New Ears

Last year’s early quarantine managed to change my audio perspective. Since I got nothing much to do at home (after finishing the take home tasks) I would hang out at several social media sites to pass the time. One of my students have been posting his dance vids and one of them caught my attention. It was Ryujin’s shoulder pop move from Itzy’s Wannabe.

I got really impressed by the choreo and so I searched and watched the entire video. Little did I know that I was diving right into this new musical hole.

Here’s the thing: I really don’t listen to KPop that much. In fact, during pre-quarantine era the only girl group that I listened to was Blackpink because their beats remind of electronic/tech music I used to love in the past. Itzy is part of that musical range and so I checked their other stuff — eventually getting me hooked on Dalla Dalla and Icy. Soon enough, YouTube’s algorithm caught on, showing a web of other KPop acts on the sidebar.

By the end of 2020, I was quite into the following: Itzy, Twice, Red Velvet, Stray Kids, and Loona. And at the beginning of 2021 I started listening to (G)I-dle and Mamamoo.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t change my musical taste. In fact, I expanded it, and somehow my whole head got rewired, making me appreciate more the things which I find difficult to understand. The language barrier is real, but the music remains accessible and open. Soon enough I find myself extending my ears beyond KPop, slowly treading through other musical acts from Asia.

I made a Spotify KPop mixtape with the help of my friends over at Facebook last year. Early this year I made another mixtape which is composed of mostly Southeast Asian acts (some Filipino tracks included). I’m really digging these stuff right now, and I’m quite happy to have fallen in love with music which feels more closer to home.

[Not] Looking Back

Much has been stripped from me last year due to the pandemic, namely: our hobby haven (and along with it — the sustainment of that hobby), organizational matters (as it was supposed to be rebooted at the start of school year 2020-2021), and my ability to hold an event (since I don’t get to coordinate and organize big and small activities which involve community building). On top of that I won’t be teaching any time soon (since the teachers who were on study leave are now back, and so ‘my watch has ended.’)

Of course, our lifestyle has changed. The first two months of quarantine has warped our capability to socialize. We’re more cautious and paranoid now, and our capacity to even touch (hi five, handshake, hug, etc…) has totally diminished, if not gone. We tried to stay healthy, but being in semi-isolation without any social contact (especially if you don’t have internet) had affected much of our emotional state (that and I couldn’t go to the gym, so I got heavier again).

Our national government still has a lot of answering to do in terms of managing the crisis (they’re still doing a crappy job until now — as the curve hasn’t been lowered , and mass testing is nothing but fiction), and the population is getting angrier. Perhaps there’s a tipping point somewhere, especially now that government actions have become more militaristic with all the strange arrests and constant red tagging. Suddenly, critics have become communists in the eyes of the officials.

And yet we’re still here, trying our best to survive, trying our best to keep our sanity in check. There’s so much to do this 2021, so much catching up. We kinda know now how the machine operates. We hope to be more vigilant.

Anxieties

Been figuring out ways to conquer my daily anxieties — symptoms include unproductivity, low confidence, self-loathing. If you see me biting my nails I’m unknowingly signalling my internal jitters. I shuffle my cards and do some solitary game of Magic: the Gathering just to kill the mass flies buzzing in my brain. I overwork my mind to numb it, like how limbs become numb after moments of carrying loads upon loads of personal burden.

The day is long, and simple tasks feel so heavy by just thinking about them. Overthinking is a dangerous habit. I try to silence my mind, but it retaliates by showing me images of recurring loneliness. I try to drink to drown out specific sorrows, but comfort is fleeting. I am doomed. I think I’m only making things worse.

So here I am writing. Trying to make sense out of everything.

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Updates: 20//20

Holy shit it’s been a while. 2020 has arrived. Felt like I’ve been asleep for a long, long time. I can’t promise anything this year, but I’ll do my best to catch up on things that were left hanging ages ago.

I had a good hiatus from almost everything, and now it’s time for me to go back to the worktable and do shit — probably finish a pending project or two. Much has been learned; much has been unlearned. I’ve no idea what went on with the local literary scene, and maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should just forge forward and see what happens.

I’m playing by ear right now, and will probably improvise a whole lot more. The first month of the year is over (it was over 10 days ago, haha) — so time to get going and get grinding.

See you around, I guess. Good to be back.

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UnRusting

I’m drafting something here on my blog ‘coz I wish to know what writing feels like, again. The last entry I uploaded was over a year ago, and I’ve developed this itch of doing something which was once a huge part of my life.

I wish to feel like a writer again, be a writer — it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten my own promise.

———

As I’ve mentioned ages ago, I got burned out by all the politicking coming from various groups (perhaps even coming from our won). I felt useless as the local system still preys upon the voiceless and the new. It’s an ugly, ugly sight. The cobwebs have thickened and spread out, and I decided to take a huge step back just to take a chill pill from all of it.

I’ve been outside the game, and when I take a peek from the window, somehow I’ve seen the bigger picture. I think I now know what I can and should do when I go back to the “game.” I was hurt and maybe I’m still hurt — or maybe I’ve started to design my pain, this frustration. Geez, I gotta stop the blame game already and move forward.

——-

There’s just so many things to go back to — so many mistakes to correct. I feel daunted by what’s ahead of me, but the light inside still flickers, and maybe I’m a little more prepared now than 10 years ago, when I was but a clueless nerd in my own hometown. Maybe this time things will be different. Maybe.

Sili Games

So I’ve been away from the literary loop lately. I got bummed, burned out, bored. Maybe I just wanted to be away from the madness and politics and the entire fucking system for a while and find time to just be “myself” again — whatever that means. I shared my situation with people close to me recently, told them I hit another wall. I’ve been thinking about just closing things which don’t work anymore. The organization’s end is nigh, as the the age of democratized literature just made the group irrelevant (it’s the zeitgeist which I have to respect; ALA is no longer needed). Even our group outside campus has somehow slowly dissipated, everyone went to their separate ways. Sad but true, but listen: I’m not angry. Not angry at all.


 

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But hey, I’m still here, looking for ways to get myself busy. Just last year I started playing Magic: the Gathering again. I also taught my wife how to play and now she’s an active deck brewer. We’ve already participated in local tournaments, and even organized just a handful since last year.

I have a love-hate relationship with this game. I love it as much as I hate some parts of it (most of which are related to finance and other uncontrollable factors). But I gotta admit the game had a big impact on me as I was growing up.

I remember the time, back when I visited my sister in Manila, when she showed me this handout featuring photocopied pictures of cards (it was in the late 90s) from her class in which some of her classmates had a “show-and-tell,” picking MtG as the subject. Despite the low quality, the pictures got me intrigued. Instead of getting intimidated by the jargons and numbers, I got pulled in. Maybe it was the campy feel, maybe it was the cheese, maybe it was so one-of-a-kind feel that got me saying I wanted it. I wanted it so, so bad.

In December of that same year my sister got me my first started deck (it was Ice Age). Holy shit.


I saw the game “grow up.” I saw communities grow and die and grow again around the game. The card rules have been simplified and streamlined, and its mythology/lore-design have become more complex and welcoming. The art direction is now sensitive to cultures and groups, getting more fans coming from smaller, specific subcultures. Perhaps I can write about it later.


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Aside from MtG I’m also into other tabletop gaming these days. I love low-tech gaming. I love exercising personal imaginations. I like messing with constraints. Though I may be in some weird hiatus from writing, I have actually been active in crafting lore via Dungeons and Dragons. I’m the group’s Dungeon Master, and we’re currently eight episodes deep into our campaign. So far the player turnout has been great, and the players have been very committed with the characters they’ve created.


Most of the time you can spot me at Dice Boardgame Cafe during weekends, playing MtG, rolling a D20, or trying out a new boardgame (I love Pandemic, Tokaido, and Splendor).

Room;Loss

ALA lost its office.

I know it’s supposed to be a bummer, but a part of me sighed with deep relief upon reading the news. I don’t know — maybe because the room itself has become more of a crutch, or worse: a disabler.

When we were awarded an office back in 2012, we were happy over the fact that somehow we achieved to become legit. It was an accomplishment not only for the organization, but also for each member — what we all did have meaning; what we worked hard for provided a just reward. It was one of the high points of the organization, and I will always remember the day when the Office of Student Affairs released the announcement of assigning organizational rooms at Xavier Hall to deserving student groups.

But things changed. Sure, the office served its basic functions: as a meeting place for officers, as a venue for literary discussions, and as a library which holds a number of random books. However, it also had its fair share of misuse and awkward (to weird) moments. During the early days after acquiring the office, when no one was around, couples would use it as a place to show their physical intimacies. It became a sleeping venue for a lot of members, displacing those who would like to just go there to read books or write stuff. Sometimes the room got a little too noisy because the members were either watching a movie or listening to music. Stuff disappear (A LOT) or forgotten (most of the time). Some members felt more alienated whenever they were there. There was this one instance when a student failed a subject due to overcutting. The reason: the student opted to hang out in the office instead of attending class.

There were a lot of  instances when the ALA office had lost its meaning. And even though the room was given a lot of clean-up and repainting, it still felt old & faceless. Sometimes I would go there to speak with members, only to feel drained after stepping out of the door. And despite such cases, people were still protective over it. When another organization was assigned to share the room with ALA, some of the members took a passive-aggressive move to post reminders displaying dominance, and I thought to myself, “for what?”

The room was becoming a rotten womb. It became too much of a comfort zone and the kids inside found it difficult to get out. When there was an event (fund raising, papercup session, etc…), instead of choosing a different venue, officers would opt to use the room instead. I saw this as a sign of complacency, and deep inside I felt disappointed.


Yesterday, while I was mulling over our loss I asked myself if we really deserve it. When I visited the room I saw a member sleeping on the couch. I saw the dusty corners. I saw a lot of non-literary materials randomly placed on the shelf and tables. I saw sadness. I saw the could’ve beens and should’ve beens. I saw what I needed to see.

Yes. We deserve to lose the office.


I miss the days when ALA was still young, when the members had no place to stay. They were all hungry, and they worked hard to get the goal.

With the room gone, I saw it as a sign to reboot the organization,  to take away the useless burden placed on the back of each new batch.

Time to start things over.


The ALA office is no more. Long live the ALA office. 

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Linings

The linings thin out,
just enough for the doctors
and interns to observe the tunnel
becoming translucent
within, a traffic of

patches & abuse & austerity
& bad credit & grease & rust
& bile & boil & brine
& resistance & fucking & love
& pixels & property & heat
& syntax & shame & jazz —

          diagnosis: chronic belief in invulnerability.
recommendation: an exposition of regret. 

I asked you once if the meat
was prepared properly.

You said the art was wrong,
but the procedure should suffice.

Cut the raw muscles with a blunt blade,
savor it with a sharp tongue.

2017

I guess I just need to write something before the end of the month. 2017 is here, and a lotta stuff happened last year. I’m sure you’re all sick to hear one more sad sack of shit story from 2016, and to help you out I’ll avoid such topic. January’s almost over; it’s time to look forward.


Resolutions

They’re always hit-or-miss, but at least they give some semblance of order on how to traverse towards unknown spaces. The future is scary. There’s no need to explain further, but I wish to defy any form of possible negativity by changing my internal perspective.

This year — as a brand new start for me and my wife — I wish to try harder. Raise the stakes. Just roll the dice and see the numbers. 12 fucking months of taking chances. Now that I’m out of my comfort zone, I wish to be more aware and vigilant. At the beginning of the year I ranted about the past, and then realized that I need to stop it. Just stop being a whiny little man and just fuck it. Let’s do it.

I’ll try to write more and read more — and perhaps lead more. Though the direction I wish to take in terms of leading is focused more on empowering. I’ve been reading some good stuff about Punk and Indie culture, and I’m more appreciative of people who just defied the norms of validation (cultural or academic) and just did what they needed to do. I still believe that there’s a lot of good art going on, and we need to do something about it.

I also wish to take control this year. I had bouts with ulcer last year (and I took some meds to heal myself), and this year I’m still feeling some pins and pangs in my gut. I wish to be well. It’s a whole lotta work, but I need think well. I had some consultation with my doc last week (he gave some medical suggestions), but I also wish to explore some alternative healing. I just hope that I’m right about this one. I just gotta follow my gut feel. No pun intended.