With my holding a regular job, resolving to be the ultimate kaladkarin and producer of cognitive surplus, and trying to shed off them dreaded pounds, my social calendar’s been pretty filled — if I’m not out drinking/eating with friends or at some cultural event, I’m in Diliman jogging or at home or in a cafe doing some extra work/writing. So, my health (not to mention my wallet) has also been pretty screwed. I’ve been sick for a week or so now (and therefore haven’t been able to work out for a week or so now — I feel myself growing fatter everyday, although I’m hoping all this deep, heaving, *bombastic* coughing is toning my abdominal muscles) — although that didn’t really stop me from running around the metro, carrying on said kaladkarin business. What is pasaway. Apparently, all those nights and early mornings out, substances consumed, and interpersonal interactions engaged in did not agree with my mellow and introverted constitution.
But hey, at least they gave me something to write about! I went out most nights of December, but I’ll be talking only about the highlights here.
Dec. 1: Pecha Kucha Night Manila V4
Pecha Kucha Night is an event which provides creatives with an informal venue to network and showcase their work. The Japanese term for “chit-chat,” it was devised in Tokyo in 2003 and has since been organized all over the world. The format of the presentations is meant to make them loose but concise: the speakers have to show and talk about 20 images for 20 seconds each — that’s about 6 minutes and 40 seconds for each speaker, if you’d care to trust my math.
This was the first time I attended Pecha Kucha, and while I found it enjoyable, it fell short of my expectations. Here was a gathering of the most intelligent and talented people in the Philippines (or at least, in the metro), and I expected to be impressed, inspired, and be made to think and learn, as well as have fun — I expected to hear about the motivations, aspirations, significant works, and creative processes of all those artists. This is not to say that none of them achieved those things — speakers Anjo Bolardo, Paolo Fresnoza, Raimund Marasigan, Regina Cruz, and Sipat Lawin Ensemble stood out to me — but most of them really just made chit-chat. And while their anecdotes were surely interesting, I thought it was a waste of the platform given to them. They could’ve just tweeted what they said on that stage and given way to talks of more significance.
Also, the raffles took sooooo long, indeed took longer than the talks themselves, when all that time could’ve been given to a forum or something, where people could exchange ideas, help extend the conversation beyond Pecha Kucha. But I suppose I shouldn’t really complain, as I won a lovely teddy bear speaker from ProMac.
Dec.3: Better Living Through Xeroxography
BLTX is a small press expo organized by independent publishers, and showcased the works of High Chair, the Youth and Beauty Brigade, the UP Writers Club, Heights, among others. For the complete details of the event and other funstuff (read: cool posters!), go here, here, and here, it would save us both a lot of trouble.XD
BLTX was super fun! I cannot help but quote Ma’am Chingbee:
I rarely get the chance to combine the words heartwarming and artistic community, which is why I will do so now despite having sobered up, gotten enough sleep, and recovered what I believe to be my default stance of detachment. To wit: I had a blast at Friday night’s BLTX; it was absolutely thrilling to see people come in droves with their books and comics and journals and zines in tow; that an artistic community of diverse creative interests could convene out of sheer pride and joy in Do-It-Yourself publishing efforts was nothing short of heartwarming to this skeptic-and-a-half who’s had way too much exposure to disparaging remarks about the work of self-publishers/small presses–this despite the extraordinary work, then and now, coming out of independent efforts, and this despite easy evidence of mediocrity seeing print via the machinery of mainstream publishers.
I might as well have burned my wallet, with all the books and zines I bought, but I think it was well worth it! Got stuff I look forward to reading, and met cool people and new friends, so ayuz!
Dec. 4: Mondomanila Screening
at the UP Film Institute. I thought the (not a) film by Khavn dela Cruz was awesome, but I didn’t like it. As I said on Twitter, it’s like a Jollibee Yumburger — consisting of a small, thin slice of beefy discourse sandwiched by thick slices of bread that’s neither palatable nor nourishing. It had a worthy point, but it was embedded in so much shock and sensationalization and noise — and though there’s a type of art that elevates that, I don’t subscribe to it. I think that, as Lourd de Veyra said, “Shock often diminishes any merit of discourse.” Basically, it’s not to my taste. But it definitely succeeded and excelled in what it tried to do.
Dec.10: Writers Night
Where the UST Publishing House launched six titles!
Pitong Bundok ng Haraya, literary criticism by National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, also known as Rio Alma; Imagination’s Way: Essays Critical and Personal by University Professor Emeritus Gémino H. Abad’s; Gitnang Uring Fantasya at Material na Kahirapan sa Neoliberalismo: Politikal na Kritisismo ng Kulturang Popular by the Dean of UP’s College of Mass Communications Rolando B. Tolentino; Charlson Ong’s newest novel, Blue Angel, White Shadow , a hardboiled detective/murder mystery set in the seedy underbelly of Manila; and Romulo P. Baquiran, Jr.’s Sagad sa Buto: Hospital Diary at Iba pang Sanaysay . The sixth book, Alinsunurang Awit is by a writing fellow of the UP National Writers’ Workshop, the prolific young poet Mésandel Virtusio Arguelles.
I’ve read Imagination’s Way and Blue Angel, White Shadow and found them interesting, riveting, and well-written and would recommend them to my friends bookish and not. Also watch out for Insectissimo, a collection of poetry by Lourd de Veyra!
Dec.11: Fully Booked Flagship Excursion and Mercato Centrale Food Trip
My first time to go to Bonifacio Global City and to Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street. I learned that, to get there, one has to take the MRT/bus to Ayala Station, ask roving guards/random harried passersby where the GBC shuttles are, and ride the GBC bus taking the EAST route. And hey presto! Welcome to another First World destination in the Third World!XD
The Fully Booked flagship store looked like Fully Booked outlets everywhere, except it had four floors and so contained more books, records, and other merch. Also it had its own Starbucks and meeting rooms. Didn’t get to buy books as I was broke, and the book I’ve been searching for (Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor) apparently can only be found in Fully Booked Eastwood (and I’ve been waiting for about a month and a week now for it to be delivered to Fully Booked SM North. Dear Fully Booked Customer Service Associates, must it really take ~forever~, not that I’m bitching).
The sight of shelves upon shelves of books made me nerdgasm, but the funner excursion of the day was to Mercato Centrale, “an innovative weekend lifestyle market with unique, great tasting food finds.” It’s held every saturday, 6am – 12nn, and features local and international cuisines. The food was AWESOME, we couldn’t help pigging out. I especially enjoyed the croquettas, vegetarian siopao, and fresh lumpia (I’ve tasted various fresh lumpia but this was like no other! So fresh! So yummy! And that delectable peanut sauce!) that I ate — man, if I had easy access to food like that everyday, I’d go vegetarian.XD I also took home figs, which tasted a bit like raisins, but nuttier, what with all the seeds. Om nom nom~ Anyway, if you’re in the food industry, a dedicated foodie, or just want to have something nice for breakfast/lunch, this is the place to go to!
Dec.11-12: O-Bar with Hotness
Because I am bent on being kaladkarin, I went with a couple of friends to this gay bar in Metrowalk. 200 pesos entrance fee, three drinks included. It was my first time to go to a bar, and I rather surprised myself because I had fun. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I think it was the sense of security — I was confident that I wasn’t going to be harassed there (I felt so secure, in fact, that I dozed off for a bit, haha!). So despite the crowd cramped like sardines in such a small club, I didn’t get the usual mild, ochlophobic panic attacks — it helped that we danced in a corner most of the time.
This experience dispelled the stereotypes I had of gay bars and the people who go to them. Yes there were half-naked dancing men with bulging pecs and abs, but, idk if it was just me, there was nothing erotic/nakakabastos about them. They didn’t even gyrate that much, mostly they did these hip-hop moves. And you couldn’t touch or go near them, as they danced on these elevated platforms (not shoes). And when they got down from the platforms and into the crowd, nobody tried to grope them or whatever. The gay crowd was actually kinda tame — the most enthusiastic they got was when everybody sang along to hits like “California Girls,” or lip synched with the drag queens performing classic diva songs. The straight girls in the bar (about 15%-20% of the crowd) were noisier and dancier. Sarap sabihan ng, “Ayy, bar niyo?”XD
Going to a gay bar also made me realize how much I get affected by the male gaze. I am a feminist, and yes, I try to look good first and foremost for myself, but there’s always a part of me that’s geared to try to look attractive to other people, especially guys, in public, coz I’m still on the market, yeah? That, in a way, can be oppressive — sometimes a girl evaluates herself based on how guys see her. Like, I think I’m attractive, but when a guy remarks that I’m fat or ugly (girls usually wouldn’t say such a thing), well it’s a blow to my self-esteem.
I think girls and gays are more appreciative of beauty that strays from the conventional conception of beauty, which is a patriarchal conception of beauty: young, slender, and curvy (which denote fertility), petite and delicate-looking (which affirm strong, robust masculinity). Everyday, I’m bombarded with images of this sort of “ideal” beauty, this “ideal” woman; I often hang out with guys who spend an inordinate amount of time chick-scanning and rating women based on physical attractiveness as if they were the epitome of gorgeousness themselves — it’s no wonder women become hyper-conscious of their appearance.
But in the gay bar, I was like, kebs! After all, the crowd wasn’t my market. I didn’t have to prettify myself to catch some guy’s eye there; nobody really gave a damn. I felt so comfortable with myself, I took off my jacket (it was stifling) — it was my first time to wear a tank top without a jacket/cardigan in a public place, and it felt liberating. I thought I looked good, my gay friend said I looked good, and if anybody begged to differ, I’d prolly be like, inyerface. Someday I want to feel so sure of myself that I’d cease to be conscious of the male gaze.
On the downside, I think it was the five hours’ worth of second-hand smoke that I inhaled there that primarily led to this horrible cough and cold.
A staging of one of my favorite plays, the tragedy by Euripedes, presented by UP Dulaang Laboratoryo, directed by Mara Marasigan for her thesis, and starring Irma Adlawan. I’ve always been intrigued and enthralled by the character of Medea, so, despite my exhaustion and bit of a hangover, I had to attend the gala of this one. I’d do a review, but am getting tired and sleepy by this point, haha. I thought it was a very nuanced take on Euripides’s Medea — especially in a national allegorical sense. I felt their handling of language and costume design added to the richness of the play. The dominant language used was English — however, Filipino and other vernacular languages were also used to express what was subversive, primal, or subconscious, what was largely unheard or ignored but was powerful or significant. Medea, as a classic figure in stories and folk tales the world over (oppressed woman betrayed by husband kills child in revenge) wore classic Greek attire; the chorus/her servants wore Filipiniana costumes; Jason looked like an ilustrado; Creon wore an Americana — make a postcolonial reading of that if you would. Volumes have been written on the play as a proto-feminist text, of being about the sufferings of a strong woman in a patriarchal society — I will not dwell on that here. Suffice it to say that, I think, though Medea seemed to essentialize herself, her repeated utterances to the tune of “I am but a woman,” “Such is woman,” etc. were instances that served more to manipulate and mock patriarchal, misogynistic stereotypes rather than degrade her to herself — obviously, the stereotypes were oppressive.
But what most struck me about the play was Irma Adlawan’s performance, which was so affecting I cried, cried. She was just fantastic.
Dec. 17: UP Lantern Parade
I was underwhelmed. Perhaps last year’s parade was so awesome this year’s fell short of my expectations. The rain was also a bummer, plus the super pasaway crowd in front of AS that wouldn’t let the parade pass freely was annoying. Had fun with friends, though, as always.
On which I did something I cannot as yet blog about. Haha. Maybe when my self-proclaimed, self-imposed “gap year” is over and it’s time to recollect the things that happened in tranquility.
Four more parties/events before I go off to Iloilo and Boracay to attend my uncles’ weddings and chill out, and so end my “gap year.” I cannot wait to go back to my reclusive lifestyle, though I doubt I’ll be able to go all hermit again.