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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


November 6, 2012

Christmas carols in the air. As they say, time flies and time does not wait. I almost associate December with Manila visits. It’s usually the time when I claim my writer’s honorarium from my publications. It’s a business and pleasure trip, as I also take time to visit friends. Most of my writer-friends are in Manila, although I am a province-based writer.

My artist-friend Giovhanni Buen paid me a visit again this weekend. He’s now operating a resort in Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte. He’s been inviting us to go over there and have a poetry gig. I know that soon, this plan will push through.

Since I have no idea how the place looks like, I surfed for travel blogs and came across an entry on the Calaguas Island by a fellow Bikol Bloggy Awards winner, Claire Blaxland of  http://www.lakwatseradeprimera.com fame. Seeing her lying on the beach with “total abandon” made me see the gist of the place. 

For my daily tanaga project, I thought of Balagtas and his lamentation that if ever one of his descendants would follow his (mis)adventures as a poet, let his or her hand be cut off. Now here’s my S(tanaga)TUS for today:

Ang dapat tinuran ni Balagtas

Kaysa put’lan ng kamay

sakaling manayutay,

mga apo’y turuan

nitong kodigo penal.


September 29, 2012

Time to rest a little. We are given a little reprieve this afternoon. We have been working since early morning at 8AM. And tomorrow, at 9AM, we will resume. Right now, our schedule is vacant. A little time to breathe.

The Muse cooked me a nice meal for lunch. My favorite pork sinigang plus adobo. I devoured it as if it were my last lunch. Sipped the sabaw too.

Tonight, maybe a good movie will help. Have to sleep early since I have to be up really early too.

I don’t know if tomorrow’s jamming will push through. So far there’s not much confirmation from the prospective attendees. Busy I am, it will favor me. Although I always enjoy talking to other people about literature. If they are interested, that it. So very few are interested. So I would rather devote time working.

My latest poem is about a gun that goes off in the hand of a gun-safety seminar speaker. There’s the irony there. And I do hope it gets printed.


September 28, 2012

Some young writers here in my locality have been prodding me to hold the WG again anytime soon. But due to my tight schedule and some problems with venue, the event is postponed until prior notice. But then we are supposed to have the 100 Thousand Poets for a Change on September 29. Instead of the WG, we will be having the WJ, or the so-called writers’ jam. It will be an informal gathering of literary artists seeking to have company for a few hours and talk about their art. Small group poetry readings and some talks.

This will be held on Sunday, September 30. Meeting place will be at the Plaza Quince Martires in Naga City at 6pm. If the reader is interested, please send me a message here. Just bring some poems and some cash (for our food and drinks).


September 21, 2012

Something seems to be wrong with the wifi connection at law school. I cannot get in. Or maybe my netbook has a virus lurking somewhere. Good thing that Naga City has so many hotspots.

Been getting up early. I have so many things to read and digest. And I figure, getting up at dawn is the more poetic way of working on my laws.

All quiet at the Eastern part, to paraphrase a great novel.

Perhaps we will push through with the WG on the 29th. I was feeling kinda lazy because I have so much work. And there is this plan by Kabulig that there will be a performance poetry gig on the 29th, same venue as mine. I learned about it from the manager of Sosimo. He told me that someone’s arranging to use their venue also. I was thinking of consolidating the two events, but now I learned that the Kabulig event is postponed. So if things work out with the sponsor, we will have WG on the 29th at Almaree’s. Will update you readers.

I wrote this new poem entitled “Cram Session”. It’s about the Robredo tragedy. I sent it to a magazine for possible publication. I really hope it gets printed. Fingers crossed.



September 9, 2012

September colds virus is strong enough to penetrate my Dad’s strong immune system. So much that it ended up infiltrating mine, my mom’s and my girlfriend’s. Now all of us have noses that run.

But stronger stronger I must be. There will still be classes until Wednesday. After that, it’s Penafrancia Fiesta! And I hope I won’t gain much weight. Else I will have to double up my karate.

In between codals and cases I squeeze some minutes editing my poems in English. Soon enough I will start compiling all of my poems to start up a collection. But I won’t be coming up with a book this year or next. I have other priorities right now. For now, occasional publications and prizes would be fine.

I’m still arranging for the September 29 WG. Soon enough, things will fall in place. And I really do hope that more people will attend it. I have noticed that there seems to be come issue between local writers. I hope they won’t try to evade each other and avoid attending the WG. Hey people, the WG is for poetry! It’s a neutral place.


January 11, 2012

The 8th Verses: Writers’ Gig at Wharf Galley (Naga City) last January 8, 2012 started the year right. True, there were spoilers. In fact I got sick twice during the holidays and I caught the so-called 24-hour bug. Truly, health is wealth and sickness can compromise our mission. Cirilo Bautista is correct in saying that hospitals can reduce humans to scrap. It is ironic that we send so many nurses abroad, yet our healthcare system here in the Philippines is almost crap. Even our doctors study nursing just so they could go abroad. But then hey, WG8 saved the smiley in me.

That night, I finally got to rock and use my other guitar, the Ibanez. I got to shred and sing my soul out with my band, The Super Poet Genome Project. I brought my wakizashi with me to be used as props for my poetry performance. The Fire n Ice Dance group was just great, rendering two dance numbers. One filled me up with nostalgia for they performed dances from the 80’s to 90’s, a patikim for their up-coming dance concert on February 15-16. Icing to our metaphorical cake was our guest slam poet from Canada, Mr. Ronel Amata.

The readers for the night were Noel Cervantez, Ronel Astor, Jusan Misolas, Jerome Hipolito, Kevin de Quiroz, Tristan Velarde, Johner Caneba, Tess Francisco, Ronel Amata, and of course, this blogger. Writers Jay Salvosa and Rizaldy Manrique were also in attendance.

As always, we welcomed Ronel Amata via our traditional “jijutzu” finger-lifting levitation trick. After which, we ushered ourselves to a literary discussion over rounds of beer. We asked ourselves: “When did we start writing?” We figured that we have been writing as early as early, we just did not know it. Living is writing as proven by the love-angles and melodramatics by some of the sharers. But then this overflow of ideas was cut short, unfortunately, when it was my turn to share. Two motorcycles collided in front of Avenue Square, complete with flying bodies in classic quasi-delict frenzy. The gig started with a bang, and yet we  had to end by taking our cue from a motorcycle crash in this motorcycle country.  We had to proceed to Gotobest plaza just to appease our hunger and clear our throats of shock with goto-kinalas-tokwa with egg plus sili, and cold water.

Till next month my friends, till next month.

It will not be just poetry but ‘poetreat’ at 5PM on May 20 at Wharf Galley (Avenue Square) as members of the local literary community and performing arts gather their creative forces to raise funds for cancer patient Jocelyn Bisuña. Dubbed as Mga Berso nin Pagpa-Omay: Healing Verses for Jo, the event will feature Bikol poets, all members of Kabulig-Bikol and Parasurat Bikolnon reading Bisuña’s poems with interpretative dances by theater group Kaboronyogan. Bikol authors will set up a book fair, the proceeds of which will go to Bisuña’s funds. There will also be performances by dance group Fire n Ice.

Bisuña, “Jo” to friends, is a mother, teacher, writer, performance artist and cultural worker. She has taught at La Consolacion College-Iriga and University of Northeastern Philippines. She is a founding member of Kaboronyogan and is a regular panelist in local creative writing workshops. Her works have appeared in various publications and her poems will be published in an anthology of Bikol female poets to come out within the year.

In November 2008, Jo was found to have cancer of the left breast. The particular aggressiveness of her cancer necessitated mastectomy and chemotherapy thereafter, which she bravely endured the next month until April of 2009. All seemed well until the cancer recurred in her chest wall barely a month after the last chemo cycle. This prompted her to have another surgery albeit a local one. September of the same year saw Jo undergoing a series of radiotherapy at the University of Santo Tomas. Despite the continuing treatment, bone and CT scans revealed that the cancer has spread to the bones of her chest and in her lungs. Unable to fund the 160k + per 21-day cycle of chemotherapy, Jo and her family decided to participate in a drug trial in St. Luke’s Medical Center to gain access to chemotherapy drugs and other diagnostic procedures for free. She was subsequently disqualified when after 9 months in the trial her chest tumors stopped responding to the drug. It was at this point where FUDA Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou, China, was considered, as it was recommended by relatives and other patients in St. Lukes. From January to March 2011, Jo spent her days at FUDA Cancer Hospital receiving treatment. The cryosurgery and nano-chemotherapy done on her effected significant improvements much more than what her year of chemo achieved. She was supposed to come back last March for another round of nano-chemo but the expenses have caught up with her and her family. Jo has not been receiving any form of treatment since.

Currently, she is suffering tremendous pains from the bone and skin metastases which leave her with open sores on the chest. The advanced treatments that FUDA hospital offers are her best and last recourse.

The event is in cooperation with Wharf Galley Rock Café, Writers Gig, Sangguniang Panlungsod-Naga, Councilors Nathan Sergio and Cecilia de Asis.

–Jose Jason L. Chancoco and Buboy Aguay

Sad news, sad summer. In the middle of earthquakes and hypertemperature came the all-too-sudden and premature passing of a dear writer-friend, Fae Barandon. We met back in 2003 as co-fellows for the 1st Juliana Arejola-Fajardo Workshop for Bikol Writing in Pili, Camarines Sur. She was then a staffer for The Pillars, the Ateneo de Naga University school paper. I remember her as smart, reserved, friendly and pretty. It turned out later that she was from Baao, so on my way to Iriga we took the same bus. We talked about the writers’ group that we were planning to form.


From Silive.com

Sad summer, sad news. she never was able to attend any of our poetry critique and reading sessions due to “personal issues” as she would opt to say. Later, she went on to take her master’s degree in the US. Thereon, we became occasional chatmates. For her, it was in between MA classes, coffee breaks and her bartending side job. For me, it was in between teaching units, beer breaks, writing and guitar playing. She would describe her milieu, life pattern, and even her European boyfriend who spoke little English. Lost in translation they were.

Sad to hear about her untimely demise. Rest assured though that she enjoyed the last of her days as she was able to do the things she wanted. She used to say that she was not much of a writer. I disagree. Not only that during our workshop she exhibited poetic tension through carefully chosen choppy-syllabic lines, she also truly lived the life of a poet: Ever with a vision, ever with the zeal to create through images and film sequences. As wise men say, death is merely consummation of truth. Now she rests into completion.