Sunday, November 29, 2009

I won't weep for the women

I won't weep for the women who died in the carnage in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao; I won't weep. I won't weep to satisfy their murderers, whose brutality and ruthlessness shock people around the world. I won't weep for the journalists who died, whose names have joined the growing lists of journalists killed in the Philippines. I won't weep for the culture of impunity and the reign of terror in my country.I won't weep for the government's reluctance to punish the perpetrators. I won't weep for the unholy alliance of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the political clan that puts her in power.
Sorry, I won't weep. I won't weep because the victims deserve more than what anyone's stupid tears can bring. They deserve justice and we, who remained--we who are here--, should see to it that it must be served. We shall never settle for less.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Few minutes before Madness

Just need to link this here before everything turns to chaos and my life will turn upside down.
Following the carnage in Maguindanao that killed at least 57 unarmed people (as of the press time the number continues to climb), members the international media group IFEX condemned the killing, describing it as a "crime of such scale and horror that is incomparable to anything we have seen."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Women's fiction in Asia

It’s sinful, I know. And besides, I already have a copy of Tony Nieva’s “Pasilyo 8” somewhere in my files at home, safely tucked in a folder with Leoncio Deriada’s “Road to Mawab” and the third name, I could not yet remember. Yes, they were the top three winners of the 1981 Asiaweek short story writing competition in that decade when Asiaweek still allot some of its pages to fiction. The magazine folded up two decades later, though; shortly after it reformatted itself as Asia’s business magazine.
I can’t remember now, if it was Ja who first told me about the Asiaweek fiction competition at the time when I was so crazy about fiction. (Until now, I still am, can’t you see?) But in 2000, while drifting inside the Silliman University library, I found the Asiaweek copy that featured these top three winners, and made sure to keep a copy.
Sorry. Actually, I could not remember exactly how I got that Asiaweek copy. Maybe, it was not a library copy after all. Maybe, it was only one of Ja’s old copies, remnants of his Asiaweek days for he could be that “sentimental.” He used to keep at home all those old Asiaweek issues where his stories appeared—but this was before he decided to live like Henry David Thoreau and cast away all his belongings (at our expense) and donated all his books and magazines to the Davao city library. But just to accompany me in my lonely journey to writing fiction, I decided to keep those three old Asiaweek winners among my files at home; and although I might find it hard to locate them now, without turning the whole place upside down, I have not forgotten yet that I still have them among my files.
So when I found a few copies of “Prizewinning Asian Fiction” (edited by Leon Comber) prominently displayed on the shelf of the National Bookstore—I almost went berserk. (Am I exaggerating?) The book features all the winning writers from 1981 to 1988. I felt I needed very badly to read the women!For among those fiercely vying for the top Asiaweek prize, were women (some identify themselves as housewives or someone from the academe, whose mastery over language and form had surprised Asiaweek editors. Of the 26 winners (some of them won twice in different years, of course), only nine were women, a small but nevertheless encouraging number considering how women have always been silenced from writing fiction close to a hundred years after Virginia Woolf wrote “A Room of Ones’ Own.” So, just to console myself because I don’t get to write fiction anymore (this semester will be gobbled up by my master’s project), I will treat myself to reading Niaz Zaman, Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Evelyn D. Tan, Minfong Ho. Claralice Hanna, Fanny Haydee Bautista Llego, Ovidia Yu, Nina Sibal and Nalla Tan.

The Visit

Deep in the night, I dreamt of a woman sticking her brown elbow inside the front window of our apartment. She was trying to open the latch. When I turned to look, she called a strange name, a certain Mrs. B—(I could no longer remember)—so, I immediately called Ma, who in that dream was sleeping in my room as if she lived there. But looking back now, I thought the name that the woman was calling was a strange name, it couldn’t have been Ma’s. It could have been somebody who used to live in an apartment where we stayed, somebody who was a friend of the woman. But in the dream, when the woman called and saw me seeing her trying to open the latch, she said I needed not open the door, she only wanted us to know she was in distress; and she began telling me, half crying, that the landlady had kicked them out. She said something about the landlady suing her. She needed help, her four small children, around her, listening.I saw all of them outside the window she was trying to open. It was then that I suddenly realized it was Ja, not Ma, who was sleeping in the room. I decided not to wake Ja (who’d surely get mad for being interrupted in his sleep). I decided to talk to the woman, so, I began to open the door, drowsily reaching up to the latch, swaying in my half-sleep.
But then, as the door broke free, I was suddenly exposed to the bright white light outside and the woman was gone. It was then, that I realized the woman was an apparition; and suddenly everything turned into a nightmare. As usual, an unusual force whisked my body and sent it to the floor; I was unable to move. I tried to scream and when I managed to let my voice out, I awoke, feeling the crushing, tingling sensation that only a stupefying nightmare can bring.
I told Sean, once when I chanced upon him waking up that night, that I didn’t want to go back to sleep anymore for fear that the nightmare might come back. In the morning, he asked me what the dream was all about. Why it got me so scared. I told him about the woman. “It doesn’t sound so scary at all,” he said, in his own child wisdom. But I was totally shaken by the dream. The following night, I told Karl about it. He laughed when he saw me making the sign of the cross because he said I was supposed to be a pagan, [yes, i wanted to be a witch!] and there I was, making the sign of the cross. Why was I so easily scared by a simple dream? He asked. I said it’s because I could not understand its meaning. Until now, when I get to think of it, it still gives me the creeps. Who was that woman in distress? Why did she visit me in my sleep?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Light and Shadows

Now that the multimedia class is over; a class I had survived despite my most rudimentary piece of equipment, my slow and memory-challenged laptop, most of all; I needed to thank everyone who had made my work a success (despite its being a disaster.) At last, I decided to remove my disastrous video here, (it was not only because of poor planning that the images failed to match the story that unfolded, it was also shortage of time, lack of gumption, the vacillation of will. For, imagine making a long form documentary in a minute’s notice! While trying to master all those audio and video editing software I handled for the first time!) So, for the benefit of all of us, I decided to remove that piece of disaster to put in its place the only shot I liked in the entire video. It was a shadow cast by a worshipper on a wooden bench inside the small chapel in Mayo, a sitio about 30 minutes ride from Poblacion, Columbio.
For there was nothing I loved better than shooting shadows! This shadow was shot during what Ja always referred to as the “magic hour,” when the sun is already 45 to 30 degrees to the horizon, its yellowish tint saturate the colors on earth, sending even the most ordinary thing aglow, making everything looks so special.
Earlier, we had left the perfectly-decent, concrete church in Columbio. When we arrived, the small wooden chapel on the hill was awash with sunlight. The view of the surrounding hills and mountains was magical from the inside, framed by the chapel door; but something had prevented me from aiming the camera and pressing the shutter. Fr. Peter Geremia, PIME, was saying mass and I was worried that if I aimed my camera at the door, I would meet the rebuke of the faithful—! So, there! That was how I missed that magical door shot as I, instead, aimed my camera on the floor to record the shadows.