[Fully Booked Zine] Love, Twee Love

Patricia Calzo Vega examines the world of Lang Leav for Fully Booked Zine.

In stark contrast to the layered cultural references, the veneer of madcap and mayhem, and the polished finish of Akina’s world and her visual artworks, Leav’s verses are sparse, self-referential, and tentative (sometimes to the point of feeling incomplete). Like short verses scribbled off the cuff and sent off with nary a glance—a distinct possibility, given their social media origins; Leav was also known to respond to poem requests left in her ask box. Emily Dickinson is an acknowledged and quite obvious stylistic influence, and her partner, Michael Faudet—also an artist and poet—is both muse and collaborator.

Emotion it has in spades, and is laid bare for everyone to see. Love and Misadventure tackles the entire breadth of experience of a young person awakening to love: solitary musings of unrequited feeling, the comfort of phantom lovers, the transitory nature of relationships, the bitterness of heartbreak and regret, and, finally, the delirious joy of finding love and discovering its pleasures. Perhaps the experience of watching this story unfurl online, as Leav relived loves and imagined in verse, made readers invested in the outcome and seeing her happy ending.

Originally published February-March 2014.


[Sex and Sensibilities] My Own Private Walden

Astigirl, by Tweet Sering. Reviewed by Mary Ann Marchadesch for Sex and Sensibilities. Image from http://astigirl.blogspot.com/.
Astigirl, by Tweet Sering. Reviewed by Mary Ann Marchadesch for Sex and Sensibilities. Image from astigirl.blogspot.com.

Mary Ann Marchadesch takes a look at what it means to be an Astigirl in this review of the book by Tweet Sering.

The 19th century American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau went into the woods “because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”[note] With Thoreau and her Astigirl muse, Angelina Jolie, for inspiration, Sering ruthlessly (yet lovingly) dissects family relationships, past romances, and childhood ideals; she re-examines her adolescence through the filter of ten or so years; she embarks on new and terrifying adventures (entering writing contests, auditioning for theatre roles… energy therapy? To willingly subject yourself to that takes some inner fortitude. Or maybe that’s just me) and comes out not only more aware of her limitations, but also of her strengths. With each essay in the collection Sering deftly and delicately skewers long-buried doubts and insecurities and by “going back to zero”, as she puts it, creates a new beginning for herself.

Basically, what Astigirl is saying, with lovely bits of humor and touches of irreverence, is this: I chose to do this, I saw it through, I came out of it not necessarily unscathed, but definitely more aware of who I really am and what I really want to do. The unspoken challenge for the reader is: Are you astig enough to do that, too?

Originally published on Sex and Sensibilities.

[GMA News Online] The Philippines and the Pacific world: Past connections, modern ties

Image from GMA News Online
Image from GMA News Online

Regina Layug Rosero explores the Philippines in a new neighborhood–the Pacific.

While many of our Asian neighbors eat with chopsticks and stage the Ramayana on a regular basis, we use forks and spoons, and few of us are familiar with the Indian epic. Many scholars and intellectuals have pointed out these and more differences between us and our Southeast Asian brothers and sisters.

But rather than focusing on this deficit of Asian character, Dr. [Fernando] Zialcita suggests we look at what we have in common with our other neighbors: those of the Pacific islands.

Our pre-Hispanic history tells of trade with neighboring islands, of extensive travel and exploration aboard outriggers with v-shaped sails, of a diet rich in taro and coconut. A glance at Micronesian culture will show you the same things, as well as many other commonalities.

Read the full article here.

[Illustrado] Bad guys who do good

Regina Layug Rosero, biker scout
Regina Layug Rosero, biker scout

Regina Layug Rosero walked five kilometers every night, seven nights in a row, and lived to write about it.

I trudged a few more steps in the evening rain, sweat dripping down the back of my neck and my chest. I could feel a few drops on my forehead, threatening to slip, stinging, into my eye. My legs were beginning to ache, my feet starting to drag across the concrete sidewalk around the park. The fatigue of each kilometer was starting to catch up with me. I spied a park bench, and made my way towards a moment’s rest. I took off my biker scout helmet as I sat, and my husband handed me a bottle of water. I couldn’t lean back to relax; the protrusion on the back of my armor was too large. I rotated my ankles as much as I could in my rubber boots, thankful that a biker scout had such little leg armor.

I’d been walking every night since September 23, at least 5 kilometers per night. Every morning when I woke, my legs were stiff, but come evening I would march once more in my biker scout armor. My husband was ready to catch me if I collapsed.

My name is Regina. I’m a biker scout, and I did this for the children of the Philippines.

Originally published in Illustrado magazine, December 2013.

[Fully Booked Zine] A life of plenitude

Dante Gagelonia ponders the life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

While the concept of magical realism came about years before Garcia Marquez published One Hundred Years of Solitude, it was his novel that best illustrated its spirit. One Hundred Years of Solitude did more than tell the story of a family: it did so in a way that demonstrated the way he saw the realities of Latin American culture, and of Colombian identity. Through the lens of metaphorical Macondo and by utilizing the complex shadows cast by the Buendía family, García Márquez depicted ideas, morals and realities that would inspire an entire generation of Latin American expression. The Latin American Boom of the 1960s and 1970s counted One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of its seminal works, and García Márquez as one of its four undisputed pillars alongside Mario Vargas LLosa, Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortazár.

From latintimes.com
From latintimes.com

There is so much more to García Márquez’s writing than what can be found in One Hundred Years of Solitude, however. While it stands as a capital city in the landscape of his work, his other novels, novellas and short stories still comprise the rest of a bountiful and detailed map. Each of his stories is different yet familiar, staying true more to a sense of being rather than to a strict sense of style. He would reference specific historical periods while generalizing locations, dissect emotions while obfuscating intent, and employ other fluid narrative techniques. It’s an elusive sort of vitality, giving readers a grounded sense of reality while leaving just enough unspoken. There is room to interpret, to feel, to explore.

Originally published in the Fully Booked Zine, June-July 2014.

[Metro] The Wandering Menu: A Short Guide to Dining at Summer Palace

Paul Catiang’s inner foodie relishes each word in this restaurant review.

Imagine traditional Cantonese cuisine–its array of roasted meats, the preference for fresh ingredients, the minimalist approach to spices–traveling around Southeast Asia, picking up a culinary technique here, a local ingredient there. Imagine Cantonese cuisine with a collector’s hoard of Southeast Asian ingredients, and you’ll find yourself in Summer Palace, the EDSA Shangri-La’s treasure chest of international Chinese cookery.

Whet your appetite with the dim sum. You don’t expect to start off a sumptuous Chinese meal with something sweet, but the custard roll turns such notions on their head. An innocuous dim sum ball on the outside, it delivers a light yet creamy custard center. After that gentle shock, the menu returns to the familiar once again, with the scallop-and-shrimp and vegetable dumplings, elegant in their combination of the freshest ingredients.

This was originally published in Metro Magazine in August 2012.

[Happy Even After] Just Ma

From happyevenafter.com
From happyevenafter.com

Mary Ann Marchadesch writes about what it was like to be raised by a single parent.

The best thing about Ma? She always trusted us. She raised us with a solid set of values that were unfettered by any sort of superstition or cultural shibboleths. She taught us to know right from wrong, black from white from morally grey and trusted that we’d absorbed enough over the years to be able to judge correctly.

She never sugar-coated any bad news, trusting us not to fall apart but instead rise to the occasion and give it a good solid thwack across the nose. She taught us to not be afraid of the world and made us tough enough to deal with its absurdities. She valued our opinion on things that really mattered, and even on things that didn’t. In return, we took the advice she gave, as rare as it was, very seriously.

(Except when it comes to hairdressers. She’s still got a bit of a blind spot there.)

Originally published in the book Happy Even After, 2011.

[Pulse.ph] An Open Letter to Old Friends

From http://thisandthat-online.com/
From http://thisandthat-online.com/

Paul Catiang writes about Tears For Fears and misheard lyrics.

But the nostalgia took a break at that point, and we heard something new—from our perspective, at least. As far as I can recall, the last two singles we heard from you were “Break it down Again” in 1993 and “Closest Thing to Heaven” in 2004. “Call me Mellow” came as a surprise; on first blush, we’d never heard you sound that happy before. Upon further listening, I found a wistful portrait of middle age—something absent in your previous songs.

With that, “Seven Sundays”, “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending”, “Quiet Ones”, and “Floating down a River”, the concert turned into a reunion with a childhood friend who, however dear to us, had been away for over a decade and we hadn’t heard from outside of a letter or two. After the initial frenzy of reminiscence, it was as if we all sat down, grimaced, and asked, “So … what have you been up to these past 15 or so years?” Well perhaps it wasn’t that awkward or unfamiliar. “Raoul and the Kings of Spain” still echoes with portentous overtones I usually associate with “Shout”, and in any case most of us were glad to catch up. We had missed the aftermath of your decade-long split, your reunion a few years ago, and what you had done during that time.

This was originally published on Pulse.ph in May 2010.

[Fully Booked Zine] The Other World: William Gibson

Image from Amazon
Image from Amazon

Originally published in the Fully Booked Zine in March 2013, Paul Catiang writes about one of his favorite science fiction authors. Here’s an excerpt:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” This is the sky above Chiba City in the post-World War III dystopia of William Gibson’s the Sprawl trilogy. It is a world described by metaphors derived from the scorched earth, ubiquitous technology, and mercenary cutthroats that comprise its denizens’ preconscious memories.

The Sprawl trilogy tells stories located in the vast divide between the upper and lower classes, with the middle class all but obliterated, forced into drone-like consumerism and poverty. For those who can escape the previous generation’s post-industrial entrenchment, they can swim in the waters of the emergent, innovative class of mercenary professionals. Here, professionals pit competence, discretion, contacts, and savvy to stay relevant to the black-market world of biz—one misstep and they’re dead.

Gibson likewise takes punk’s in-your-face anger, discontent, hairstyles, and internecine gang wars, and overlays it all onto the matrix of cyberspace and dystopian wastelands. Where business and government respond to this digital void by imposing orderly data lattices, console cowboys introduce chaos through socially engineered mass hysteria, chemical warfare, and cybernetic implants—a madness that conceals their precise methods.

[GMA News Online] In completely different forms, the Bard thrives in Asia

Image from GMA News Online
Prof. Yoshibara presenting her paper, with scans of Ozamu Tezuka’s manga series “Robio and Robietto.” Image from GMA News Online.

Mary Ann Marchadesch writes about the many ways Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted, reworked, translated, performed and updated, in the Philippines and around Asia.

The earliest theatrical performances of the plays were in schools, with the opening of “As You Like It” in the Philippine Normal School and “The Merchant of Venice” in Ateneo de Manila, both in 1910, and the performance of “Julius Caesar” in Silliman Institute (now University) in 1911, all performed with a “ridiculous fidelity,” Dr Ick notes—rote productions with no room for alternative interpretations.

These performances were not solely limited to the elite learning institutions of the time. Provincial high schools also got in on the action, with Batangas High School mounting “The Merchant of Venice” in 1916.

However, of all of Shakepeare’s dramas, none holds more sway over Filipino sensibility and sentimentality than the tragedy of star-crossed lovers in “Romeo and Juliet.” The melodrama of forbidden young love struck—and still strikes—a chord in the Filipino masses, and “Romeo and Juliet” has racked up more adaptations and performances in the Philippines than any other play—from Soto’s Kapampangan adaptation to the awit, “Ang Sintang Dalisay” (1901); the 1917 novel “Bulag and Pagibig” by Pascual de Leon, and Salvador Magno’s “Romeo Kag Julieta” in Cebuano (1932).

Read the full article here.