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!



5 of 60

Goals. They’re such a pain to catch. This year I promised to redeem myself by reaching my personal quota of reading 60 books. The mark was originally set last 2015 but I was able to reach only 41. (You can check my finished list over at Goodreads)

I realized that I was aggressive during the first quarter of 2015, only to start lagging when summer  arrived. I remember it being a stressful time because Ahj and I were trying to organize this writing seminar to be held at the end of April. But hey — excuses, excuses. Let’s do this.

So here I go again, with 60 books as the set goal. Right now I’m done with 5 (with 5 being the ideal number of books to read per month), and I’m trying to finish two more before the end of the month.

Anyways, here are the books from my finished stack:

  • Imagination’s Way (Gemino Abad)
  • Alipato (Benilda Santos)
  • Salamanca (Dean Alfar)
  • Nymph of MTV (Angelo Suarez)
  • The Professor’s Daughter (Joanne Sfar)

My pending list (or books I’ve yet to finish reading):

  • Drone (Allan Popa)
  • Si Crispin (Tony Perez)
  • Quiet (Susan Cain)
  • Literary Theory: An Introduction (Terry Eagleton)
  • How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (Edward Hirsch)

I also made a resolution to read more stuff written by local authors. Just a while ago I energized myself by getting lost once again in the Filipiniana section of the library. It’s a restricted area, and only staff and faculty members could access the place (much to our convenience). There’s just so many good books on the shelves but unfortunately I think I’m the only one who bothers to go there. Such a shame actually.

Bibliophanage 2014


{Of Books; the Now}

Just this morning a couple of students asked me what shows I follow on TV. I answered the usual Game of Thrones, with Brooklyn 99 thrown in. I forgot to mention that I also watch Da Vinci’s Demons (because it’s campy and shit). Let’s also add Adventure Time (haven’t seen season 5 yet) and some series to-watch-soonTrue Detective and Silicon Valley, though I’m not sure if I can commit to any series this semester, since I’m swamped with a frakload of units and responsibilities. Continue reading “Bibliophanage 2014”

Bibliophanage: a Warehouse of Books

Just two months ago my colleague in the office recommended that I should visit this big warehouse located in an obscure alley somewhere in Concepcion. He told me that cheap imported books were being sold there. His evidence: a book of poems by T.S. Eliot. Being a book nut I took the bait without question and informed Ahj that we were about to embark on a little book adventure.

We initially missed the place ‘coz we failed to spot the landmark which was this beer brewery. We just realized our being off our destination when the jeep that we were riding had already reached the edge of its last stop. After slapping our foreheads for not paying attention we then took another jeep (which was just a trip back to where we started). We were more vigilant in our attempt to find the landmark. A few minutes later, with our eyes ever unblinking, we finally found the brewery and asked the driver to drop us there.

We then walked amidst the three o’clock heat and the zooming sounds of speeding trucks from the highway. We spotted a narrow street and asked a tenant from a nearby sari-sari store about this warehouse of books.

We were totally in the right direction, she confirmed. She then told us to turn right at the end of the alley. We found this unassuming gate with a skinny dog in a corner. There wasn’t any signage indicating the presence of books nearby–we hesitated to enter the gate. So we asked the guy who was standing in front if there were books being sold inside. He told us to come right in, and so we did and we saw this:

 DSC04863 Continue reading “Bibliophanage: a Warehouse of Books”

Bibliophanage: August 2012

August has been generous in providing me with books on poetry. As my fingers dug their way through the stack I was surprised to find these:


Here we have Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy edited by Joanne Gabbin, War Surgery by Karen Mulhallen, Repair by C,K. Williams, and The Door by Margaret Atwood (which was taken out of the shelf by KC).


I just wanna share an excerpt from C.K. Williams’s poem, The Poet:

I always knew him as “Bobby the Poet,” though whether he was ever one or not,
someone who lives in words, making a world from their music, might be a question.


And a little bit  from Margaret Atwood. Here’s an excerpt from It’s Autumn:

It’s autumn. The nuts patter down.
Beechnuts, acorns, black walnuts —
tree orphans thrown to the ground
in their hard garments.

Simply beautiful.

Bibliophanage: July 2012

A surprise find — this is the first time I’ve ever seen a book by Octavio Paz. I’m having difficulty remembering the teacher who kept on raving about the author back in college.

UPDATE: Well this is swell. I went to the other branch and saw a good copy of this:

I have the 1996 anthology and I remember enjoying every story in the book. Also, what made me buy this in an instant was the fact that the 2002 anthology features the work of Kevin Brockmeier who wrote The Year of Silence, one of my favorite short stories.

Bibliophanage 2012

Been a while since my last Bibliophanage post, and with all the new books lying around my room I think it’s rather apt for me to provide at least one update. Here it is:

Yes, Donald seems to be hiding behind The Non-Required Reading

Hell yeah. I love The Best American Series, and The Non-Required Reading category is one of my favorites. In fact I was late coming to the office a while ago because I just couldn’ t stop reading this amazing book at home.

The other awesome find is Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme by Tracy Daugherty. I’ve been a Barthelme fanboy since 2009 and upon looking at this massive tome I immediately took it from the shelf — instant buy! Do not be surprised if one day I’ll be writing entries which are mostly composed of non-sequiturs and abstract imagery.


Just in case you’re wondering, a few years ago I created a blog called Bibliophange which features books I found [mostly] in the bargain bin. Here’s the old link.

Goodbye To [ ]

As I’m writing this Crowded House is singing Don’t Dream It’s Over. I’m also using my old laptop which is wheezing at the moment — old bones crackle and pop, and the keyboard has been embedded with what seems to be a bastard child of mold and dust bunny.

Now The Strokes are playing. Casablancas rants about New York city cops, I think. I’m not familiar with the lyrics, but the beats are bangable. In fact my fingers are slamming the keys right now.


Room clean-up. I dusted off my books and magazines and swept the floor. Funny how I didn’t sneeze this time. I also said goodbye to some really, really irrelevant handouts.

I’ve also (kinda) sorted my books, but I think it’ll take two days for me to completely arrange them by genre, author, and size. I also decided to migrate all my Juxtapoz magazines to my shelf in the university. Perhaps some of my students/organization members could use them in the future.

Next month I’ll choose some books to give away–not that I don’t love them anymore, but I guess someone might enjoy them more than I do.


While I was browsing my sketchbook I saw this:

Hmmm, can’t remember what the illustration was for.