Wednesday, July 28, 2010


so the past few weeks have been particularly rough on the junior faculty members of the department. and my personal budget's a mess because of all the unexpected costs incurred trying to meet the many demands of the department's activities. and i've been ill due to all the physical and emotional stress. and we are all still waiting to be properly acknowledged for all the work we've done. and i've been asking myself if i really want to stay in a community that sees us more as pledges than colleagues. and i've been wondering if this is the life i want for myself. and then this morning, out of nowhere, a message appears in my facebook account. and this is how it goes.

Dear Sir Butch,

Do you remember back in '07, you told me that I should write more? (I took your Flash Fiction CW10 class). I just wanted to say that it took a couple of years before I could really take it seriously (being busy with the Engineering studies) and but I've always wanted to continue writing during my free time. So I made it so it would be manageable (well, at least, as best as I could).

I've attached a link to my online journal here. I hope you could check it out and give your own input so that I can develop further. I may have forgotten some of the lessons in writing fiction (you'll notice) -- but I find I've started to lean towards gonzo journalism lately anyway.

Just wanted to drop in and thank you for the experience in Creative Writing. It was so worth it :D How's the Press doing? Hope you are well!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

50th UP National Writers Workshop Call for Applications

LIKHAAN: The University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing (UP ICW) is now accepting applications for the 50th UP National Writers Workshop to be held in Baguio City in April 2011.

The director of the 2011 workshop is Likhaan Fellow Jun Cruz Reyes. The Advisers, Fellows, and Associates of the UP ICW comprise the workshop panel. These are Gemino Abad, UP ICW Director Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, J. Neil Garcia, Charlson Ong, Conchitina Cruz, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera Jr., Rolando Tolentino, Mario Miclat, and Romulo Baquiran Jr.

The following are the submission guidelines:

QUALIFICATIONS – To qualify, applicants: (1) must be writers in English or Filipino; (2) must have attended at least one creative writing workshop (national/regional, including the UP National Writers Workshops), or earned a degree in Creative Writing/Malikhaing Pagsulat, or won at least one national/international literary award; (3) must have published at least three poems or two short stories or two pieces of creative nonfiction in reputable collections or anthologies, journals, magazines (including campus publications), or refereed Internet web magazines, or have had a play staged. Writers who have been fellows at any of the UP National Writers Workshops are eligible. Some of these qualifications may be waived in exceptionally meritorious cases, with the unanimous concurrence of the UP ICW Fellows, Associates, and Advisers.
REQUIREMENTS – Applicants must submit (1) five copies plus digital file (12 points, double-spaced, 8 x 11) of one original unpublished manuscript (short story, poem, creative nonfiction, or play) to be discussed during the workshop – this manuscript should not have been submitted to any other workshop, and should be part of a larger work in progress; (2) five copies plus digital file (12 points, double-spaced, 8 x 11) of an essay on "What I write, how, and why?" in relation to the work in progress. This essay will be the basis for a 20-minute presentation that the fellow is expected to do during the workshop; (3) photocopies of the applicant’s published work, including publication details; and (4) application form (available at the UP ICW office in UP Diliman and on the ICW-maintained website

Only writers who go through the complete application process will be considered for fellowship.

Fellows must be present for the full duration of the weeklong workshop.

All fellows are entitled to a modest stipend, free hotel accommodation, and free transportation from UP Diliman to Baguio City and back.

The deadline for submission is October 30, 2010.

The U.P. National Writers Workshop was reformatted five years ago to address a dearth in the mentoring of writers in mid-career. What before was a workshop that honed emerging talent mostly from the nation’s universities and colleges, the new workshop now focuses on writers who have already published, or are on the verge of publishing, a book or have won major literary awards. In effect, the new format caters to writers who have moved up from the beginner level.

The UP ICW is the only institution that offers a workshop of this caliber in the country. The function for beginner writers that the UP ICW vacated for the new workshop format is filled by the workshops held by other writing centers from the other universities in the country.

Aside from subjecting works in progress to workshops with the most admired names in Philippine contemporary literature, the UP National Writers Workshop provides a venue for discussion of the participants’ respective writing processes. It also allows participants to interact with local writers through special activities organized by the UP ICW and Baguio-based groups. And as an outreach activity, the UP ICW has partnered with the University of the Philippines Baguio to hold an annual public lecture by an eminent writer. The lecture coincides with the workshop and is held in universities and colleges in and around Baguio City.

For inquiries, call 922-1830 and ask for Butch Guerrero.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

UP DECL Centennial Feast

yesterday, in the middle of the flurry of first semester enlistment and preparations for the international conference, our chair told me that our department, the department of english and comparative literature of the university of the philippines diliman, just turned 100. until yesterday, i didn't know that our anniversary was June 3. and because our department didn't have any activity lined up to mark the actual day of our centennial, i dragged three co-faculty members with me after enlistment duties to have a "centennial feast" and a few "centennial drinks" on c.p. garcia. both feast and drinks reflected the fact that we are faculty members of up diliman.

below are the after pictures.

this was our feast.

these were our drinks.

Monday, May 24, 2010

on my second trip to baguio city for the summer

on my second trip to baguio city for the summer, i met friends new and familiar.

vanilla ice cream at cafe by the ruins

calamansi and lemon juice with strawberry syrup at good shepherd

vegetarian burger and calamansi pie at o mai khan

orchids and cacti at the orchidarium

kape and the view at oh my gulay

waldorf salad at forest house

blueberry and cherry danishes and fruit salad at the manor

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the things you do on your late mother's birthday

1. You wake up with a start, realizing you promised your sister who was cooking dinner six hours earlier that you’d only be a few minutes in your bedroom, that you just need to lie down for a bit because you had a long day.

2. You go to your sister’s room and apologize for missing dinner. As usual, she laughs it off.

3. You change the desktop image on your laptop. You choose an old photograph of your mother with you and your two sisters. The photograph is the one taken when you were eleven months old.

4. You remember that you were tasked to organize the mass and dinner marking your mother’s birthday, and you call up your Tita, your mother’s younger sister and her only surviving sibling, to remind her of the change in plans. She picks up her mobile phone and greets you happy birthday. You say same to you, Tita. Her voice is almost exactly like your mother’s.

5. You have breakfast with your sister and you hear your father’s yaya asking your sister’s permission to go to the market. Your father wants her to buy flowers for your mother.

6. You rush off to the university where you teach and preside over the final preparatory meeting for the summer national writers workshop.

7. You return to the institute after the meeting and work on more preparations for the workshop. As you do this, you get calls from your aunt and your other sister about further changes in the plan. Your youngest cousin, your aunt’s only child, texts you that she has arrived at the university.

8. You change your Facebook profile picture and upload the picture on your laptop’s desktop.

9. You go with your cousin to inquire about graduate studies. You make her leave her car in the parking lot and the two of you go off on foot.

10. You feel hungry, so you and your cousin look for lunch. You drag her to the canteen at the main library. As you make your way to the rear of the building, you think of your mother and imagine how she looked when she was a college student researching in the very same library. Because you’re lacto-ovo vegetarian, you don’t find anything to eat, so you decide to go to a restaurant on campus where you’re sure you’ll find something edible.

11. You have lunch with your cousin and you talk about her plans now that she’s pushing 30. She talks about her mother and you think of yours.

12. You walk back to the institute to attend to the summer workshop preparations and you make your cousin wait for you on one of the sofas. When you check on her five minutes later, you find her sound asleep in her chair.

13. You finish work quickly and return to your cousin whom you promised you’d walk around campus with. She goes back to the parking lot to get her walking gear, and you go to your faculty center office to get yours.

14. You bring your camera with you, so you can take pictures of you and your cousin on your walk. As you make your way around campus, you identify which family members attended which college. Your cousin recounts stories that her mother has told her about your mother. The stories are all familiar and this comforts you.

15. You laugh when she recounts the story about fleeing the Japanese. It’s one of your favorite stories from your mother’s childhood. It is World War II, and the Japanese have occupied the Philippines. Like everyone else who has heard of the Japanese’s cruelty, your mother’s family has to run to the mountains for safety. Theirs is a family of six: your Lolo, your Lola, your Tito, Your first Tita, your mother, and your second Tita. The children are still very young. Your mother is around four years old; your second Tita is a toddler. As they escape, your Lolo is carrying several bags and holding on to your first Tita who is a deaf-mute. Your Lola is carrying your second Tita. Your Tito, being the oldest, is also carrying luggage. Your mother is left to fend for herself. They go some distance when they hear your mother cry out. They turn and find her struggling to get past a fence. Her panties are caught in barbed wire.

16. You get thoughtful when your cousin talks about talking to her late father and how she feels he’s just there. You realize that is how you feel when you talk to your mother. You also realize that your youngest cousin is the first among all of you cousins to bear the loss of a parent.

17. You finish your walk and see your cousin off at the parking lot. She has dinner plans, and you have to go hear mass.

18. You change to your regular clothes and make one final check at the institute before leaving for the Catholic church on campus. You have made a special petition for your mother’s soul for the 6 p.m. mass.

19. You arrive at the church right on time. This is the same church your mother helped build with donations when she was still a student in the university. You remember her stories of Father Delaney.

20. You listen to the priest’s sermon. He says that you are in the last stretch of Lent, and that next week you will be remembering the passion of Christ. But, he continues, today you are pausing to remember the Annunciation of Jesus’s birth. He says that it is meaningful that we remember birth at the same time as we remember death. He says that in our faith the end marks a beginning.

21. As instructed by the priest, you pause to kneel for a while when reciting the Apostle’s Creed to mark the fact that today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Your mother’s name is Anunciacion.

22. You light a candle for your mother after the mass. You take a photograph of the candle. You also photograph the Garden of the Mother and of Healing. This is where you often go when you miss your mother.

23. You read the list of petitions for the 6 p.m. mass posted on the church bulletin board. You cannot find your mother’s name in spite of reading the list through five times.

24. You think someone must have made a mistake. You rummage in your bag for the receipt the woman at the parish office gave you yesterday for your petition. You want to check if you made a mistake writing the date. But you cannot find your receipt.

25. You go to the parish office and ask the same woman you talked to yesterday if your petition was included in the 6 p.m. mass. You tell her you cannot find your mother’s name on the list. You are embarrassed that your voice cracks as you explain to her what happened. She is horrified and hurries out of her cubicle to check the list.

26. You watch her unlock the glass covering the bulleting board. She removes the pegs attaching the list to the corkboard. She says that some changes were made to the 6 p.m. list. She removes the list to reveal two other lists. You are both relieved to find your mother’s name. Mass was said for her at 6 a.m. and 12 noon.

27. As you struggle to regain your equanimity, you get the urge to cook pancit canton for dinner. You call your sister and tell her your plan. She says she is preparing chopsuey for dinner, so changing it to pancit canton is not too difficult. You figure it’s your mother’s birthday and pancit is served on birthdays.

28. You go to three stores to buy additional vegetables, pancit, and quail eggs before hurrying home.

29. You tell your sister about your mother’s missing name on the list.

30. The two of you start preparing dinner. While doing this, you text your other sister to tell her you are cooking pancit. She says you are crazy because pancit is for long life. You laugh when you read her message and show it to your other sister.

31. Before you sleep you resolve to write a list of the things you did on your late mother’s birthday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

49th up national writers workshop logo

presenting the logo of the 49th university of the philippines national writers workshop. it is designed by vlad gonzales. below the logo is vlad's explanation of his design.

Ang disenyo ng logo’y isang paglilimi-demonstrasyon tungkol sa estado ng pagsusulat, kasabay ng maraming impluwensyang multimedia, sa panahon ng mga birtuwal na espasyo at pamamagitan ng mga bagong anyo ng pamamahayag.

Sa panimulang bersyon, mas makulay ang disenyo—isang maaliwalas na videogame-type world kung saan masayang lumilipad ang micro-blogging birds, pinadadaanan ng computer clouds ang mga birtuwal na pakpak. Sa isang kahong nagpapaalala ng isang sikat na 8-bit game, nakasilip ang mukha ni Balagtas, hango mula sa imaheng laging ginagamit para sa mga postcard at poster na nabibili sa mga bookstore, mabenta tuwing Agosto, tuwing may proyekto o assignment na kaugnay ng Linggo ng Wika.

Sa proseso ng pagpapakinis, itinabi ang tingkad ng unang disenyo para sa mas madilim na pagkapula. Binuo ang isang birtuwal na siyudad, batbat ng mga birtuwal na dumi. Nasa background ang mga birtuwal na edipisyo—ito na kaya ang pamalit sa mga itsrukturang ginagalawan natin sa pisikal na mundo? Hanggang sa anong anyo ng pisikalidad dapat tumugon ang sining ng pagsusulat? Sa mundong mas nagiging lantad ang mekanismo ng artipisyalidad, sa panahong nagkakaroon ng maraming mekanismo para sa pagpapabilis at pagpapalawak ng memorya, anong anyo ng pagkatha ang dapat mamayani?

Sa gitna ng maraming tanong, sa gitna ng maraming mga senyal ng pag-unlad, lumilitaw ang cliché na imahen ni Balagtas. Cliché, pero sa maraming pagkakataon ay hindi kayang isatitik ng naghahayag kung bakit naging cliché. Reproduksyon na rin ang mga dominanteng nosyon ng pagkabagot, pagiging luma, pagiging gasgas. Sumisirit ang pulang laser beams mula sa mata ng “lumang” imahen, hindi nakaiwas ang nagulantang na “bago.” May pakiramdam na katulad ng panonood sa pelikulang “Darna and the Giants,” o kaya’y sa “Godzilla” o “Ultraman.” Isang posibleng babala: narito ang mga manunulat ng kasalukuyang henerasyon, narito para durugin ang mga tatak na nanghihiwalay imbes na mambigkis, narito para itahi ang mailap na pag-alala, narito para bigyan ng saysay ang pagkatha sa panahon ng pamamagitan ng bagong media at teknolohiya.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

from my sent box

last week i was down with a really nasty case of the flu. so i had enough time to finally delete messages in my mobile phone. because i'm currently in the middle of final preparations for the 49th u.p. national writers workshop, i'm setting down here a selection from my sent box of workshop-related messages from last year.

text message from me to philip kimpo (member of the secretariat): hi, philip. natanggap mo email ko? also, what's the address of our workshop blog hub? sent 09:42:41pm 03-03-2009

text message from me to sir rio almario (48th up national writers workshop director) and sir butch dalisay (likhaan: up institute of creative writing director): received jing panganiban's brief this morning. baguio writers group wants to host inuman for fellows on april 13. sent 06:44:55pm 16-03-2009

text message from me to alvin yapan, ayer arguelles, carljoe javier, carlomar daoana, dean alfar, norman wilwayco, vlad gonzales, gelo suarez, ichi batacan, mikael co: hi, guys. butch guerrero of up icw here. please don't be late tomorrow. the chartered bus for baguio will leave at 6:00 a.m. the secretariat will be at quezon hall, up diliman by 5:00 a.m. we will serve light breakfast on the bus. please don't forget your kits. see you! :) sent 05:35:25pm 11-04-2009

text message from me to jing panganiban, ichi batacan, and vic nierva: videoke na! kumakanta na si neil at pasunod na si vlad. andito kami sa latino sa nevada square. come! sent 06:04:06pm 17-04-2009

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

vegetarian food at laya antipolo

Since my sister and I are ovo-lacto vegetarians, we dread family get-togethers because we often end up with few food options (there is always at least one vegetarian-friendly dish, but it’s always a far cry from the carnivore feast the rest of the family are having). So what we often do is we eat before leaving the house. This way, we can make do with the salad or dessert at the party. But when the get-together spans two or more meals, this trick no longer works. So short of bringing our own food, we usually avoid this type of gathering.

About a month ago, our oldest cousin started texting us about a family outing she was organizing in honor of another cousin and an aunt who were vacationing in the country. It was going to be a daylong affair in a small resort spa in Antipolo with swimming and massages and, of course, eating. Maybe my cousin could sense my trepidation because she was quick to reassure me that there will be vegetarian food for us. In my head I was picturing vegetable lumpia or gluten barbecue, so what met me at the resort was quite a surprise.

On February 6 my family trooped to Antipolo to spend a day at Laya. It took some doing finding the place, but when we got there, it wasn’t difficult to sense quickly that the effort was well worth it. The clean, Balinese/Thai-inspired resort was relaxing. This Budhha-blessed-purple-Vanda-orchid-on-raw-silk silliness often annoys me, but I was ready to make Laya an exception. We were the last to arrive, and the kids were already splashing in the pool and the grownups were all lazing in the main house’s cool veranda. We, apparently, had the palce all to ourselves. As usual, when they spotted me, my older cousins started fussing about my food. They said the chef was preparing vegetarian food for me, and introduced me to one of Laya’s owners who showed me my menu card. A welcome greeting with my mother’s surname was printed on top of the beige and puce card. This attention to detail gave me hope that I was in for a treat.

And what a treat it was. For breakfast I had white cheese, tomatoes, and basil on toast and banana croquettes washed down with cups of coffee and basil tea.

For lunch, the chef prepared two menus—one for the carnivores and another for vegetarians. The meal started with a preview of all the flavors to come. Served in a stoneware soupspoon, the preview was a cantaloupe ball and a cherry tomato stuffed with seaweed and rolled in rock salt.

Next came a trio of appetizers: nori vegetable roll with mango papaya aioli, fresh Vietnamese salad roll in hoisin peanut dip and Malay-style curry puff.

Four soup I was served vegetable dumplings in ginger mushroom broth. This was followed by Asian Caesar salad sticks with ginger garlic aioli.

To help clear the palate in preparation for the main course, a ball of ginger calamansi sorbet was served.

My main course was spring vegetables in spiced coconut curry with saffron cashew rice pilaf.

The meal was ended with heavenly suman rolls with caramelized mangoes in latik sauce with mantecado ice cream.

Laya was definitely worth going all the way to Antipolo for. Next time, aside from eating, I’ll try getting a massage or maybe a foot spa.