Tag Archives: UST Publishing House

SANGA SA BASANG LUPA now out!

It took me this long to share the news of the release of my first (and perhaps last) short story collection in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA. My Philippine publisher, UST Publishing House, has made the title available and announced it on 19 October 2016 on their Facebook post. I’m hoping a launch of sorts would follow, but times are difficult at the moment. My previous attempts to do a virtual launch for my recent poetry collection, A THOUSAND EYES, never materialized.

My own sister has warned me not to come home because of what’s been happening. Anyone can be killed and be declared a drug user or drug pusher. Anyone. Nearly 5,000 people have been killed since Duterte took to the presidency. That and the tight budget keep me from booking a flight back home. Home. That’s a tough word to say when you have your heart in too many places and official documents and procedures – aside from economics – bar you from moving freely among your loved ones. I include my paper children among my loved ones.

Sanga sa Basang Lupa took a long time to be born. If you read Filipino fiction, I hope you give this paper child of mine a chance. Apparently not many short story collections in Filipino get put out there these days. Mine took over 20 years to see the light. Please take care of this one, dear reader. Maraming salamat.

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Burying a Dictator

My country of birth has an incoming president who won by garnering less than 40% of the votes. It can be said that over 60% of the voting population did not choose him, and when he gains control of the country this many people will be watching his every move, hoping all their fears be proven wrong. More than a month away from being sworn in, he mouths the same things during his notorious campaign. The ghosts of those killed by the so-called Davao Death Squads (documented by international agency Human Rights Watch and the country’s own Commission on Human Rights) will continue to haunt him until justice is done.
One thing that seems to have forced even his own supporters to declare disagreement with him even this early has to do with the remains of the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. The incoming president apparently sees him as worthy of being buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery. The public – perhaps more aware of that dark part of the country’s history – has started various campaigns to fight this utter disrespect for the countless victims of Martial Law. One of the campaigns is on Change.org. Here is the LINK. Please consider signing it and then sharing the petition link.
In showing my support, I am posting this poem which appeared in my book ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011). My poem is nothing compared to what the people of the Philippines suffered under the rule of the dictator, his family, and various cronies.
 

Tracks on Grasslands

It begins with that one step. A boot
on the slenderest blade
of grass. The faintest
crunch of bright green veins
nearly invisible to your eye.

But it happens. That breaking.

It happens again and again
as you move on, forcing down
other blades of grass,
leaving your tracks,
making a path of near
silent destruction
to somewhere
you think is yours
to claim.

And when you encounter
thicker grass that dare
to keep you out,
you make them sing
with that sharpened edge.

You do this in the dark.
You do this mostly in the dark.

October 2007
-o-


Houseboat features excerpts from A THOUSAND EYES

Houseboat has featured amazing work for some time now. It’s a real treat to anyone who loves words and images. My work has once again been given a chance to reach more readers. I hope you visit Houseboat and spread the word.

HERE IS THE LINK


Bjork likes sharing her work, so shall I

And yes, I’ve admired her work ever since I first listened to Debut. She and Nina Simone were my musical companions as I learned to cope with my unexpected move from Manila to Cape Town in 1994. More on that period later.

What I am posting here is a set of poems from A THOUSAND EYES. Enjoy and I hope to hear from you!

Thanks for being part of this journey.

YOUR VOICE YOUR HAND YOUR EYES MY WORDS published poems A THOUSAND EYES


Born on the 2nd of July: A THOUSAND EYES

cover design by John Marin Flores

cover design by John Marin Flores

My new paper child, A Thousand Eyes, has finally been born. I was in a bit of a mood when I wrote about it (in Filipino, translation later maybe) and posted the rambling as a Note on Facebook.

Copies of the book may for the meantime only be ordered via my Manila publisher, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. Try contacting them on their Facebook page or email them here: ustph.info@gmail.com or publishing@mnl.ust.edu.ph

I hope to be able to help with the distribution in the next few months. Meanwhile all I can do is try to promote it. I came up with a novel idea of asking friends to send me their readings, doodles, and photographs in response to some of the poems from the book. If you are interested in taking a creative trip with me, drop me a line here and I’ll send you the sampler. If I think we can make it work, I’ll ask your permission before I share it with others.

Thank you, dear readers, for staying with me.

HERE IS THE GOODREADS.COM LINK TO THE BOOK.


Leaving the Land: Geometry and Fear (poem from Alien to Any Skin) and some musings

Today my country of birth, the Philippines, celebrates Independence Day.

Google put this banner up, but being in South Africa it took me a while to work out that it was only visible when you log onto the Google Philippines search engine.

google ph independence day

As a kid, all I remember when that day came was being on holiday. My parents never took me to wherever there might be parades or state activities. I do remember the national flag being displayed on the most prominent window of each house. I have this vague memory that it was more a national decree to do that rather than something citizens just felt like doing. You remember things differently as a kid. Sometimes memory and imagination cross borders. And sometimes children see things as they are (or should be) much clearer than adults would.

Is my country of birth truly independent when it welcomes military forces from another country to wage war? When drones fly over, identifying targets? When the leaders of the land need to consult foreign powers for the country’s own “protection”? When foreign-owned mining companies put up bogus “local owners” just to resources and displace indigenous people?

When you leave the country where your feet first touched soil, you will never return as the same person. But you also do not have to leave in order to see things a different way. It could be as simple as tilting your head or closing your eyes for a moment while you listen to what’s around you. Sometimes you are drawn to something and cannot explain why. The lines on your palms mark the way you close your hand when you sleep or are at rest. How can anyone see them as anything more?

Here is a poem from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN, the first book that my current publisher, UST Publishing House released (back in 2011). I am still very fond of that book for it made me want to get back in to publishing. I can’t wait to see my forthcoming paper child, A THOUSAND EYES.

-o-

Geometry and Fear

i knew someone once
who could read lines

it was a gift she never wanted
to use, unless you begged her
for some glimmer of a future

she said faith should be enough
and seeing the doubt in my eyes
she had to allow geometry
to lead me out of the dark

you will leave your country
stare loneliness in the eye
bury the dead among the living
and resurrect them unwillingly

because your hands are your way
of seeing in the dark
and i laughed
a bitter laughter

that i had
never heard before

October – November 2007
-o-

window

I have a feeling I may have posted this poem before, but no matter. There must be a reason I do not yet understand why it resurfaced into memory. It must be the thick fog that had settled overnight where I now live – and it still has not lifted though it is nearly 11 in the morning.


Stubbornness and Wreckless Abandon

Two decades is a long time to be away from your own children. What if they were only made of paper, words on paper in a language you grew up speaking but now rarely use because no one else where you now live knows it? Would you still recognize them as your own? Would they seem as important and worth reading after all these years?

I am currently proofreading the text for my first book of short stories in Filipino, Sanga sa Basang Lupa, which is due for release later in the year. I had to stop for a while again. I remember the rough outline of each story, but I found myself getting all tense and fearful for the characters, or laughing with them at certain points of the narrative. Had they taken on a life of their own in all the time they had been in storage?

Would other readers feel the same way if and when they finally open the pages of the book and enter the worlds I had imagined? Will these stories even be given a chance by a single reviewer? A single reader?

I never thought of these at all when I was writing each story. If I had, none of them would be here now.

Stubbornness and wreckless abandon, I blame you, you twins of creation. And thank you. Now I have nothing but hope.

not real title

I just made up this design for this post and will not be used for the final book at all.