BLTX Naga: DIYos Mabalos!

It all started when our little group, Meet-Every-Other-Weekend (MEOW) Club, decided to participate in BLTX IX in Cubao last December. There we were able to meet and chat with Adam & Chingbee (members of the Youth and Beauty Brigade and founders of the event), and get to know what a small press/DIY expo feels like.

From what I can recall Adam opened the possibility of holding the next BLTX here in Naga City (previous ones — the regional visits — were held in Davao and Baguio). Of course, there was much hesitation since 1]  we really don’t a zine scene in Bikol (though there were groups who were into self-publication & komix), and 2] organizing stuff like this one is tricky, especially when the region’s climate is set to ‘rain [a lot]’ most of the time. But Adam recommended that the initial event doesn’t have to be something big. A small number of participants will do just fine. And so a few weeks later, after some careful consideration and  discernment, we decided to take up the challenge of organizing Better Living Through Xeroxography here in the city.

Initially we were thinking of holding it in December, but some time in April (or May) the YBB asked if holding it in June or July was possible. We then had a discussion in our group. After the meeting, well, sure… let’s do this.

Little by little we started inviting people/groups and most of them were up to it too. Some of the MEOW members tried to find the best possible place (in the end it was Anthosia), while some invited more participants. In June, all interested groups met at a restaurant to finalize the venue, agree on how much to contribute for the reservation, and prep for the event. After a week, an official teaser ad was released.

——

30 July 2016, Saturday, BLTX Naga happened.

And it was a blast! 

The venue was packed despite the presence of a tropical storm (signal no. 1 was declared that day and it was rainy as hell in the early afternoon). Those who visited BLTX Naga soaked themselves in this fun, creative, and sometimes crazy ambiance. The crowd flow was thick & slow as they took time browsing the items and chatting with the creators. Ahj and I were just too busy coordinating with our participants, from getting food to uploading the pics to get more people to come.

What I love about the event was that I witnessed the Bikol youth meeting/interacting with our writers & artists. Some considered it as a baptism of fire (for first time publishers); some considered it as a reunion. The participating groups were satisfied to have solid sales, while a number of zines/books/stuff were sold out. Most importantly, the audience — from friends to walk-ins — were exposed to local art and literature outside mainstream channels. I’m sure that some of the kids have slowly acquired this creative itch, and I hope that they’ll be able to scratch it by producing literature/art themselves.

People were already asking when the next zine expo will be. There’s a probability that it’ll happen this December. We’ll most probably join the simultaneous BLTX celebration with Cubao, Baguio, and Davao.

——-

Other thoughts/tips on the event:

  • We had an amusing online (and personal) discussion on the pricing of the zines. There’s no standard pricing actually, but you have to make an imaginary agreement with the potential buyer. Not too high, not too low — just enough to enable you produce another batch of materials (new and/or old).
  • Bringing personal table[s] is highly recommended.
  • Bring more change: a lotta coins and smaller bills if possible.
  • People usually cram, but we highly recommend that they upload excerpts of their works as soon as possible. Get the hype early.
  • Bring personal ventilation devices & refreshments (e.g. fans, water, etc…).
  • Order food and drinks earlier to avoid hunger and dehydration. A list would be great.
  • Prepare a preview/browsing copy. Know how to pitch your stuff.
  • Just an observation, but I think there’s a need to invite more schools as participants. We had a lot of Ateneans and CBSUAns in the venue, but we hope that we’ll be able to get people from USI, UNC, NCF, and other schools in Bikol next time. Establishing solid communication channels is the key.
  • Works may hit or miss depending on personal tastes, and the audience vary. Keep your cool when they put back the stuff instead of purchasing them (it happens a lot, and it’s totally normal).
  • If you’re curious about the works, feel free to ask the authors present.

——-

Anyhoo, we wish to thank Adam David and Chingbee Cruz of the Youth & Beauty Brigade for starting all of this (may you have more BLTXs around the country), the High Chair peeps (for giving us a fresher perspective in crafting & “workshopping” poetry & production), Team Paypay (comprised of Ada, Kim, Jaypee, Eeya, and a whola lotta DACA students), the arts & crafts duo of Bem & Veeyah, Jerome & the CBSUA kids, Maki & her husband of Kataga, Joana Verdeflor & her partner who fused together fashion and poetry,  Parasurat Bikolnon/Wiki Philippines & Team Kabulig coordinated by Irvin, Dennis Gonzaga (your tarot cards rock), MEOW peeps (you know who you are!), Ateneo Literary Association, Progressive Organization of English Majors, Monique & Tina & Van & the rest of DARS, the peeps of Anthosia who took the risk of holding our event & for understanding & managing the chaos, to Lain Hilario for helping us bring some extra tables to the venue (and for the pictures shown here [extra cred goes to Mai who also took some pics using Lain’s cam]), Ma’am Doods for all the amazing support to young writers, ADNU-Center for Culture & the Arts for the financial assistance, the ADNU Supreme Student Government for the signal boost, and all you lovely, beautiful people — may you be personal friends or friends in art & literature — who took the time & effort to visit us despite the rain. DIYOS MABALOS SAINDO GABOS!

I also wish to personally thank this lovely lady who, despite being sick, gave her best to assist everyone in the venue. I love you, Ahj!

cpormxvuaaadn6s

 

Water Poems

So I’m currently crafting a series of poems based on bodies of water (sea, lake, river, etc…) which entails a mix of light erotica and meditation (and a wee bit of playfulness). The original language used for the project is Bikol. This is to reunite a piece of me with my roots, and this is to help me re-awaken some forgotten limbs of my own language.

 I’ve just posted the picture below on my Facebook account. Here’s the translation:

Water I.

I wish to drown
in your sea —
the last breath
from my lungs
shall dive
under your
wavy sheets.

——

tubig1

Move

sky

We’ve just finished our retreat on Inner Healing. I was quite surprised with the guided insights provided by our facilitator.

Just realized that there are certain childhood wounds which have yet to heal, and I don’t think I could do the patching up all by myself.

But knowing these wounds is, in fact, a consolation. Some of them may be difficult to cure, but it’s great that I’m more aware of them, and I know where to begin (and I’ll do my best to not let them fester).

 

Am

I am an irreconcilable belief system.

I am a star, falling in the mid-afternoon.

I am a broken whisper.

I am partially aware of your internal revolution.

I am the eye above your shoulder blade.

I am a system of inconsistencies.

I am a fish, swimming between your sighs.

I am a body of intimacies.

I am a conjunction: & you shall be disconnected.

I am here for your anxieties.

I am a figment of your intoxication.

I am the voice inside your nostalgia box.

I am a pre-recorded argument.

I am a sleep of depravity.

I am your situation on the horizon.

I am an exercise of denial.

I am the dog in the dark corner, waiting.

I am just teething on jagged gums.

I am the rust in your gift.

I am hidden outside privileges.

I am the unspent August — the calendar is late.

I am an a; I am the the.

On Education

To my fellow teachers:

There’s nothing wrong when a student gives you some counter-arguments in your discussion. There’s nothing wrong when a student corrects your statement/presentation/grammar (I thank him/her for that, too).

It means that they are engaged in class. It means that they’ve seen another angle in the material. It’s actually a sign that there’s going to be a healthy discussion, and it’s one of the things that we, as educators, should always look for in class.

When a student disagrees, listen carefully to his or her statement[s]. Look at the bigger picture. If you can’t give a reply at that particular moment, let the question or argument linger for a bit. Think about it.  Write about it. Dream about it. Ask people about it. Discuss it with friends over dinner. Don’t just dismiss the student’s perspective (or their character) and accuse them of being know-it-alls. Don’t you dare smart-shame them in front of everyone.

Remember: students are human beings, not programmable mindless automatons.

Tip.Toe.Tip.

I trust your hands to unravel the linings of my brain. Closer, your fingers
tiptoe along the narrow passageways where the walls hold the soft angles of
your face.


The moonlight beams through the nerves where I can only feel a solitary grin. A splintered hue vibrates in dislocated spots — I travel through the maze to pick up the particles you’ve left, like a trail, towards a half-opened gate.


A window filters the night air into tiny crystals, cold to the touch, warm to
the throat — I permit my mouth to swallow the edges of your wit, your grace,
your frown. And here I am happy to have lost my footing inside your mind.

Urban

Last Monday I was given orders to personally deliver a package to an office located somewhere in Ermita. It was just a one-day thing: I leave for Manila on Tuesday night, only to return to Naga City the following night.

It’s been a while since I last had a “solo-mission,” and though I had difficulties in my trip to the designated location I was able to once again take in all the chaos that is the Metro.

——

I arrived in Manila via bus at 5 in the morning. I then immediately checked-in in a traveler’s hotel along EDSA. After a short nap, a breakfast of Tapsilog, and freshening up, I started my trip to Ermita at around 7:30AM.

Despite the allowance provided by the office I resisted all the urge to hail a cab. Morning wasn’t rainy, and I wanted to feel the flow of the city again. Back in college I was all into public transportation as it was cheaper and easier.

I took the LRT2 train to Recto (which wasn’t a problem). I just realized that the crowd inside had thickened. Back in college not much people were still using (or even aware of) the LRT2. I still love this train line. It runs smooth, it’s wide, and the people inside are orderly.

The other lines — MRT & LRT1 — suck.

——

When I got out of the train my real ‘adventure’ started. I thought I was all ready because before I took the Metro trip I had consulted with Google Map to check which jeepneys to ride. I had even consulted with a correspondent from Ermita to ask for some advice on which route to take. I thought it was gonna be easy. I was fucking wrong.

Holy shit there were a lot of possible jeepney routes. And the small, confusing markers in front of the vehicles didn’t actually help. I got confused and so I started asking around — from security guards, to traffic enforcers, to street barkers. They all gave me confusing directions.

I took Plan B: I walked along Recto. I looked at my watch. 8:15AM. Not bad. Perhaps I still had time.

While walking I took in all the details: people waiting for their ride, dogs chained in the street corners, people sleeping on cardboards, shops selling similar wares [DVDs, clothes, cigarettes, electronics, gadgets, etc…], sidewalk stalls selling watches and jewelries, cheap cinemas featuring X-Rated movies, people smoking everywhere, the symphony of engine sounds — everything.

——-

Upon reaching Escolta I saw a bridge. Should I cross it and continue walking?

I stopped. A lot of jeepneys converged in the area and I felt that it the right place to look for the right ride. For the last time I asked help from someone. This time from a random guy who was also waiting for his ride.

“Just get the one with Mabini and Baclaran,” he said. “Ask the driver if he’ll pass Sta Monica. If he says yes — that’s your ride.”

“Will one pass by here?”

“Of course,” he answered. He got on a jeepney a few seconds later. Lucky bastard.

I waited for more minutes. The morning heat was getting heavier. My shirt was all damp with sweat and dirt. I looked at the passing jeepneys. The one with the “Mabini-Baclaran” route was nowhere to be seen. I looked at the bridge, I remembered the printed map. Was I still that far? Should I just continue walking?

An empty cab was right in front of me. Should I get it. Fuck no. Not yet.

I waited a little longer. I thought I spotted a slow-moving jeepney with a “Mabini-Baclaran” route but I wasn’t really sure, and it wasn’t stopping. I ran after it.

I asked the driver if he was passing Sta Monica. He nodded. Yes. I got in.

——

Aaaand Ermita was still far. Good thing I decided to get a ride. We passed by Intramuros, then Luneta, then United Nations Avenue. When we got to MH DelPilar the view became familiar. I finally spotted the right landmarks: Andok’s Chicken, 7-Eleven, Amazonia Bar, and a small red plaza. Thank god for Google Street View.

When I saw my target (Ermita Center) I asked the driver to stop. I thanked him. I went inside the building and successfully delivered the package. It was 9:30AM.

Going back was easier.

——

trip

——

Achievement Unlocked: No Taxi.

——

After my business trip I went to Katipunan to check some art supplies at the Common Room, to check for new titles at Fully Booked, and to grab some lunch. I thought about visiting my alma mater across the street but I decided not to. My feet, still encased in battered Chuck Taylors, were getting sore. After eating lunch I looked at the sky: the clouds were getting heavier. I decided to go back to the hotel.

It was a good choice. As soon as I arrived in my hotel, the rain started to fall.

——

In the evening I passed the time in Cubao X. I was tired. I bought two bottles of beer. I looked above and noticed the mix of old and new structures. The place continues to evolve into a complete stranger. I have lost my ties with this city years ago.

The music was just fine, the people weren’t rowdy (it was still early), the sky looked lovely. How I wished for Ahj to be there with me.

7

——-

I used to go to the Metro every year to remember my old self. These days it just sucks to be in the urban chaos alone.

Flake

Your lips are brittle
this time. A great deal
of skin came off ––

Once, I picked up a flake
and mistook it
for an old rose petal.

It’s still here:
a bookmark tucked
between Chapter VII
and your written thoughts.