OFF TO THE FOURTEENTH

December 26, 2013

It’s December 26, and it’s time to make a year-ender blog entry.

I was out of touch most of the year. I was not so visible (at least physically) to a lot of my friends. You see, I had to finish something important, something that entailed a lot of expenses and time. Had to finish it once and for all so I could proceed to other things that I think are also important. I did not organize any poetry gig in Bicol. I also did not hold a mini- poetry critique session this year, although I am passionate about it and enjoy it so much. But yes, I still sent some of my works to various publications.

The country’s executive and legislative branch earned so much flak this year. I always supported P-Noy but he surely mismanaged the Yolanda crisis. Our congressmen and senators are also being seen as a gang of robbers courtesy of Napoles and company. The Philippines is a great country. It is gifted with natural resources and able man-power. What is wrong with us? I agree with Jaime Licauco when he said that we need a change of inner mind and a change of heart. And it is a collective change. I did buy at least five Licauco books in October, and I enjoyed reading all of them. But sometimes I wish that he could have employed better research procedure and evidence presentation.

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This year, I am most happy to have finished my law course. I finally have a post-graduate degree. And under Commission of Higher Education Resolution 038 Series of 2001, the same is equivalent to a master’s degree. The reason for this is that for one to be able to enter law school, he must have first finished a baccalaureate degree. I also think that a law degree is much more difficult to handle than your usual master’s degree. First, it takes at least four years to finish law school. Second, the subjects are definitely more demanding! (But it has been found out that an LLB degree is only equivalent to MA when it has corresponding Bar eligibility)

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Again, I observed that the Philippines sometimes cannot give jobs that are commensurate to the skills and academic background of its people. No wonder everybody aims for a job placement abroad. We cannot blame them. As Manoy Gode Calleja once said, the people have immediate needs. Patriotism is great but people get  hungry. But still, I say that we all must work to enrich our locality. We must first contribute to local progress no matter how difficult and sacrificial it is. After-all, chances are, after everything has been said and done, we will eventually go back to our roots when our time has come.

During my law school years, I wrote and wrote in English. I came back to my poetry in English. You see, back in the year 1999, when I was in my teens, I started writing in English, particularly English poetry. This year, I still sent some of them to publications for posterity and immortality. I even printed Tagalog poems in the Sunday Times Magazine, a primarily English publication. Now Let me see. Here are my published poems this year:

  • Astral Travel (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine–July 21, 2013)
  • Cram Session (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine–July 28, 2013)
  • I Love You But We Have No Divorce Law Here (Poetry, The IYAS Anthology 2001-2010, April 26, 2013)
  • It’s a Dangerous Thing (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, July 21, 2013)
  • Oct. 29-Nov. 4: Sanlinggong Facebook S(tanaga)tus (Tula, The Sunday Times Magazine, August 18, 2013)
  • Sa Naninibago (Tula, The Sunday Times Magazine, September 15, 2013)
  • Tatsian (Osipon, Hagong: Mga Osipon [AdNU Press], February 13, 2013)

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As I said, I was not so visible this year. And I really did not get paid for these poems. But I was paid print copies. I’s actually okay, for even in the ‘States some publications would just pay in copies. It’s part of usage of trade. I have no problem with it so long as the publications would at least treat the writers right. Now, let me share my heartache with Manila Bulletin (Philippine Panorama):

You know that I am a Panorama boy, courtesy of Doc Bau (Cirilo Bautista). The said magazine is one of my literary outlets. I grew up in said publication. Even after Doc Bau ceased to be one of its columnists and poetry editor, I would still send my poems there. In 2011-12, three of my poems got printed in Panorama and Liwayway (MB sister publications) namely: And Home is Not What I find Each Christmas (Philippine Panorama, December 25, 2011, Sa Bookstore: Dasal ng Salesboy (Liwayway Magasin, May 30, 2011), The Price of (Dis)Trust (Philippine Panorama, March 25, 2012).

I only got the checks last November 2013. Reason: They only release checks during Tuesdays and Fridays. And since I am from Bicol,  sometimes my schedule would not coincide with said release days.

Doing a follow-up of the checks would always be hellish. And they are consistent, since 2003. The phone operator would be inefficient, sending you to the wrong line. The Panorama staff would be so rude. Things like that.

I finally had a row with some Panorama staff when I got fed up. For my poem The Price of (Dis)Trust, they gave the credit to the wrong author. I notified them about it, but the answer was not satisfactory. They will “try” to correct the error daw. So I told them to please don’t just try, I told them to do it. If not, it would be a violation of my IP rights. Sila pa ang galit. But in fairness to them, they made a rerun and printed the poem again under my name.

So when the telephone operator mistakenly sent me to the wrong line, the Panorama line and not the accounting’s. The Panorama staff went on her way again upon knowing my name, saying: “Ah, Jason Chancoco, matagal-tagal ka na ring di nagko-contribute sa Panorama, so no-comment kami sa claim mo na yan na may check ka pang kukunin sa amin.” (Ah, Jason Chancoco, it has been a while since you contributed your works to us. So we cannot comment to your claim that we still owe you checks)

She was alluding to me the crime of estafa, in effect. She was telling me that I was misrepresenting myself, claiming for writer’s checks when in fact I don’t write for them anymore. So I asked: “Is this Accounting?”

She said, Panorama. I told her, I was not trying to contact the Panorama office but the Accounting office or wherever I can claim my checks because I have not claimed them yet. And I was talking about my old-old checks.

When I finally got to the MB office, I still had to wait because some big shot still had to sign it. I thought they already prepared it since they knew I was coming over, and from Bicol pa ko.

To my inadvertence, I did not notice that the check they issued was a crossed check,  for a particular purpose only–in that case, it was a “pay to accounts name only check”. So from Intramuros, I went to UN Avenue area just to encash my check in the Philtrust main office. To my dismay, I learned that the same was a crossed check and it could not be encashed. It could only be deposited in my Philtrust account. AND I DON’T HAVE A PHILTRUST ACCOUNT! AND WHY WOULD I OPEN A THREE THOUSAND PESOS OR SO WORTH PHILTRUST ACCOUNT FOR A FIVE HUNDRED FORTY PESOS CHECK (FOR THREE POEMS)?

I think they should issue crossed checks or “pay to account’s name only” checks to their employees who have Philtrust accounts, and not to poetry contributors. You see, in effect, they are not really paying us. Remember that under the law, a check is not legal tender until encashed.

So there. I hope my litany did not spoil your New Year celebration.

But still, I am happy to have a copy of two Tagalog poems that got printed in Philippines Graphic in 2007. I did not know that they were published, not until early this year. So I requested for a copy from the editors. Thanks to Sir Joel Pablo Salud and Alma Anonas-Carpio for helping me out!

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Before Yolanda happened, I was based in Imus, Cavite doing legwork in Metro-Manila. It was mainly business but I did not forget to pleasure myself a little. Well, I was with the missus, and I met with some friends. I also claimed writer’s checks and visited some guitar shops. To complete my visit, I organized a small poetry gig with the help of Santiago Villafania and Tata Raul Funilas. It was fun to be with people who are equally as crazy as I am when it comes to the written word.
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Happy New Year people! Please don’t fire guns.
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I noticed that Christmas is becoming less and less interesting. I sort of no longer look forward to it unlike when I was younger. Perhaps it is true that Christmas is only for children. I remember that when I was a kid, I would be very happy if I would get presents for Christmas. I did not care if the gifts were cheap, so long as I got them because it was Christmas.

My writer-friend Santiago Villafania said that there is such as thing as “December Mood.” It’s kinda ironic really. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness while everybody around seems to be happy or at least trying to be happy. Christmas songs being carried by the cold winds would instead chill the soul instead of thrill it. When I was in grade school, my classmate Estelito Abonalla told me about this Christmas phenomenon experienced by kids–waking up at dawn to the sound of Christmas song coming from a passing vehicle, say, a tricycle. I could relate because I experienced it too. My heart would leap in excitement for the coming new day. A day that would eventually lead to Christmas day.

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Anyway, one memorable Christmas season for me was in the year 2000. I was then staying in Imus, Cavite and writing for The Daily Tribune. I was also trying to finish ROTC. I was “BS RO” so to speak. I would go to the Tribune office to get my money. They were so generous. I would even get my bonus! I was then reading “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Hemingway. The coldness of the war scenario in the novel would creep up on me. I was after-all just like the characters in the story. I was alone in that flat, and the place felt like a bunker.

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Last night, I reread “Kirot ng Kataga,” a book of poems in Tagalog by Cirilo Bautista. You see, I bought the book in December 2000. It’s just a short book, more of a chapbook really. But man, it’s a classic! And the book calls to mind as I rewrite my poems in Tagalog. Let me post some excerpts here of my new poems. This one is from “City of Springs.”

 

Mga isda, ianod

n’yo ng huklubang ilog

ang huli kong pagdulog:

 

Ay! Aking sinusumpa,

kung lahat nang makata

ay bayad pag tumula—

Hindi s’ya matataga!

Hindi s’ya matataga!

 

I also wrote something about the death penalty. Of course, right now we have no capital punishment but just the same, I wrote about it. You see, it would really depend upon Congress if it would revive the same. The 1987 Constitution gives them such allowance. Here’s the last stanzas of “Bisperas (Awit ng Lalaki sa Bitayan)”:

 

Subalit ay sino itong paparating?

Huling pag-idlip ko ay gagambalain.

Nagmamadali pa’t nakabarong man din—

bagong abogadong sadyang matulungin!

 

Remedyo raw sana sa aking problema’y

automatic review ng Korte Suprema.

Ang aming kapatas na kasabwat pala,

lahat nang salarin ay kanyang kinanta.

 

Ang utak ng krimen ay ang aming meyor

na kulang ang pondo para sa eleks’yon.

Kunwari pa’y banal at suki sa Pasyon,

‘yun pala, tit’yempo saka mandarambong.

 

At dagling umalis itong si attorney.

Tatawagan n’ya raw pati Presidente.

Dapat daw ang husga ng aking ponente’y

swak sa absuwelto at hindi garote!

 

Ngayong hinahanda ng aking berdugo

ang kanyang ineks’yon at lasong likido.

Sa may isang sulok ay may telepono:

akala mo’y diyos na nakadek’watro.

 

I also worked on a poem about the poetic process itself. It even delves into the writer’s life and plight. Here’s the beginning stanzas of the poem “Pasada,” also included in my upcoming book:

 

Sinasabing kadalasan ay malalim na gabi

at ilang ang ruta ng makata.

 

Mga daliring tumitipa ay susi

sa makina ng makinilya at netbook

 

at makinaryang umaangil

ang daigdig sa loob ng bungo’t dibdib.

 

There you go folks. You can expect that I will labor some more for the next poems. I am actually working on a very long poem on my experience as an organizer of poetry gigs here in my locality. Things I do. I don’t expect to be rich by doing said things, but still, I do it. But does it mean that I will no longer do other things that could make me filthy rich? Legal and moral things? Nope. Not at all.

Until next time.

LLB=MA AND THE TWILIGHT ZONE

December 16, 2013

It’s kinda weird when people don’t know that a Bachelor of Laws degree is equivalent to a Master’s degree. You see, it is a post-graduate course. One can get to law school only after finishing a four-year baccalaureate course. And it takes at least four years to finish a law course. The subjects are also definitely more demanding!

It’s good that I came across CHED Resolution 038 Series of 2001. It places the issue to rest. We now consider an LLB to be also a Master’s degree holder.

I have been hooked to the classic TV series The Twilight Zone. Thanks to YouTube, I can now access even the earliest episodes during the 1960s. Rod Serling is just brilliant. It’s also great to know that he was a Literature major. The early episodes were just so great. They are truly classics!

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POEMS AND GUITAR PICKS

December 3, 2013

I am happy to be revising my old Tagalog poems. It is like going back to my younger self. Since I have matured in more ways than one, I find them wanting of revision. My teacher Cirilo Bautista would say: “Make sure that they are the best you have written.”

He was talking about my next book, a collection of poems. I have to admit that this second title has long been delayed. Well, we cannot live as a dreamer all day. We have to make a living too. But while existing in the pragmatic plane, I struggled to still come up with poems and get them published. I even organized poetry gigs. I even won some poetry prizes. I cannot ask for more. Now let me post a picture of a Tagalog poem I published in Sunday Times Magazine. This one won in the Talaang Ginto 2012, a poetry contest sponsored by the Philippine government via its Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF).

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But then my guitars. I just cannot live without them. And I am just so passionate about guitar picks. I love collecting guitar picks! I collect them like stamps. Here’s some addition to my pick arsenal.

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There you go. Until next time my friends. 

As said earlier, it’s always fun to be with like-minded writers from time to time. One must be happy simply by knowing that people are listening. You don’t need a full-packed bar. You only need a group of five or six, so long as everybody is interested. So with the help of Santiago Villafania and Raul Funilas, I organized Multiverse/Multitongue: Poetry, Music, Art. It was held last November 6, 2013 at Tata Raul’s gallery in Antipolo here in the Philippines.

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Also in attendance were Gregorio Bituin, Glen Sales, Danilo Diaz, Sergio Aragones and Lt. Gegoria Reyes. We had a grand time just reading our poems to each other after we looked at Raul Funilas’ sculptures on display. We also had food and beverage. Potluck! 

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Too bad Yolanda happened right after. Our poems could not have stopped such bitch of a storm, but at least, we had a grand time before it. At the end of the day, it’s all about having meaningful time. We are only here today. So here’s some video clips of the event. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Until next time my friends. 

MOVIES AND POEMS

December 1, 2013

Been watching great movies, mostly about poems and poets. Have to catch up. My real purpose is to know how writers used to live during the earlier days. I figured that most of them simply focused on their families and their art. They would gather with a few like-minded writers, but as I said, with only a few. This is understandable. Real writing life is solitary. Even the data-gathering part is in essence solitary. Writers would investigate life as a spectator. Sometimes he would participate, but still, he works as a spectator. He maintains a distance. Lest he be overly absorbed and lose his objectivity. 

It’s inspiring to watch these movies. I hope to write about them soon. So far, I am busy working on my poems. I have been busy doing other things these past months. It’s time to catch up. 

By the way, it’s December 1. Merry Christmas!

Now let me post here a picture of one of my favorite poems that got printed in Sunday Times Magazine. It’s entitled “Cram Session.”

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