Post-earthquake with first couple Mookie and Sarge.
My old self, I suppose, would begin with an apology, an attempt to explain--yet again--my prolonged absence hereabouts, which in recent years I have come to equate not with laziness but, simply, with my presence elsewhere (in other words, the non-virtual world), and therefore something wholly excusable, if not better, entirely acceptable.
So no apology, because yes, I was indeed "out there": in a writing workshop this weekend, in the bastion of Dutertard-ism the weekend before, and the Macoy heartlands the week before that. And the preceding months, a "healthy," should I say, mix of studying for that darned exam, watching as much theater as I could given the prospect of that darned exam, and stretches of time spent trying to tame my mind and keep it from panicking and manifesting that panic externally.
That workshop was the 2nd International Writing Program (by the University of Iowa) Alumni Writers Workshop at La Salle, an excellent place to be in when an earthquake strikes. Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, workshop director, must have initially thought no one was paying particular attention to her closing remarks; minutes later, we were all hurrying down 13 flights of escalators (thank goodness this was such an embarrassingly rich school), hoping there would be no aftershocks. "Of course the workshop had to end by force majeure," posted Mookie on Facebook that afternoon.
But the workshop itself: No deep insight from me, given I'm new to all this. You can even say I applied to it on a whim--a day before the deadline, with a hurriedly, mindlessly composed synopsis that would eventually derail everybody's reading of my short story. (This was between the first and second weekends of the board exams, so you can imagine the pretty tight schedule I was contending with.) Now did I have fun, did I learn something? I can't believe I even bothered typing those clichés.
Short of fanboy-ing, that panel though. I can listen to Mookie talk all day, and there was also her husband Sarge, one of the fictionists I look up to. There was Susan Lara, whom I first encountered in high school ten years ago; Eros Atalia, who wrote "Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me"; Carlomar Daoana, behind "Crown for Maria" and "The Elegant Ghost."
My one sadness coming out of this workshop, I confided to them, is the realization that I will most likely be reduced to one meticulously written story a year when I enter residency training. That's on top of my theater viewing and reviewing, and for now I would like to just stop thinking about all this. (On that note, however, Repertory Philippines' "In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)" is one of the year's best so far and will have one more weekend of performances, up to the 23rd, after Holy Week.)
I suppose it would be better to post about that Davao weekend and that week in Ilocos separately. Let me leave this here: We will always have history, and it will always be up to the individual to accept or reject history. And you would have to be a goddamned fool, so thick and full of yourself, to have the balls to reject the offensive, the unarguably evil, in the name of pride of origin.
Family and friends gawking at koi at the Davao Crocodile Park.