Monthly Archives: March 2011

“Aral sa Wika / Lesson in Language” on

This poem opens the first section of my poetry book Baha-bahagdang Karupukan.  Be warned, you might get a bit of a fright watching and listening to this video.

“Si Taft sa Kalabaw” on YouTube

Here’s a silly video I put up to promote my new book, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. English translation (draft) available to those interested. Just say please.  🙂

Water Renders on YouTube

I posted my poem “Water Renders” from Alien to Any Skin on YouTube. Hope it isn’t too mushy for you folks. I’d love to hear what you think. And if you do like it, you can consider getting the book. 🙂  Yeah, right.

Spare the Karoo: Shoo Shell Away!

“Fracking requires vast amounts of fresh water…”

That word, “fracking,” sounds like a curse, or something worse.  To be honest I had never heard of it until a day or so ago. Petroleum giant Shell (among other usual suspects) is proposing to mine gas in the Karoo using fracking.

Now we all know that Shell’s reputation is as clean as a baby’s bum (before or after?). No wonder they throw millions at ad agencies and hit squads.


Is that clear enough to you, Shell bosses with big asses?

Because Memory is a Terrible Thing

When someone cries “Save us!” in another language it goes through a high-tech UN-approved translating contraption that comes out crisp and clear as:


Forget what happened in Iraq. Afghanistan was never invaded. The western powers are only helping people in different parts of the world.

Only flies must fear the spectacular show of force once a country is declared a NO-FLY ZONE.

Applause please.



I turn 42 only once, and I doubt I’ll ever have two books released at the same time again, so this is just to mark a day when friends new and from a while back might want to spend some time with my work, if not with me, online. This is my way of getting around the barriers of time (six hours behind my motherland the Philippines!) and space (I’m still in Cape Town, South Africa and my teleporter is not yet fully functional!).

There are amateur blogs (put up by yours truly) for each book with links to where the sample pages are up for browsing. I intend to post some audio clips of my Kermit-like voice (might actually be closer to a Miss Piggy voice) during the course of the month just to make you guys laugh. Visit the blogs and listen at your own peril.

If you are lucky enough (not begging here, ok?) to have already got yourself copies of the books and found some poems that made a connection – even if it was just a YIKES! or OOOH THAT WAS BAD! or EH, ANO BA ANG PINAGSASABI NI JIM DITO? or perhaps anything a bit more positive – then please feel free to post a comment on the relevant book’s blog.

I am also opening the door for the more visually or musically creative friends I have met to make their own interpretation(s) of any of my poems – a short video, a visual poetry rendition, a sketch, a spoof, a song, an opera (hahaha) anything at all.  I know it’s not a lot of time, and maybe people won’t even bother to pitch up (pitch in?), but hey, it’s worth a shot.

You may participate via the following or on Facebook. You don’t have to wait for the 31st of March to take part, and it certainly does not have to end on the same day.

skype & ym: matangmanok

National Bookstore chain will soon have my books on display

I just got news from my publisher that both my books – Alien to Any Skin and Baha-bahagdang Karupukan – will soon be available at the behemoth retailer National Bookstore (in the Philippines they are far too easy to bump into). The titles won’t come up in their website’s search box I bet, but I’ve been told you can start phoning their branches to add some pressure in putting the books on display.

I remember when my first book came out – it was a back to back edition with another poet’s collection (ouch!). Whenever I went into a National Bookstore outlet that had it I would go over and flip the book so that my side would be visible.  🙂  Naughty me.  And the “hidden” employee (a paid character who pretends to be a customer just to keep an eye on shoplifters) would come over and look at me funny, until I told him I was the author and he smiled and left me to my petty devices.

Here’s the cover of that book which, if you search on, you will find to be on sale as a collector’s item at a staggering price.

Water Will No Longer Be Just Water

The news of what befell the people of Japan on Friday continues to shock us. It is a tragedy made worse with the threat of terrible nuclear meltdown – ah, nuclear energy, that “safest energy source” according to some.

In 1995 I wrote a poem (in both English and Filipino) about a tsunami that hit an island in my homeland. It would be nearly a decade later that the most devastating tsunami would strike many countries.

That poem was posted HERE in 2009.  The Filipino version is included in my book Baha-bahagdang Karupukan.

Quick review: Murder in Samarkand by Craig Murray

Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on TerrorMurder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador’s Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror by Craig Murray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a strange book – part political thriller, part confessional, part sexcapade. He isn’t a journalist and not really a hero, more like a normal person with faults but decides to not be part of the lies that feed the horrific work of US and British politicians and military strategists (terrorists). I was hoping it would be grittier.

View all my reviews

Precious, My Precious

Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud

One of two precious finds.

Yesterday I stopped by Franschhoek on my way back from Villiersdorp after dropping off the kids at their school camp. Found a small bookshop that was aptly named – Treasure House Books. It was in one of the few old buildings that have not been surrendered to the whims of so-called “developers” who relish introducing cold as aluminium structures. Stop me from ranting.

Back home – in Marikina – in October 2009, a week after the flood, I saw practically all my books had been thrown among the rotting belongings in front of my mother’s house.  I remember having a copy of Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat from New Directions. Well that boat didn’t survive the floods of Ondoy obviously. I also had a copy of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago – unread – I was still preparing to meet up with the tragic Doctor one day.

Well in Franschhoek I chanced upon a copy of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, a 1957 third printing edition, still in remarkable state. A shelf down to it was Pasternak’s novel, a hard copy of the sixth impression, 1958 edition. And since no one was around to treat me, I treated myself to an early birthday gift. I feel like Gollum. It’s our birthday my precious!