Paul Catiang explores family history for The Story When.
I was around four or five when Mommy first told me about Dad. She said that they couldn’t marry because he was already betrothed to someone else from birth, as is the custom among upper-class Indians. The exchange and merging of property was supposedly a done deal—there might have been some resort island involved, as a dowry. In the years that followed, the mental images that came to mind involved a mix of Bedouin tents, elephants, peacocks, turbans, all manner of exotic clichés my young imagination cobbled together from the Arabian Nights and the World Book Encyclopedia’s volume on entries under the letter I.
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.
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.
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.