Category Archives: Asia
PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL for Wings of Smoke
Please send me a request if you wish to read this sampler.
Wings of Smoke is available worldwide through The Onslaught Press website, on Amazon and, for South African readers, through me (leave a message here).
I also put up an audio recording of the set on Soundcloud.com.
Leave a comment | tags: Jim Pascual Agustin, poetry collections, poetry sampler from Wings of Smoke, sampler, Soundcloud, The Onslaught Press, Wings of Smoke | posted in Africa, Asia, Creatures, environment, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Jim Pascual Agustin, Life in a different world, Literary News & Articles, Mga Tula / Poetry, poetry, Uncategorized, Wings of Smoke
I posted on Soundcloud.com audio recordings of both the original Filipino and English translation of my poem “Danica Mae” which won the Gabo Prize from Lunch Ticket. The texts were published here on Matangmanok as well as on Lunch Ticket.
I’m using Soundcloud as I have over 160 minutes of free time to fill. I thought I might as well use it as another platform to spread not just my poetry but to also express my disgust at the continuing murderous war on drugs policy of the Duterte regime in my country of birth.
I can’t say “Enjoy it!” as that is not the intention. Be bothered would be more apt.
Leave a comment | tags: #DuterteTutaeNgMgaMarcos, Antioch University, Danica Mae Garcia, Duterte, EJK, Jim Pascual Agustin, Lunch Ticket, war on drugs | posted in Asia, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Fragments and Moments, Jim Pascual Agustin, KaLaman at DayuHan, Mga Tula / Poetry, poetry, politics, Uncategorized
Huge things are happening in my country of birth. A retired policeman has corroborated the testimony of one of the hired killers of the dreaded Davao Death Squad, saying the former mayor, now elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, created and conducted the vigilante-style group. During Duterte’s term as mayor of Davao City thousands were claimed to have been murdered or made to disappear by the DDS. Will this revelation change the course of my country of birth? One hopes for the better, as worse scenarios have been floated by various critics such as self-initiated revolution in order to force a change to federalism or even dictatorship (as Duterte’s hero, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos did in the 70s).
But the title of this post said something else! Yes, it did. My apologies. Here goes.
It is one thing an author wishes for his/her paper child – to be read. So I always thank readers who can find time to delve deeper into my work and come up with their own ideas about it.
Thank you to Marius Carlos, Jr for this review with two versions. One appears on his Medium.com page. The other version appears on The FilAm.
Wings of Smoke may be ordered via my publisher’s website – www.onslaughtpress.com – and Amazon. It will be made available in South Africa in March 2017 mainly through the author who will be reading and launching the book at various venues: at the Writing for Liberty Conference at the Centre for the Book on 28 March, at Off the Wall (A Touch of Madness Restaurant) in Observatory on 30 March and at Kalk Bay Books on 4 April. More to follow during the year.
Leave a comment | tags: Davao Death Squad, DDS, Duterte, EJK, Jim Pascual Agustin, The Onslaught Press, Wings of Smoke | posted in Asia, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Fragments and Moments, Influences, Jim Pascual Agustin, Literary News & Articles, Mga Tula / Poetry, Sanaysay / Essays, Uncategorized, Wings of Smoke
You take memory. Put it in a box. Shake it a bit. Open the box. Whisper into it. Close it up and shake it some more. Open the box. Take it apart. Look for the memory that seems to have disappeared. Now start writing what you remember, what should be remembered, what will always be remembered, and then make a new box out of air.
This is how “Cousin’s Thumbnail” was written. Now it has found a home at NoiseMedium. Please read the poem and leave a comment there. Or here. Thank you.
Leave a comment | tags: Filipino poetry, Jim Pascual Agustin, NoiseMedium, Philippines, poetry, violence | posted in Asia, environment, Filipino poetry, Fragments and Moments, How to Make a Salagubang Helicopter, Jim Pascual Agustin, Literary News & Articles, Mga Tula / Poetry, poetry, Uncategorized
I Hate Found Poems and I Do Not Claim This One
words by Gabriel Cardinoza, formatting by Jim Pascual Agustin
Five-year-old Danica Mae
Garcia, who was felled
last week by a bullet intended
for her grandfather, was buried
at the public cemetery here
on Wednesday. Some 150 relatives
and neighbors joined the funeral
procession. They waded in floodwater
that rose by half a meter
on a 100-meter stretch
of the road from Danica’s house
at Barangay Mayombo beside Pantal River,
which had been swollen
due to monsoon rain
and high tide in the past days.
No government official showed up
at the burial of the collateral damage
in President Duterte’s
war on illegal drugs.
1 Comment | tags: collateral damage, Danica Mae, Danica Mae Garcia, EJK, extrajudicial killings, Gabriel Cardinoza, Justice, murders, terrorist Duterte, war on drugs | posted in Asia, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Fragments and Moments, Influences, Jim Pascual Agustin, poetry, terrorism, Uncategorized
Thank you to Rappler for convincing Aiza Seguerra, newly-appointed by Philippine President Duterte as National Youth Commission Secretary, to read with much delight my rather old poem, “Litel Mis Pilipings.” I’m still working on the translation of the poem for a wider audience. I performed the poem myself many times way back in the early 1990s, to the disbelief and huge amusement of the various audiences who were (un?)fortunate enough be there. I’ll try and post an audio recording of my recent attempt to recreate those times. Or maybe not.
HERE IS A LINK to Aiza’s reading
Aiza has an interesting background, including ending up as a runner-up in the very contest I tackle in the poem.
(UPDATE: I posted on SOUNDCLOUD a scratchy recording of my own reading I did today.)
Aiza, if you happen to read this blog post, I hope you find the following poem I have just written, “Danica May,” worth your while.
Hindi kailanman lalapag malapit sa iyong barangay
ang helikopter ng Presidente. Hindi siya kailanman
maglalakad patungo sa bahay ng iyong ina, o magpapagpag
ng alikabok sa sapatos bago humakbang papasok ng pintuan.
Hindi kailanman hahagurin ng kanyang tingin kung saan mo
dating itinatabi ang iyong mga laruan. Hindi magmamabagal
ang kanyang mga mata pagtanaw sa mga damit mong nakasabit o tiklop na nakahimlay, ngayon ay hiwalay sa labada ng pamilya. Hindi niya tatanungin
kung ano ang pleybor ng paborito mong ays krim,
o kung paano ka humawak ng krayola,
o kung tinatakpan mo ng palad
ang iyong bibig tuwing matatawa.
Walang halaga ang ano pa man na aking sabihin,
lalo na sa iyo. Kahit pa man tukuyin kong hindi mga bala
ang kumitil sa iyong buhay, kundi mga salita.
Mumunting piraso lamang ng bakal
ang mga bala na maaari sanang naging pintuan
ng laruan mong kotse, o mga butones
ng damit na hindi mo na maisusuot
mula sa araw na ito.
LINK TO A HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH article
LINK TO A RELATED PIECE ON MATANGMANOK
5 Comments | tags: Aiza Seguerra, children, collateral damage, crossfire, Danica Mae, Danica Mae Garcia, Duterte, EJK, extrajudicial killings, human rights, human rights violations, Jim Pascual Agustin, Litel Mis Pilipings, Philippines, poetry, Rappler | posted in Asia, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Jim Pascual Agustin, Mga Tula / Poetry, poetry, politics, terrorism, Uncategorized
More Wax than Human Remains
The late dictator’s image rendered
in wax, displayed in a Quiapo-quality
glass box, is what his family would love
to drag down from the North
all the way to sweltering Manila.
Only those who have lived
through the darkness might ask:
How many candles could they carve
out of his non-human remains?
Will his greatest admirer simply
mow us down with curses and bullets,
deaf as he is to any protest?
The above is the first draft. Here is the new version which I hope is a bit of an improvement, thanks to the generous members of my secret online poetry discussion group, The Boathouse:
More Wax than Human
The late dictator’s image
rendered in wax, displayed
in a Quiapo-quality glass box,
what his family and most touched
admirer would love to haul
all the way from the North
down to sweltering Manila.
Only those who have lived
through the darkness might ask:
How many candles
could they carve out
of his non-human remains?
THE NARRATIVE has always been that the body in the glass coffin in Batac, Ilocos Norte, lying there since 1993, is yet to be buried because the state refuses burial. As a result, the body lies embalmed until God knows when. There is an irreverent twist to it, sacrilegious even, that appeals to most cultural norms barring the desecration of the dead. In short, the message is: The state is cruel to disallow proper burial.
I have had two opportunities to visit the crypt of Ferdinand Marcos. The tourist gazer is usually led to an inner chamber inside the mausoleum just beside the family’s “ancestral house.” I enclose that in quotation marks because the house is anything but old; it is a new building designed to have fake, exposed “paletadas” so as to conjure antiquity; this is also part of the narrative. This first visit had an Imeldific air to it—the sound of choral cantatas filled the chamber.
The second visit some years later was unexpectedly and surprisingly revealing. A close Marcos family friend escorted us to the crypt. There in the stillness of the chamber (no choral cantata this time), looking down on the finely chiseled body of the deposed president—you could clearly see the veins on his hands, or so I thought—the family friend whispered: This body is just a wax replica, the real corpse had already been buried underneath. End of the narrative.
Leave a comment | tags: crypt, dictator, Duterte, Jim Pascual Agustin, Marcos dictatorship, Martial Law, More wax than human remains, Quiapo, wax | posted in Asia, Filipino poetry, Jim Pascual Agustin, Life in a different world, Mga Tula / Poetry, Uncategorized
People often have a misconception about progress, about moving on, about how today and tomorrow will always be better than the already receding past. This misconception sometimes comes hand in hand when a leadership is replaced by what appears to be a far better one, one that proclaims a new order. When there is disillusionment toward the past, the future always seems brighter and brimming with hope. There is an accompanying euphoria, a deafening celebration even, as nearly everyone is overcome by a singular energy emanating from an apparently bold new power.
In the case of the recent Philippine elections, facts show that the new leader was not actually swept into power by a majority vote. A much bigger voting population did not choose him, which partly reflects a fault in the electoral system that may need tweaking. For the record, it must be recognized that Mr. Duterte’s presidency was not an outright landslide victory as is often parroted by foreign media correspondents.
Mr. F. Sionil Jose, you welcomed and bestowed such glowing praises to this new order. I cannot help but disagree with you. Allow me to say this outright: your metaphors may be simple and clear, but none of them can ever bring back the lives of those who have been killed and will continue to be murdered under Duterte’s watch. Not a single one. But they don’t matter, do they? Not in your view that fits nicely in the pocket of the new power who, on each and every occasion, has said human rights do not matter and that they are a hindrance to progress.
You cheered when Duterte criticized (as if he were the first to do so) the Catholic Church – an institution that arguably has many faults as well as merits, which its own followers and long-time critics know well enough. His first outbursts made mythical were but toilet-related.
You called him an Indio or a commoner (because of his looks perhaps, or his way of speaking?), yet he is among the elite – bank accounts, if ever they are revealed, or funding during his campaign should clarify that. His reign in Davao City, infamous for the death squads of recent memory, is now securely extended in the hands of his children. Do tell us, Mr. F. Sionil Jose, what this amounts to.
Your statement on the country’s free media completely disregards the fact that the Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. Surely any PEN member would know this. Those who fear exposure begin by branding the media as irresponsible and arrogant. Then they find other excuses such as allegations of being linked to some illegal activity. Not far down the line, the dark barrel of a gun.
The phrase “collateral damage” was coined by the CIA, as I’m pretty sure you are familiar with. It is nothing more than a lame excuse for murder that may as well sound like this: “We did not mean to kill the innocent, they were just caught in the crossfire. Sorry, sort of. Thank you for your understanding, your sacrifice.” Say that to the family of a victim and see how they react, I dare you. I’ll deliver you right to their doorstep.
That word, sacrifice, you invoked more than once, like a prayer. True sacrifice involves choosing to perform something that would normally be resisted. It involves giving up one’s own freedom in a way, with a complete understanding of the weight of that decision. But your idea of sacrifice here brings to mind a master telling its slave to choose either to be thrown into the fiery chasm of a volcano or to be fed to a wild beast.
There are far too many disturbing points in your article, but all of them boil down to what you said in your opening paragraph. You seem to have missed the very core of EDSA 1986, that momentous time in our country. The whole world was astounded when Filipinos from all levels of society – your belittled poor and the “privileged” and everyone else in between – came together and silenced the destructive power of guns. People knew the fragility of flesh yet they faced the brutality of the regime, believing their actions will awaken the inherent sense of humanity among the armed soldiers. Do you understand the true force in that?
Mr. F. Sionil Jose, you tried to justify surrendering human rights as part of the sacrifice that must be made so that a promised better way of life should come to fruition. I guess you mean only for the survivors, as the victims are of little value. The greater good, the bigger picture, that promise which, in Duterte’s twisted logic and in your claimed revolution, means bloodshed rising like a storm surge.
Although there are many hopeful plans by the Duterte government, these are in deep conflict with the essence of nation building which treasures each and every citizen, including those who may seem to be a lost cause. In passing, you mentioned the case of Venezuela as a warning without recognizing how the people of that country continue to fend off the imperialist moves of your benefactors. It may do you some good to read other views of what has happened in that country.
Our very constitution states in many ways: each human life is precious and must be respected.
Human rights, Mr. F. Sionil Jose, cannot be set aside in this country of ours precisely because of its experience with dictatorship. Martial Law was a time when those who knew how to please certain masters were certain to benefit, while those who showed the slightest opposition due to their moral convictions were dealt with in various and devious ways. The violations began with so-called evils of society – the alleged criminals or drug lords – then moved on to student activists, the free media, then anyone else perceived to be opposed to the regime, or, for that matter, anyone who fell on the wrong side of a petty official or his goons. Investigations were rare, if at all. Everything and everyone was swept under the carpet. It was the New Society. Remember?
Similar events are taking place in this country. You do not just condone these, you sit up and applaud as people are silenced forever. It is so close to Martial Law, what with all the dead bodies turning up, except for two main differences: the dead are left to be seen and those who elected Mr Duterte (and horrifyingly even those who did not) see progress.
You and Mr Duterte, along with numerous others who these days clamor for more blood, need to read, at the very least, the UN Declaration on Human Rights. If it is too difficult to comprehend properly, I am sure there are individuals who would sacrifice their time to enlighten you.
The barrel of a gun seeks to plant fear in everyone’s minds. Not reason, not communication, not healing, not understanding, and definitely not the building of a nation. Every person becomes a possible target, at the mercy of the most petty killer.
This president sees no value in human rights. His response has repeatedly been “I really don’t care.” Where do we turn when we hear the howling of a hollow heart?
Being human means more than having gleaming new bridges of steel connecting islands, or a network of train lines that covers cities and provinces, or orderly streets swept clear of informal vendors, or emergency numbers for those in need of immediate assistance, or even silence in the dead of night.
Mr F. Sionil Jose, as one writer to another, we know we all seek to write imagined lives as if they were real to us. If we cannot believe them, their possibility of existence, then how can we convince a single reader? In order to achieve this, we seek the heart of a character, the world s/he sees, the voice of one that might be. We may even be thought of as mad as we laugh or grieve with them, as if they were real. I shouldn’t have to tell you to imagine what real people are beyond the page, yet I feel I need to after reading your article where you’ve discarded with a sense of humanity.
Being human means trying your very best to see each person as possessing the same rights you hold dear. It means looking at the details of a life with value, a life as if your own. To be human is to see the frailty as well as the possibility in each person that should never be so quickly extinguished and disregarded, silenced by a bullet and a sign on a piece of cardboard.
This one man’s order that brands anyone (for whatever reason) as unwelcome in the new order, and thus deserving a swift end, is a violation of this right, this life.
With each bullet, each drop of blood, monsters come to life, painted with the crudest brush. Let us not be led back to the days of scrawling on caves.
PLEASE CONSIDER READING AND SIGNING THIS PETITION
PHOTO THAT GAVE THE KILLINGS A HUMAN FACE
1 Comment | tags: Duterte, extra judicial killings, F. Sionil Jose, Jim Pascual Agustin, Philippines, protest | posted in Asia, Filipino-South African, Fragments and Moments, Imperialism, Influences, Jim Pascual Agustin, Latin America, Life in a different world, politics, Uncategorized
My country of birth just had major national elections. I wasn’t there to participate, to feel all the excitement, the dread, the many and varied hopes that gushed out of people I know and many I will never meet. So it feels almost selfish that I share this bit of personal news. Someone felt my work was worthy of being read and gave me some room to express myself.
I don’t really know what to say most times when asked highly personal questions. Nichole L. Reber threw some really tough ones and I hope I didn’t sound like a tap left running until the bucket overflowed. Please visit the Ploughshares blog and maybe try to leave a message here or there if you have any feedback – complaints, curses, blessings, or whatever reaction you may have.
Mostly I really just want to thank each reader who has given my work a chance. Maraming salalamat, sa inyong lahat. Nichole, I hope I didn’t disappoint with my long-winded answers.
EDIT… In the interview a particular poem was mentioned, “Ghosts of Sweaty Air,” which was originally published in GUD Magazine. The GUD website allows you to read the first few lines. The whole poem is in my book Alien to Any Skin. If you’re interested and nice (hahaha), then leave a note here, I’ll shoot the poem to you.
HERE IS THE LINK TO THE PLOUGHSHARES BLOG
Leave a comment | posted in A Thousand Eyes, Africa, Alien to Any Skin, Asia, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Fragments and Moments, Jim Pascual Agustin, Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran, Life in a different world, Literary News & Articles, Mga Tula / Poetry, poetry, Sanga sa Basang Lupa, Sound Before Water, Uncategorized
I have been invited by PEN SA to read on 16 November 2015 at Kalk Bay Books to commemorate the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. Here is a LINK to the PEN SA website regarding the event. I’m thinking of reading some poems from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN and perhaps a new work, if things fall into place.
If you are anywhere in Cape Town on that day, please do join us.
Leave a comment | posted in Alien to Any Skin, Asia, environment, Filipino poetry, Filipino-South African, Imperialism, Influences, Jim Pascual Agustin, Latin America, Middle East, poetry, Uncategorized