Sunday, June 25


Mansfield College in the University of Oxford is also sometimes called the "Kylie Minogue of colleges", being "small but well-formed". Mansfield has a population of about 200 students, and one of their more notable former students was Adam von Trott zu Solz, who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Since I read that, every time I think of Mansfield I automatically get this image in my head of Kylie in a sparkling short skirt, rising from a rotating CD player from the stage and wriggling to "I [just] can't get you out of my head." It's either that or Hitler dancing "Mein Kampf" ala Fergie of BEP. Persistent and disturbing ear worms, me bad.

Anyway, if things fall into place then I'll be in Mansfield for 4 days in September, for the Monsters 4 conference, which examines the myths and metaphors of enduring evil. I'm slated to present a paper on murderous Filipina maids. I'm not sure yet if the university gives out funds for this sort of thing. I still have to inquire about this tomorrow. I only have two weeks to find me proper funding and confirm my attendance.

Otherwise, I will have to either forfeit my slot, or find other ways to fund the trip. Like perhaps look for a fairy godmother or patrol Quezon Avenue on certain nights.

But I really, really do want to go. Dominus Illuminatio Mea indeed.

The Last Days of the Yantok Boyz

The Inquirer reports that some 200 faculty and students protested about the presence of the Marines in the Diliman campus:
The [militant group Anakbayan] said it had received a report that the Marines would replace the Special Security Brigade in charge of maintaining “peace and order” inside the campus. An active military presence in the UP portrays a twisted definition of “campus security,” it added.
The Special Security Brigade is usually seen patroling the academic oval, quietly in their black and orange vests, but with a big stick. I first noticed the Marines during the registration period, and mostly around the AS parking lot and steps. I thought they were there to beef up the security and guard the tuition money bins or something.

So does this report mean that the Marines are staying on? Will there be no more Yantok Boyz in the hood? Can someone clear this up?

Wednesday, June 21

Page Pimps

The page pimps along AS Walk sure know how to hook their customers.

"Hey, you collect Garland, right?"

I'm usually famished after my classes and I just stepped out to get myself some lunch. But one of the guys recognized me from last week's transactions, which ended with him counting bills and me holding two Jhumpa Lahiris and "The Coma." He flagged me down a few steps away from the canteen.

"Yeah." I suspiciously eyed him.

"We have 'The Tesseract,'" he said and showed me a paperback--smaller than all my other Garlands.

"I read that na years ago. Hardbound pa."

"It's a different edition. 180 lang."

I bit my tongue just in time before I could say that I just borrowed a friend's copy while we were on a road trip. Instead I said, "The other stall also has a Garland and Lahiris, too. And the new Palahniuk."

"Really. Which one?"

"'Stranger than Fiction.'"

"But we have 'Haunted.' 500 lang."

"Mahal." I raised my arm to check an imaginary watch. "Got to eat."

"Sige, we'll keep an eye out for a paperback then."


There goes next week's lunch money. Nyar. Seriously, I need to cut down on buying books again. I have books that haven't even seen the outside of their neat plastic covers and shrink wraps.

YouTube and anthropology

Paul Lloyd Sargent explains how YouTube not only democratized internet usage but also put the 'sub' back in subculture: "[T]he broadcast of web-based blogs has replaced the narrow niche of the photocopied ‘zine [and further, that what was once “subculture” has simply become “culture”], passively and/or aggressively, we’ve become de Certeau’s “very ordinary culture” of subversives engaged in “economic diversion”, stealing company time (and bandwidth) when we think no one is looking."

Friday, June 16

Super Seventies

While I was hunting down the links for the previous posts, I found the Super Seventies webpage, which is about, well, songs from the super seventies.

Years ago, there was this quiz or maybe it was a site that gave you the top of the pops list from the week when you were born. If I could pick a year from the seventies, the last entry for the page seems like a pretty good selection.

I mean, look at this list:
1. "My Sharona" - The Knack
2. "Le Freak" - Chic
3. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" - Rod Stewart
4. "Bad Girls" - Donna Summer
5. "YMCA" - Village People
6. "Reunited" - Peaches and Herb
7. "Ring My Bell" - Anita Ward
8. "I Will Survive" - Gloria Gaynor
9. "Too Much Heaven" - Bee Gees
10. "Hot Stuff" - Donna Summer

I'm not a Bee Gees fan so I don't know that particular song, and "Reunited" isn't particularly swinging. But the rest of it? The Knack and Donna Summer and the Village People and Gloria Gaynor. Oh yeah, it's oh so disco.

Lux Lisbon, You're So Disco: The Virgin Suicides Musical

Well, not exactly. But that's what I'd call this playlist which runs a little more than an hour. The excerpt from the Jeffrey Eugenides novel recreated the musical dialogue the Lisbon girls had over the phone with the neighborhood boys.

This virtual mixtape contains 11 pop songs from the 70s, including James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend," The Beatles' "Dear Prudence," Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Bread's "Make It With You"--I did say the list was sappy "nostalgia-inducing."

The playlist also has that anthem for angry young girls, "At Seventeen." I first heard this song when I was like twelve or thirteen, and felt real heavy, or to quote one of the Lisbon girls, I felt like saying, "Obviously, you've never been a thirteen year old girl." Anyway, here's what Janis Ian has to say about the song:
"I think 'At Seventeen' is a good song. It does what a good song should do, which is strike a nerve, communicate to any age group, cross class and cultural boundaries. The problem with protest stuff like 'Society's Child' is that I was singing to people who felt the same way I did. I wasn't changing anybody, or making any difference to the people. I think 'At Seventeen' may make some difference to some kid in junior high. A lot of people seemed to relate to it, anyway."
I didn't really catch all the words then, and years later, during one videoke session, another writer girl and I chose the song and when it played, it struck everyone's nerves. That was the first time I realized it was a damn sad song. Definitely not the one to shush out after Gloria Gaynor and Abba's "Dancing Queen."

But anyway, the playlist is really awesome. Makes you feel like you were actually eavesdropping on the Lisbon girls and the boys who adored them mightily.

Monday, June 12


Randy David has this interesting bit on what makes artists "national":
[T]he artists the State celebrates are not necessarily the people’s own choices. Indeed, rare would be the national artist who, by his or her work, articulates the nation’s experience and self-understanding and, at the same time, touches the lives of ordinary people.

The reasons for this may be traced to the lack of fit between the nation conjured by the State and the collective identity of the people it hoped to represent. The wider the gap between the two, the larger would be the discrepancy between the nation’s symbols and the people’s heroes. Every sovereign state seeks to narrow this gap—in many instances, without much success.
Now this is particularly intriguing: "the nation conjured by the state," like it was pulled out of a top hat, and voila! Pilipinas. Apparently, the Pilipinas that some 82 million people have in mind is not the same Pilipinas that the state has in mind. How this came to be is something that we all have to consider.

My once Imaginary/Invisible Roommate recently cleaned her side of the office and I've noticed that among her stack of books, sandwiched between Desire of Ages and a volume on igneous rocks, is something about imagining communities.

Benedict Anderson writes in his book that what brings people together is not just a common flag, or suffering the same traffic and semi-regular revolutions in EDSA, but something we all imagined we share. He writes: "Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings." It's actually strong enough to make you want to kill for your country, literally "ang mamatay ng dahil sa 'yo."

On a ligher scale, it's rooting for Manny Pacquiao beat somebody who brought in a professional pop artist to sing their national anthem and not squawk for the whole world to hear. For that brief moment, I'm sure that a lot of people were glued to the screens and cheered. And I'm willing to wager that more Filipinos know who Manny Pacquiao is than any of the Natinal Artists declared this year. Except perhaps for Fernando Poe Jr.

Much has been made of the mythical qualities of FPJ. In an FPJ movie, people wait for that moment when FPJ throws his rapid machine gun punches and end that barrage with a cymbal-strike on the villain's temples. It's a reassuring experience, a moment you have come to expect in every FPJ movie. He will rise and fight back. The underdog who finally musters enough courage to strike back and fight for all the little people.

But of course, in the last elections, much has also been made that the voting population might confuse the image with the man himself. There might be some truth in it: the PCIJ came out with this documentary about how most of the politicians who ran a successful presidential campaign knew how to play out an image and get the votes.

In the same way that you could never show FPJ lose in a movie or else all hell would break loose. In certain parts of the country, people pelted the cinema screens with tomatoes and slippers when their hero lost, or much worse died at the end of the movie. There was so much discontent that the producers allegedly shot an alternate ending. So even if FPJ died, there was this insert of how he ascended to the heavens while riding his horse and smiling over everything there was here on earth. That was the only way to placate the angry lot who thought they lost their hero.

Now here's the thing: FPJ has been declared National Artist, the great divide between high and pop art notwithstanding. Randy David writes: "FPJ is both a national artist and a people’s artist. He did not become great because the movie critics or the culturati liked his films. He became great because ordinary Filipinos went to his movies and were changed by them."

When people out there think of "art," with or without the "national" attached, it's usually high art. The "nation," how it is imagined by certain quarters, is supposedly different from what the people think it is. We haven't even solved what "nation" is, but the National Artist citation brings to the front and center what "culture," with the appended problemation term "national," is.

Randy David insists that the problem with this entire nation thing is that "the elite hijacked Filipino nationalism and stripped it of its social content. They became so obsessed with quickly taking over the reins of government that they did not see much value in creating a strong national identity among the people. They rushed headlong into the project of modernity, even as they paid lip service to a national culture, and promoted rapid Westernization in the end."

Westernization isn't necessarily bad, as long as it does not efface what or who we really are. We still have to figure these things out, in the same way that the controversy about who and what the National Artist is supposed to be may be endless. But was FPJ declared National Artist because the "nation" finally decided that it should not be alienated from its people, or was it done to smoothen out ruffled feathers?

The way it is now, Culture--capitalized, never in the lower case--is high culture, not pop. It is "Ugoy ng Duyan," not "Tulog Na." It is the highly stylized ballet Darna, not the barely-clad Angel Locsin who is torn between prioritizing public responsibility over her hectic lovelife. It is the 5 hour marathon about a murder abroad and not the laugh out loud comedy about single motherhood spiked with the essential Ate Vi compendium of cinematic dialogue. It is the strategically lit painting about dead gladiators and not the repro used in public phone cards. Culture happens in the CCP, not Broadway Centrum. But can't we have a nation that wears a barong with lawlaw jeans and "Havanas" at the same time?

Happy Independence Day everyone.

Thursday, June 8

Hell is 20

You Are 20 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Okay, so I'm back in the hell that is being 20 years old. And I find this rather odd, but another online quiz told me I should be a musician. But if I insist on being a writer, then I should be in film.

Rockstar or writer? Which life path is best for a 7? Hmmm..

At 20, I can still be anything, yes?

Monday, June 5

Top 30 Travel Books

World Hum posted their Top 30 Travel Books of all time.

I haven't read any of the books included, except for parts of Pico Iyer's Video Night in Kathmandu at #8. According to Rolf Potts, the books greatest strength is "Iyer’s refusal to draw prim moral conclusions as Western popular culture bumps up against the traditions of the East. Instead, he casts things in terms of a tenuous romance." Rolf Potts and Postmodern Tourism interview Iyer here and here.

But I'm reading his Global Soul, which is about how today's transport system and technology is making demarcation lines disappear. Of course, that is if you've got the means to be everywhere, whenever. But anyway, I've yet to finish it so I reserve my comments until after.

I'm also currently reading--very very slowly--Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia, which did not make the list. Instead, they've included his Songlines, which I also haven't read yet. Nick Clapson's Spike Magazine essay "In Search of the Miraculous" says that Patagonia was probably "his driest," but that Chatwin makes "curious observations with nuggets of historical information which manages to make this more than an account of a physical journey, and that, to me, is the essence of good travel writing."

Well, if you're into travel narratives, World Hum's list is an interesting foray for beginners.

Thursday, June 1


Top three reasons to go to Brazil:

3. It's World Cup season. You love bright yellow and green.
2. Fernando de Mereilles' Cidade de Deus was set there. Unless you're into Terry Gilliam. "An empty desk is an efficient desk," bah.
1. It's different down there.

Anong sinabi ng Wow! Philippines di ba?

For tamadita and saturatedtextmachine.