I love love love berries.” “Yes, my baby. I’m sure the monsters are gone by now.” “Berries! Huweeek! Yum yum!” “Let’s go bef-” A stick came flying out from the trees and hit mama on her right back leg. “HUWEEEEEEEEK!” She limped, and tried to run but it was no use. I was scared once more, I watched mama squirming in pain on the ground, helpless. “Mama! What can I do???” “Skol. Listen. The monsters. They are coming closer. I can’t run with you anymore. My leg is badly hurt. You need to run. Find your uncle Borbrus. His den is one and eighty trees away from ours to the north. He’ll protect you.” “I can’t leave you mama. I can’t survive on my own.” “You have to.” “Bu“Go! I lov-” Another stick flew again from the trees and hit mama right in the middle of her head. As my tears poured I ran as fast as I could. The taste of berries that I will never eat with mama, on my mind, leaving a bitter taste. joust
Places Past by Katherine E. Co
t was the briefest meeting—that fated meeting—which passed harshly into time’s dissolve, becoming too fictional a memory that either of them would’ve liked it to be. And beneath that chaotic, distortional blur that reeks of pain and lost chances, is a girl who once dreamt of love. More than a dozen novels—a mix of classics and teen fiction—filling the empty space beside her on clean, blue, ruffled bedsheets, there is a bright fondness for anything that reaches within the vast boundaries of real happiness and ideas of beauty and genuine interaction. Beyond the asphalt roof overhead is an imagination that stretches across the infinite skyline, overwhelming everything that she ever is within the confines of space and time. She is a master of the art of dreams and hope against the rough, white, bland canvass of reality. She hides her room full of secrets, her words preferring to stay midair in thought. She is a keen, careful whisperer of inner aspirations and desires, painting behind closed lids scenes of having a gray terrier as a best friend, of having people confess they’ve changed for the better after meeting someone like her, of having less rainy weather in the depressed town she lives in, of having someone who wouldn’t kiss her after the seventh date. Yet the most peculiar dream she came across in all of her conscious experience was love—something which seemed, for her, quite far-reaching, yet so familiar. But then she loved. One day, she eventually did, and it came like the unexpected visit of death. She loved like how the magnificent sea embraces the image of the ever-changing sky. Poems, songs, the morning sunlight, the greenness of the pine trees outside the window, the attic’s smell of nostalgia—nothing felt the same. She was certain everything felt a bit more vibrant and real. And it took one willful prayer to fairly challenge the game of fate. That same day, standing beside the unmoving, brightly-colored bus stop sign, she caught a stranger’s eyes on the opposite side of the empty road. They were nothing near daunting, or anything close to cool and daring. They definitely weren’t scene-stealing or anything dramatic. It seemed like whatever song pumping out his earphones sucked all attention he had for anything else except for crossing the wide-mouthed street. She decided they were warm after about five second-worth of unflinching concentration on a stranger, and how she guessed he might be a mad artist, painting portraits for lunch. He had roughly-cut hair and a careless sense of fashion, if he had any, she thought. Something about that incident forced her to keep track of all details she can ever sense. But something coldblooded struck her veins—this is a shameful confession of something most probably an untruth: a dream. I dreamt of love for too long, and not too long after, she’s seated on a poorly maintained bus seat, above wheels that selfishly speed for distance, across towns and dreams that she chose to leave in a depressed town, beside an unmoving, brightly-colored bus stop sign, where pieces of imagination and wild intuition for the future had a place no more. In another town across many towns, it was a sunny day, yet on the day before, and on all other days before that, rain was still heavy. Where a garden persistently bloomed, memories of unkept teen novels from years ago wilted away. On the doorstep of the house meters away, a beautiful lady was on her two feet. This time, she never kept any secrets in her bedroom, or in any other room for that matter. She had nothing but a sad smile. But she was more than determined to leave again. The bus stop in front of her gate looked nothing like the one in the town where she used to live in. Before she was to give a last look on the façade behind her, the newspaper boy came to do his daily rounds, hitting his bike’s brakes like a pro. He quickly caught the lady’s eyes, but like a strong jerk to his memory, he reacted to her presence with sharp recognition. He removed his ragged, navy blue cap, and she caught his eyes too, for the first time in years—she had never seen the face of the newspaper boy. Like a strong rush tensely coming back, and like the mandate for dreams and fiction reappearing through adrenaline, she uttered: “I’ve seen you before. Not on a bike, handing out folds 60
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of newspapers, nor in another town, carefully crossing toward my side of the sidewalk. I saw you in a dream, perhaps in plenty of dreams.” A reply almost mirrored her initial confession: “You—I’ve seen you as well. Not as the girl who never rides the bus to school, nor as the one who tended her garden more than she tended herself. I saw you on a portrait hung on the most glamorous space of our house, positioned uprightly on the wall fronting our living room. This might come across as peculiar to say, but I’ve always had admiration for that person on the framed picture, a painting by my father’s grandfather decades before I was born. I can’t believe I’ve found you.” But the two souls know, even with unspoken words, what that implied. But fate has a decision for them. “Mister, I am saddened to say I have woken up from my dreams.” But she wished to say more, but as usual, her words stuck in midair, longing for meaning. In a way like a foul sense of mimicry, the young man replied: “I am also regrettably admitting that I have given away that painting, maybe as for fear you were not real, or that I might continue to believe you were when you were not.” So the lady with her bags full of anything but secrets climbed on the bus that has faced hundreds of towns in its lifetime, and which will continue to meet the same fate until it dies like the star-less night, and the newspaper boy continued the discipline of throwing inked folds of paper from roof to roof, until the routine will have exhausted his creativity and until the chaotic, distortional blur that reeks of pain and lost chances will be forgotten.
The Gentlemen of Tondo by Glen Jed J. Descutido
Paanong napapaligiran eh naghahabol pa rin naman kayo sa ‘kin?!” Sigaw ng gunggong na nagnakaw ng isang okra dun sa maliit na tindahan sa eskinita habang tumatakbo nang sobrang bilis, tila bang talo pa si The Flash. Malayo-layo na rin naman ang itinakbo naming tatlo kakahabol sa kanya pero sadyang mabilis lang talaga siya. Marahil ay nagtataka kayo kung bakit nag-e-effort kaming maghabol tutal eh isang okra lang naman ‘yon, hindi naman kawalan iyon sa ekonomiya ng Pilipinas. Pulis ba kami? Hindi. Nagci-citizen arrest ba kami? Siguro. Yata. So ano nga? Eto, superhero kaming tatlo. Oo, di niyo kami kilala, pa racket-racket lang naman kasi itong pagiging superhero namin. “The Gentlemen of Tondo: Small-time heroes, Big-time justice” yan ang nakapaskil sa mga poster namin dito sa barangay. Naka-WordArt pa yan ha! Ganyan kami katindi dito, aba mahirap kayang sagipin ang mundo laban sa mga magnanakaw ng okra. Balik tayo sa misyon namin, napahinto bigla ang magnanakaw. “Eto na! Sumuko ka na! Sure na ‘to, napapaligiran ka na namin! As in!” sabi ng isang boses na galing sa megaphone. Kasabay nito ang pagdating ng halos limang pampulis na sasakyan na pumaligid sa magnanakaw at humarang sa harap namin. “Pucha! Isang okra lang naman ah!” Sigaw ng magnanakaw. “Pucha! Ang ingay!” sigaw ni Macario. Siyempre maingay talaga. Nakakairita. Para sa maliit na lugar namin, masyadong maingay na ang wangwang nila. Kung paano sila nakadaan sa maliit na eskinita namin, hindi ko na alam, ang alam ko lang ay talo pa yata ng ambush na ‘to ang pag ambush sa mga pirated na DVD. Ako nga pala si Dimalanta, at kasama ko sa lakbay ng buhay ay ang mga kababata kong sina Macario at Rupokio. Hindi talaga kami sigurado kung paano namin nakuha ang mga superpowers namin, baka nga Mother knows best kasi noong nagreklamo si Rupokio na masakit ang ulo niya, na mataas ang lagnat ni Macario at noong may nakita akong pamilya ng ipis na nagpafamily reunion sa banyo namin ay nagkaisa ang mga nanay namin upang sigawan kami ng “Ayan! Kakakompyuter niyo yan!” So ayun, baka sa kakakompyuter nga namin. “O, paano ba yan? Naunahan ko na naman kayo?” Pagmamalaki ni Chief habang pinoposasan ang magnanakaw. “O paano ba yan? Pabibo ka nanaman?” naiinis na sagot ni Macario “Ginagaya mo ba ako?” “Aba, Chief wag ka naman masyadong banidoso, pipili na nga lang ako ng gagayahin, ikaw pa talaga?” Ipinasok na nila ang magnanakaw sa kanilang sasakyan, inilabas ni Chief ang sigarilyo niyang kasinlaki ng sigarilyo ng isang kapre at unti-unting lumapit sa amin. Di ko alam pero hindi talaga kami nagkakasundo. Doon pa lang sa sticker niyang Sailor Moon sa patrol niya eh alam ko nang hindi kami magka-wavelength. “Alam niyo, kayong tatlo, bilis bilisan niyo kumilos, masyado kayong mabagal” sabi ni Chief sabay buga ng usok sa amin. “Alam mo, ikaw yung mabagal, tatlong araw na naming hinahabol ‘yon. Naka-tyamba ka lang.” sagot ni Macario “Chamba mo mukha mo. Efficiency tawag doon, Macario, palibhasa wala kasi kayo nun. Eh kung pagsabihan ko kaya ang buong Barangay niyo na hindi naman talaga kayo kagalingan? Eh di wala na kayong trabaho? Ano ba naman kasing klaseng mga superhero kayo? Isang bulag na may x-ray vision, asthmatic na mabilis tumakbo, at ito ang pinakamatindi, isang mangkukulam na Anak ng Diyos! Kaya niya bang pumatay? Hindi! Sagip kayo ng sagip, wala naman 62
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kayong naitutulong….” “Tumahimik ka” bulong ni Macario. “Nasagip naman namin ang buong barangay sa isang malaking sunog noong isang buwan ah!” palaban kong sagot. “Oo, yun nga pala Dimalanta, pero tapos ano? Inatake ka ng hika diba? ta’s ikaw pa yung naospital? Mga wala naman kayong kuwenta eh, hindi niyo rin naman kami natutulungan ng maayos.“ “Tumahimik ka..” “Tangina mo Chief, ayaw niyo namang magpatulong eh.” dagdag ni Rupokio. “Naman! Sino ba naman ang gustong magpatulong sa isang grupong wala namang kasilbi sil--DIMALANTAAAAA!! Nabingi at nagising ako sa ingay ng sigaw ni Rupokio. Pucha, Napanaginipan ko na naman. Hindi ko alam na ‘yon na pala ang huling pagkakataon na makakasama namin siya, pagkatapos mag-kamehame wave sa galit si Macario hindi na namin siya nakita. Palaging may kulang sa headquarters. Hindi naman sumabog ang Tondo. Nangamoy utot lang siya kasi umusok nang sobrang lakas yung galit ni Macario na sa tulong naman ni Bathala ay nai-contain ko. Yun nga lang na-coma ako ng limang taon pagkatapos nun. Lakas maka-teleserye. Bago na pala ang presidente, yung Cardo Dalisay na lang daw yung malakas ang loob, marami ang nangailangan ng tulong, marami raw ang hindi dapat tularan ayon sa mga placard na isinabit sa kani-kanilang mga katawan, at nawala na parang bula si Macario. Lumabas ako ng kwarto upang maaninag ang buwan, pinaandar ko ang telebisyon at walang humpay na krimen na naman ang bumungad sa akin. Naalala ko tuloy ang mga oras na sumasagip kami ng mga tao suot ang aming mga tuxedo at bandanang kakulay ng Bandera ng Pilipinas, slow-mo sa pagsuntok at pagtalon. “Tapos na tayo dito” ito ang palaging isinasambit ni Macario sabay sa pagputok ng teritoryo ng kalaban sa aming likod habang naglalakad kami palayo. Ngunit naalala ko rin, yung huling pumutok pala si Macario na mismo. Habang pinapanood ko ang telebisyon napatingin ako sa dating poster namin. Mukhang kailangan na naming bumalik sa pagligtas ng sambayanan. Kinalabit ako ni Rupokio sa balikat habang naglalagay ako ng ketchup sa hotdog na ibinili ko sa 7-eleven kanina. Muntik ko na siyang masapak, ayoko kasing iniistorbo ako tuwing zinizigzag ko ang paglagay nun. “Nakita ko noong isang araw, si Macario. Pero hindi ako sigurado.” pabulong na sabi ni Rupokio. “Bakit ka bumubulong, bawal bang may makarinig?” Tanong ko. “Tange. Para dramatic.” pabiro niyang sagot. “Ulol.” Bigla kaming napatingin sa aming telebisyon, tila bang tinatawag ang aming atensyon, humihingi ng tulong. HEPE NG PULISYA, NAWAWALA. Aba. Hindi namin alam kung minamalas kami o sinuswerte. Binigyan nga kami ng misyon, pero parang pinagtritripan kami ng sansinukob. Bathala, hindi ito. “No deal, pare.” “Deal.” Sagot ni Rupokio. “Gago ka ba? Anong deal? Tutulungan mo ang gunggong na yan? Eh siya nga yung dahilan kung bakit nawala si Macario eh.” “Kung siya ang dahilan ng pagkawala, marahil puwedeng siya rin ang dahilan na mahahanap na natin si Macario.” joust
Isang araw kong pinag-isipan iyon ngunit mukhang tama si Rupokio, baka si Chief rin ang sagot kahit na nagdadalawang isip akong iligtas siya, kahit na lahat ng issue tungkol sa patayan ay sa kanya itinuturo.Tumungo kami ni Rupokio sa lugar kung saan niya huling namataan si Macario, nagtago sa likod ng pader dala-dala ang plano namin, nagbabakasakaling bumalik siya doon. Sa laking gulat namin, ibang tao ang naaninag namin. Si Chief. Malusog, matikas, buhay. Naglalakad habang naninigarilyo, bumubuga ng usok sa hangin. Iniabot niya ang kanyang maleta sa isang lalaking nagtatago sa sulok ng eskinita. Mataas, matikas, gusgusin, namumula ang mga mata ngunit may kakaiba sa kanya, Umuusok siya. Lumapit ang lalaki kay Chief, inabot siya ng ilaw ng poste. Si Macario. “Ubusin mo na” sabi ni Chief. Tumango si Macario. Biglang lumabas si Rupokio at sumigaw. “Ano ang uubusin niya Chief?” “Pucha. Antagal niyong nawala ah, namiss ko kayo. Ano’ng drama to? Sasagipin niyo silang lahat? Ta’s pauuwiin niyo tong si Macario? Kinain na to ng galit, hindi na siya nag-iisip. Mukhang araw ko nga talaga noong sumabog siya, kasi pagkatapos noon, sunod-sunod na ang suwerte. Itinaas ang puwesto ko, naging heneral ako ng gobyerno. Malaki ang utang na loob ko sa presidente kaya gagawin ko ang lahat ng pinapagawa niya sa akin, malaki rin ang utang na loob ni Macario sa akin kaya gagawin niya rin ang lahat ng pinapagawa ko. Siya ang umuubos sa mga adik. Wipe everyone off! Walang salot, bagong Pilipinas!” “Macario…Tol” “Wala na si Macario.” sagot nito “Sige na, Ubusin mo na.” Sa unang pagkakataon, nakita kong namula si Macario ulit katulad noong pumutok siya. Hindi magtatagal ay tatangayin na ng kapangyarihan niya ang buong Tondo. Hindi na ako nagpatumpik-tumpik pa, tumakbo ulit ako nang mabilis paikot kay Macario at inilabas ni Rupokio ang anak ni Chief. “Sigurado ka chief? Uubusin mo ang buong Tondo, habang naghahanap sa’yo ang anak mo, dito?” Tinawagan namin ang kanyang anak bago kami tumungo dito, tinanong ko siya kung gusto niya bang maging superhero kahit isang gabi lang. Matagal niya na pala gustong maging si Sailor Moon. Fan din siya namin dati. Na-flatter ako. Hindi siya nagdalawang- isip. Kawawang bata, hinahanap ang nawawalang ama, ngunit halimaw ang nakita niya. Sa puntong ito wala na akong pakialam kung babawian na ako ng buhay, habang umiinit mas lalo kong binibilisan, kinakain na ako ng hika ko. Kung mamamatay man ako para sa Tondo, mamamatay akong masaya, kasi hindi Panibagong Pilipinas ang kailangan natin kundi hustisya. Isang malaking ilaw ang huli kong nakita. Nagising ako sa ingay ng tao sa palibot ko habang nakahiga ako sa kama ng isang ospital. Isang dekada na akong na-coma at bukod doon, isang dekada na naman akong huli sa balita. Marami pala ang nawala pagkatapos ng insidenteng iyon, nawalan ng kapangyarihan si Chief, nawala ang takot ng mga tao at nagwala ang presidente at napalitan ng bago. Nawala rin si Macario. Napagdesisyunan na rin ni Rupokio na mabuhay nang normal sa kabila ng bago niyang kakayahang magpalabas ng laser sa kaniyang mga mata. Nawala man ang Gentlemen of Tondo, ay tiyak na mayroon namang pag-asa. Napatingin ako sa bintana, nandoon ang araw na nagpapahiwatig ng bagong buhay. Ipinikit ko ang aking mga mata at bumulong sa aking sarili. “Tapos na tayo dito.”
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The battlefield of creation by Iris Denise N. Rivera
Impressionism is only direct sensation. All great painters were less or more impressionists. It is mainly a question of instinct.” - Claude Monet
It is both the columnist’s and the artist’s duty, then, to have their audience face that truth and see it for what it is despite the grime and murkiness, despite the brokenness of the strokes, despite the harshly-cut lines. In a time where realism, religious imagery, and muted colors were standardized for French art, four young artists, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille convened and discovered that they shared a similar interest in painting landscapes and contemporary life. They abandoned the traditional linear perspective and clarity of form necessary in distinguishing the subject from the rest of the painting. They aimed to capture the initial impression they got from a subject, and not what the mind interprets from it. The impressionists aimed to be the painters of the real. Leaving behind the idealized forms and perfect symmetry, they wanted to capture the world as they saw it:
A world with a myriad of flaws.
Column writing is essentially the same thing. The columnist selects a topic that he has a clear interest in. He steps outside and tries to see the subject the way other people would see it. The columnist tries to capture the truth in his writing, as the impressionist tries to capture the light—and light doesn’t fall on the earth perfectly. It breaks and bends and casts shadows. The same way the truth isn’t always going to be beautiful. The truth isn’t going to appeal to everyone nor will it sit comfortably in their stomachs. The impressionists were never accredited by the Académie des BeauxArts’ juried art show, the Salon de Paris. Even Edouard Manet, the man they considered their leader, encouraged them to submit to the standards of the Académie. “That is where the true battlefield lies,” he told them. And some of them followed suit. In a time where everyone has an opinion, columnists can be anyone with a pen or an internet connection. Providing an opinion has become so commonplace. This new wave of columnists continue to toss out their opinion despite little to no knowledge of the actual event. In a time like this, the truth can become slippery and fragmented. Thus lies the responsibility in the columnist’s hands to grasp it no matter how difficult and relay it onto paper. Sisley and Manet went back to traditional means of painting and they never actually fully committed to the ideas of Impressionism. But you seldom hear their names nowadays except in close-knit art circles. Manet was wrong. 66
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The battlefield was not in an art museum. The battlefield could not be pinned down to one specific place. The true battlefield is time itself. The battlefield is the future. In the generations to come, will his work resonate with them? The battlefield is the past. Will historians even remember his name? The battlefield is the moment. Whether it be now, or the turn of a decade, a century, a millennium. Will the moment last long enough? Will the artist?
Will the columnist?
No one has ever started a revolution by adhering to a strict set of rules. This is what makes impressionism such a turning point for the modern art. It was different, it was true to life, and it was unapologetic about its imperfection. On the same note, the columnist is committed to showing the reality of the world in his own strokes and in his own words, no matter the persistent criticism of traditionalists. When Monet stuck to his instinct, when he painted the direct sensation of his surroundings, he made himself known to the world. The world not just in his time but for the decades to follow. When he clung to the honesty of the light, he allowed his ideals to resonate with an essayist in the 21st century. There is power in that light as there is power in the truth. When a columnist sticks to his guns, when he holds the truth above all else, he, too, is making himself known to the world. Despite the looming distortion of the facts and revisionism of history, the power of the columnist’s honesty will resonate with a reader out in the void. Maybe it won’t happen in the instant of its publication, nor at the turn of the decade, but the light—broken, bent, and harsh—will shine through. The impressionist and the columnist aim to understand the world, and in turn help others understand it. They do not seek to change the world. Perhaps, they do so, anyway.
The Theory of Attachment by Starlene Joy B. Portillo
ately, I have started seeing my room fashioned not of four walls, but of the subtle details. Opposing my bed is a vacancy only I could tell through the lighter shade of seafoam, three feet by two, where a cross-stitched Guardian Angel prayer once hung. I wonder if its absence led to the start of a dwindling devotion I am now trying to mend. We are, after all, visual learners. And in the lack of an icon, I may have learned to forget. Directly below that is a broken line of masking tape gaping open, having lost grasp of the photographs it once latched on. Kind of like me, having lost grasp of the people in them. The door has been exhausted by a snapshot tapestry of adolescent fanaticism: posters, pictures, cutouts, art. I am reminded of a friend’s bedroom encrusted in drywall encrusted in poetry, and how I wish to write on something more permanent than a cork board pinned with last year’s prescriptions. I never believed I have ran out of space until one day I stepped on my laptop, sitting out of place, across the floor strewn with stacks of unread books. That, I never told my mother. I did not tell her either how despite the mechanical responses, I have never fully emptied the trash in my room. Because trash meant throwing away my first-ever Nintendo. Trash is the favorite shirt I have outgrown. They were the seashells I have carefully handpicked from a sunset stroll along the rare opportunities of a beach. Trash is hidden like one would do any treasure: stashed behind, buried deep, locked up for worse. It was etched between the lines of the first modest notebook I called a journal. Trash were the souvenir keychains of landmarks I have accumulated over the years, the collecting equated to the travelling. It also meant getting rid of the crumpled rough draft of the eulogy I wrote for my grandmother. It was the secret letters of puppy love; the reminders of loss. Trash were my memories preserved. They often say that one’s room describes a person best. Call me a hoarder, call me sentimental, 68
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or better yet just call me a mess because I am all that and more. Neither your father nor I act dirty, my mother would often ponder out loud. This habit does not come from us. And perhaps, it has indeed stemmed from their lack of material value. Being born in less-privileged states than what we currently indulge in, my parents have mastered the art of being detached. At an early age, they have been taught that everything bought does not last. Through the years, I have perceived it to roughly mean that everything that lasts is kept. Every so often, I would weed out my room of the occasional memory. On days that I cannot, I try my best to stash it away that it sometimes ends up ironically forgotten. This leads me up to question how being unremembered is better than being thrown away. I still regard my room as a breakdown of its entirety: subsequent instructions that offer me a semblance of control over what and what not to hold. Although I have allowed myself a certain degree of leniency now, I tick off the things I do before departure: check the air conditioning, pull out the extension cords, lock the door. For this is the part where I leave and move to the next room.
The Paradox of Love by Joshua Martin P. Guanco
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves” -Victor Hugo Love is one of the most sought-after feelings in the world. Regardless of denial, we humans are called upon by our unconscious to love and be loved as a supplement for our very existence. However, love is an enigmatic force—it intertwines beings together and severs them apart. It has polarizing accidents only the universe knows of. And we, the lives traversing in this corporeal plane, are at its mercy. When I was four, the concept of love was foreign matter to me. In fact—as I could remember—the word was rarely uttered throughout the confines of our house: in the dining table, the cramped-up bedroom, anywhere. I knew, then, that there’s such a force in this world, but youth, and the lack of definition, made me question the very essence of my existence. Was it love? I was eating three times a day, and I believe that it was, even though it was expressed implicitly. When I was eight, I had a GameBoy Advance given to me by my parents. It was the first time I had one, and I was so happy about it. It got me so happy that I didn’t want my siblings to play with it. My eyes were glued to its screen, my fingers to its buttons. For a long period of time, I was never apart from the gadget. Was it love? I guess so. When I was eleven, my parents were so proud of me for being in the honor’s list during my elementary graduation. When they adorned my neck with a medal, they were nothing but gleeful smiles—teeth brimming in white. Was it love? Yes. But was it also love when there was zero effort from them to get my report card during my first year in high school because I fell short in the Top 10 of my class? Up to now, I still don’t know. When I was sixteen, nothing seemed sweet as I had my first heartbreak by a girl whom I thought, with tested affinity, was the one. And just like lighting, the pain surged out of nowhere. As a matter of fact, it occurred to me in the midst of my being in love with her. It was swift yet
excruciating: lightning before the thunder. Was love, then, meant to lull me with its blissful melodies and then choke me to death? Maybe yes. When I was eighteen, I searched for myself. I looked for my being in all the things that have happened throughout my encounters with love as a companion and loves as a murderer. However, the more I searched for myself the more I got lost. I was lost because of love. But when all seemed so hopeless, a woman brought me to the light of day. It all came at a moment’s notice. The self-conflicts, afflictions, melancholy—everything dissipated the moment I found myself I was in love with her. And until now, we’re still together. The kisses, fights, tears, laughter, and intimacy—is this love? I believe it is. I’m at the point of my life where I discovered what love is—it is the binding force between lovers; the sense of pride expressed in the faces of parents when their child receives an award; or making the right choices in life. Love is this very entity. However, I’m also at the point of my life where I discovered what the other side of love is—it is the knife that cuts apart two lovers; the disheartening words coming from parents when their child fails to be in the honor’s list; or whole-heartedly assuming that you’ve made the right choices. Love is also this very entity. Why does a word that is frequently tossed around seems like a paradox ny its essence? Why does love bring people together, intoxicate them with its enigmatic jewels and pleasures, only to suckerpunch and wake them up to the cold, hard floor of reality? Is it because of its very nature? Its polarity? Or are we just its lab rats—constantly subjected to all these trial and error cycle. I still don’t have answers for these self-generated queries. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from love, it would be being open to its forces. I firmly believe that love—despite its intricateness—makes us grow into our best selves. It teaches us painful lessons from mistakes. It brings out the best in all of us. It makes us human.
A Lifetime Almost Cinematic by Charlene Marie D. Lim
ick being the antagonistic martyr. Me being the lone sacrifice of a cause not worth fighting. Two men in black prada suits watch from the rear window of their Cadillac as Rick Blaine lights up his cigarette. It’s 1942 and he is living in a ravaged era of famine, thirst and mutiny. Everyone, technically not everyone, except Rick is vying for the letters of transit, a one-way ticket out of a doomed town. In the year 2017, a 19-year old sees the movie Casablanca for the first time in her life. The movie taught her two things: First, that love is unconventional, it does not have to end in the right note as long as it is true. Second, the presence of hope seen through Rick giving away his freedom for love will soon turn itself into happiness. That was 1942, and in this lifetime, there are no letters of transit. In another side of town, a young woman wrestles with her inner battles. It’s a Tuesday evening which means contention which means another episode of sacrifice. However, her selfishness leaves others to find their happiness instead of sacrificing her own. This is where Rick Blaine comes in, his anti-heroism mirroring her being cold and at times, disconnection. Her life centers in a city not stinking of carcass for there are no land mines to speak of. But home, home 70
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is Casablanca. Casablanca was chaotic and so is home. Not all heroes go on a conquest alone, a sidekick could be helpful but a story thirsts for conflict, for tension. Thus acts of heroism, thus his damsel Ilsa. I no longer have a house, it has been razed to the ground a long time ago. No memoirs have been recovered, only painful memories. I may have lost it but I was able to find a home. Therefore home is not necessarily a place but a sensation of making you feel safe, secure and loved knowing that things will get better. It was in the presence of someone I met this time last year. Although our meeting was melodramatic at the start, he cracked jokes while I pursed my lips. Then came the last few days of March, part of me knew that I had to say goodbye. Suddenly, I remembered what Ilsa told Rick, “We’ll always have Paris.” And then it dawned upon me, we will always have those five months. Then Rick being the “anti-hero” gives Ilsa the privilege to return to America telling her “Here’s looking at you, kid.” On the very last day of our meeting, the room was dead silent while two people locked their eyes on one another, there were no words only unexpressed emotions but before the moment becomes a memory and before we part ways, he uttered, “Be good.”
“Flip” by Nichol Francis T. Anduyan
PE R S ON AL S
“The Glimpses of Uncertainty” by Kyle Jyrax D. Sevilla
“Reaching Out” by Mariano O. Javier
PE R S ON AL S
“Alter Ego” by Nicci Bernelle D. Aguilar
“Downtown Bacolod” by Martini M. Falco
PE R S ON AL S
“Somber” by Ena Louise P. Apelo
“Censorship” by Jowan Dave G. Guides
“Sneak Peek” by Glen Jed J. Descutido
“Faux Real” by Shara Mae L. Pelayo
“Dug” by Seth V. Pullona
“Embrace of a Mother” by Karen D. Panganiban
“Pride” by Katrina Y. Nemenzo
“Chasing the Prophecy” by Cedric Lance M. Militar
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho by Maria Angeline M. Mayor
> When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. This is an inspirational quote from Paolo Coelho’s best-selling novel, The Alchemist. Others may find some lines from this book too naïve for saying such delusional things and that it will only lead dreamers to think only of their own desires and forget everything. The allegorical novel tells the story of a shepherd named Santiago who left his village in Spain after dreaming about finding a treasure in his sleep for several days to see a Gypsy woman who told him to follow his dream. When he encountered a mysterious man who called himself a king and told Santiago about the “personal legend”, the protagonist willed himself to take a leap of faith, and went off on a journey to find his treasure in Egypt. It was unclear what treasure awaited the young shepherd. All he knew was that he needed to see the alchemist whom he has heard about from the Englishman he met in the caravan. 88
Santiago appears to be much of a risk-taker to be emulated in real life. The novel’s life-affirming undertones send a message to the readers to chase their dreams no matter the circumstance. That, and a sense of self-reflection, add to the thematic flesh and bone of Santiago’s conquests. Throughout his journey, Santiago soon realizes that departing his homeland was wise choice; that the treasure he was eagerly looking for can only be found within himself. This is a manifestation of human nature: to weather the impossible through firm faith. The Alchemist offers a truism that life gets more interesting if we persist to dream. This book is a four out of five considering it trying to tell its careful readers to speak the universal language of compassion, to live in the name of love. The young shepherd exemplified the definition of “personal legend”: to weave your destiny and to be your own person. Pick up this book for more secrets on universe conspirations.
Legend by Marie Lu by Victoria Marian B. Belmis
> He is the most wanted criminal in The Republic of America. Day, File no: 462178-3233, is wanted for assault, arson, theft, destruction of military property, and hindering the war effort. She is the Republic’s favorite military prodigy. June, the only person in the entire Republic with a perfect 1500 score on her Trial. Set in the post-Apocalyptic Los Angeles, Legend opens with Day checking on his family, only his brother John knows that he is still alive, and making sure that they have not caught the plague that is wreaking havoc in the slums of the city. Day is worried about his mother as well as to Eden, his younger brother who is turning 10 and going to take the trial soon. Told in alternating perspectives of two different teenagers, Marie Lu’s Legend is not just your typical dystopian fiction considering the concept, writing style, plot, character build-up and twists, however, it still falls short below Divergent and The Hunger Games in terms of impact—admit it, it’s 2017 and you are still figuring out what faction
best fits you or mourn Rue’s death. Hunger Games has been the benchmark of today’s commercial dystopian fiction, it started the hype on the said genre, and compared to it, Legend is a little bit more realistic (this is for those who really love to go wandering in extremely fictional worlds). There is non-stop action. Lu masterly describes each action scene in the novel: the skiz fight between June and Kaede, a female bartender in the slums, was so thrilling that you can hear the blow-by-blow punches they throw each other while you read. There is teen romance, of course what is a young adult fiction without a little romance. There is the dystopian feel. The characters were made very relatable however, the protagonists are too perfect; in looks, intellect, and physical strength. Marie Lu’s debut novel can move you as much as it can make your hair raise in its actionfilled scenes. If you are a new to dystopian fiction, this novel is a good start. Legend is a complete package if you are looking for a new flavor for dystopian novels and more realistic feel. joust
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) by Adrienne Carl S. Calvo
> “Manners maketh man,” is a centuries-old proverb quoted in 2015 from Kingsman: The Secret Service. This phrase reflects on chivalry and the qualities expected of a gentleman, especially courtesy, honor, courage, and justice. In the guise of a tailoring shop with sassy and classy suits displayed, Kingsman housed a secret agency sworn to protect the people of United Kingdom—and in most times, the world—while keeping away from the limelight. Unlike any other drug-involving plots out there, this one is entertainingly unique. Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the proprietor of the world’s biggest drug cartel poisoned her drugs with an engineered virus in an attempt to force world leaders to give her what she wants. Along with taking the world as hostage, Adams annihilated all agents of the Kingsman leaving Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) as the only kingsmen alive. With their headquarters completely obliterated, the remaining kingsmen teamed up with their American counterpart, the Statesman, in order to avenge their comrades and also save the world. Matthew Vaughn’s direction did not stray away from the action-comedy vibe the series became known for. With the addition of Channing 90
Tatum (The Son of No One, White House Down, 21 Jump Street, etc.), Halle Berry (Catwoman, X-Men, Kidnap, etc.), and Julianne Moore (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Seventh Son, The Hunger Games, etc.) tilted the film more on the action department without compromising the fun plot. Credits to George Richmond’s skillful cinematography, the opening scene alone is already worth the 200-peso ticket. It was like a scene from one of the Fast and the Furious movies with a Marvel spin-off as the Winter Soldier himself battled our very own Eggsy Unwin. The adrenaline-inducing car chases plus the insane fight scenes would surely make you stay even though you thought you were in the wrong cinema, watching the wrong movie. Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn’s screenplay showcased bizarrely disguised spy-tech that surely became a hit. An all-terrain taxi-cab slash submarine, an exploding lighter, a bulletproof umbrella slash grenade-launcher, and a briefcase slash machine gun - genuinely inconspicuous. With a running time of only 141 minutes, the film packed a whole lot of action, comedy, and even romance into their second installment. Out of 5 stars, this movie is definitely a 5.
Bad Genius (2017) by Stephine Paul M. Dungca
> Almost all educational institutions emphasize cheating as a major offense; in student handbooks, during student orientations or almost every day in class. But in the case of students like Lynn, why need a diploma and work for a 5-digit salary when she can earn millions in school from cheating? Thai director Nattawut Poonpiriya looks at this quite sensitive topic from a different angle as two brilliant minds set their morals aside to gain money by constructing a cheating scheme that goes beyond the usual. Bad Genius, or Chalard Games Goeng (ฉลาดเกมส์โกง) in Thai, depicts a heist caper cinematic projection of real-life news of students cheating in the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT. Straight-A scholar Lynn started her cheating schemes from a small eraser containing exam answers up to devised hand signals, similar to the Morse code, wherein finger movements of classical piano pieces represent certain answers such as A, B, C or D. With the help of another genius named Bank, Lynn breaks international boundaries to earn millions and millions of baht through cheating in the STIC exam by flying to Australia and giving answers back to Bangkok.
Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying suited the left-handed female genius with superb acting skills in her debut movie. Chanon Santinatornkul made the equation better with a charismatic and mysterious portrayal of Bank. The editing of the cheating process since the eraser scene up to the exchanging of answers from Australia to Thailand during the STIC would tell you that Poonpiriya’s choice of cinematographic representation of cheating is plausible. Needless to say, this movie is not encouraging cheating among viewers despite of its at-the-edge-of-my-seat scenes, instead its educational side is what makes it very significant for today’s millennials. Cheating shenanigans are not easy to talk about, especially since it is perceived as something immoral. But kudos to Poonpiriya for taking Thailand films on another scale. It is undeniable that this 2017 highest grossing movie in Thailand and the most profitable Thai film to be ever distributed around the world so far is a must-watch. But what to look out for is not only the thriller-like cinematics, but the valuable life lessons that goes beyond the confines of the school.
The Twilight Zone (1959) by Maria Angelica M. Ape
> “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call … The Twilight Zone.” Today’s science fiction, fantasy, horror, psychological-supernatural shows and films seem to be more predictive what with its quite obvious schemes patterned from one another (simplistic storyline having surprising plot twist). What most don’t have any idea of is the 1959 anthology series entitled The Twilight Zone; father of today’s sci-fi masterpieces, responsible for refining them to an art form. The genius behind the nearly archetypal show is Rod Serling, an American screenwriter, playwright, and television producer. Serling, however, is more known for his narration for the show. Out of the 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone, Serling was responsible for 92 of them. Of all his screenplays, Serling’s favorite was said to be the episode titled “Time Enough at Last,” a story about a smallminded bank teller who loved books but lived in a world where he was prevented from reading them. An episode’s runtime is about 45 minutes long, composed by four 10-12 minute episodes all having four different directors and casts. The stories center upon talking children’s dolls, 92
department store mannequins coming to life, and aliens—something not included in the norm during the period—each episode reflects and projects the current era as it tried to incorporate topics like communism and politics in the show. If The Twilight Zone was produced in the 21st century, it will probably receive the same amount of attention today’s contemporaries get like Stranger Things, Sense8 and Black Mirror. In fact, the show influenced the Duffer Brothers (Stephen King aside,) and other current shows and cartoons have referenced the 58-year old show such as Gilmore Girls, Mad Men, The X-Files and many of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror Halloween episodes. The series is quite a rollercoaster ride to watch. Despite the shows’ successes, including many awards, critical acclaim and a cult classic following, The Twilight Zone only drew moderate ratings which led to a cancellation of the show. Since then, the show was revived twice during its five years air-time. Serling, however, did not oppose the third and final cancellation of the anthology series in 1964 despite a movie deal and an attempt to film a remake in the 20th century. While it’s definitely a lot better than the 2002 remake, nothing beats the classic. The Twilight Zone remains to be among the best tv shows that existed despite the proliferation of new possible contenders. The show stays timeless and lets the audience experience a whole new “dimension of imagination (an area we call The Twilight Zone).
Impastor (2015) by Cedric Lance M. Militar
> With every calculated move and careful selection, Buddy Dobbs draws out each card and flicks it on the table, waiting for that defining moment, almost tasting the thrill that comes from winning yet another game of poker. But as usual, this was never the case for him and as such, another failed attempt has been added to his growing collection. Having to deplete all of his finances, Buddy eventually gambles with the only thing he has: his life. This is part of what consists the American sitcom, Impastor. The gambling slacker is confronted by two loan sharks that almost put an end to his miserable life but when he thrusts his life into safety, he steals the identity of a deceased gay pastor in small town in Ladner. The gambling junkie hopes to keep up his ploy from getting mixed up with his personal life but when the tables have turned, a renewed perception hit him hard: Buddy stays a while longer in the town to help the people. Following Michael Rosenbaum as the pathological gambling aficionado in the show, this TV Land-produced comedy series brings viewers a fresh taste of sitcom injected with religion,
drug-related problems, and sexuality. Although some audiences consider the show to be a little too edgy on the religion part, the producers are certainly trying to crook their comedic muscles and provide a foretaste of the dark reality in a lighter and cheesy tone. Receiving many hesitations from the general public, the show edged its way through the rough impressions and criticisms and emerged as an underdog. In this star-studded comedy series starring Michael Rosenbaum (Buddy Dobbs), Sara (Dora Winston), David Rasche (Alden Schmidt), Mircea Monroe (Alexa Cummings), and Mike Kosinski (Russell Kerry) as the first season rocketed on the second quarter of 2015 and the unexpected hit was quickly followed by another season which kicked off late in September 2016. In conclusion, when the second season earned the show a fair amount of low ratings, the producers had to cancel the third installment which gave the devoted fans heartache. Impastor punches with grit and humor, dubbing itself worthy of attention.
Kindly Now by Keaton Henson by Seth V. Pullona
> London-based singer/songwriter/poet/visual artist, Keaton Henson, released last September 2016 his album considered as a follow-up to the legendary recluse’s first album Dear, titled “Kindly Now”. After a year of hiatus, this 12-track masterpiece was produced. It is majorly influenced by his previous works and side projects such as Dear, Behaving & Romantic Works. The record is an evidence of his journey in transitioning from folk to electronic to rock, and now back to its roots with all the hints from his experimental creations. The album was led by the spine-tingling “Alright”. “Obviously, my wounds are open to see but don’t take them seriously. I’ll be fine…” This heart-wrenching song, bare with only the piano to accompany, with strings to set the dynamics and his voice to interpret the fragility in his words. The lead record of the album was actually written after the Birthdays album was finished, hence, the similarity of the theme. It is about the art of letting go and hiding of pain. It is a bid of goodbye for his “kid” version, a greeting for the new “him” and his future journey. Keaton Henson had learned a lot in his every work he’d made. And in this album is where they were all put together. 18-year old Henson wrote the album “Dear” which has catapulted his music career According to him, “When we are a bit 94
younger, our emotions are very much simpler. As years passes by, they become more complex and troubled.”With this said, his first work made him realize what a songwriter usually tells. When it comes to relationships, there are always two sides of what to tell. Listening to Kindly Now can make you feel the ripeness in his artistry. There is a shift in his songwriting perspective, making the listeners relate without having to be enclosed to the idea he had ingrained in his lyrics. There is growth in his words but at the same time the stagnancy of desolation. However, there is brilliance in his creativity wherein he played with dynamics and used different instruments and incorporate them into the songs, establishing the individuality of each. Kindly Now has that magic that will make our chins quiver and be introspective with all the things that we experienced in life. It will remind us our pain again even without hurting. With the maturity in his craft, every song was well-put and his voice clear. Put the lyrics together with stringsand-drums tandem, and his fragile airy voice is a perfect sonic representation of beauty dashed with melancholia and emotion.
Something to Tell You by Haim by Jyan Martella G. Opena
> American Pop Rock Band Haim, consisting of the sister trio singer-guitarist Danielle, bassist Este and guitarist-keyboardist Alana, released the bittersweet 11-track album Something to Tell You—packed with a list full of longing, betrayal and the torment of feelings left unsaid. The said album was inspired by the sisters’ journals and was a solid testament of how powerful their 70’s and 80’s inspired music has become. “When we sit down, we’re almost channeling a feeling that we’ve maybe felt before, in high school.” Danielle says. “We like writing songs that channel different emotions from different parts of our lives.” Este also shares her appreciation to Steve Nicks who inspired them to write journals. “Little of your Love” recalls the swaggering bubblegum notes of former tour-mate Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, the finger-snapping “Ready for You” has the vaguest hint of an 80s Michael Jackson about it. The sisters repeatedly lock together for one big, juicy refrain: “I wasn’t ready for you!” The bridge features an ecstatic key change, after which the band—with the help of aforementioned studio fussing and putting the song to its best use— tears things down and rebuilds. On the other hand, “Kept Me Crying” was inspired by the generation’s way of using cellular phones. Danielle sings, “I was your lover I was your friend, now I’m only just someone you call when it’s late enough to forget.” while “Something to Tell You” feigns ignorance to mounting problems
to try and save the union. As ever, Haim’s dynamic songs are tricked out with plenty of studio magic, echoes and shimmer like the blissfully perplexing likeness of a horse’s nay on “Want you Back” with touches of Prince and Fleetwood Mac. “I’ll give you all the love I never gave before I left you just know that I want you back.” The production is bizarre as well. Dissonant synth sequels and helium-inhaled swarm of voice like wails of ghost exorcised from a room were also added by producer Ariel Rechtsaid. The Southern-Californian mantra of “Nothing’s Wrong” recalls post-punk band Au Pair’s similarly robotic refrain. Danielle Haim told Pitchfork in an interview that, “It starts a narrative dealing with coming back from tour and realizing something’s changed in a relationship.” The lyrics goes, “Sleeping back to back, you’re turning away. How could you tell me nothing’s wrong?” The emptied production of “Right Now” is also a bit unusual, thus making it one of the best songs in the album. It has definitely Haim’s hallmarks-squalls of the guitar, stiff strums and Taiko drum patterns. As a whole, Haim and their collaborators for this album are remarkable architects of pop’s tightrope moments; they exactly know how to display emphasis on overblown emotions and make simple line take the air and feels out of the room. Haim’s songs breathe and fidget like living things. Haim is literally the new sound of heartbreak. joust
London Calling by The Clash by Ida Sarena M. Gabaya
> The Clash wanted to become something else other than being known as a punk band as it was only a matter of time when they knew being associated with the genre; violence, sex and destruction has its own boundaries. The band’s aesthetic draws the audience into the song’s narratives and destructive lyrics. As a matter of fact, their first single “White Riot” is about class economics and racism. The song was written by the lead vocalist of the band, Joe Strummer, after he and bassist Paul Simonon got themselves involved in a riot. With their third album, London Calling shook everyone with their lyrical themes drawn from left-wing ideological sentiments. Moreover, London Calling tackles poverty, rising unemployment, injustice and even adulthood. It starts with a strong opening, the title track itself ‘London Calling’, referring to many world issues such as nuclear paranoia, police brutality, and the Thames river flooding: London calling to the faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down. From the song’s first verse up to its chorus, evident composition and its upbeat tempo sound more like an alarm than a punk ballad. A sense of urgency, on the other hand, came from Strummer’s show stealing gritty vocals with song titles that resemble news headlines: “Spanish Bombs”, “The Guns of Brixton” “Death or Glory” to ballads about responsible adulthood: “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Rudie Can’t Fail”, all nineteen 96
songs scream anguish and raging energy. The official recording of London Calling started during the summer of 1979 with the help of Guy Stevens as their producer. The Clash wanted to deviate from their last album “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” which was more into punk rock. Meanwhile, in London Calling, they only settled into one category yet incorporated a thematic atmosphere of reggae, jazz, R&B, rockabilly and hard rock. The album’s front cover streaks with black and white grainy photo of bassist Paul Simonon losing control, smashing his guitar against the stage in New York City—said to be an iconic rock ‘n’ roll moment; captured by photographer Pennie Smith. The pink and green text in bold capital letters of London Calling also amplified the overall impact of the cover. A year after its UK release, London Calling emerged in the US and reached new heights of success having sold millions of copies and landing a spot on the Billboard charts. Arguably, the album is considered a timeless masterpiece contributing to rock ‘n’ roll revolution. The Clash stresses perception and reality through waking their listeners of global happenings in real time. They curb their influence in the music industry by writing songs that can, in a way or two, raze the norm and its predominant variations.
Rise of ‘Elsie’ by Hezron G. Pios
The following transcription is from an exclusive personal inquiry with the Palanca Awards Hall of Famer, Dr. Elsie Coscolluela. *** Interviewer: Good afternoon, Dr. Coscolluela. Please tell us about yourself, your professional background and anything else that you would like to say. Interviewee: My real name is Elsa, not Elsie, by the way. Elsa Victoria Martinez Coscolluela, 38 years of teaching and administration in the University of St. La Salle until 2015. I: So, Doc Elsie, what were your beginnings as a writer? E.C: I started writing when I was in high school. Silly, juvenile stuff. Mainly about moonlight, violins, roses, young love—stuff that I wouldn’t even read today. But I went on a scholarship grant on my 4th year in high school to Boston, Massachusetts, a private school that I went to. And one of the subjects there was Creative Writing, another one was art. So in that [Creative Writing] subject, I was tasked to practice writing in poetry and my teacher was very good because she focused on ‘Show, Don’t Tell’. Basically, we were trained to look on images, to look at symbols and to find meaning in those images and symbols. That was my first poetry lesson. From then on, I had an interest in writing. Later on, I did my college in the Silliman University and fortunately they had Creative Writing program so I majored in it because I thought at the time writing was my great interest. But you know how it feels when you’re 16, 17 years old. I preoccupied myself trying to look more like a beatnik, flower child writer rather than learning how to be a writer. I was seen working alone, working alone. Reading tons of classical literature, so parang ano din, parang digressed 98
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a bit‘yung training ko. But I was fortunate to be trained by Edilberto and Edith Tiempo. They were running the Silliman University National Writers Workshop. Under their tutelage, I was able to write a few good stuff and I started winning awards. Even when I started working as a teacher in La Salle, I made sure that I would write at least a few pieces every year. I: What was your first piece or work of literature which won major or minor awards? E.C: My first short story entitled All About Me which was autobiographical in a way because I wrote about an experience I had while I was in Boston in the United States. It won, surprisingly, first place in the [Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards] Short Story category and I defeated my mentor, Edilberto Tiempo. He was so in love with my first short story that he told me I have to submit also. All About Me is now considered as one of the earliest stories that tackled homosexual relationships. In the story, it’s about a Filipina girl studying abroad who later meets a very nice gentleman and he becomes her boyfriend, taking good care of her. And then, she discovers that he also has a male boyfriend. That is a kind of confusing experience for her. You may call the guy bisexual as he was in love with a girl and another boy at the same time. That was the treatment that I gave to the story. It was really about this man who was bisexual and there’s two ongoing relationships which was confusing for the girl. Not confusing for the other male partner, but the girl he was with. This was in 1969 and the subject matter was considered rare back in those days: to have homosexuality as the topic of a literary piece. I: Moving on. Doc Elsie, having written so many works both in fiction and poetry, which are those whom you consider as your all-time favorites? In poetry, my favorite work would probably
be Katipunera. It’s a long poem about Gregoria de Jesus, wife of Andres Bonifacio because later on in my writing life I focused on historical period themes especially in my place. For the short story, it would still be All About Me. I only have four or five short stories but my plays are even more. My favorite would be In My Father’s House which was adapted into Filipino and was about World War II; a Filipino family with three brothers. One turned out to be a collaborator for the Japanese, the other a guerilla member and another who died in the War. It’s the conflict, the trauma and the shame, the dishonor that having a collaborator in one’s family meant in those days. This is also a true story in a sense it is about my father and his brother. I: Finally, Doc Elsie, please share any advice related to writing especially to the younger generation of writers. What will be your message to them? E.C: Most people are really born with talent. The thing is, talent is not enough. But equally important with talent is training. So, how do you train yourself? First, and it’s very difficult, you really have to discipline yourself and set time for reading and writing. Read the best works. We all have our influences. By reading and reading and reading their works, you’re going to get the rhythm of words, the meaning and sensibility that drives a work and completes a work. I read works by Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, William Butler Yeats, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath and many more. You can see how my leaning is more of a classical formalist. But that’s just me. Today’s writers have a more flowing style, more conversational, more day-to-day structuring. It doesn’t matter whether you’re classical, contemporary or postmodernist, just read the best. Try to analyze and take it all apart. And perhaps join a contest or two. I: Thank you very much, Doc Elsie.
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Published on Mar 13, 2018