Monthly Archives: July 2012

Be Stubborn

I am currently reading over a hundred pages of prose (in Filipino) – not sure I can say “short stories” yet – which I wrote between 1987 and 1994. I am deciding whether to submit the manuscript to my publisher or not. It is very difficult to be completely objective, and worse if it is regarding your own work. I had practically forgotten how each piece began and ended, but of the ones I have so far read I felt like I could be stuck on an island and it wouldn’t matter as long as the words kept flowing. Am I perhaps deluding myself?

So here’s the thing. I need another pair of eyes to read the stuff and either give me a push or lead me to the closest garbage bin. I’m still proofreading the second half of the manuscript, but hopefully in two days it will be cleaner. Any takers?

I didn’t bite my tongue, but someone remembered me

From where I come from it is believed that when you bite your tongue by accident it can only mean that someone suddenly remembered you (oh, I do hope that I am remembering that right, haha). The belief may have come from trying to make a small though uncomfortable experience a bit more welcome. Still, who doesn’t want to be remembered every now and again? If one writes – especially poetry that many seem to write but very few really read – being remembered for one’s work is part of the goal, consciously or not.

In that case, I would like to thank Alfred A. Yuson who mentioned me in his list of Filipino poets worth reading.

 My name doesn’t appear until quite far down his article which came out in the Philippine Star. So I have quoted the relevant paragraph here. Mr Yuson even mentioned my two books. I could’ve told him beforehand that two new books are also in the works. Perhaps that could have bumped me up the list a little. Hahahaha. Just trying my luck. 🙂


Then there are the non-Statesiders who may or may not still be based where they used to be, to include Jim Pascual Agustin in South Africa, Ivy A. Rosales in Wales, Ella Wagemakers in Holland, and Neal Imperial in Singapore. I know that Jim, a bilingual poet. has already authored several books, the latest being Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin, issued by UST Publishing House last year.


For those who do not live in Manila and would like to get hold of Alien to Any Skin, I have a few copies which I brought with me to Cape Town from my last visit to the Philippines. There are also at least two online retailers that carry both my books – Mary Martin Booksellers and Kabayan Central.

My Paper Children are Being Read!

Parents only want the best for their children. Well, most parents, I hope. Hmm before this becomes a post about parenting (good or bad) I better move on.

I sent the following in an email to friends, so I might as well make it an open letter to everyone who reads these pages.


Last year saw the birth of my twin paper children (poetry books, to be clear and not just cute haha), Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin, both published by University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. I have no idea how many people have read the books. But it seems there are keen readers and some of them nominated both titles to the first Filipino ReaderCon awards.

 The other nominees have a better chance of winning, for my books will have to compete with each other first to get a sympathetic reader/friend’s vote. So I am sending this email to all friends who might want to show their support for my writing. Here is the link to the site (and yes, anyone can vote):

 Thanks in advance. Please do spread the word so my poetry reaches more readers.

 Which then brings me to my other good news. UST Publishing House has once again shown appreciation for my work. They have accepted my two poetry manuscripts. Currently being copy edited are Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran and Sound Before Water.

 It is my hope that these books of poetry find new homes. Maraming salamat.

Trawling 3

Funny to see your own photo unexpectedly.

Here’s a link to “my page” on the Modern Poetry in Translation website:

You could barely see the eye bags. Har har har


Trawling 2

I was a little disappointed when I received my contributor’s copy of this anthology so I never mentioned it. But hey, if your work gets picked, be thankful. If it gets mentioned in a review, shout it out… hmmm I’m not really the shouting type unless some chemicals are running in my veins (or so I imagine). So here.


The poetry is the second reason I love this book. I’m a sucker for poetry, and good grandparent poems are hard to find. From the Porch Swing is chock-full of them–honest, unvarnished poems about grandparents who were the same way…

Jim Pascual Agustin portraying a grandfather:
Even when he was quiet
his long fingers still on the thick
wooden ledge, we felt
the weight of his eyes
slowing down our marbles.


The poem is included in Alien to Any Skin (UST Publishing House, 2011).




Currently checking the net for any mention of my work… just found this again:
Two poems (which I am usually reluctant to review) caught my attention. ‘How to Fetch Firewood’ by Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau is dedicated to the women and children of Darfur, and has been published in multiple venues prior to this. It is a powerful, both moving and chilling poem about the horror and desperation of living in a war-torn and famine-wracked land with no hope and no help. Jim Pascual Agustin’s ‘In Every War’/’Sa Bawat Digma’ is a bilingual poem published here in both English and (I presume) Filipino. Like the above-mentioned poem, this one focuses on the plight of non-combatants in wartime, in this case parents who cannot sleep for fear of what might happen to their children. – The Future Fire Reviews (

Will add more soon.


An Apology

I have been away from here for too long. I apologize to all those who read these posts – not that there are many of you, but a single reader is as valuable to me as a million. I meant to write something while I was back in Manila, but far too many roadblocks popped all over. My secondhand laptop could not manage the heat and humidity and came close to turning into molten lava. I could have cooked a full meal on it, but somehow I felt responsible for such an old friend. I managed to bring it back to Cape Town in one piece, and it has since recovered. Now it is a back up machine should this new one I got decide to abandon me midstream.

Some big news… my twin books born in 2011, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin, will have new siblings. Now busy with copy editing the texts and getting hold of blurbs, possibly introductions – should the stars allow. If you or anyone you know have read and enjoyed/hated my books or any of my poetry, please send me word.

Thanks for staying with me for the ride.