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!



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.




So, Better Living Through Xeroxography IX happened two weeks ago…

Ahj and I are still dazed. It felt great to see people of varying creative styles and perspectives come together in one place. It was all too surreal to finally see in person the people behind the books in our collection of indie titles or online literary journals. All the stuff they get to share, all the concepts they get to pass around. Gah! The creative energy was contagious! The people at BLTX were so nice (salamat Adam and Chingbee!), and it felt like a reunion of sorts as I got to see familiar faces (Charles! Joseph! Nante!).

What makes BLTX critically important is that it amplifies the voice of indie/new writers.  The event itself inspired us to create more, to ‘make good art’ further.

The event was also an invitation for courage: it was MEOW’s first time to join. We had no idea if our participation would be successful or not, but we still decided to come because 1) we wanted to become a part of this really, really fun event; 2) we were just a bunch unknowns and we had nothing to lose anyway; and 3) we wanted to get our stuff out there and see what would happen (we had a lot unpublished workshopped materials and it was, I think, the only sane direction to take).

People, from friends to strangers, took a chance buying our prose and poetry. I’ve no idea if they liked our works or not, but the experience left us all thankful. Thank you for buying our zines, and we hope that you enjoy them.


There were also a lot of things we’ve learned in terms of sale and production:

  • Experiment further with the physical form. There was someone who crafted the book upon purchase (it was hypnotic to watch actually). Vinz had this long accordion-type publication (which was sold out in a blink, huhuhu). High Chair also sold limited copies of signed ‘frame-able’ poems.
  • Improve presentation. My goodness — I saw some high-caliber covers! They’re so beautiful! On MEOW’s table, Leir’s work was a hit because the people responded to the fun title.
  • Provide a guide and/or simple spiel. One thing Ahj and I forgot: making a chart of prices to make it easier for passing people to see. A simple spiel from consignees could also have been helpful, especially when others asked what the zines were about.
  • Invest on tools for production. I’ve just realized that the long stapler and cutters we used were all borrowed. I guess it’s time to invest on these materials for future productions. Will also look for good cutters, as mine are already rusty and unreliable. A good long steel ruler would also be nice. I also prefer using the small cutter instead of the board cutter.
  • Prepare ready/spare change. Break big bills into smaller bills & coins for convenience.



One last thing:

BLTX naga
Poster by Adam David


Yeah. It’s happening. The build-up may be a little daunting, but hey: let’s all spread the creative love.

The Door (an October Post)


My view of the office door is partially blocked by the wall of a cubicle. From where I am in the room I can only see its upper portion. Whenever I’m expecting someone — a meeting, consultation, paper submission, or a scheduled delayed exam — the door never fails to taunt me with its consistent movement. Arrivals are always a tease; to wait is to outlast forever.

It opens, or at least moves a bit — sometimes fairly quick, sometimes excruciatingly slow. I expect footsteps, or someone to say “Is this Mr Salvosa’s office?” Sometimes the person who opens the door is looking for another person, an officemate or my boss. Sometimes the person is just lost or clueless on where the other offices are located.

The door opens within my peripheral vision, and I lower my head in my attempt to avoid such distraction especially when I’m catching deadlines or whenever I’m thinking hard about something. But the door is always there, it cannot change its position.

Sometimes it opens, gently, and no one enters the room. It usually happens whenever I’m alone, especially at around seven or eight in the evening. I would just stare at the space on my left, expecting someone to appear.

But no one is there. No footsteps. Just the air and silence. The door clicks to mark its closing.

Water Color; Doodle

So I was supposed to use this for a poster, but during that time I had no access to any scanner. So I photographed it and it was really bad, forcing me to ‘vectorize’ the image.

Here’s the original art.



Here’s also a sketch of Ahj and me chomping on popcorn as we watch X-Men: Days of Future Past.



…aaaand this one was made earlier. I used this illustration for our grade school brochure.