Picture book travels

It’s a rainy afternoon and I’ve been sick for a week, so this is as good a time as any to resurrect this blog.

Been spending the past few months traveling and collecting stories– generally just living before I have to go find a proper job. The in-between time was spend taking photos.

Severely Photoshop-challenged and shooting with a second hand and fucking filthy Nikon D40 and basic kit lens. But the stories and always brand-spanking new.

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BANTAY

Kung tutuusin, si Bantay ang original gangster.

Bago pa ipatayo ang estasyon ng pulis dito sa pusod ng Maynila, nandito na si Bantay. Isa siya sa anim na tutang iniluwal ng kanyang inang walang pakundangan sa pakikipagkangkangan sa kung sinu-sinong aso.  Sa kanilang anim na magkakapatid, siya na lang ang buhay pa.

Hindi siya ang pinakamalusog o pinakamalakas na tuta sa kanilang magkakapatid, pero si Bantay ang pinaka-wais. Tuwing pasususuin sila ng kanilang ina, itinutulak at tinatahulan ni Bantay ang mas maliliit na tuta kaysa sa kanya. Dinidikitan naman ni Bantay ang mas malalakas na tuta, sinisiksik at sinisiksik hanggang sa kusang mapagod at umalis ang mga kapatid. Tuwing natityempohan ni Bantay ang inang katatapos lang makipagtalik sa mga galising gala, kinakagat ni Bantay ang suso nito, sinisipsip ang lahat ng nutrisyon. Inuubos niya ang gatas hindi dahil nagugutom siya kundi para wala nang makuha ang mga kapatid.

Ngayon, matandang aso na rin si Bantay– walang silbi sa marami at madalas kinatatakutan pa ng mga bata dahil sa gusgusin niyang itsura. Pakalat-kalat na lang siya ngayon at nakikitulog sa sahig ng estasyon ng pulis dahil malamig ang sahig dito– di katulad doon sa kalsada kung saan mainit at dumadagsa at napakaramin paa.

“Bantay,” ang ipinangalan sa kanya ng mga pulis, pero ang totoo, ang sarili niyang sikmura na lang ang kanyang kayang bantayan pa.

(Wala siyang imik nang kunin ko ang litratong ito. Dahil may takot ako sa mga aso, mula sa malayo ko na lang kinuha ang litrato. Nginitian naman ako ng mamang pulis sa pag-aakalang siya ng kinukuhanan ko, at hindi ang aso sa kanyang paanan.)

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Reyna ng Kalsada

Nasa hulihan siya ng parada, sa pinakadulo. Wala na siyang kasunod kundi ang banda ng mga lalaking teenager na may kanya-kanyang torotot o tambol. Pinipilit niyang humabol sa ibang reyna elena.

Sa unahan ng parada ang pinakamagagandang reyna– mga dalagang makikinis ang kutis at tuwid ang mga ngipin. Lahat ng mata ng manonood ay nakapako sa kanila. Todo ngiti sila, abot tenga. Napapabuntong-hininga ang mga tao sa bawat pagkembot nila.

Samantala, nasa hulihan siya. Mataas na ang araw ng tanghaling tapat. Pinagpapawisan na silang lahat, pero magaganda pa rin ang mga reyna sa harapan ng parada. Siya nama’y nanlilimahid sa tumatagaktak niyang pawis. Hirap na hirap siyang sumabay sa saliw ng musika. Makati ang costume na suot niya. Hinihingal siya sa pagsayaw.

Tuwing tumitigil ang parada, panandaliang pahinga. Nagsasama-sama ang mga dalaga sa silong ng puno, pinapaypayan ang mga sarili. Ang mga lalaki nama’y nakikisilong sa isang tindahan, naghahati-hati sa isang supot ng sopdrinks.

Manaka-nakang tinutugtog ng isa sa mga lalaki ang tono ng funeral march sa kanyang torotot bago magsimula muli ang parada.

Tuwing may maririnig siyang hagikgik mula sa mga manonood, pakiramdam niya na siya ang pinagtatawanan. May bumulong mula sa likuran na yumayanig ang lupa, sakto naman sa kanyang pagkembot. Kahit sa pagpapatahi ng costume para sa parada, siya ang may pinakamalaking bayarin dahil maraming tela raw ang ginamit ng sastre.

Nakapikit ang kanyang mga mata habang sumasayaw sa huling tugtugin ng banda bago matapos ang parada.

(Samantala, nakaubos na ako ng dalawang rolyo ng film sa pagkuha ng litrato niya.)

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Surreal

Someone asked me some time ago why I was obsessed with surrealism. Why, for example, is this blog entitled Surrealist Manifesto, after that fairly outdated declaration by ancient Frenchman Andre Breton? Why is my thesis focused on surreal works of literature, etc.

The honest answer is that I live in a surreal environment. I live in a house in Quezon City– the New Jersey of Manila’s New York (only QC’s cooler than Jersey, and Manila’s filthier than NY). I share a roof with my parents, my younger brother, three dogs and a hundred thousand cats. Across the pond is the University of the Philippines, where I have been studying in for roughly six years already. This city is located in the same Metro as the capital of the country. The Philippines is a third world country located somewhere in the ass crack of South East Asia. So what’s so surreal about that?

I’ll just let the latest national fiasco speak for itself and repost something a better writer than myself has written.

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Sleepless

This is probably just going to be some personal shit. You’ve been duly warned.

I’ve had this hella-interesting conversation recently with some kick-ass people. Adjust your perceptions accordingly because the kick ass people I hang out with may very well be geeks and nerds to the rest of humanity, but that’s how I roll.

Anyway. One of them, let’s call her M, asks why people blog. She had this condescending tone of question, which may or may not mean she was condescending at the moment of questioning, as she’s got this habit of sounding condescending all the time. I think it’s because she’s from Bulacan and their accents are hard to my soft and often-ignorant Tagalog ears. Since I have a blog, I had this knee-jerk reaction to defend myself.

I told her I keep a blog so I can write about things I can’t write about when I write for the newspaper. There are standards and the weight of so many years of tradition pressing down on writers, and there are particular things you’re expected to write about there but I can do fuck all here. I can say fuck here, for example, and I can devote entire paragraphs to how awesome Batman is.

Bottom line is, with this blog, I speak for myself. If I am accidentally racist or my spelling sucks, I am wholly accountable for that. In the newspaper, there’s a pantheon of editors who’ll take the burnt of mistakes, not to mention the rest of the writers who’ll suffer secondhand embarrassment when you fuck up an article. And a battalion of alumni who’ll tell you how much you suck and how better everything was back in their day.

All right, M says, so it isn’t much of a personal blog. So why do people keep personal blogs?

This girl, M, she doesn’t go online too much. She does when she needs to– like when she needs to look up some research. But she’s a 21st century rebel who doesn’t have a facebook account, or a multiply account, or a twitter or a plurk. She’s an internet ninja. She doesn’t like leaving cyber footprints.

Anything you need to know, she says, you can find out in real life. Or in the library. She’s impressively hard core.

I explain to her that sometimes, people like other people to read/ find out how interesting their real lives are.

Do you let your internet friends know about your real life?, M asks.

No, I answered. Well, bits of it. Bits of it I want people to know (like the fact that I write in the paper, and that I love Batman, and sometimes what color bra I’m wearing).

Then it’s not your real life, M says. It’s a made-up life. You sift through the real and present to the world wide web a version of yourself that you’d like the internet to know. And in the internet people’s minds, they have a tiny You, and made-up You that is nice and charmingly quirky but never overbearing. A Sims character, she said.

I stared at her, turning the idea over in my head. To her face I said, Gurrl, no one plays Sims anymore. Get out of 2001.

The point is, M explained, the internet You that you make up may or may not be the real you.

Well, yes, I said. Then I explained to her about 4chan and ONTD and all the other shit-sucking blackholes of the internet. It’s fun, I said. The anonymity is empowering.

M asks me if I join in on the discussions.

Fuck no, are you crazy? Then I proceeded to explain to her, in more depth, about 4chan and ONTD. I told her I don’t believe the people on these forums are that rude to other people or that stupid in real life. But they’re all very much prone to being incredibly witty most times, which I think is real enough. And while they’re probably not that rude or that stupid in real life, the important thing to consider is that the internet has afforded them a space and opportunity to be that rude and stupid. The internet can bring out the potential in people. The scrawniest little runt with not even the faintest trace of a chin can be an internet tough guy. The unpopular high school outcast can be a fierce diva overnight. That’s the beauty of it. A substitution of reality.

M thinks on this. You mean people who are not satisfied with real life will go to the internet and create a different version of themselves? Living vicariously… through themselves?

Yes, I answered.

M thinks some more. I don’t want to create another Me on the internet, she says, resolute. I’ve already got enough problems being me in real life.

Ah, but in the internet, the You can exist without any problems, I said.

She frowns. No poverty? No race? No discrimination based on class, or gender, or nationality, or age?

Pretty much, I answered.

That’s fucked up, M says. And I’m inclined to agree. #

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Light Green

I go out for a couple of hours and come back to find my facebook friends page flooded with mysterious colors. Turns out this stranger bitch meme is going around social networking websites. Girls are declaring to the web what color bra they’re wearing. Confusion and/ or hilarity ensues.

Here is an explanation.

what is this I don't even

This… may be the strangest meme I’ve encountered. And I’ve encountered quite a few in my time, being a recovering /b/tard back when /b/ was good.

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Curtain Call

The last issue of NO WAY BUT UP, drawn by Miguel Punzalan.  Can be read in the Philippine Collegian 09-10, issue 19.

Annotated version when I fell like it.🙂

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