Listening Class

I fell for the trap of believing Chekhov is universal
during the second day of my practicum.
when I picked an audio recording of
A Country Cottage for a listening class,
A story of intrusive relatives in newlywed’s honeymoon,
the file is less than five minutes, and subtly funny.
After checking questions about the plot, new vocabulary
introduced, to conclude, I asked my class to talk about some
unpleasant memories with family and what they impose.
I never thought a classroom of adults could become so chatty.
Some started speaking in Chinese and Farsi
which defeated the purpose of the exercise,
but I can’t tell them not to stop either.
I went around the room. Teacher, one started,
I’m an only son. I love my relatives but my parents
want me to miss work because of guests. His seatmate agreed,
especially true in the countryside. My mother, she begins,
will wake me up early morning to help her cook for the day.
I kept nodding, I don’t know what to say.
No errors in grammar. It slipped my mind,
Chekhov’s characters were aristocrats. In the room,
women are talking more than men.
I went to another desk, hoping for something lighter.
My father was an officer during the Iran-Iraq War,
our town was near the border and the fighting.
Almost every night, someone would be knocking at our door.
and mention our father’s name, the daughters left at home  
would need to take care of wounded strangers.
The secret in second language acquisition
is not functionality, but finding ears for stories
that should have been kept hidden. Not one anecdote was funny.
We ran out of time, before I can wrap things up.
I had mixed feelings to the lesson’s success.
My mentor’s only comment, there was too
many new words, maybe we should put Chekhov to rest.

Image of Anton Chekhov from here. Recording of A Country Cottage available here.

Artist’s Statement

after Balikbayan (2018) by Kwentong Bayan Collective

Balikbayan boxes have been hallowed
out to show the world they truly contain,
cans of SPAM are shanty houses,
CAMPBELL’S piled up as a Christmas Tree
as cabinets and a miniature box emptied out
in the middle. COLGATE tubes stand beside
packs of IVORY serving as a backdrop to a
town dance. She narrates to the audience
who might be unfamiliar with the concept
her childhood memory of tracing her feet
along with siblings and cousins.
She was naive then, drawing seemed more fun
than actually getting a new pair of shoes
in the box arriving next December.
Everyone was intent as she unpacks
the skill needed to maximize four corners,
the forward-thinking required in taking
note of expiry dates of goods bought half as cheap,
the pleasure and the pain of remitting care,
all learned when she herself left the country
that can’t produce basic necessities.  
Hence, the need to clear the boxes.

Kwentong Bayan Collective official site here.

Second Christmas

After the conference at Ryerson, we went to a gathering less academic to cool down. The newly founded union at the baking warehouse rented space, and invited prospective members, many of which are also family. Food and music really bring our people together, she said like an open secret. Talks about tactics on organizing hotel employees is put on hold as the kareoke starts blasting even before everyone arrives. We’re only here until seven, she says, and goes on to invite them to the event for Lumads before people start drinking, here or elsewhere.

Have you seen the giant Christmas tree at Nathan Philips Square? We were already strolling, and it seems it’s too early to leave downtown anyway. I kept thinking if I offended the girl from earlier, when I said no one reads Virgilio Enriquez anymore, my new arrival opinion shattering her diasporic project. She’s going to be fine, I actually know her. I said, that view of Yonge and Dundas though, from a skyscraper class room is going to hunt me forever.

The night market turned out to be so so, and we actually spent more time gazing at the skating rink. The crowd braving the cold like a beating heart, below concrete arcs acting as ribs. People can’t get enough of the TORONTO sign. I took a video, my fingers shaking, and told my sister we should try this when she gets here. She replied it would be too embarrassing. There’s an area in middle for those just learning how to do it, I assured her. That makes it actually kind of worse.

We should sit somewhere. We walked along Queen Street, bright and gentrified, only to end up ordering ice cream at a Burger King with exposed bricks. No matter the cold, I mused, this really is the proper food for celebrating. By the way, what did you last year? she asked. Just stayed at home, I said without thinking. This hectic Thursday night is so much better. Too bad I work on weekends.

I made it back to Union Station to catch the last train back to Burlington, still hectic during that hour. She was sorry, it slipped her mind I’m not staying in the city tonight. The buses are gone but I can always take a taxi, I shrugged. The station was quiet, while I wait for the car assigned to me. Maybe working late do make people chatty. Heading towards Lakeshore Road, I talked about my first Christmas party here, not with family. Odd that it ended at seven. It’s so that you don’t intrude into people’s evenings, the driver said without looking at me. It isn’t so bad if celebrations are done by seven to be honest. The flurries stopped falling by the time I got off.

Image by Greg’s Southern Ontario, from here.

Readings in Translations

//I spent more time researching Wopka Jensma’s life than actually reading this. He was very involved in the cultural scene and the fight against apartheid during his time. Suffering mental illness later in life, leading to vagrancy, one day he walked out a Salvation Army facility and disappeared.//With Raul Zurita, Chile’s history and landscape come alive and goes under your skin, transcendental and nightmarish at the same time.//Another Roberto Sosa, more poems from Honduras during a time when it was a vital strategic asset for Reagan’s Contra War against the Sandinistas.//Adonis rocked the Arabic literary scene with Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs, the comparison to Eliot or Pound shortly came after. Surrealism to interrogate the self, the nation, the sacred. I heard his getting a lot of heat for statements directed on both sides of the war, unfortunately I can’t speak Arabic or French.//Countersong to Walt Wiltman was amazing, but Amen To Butterflies, Pedro Mir’s poem about the Maribal Sisters is just divine.//Some of Humberto Ak’abal’s more ‘modernist’ works, specifically talking about hardships of indigenous peoples in Guatemala. In 2004 Ak’abal declined to accept the Guatemala National Prize for Literature because it is named after Miguel Angel Asturias.//Looked up Ghassan Zaqtan a bit and read about the controversy over his visa application denial when this book was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize. The visa officer said his reason, to attend an awarding ceremony, ‘wasn’t convincing enough’ and he also had ‘financial and employment’ issues, from the eyes of the Canadian embassy this means you probably will overstay illegally.//A glimpse of Mario Benedetti’s career in one anthology, and as a poet of commitment throughout his life, it also serves as a nation’s history. From early satire, to urgency of struggle, one poem dedicated to Raul Sendic, to years in exile, to seeking of post-authoritarian closure, ending in elderly introspection that is as biting as his early poems.//Strong influences of Apollinaire, Eluard, Rimbaud, et al meet the urgency of national liberation struggles in Fayad Jamis, in Cuba and elsewhere. Most poems talk about time in exile in Paris, many dedicated to contemporaries like Guillen, Retamar, Depestre.//Christopher Okigbo, towering African modernist poet, darling of postcolonial circles, fought for the then newly established Republic of Biafra and eventually died in combat defending the university town where he found his voice. //Paradox of contemporary Palestinian poetry; various defeats lead to wider readership, as new generations of poets write more ‘palatable’ poetry which usually means ‘you can talk about how miserable your people’s situation, just not how to fight back’. Najwan Darwish, no relation to Mahmoud Darwish, is impressive, the more sanitized the presentation, the sharper the poems appears.//Great poems, horrible introduction, better just skip it. You could learn more about Yannis Ritsos from his Wikipedia page. No in-dept discussion of the Greek Civil War, or how the pre-WWII Metaxas dictatorship burned Ritsos’ books in public, how he was still imprisoned by the post-WWII Papadopuolos dictatorship, so you’re basically reading prison poems without the idea why this guy is in prison. It was mentioned he won the Lenin Prize but doesn’t discusses it’s significance.//David Mandessi Diop is a lesser known member of the negritude movement, born in France to a Senegalese father and a Cameroonian mother, it was only logical for him to be eventually a Pan-Africanist, served as a teacher in newly liberated Guinea, before dying in a plane crash along with his wife and manuscript of a second book of poetry.//A poem mostly made up of names of Latin American revolutionaries from Leonel Rugama. He and three comrades were cornered by the National Guard, when the chief told them to surrender, and Rugama replied, ‘Tell your mother to surrender!’ They were all killed, he was about to turn 21.//Juan Gelman, chronicler of the Dirty War, before and after his exile. His son and daughter-in-law was disappeared by the junta, his son’s remains was only discovered in 1990 in a barrel filled with sand. Later he found out that his daughter-in-law was pregnant at that time, and by virtue of Plan Condor, his granddaughter grew up in Uruguay, they eventually met in 2000. This book is dedicated to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, to the families of the Argentina’s Disappeared, and ‘to all those forced to live in the shadow of absence and impunity, the lingering resonance of brutality’.//Claribel Alegria was already exiled and a wanted person when her mother passed away. She wanted to go home, but her father said something along the lines, ‘there will be two instead of one funeral.’//Early Martin Espada, introduced by Amiri Baraka, and with poems being how I want my diasporic literature to be, looking at Empire in the eyes.//Jim Smith’s poems for, and a bit of translations of, Rugama and Dalton. Struggling with form is very apparent, the target audience is Canadian readers after all. A lot of dark humor via irony. This might be as agitating as it gets. Stand out poem asks what if events in El Salvador happened in Ontario.//

East of Bacolod

Excited, she asked us
to stand in front of the falls.
The picture turned out good.
The water breaking into
well placed boulders, the landscape
layered with small palm trees
and trimmed grass made to
hide the remaining visible mud.
On top, just a glimpse of an outline
of the steel railings to prevent
people falling into the lake
by accident. We walked back to
the hall for lunch, I asked what
this place used to look like before.
Cane fields, of course,
she says matter-of-factly.
When sugar prices crashed, and well,
never recovered, the descendants of the
owners had think fast. Some say the rocks here
were used to extend the city.
Eventually becoming the area
where SM City Bacolod now stands,
frequently attempted
to be reclaimed back
by the Guimaras Strait
to no avail.
My parents recall, a beloved priest
had to be reassigned
since his sermons talked
about the evils of quarrying.
Nonetheless, I’m still glad Alangilan
now has farm resort.
A reason for you balikbayans to visit me.
Less talked about, she adds, Capuestohan
meanwhile used to be an highland outpost,
I’m not sure if by soldiers or rebels.

Mga Kuwentong Pelikula

mga tala sa Mariit (Jonathan Jurilla, 2020)

  • Sa pangkalahatan, nagustohan ko naman ang pelikula. Nagkataon lang na sa mga aspetong pormal ang mga komento ko. Hindi ako eksperto sa produksiyon, at sigurado ako na meron kang mga magaganda dahilan o limitasyon para sa mga naging desisyon mo bilang direktor, kasama na rin ng production team mo.
  • Malaking tendensiya sa mga pelikula, lalo na kapag gawa ng mga tao na may background sa panitikan, ay ang pag-iisip na sapat na ang isang magbuting kuwento o  plot. Pero importante din ang paglahad ng kuwento sa biswal na paraan, at hindi lahat kayang gawin ‘yan. Kabilang na ang mga malalaking pangalan sa industriya, mapa-indie man yan o mainstream. Alam kong may karanasan din kayo sa teatro ng scriptwriter mo, pero iba din ang teatro sa pelikula. Malamang alam mo naman lahat ng ‘to, pero sasabihin ko nalang ulit, dahil ito nga ang panggagaling ng mga tala ko.
  • Opening scene; ang pagnakaw ng santos ay pwede pang mas maging madrama. Imbes na montage ng pagkawala nito, paano kaya kung nagkagulo ang mga tao nang malaman nila na wala na nga ito? Pwede siguro mga tao sa simbahan, o ‘di kaya sa ibang parte ng bayan na nagtsi-tsismisan. Imbes na mga kuha ng simbahan, bakit hindi natin sundan ang magnanakaw? Pwede siguro nag-iikot siya sa banwa, nakatalikod lang para posible pa rin ang big reveal sa huli, hanggang sa pinasok niya na ang simbahan. Tapos, sunod na eksena na ang komosyon, dahil ninakaw na nga.
  • Iniisip ko, posible pa kaya mangyari ‘to? Maging ganun ka invested ang mga tao sa isang santos? Pero Miagao ‘tong pinag-uusapan natin, kahit hindi mo pinangalanan, siguro nga ‘no? Hindi ko maalis ang pagdududa na ito, kaya nga gusto ko mas action packed. May nasaktan ba noong pinasok ang simbahan? Nagkahabulan ba? Hindi gumagana ang suspension of disbelief ko kasi halos wala naman tayong tradisyon ng crime thriller sa bansa. ‘Di ba nga, mas malapit pa sa katutubong epiko ang mga pelikulang bakbakan kesa sa crime movies ng Hollywood.
  • Establishing scene ni Estrella. Gusto ko ‘yung nag-iinuman na mga tambay. Pero sana ipakita mo rin sa akin ang baranggay. Lalo na mga tao at ang kanilang mga daily routine. Saan baranggay ba ‘yun? Hirap sigurong walang budget para sa crowd control ‘no? Tsaka ano ‘yung trip ng pa-scientific na tambay? Out of place para sa akin.
  • Kung gustong ipakita na rasyonal siya, gawin ito na hindi sinasabi ang salitang ‘scientific’. Pwede n’yang sabihin na “basta ako ya sa doctor gid ko,” mga ganun na linyahan. At bakit hiniwalay pa ang sunod na subplot? Habang naghihilot si Estrella, pwede siguro pinag-uusapan ang pagnakaw ng santos ng pasyente niya, o baka ibang tao sa loob ng bahay. O baka pwede rin balita sa AM radio. O baka ang mga tambay ‘yung bumanggit sa insidente. Kung susundan mo ‘to, hindi na siya dalawang araw bago ang eksena. Hindi na kailangan tumalon ng time frame.
  • Establishing scene ng dalawang estudyante. Out of place ulit. Pakita mo muna ang UP campus, paano ko malalaman kung saan nanggaling ang dalawang ‘to? Tulad ng Miagao, may pagdadalawang isip ulit para ilahad ang mga pangalan ng lugar ‘no? Sa totoo lang, tapos na ang mga araw na dapat maging maingat sa pagbitaw ng mga pangalan ng mga institusyon at lugar. Mas kakagatin pa nga siguro ng mga tao kung alam nila na mga ‘taga-UP’ ang mga tauhan, o ‘di kaya sa Miagao ito nangyari. At isa pa, hindi naman lahat ng bayan may malaking campus ng isang pamantasan sa loob nito.
  • Pakita mo sila lumabas sa faculty room, problemado kasi malapit na bumagsak, pakita mo sila nagpaplano or nag-eempake para sa trip o extra assignment. Pwede rin pakita mo sila habang papunta sa mga bakhawan. Naglalakad o nakasakay sa traysikel. Pwede rin pakita mo na dumaan sila sa tindahan kung saan ang mga tambay kanina. O di kaya nakasalubong nila si Estrella. Pwede rin mas direkta ang interaction nila kay Estrella, nagpapagamot halimbawa ang isang kakilala nila, o housemate, o kamag-anak ng babae.
Official poster, mula sa FB page ng Mariit.
  • Sa totoo lang, ang pinakamalaking isyu ko ay hindi ko mapagtagpi tagpi ang heograpiya ng pelikula. Ang pagtalon sa mga lokasyon ay dapat may transition scenes. Masyadong halata ng magkakaibang lugar, hindi organiko. Kung iisipin, ito pa nga ang novelty ng pelikula, ang mga lugar na hindi cinematic ayon sa kulturang pelikula ng bansa, pero ngayon pinaglalahadan ng isang kuwento.
  • Establishing scene ni Pedro. Out of place ulit, masyadong pa-mysterious. Halos spoon feeding na may mali sa kanya. Chekovian, ano? Magkuwento ka pa tungkol sa kanya. Pwede na kasama siya doon sa mga tambay. Pwedeng dumaan siya sa mga tambay, at ipakilala agad na kagawad pala siya. Kapag umalis na siya, pag-usapan o di kaya siraan siya ng mga tambay, para ipakita opinyon nila tungkol sa kanya.
  • Pwede rin natin siya ipakita na naglilinis ng ilog, o kung ano pang mga gawain. Hindi mo kailangan isa-isahin ang pagpapakilala ng mga tauhan o ng mga subplot. Tamang kombinasyon lang. Ganyan naman talaga ang hiwaga ng pelikula.
  • Sa unang sampung minuto, ilang establishing scenes na ba ‘yun? Ang dami. Ang epekto, napapa-stop and go ang manonood. Masyado kang maraming binibigay sa kanila, na dapat nilang pag-isipan at tandaan. Kung hindi kaya itahi sa isang naratibo, dalawa siguro? Higit doon, epiko na ‘yan sa bantayan ng pelikula. Lav Diaz style na, kaya nga ang hahaba ng mga gawa niya kasi ang dami niya gustong ipakita, at hindi siya nagmamadali. Pero isa’t kalahating oras lang ang Mariit.
  • Ang isa pang take away ko ay masyadong maraming deux ex machina. Dahil nga ang dami mong pinakilala, madami din kailangan mong itahi sa huli. Hindi ‘yun ibig sabihin plot holes ang mga ‘yun, pero balakid din ang mga ito para maabot ang pinakapotensyal sana ng kuwento.
  • May nakabanggit na ba tungkol sa cameo ng Ma-Aram book ni Magos? Para sa akin, masyadong pilit. Sana pinasok nalang sa dialogue, kahit saglit lang. O ang mas magandang diskarte ay paggamit ng quote sa umpisa, paraan na rin ng framing. Pero base sa kuwento, magiging pilit ulit. May ambisyon o layunin ka bang gawing distinctly Panayanon o Western Visayan ang pelikulang ito?
  • Sa tingin ko ang dialogue na nasa Hiligaynon at Kinaray-a ay sapat na. Hindi ako kumportable sa mga masyadong on the nose na effort ng regional cinema para likhain ang identidad nito, na hindi rin nalalayo sa diskarte ng mga pelikulang gawa sa Maynila, nagpupusturang national cinema, lalo na kung ilalako nila ito sa labas ng bansa. Isa pang dahilan, ni wala ngang sinehan kung saan-saan kayo nag-shoot. May internet naman, totoo, pero lahat ng tao ba sa Miagao ay may connection? Ilang tao ba nagbabasa kay Magos?
  • Maganda at nagawa mong ihabi ang tema ng ‘mas matakot ka sa tao kesa sa multo’ at ang pagprotekta ng kalikasan, lalo na ng mga bakhawan. Parang biro ang pagbansang ng scooby doo trope dito online, pero totoo naman kasi. Pwede na sana matapos doon. Pero tinuloy mo pa, isinulong na may mga elementong lampas sa ating pagkakaunawa, e.g. si Estrella. Naniniwala naman ako diyan, sa totoo lang, pero sa behavioral na antas siguro at hindi literal. At sa paggiit mo nito, nag-agawan na ang mga tema mo.
  • Parang lumabnaw na ang dimensyon na tao nga ang problema. Ang isang resulta nito, pwede umos-os ang interpretasiyon, mula sa ‘dapat protektahan ang mga bakhawan’ papunta sa may ‘mga babaylan naman pala at wala na tayo kailangan gawin’. Ulit, masyadong maiikli ang pelikula para mausisa ito nang mabuti.
  • Sa panahon ngayon ng mga mas malakas at madalas na mga delubyo, mas lantaran na patayan, ano ang lugar ng mga obra na sumusulong ng wonder for wonder’s sake? Rejection of grand narratives ba ito? Hindi ko masakyan, dahil hindi nagpapakilos ng tao ang postmodernismo.
  • Kung gusto natin isabuhay ang sinaunang ethos, dapat tignan din natin ang sitwasyon ng mga taong sinasabuhay ang mga ito hanggang sa ngayon. Halimbawa, huling balita ko ay umaarangkada na ang Jalaur Mega Dam sa Central Panay. Tiyak na lulubog ang ilang baranggay ng mga Tumandok. Lalong iinit ang lugar na ‘yun sa mga susunod na buwan o taon.

Pasensya na kung ngayon ko lang ‘to napadala. At naka-focus lang ako sa unang sampung minuto! Late kasi ako sa screening noong AS week. Pagkabalik ng internet namin dito, ang unang sampung minuto lang pinanood ko ulit sa Vimeo.

Hanap tayo ng maganda pwesto para makapagkape at mapag-usapan ang pelikula mo. Sigurado ako mas marami ka pang kuwento sa paggawa nito. Magplano nalang tayo kung makabalik na tayo sa campus pagkalipas ng dalawang linggo. Pero sa tingin ko, tatagal pa ‘to.

Nakauwi ka ba ng Negros? Upload mo kaya ang buong pelikula sa Youtube para mas marami makapanood? May English subtitles naman.

Ingat lagi.

*attachment sa email, pinadala: March 18 2020


mga tala sa The Cleaners (Hans Block & Moritz Riesewieck, 2018)

Clint, kamusta na?

Naglagay na ako ng ilang komento sa draft mo. Nothing major, at ang mga puna ko ay madali lang naman maresolba sa pagpalit ng mga salitang ginamit. Sa tingin ko na nakuha ko naman ang general idea ng papel, kahit pa hindi kasama ang mga diagram sa draft, pero sa totoo lang din hindi ko na proseso lahat-lahat.

Sinusulat ko ang listahan ng suggested readings at materials na ito para bigyan ka ng ideya kung saan ako nanggagaling, at malamang magsusulat din ako ng sarili kong kritika sa pelikula para gawing blog post. Ito na ang magiging notes ko para doon, kailan man ako sipagin para gawin ‘yun. Ipapa-settle ko muna. Ang daming kailangan unawain sa dokyu. Salamat ulit sa pagbigay sa akin ng kopya.

  • Film recommendation: Signed: Lino Brocka (Christian Blackwood, 1987). Extended interview kay Lino Brocka pagkatapos mapatalsik ang rehimeng Marcos. Kilala si Brocka bilang tagagawa ng mga box-office hits, tagabigay ng big break sa ilan sa mga pinakamagagaling na artista sa kasaysayan ng bansa, unang Pinoy darling ng Cannes, at isang matalas na kritiko ng censorship and ng rehimen sa pagkalahatan. Malupit na combo ‘yan. Dalawa sa kanyang mga pelikula ay kamakailan lang ni-restore ng World Cinema Project ni Scorsese at pwede mong mapanood sa Criterion. Sabi ng iba, siya daw ang pinakadakilang Pilipinong direktor (kasama na ako doon), habang ayon naman sa iba, siya ang tagalatag ng template ng paglako ng poverty porn sa mga art film festivals sa labas ng bansa. Pinakapakita ng doku habang nagtatrabaho siya, may shooting pa nga sa isang dump site at squatters, at sa isang parte nilarawan din siya ang bansa bilang tambakan ng basura ng Hollywood. May kopya ako ng pelikula pero pwede mo rin rentahan sa Vimeo ni Blackwood. May bagong libro si Jose B. Capino tungkol sa kanya, na sa tingin ko hindi ako magkaka kopya hangga’t hindi natatapos ang pandemya. At base sa presyo niya sa Book Depository, mukhang malabo pa rin kahit umabot tayo doon. Nabasa ko na ang unang libro ni Capino, may magandang kabanata siya doon tungkol sa mga B movies na ginawa sa Pinas. Naalala mo ba ‘yung instagram post ko tungkol sa The Beast of the Yellow Night (1971) ni Eddie Romero? Maganda din ang dokyu ni Andrew Leovold na The Search for Weng Weng (2007). Doon, nalaman ni Leovold na mala-B movie din ang bansa na pinagmulan ng mga B movie. Usapang basura ulit. Pero ang kritiko, at personal kong academic hero, na dapat mong basahin ay si Roland Tolentino. Marami sa kanyang mga artikulo ay mababasa online, at may sarili din siyang libro tungol kay Brocka na mas naunang lumabas. Naging guest editor na rin siya ng Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique. Maganda rin ang volume na ‘yun.
  • Content moderators na rin ang paksa, baka maging interesante din para sa iyo ang mga ideya ni Jonathan Beller hinggil sa Yahoo at economy of attention. Nilapatan niya rin ito ng pagbasa ng ilang pelikula. Parang sinabi niya na ang imbensyon ng search engine ay hudyat ng pagwagi ng Internet kontra-rebolusyon, ang pagsasapribado ng isang plataporma na dapat sana pangpubliko. Wala yatang international edition ang libro niya kung saan ang artikulong ito. Pero i-upload niya na rin ito ng buo. May maganda rin siyang sanaysay sa Orapronobis (1989) ni Brocka, may pamagat na ‘Directing the Real’.
Official poster mula dito
  • Habang nanonood, napangiwi ako sa kung paano ang iba’t ibang imahe at kontradiksyon ng underdevelopment ay pinagtabi sa isang ‘di kritikal na montage (high-rise na mga gusali, self-flagellation, mga night club at simbahan, atbp.) Ano ba ang mas grosteque? Ang mentalidad ng mga content moderators o kung paano sila tinatrato ng mga big tech companies? Ang isang magandang Lacanian take dito ay ‘yung banat ni Neferti X. M. Tadiar kay Fenella Cannell. Base sa field work ni Cannell sa Bicol region, ‘di umano nagpapatuloy ang ‘pre-colonial mentality’ sa kasalukuyan. Sabi naman ni Tadiar, hindi sila na-‘stuck’ sa isang partikular na panahon, sahalip napagsama din sa historical frame ng kapitalismo, kahit pa umiiral sila sa laylayan nito.
  • Kung gusto mo ang mas geopolitical frame sa siklo ng basura, tignan lang ulit ang waste dispute sa pagitan ng Canada at Pinas noong 2014. Natuklasan na imbes na recyclable plastic, gamit na adult diapers pala ang laman ng ilang container van. Ibang klase ‘no? Ang dumi na tinatapon ng mga Pinoy caregivers sa pag-alaga na mga matatanda ng Canada ay nauna pang bumalik sa pinangalingan nila. Mayor palang si Duterte noon, siya lang yata ang tahasang nagsabi na ipakain dapat sa mga customs official ang basura. Natural, tulad sa ibang pinagsasabi niya bago mahalal, wala na nangyari. O ‘di kaya pwede rin balikan ang nannygate ni Trudeau noong 2015? Para sa marami, madumi at patago pa din ang gawaing pangbahay ‘di ba? Nalalapat din pala ito isyu ng immigration policy. Panghuli, pwede mo rin iugnay ang pagbenta ng Canada ng mga armas sa mga bansa kung saan nag-oopera ang mga notorious mining companies nito, tulad sa Pinas at iba pa. Siklo ng paghukay at pagtambak.
  • Hinggil naman sa presensya ng mga BPO sa bansa, napakahusay ng libro ni Jan M. Padios. Ayon sa kanya, hindi lang ito usapin ng pagkakaroon ng trabaho, ginagatungan din ng mga ito ang pagnanasa ng modernidad at kosmopolitanismo, pareho ng estado at ng mga indibidwal. Sa tingin ko, mapapansin mo ito ng kaunti sa ilang interviews ng mga content moderators sa dokyu. Pagsisikap na makaahon sa basura ng kahirapan.
  • Isa siguro sa mga dahilan kung bakit mas materiyalista ako kesa Lacanian, ay dahil may malakas pa rin na armadong kilusang sa Pinas, kahit pagkatapos ng limang dekada, tuloy pa rin rebolusyon sa orihinal nitong kahulugan. Maraming batang akademiko, tulad nga nina Tadiar, na bihasa sa teorya (at gusto ko rin naman ang gawa nila), dahil na rin kasama sila sa sistema ng mga Anglophone (kadalasan Amerikano) university circuits. Pero nag-iiba ang kahugan ni Lacan kung makarating siya dito. Tignan halimbawa ang salaysay ni E. San Juan, Jr. kung bakit patok din si Zizek sa Diliman.
  • ‘Di ko alam kung nagbabasa ka ng mga balita tungkol dito sa amin, pero si Mocha Uson, ‘yung dancer at online campaigner ni Duterte, ay nabigyan na ng government appointment. At pinapatakbo pa rin niya ang blog niya na kadalasan fake news ang nilalabas. Hindi pa siya na nanagot. At hindi lang siya ang public official na nahuli na nagkakalat ng fake news. Ang social media accounts ng mga pulis, army, at ilang opisina ay ginagamit din para mang red-bait, o ang tawag dito sa amin, red-tag, ng mga aktibista at organisasyon. Kung hindi ginagawa online, sa mga kinaugaliang analog na mga paraan; leaflets, posters, vandalismo, pampublikong estasyon ng TV at radyo, atbp. Pagpapakalat ulit ng basura.
  • Sa dokyu, napaka-ironiko, kung hindi man misleading, para sa akin na magpapakita sila ng paglaban sa content moderation regime ng social media sa Myanmar, Turkey, at US, pero hindi sa Pilipinas mismo. Siguro dahil hindi naman content moderation per se ang kinakalaban ng mga grupo dito, kundi ang mga ugat nito; kawalang trabaho, militarisasyon, patayan sa drug war, imperyalismo, atbp. Baka maakusahan sina Block at Riesewieck ng parachute journalism kung kita na may pagka-petty lang ng concerns nila. Pero meron din namang datos hinggil sa disinformation. May dalawang pag-aaral na sina Jonathan Corpus Ong and Jason Vincent Cabañes tungkol sa troll armies na lumabas noong 2018 at 2019 pa. Maganda rin basahin ang atake ni Luis Teodoro hinggil sa disinformation. Mas bilib ako sa mga rekomendasyon ni Teodoro kesa kina Ong and Cabañes. Beterano na si Teodoro sa paglaban sa rehimeng Marcos, at nanatiling matalas na kritiko sa ngayon. Kung papanoorin mo ang interbyu niya tungkol sa chilling effect ng pagpapasara ng Rappler, palitan mo lang ng ABS-CBN, buo pa rin ang mga argumento niya. Ang journalist na nasa dokyu, si Ed Lingao, ay magaling din. Sa dami ng basura, natatambakan rin yata ang mga usapin kung paano gawin ang paglilinis.

Sana makakatulong sayo ang mga ito. Sabihan mo lang ako kung may mga paksa pa na gusto mo ng resources, pero kung iisipin tapos na itong chapter mo. Mahusay. Halata naman siguro na para sa akin, ang dokyu na tungkol sa content moderation ay isa ring paraan ng content moderation. Kaya ikinatuwa ko talaga na pinabasa mo sa akin ang papel mo.

Sana pala bumisita din ako sa Vancouver noong diyan pa ako. Baka nagkakopya na rin ako ng ibang libro mo. ‘Di bale, babasahin ko na ‘tong unang libro mo kay Jameson. Chat nalang ako ulit pagkatapos.

Panghuli, alam mo naman na ‘di pa ako regular, so malaking tulong talaga itong fee, lalo na sa panahon na walang pasok. At pinausog pa nga lalo ang simula ng semester dito dahil sa pandemya.

Salamat ulit. Ingat lagi.

*email, nakasulat sa Ingles, pinadala: July 22 2020


mga tala sa Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim (Lino Brocka, 1984)

Nadaanan ko ang balita na natapos palang i-restore ang Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim ni Lino Brocka at nasama ito sa Cannes Classics selection ngayong taon. Naalala ko pa pinanood ko ang sobrang pangit at malabong kopya sa Youtube, malamang VHS-rip, noong college kung saan obsessed ako sa Philippine New Wave dahil na rin sa kasagsagan ng Indie Wave. Bata pa kayo siguro noon, pero ang mga pelikula dati lumilingon sa panahon nina Brocka para sa inspirasiyon at para na rin makabalikwas dito.

Poster mula sa FB page ng Le Chat Qui Feme

Sa ngayon, kapag binabasa ang balita, hindi ko alam kung gaano kataas ang patong-patong ng ironya. Ang bida na si Philip Salvador ay masugid na tagasuporta ng rehimeng Duterte, napanood ko pa sa TIFF ang Madalim Ang Gabi (2017) at tuwang tuwa ni Ms. Gina Alajar noong hinambing ko ang kuwento sa Bayan Ko, biopic na pala ni Bato ang susunod na pelikula ni Alix, ang FDCP naman naglabas ng kontrobersyal na shooting guidelines na ayon sa marami papunta sa sa censorship, ang ABS-CBN ay pinasara dahil sa politikal na panggigipit ng isang pangulo na nagsimula ang karera bilang isang appointee pagkatapos ng EDSA, ang freedom of expression clause sa konstitusyon na pinaglaban ni Brocka ay ginagamit ng dating batikang human rights lawyer na ngayon ay tagapagsalita (na ulit) ng pangulo, para pangatwiran ang pag-ere ng propaganda music video ng China, at hindi pa natapos doon, freedom of expressin din daw ang pag red-tag sa mga kritiko ng gobyerno.

Para sa akin, mula pa noon, masyadong madrama ang ekspresyon na ‘rolling in his grave’, pero sa okay lang siguro gamitin ito ngayon para ilarawan ang malamang mararamdaman ni direk Lino.

Dahil nga hindi maganda ang kopya na napanood ko noon, wala sa Brocka folder ng Google Drive natin ang Bayan Ko. Pero hintayin nalang natin, baka swertehin ako. Share ko kaagad sa inyo.

Maraming salamat ulit para pasensiya para mairaos natin ang semester na ito. Sana ma-submit niyo na lahat ng requirements sa ibang subjects bago mag-pasko o bagong taon.

Ingat lagi.

*caption sa shared post sa PhilArts 13 (TF10-11:30am), Dec. 10 2020

Carpool Monologue

Are you sure you don’t want
to join us this long weekend?
Camping here
is like going
to the beach back home.

You might be anxious now,
but driving here is actually a breeze
especially in Oakville.

I bought this car secondhand,
just with a G1 license.

After two years here,
either I go to back school
and resume being a nurse
or spend that tuition money
to petition my kids.

The sooner I don’t have to deal
with their father, the better, so

I made the obvious choice

of taking in early morning shifts
baking muffins at a Tim Hortons

on top of days at the seniors’ home.
I come in at eleven and leave
at four just before the morning rush.

I can’t rely on buses,
thank God
the road was always dark
and peaceful.
I sang along to my radio,
often this exact song,
take me Jesus

to keep the dread of being stopped
by cops at bay.

I said to myself,
traffic laws are broken
for much less
noble reasons.

Image from, link here.


I passed by
the canned goods aisle
and remembered

a priest once
shared in his sermon
how when he was in Hawaii

he could point out Filipinos
in the grocery
because after checking

the price of items,
they would look up next
to convert it in pesos.

from the congregation
indicating familiarity

that often
only the quirks
of labor export
makes it into
stories shared.

Shopping for this week
the same easy
meals to prepare,
I’m no longer as serious.
could also be refuge.

It starts to dim outside,
the teenager at the counter
wasn’t as chatty
when it was my turn to pay.

I’m glad I can pop this
frozen pizza in the oven sooner.
I like to end days off on a high note.

Image by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine – Own work, CC0,

Instructions in Peeling

I grabbed one butternut squash
and was surprised how hard it was.
I started by cutting off the top.
Don’t be afraid, Sonia says glancing at me,
to peel off meat as you go along,
we don’t own these.
As the inside is expose,
they get more slippery on my plastic gloves.
More reason to go faster, she adds casually.
The sounds of thuds
in the large aluminum table
get more consistent, mixing
with Portuguese conversation.

Sonia’s silent beside me. I think
that was the end of my training
in this workstation.
I finally get the rhythm
of tossing peeled squash
into the blue container
with water on the floor
in one corner
which the folk lift
can carry out later
into the dicing room
next door.

Envious of the chatter,
I asked her, do you like
Roque Dalton the revolutionary?
She stopped, smiling in disbelief.
Dalton the poet?
I didn’t know you speak Spanish.
I shook my head.

My goodness, she goes on, I was little back then.
I remember when guerrillas
would pass our village in the morning,
and soldiers in the afternoon.
Not everyone likes Dalton, but I do.

For now, she returns to production,
cut away from you,
but don’t hit anyone.
When you get better
you’ll learn to peel with
the knife going towards you.
All the older ladies were doing it that way.

It appears dangerous, she sums up,
but controlling instead
of releasing the force
from your wrist
is actually more efficient.

Language Instruction for New Canadians

On the second day of my practicum, individual student sharing went very differently. I was at the North York location, assigned at an intermediate level class. After the break, Sally came back wearing a new outfit. She was greeted with applause. A black blazer, hair tied up, printed script in one hand, scissors on the another.

She talked about her career as a hair dresser, working with the celebrities in Seoul and even travelling to the US for big events. She handed out pictures with her boss, with pop stars, the branch in a posh district where she used to worked. Her Korean classmates were envious with people she met, a bit lost, the Chinese and Iranians were impressed nonetheless.

She misses her profession so bad, that’s why she is working on her English in order to apply for a permit here, maybe a loan in the future for her own salon. It will be the bringer of Korean style trends to Toronto. All the while she was flipping the scissors like a gunslinger. The front row were holding their breaths. That’s how good she is. She haven’t done this in a while. She loves the attention.

The teacher I’m observing said template lines like amazing, good luck, and, very good. She looked towards me, maybe I have advice to give since I’m also an immigrant starting over. Shocked by her suggestion, it took awhile before I said anything. I’m here to learn how to teach English as Second Language. I only to come up with be patient and things will work out.

Not as profound as they anticipated, and probably heard before, or read in a welcome brochure. I was about to get honest, but stopped, realizing this class is publicly funded. I sensed trouble, if I said Sally if you want to practice your passion here you can always work under the table.