October 8, 2015

WILA at 24 and a book launch

Coming from hours-long interaction with the computer, which was bordering on becoming apathetic, over imagined emotions and thoughts about condominiums, I had welcomed any form of respite one September day.

Luckily, it came in the form of the 24th anniversary celebration of the Women in Literary Arts (WILA) at the Rizal Memorial Library. As expected, it was another night rich with poetry, prose, music, and promise. It was my second time to attend their anniversary through the invitation of its past president Ms. Haidee Emmie Palapar.

October 4, 2015

Digging into the politics of gender in the past: The aswang – Part 1

Philippine folkloreReading two essays by Herminia Meñez from her book, Explorations in Philippine Folklore, brought to mind an erstwhile anime series, Shaman King, directed by Seiji Mizushima and co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS and Xebec.

Among the characters in this anime, AnnaKyoyama stands out. A traditional and powerful Japanese shaman, she possesses the ability to summon a spirit with her body as medium using beads. She is the equal and caring fiancée of Yoh Asakura who wants to be Shaman King.

It was Anna’s image that was partially formed in the mind when Meñez suggests in her essay, The Viscera-Sucker and the Politics of Gender, that the powerful indigenous female shamans in the Philippines, or the babaylanes, were associated with a horrific symbolic form that is the aswang (or asuang), particularly the female viscera-sucker kind.

September 25, 2015

Get to know 4 Cebuano stage directors

Cebuano theater
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One of the memorable theses I have assisted on was a video documentary that shared the styles and strategies of Cebuano stage directors.

Aptly titled Styles and Strategies of Cebuano stage directors and their contributions to Cebuano Theater: A Video Documentary, the 2014 thesis was made by four students from St. Theresa’s College (STC): Marianne Dungog, Gifmira Pepito, Lenielou Calunod and Katrina Labra.

The researchers identified Cebuano stage directors Rudy Aviles, Benjie Diola, Al Evangelio and Delia Villacastin for their study.

Except for Mr. Evangelio, I have watched a play or two under the wing of these directors. I consider it most fortunate that my four students were able to reach them who have varied schedules and locations. It is also providential that they were able to get them to talk on video camera.

September 18, 2015

Learning from the #incorrigibles

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
Not directly from the three incorrigible children—Alexander, Cassiopeia and Beowulf—of Ashton Place, but from the people who exist because of them. They are all part of the highly entertaining series by Maryrose Wood.

There is of course the ever self-corrigible, if not optimistic, Miss Penelope Lumley (or Lumawoo), the children’s governess and the spirit of her wise mentor, Agatha Swanburne, the founder of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females.

I picked up Wood’s books after I had completed Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society that I enjoyed very much. Her work was compared to Stewart’s and Lemony Snicket’s. So you understand why I picked up the incorrigibles and have since moved on from one book to the next in the series.

The search for the elusive ‘most romantic story’

Nancy Cudis
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“Writers are born” is a phrase I warily accept. From experience, I write since I learned it. Eventually, I loved doing it on voluntary basis.

What I do believe in is that “creators are born.” We evidently have unique set of traits that put us apart from other living forms. Topping this set is the sense of curiosity that could easily propel one to create something. That something could come in the form of a book, a painting, an app, or an invention.

Sometimes, curiosity is born out of unsatisfactory circumstances. This reminds me of the story of romantic author Betty Neels whose writing career started the moment she heard a woman in her local library complaining about the lack of good romance novels. One complaint and Neels created more than 134 romance novels.

I have a similar experience with Neels, except that I am the complainant and the writer (with only one finished manuscript, for now).

Lacking to my taste

Let me share with you a bit of what happened: I was sick for a month (July, I think). I don’t like being sick. It means I have to rest. Resting makes me tense. So I compromised with myself and worked two hours a day everyday. The rest of the hours were spent tensely resting. I ended up reading romantic novels and watching romantic Korean drama series.