Friday, September 26, 2008

flash 2

this story came out in tales of enchantment and fantasy, an anthology published by milfores in 2007. read this for a review of the anthology. another review appears here.

A Tidy Little Tale
by Jose Claudio B. Guerrero

Every night at exactly eleven forty-nine, tidy little Mars leaves his apartment in a tidy building on a little street in a subdivision in Quezon City. Tidy little Mars drives along the quiet streets of the subdivision, past the guardhouse where the guard sleeps, unmindful of the tidy little car going out of the gate.

At exactly eleven fifty-one, tidy little Mars turns on his radio and listens to tidy little songs. He chuckles, proud of his tidy little joke. For the next several hours he drives along near-deserted streets looking for his next quarry. He really isn't very picky. Of his quarries, he has only one requirement--that they're not barefoot. Because if they are, how can his tidy little joke work?

Once he spots the right one, tidy little Mars steps on his brake pedal, rolls his window down a crack, and pretends to be lost. With his tidy little voice, he calls out to his victim and asks his usual question: which way to the nearest hospital? when his victim leans over to answer, he takes out a tidy little atomizer filled with chloroform from his breast pocket and sprays it on the quarry's face. He then quickly opens the rear door of his tidy little car, drags the unconscious victim inside, and drives off looking for the nearest secluded spot he can find. There, with his sharp tools and little phials of acid, he cuts up his victim's body into small pieces and places them in tidy little bottles he keeps in the trunk of his tidy little car. Next, he dissolves the victim's bones and hair in the powerful acid. He then takes out his tidy little lighter and burns the victim's clothing, all except for one shoe which he places on the mat in front of the passenger seat. This done, he wipes his now not too tidy little hands on his handkerchief because he is very tidy indeed. Satisfied, he gets in his tidy little car and returns home. As he speeds along the highway, tiddy little Mars rolls down his window and throws out the shoe with a tidy little laugh.

Back at his apartment, tidy little Mars places the bottles filled with pieces of human meat in his refrigerator. Later in the morning he will grind it in his little meat grinder, so he can make the tidy little kikiam that he sells to the men selling snacks fried in pans in wooden carts. After closing the refrigerator door, he yawns a tidy little yawn and starts getting ready for bed. Soon after turning off his lamp on his side table, tidy little Mars falls asleep, his lips formed into a tidy little smile, dreaming of his tidy little joke.


Every morning at exactly seven twenty-one, tidy little Nance, dressed in her tidy school uniform, with her hair tied with little bows, sits and waits in the garden in front of their tidy little house on a little street in a subdivision in Quezon City. She waits for her mother to finish reading the newspaper full of stories of missing people. At exactly seven twenty-five, the mother, with her tidy little daughter seated beside her, drives her car along the little streets of the subdivision, past the guardhouse where the guard who is sipping coffee from his mug waves to the car going out the gate.

As her mother maneuvers their car through traffic, tidy little Nance sits on the passenger seat and quietly watches the highway as she listens to tidy little songs on the radio. Her mother also listens, but not to the songs on the radio. She listens for her daughter's tidy little voice as she asks the question she asks every morning: I wonder who owns that shoe? as she points her tidy little finger to the shoe on the highway. And her mother tells her that someone must have fallen asleep on the jeepney the night before and did not realize his shoe had fallen off. Satisfied with this explanation, tidy little Nance shrugs a tidy little shrug and forgets all about the shoe. Her lips formed into a tidy little smile, she fingers the ten-peso coin in her pocket and dreams of the tidy little kikiam she will buy from the vendor after dismissal time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

dr. seuss on brevity

the past few days i've been thinking about flash fiction and the need for erasure. today i came across this fragment of writing by theodore geisel, better known as dr. seuss. here he makes a case for brevity.

It has often been said
there's so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That's why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader's relief is.the postage stamp featuring dr. seuss that appears here was released by the u.s postal service on geisel's 100th birth anniversary in 2004.

latest and future reading

yesterday, after my sister and i did our bi-weekly grocery shopping at the mall frequently visited and mentioned by the author, vlad gonzales, of the last book i read, we went to a bookstore where i bought three new things to add to my huge pile of reading.

this is the last book i read.

and these are the latest additions to my future reading.

i hope i enjoy reading these three as i did the last one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writing to the Future

Writing to the Future: Poetika at Politika ng Malikhaing Pagsulat

The Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing is launching its latest journal, WRITING TO THE FUTURE: Poetika at Politika ng Malikhaing Pagsulat, edited by Rolando B. Tolentino. The launch is on September 19, 2008 at 4:00 p.m. at Pulungang Claro M. Recto of Bulwagang Rizal (formerly Faculty Center) in the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Writing to the Future is a compilation of essays on the writing processes and philosophies that selected writing fellows from the UP National Writers Workshops 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008 employ in their own writing. The writing fellows featured in the journal comprise an impressive range of genres and a long list of stars in Philippine literature. They are Rebecca Anonuevo, Roberto Anonuevo, Abdon Balde Jr., Romulo Baquiran Jr., Mayette Bayuga, Rica Bolipata Santos, Jose Wendell Capili, Ian Rosales Casocot, Mark Anthony Cayanan, Frank Cimatu, Mike Coroza, Adam David, Raymond de Borja, Lourd Ernest de Veyra, Allan Derain, Ma. Romina Gonzalez, Jerry Gracio, Vicente Groyon, Luis Katigbak, Mookie Katigbak, Jun Lana, Marco Lopez, Liza Magtoto, Paolo Manalo, Virginia Mercado-Villanueva, Mario Miclat, Allan Popa, Sandra Roldan, Tara Sering, Vincenz Serrano, Luna Sicat Cleto, J. Dennis Teodosio, Joel Toledo, and Lawrence Ypil.

The editor, Rolando Tolentino, is Fellow for Fiction of the Likhaan: U.P. Institue of Creative Writing and professor at the Film Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman. He holds a Ph.D. in Film, Literature, and Culture from University of Southern California. His numerous books of fiction and critical essays have won him awards and recognition including the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Writers' Prize, Manila Critics Circle's National Book Award, National Book Development Board's Gintong Aklat Award, Obermann Summer Research Fellowship's Best Arts Book, and UC Berkeley and UCLA Southeast Asian Studies Program's Distinguished Voice.

The journal is made possible through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

For inquiries on the journal, contact the Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing at (02) 922-1830.

happy repost

i posted this last night in my other blog. i figured i should post it here, too. it's mostly about writers and my happy day. so here it is.


i woke up at 5:30 because i had to be at pasay city by 9 this morning. this was part of my duties for the annual literary festival, pistang panitik. the festival was a side-activity of the manila international book fair, which was held at the smx covention center in the mall of asia complex.

today, i moderated quite an interesting discussion on blogging literature. the panelists were dean alfar, sonny villafania, vic nierva, marne kilates, and vlad gonzales. the panelists spoke with authority and a lot of insight and helpful suggestions. and the open forum was made livelier by this woman in a striped sweater who, after about two minutes of lucidity, started to go bonkers while at the microphone. interrupting her without being offensive took some doing, but i think i was able to pull it off. what made it even more interesting for me was the fact that she just vanished after i segued to the next person with a question for the panelists.

after the discussion, vlad and i went to the mall of asia for lunch. i was happy that vlad blurted out pho hoa when i asked him where he wanted to eat because i had been imagining vegetarian noodle soup as soon as we started walking to the mall. and since i am too much of a quezon city boy and had never been to the mall of asia (except for the quick merienda i took in between pistang panitik discussions last friday), he showed me around the mall. we spent the afternoon looking at and buying food--two boxes of krispy kreme glazed doughnuts, two boxes of brownies/cookies/revel bars from this baked goods stall, and hot chocolate for vlad and mango juice for me. we also looked at shoes and voodoo dolls and books. at national bookstore i ended up buying vlad's latest book, isang napakalaking kaastigan, which he autographed for me at seattle's best. we also looked at the sea, which was blinding since it was a sunny, sunny day.

on the bus ride back to quezon city, vlad and i talked and talked and talked. just when our conversation drifted to pokwang, elizabeth ramsey, and eugene domingo, a woman handed us brochures for bank loans of up to a million pesos. since she was very nice and polite, we didn't mind the interruption. actually, vlad being vlad, interviewed her for a bit. this, of course, got me slightly nervous (a giddy kind of nervous; half of me wanted him to behave and the other half hoped he didn't) because you never know what vlad will say. the guy's always nice and friendly, but his imagination's crazy, and he has this tendency to just blurt things out. luckily for all of us, it all went smoothly.

the bus ride was interrupted only when the cute little boy seated in front of us had to take a leak. the kind, butch lesbian bus conductor had the driver pull over, so she could help the kid off the bus for a bit to pee on the sidewalk. so, okay, maybe this wasn't hygienic, but i found it amusing. and the smile on the kid's face as he skipped back to his seat was so sunny, anyone would've forgiven him for causing a bit of delay.

after saying goodbye to vlad whose back had started to hurt because of the long day, i got off at my stop near mcdonald's. i bought salted duck eggs at rustan's express before hailing a tricycle to take me home.

and now i'm waiting for dinner, which my sister promised will be my favorite, vegetarian adobo and guinataang munggo. the salted duck eggs will go nicely with that--a happy ending to a happy day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

flash 1

i moderated a discussion on blogging by established filipino writers today, and i got encouraged to post a sample of my writing online. here is the first flash fiction piece i ever wrote. this was published by anvil in fastfood fiction, a collection of flash fiction by filipino writers both established and emerging.

Saturday Nights When Quilts Get Ruined

by Jose Claudio B. Guerrero

So how did it happen? Were you alone? Well of course you weren’t alone alone, stupid. I meant, were there other people besides you two? No? Ooh, okay so go on, give me all the gory details. Why not? I’ve got the whole night. Huh? No. He went out with his friends. I have no idea where. And who cares where they are? You’re changing the topic. Well? What do you mean “Well what”? Go on, tell me. Wait, wait, wait. Describe him first. Do I Know him? What do you mean you’re not sure? You know all the people I know. Oh, okay, mysterious bitch, is he tall? Like how tall? About Jake’s height? So, he’s tall. Just a minute. There’s someone at the door. No, no don’t hang up.

You won’t believe this. Do you know who that was? The one at the door, stupid. It was from the florist. Jake had a dozen Ice Queens delivered to me. Ice queens are white roses, dear. Let me read you the card. For Joey, the best thing that ever happened to me. Isn’t he simply darling? I’m the best thing that ever happened to him! Chris, you should really get a boyfriend. You don’t know what you’re missing. I’m so lucky I’ve got Jake. What did you say? You’re happy for me? Well, thanks. Enough about me. So go on. How does he look like? What do you mean you have to go? You can’t do what? Hey, hey, wait. I don’t get you. What’s wrong? Chris, chris, don’t hang up. Chris.


You’re late. No, no don’t explain. It’s okay. I got the flowers you sent me. Thank you. No, don’t. That tickles. No. Not just yet. You’re all sweaty. U-huh. Later. Jake. Want some coffee? Okay, let me get you a cup. Yes, I’ve just finished sewing it. Quilt. Not kilt. Kilts are skirts. You like it? Thanks. Mama taught me. It has a story, actually. How much sugar? It’s about us. Here you go. See? That’s you over there on your beat-up couch. Huh? I look worried? Well, no, nothing’s wrong. I’m okay. It’s just that Chris called me up telling me about this guy he slept with. Hey careful! What’s the matter with you? Oh, Jake, you’ll leave coffee stains. Quick, get some ice. Maybe we can still save it. Damn. It won’t come off.

Monday, September 15, 2008

today at pistang panitik

as i have been a regular participant at the manila international book fair (of which pistang panitik is a side activity), i am no longer surprised at the number of friends, literary stars, and celebrities one can see in a day at the fair. and today proved to be no different.

it was all about pop lit today at pistang panitik. i emceed the event, and i was amazed by the talent of the featured artists. today's session at stage area 1 featured storytellers from alitaptap storytellers philippines (madz, ethel, and franky), puppeteers from teatrong mulat with their founder amelia lapena-bonifacio, violinist jonathan livioco of the u.p. college of music, poets/rappers from tribu (young scent, lil coli, raynoa, and o.g sacred who are featured in the jim libiran film, tribu), and poets jim libiran, kooky tuason, joel toledo, frank miranda, and gelo suarez. joel toledo and frank miranda were surprise readers. the surprise being theirs and mine. they were there to watch the show, but vim nadera, the man behind pistang panitik, had me call them to the stage. the two surprise numbers added more quirkiness to an already quirky show, and it was all good.

the show started to get even more amazing during the second set of performances from the poets when the tribu guys rapped freestyle. because the crowd's energy was aready electric, gelo suarez was a bit worried that he wouldn't match the tribu performance, but he needn't have worried. he floored the audience with his funny poem that dealt with body parts and things you can do to them. And kooky tuason closed the segment beautifully with her spoken word performance.

after the four-hour show, i passed by meeting rooms 5 and 6 where abdon balde's novel and khavn dela cruz's (he was part of the pistang panitik show last friday) poetry book were to be launched by the u.s.t. publishing house. at the foyer i saw bishop teodoro bacani and tony perez among the people waiting to get in. i didn't stay, though, because i had to look for our dean, virgilio almario at the adarna booth. on my way to look for him, i bumped into mookie katigbak who congratulated me on my palanca win. i congratulated her back. she made me beso, and i'm sure if i weren't gay, that would've made my already happy day even so much happier. haha. mookie told me she was on her way to another meeting room where she was sitting in a panel with sarge lacuesta.

i decided to tarry a little before riding the down escalator and watch the milling crowd at the smx's lobby. i saw luis katigbak, and he smiled hello. he was on his way to yvette tan's table at the lobby cafe. i decided to go down and say hello to them, but because it takes forever to reach the lobby given the extra long escalator, they had already gone by the time i reached the cafe.

so i proceeded to look for rio alma when i bumped into jun balde again (he watched part of the pistang panitik show earlier), and i told him i had to save up first to buy his novel because it costs almost 700 pesos. he laughed and punched me on the shoulder lightly. he rode the up escalator, and i made my way to the exhibition area. there i managed to find rio alma near the u.p. press booth. after our quick talk, i showed him the way to meeting rooms 5 and 6, and i joined the rest of the icw secretariat to prepare to leave for u.p.

on our way out of s.m.x., we saw tingting and maikee (is this how she spells it?) cojuanco walking in surrounded by bodyguards. after a few paces we also saw ligaya rubin.

today's pistang panitik session was happy. i hope tomorrow's session with bloggers will be even better.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pistang Panitik


The third Pistang Panitik will be held during the 29 th Manila International Book Fair at the SMX Mall of Asia . This year's format should prove to be quite unique. On September 12 , 14, 15 and 16, writers/artists/performers will have morning and afternoon sessions dedicated to them, wherein their works will be discussed and presented. Critical discussions, storytelling sessions and poetry readings will add spark to this literal literary fiesta.

The premiere writing institution in the country, the UP Institute of Creative Writing counts the College of Arts & Letters of the University of the Philippines-Diliman , the National Commission for Culture and the Arts , and Primetrade Asia as its partners for the week-long event. Fresh from the success of the Gawad Likhaan: the UP Centennial Literary Awards, the UP ICW initiated Pistang Panitik in 2006 with the help of Anvil Publishing House, National Book Development Board, and Book Development Association of the Philippines.

Pistang Panitik is a brainchild of former ICW Director Prof. Vim Nadera who said that Pista is a way of sharing the beauty of the written art with the public by celebrating our own literature.

On September 12, 2008, 2:00-3:30 p.m. at the Meeting Room 6, Writers' Cafe will host Charlson Ong , Ophelia Dimalanta, Benilda Santos, Dinah Roma-Sianturi, Jaime An Lim, writing greats who will talk about their craft over a cup of coffee. On that same day, 4:00-5:30, writers speak on writing and joining writers' groups in Writers are not Loners with Beverly Siy of Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA), UP Writers Club, The Varsitarian (UST), Heights ( Ateneo de Manila ) and Malate ( De La Salle University ). At 7:00 p.m on Stage Area 1, Literature will be performed the alternative way by Ony Carcamo, Lourd de Veyra, Khavn de la Cruz , Charms Tiamzon , Girl Valencia and Cynthia Alexander.

In Ganito Kami Ngayon , renowned writers (the new ICW director) Jose Dalisay, Roland Tolentino, Romulo Baquiran, Jr., Jose Neil Garcia, Nicolas Pichay and Jun Lana will update literature lovers on current literary practice in the Philippines on September 14 , 10:00am-12:00nn. Pop Lit on September 15 , 10:00am-2:00 p.m. at the Stage Area 1 will have comic book artists , performance poets, storytellers, independent film directors and literary innovators like Romancing Venus, Teatrong Mulat, Angelo Suarez , and Jim Libiran with TRIBU rappers Raynoa Aguillon, Billy Cruz, Lloyd Labastida, and Shielbert Manuel will present emerging forms in Philippine literature.

And for the finale, the business of blogging will be discussed on September 16 , 10:30am-12:30 pm, at the Stage Area 1. The activity called Blog! will be handled by Dean Alfa , Marne Kilates, Bobby Añonuevo, Sonny Villafania, Dino Manrique, and Vlad Gonzales.

For more details, contact the UP ICW at 922-1830 and visit

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

my baby

here she is. got her two nights ago.