WRITER FOR OTHERS

April 7, 2014

Pertinent to my application for a travel grant with the Harong kan Literaturang Bikolnon (Naga City-LGU) as per my Dumaguete fellowship (for poetry), I was asked to prepare a letter showing the benefits that the Nagueno would get from my travel. In this regard, I started to look into myself. What have I done for my people? Am I just a writer for myself? An ego writer who has self- aggrandizement as primordial motivation? I had to ask myself these questions and introspect.

Looking back–I do remember that 2003 was my homing year. It was the year that I started to feel like going home. I was determined to further my academic life in this locality, find work here and perhaps start a family–and of course, practice literary arts here. I wanted to start a writing group, a critique group to be exact. At that time, I was already a LIRA member and had attended the Ateneo and UST National Writers Workshops. I wanted to look back though, to dream the dreams of my youth. I thought that Bicol itself is already a rich material. I can make it here, and in Manila, and in the world literary arena as well. No need to locate myself in the Center.

But before taking any more steps, I figured if there was already an existing writing group here in Bicol. And there was. The late Rudy Alano was then the ring leader for Kabulig-Bikol. I joined them.

But Kabulig-Bikol was taking too much time. I wanted the group to have more fire.

I continued to associate with them through. Writing is a lonely vocation, and they were good beer buddies. But I persisted in attending national workshops, sending my works to publications and joining some contests. Technically, I was on my own. But I found real good company in Tomas Navarro, a fellow Atenean who was as good as a strategist as a prose writer. I also loved the company of the ABKAT people from Tabaco, Albay for they were so project oriented. They could get things done.

But deep inside, what I really wanted was to do research on Bikol poetics and write a book about it. I also wanted to share my poetics to young Bikol writers. Hence I organized the Tarusan Bloc and I gave free lectures and workshops. Thanks to my teachers Rio Alma, Cirilo Bautista, Ricardo Lee, Marjorie Evasco, and Cyril Conde, I had a firm ground when it comes to comparative literature. And so I did my thing–monthly poetry critique sessions.

But it wasn’t enough for me. Bikol poetics dictates that poetry is drama–is theater, is performance! I wanted to go out and make Naga City a city of literature by organizing poetry gigs from time to time. Said gigs would be open to the public, and for the benefit of the public. Poetry in public places–this was my battle cry and it still is.

Now I realized that I have published three articles regarding these gigs. Let me post their pictures here.

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This appears in the August 1, 2012 issue of The Daily Tribune. And it is about the Writers Gig and VerSosimo projects. Now I was not able to take a photo of my article “Not Your Usual Writers Trip” which was also published in the same newspaper on January 3, 2013. But as you all know, I took a picture and posted my article ” Come as You Are: Naga City’s Poetry Reading Culture” which appeared in the April 7, 2014 issue of the Philippines Graphic.

Well, man. If you want to be a writer for others. Organize occasional poetry gigs in your locality. Do it for the people. They deserve more than what popular culture offers them.

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COME AS YOU ARE

April 3, 2014

A few weeks ago, we had a Cirilo Bautista tribute as part of the Naga City Public Poetry Project. Only a few was able to attend as readers. There were only five of us there. But still, we pushed through. Afterwards, we had a meeting. You see, we are planning to apply for grants. I made a video of the event and started sending the YouTube link to FB friends. I wanted to involve as many people as possible, even those who failed to attend. The result was amazing. People did show interest and watched the video. Joel Pablo Salud, the editor-in-chief of Philippines Graphic even wanted me to write an article on the poetry gigs that I have been organizing in Naga City. So I did. And now the article is out, printed in Page 36-37 of the April 7, 2014 issue of said magazine. Please do buy (and grab) a copy at your nearest news stands, National Bookstore and 711 outlets. Here’s the picture of the pages. Nice lay-out!

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The next session is going to happen on April 25, 2014, again at the Raul Roco Public Library. I hope we could replicate the WG/VerSosimo/Bikol Slam projects as per attendance. Summer, summer, poems of summer. More updates coming!

ENTER THE 13TH

December 26, 2012

This is another year-ender essay. So, WTF happened this year anyway?

Well for sure, I am still in this country. I am still in Bicol even if there are more reasons to consider leaving. I need not enumerate them for it will surely spoil our New Year’s celebration. But this coming year, I am getting closer and closer to a Bachelor of Laws diploma. Never thought I would get this far, to think that I tend to be on the creative rather than the legalistic side. I have to admit that studying the law made me more humble and mature. It helped me to think straight and precise, using objectivity rather than ego and niceties. It inculcated in me an almost monastic reading lifestyle. Thanks to my “killjoy” law professors.

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My legal internship with SALIGAN-Bikol had its peak last summer during the immersion program. We had to go and live with our clientele, the marginalized and the oppressed—particularly the peasant-folk. I got exposed to their plight and problems, and the state of the land reform program in the country. Even wrote an article about the experience which I printed in this blog and the Bicol Mail (The Social Function Doctrine, June 8, 2012). I still drop by the Banasi farm to visit my host family from time to time. I might continue to do so if work does not bring me farther away.

2. Nightfall at the Kamalig

I revived the T-Bloc Workshop late this year, and named it Tarusan Bloc Poetry Class. We have had two sessions so far. It’s a way for me to share with like-minded Bicol-based young writers what I know about poetics. Things I learned along the way: From oral prose and poetic traditions and from writers’ workshops. We are using my book “Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon” as main source. Our vantage point therefore in learning various aesthetics is Bikol poetics. The workshop is for free and is held every month usually in my apartment. It’s a chance for me to interact with young writers, know their problems and issues, to be a friend to them. I also learn a lot from during the exchanges.

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I also noticed that there are various writing groups here in Bicol. There’s the Kabulig-Bikol which is currently doing some revival efforts after being silent for quite some time. The Tabaco-based ABKAT is still so active, holding the Albay Writing Workshop every summer plus other arts event. There is the campus-based Ateneo Literary Association (ALA), and of course the Tilad group. I just hope that said groups would continue to thrive and be more project-oriented. It would also be wise for them to adopt an attitude of non-exclusiveness. New talents must be nurtured and welcomed. Failure to do this would spell doomsday for any group. But of course different groups and factions are very much normal, and even healthy for any literary arts culture. It’s always fun to have different groups who are adverse to each other, each following a literary school of thought. It ensures competition and quality production.

And of course, the publications. Let me again list my printed works this year, just so we have it on record:

1. After “100” (Poetry, Philippines Graphic, May 7, 2012)
2. And Home is Not What I Find Each Christmas (Poetry, FEU English and Literature Journal, Volume 5)
3. Ang Hula (Tula, Paper Monster Press, Asuang Issue, August 2012)
4. Fiat Lux (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
5. Fiat Lux (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
6. Getting Paid (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
7. Hagbayon (Tula, Talaang Ginto Anthology, Winning Works 2007-2010)
8. I Love You But We Have No Divorce Law Here (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, March 11, 2012)
9. Not Your Usual Writer’s Trip (Essay, Bicol Mail, December 20, 2012)
10. Opera (Rawitdawit, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
11. Opera (Tula, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
12. Pagsilung (Rawitdawit, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
13. Panonood (Tula, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
14. Passing by Baao (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, March 11, 2012)
15. Passing by Baao (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
16. Some Beer and Planet Niburu (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
17. Supermaids (Tula, Talaang Ginto Anthology, Winning Works 2007-2010)
18. The Price of (Dis)Trust (Poetry, Philippine Panorama, March 25, 2012)
19. The Reunion (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
20. The Social Function Doctrine (Essay, Bicol Mail, June 8, 2012)
21. The Walk (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
22. The Walk (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
23. This is a Dream (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, October 28, 2012)
24. Uniberso (Tula, Talaang Ginto Anthology, Winning Works 1999-2006)
25. Versosimo: Where the Word Binds Them All (Essay, Bicol Mail, April 26, 2012)
26. Versosimo: Where the Word Binds Them All (Essay, The Daily Tribune, August 1, 2012)
27. Wanting to Write a Poem (Poetry, Philippines Graphic, May 7, 2012)

I also discovered just this year that the poems “Opera” and “Pagtatanghal” were printed in the Philippines Graphic on March 12, 2007. And that my essay “The Bikol Berso and Balagtasismo” appeared in the Volume 1 Number 1 2008 issue of the Mabini Review, the philosophical journal of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. I hope to get complimentary copies soon.
I think that a writer must publish or perish. Hence my propensity for continually sending works to various publications. Still there is dearth of literary outlets in this country. The Sunday Inquirer Magazine still has not revived its poetry section. Good thing that we still have The Sunday Times Magazine as edited by Elmer Ordoňez. The literary section of Philippines Graphic is still there as edited by Alma Anonas-Carpio. And for writers in Filipino and Tagalog, we still have Liwayway.

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Panitikan is still the portal for Philippine literature online. And the Makata as edited by Santiago Villafania is still publishing poetry with international magnitude.

Winning awards is the least of my priorities of course. I see it as mere icing on the cake, a mere stroke of luck or accident. But it is a duty of every writer to join contests if he has the proper material. And this year, I still got lucky and got an ego-boost by winning prizes. My poem in Tagalog/Filipino “Sa Naninibago” managed to win Karangalang-Banggit (Honorable Mention) in the prestigious Talaang Ginto contest sponsored by the Philippine government via Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), a Constitutionally mandated institution. Two of my entries also managed to squeeze themselves in the recent Dionatext Kontra Depresyon contest, winning Honorable Mention (as usual). Let me print them again here:

Pagkatapos gumapang
Ng uod, kaibigan.
Nagiging alibangbang.

Unos ma’y rumagasa
At bumaha ng luha,
Palad ko’y iyong bangka.

The theme for the contest revolved on depression and how to combat and triumph against it. And the recent knock-out loss of Manny Pacquiao in the hands of his Mexican rival, Juan Manuel Marquez sure placed the entire country in manic depressive mode. So here’s something for Manny:

Huwag mababagabag
Dahil lang napabagsak.
Pacquiao, bilog ang bukas,
Di ring na parisukat.

By the way, I am still wondering why the organizers for the 2011 1st Annual Bicol Bloggy Awards were not able to send me my citation for the “Best Literature Blog” award. They must realize that I am entitled to it as a matter of right and they are legally obligated to send the same to me. I have demanded for it so many times, and they have in fact incurred legal delay.

This year, I still found time to attend some literary events. On January 31, 2012, my band The Super Poet Genome Project performed during the Su’pay at Aquinas University. I noticed that poetry readings must really adopt a proper program more so when it comes to the open-mic. The same must be on a first to come-first to read basis. During said event, some writers were not able to perform when the AdNU contingent arrived much later than our group but was allowed to read first. The host merely wanted the leader of the group to introduce his companions but he proceeded in hosting the ‘Ateneo Segment’ and made them read. And after said ‘segment’ they hurriedly left, leaving us there with my band in mid-performance. So much that it looked like a walk-out. After we listened to them, they did not listen to us. They left as a group so the venue was almost empty and the main host did not bother to call the other writer-readers anymore and proceeded in ending the program. In the WG, we strictly observe a first to come-first to read serve rule except for the featured writer. So that error by the organizers was so obvious for us.

I heard that they were in a hurry to go back to Naga because of some permit constraints. We understand that but the funny thing is we arrived in Naga first. They could have waited for the program to finish because it was about to end anyway. If they were planning to leave early, then they should have arrived early, and not barge in the middle of the program, perform, and leave like some wannabe rockstars. My companions were really hurt by that.

Another literary event I went into was a blogging seminar at the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture-Calabanga College of Education on Oct. 5, 2012. I was asked to discuss the use of the internet in literary practice. I made it a point to share my research on the history of publishing in the Bicol region. I also shared the use of e-mail, e-groups, message boards, web sites, blogs and social-networking in my writing activities.

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Most of the WG was held at Sosimo Bar so we dubbed it as VerSosimo. We had a gig on February 21, March 4 (Anniversary Gig), March 25, and we supported the April-May Bikol Slam as organized by my writer-friend Ronel Amata. We also had a WG in June, but after it we have not scheduled a new gig as of late due to the decline in attendance.The usual reason is that they are busy. I think that a real writer is never too busy. But if busyness is the business, then so be it.

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But busy or not, I was excited to attend the ANI 37 launch on November 29, 2012. Just wrote an article about it. Just read it here. We sure loved the experience and the adventure.

Happy new year everyone! Please don’t fire guns.

Getting there. This is always an issue for provincial writers who must attend a Manila literary event. Aside from schedule, budget is always a problem, and all the more made complicated by the fact that I wouldl not be attending by myself. I would be bringing a rock band with me. And we would be playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the Ani 37 launch.

It was the first week of September when I received word from Ani editor Herminio Beltran that my poems were accepted for the CCP literary yearbook. Though it was not my first time, my last appearance on its pages was in Ani 34 (Spirituality and Healing) back in 2008. For said issue, I printed the poems “Elehiya” (Bikol, with Tagalog translation), “Uniberso” and “Siklo ng Laman.” I was even asked to read one of the poems during the launch which was held at the CCP Ramp. Now for this year, my Bikol poems “Opera” and “Pagsilung,” along with their Tagalog translations were chosen for Ani 37, the silver-anniversary edition, with the theme “Cleansing and Renewal.” The launching of the anthology will also mark Ani’s 25th anniversary.

7. Ani editor Herminio Beltran                                                     Ani editor Hermie Beltran

All in all, Ani 37 consists of 122 selections by 66 authors of prose and poetry written in English, Filipino, Aklanon, Bikol, Chabacano, Ilokano, Iluko, Kankanaey and Pangasinan. Noted authors include: Mark Angeles, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Ronald Baytan, Herminio S. Beltran, Kristoffer Berse, April Mae M. Berza, Luis Gatmaitan, Genaro Gojo Cruz, Nestor C. Lucena, Elynia S. Mabanglo, Francis C. Macansantos, Wilhelmina S. Orozco, Christopher S. Rosales, Louie Jon A. Sanchez, E. San Juan, Ariel S. Tabag, and Santiago B. Villafania, among others.

1. Ani 37 Contributors                                                          Ani 37 Contributors

Solicitations

When I informed my bandmates about the event, our then bassist muttered something like “solicitation”. We figured that a good way to provide for the transportation expenses is by solicitation. So I sent letters to government officials, academicians, and like-minded artists. Naga City Mayor John Bongat, Vice-Mayor Gabriel Bordado and Councilor Nathan Sergio responded ora mismo. Visual artist/writer/Calaguas resort manager Giovhanni Buen also obliged. Editor Hermie Beltran also requested from the CCP budget for our transpo. My bandmates were also allowed to solicit to ensure that everybody’s funds would be filled-out. But still, our bassist had to back-out the night before the trip.

Launch date was on November 29, 2012 to be held at CCP Promenade. I wanted to make the most of the trip so I gathered like-minded Bikol writers who would support the nomination of Cirilo F. Bautista for National Artist. Ateneo Literary Association (ALA), a group of young writers based in Ateneo de Naga University, went around among its ranks to gather signatures and had the nomination ready just before our night trip.

We were to stay in Cavite so we took a Bacoor-bound Philtranco bus. And since our bassist had to back-out the last minute, The Super Poet Genome Project was only me (voice and guitar) and Kevin de Quiroz (drums/beatbox). But we were making arrangements for a Manila-bassist to session for us.

Perhaps there was some road project going on at Maharlika highway so our bus took the Camarines Norte route. We noticed that we were going too fast. We were swerving left-and right like some drunk and missing trucks and other buses by inches. The driver’s daredevil antics, made us suspect that he was actually an under-employed accounting graduate who did not pass the CPA exam (He looked corporate enough. Clean cut and prim and proper). But maybe, just maybe, he was just trying to beat the long detour of that Daet route. Needless to say, we got to Imus in one piece at dawn and immediately turned to classical radio station DZFE and dozed off.

Manila siege and Ani 37 launch

First stop was Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center at De La Salle University. We met and had coffee with Director Shirley O. Lua and handed to her the duly-accomplished nomination form for Cirilo F. Bautista. Second stop was The Daily Tribune office where we got complimentary copies of the August 1, 2012 issue where the VersoSimo article got printed. We also met with Tribune’s gorgeous lifestyle section editor Dinah Ventura, who is from Albay. Third stop was Intramuros for our Manila Bulletin and Manila Times visit. Fourth stop was University of Santo Tomas. And our fifth stop was Far Eastern University where we met with writer Ariel Valeza, who is from Catanduanes.

8. Visiting Bienvenido Santos Creative Writing Director Shirley Lua                     Visiting Ms. Shirley Lua at Bienvenido Santos Creative Writing Center

The next day was November 29, launch-date for Ani 37. Call time for rehearsals and set up was at 1PM and program proper was at 5PM. We came in early for the soundcheck, but the technicians had to dismantle our audio set-up so we had to do it again just before the gig barring unwanted amp feedbacks and guitar gadget signal interference (which happened during our set, to our dismay). To while away our time, we checked the exhibits at the various CCP galleries. We also dropped by Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) to check out the CCP World Cinema Series. On-screen was Angel Exterminador (1962) by Luis Buňuel. We went back to the Promenade at 5PM just in time for the launch.

Our band, The Super Poet Genome Project was first to go onstage. We played “Di Kami Papayag na Walang Makata sa Lipunan” and tweaked the lyrics a little just to say: “Wala nang makata sa ating lipunan/Ngunit merong tula sa Ani 37!” Believe it or yes, we were asked to play “Lupang Hinirang.” We made our rendition using the electric guitar and the beatbox, wary at all times of the NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines) rules, lest we get sued for rockin’ up the National Anthem beyond recognition. After our short set came the writers. And since I am one of them, I proceeded with a reading of my Bikol poem “Pagsilung” followed by the Tagalog translation “Panonood” in the form of a poetic short film which I produced, directed and appeared in. Had my hands full that night, and as if my over-exposure was not enough, actor Michael Ian Lomongo even rendered a performance of my poem “Opera”.

2. Ani 37 Copies                          Ani 37 copies were sold at discounted prices during the launch

The writer-performers during the launch were: Wilhelmina Orozco, Junley Lazaga, Scott Saboy, Nonon Carandang, Io Mones Jularbal, Melchor F. Cichon, Santiago B. Villafania, Mark Angeles with Jenny Logico-Cruz and Sining Tanghalan, April Mae Berza, John Enrico Torralba, Francisco A. Montesena, Vicente R. Raras, Conviron Altatis, Francis Macansantos, and Genaro Gojo Cruz with Sining Tanghalan.

4. TSPGP Performing                                        The Super Poet Genome Project performing

Film showing of a 7-minute video documentary by Denize Manalo followed suit. It featured previous Ani editors Reuel Aguila and Malou Jacob, and current editor Herminio Beltran, talking about the inception of Ani as CCP’s literary journal. It was after-all the Silver Anniversary of Ani and an opportune time to retrace the 37 tomes that came out.

6. SiningTanghalan doing performance poetry                                      SiningTanghalan doing performance poetry

And of course the food. After getting our complimentary copies and writer/performer’s checks, we assaulted the cocktails, specially the savory chicken rice meal they prepared for the performers. The beer had to come later as writer-friends Santiago Villafania and Mimi Lacambra decided to join us to our Imus hide-out for an after-party. Literary talks about regional literature and Pangasinense wife abductions courtesy of ancient oragons came to no end until we conked out at around 4AM. And as soon as we recovered, we invaded music stores and bookstores at that super colossal, public domain defying continental mall at Roxas Blvd. which could very well be a doomsday ark.

True, we are all busy with pragmatic existence. But why divert from monobloc schedules and attend a literary arts event? Answer: Poetry is now multimedia. And how often do you get a frustrated accountant for a bus driver, National Artist nomination expedition, a gorgeous Bikolana lifestyle section editor, fetish-oriented Spanish film with no subtitles, National Anthem escapade at CCP, poetry readings with music, dance, theater and poetic short films, ancient Bikolano wife-kidnappers, complimentary copies of journals and anthologies, writers’ check, and an Ibanez Joe Satriani Signature electric guitar sold for PhP222,000.00 at discounted price in one trip? Not often enough.

LATELY LATELY

November 18, 2012

Nothing compares to a lazy Sunday with Dad. He visits rarely but we make sure it’s always quality time. I would leave my desk and prioritize our bonding spiced up by war and crime films, plus coffee and bread. Today we had “Unknown,” a 2011 film starring Liam Neeson. It’s an identity theft film with a twist. It also has a take on the conspiracy theory issues involving genetically modified crops.

Just weeks ago, a group of Bicol-based farmers trooped to the DAR office here to protest the entry of the so-called “Golden Rice” in the regional market. The farmers are alleging that it has irreversible repercussions once it gets mixed with the natural breed of rice. I do hope we are not being served “Golden Rice” without us knowing it.

Meanwhile, the Tarusan Bloc Poetry Class had a successful first session last week, November 11. I did a lecture on “Intro to Poetics” using my book “Pagsasatubuanan” as entry point. Later, we discussed poems. We examined the modernist technique of imagism. William Carlos Williams came to mind. We concluded that one pitfall of the imagist technique is too much internalization on the part of the poetic voice that there is no more room of the reader or audience. We thought that there must be balance. The atmosphere was participatory. I only led the discourse. Soon we will have the second session.

The ANI 37 launching is fast approaching! Time flies. And yes, we are still soliciting money as counterpart-budget for our transportation expenses. It’s of course for our band, The Super Poet Genome Project. My bandmates are also going around trying to solicit from supportive entities. Thanks to all those who have been supportive specially Naga City Mayor John Bongat,  Vice-Mayor Gabriel Bordado and artist Giovhanni Buen. I pray that soon, we won’t have to be doing this anymore. We will have a regular source for our budget requirement.

Ani 37 launch

October 6, 2012

Here’s the press release from the CCP Literature Division:

CCP LAUNCHES SILVER ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF ANI LITERARY JOURNAL

THE Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) through its Intertextual Division celebrates the 25th anniversary of its literary journal by launching Ani 37, the Cleansing and Renewal issue, on November 29, 2012 at the CCP Promenade at five in the afternoon. Ani 37 contains 97 works of prose and poetry submitted by 66 authors written in English, Filipino and different Philippine languages, representing Aklanon, Bikol, Chabacano, Ilokano, Iluko, Kankanaey, and Pangasinan.

“The prose and poems in this issue are metaphors of self-awareness and transcendence, and reflections on relationships with the Other, with mortality/immortality, with nation/country, with cultures local and international – and engagements with ideas on history, governance, civilization and consciousness,” wrote editor-in-chief and Intertextual Division chief Herminio S. Beltran, Jr. in the literary journal’s introduction.

The Ani 37 contributors include Conviron Altatis, Mark Angeles, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Billy T. Antonio, G. Mae Aquino, Carlos A. Arejola, Francisco Arias Monteseña, Mark Joseph Z. Arisgado, Abdon M. Balde, Jr., Maria Leah Baroña-Cruz, Ronald Baytan, Gil S. Beltran, Herminio S. Beltran, Jr., Kristoffer Berse, April Mae M. Berza, Letty Cantal-Pagkalinawan, Mark Gil M. Caparros, Nonon Carandang, Paul Castillo, Jose Jason L. Chancoco, Joey Stephanie Chua, Melchor F. Cichon, Mar Anthony Simon dela Cruz, Denver Ejem Torres, U Z. Eliserio, Johann Vladimir Espiritu, Raul Esquillo Asis, James M. Fajarito, Luis P. Gatmaitan, Genaro R. Gojo Cruz, Cristino Iloreta Inay, Sr., Io Mones Jularbal, Levine Lao, Junley L. Lazaga, Elyrah Loyola Salanga-Torralba, Nestor C. (Librano) Lucena, Elynia S. Mabanglo, Francis C. Macansantos, Maynard G. Manansala, Perry C. Mangilaya, Shur C. Mangilaya, Neoli Marcos, Donna Patricia Nuguid, Gexter Ocampo Lacambra, Wilhelmina S. Orozco, Melba Padilla-Maggay, Chuckberry J. Pascual, Honesto M. Pesimo, Jr., Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin, Lila Ramos Shahani, Vicente R. Raras, Rommel Rodriguez, Christopher S. Rosales, Hope Sabanpan-Yu, Scott Saboy, Louie Jon A. Sanchez, E. San Juan, Jr., Fely Senido, Jojo G. Silvestre, Priscilla Supnet Macansantos, Ariel S. Tabag, J.I.E. Teodoro, John Enrico C. Torralba, Betty Uy-Regala, Rachel Valencerina Marra, and Santiago B. Villafania.

During the launch, some of the contributors will be performing their work. Ani 37 will also be sold at a discounted price in the mentioned launch.

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Incidentally, I am being tasked to make the music bed for the anniversary video (a Marra Lanot and Malou Jacob interview). I already recorded some guitar parts which have a Mediterranean feel. Planning to record it again with my band The Super Poet Genome Project. Calling Kevin de Quiroz and Peter Orata.

THE PROBLEM WITH RA 10175

September 26, 2012

Too much law books made me forget about the news. It was only last night when I learned that RA 10175 or the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012 has been passed into law. I have been hearing about it and thought that it was only a bill. But mistaken I was, for it is now a law. And dura lex sed lex.

But Article 7 of the Civil Code provides that a law must conform to the Constitution else it could be nullified.

So many writers are questioning the validity of this law. I for one blogged earlier that the measure ought to be unconstitutional because there is a fundamental prohibition to any law that would violate freedom of speech and expression. True enough, there are now petitions calling for its unconstitutionality. From what I have read in one petition, RA 10175 makes the convict liable for libel both as a cybercrime and as a felony (as punished by the Revised Penal Code). There is definitely something wrong with that given our rule regarding double jeopardy. This is aside from the fact that the 1987 Constitution as explicated in the case of Chavez v. Gonzales provides for a two-fold rule when it comes to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Namely, there must be: 1.) Freedom from prior restraint, and 2.) Freedom from subsequent punishment.

And I learned that Sen. Guingona was the lone dissenter, invoking the above doctrine.

In my limited knowledge of the law, I know that with the RPC provision on libel notwithstanding, there is always an allowance for the so-called “Doctrine of Fair Comment.” Well-placed and well-constructed criticism is always welcome in a democratic society. The law on libel is there, perhaps just to discourage people from bringing the law into their own hands by verbally maligning those who have wronged them. It then prods people to use the machinery of the legal system to attain justice.

The more important issue now is what constitutes “prior restraint”? In the Chavez case, it was the Justice Secretary and the NTC’s warnings to the media that continued airing of the scandalous “Hello Garci” tape shall be a violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act, hence a ground for closure and arrest. Would a duly enacted law on cybercrime or electronic libel constitute “prior restraint”?

But in the Chavez case the Supreme Court ruled that not every violation of the law will justify straitjacketing the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. The government must prove “clear and present danger”. And there was no showing that the feared violation of the anti-wiretapping law clearly endangers the national security of the State. Hence the DOJ and NTC warnings constituted “prior restraint” as they were delivered as part of official government function. The act does not have to be converted to a formal order or official circular to be considered a breach of press freedom.

Is a possible commission of electronic libel enough to restrain bloggers and social networkers from printing strongly-worded statements on issues they care about? Is there “clear and present danger” that the government would collapse because of it? In the case of Chavez, it was a mere order and yet it was shot down. In the case of RA 10175, it is not just an order, but a law, for that matter. Definitely, it comes under the purview of official government function and inherent State power which is law-making or police power. And Article Three of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is addressed to the State and its agents. It is a provision that would safeguard the people from possible government overstep on private rights.

NIGHT RELIEF

September 9, 2012

Trying to avoid pancreatitis. That is why I am still up, although I usually wake up early to work. A few hours ago, I was eating street foods with gusto, and I was with the Muse. She cautioned me not to sleep ora mismo, so here I am gate crashing in her apartment. So this is my ‘night relief,’ my throat feeling sore all over.

Yes to Nueva Camarines! That was the battle cry at the Plaza Quezon a few hours ago. I saw Congressman Luis Villafuerte there. They are holding the dance contest, and I was wondering if those young participants really know what they were dancing for. I really hope they do. Soon there will be the plebiscite. Enough has been said about the pros and cons of a new Camarines. At the end of the day, the people will have to decide.

The thing is, Cong. Luis could very well be looking at Naga City right now, Sauron style. The long-time obstacle to his way, former Mayor Jesse Robredo is gone. But again, it’s up to the people of Naga if they will let the Villafuerte’s penetrate the City Hall.

NO COMMENT

September 8, 2012

Folks came for a visit. Naga City is still so awake at this time of day. It is midnight, and on our soiree, we caught children from a nearby school practicing their parade routine at the Plaza Quezon. Talking of advantage ha.

And so it is confirmed. The late Sec. Jess Robredo was really doing investigations on his own. And when asked if the same involved Usec. Puno, the Palace says: “No comment.”

That means “Yes.”

Politics and power–the greatest human preoccupation to fight boredom.

As for the Ani 37 update, launch date has been moved to November 29 says editor Hermie Beltran. My bandmates say it will give them more time to gather funds for our fare and expenses. I wonder if there is anybody out there who could sponsor The Super Poet Genome Project‘s bus fare for the Ani launch. I just wonder. You see we will be playing for free, just for the love of literature and music.

AFTERSHOCKS

September 3, 2012

Earthquakes everywhere. There was another one in Mindanao just after the Visayas episode. And also somewhere in the Middle East, in Iran, particularly. Shaking, shaking, the earth is shaking.

Freedom of Information Bill. Indeed it is provided in the 1987 Constitution that the law must provide for the right of the people to transparent governance. The people must have the right to check or investigate, if need be, the paper trail of government transactions except those provided by law to be really confidential such as things of national security or those covered by executive privilege. And of course, the ever-famous SALN. I am totally for this law.

But the anti-blogging law? A big no no. For one, it surely is unconstitutional. It is well-settled that freedom of the press is inviolable. There must be no prior restraint.

I really intend to attend the Ani 37 launch in October. I just hope that my schedule will permit. I miss the CCP complex. I should also like to see Mr. Hermie Beltran again. It has been three years since I submitted works for Ani. Also, I read in our exchanges at FB that Mr. Ariel Tabag will host our beermatch. I think other contributors will tag along. Perhaps it will be in some unassuming watering hole near CCP. Something to look forward to.

Palanca hang-over, yes. Congratulations to the winners this year. Perhaps I should prepare my entries early for next year, for soon it will be bar review. Cramming won’t be the rule. I have been really busy with other things except writing. My Talaang Ginto win last summer was totally unexpected. You see, I sent an entry only because Koyang Jess Ferrer of KWF sort of asked me to.  Besides, I have been writing English poetry again. I think I have enough works in Bikol-Naga, Iriganon and Filipino already. Besides, when I started writing, I wrote in English.

For me, literary practice must be compleat. Meaning, the task of the writer is to find his voice, philosophy and culture base. He must be a writer for the people, not some weird snob who avoids the crowd. He must be willing to share his skills with other writers, specially the young and upcoming. He must publish regularly in magazines, journals and anthologies. He must come up with books from time to time. He must think of unique projects to promote his art. He must write because he is a writer not because he wants to win awards. Such motivation is infantile if not self-serving.