Monday, January 31, 2011

The Village (I)

by E. Wong

The village slumbers in anticipation,
without malice but full of lust, awaiting
the onslaught of desires—dams
need to unload their waters, jungles

must shed off dead leaves: Dream,
you sleeper, as your sleep begins.

The elders wouldn’t concur, but the shade
of poison trees feels like home, doesn’t it?
And would it be too much for one night
to be weaving tapestry that might as well
serve as blanket over feverish bodies?

Now, you may not need to consider
exchanging your sly wakefulness
for the furtive wisdom of the village
idiot. But you must envy him,
nonetheless, as on nights like this,
he is happier than everyone else.

This is not the time to think about drought,
you curious cat, for the dogs are friendly
tonight, as all the members of the Kingdom.
Matriarch also lost her knife in the kitchen,
and so for now, and just for now, your tongue
may speak of any profanity it wishes to tell

the ears, neck, breasts, and other distant
relatives. You may not have enough time,
but you can always say ‘I’ll be sailing off
in an hour,’ yet stay docked in this town
until all drowns in your gentle hands.

The village resists the rising of the light,
but the sun has its age-old job to do.
Won’t you shine a while longer, O shadow
safely obscure in the night? Yet the day

does not forget the dusk: Sleep,
you dreamer, while your dream lasts.

Artwork: "The Starry Night" (1889, Vincent van Gogh)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Belle and Sebastian's "Funny Little Frog"

*Para Kay B(arbie)

Monday, January 24, 2011

To a stranger nice and fine

by E. Wong Martin

Booze: what you are to me,
and a body-tight shirt, perhaps,
or even the stubborn dirt
under my fingernails,
and all other things sweet
that lovers fail to see—
But not now, not yet,
for you are still a stranger,
a beautiful one, and you don’t
even know it. You are all these,
but I will tell it to your face,
a beautiful one, in the future
a beautiful one, I pray

It sucks that I couldn’t go
any closer to you on our “first”
meeting, because booze
and blaring music (a.k.a. noise),
and smoke and drunken
sleep were not in my favor.
But it was so nice meeting you,
though the meeting was not
so nice. And notwithstanding
(what a wonderful complex word!)
that you could break my heart
with a single touch, I dreamt
that you held me, carried me,
to the heights of nostalgia,
nudity and nonchalance, all those
wonderful complex words
in the vocabulary of an occasional

But the lights are back on,
the party's ended, now I’m sober
and a little somber, too. Yet,
the fermentations in my gut
haven’t stopped to fuel what
could have been just a dream
of utter intimacy with a fine stranger
with a smile for everyone. How much
does it cost, anyway? I would buy it
and keep it in my pocket, together
with either sunshine or sweet rain,
depending on the season of (what
could be called) love. And I sing
like Joni Mitchell sometimes, too,
like today, I could drink a case of

Although this early I know
I could not have you so easily,
as you are trapped by this wall
erected by some stupid
love of yours for some stupid
(son of a/b*tch), or so I heard.
But nonetheless, I am thankful
for the little moments spent
on one night: me, you,
my brusqueness, your finesse.
My sleepiness, your wakefulness.
Looking back, I was just a boy,
standing weak in front of
draft beer and cocktails. But you,
you are fine in the nicest way,
and nice in the finest.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Makoy Dakuykoy's "Emotero"

There's an "emo" in all of us.

And whilst I don't get to read and write at all lately, my friend Mark has just released his second awesome book. (He didn't pay me to advertise this; worse, he didn't give me discount for the two copies I bought...)

"Mark Angeles, also known for his cybermoniker Makoy Dakuykoy, releases his 2nd indie book, Emotero.

The book is a collection of 88 100-word narratives inside a story. One day, the main character Karl Mensaje received a package. Its content: a notebook full of stories. Angeles dares us to step into the labyrinth of the book.

He poses, “Is it a collection of stories or a book-length short story? Are the stories drabbles or prose poems?” “I laid down a handful of puzzles in Emotero,” he added. “Start with the main character. Even the book cover design is an enigma. They are all related. You have to read the book from cover to cover to understand the mystery.”

Emotero tells the tales of a prostitute, a bisexual, a transexual, an embalmer, a magician, a prison warden, tollgate keeper, fortune teller, magician, ex-military, sympathizer and member of New People’s Army among others. Even the stories of a cow, a goat, and a sheep.

Angeles’s first indie book, Patikim, a collection of his notorious love poems has been received well by both the academe and literary enthusiasts. He is a Palanca awardee and an activist."


To order: send an email to Or msg me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How I Met Dog No. 5

Hush, puppy!

So my sister and I were on our way to the palengke to buy fish and rice and dog food when from up the dog heavens appeared my Dog No. 5. And he’s no ordinary dog. My newest child is a cute, adorable foundling with very long ears who was eating grass and scouring the garbage for anything that could be eaten. I didn’t want to get him at first since it would have been a form of stealing and that he might bite. Ergo my sister and I walked on, but some divine power tugged at my dog-loving heart, and so apart from the dog food which I intended to buy for my three hungry dogs at home, I also bought a leash so that I could go back to the barren grassland where we spotted the “stray” dog and rescue him.

By the time we returned to the lot, the dog wasn’t there anymore. I felt deep in my bones, though, that he couldn’t have gone too far. So we walked on further and there he was, down the street across the Zagu Pearl Shake store, still digging for food, mud and twigs stuck to his ears and body. I quickly took a handful of Beef Pro Puppy pellets and tossed it to the ground. When I sensed that he’s no biter, I took some more dog food and let him feed off my hand. He was hungry as hell, he must have been out on the streets at least two days. So I slowly tied the leash around his neck and then hailed a tricycle. A part of me felt like I was a kidnapper, but the better, stronger, handsomer part of me dictated that I am saving someone who could die of starvation or disease or end up with drunk people who like eating exotic dishes.

It was when we reached home when I finally remembered the word I’ve been looking for: Dachschund. My uncle said 'hush puppies,' but I corrected him: Dachschund, in my best attempt to sound German. And so my little sister got to learn another spelling bee word. So I fed him more and gave him water, and then came out the soundliest gulps from the Animal Kingdom we’ve ever heard. He was really, awfully starved and thirsty. We could also see and feel his spine and rib bones through his black fur. My mom pitied him so much, especially that it rained so hard last night, where in the world did he stay out?

My three dogs weren’t very welcoming towards him, as expected; there was a long series of smelling and barking and more smelling of each other's snouts and asses. But I know my one-year-old, white Dog No. 3, Tan-tan, will get along fine with him. They’re almost the same size, and I could already foresee a riotous dog play around the house. My Dog No. 4, Tentay, and the only bitch, kept yelping in her soprano voice, but I know pretty soon they’ll be civil housemates. We are yet to introduce him to our big brown Dog No. 1, Bogart, whom we had to keep in our big dog/cat house (what used to be our sari-sari store) lest a barako fight might erupt. We're too familiar about this alpha male complex, and we had to plan their “introduction” well.

Instantly my whole family fell in love with this cute dachshund who is no longer a puppy but has the size of one. I figure he's about two years old, judging from his teeth and his developed man-nipples, but just the same, to us he is a new puppy. We couldn’t carry him yet and hug him because he smells terrible, he had the odour of someone who hasn't bathed for two weeks. But he’s very gentle and lets anyone touch him, unlike most dachshunds who are rather standoffish to strangers. He doesn’t mind our other dogs, too, but there’s just one problem: he keeps barking at our cats!

Everytime I bring home a new dog, my mom would always get nostalgic about Dog No. 2, Princess, our beautiful puppy (mix of Spaniel-Spitz-Beagle) who died of parvo two years ago. Perhaps she was the divine spirit who urged me to rescue this poor long-eared vagabond in search of a home and in need of love. And so there goes the story of how I met Dog No. 5.

So, what name did I give him? Well, after much thought: Zagu.

ERRATUM: My new dog is not Dachshund, after all. Thanks to Anne V for clarifying it: Zagu is a Basset hound. :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No such thing as bad bye

This particular stream of words and thoughts will not use the word love (well, just this once) for I am definitely not in love with you (okay, make that twice). I want you to know, however, that you are special to me even though it could never have been obvious—well, for obvious reasons. It wasn’t meant to be, not that I would have wanted anything to mean something. Now, let me tell you that when I use indefinite pronouns at least twice in a single sentence, such as what I just did, that means something special. Oh, I already said you are special to me. Well, you are special, just as you are, without any reference to me. And you know you are. And I told you that. Not per se, but you know what I mean. I’m glad I did, at least at the very last time which is, in fact, an irony for a first moment. Some things begin last. Well, isn’t that a swell oxymoron! Or was I a moron for not having taken chances?

My thoughts are as mixed up and muddied and confusing like that 13th zodiac sign brouhaha, but I want you to know that if things worked out differently, if I had behaved better (not that I had misbehaved or anything), I would have really wanted you. I am listening to P_____ N______’s albums right now without looking at the titles of songs. I love the rustic tunes, but I never get to know their titles, really. Maybe his music could work as a metaphor for you: I don’t look, I just listen. Sometimes I would shut my eyes and just listen. To you. And I would feel your soul, one that’s so gentle I would think it was mine to bathe in forever. Well, that f word’s an exaggeration. Just like, er, love. So I would just swim in your reverie, without you knowing it. Sometimes hear, but always listen. To you. Even if you were not there. As you are now.

If P___ N____ doesn't work for you, let me just sing in the similar laidback fashion of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová: I don't know you, but I want you all the more for that...

Hey, do you ever think of me? Even ill thoughts would be fine, haha. Now I think of what could have been. Poets of the world, why does “hi” rhyme with “bye”? I’ve said good bye, haven’t I? And yes, it’s a good one.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Living in a Library

Reading is an activity subsequent to writing--more resigned, more civil, more intellectual. - Jorge Luis Borges

What used to be just a crazy home idea finally happened: my housemate and I sorted and catalogued our books as we moved to the apartment unit nextdoor. And it's not even our books, it's our other housemates.' Well, that's what I get from choosing to live with a UP professor, a UP student, and another bookworm of a friend. And being a former Comparative Literature student myself, this should definitely feel like heaven for me.

So there were more than 400 books logged, and those are just the literary books, because we wanted to keep track of which novels we have at home and eventually make a reading list. We ended up sorting in these categories: novels, poetry/tula, short stories/anthologies, children's lit, young adult lit, Philippine fiction in English, panitikang pilipino, and essays/memoirs. There was a special section for Japanese authors, and of course, we had a separate shelf for our favorite authors: Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and Michael Chabon. And those are just half of the whole collection that my housemates have; the others, un-catalogued, are non-fiction books on sociology, politics, economics, Marxism, feminist and gender studies, cinema, documentary filmmaking, media studies, anthropology, cultural studies, photography, and other fields of interest like sign language and sex. We were so overwhelmed by the humongous collection, and it is so much more difficult now to decide which one to pick and read first.

Although our apartment is usually messy like hell, I love this home of ours, because it makes me feel good, even just the sight and smell of all these books, which I believe must number almost a thousand already. I figure that if I would be able to read them all, I'd be so damn smart and crazy, but intellectual, (in a sexy way) nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Details in the Fabric (Jason Mraz et James Morrisson)

If it's a broken part, replace it
If it's a broken arm, then brace it
If it's a broken heart, then face it

Saturday, January 1, 2011

To Owe Juan One

A New Year Monologue

What comes next may not necessarily reflect the pun and fun in the title of this post. But for the sake of instant creativity, let’s say I’m calling my blogsite Juan, which, yes, could also pertain to the archetypal Filipino—but I digress too quickly like always, and to imply that I have so much social relevance in me may sound pretentious—so let’s just go back to “Juan,” my blog personified with a new name, but just for today, alright, and let me say then that I owe him big time, because I haven’t paid my respects to this sweet electronic home of mine, I haven't blogged for so long, and so, indeed, I owe Juan one.

It’s amazing how that previous paragraph counted more than a hundred words already yet had very little essence. Life, my life, that is, may have been like that lately. Too many events, developments, if you will, but hardly enough significance. Or maybe this is just me indulging in self-pity again. I guess it’s because I’ve been listening more and more to D____ R____’s songs in the wee hours of the morning, which is considered taboo: You do not listen to D____ R____ in the darkness of the night lest you will be driven mad by the most artful, romantic, and poetic but nevertheless suicide-inducing music ever!

But let’s leave my good friend Damien alone; this post is not about music or suicide or death, but rather self-introspection, new beginnings, and, well, life. Whoever is not urged by the onset of a new year urges to look back into the past year, to see what we have done, what have become of us, and what have not? Positivists would say, count our blessings and aspire for more. Looking back now, my own 2010 has not been that bad. Actually, it was exciting. I didn’t have a car, or got a raise, or have some awesome love/lust life. Nothing “major-major,” really, but still, it wasn’t that bad.

Wait, (as I pause in writing now), I realise that when someone uses the phrase “not bad” instead of “good,” that means something, right? (Shit, now I have just used two indefinite pronouns in one sentence; had I/it been so freaking bad?) Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I could have been so much better. But still, who wouldn’t? Maybe the man (or woman) who won the 700-million-peso lotto jackpot. Well, he/she may be so freaking rich now, but is he/she really happy? (I had to say that rhetorical question, for the sake of emotional argument, but deep-down inside, I really think whoever that super millionaire is must be so freaking happy now.)

Going back to the pith of my post, I’m glad to say that I’m still thankful for everything that went my way in the past year. I don’t intend to define or measure my happiness right now, but let me just say, I’m not “that sad.” So whatever transpired in my 2010 anyway? Well, I finally left ABS-CBN and am now working for a new (non-television) company somewhere across UP. And oh, UP: I was admitted to the open university program last year, but I didn’t, couldn’t, pursue it. Maybe this year? I don’t know, I don’t think so. I visited the campus a couple of times last year and felt that it wasn’t the same great school I left six years ago. But that’s another topic…

So what else? Right, I was in love. Not just once, but twice! (Or thrice was it?) And got heartbroken, too, not just once, but twice! (Or thrice was it?) I, too, may have broken some people’s hearts. I can’t be too assuming; I’m not as hot as I used to be, haha! And I would rather be the “heartbreakee” than heartbreaker. It was an exciting year, I told you. But again, that warrants another blog post.

On friendships, I got into some real serious quarrel with an old friend. And then months later, we’d patch things up. What reconciled us: Distance. I also met a couple of interesting new friends. And interested ones, hehe.

On being an ________, it was generally an uncreative year for me. I did not go back to ___________ like I planned. I still haven’t bought a guitar despite having bookmarked too many guitar lesson websites and even made deals with actual guitar tutors. And about writing, like I’ve said, for a long time I haven’t blogged, which is already the simplest form of writing for me. Which means I did not write at all. Well, I studied and wrote some poetry last summer, but beyond that I had no work of art (or work of heart) that would have been worth publishing and sharing to the world. Plus I got rejected by two national writing workshops, and as usual got depressed and lost confidence in myself, and so I did not submit at all to any writing contest. I could have applied to the Ateneo Workshop, but I was too faithless and lazy to write at the time. The closest I got to being creative is writing English subtitles for indie films. But that wasn’t too challenging. It was more of translation than real writing. I have a whole library of untouched books back at home, and the apartment I now live in has even more awesome books that are just waiting, begging to be read. I didn’t just did not write, I did not read too. This part of my life really sucked. I always thought of myself as a writer who may never change the world, but could his own, yet I was always preoccupied with, uhmm, procrastinating. If I were to make a concrete new year resolution, it should be this simple: To Read and Write.

I didn’t get richer, too. That one’s obvious. Dead broke a couple of times, jobless for a while. Bought a new laptop, though, but no new phone. I’ve never been a gadgety guy, anyway. (Because if I were I wouldn't use the word gadgety.) I didn’t have new shoes or jeans either. And I did not travel at all. No trip out of the country, not even beyond Luzon. Nothing more to put in the log sheet of acquired things. So I’m afraid I’m still someone who could look and sound sosyal, but is so dugyot deep inside.

Oh, yes, but of course, I got a new puppy named Stanley whom eventually got called “Tan-tan” (a pet's got to have a pet name!). A fluffy white bunch of joy who has dugyot blood too but mixed with some handsome spaniel breed, he is the current love of my life. (And he’s turning a year old on 9 January, on the very feast day of the Nazareno.) Tan-tan is like my second child, after my twelve-year-old sister Kim, who is actually my niece, but is really more like a daughter to me. See, that alone sounds complicated. I guess that’s just my life. Not just my 2010, I suspect this new year, too, as all my future years will be.

As far as I can tell I murdered no one, or got anybody pregnant, or stole anything that costs more than twenty pesos last year. If every January I have to be thankful for I’m alive and that my family’s healthy, well, that can’t be too bad, eh? So I guess it was a good year, after all. But who am I kidding? I could be writing this in the new year of 1999 or 2012, and still mean and feel the same. A cycle of regrets and hopes, that’s just how life goes. I think what counts is that one has the sanity and strength to look back and feel, and move on and feel. If we all could feel the energy to be good or power to be better only once a year, then this is the best time for that, when we are starting all over.

So who is Juan, really? He could be this blog which is a blog post richer today, an impassioned one at that. And Juan could be you, my reader(s), whom I wouldn’t really urge to read my articles here any further, as this is just full of my emotional crap and shitty heart.

Or perhaps Juan is myself, and I am Juan. And I owe Juan so much.