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.
The linings thin out,
just enough for the doctors
and interns to observe the tunnel
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.
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.
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.
How many letters have been found
between forgotten pages? Fragile little notes trapped
in the gutters, resting on receipts, coupons, strips
of quick wit barely holding intimate banters,
breaking action, disrupting drama, pausing
the author’s unfolding of a quiet scene.
Once, a torn tissue held a scribbled question:
“Will late dinner suffice?”
Perhaps the answer was trapped somewhere
in another book, another shelf, another time.
(for R & S. I found your book)
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!
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:
I wish to drown
in your sea —
the last breath
from my lungs
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).
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.