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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
My feet crush the dry little stars,
finding satisfaction in the melancholic
melody of their crunch & crackle.
Time fades with their scent’s threads:
saintly subtle, sweet — a reminder that Sunday
is nothing but brittle, faded recollections
of the breath of leaves, rivulets of wind,
a waiting woman, sleeping cats,
prayers in pauses, a song in the distance.
Three men laugh as they mend
a poor, broken pipe — the punchline
was swallowed by the quietness.
The world disappears in the afternoon:
I find solace in stillness
of stones. A silent smile.