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Slip of the Pen The personal slash literary journal of Phillip Kimpo Jr, aka the Corsarius. Poetry, fiction, essays, vignettes, and more. Sat, 10 Jan 2009 06:45:19 +0000 en My Letter to The Philippine Star Sat, 10 Jan 2009 06:45:19 +0000 Corsarius A Letter from the Son of One of the Prosecutors in the “Alabang Bribery Case” (Save Our Honest Prosecutors!)

(Note: Portions of this letter appeared in the Jan. 5 issue of The Philippine Star, in Mr. Jarius Bondoc’s column at page 11. It’s a reaction to the Jan. 2 column of the same writer. It can also be found online at: )

Dear Sir Jarius Bondoc,

May you have a blessed 2009! Please let me introduce myself. My name is Phillip Kimpo Jr., 23, a writer, poet, and blogger. I am a member of the LIRA Filipino poetry group and of UMPIL (Writers Union of the Philippines).

If my name sounds familiar, maybe it is, albeit for the wrong reason. I am the only child of Senior State Prosecutor Phillip I. Kimpo, one of the prosecutors falsely and unfairly involved in the alleged Php50-M DOJ bribery attempt.

First, a disclaimer: I am not writing on behalf of my father. I believe that he would discourage me from writing this if he knew. He would not let me get involved in matters of his work. I am writing this as a son who deeply cares for his one remaining parent, a son who has lived a simple and sometimes difficult life because his father maintains to this very day an honest lifestyle. (I even like to call him “honest to a fault.”)

I have always regarded you as a journalist and columnist of high integrity. Thus, it came as a painful shock to read your January 2 column in The Philippine Star.

Being a writer myself, I know that it is perfectly right to express one’s opinion, especially in one’s own newspaper space. But it was very disheartening to read your own take on the matter:

“As it turned out in the case of the ‘Alabang Boys,’ the narcs were dedicated to duty. But not the prosecutors on whom they relied for the requisite criminal proceedings…The PDEA found out that P50 million changed hands for the three suspects to get out of jail before Christmas…It is likely that the prosecutors did mess up the case.”

You wrote of the changing of cash as if it were historical fact, not mere allegation. As far as I know by keeping tabs on the news, PDEA has yet to present proof of the alleged bribery attempt.

On the other hand, there was strong evidence for the case’s dismissal, as stated in the investigating prosecutor’s resolution. Quoting Inquirer’s own January 2 news article:

“The resolution dismissed the case because of the illegal warrantless arrests and warrantless searches on the vehicles of the three suspects.

The resolution also noted the excessive use of force against the respondents, pointing to several grave improprieties of the PDEA agents such as the mauling of Brodette while his hand were tied and the shooting of the right front tire of a Honda Accord. It also pointed to seven other bullet holes.

In their sworn statements, the respondents complained to the DoJ that one of the PDEA agents said that if the operation happened outside the posh subdivision in Alabang, they would not be alive.

“Kung sa labas ito nangyari at walang witness, tigok na sila (If it happened outside [the subdivision], and there were no witnesses, they would have been dead),” the PDEA agent was quoted as saying.

The resolution particularly noted that Joseph was “under the control of the PDEA agents without the presence of any counsel when information against respondent Tecson was extracted from him.”"

* * *

For the record: my father NEVER received any bribe money for the “Alabang Boys” case. In fact, he has NEVER received any bribe money in his entire career. If he did, we would now be wallowing in wealth instead of driving an old car and renting an apartment unit. Kahit tingnan pa nila ang laman ng mga bank account namin, wala silang makikita. We have nothing to hide. Even my dad’s fellow public servants at the DOJ know of his incorruptible character.

While we haven’t exactly lived a hand-to-mouth existence, we have followed a modest life all these years. It is very heart-wrenching to see all our sacrifices tarnished by false allegations. I never imagined that one day, I would be a writing a letter such as this.

At the risk of getting soppy, there was a time in my childhood days when our apartment unit was the only one along the street that was lit by candles. (Unpaid electricity bills.) There was a time when we had to settle for Maggi-and-egg dinners, on loan from the nearby sari-sari store. Nililista lang, walang pambayad e. There was a time when my only entertainment were books and radyo-nobelas, because we had no money to fix or replace our broken TV. (Of course, these problems do not compare to the poverty experienced by millions of Filipinos, but these are problems you wouldn’t expect to find in the homes of people of high position.)

If my dad wanted to give me a more comfortable life through unethical deeds, he would’ve already done it back then. But he stuck to his principles, principles I dearly believe in and espouse through my literary works.

Our financial situation only took a turn for the better when I became a scholar in the Philippine Science High School, which was followed by UP Diliman. The free tuition took a lot of the burden off the shoulders of my father. Even in UP, I worked as a Student Assistant, carrying computers despite my asthma, so I can chip in my meager Php 2,500 monthly salary to our finances.

I am currently working at home as a freelance Internet writer while finishing my first book. Now, because I’m able to help with the bills, the belts around our waists aren’t as tight as before…which is another reason why my father does not need extra money obtained deeply against his values. Who needs millions when you can have a peaceful, guilt-free life?

We rent an apartment unit in Galas, Quezon City, and this is the only home I’ve known in my whole life. Our car is an old, dented, second-hand Mitsubishi Lancer whose headlights are nearly falling off their sockets and whose paint is cracked and flaking. We have stuck with this car because we don’t have the luxury to buy a new one, and also because why would we? It’s not a necessity to have a great car. Our old Lancer, while a tad embarrassing to ride in, suits our needs just fine. We don’t feel the pressure to have a shiny model to park side by side with other government officials’ more grandiose cars.

(If you have doubts about this tale of mine, I will gladly meet you so I can ‘tour’ you around our apartment unit and show you our car. My contact details are at this letter’s end. My main website is also there; my life is kind of an open book in my online journals.)

To be honest, I am not expecting a response from you — after all, who am I to elicit a reply from one of the country’s top columnists? Still, I am hoping that my letter will somehow urge you to take a second look at your views upon the matter, and that you will share this with your many readers. Yes, people, there are honest prosecutors in the Philippines. Hopefully, your column will be a medium with which to spread that message.

Sir, you too are a son like me, so you understand my pain and my personal intentions. As a journalist, you have championed the truth for years probably longer than my young lifetime. We are both writers. I was a campus journalist. I also believe in the truth, and I pray that it will come out soon so that my dad and I can go back to living a simple — and quiet — life.

Thank you very much for your time. May God bless you.

Kindly yours,

Phillip Kimpo Jr.

My Poem at Bulawan Online Thu, 07 Aug 2008 21:32:22 +0000 Corsarius Click to enlarge -- Bulawan Online August 2008

Earlier this month, the second issue of the new premier literary journal Bulawan Online launched. I was fortunate enough to have had one of my Filipino poems published.

Palanca Hall of Famer and distinguished poet Roberto T. Añonuevo wrote the commentary for my poem Talà (Star) as well as for Charles Tuvilla’s work, Sa Unang Ulan ng Mayo (The First Rain of May).

The article (titled Estetika at Pagtanaw hinggil sa Dalawang Lungsod) is in Filipino. An excerpt:

Maaaring tanawin ang lungsod sa iba’t ibang paraan, at isa sa rito ang pagtatanghal sa punto de bista ng isang tagalungsod na dumadama sa loob ng lungsod at tumatanaw papalabas ng sakop nito at tanging siya lamang makababatid. O kaya’y tingnan ang lungsod mula sa labas nito, nang sa gayon ay mabatid ang kabuuan ng lungsod na hindi mababatid ng tao na nasa loob nito at ang sipat ay limitado. Ang ganitong pagtanaw hinggil sa lungsod ang ipinamamalas ng mga tulang “Sa Unang Ulan ng Mayo” ni Charles Tuvilla at “Talà” ni Phillip Kimpo Jr.

Sir Bobby’s essay first appeared on his blog Alimbukad; my surprise to my poem’s inclusion was well-documented on my Multiply blog.

Read the poems and commentary on this page; for more info on the Rio Alma-edited Bulawan Online, visit my other blog, Crimson Crux.

* * * * *

Just in case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing lately:

Gut-Check Days, God-Check Mays Sat, 10 May 2008 13:30:43 +0000 Corsarius Subtitled: This Year’s Birthday Post

You’re aboard your car or some public transport, and you’re on your way to somewhere fearsome, something momentous.

You know the drill.

Your chest feels like it’s getting drilled. You gulp down inordinate amounts of saliva, and it feels as if a swarm of pupae hitched a ride down into your stomach where they would metamorphose into the proverbial butterflies. You try to distract your edgy self by staring at the world whizzing past the window, but your mind always recoils and fixates on one question. Will I fail the exams? Will Tito survive the operation? Will I impress the boss? Will She accept my flowers?

I’m not spared from these oh-God-let’s-just-get-this-over-with days. The nervous days in my life are as rife as the nerve endings of my body. How-I-Can-Change-the-Philippines elocution contests, ABS-CBN tapings, puppy love Valentine’s Days, thesis presentations, writers’ workshops.

And I’ve always got the most adrenalin-inducing, aorta-pumping start to this kind of days.

The moment I step out of our quinquagenarian apartment (read: fifty years, I just wanted you to hear the hoof beats in that word), I already feel like a soon-to-be-tested warrior. The swirling dust of Cordillera Street is the dust of the battlefield, and the overhead sun coaxes the sweat from my tense skin. (Of course, this poetic image is washed down when it’s the stormy season, but hey, the sleek curtain of raindrops more than makes up for it theatrically.) The noise and the blur of vehicles in front of me add to the atmosphere, making me hear war drums and making me see charging knights and scurrying squires.

I then flag down my stallion (or should I say, pony?) – one of the hundreds of tricycles plying Galas. “Boss, Quezon Av,” I thunder.

With that command, my warhorse (quinquagenarian-quinquagenarian-quinquagenarian) kicks into action, sometimes with a proud BROOOOOOM!, and sometimes with a meek brukdukdukdukdukduk. Especially when the stallion’s quite robust, I cling to the seat or the metal frame in the same way I would cling to my mount’s reins, and I imagine myself carrying a waxed, glinting lance into battle. Unfortunately, the lance is but my dirty shoulder bag.

A few gallops and I pass by Doña Aurora Elementary School, and the sight of the children adds to my anxiety. Not because I fear their being collateral damage in the battle I’m going to, but because they resurrect a lot of nervous moments from my having-to-wear-a-uniform years, such as my flag ceremony role of reciting the Panatang Makabayan (Patriotic Oath) from memory in grade school and my ‘fabulous pretty boy moment’ as the Helen-snatching Paris in the annual Iliad play in PSHS. Remembering past nervous moments in a current nervous moment is akin to beating your brain like an egg.

To make matters worse for my nerves, right across Doña Aurora is our parish church, and like a dutiful crusader I make the Sign of the Cross. I say my prayers, ask for His blessing, ask for Jesus’ guidance, and ask for the Holy Spirit to give me courage. In truth, like a dutiful crusader willing to charge headfirst into death, I’m just making peace with my God while struggling to make peace with my guts.

Soon I cross E. Rodriguez Avenue and my steed’s speed is racked up a notch. The thrill of the wind and the sensation of leaving everything behind to eat my dust make me feel energized and eager to take on the “somewhere fearsome, something momentous” waiting for me. Somehow, the ride helps untangle the bundle of nerves.

When my stallion, er, tricycle finally screeches to a stop, the stifling corridor of Cordillera Street gives way to the vast expanse of asphalt known as Quezon Avenue. It’s like I rode out from a narrow valley and into the wide plains where the battle will be joined.

And I feel ready.

* * * * *

In some days, the action plays in reverse. The “somewhere fearsome, something momentous” is not in a far-away place I have to commute to.

Rather, it is home. And my nervousness builds up while returning from the far-away place to the place near to my heart.

Nah, don’t be expecting some tragic, horrific, secret family story to suddenly pop in here. Most of the time, my tenseness is over ‘petty’ things – a street dogfight whose story is told in a black eye and a bleeding nose that I can’t hide, another flunked Math subject that I have to report to dad, a clandestine tryst with my special someone in my bedroom for the first time.

But there are times when the word ‘petty’ just can’t apply and when the anxiety is amplified. These are not the times when I don’t know what to expect upon stepping inside our old apartment. Rather, these are the times when I know what I’m going to see and what I’m going to feel. Sometimes, it’s harder that way. Knowing.

Story in point: while on a ‘literary field trip’ in Marikina, I get a surprise call from my father on the cellphone. I’m stepping on the Marikina River’s banks, and the fresh wind from the water soothes my face as I receive the bad news.

We have just lost someone very dear to us.

Prior to the call, I and my writer-friends were having a great time and we were looking forward to a night of booze and revelry. We were like pirates enjoying a triumphant end to a bloody battle on the seas (a day-long of poetry lectures) by partaking in the loot and spoils of war. Now, the phone call has suddenly swept all the fun off the deck and into Davy Jones’ Locker.

I flag down a taxi. Oddly enough, the driver takes his time and the ride is a leisurely one, even if the traffic is fairly light. There are few vehicles on the roads and the sun is setting. The car windows are showing me a silent ocean bereft of warmth and company.

As thundering fast my knight-charges were in the tricycles, this particular taxi ride is a slow and gloomy sail back to my home port.

And so the more I feel like a corsair returning home from a victorious quest on a far-flung shore. How glorious that quest was doesn’t matter, because the corsair is returning home to death, to loss, to pain, and I wasn’t able to do anything, a single thing, a little thing about it.

My ship makes the turn and the wide avenue is confined by the channel of Cordillera. In a few heartbeats, the school beckons to my left. The place looks desolate, with only a couple of children remaining, and even they are going home. To my right, the church looks asleep with none of its lights turned on. I make the Sign of the Cross, not only to pay respect, but also to knock, “Hey, God, are you really there?”

I go through the motions. “Stop the taxi.” Fingers wade into wallet and pocket. “Keep the change.” Open the car door. Open the gate. Open the house door. Kiss my dad on the cheek. Pat four dogs’ heads. Dump my shoulder bag somewhere.

Go into the kitchen, near the backyard.

I see Fischer, our seven-year old Dalmatian pet. No, not a mere pet. A family member. Pride of the dog-zoo on Cordillera Street. No – pride of Cordillera Street. He is lying on the floor, unmoving.

I pat his body battered by years of epilepsy. I whisper goodbye.

* * * * *

Still, in a select few days – very rare, very special days – I get really restless without going anywhere. There’s no need for the charging tricycles-cum-warhorses nor the tortuously slow sailing of my taxi-cum-ship.

These days fall in May. These days fall on the tenth of May.

These days are my birthdays.

I don’t celebrate them. Maybe I would, if I had just happened to pop out of the air and fall on the doctor’s (or the priest’s) hands, with matching Haaaaaa-llelujaaah! and heavenly light bursting from the skies.

However, May 10, 1985 wasn’t just a milestone for me; it was a milestone for a certain woman, too, a woman who isn’t here by my side and hasn’t been here for a long, long time. In fact, the last time I celebrated my birthday with a cake – a cliché cake, a cake with icing and candles like all others, a cake only made noteworthy because my name was on it – was also the last time I spent my birthday, our shared special day, with her.

That cake was a long, long way back, I guess fifteen years or so.

Since then, I’ve been spending my birthdays in a more mundane manner – sitting at home, in my room, in my quinquagenarian haven along Cordillera Street.

I sit, and I reflect and I rebel. I don’t know if I feel like a wise sage who shuts himself in a dark cave by choice, or a vile crook who is shut inside a dank cell by force. (Yes, I suppose my haven is dark and dank.)

Whatever the right analogy is, the most intense hours of looking at the clock, of reliving failure and success, of hearing the tick-tock-tick-tock, of wheedling with angels, of doubting, of wrestling with demons, of hoping, of feeling nervous happen in the few hours approaching my birthday.

It’s in these hours that I look down at my belly and bellow at my guts, “What are you doing?” It’s in these hours that I look up at the altar and cry at the crucifix, “What are You doing?”

But the question I’m really asking is, “What am I doing?”

For all the “somewhere fearsome, something momentous” I have to confront in distant places or in my very house, what have I been doing with and for myself? For all the years added to my age, what in me have aged so beautifully? Or badly?

May 10 is a day of crossroads, where my past, present, and future meet in one day, one hour, one minute, one second. And I don’t mean “meet” in a poetic manner – in the split moment that I turn twenty-three now, I am physically my past, my present, and my future. And all of my regrets, fears, dreams, nightmares, smiles, and tears merge into one entity.

Because I usually lean toward the half-empty glass than the half-full, this entity is almost always an entity angry at the past, absent in the present, and anxious of the future. Hence, my yearly tradition of guts revolting and my revolt against God.

I wrote, almost always.

This year is a bit different from the past ones. Hours ago, there were still the nervous moments before the clock struck twelve. However, the entity that emerged from the merger of emotions leaned toward the half-full glass: it is proud of the past, present in the present, and pining for the future.

I can’t pinpoint the reason for this change. Maybe the twenty-two years of going away nervous and coming back nervous and staying put nervous made me fed up with the cycle. Or maybe because these past months, I’ve gotten what every human wants and deserves – to feel mightily appreciated, to feel that I have a place in the world, to feel that I have to do something in the world before it’s all over. Positive literary workshops, one-line compliments that carry the weight of gold, positive new friends, ten-line text messages that carry the weight of my world – these are some of the things that may have done the trick.

Oh, and death and loss and pain, too – the passing away of my uncle, three cousins, two pet cats, and Fischer in the span of just about a year.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect 180-degree turnaround; I’m still not celebrating my birthday because of the past. Especially celebrating it with a cake.

But it’s a start. A good start.

Now, I would’ve loved to end my piece at this point. But I’ve got to be truthful to this day, and so I just have to add another story:

Exactly an hour before my birthday technically begins (8:52 PM) but after a dozen persons have greeted me and I’m halfway through this essay, my dad opens the door of my room. His face is blank.

“What?” I ask.

“Jackie’s finally dead.”

He is referring to one of our half-Dalmatian dogs and daughters of Fischer. She was six years old and had been fighting through liver disease since the turn of the New Year. Medicine and several trips to the vet weren’t enough. The doc himself told us to just “get a new pet.”

My father leaves, and once he is out of earshot, I say to myself, “So I won’t be staying put this day, this year, after all.” In Taglish, may I add.

I have to go out of my haven. In this day of life, I have to go somewhere distant in my home.

I leave my room and go down the stairs.

There’s a slight tingle in my guts, but I feel more prepared than ever before in my life.

I open the door to the backyard. Jackie’s bloated body – bloated head, bloated neck, and bloated stomach – greets me. Spittle drools down from her mouth. Beneath her eyes is a dried rivulet of some reddish liquid, like a tear of blood.

I kneel down and stroke her still-warm head and body.

I whisper, “Thank you, Lord.”

I give Jackie a last pat.

I leave my dog. I go up the stairs, back to my room.

* end of essay *

Yes, happy birthday to me. You can also consider the creative nonfic piece above to be a preview of the manuscript I’m trying to put together to submit to UST’s Center for Creative Writing and Studies. With some luck, I may have a…!

So, yes, I’ve been gone since January. What have I been doing? Three things:

  1. I went home to Aklan for our family’s international reunion.
  2. I got sworn in as one of the two newest members of the LIRA Filipino poetry group.
  3. I got accepted into and I completed the 9th UST-CCWS National Writers’ Workshop. So after almost a year of exclusively writing in Filipino, I’m back with English. Actually, I’m now full-steam with both languages — bilingual pawah.

I know I’ve not shared on this blog much about what happened in my LIRA days, much more with the UST workshop (both were definitely career- and life-changers). In the weeks ahead (here I go again), I’ll put up two posts, one for each workshop.

Oh, and if you have a Multiply account, please add mine. I’m also blogging in Filipino there, and you can also find plenty of pics (mostly of lit events).

See you soon.

I Love UP: The Centennial Celebration Tue, 15 Jan 2008 16:09:36 +0000 Corsarius
UP Centennial Cauldron in front of the Oblation and Quezon Hall.

Last Tuesday was the most electric event I’ve ever been to.

January 8, 2008 marked the kick-off for the University of the Philippines’ Centennial Celebration. The event wasn’t grand — it was spectacular. One week has passed and I’m still euphoric, especially when browsing through my and other people’s photos and videos.

The following is my longest ever photo-essayish post at 36 pics. My inept photgraphy skills don’t do justice to the sights we witnessed. You had to be there to savor it. As always, click to enlarge the pictures.

PSHS Sampa '02 friends -- Minik, Phillip, and Ia.
My dear high school friend Minik met up with Ia and me at Sarah’s (of all places!) before proceeding to the Oblation plaza. Minik was taking a well-deserved home vacation after working the past months in Singapore.

A jam-packed UP Oblation plaza.
Approaching the Oblation plaza, at around 4 P.M. The towering trees lining up the Academic Oval have always been a source of inspiration for me.

UP's University Avenue filled with people.
At this point, the excitement was very palpable in the air. Many people were chatting with voices slightly shaking in excitement, and laughs were in abundance. The UP Ang Galing Mo song blared through the loudspeakers, and the drums thundering to the tune of UP’s cherished school cheers spiked UP pride in everyone’s veins.

The UP Oblation the day of the Centennial kick-off.
The UP Oblation. Too-much-information-ahead warning: I was just able to take this shot because I had to go to the loo in Quezon Hall.

The Oblation plaza and Quezon Hall.
My day shot of Quezon Hall. You can spot the Centennial Cauldron in the midst of the crowd; the flame would be lit up a few hours later.

UP Centennial tarpaulin: Ang Galing Mo!
Flag-bearers commence the parade. You can see one of the many UP Ang Galing Mo! tarps lining up University Avenue. As for the song, I know a lot of people don’t like it, and that was my initial reaction, too. But it kind of grew on me after, what, a hundred replays? Heh.

UP Centennial celebration float.
One of the first floats in the motorcade. The “100″ on the float’s side is stylized with UP’s official seal and Centennial emblem.

UP Diliman's Chancellor, Sergio Cao.
UP Diliman officers, including Chancellor Sergio Cao.

A helicopter during the UP Centennial Celebration kick-off.
The helicopter that showered the crowd with confetti and balloons. The chopper did several rounds, and the last was particularly amusing — the guy inside was waving his hands, gesturing “Wala na! Ubos na!”

The following are creations of the College of Fine Arts, re-used from the 2007 Lantern Parade.

FA float/lantern in the UP Centennial celebration kick-off.

FA float/lantern in the UP Centennial celebration kick-off.

FA lantern: Bencab -- literally!

FA lantern: Larry Alcala.
The following was a presentation from FA that poked fun at the schools of the UAAP…including UP! The crowd loved it.

FA presentation: Far Eastern University Tamaraw.
FEU Tamaraw.

FA presentation: University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tiger
UST Growling Tiger.

FA presentation: De La Salle University Green Archer.
DLSU Green Archer…dancing to some sleazy music. Or so I remember.

FA presentation: Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagle.
ADMU Blue Eagle.

FA presentation: UP Isko!
UP Fighting Maroon…NOT. A caricature of the Isko of UP!

One of the most awaited events of the day was the skydiving exhibition. Each skydiver sported a banner of one of the UP System’s constituent universities.

UP Centennial celebration skydiver.

Skydiver close-up.

Skydiver landing in the open grass area near MassComm.

'Nuther skydiver touching down.
There was a lull before nightfall, as the 100 UP alumni torchbearers took their time in marching around the Acad Oval.

UP Symphonic Orchestra in Quezon Hall.
The UP Symphonic Orchestra (am I right?) preparing for the concert ahead.

UP Diliman Amphitheater before the Centennial celebration concert.
A few hours later, the UP Amphitheater pictured above was filled to the brim. Apologies to the guy in the pic — I was waiting for you to move out of view, hehe.

UP Quezon Hall in some funky lights.
The grand columns of Quezon Hall were bathed in different colors throughout the night. This is an unedited shot (save for the watermark, of course).

UP Quezon Hall in some funky lights.
Aside from pink and green, there were the gold, blue, and orange lights.

The 100 Centennial torch-bearers.
At last, the 100 torchbearers, led by a 100 year old alumnus! Unfortunately, my sucky photo merely captured a nondescript sea of fire. Among the torchbearers were sir Rio Alma, National Artist Napoleon Abueva, Ryan Cayabyab, Cheche Lazaro, and Richard Gomez.

UP President Roman lighting the Centennial Cauldron.
My only decent shot of UP President Emerlinda Roman lighting the Centennial Cauldron. This was followed by the crowd singing the UP Naming Mahal. The hymn was sung for about three times that evening, but the first was really moving — the symbolic cauldron had just been lit up, the majestic Quezon Hall towered above the crowd, the Oblation was in its untiring and eternal pose of sacrifice, and the tightly-packed people were delirious — they were witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event. UP naming mahal, pamantasang hirang. Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan!

Up next was the concert. My camera’s zoom capabilities are appalling, and I had to be content with shots of colorful Quezon Hall. (For zoomed-in pics, head over to Ia’s own Centennial photo-essay.) We were lucky to get a spot (with the damp grass as the seats) in the middle of the amphitheater. The experience reminded me of my graduation two years back.

UP Quezon Hall during the Centennial celebration concert.

UP Quezon Hall during the Centennial celebration concert.

UP Quezon Hall during the Centennial celebration concert.

UP Quezon Hall during the Centennial celebration concert.
And blue.

The concert was followed by a breathtaking fireworks display slash pyromusical. It was supposed to last for 30 minutes, but the spectacle only run for about six. Oh well, at least the fireworks were brilliant! (Ain’t that redundant?) Some links:

  • YouTube video of the Centennial celebration fireworks
  • YouTube video 2, a more complete version, showing the singing of the UP Naming Mahal that was immediately followed by the pyrotechnics. Warning: some earsplitting screaming can be heard as the fireworks begin. Somebody couldn’t contain their joy — for my part, I just settled for “Shet!”

After the fireworks, the air was heavy with haze and everybody was still standing around in glorious disbelief that the event was over. I overheard one student say in Tagalog, “Bro, I bet you, there will be couples who’ll fall in love tonight!”

UP @ 100 lights adorning Quezon Hall.

Ia and me went around the hall to join a throng of people posing in front of the Oblation and Centennial Cauldron. The shot above shows the “UP @ 100″ lights (superimposed over the recently used “Pasko 2007″ sign) and the Philippine flag.

Ia and I in front of the UP Centennial Cauldron.

Posing in front of the Centennial Cauldron, which was fricking scalding hot. We had to line up and climb the mini-stairs leading to it. Thanks a lot to miss Bebang Siy (LIRA president) for this shot! Tunay na hulog ka ng langit.

UP Quezon Hall and UP Oblation after the Centennial celebration kick-off.

I love my alma mater, and the Centennial celebration kick-off made me feel very, very proud to have been an iskolar ng bayan — a title that doesn’t come with notions of privilege and superiority, but of solemn responsibilities to the nation and society.

Mabuhay ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas!

* * * * *

I will be flying to my home province of Aklan this Friday for a week-long vacation, which includes in its itinerary the Ati-Atihan festival, the 3rd International Kimpo Family Reunion, and a return trip to Boracay.

Until then!

All Aboard the World’s Floating Bookstore Mon, 24 Dec 2007 04:24:50 +0000 Corsarius
Thar she beckons!
Yesterday was the closing day of the world’s largest floating book fair docked at Manila’s South Harbor — the MV Doulos. Having heard that this could be possibly the last time that Manila welcomes the Doulos (the ship is already a whopping 93 years old and will be retired in 2010), me and my friends set aside last Friday, January 21, as our “Recto-Doulos field trip day”.

Recto-Doulos? For the uninitiated, C.M. Recto Avenue is one of Manila’s main thoroughfares and a regular haunt of bargain book hunters. So Friday, in essence, was our “book buying field trip”. The ‘outing’ was a nice reward for ourselves for hurdling the LIRA Fellows’ Night, as well as a self-gift for Christmas.

The young 'uns pose for posterity.
Pau in white, yours truly with the new (and quite ungainly) short hair in black, Ia in blue, and JC in dark green. Thanks to Pau’s mom for the shot.

The book hunters were made up of my co-LIRA Fellows, JC and Pau (who brought along her very affable mom), Ia, and yours truly. Unfortunately, Kel wasn’t able to come. (Huy, na-miss ka namin! Hehe.)

We were lucky to arrive (around lunchtime) at a queue-free book fair. This drew a collective sigh of relief from us — we’ve seen some Doulos-at-Manila pics showing long lines snaking through the South Harbor.

Sakay na!
We got a free ride by offering our unmatched greeting and ushering talents. Just kidding. No, seriously.

As can be expected, the ship’s crew/volunteers were mostly non-Filipino; when we were paying our Php 10 entrance fees, I blurted out “Dalawa po,” not realizing that a Caucasian was manning the booth.

The book fair area was split into two. The first, the main store near the ship’s stern, housed most of the books (covering religion, literature, kids’ and young adults’ fiction, science, law, hobbies, reference, etc.), souvenirs, and music records. The second, near the hoist, was where we bought a Doulos bag for 300 pesos and got two otherwise expensive books for free. I’m not shitting you. More on that later.

A great view from the deck of the Doulos.
I forgot what government building this is. Anyway, the water here doesn’t reek of Manila Bay’s infamous dank smell, unlike near the Baywalk and the Yacht Club.

All of us were able to treat ourselves to some cheap but quality titles, except for Ia, who’s one of the most scroogy frugal persons around. As an aside, the ship’s excellent strawberry-vanilla ice cream provided a very welcome (and palatable) break from the heat!

Leaving the Doulos. Sad.
Farewell, MV Doulos. Looking forward to your successor — she better visit Manila, too!

As the early afternoon wore on and the sun began to chillax, the crowds became thicker…while my wallet became thinner. Richer in sweat and smiles, we left the ship and had a belated lunch at a nearby canteen. Till next time, Doulos. Or your heiress, whoever she maybe.

For those who weren’t able to catch the ship in Manila, it’s not too late — the Doulos will be paying Subic Bay a visit, too, and it will be open from December 27 to January 14. Come on, Subic’s not that far from the metropolis. Well, at least not as far as, uh, Papua New Guinea, the floating bookstore’s next host country. (You can check out the ship’s schedule.)

* * * * *

The MV Doulos visit was the penultimate activity of our field trip. Earlier in the day, we strolled through a small stretch of Recto’s sidewalks which were overflowing in bargain books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to buy a single title (several old books authored by/about Marcos weren’t much of a ‘bargain’). Pau got a couple of Rizal books.

Fortunately, National Bookstore Recto came to my rescue (and to JC’s, too; just ask the lucky guy). These three books were priced at 99, 65, and 99 pesos, respectively:

Three cheap science fiction novels from NBS Recto.
Yeees, sci-fi again. A far cry from the socially relevant books I could’ve bought from the book flea markets.

David Weber’s Ashes of Victory is one in a series of books centered around a lady admiral named Honor Harrington…not that I’ve read any previous Honor books. Doona is a collaborative effort by Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye, and it’s actually a compendium of two books, Crisis on Doona and Treaty at Doona. The last one, Alastair Reynolds’ Century Rain sports a purty cover, and from my skimmings, purty writing.

Because I’ve gone ahead and talked about specific books (again), here are the rest of the day’s “catch”, courtesy of the generous Doulos. Believe it or not, none of these are second-hand books:

The Doulos catch: two heavyweights for free.

  • Nature Writing: The Tradition in English — Remember the buy-a-bag-get-two-books-free promo I mentioned earlier? The tote bag pictured above cost me 300 pesos, which seems high…until you learn that you get two free books normally worth thousands. Basically, the white book above sold for 150 pesos for 1150 pages. Gaia’s gift, I say. It’s not your usual do-this-don’t-do-that instructional book — this one teaches by example. The book contains nature writings from 131 authors, including Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf, and Mark Twain. Skimming through the book, I couldn’t help but ask myself if I’m ready to also explore this genre of writing…especially with the concrete jungle encapsulating me for most of my life.
  • Biology (7th Edition) — No, I’m not a biology major. (I finished computer science.) Yet when I saw this book, I felt a spark of nostalgia. One word: Pisay. Because of our high school’s overly scientific orientation, for years we pored over thick tomes similar to this book (in addition to dissecting animals and scooping up bacteria-rich water from our creek). Yeah, yeah — with this (and the succeeding books), you can call me a geek. Or nerd. Or anorak. I got this one for virtually 150 pesos. Compare that to the similarly sized, glossy Physics textbook by Tipler that I was forced to buy in 2nd year college — what was that, 2500 pesos?

The Doulos catch: souvenir, science, and aviation books.

  • Doulos: Model and Guide — At 250 pesos and only a paucity of pages, this is the only non-sale thing I bought. It’s a souvenir book that includes a die-cut card model of the ship…which is partly why it appealed to this miniature-collecting friend of yours.
  • The History of Flight — Those who have been poking around my blogs’ archives will know that I’m quite into airplanes. Pau, thanks a lot for pointing me to this title! I don’t know how I missed this one. I got this for 800 pesos.
  • Moonshadow: The Story of the Total Eclipse — This book’s more suited in a high school library or a teen’s bookshelf, but I picked it up anyway. Heck, I’m just 3 years separated from teenhood. (Also, it being about science and being cheap — Php 100 — did my wallet in.)

The Doulos catch: a monster atlas.

  • Geographica — This 1000-peso book is “the complete illustrated Atlas of the world”. Of course one can also find the info here on the Net (most notably/notoriously, Wikipedia), but I’ve always preferred reading on the bed and being able to sift through actual paper. Uh, comes with a free CD. The book’s so huge that it comes with its own “carrying case”.

The Doulos catch: Christmas books for the kiddies.
Four books for my nieces:

  • The Legend of the Christmas Stocking — Php 75, originally around 700
  • The Legend of the Christmas Tree — Php 75, originally around 700
  • The Legend of the Candy Cane — Php 75, originally around 700
  • My Christmas Gift to Jesus — Php 100, originally around 300

Not included in the list is a certain Chinese/Japanese book with an attractive cover and attractive illustrations…and attractive price (50 pesos). This went to Ia, along with a Doulos souvenir mug.

* * * * *

Whoa, it’s already Christmas in a few hours? (And in a few days, my ‘anniversary’ as a blogger?) Must’ve fallen into a time-warp.

May you have a wonderful Christmas!

LIRA Fellows’ Night: Mission Accomplished Sun, 16 Dec 2007 22:04:21 +0000 Corsarius
Reading "Ang Ika-Ilang Milyong Lumusong sa Ilog". Click to enlarge.

I still have a hangover from last Tuesday’s ‘celebration’. It was a celebration, all right — a fête to a dozen or so young poets who survived six months of one badass poetry clinic. (I mean that in a good way.) The night bore witness to free-flowing poetry, applause, Kodak moments, and of course, booze.

To say that I heaved a sigh of relief after the event would be an understatement; sigh is too small a word. Its Tagalog counterpart, buntong-hininga is more apt — a microcosm of rising expectations, of a build-up toward the climax, of keeping your breath in, then suddenly, a release.

Enough words. Enjoy these pictures of the LIRA Fellows’ Night 2007, courtesy of Fellows JC Sola and Karla Cachola, and the person most-referenced to in my blogs (hehe), Ia. It goes without saying: click to enlarge.

Mic test, mic test. Click to enlarge.
From left to right: Ia, batch president Pau Hernando, Christine Magpile practicing on the piano, and yours truly testing the mic. (And posing for a photo op as well.)
LIRA tarpaulin banner. Click to enlarge.
Conspiracy Bar’s hallowed stage, ready for another night of verses.
Testing + planning + pep-talking. Click to enlarge.
JC, Pau, and I preparing for the program. The small, in-your-face stage helped ease some of the jitters.
Some purty Conspi artwork. Click to enlarge.
Artwork on Conspi’s wall and shelves. Look closely and you can see some strong social messages.
Group shot over dinner. Click to enlarge.
Enjoying the free buffet dinner. From left to right: Christa de la Cruz, Pau, me, Ia, and Guia de Leon.
Corsarius' first poetry reading. Click to enlarge.
My first poetry reading. Yes, first in my whole 22 years on earth. I was the fifth Fellow to read. Poem: Talà (”Star”), the same one from our radio guesting. A short piece. Don’t mind the preppy stage decor; we were crazy.
Corsarius' second poem. Click to enlarge.
Reading my second poem, Ang Ika-Ilang Milyong Lumusong sa Ilog (still coming up with a semantic/idiomatic/un-literal/etc. translation to this one; tentatively “The Nth Crosser of the River”). The previous poem’s succinct title was representative of the work’s length; this one’s, too. Thank goodness nobody yanked me off the stage with an umbrella handle.
Corsarius is Chinese, it appears. Click to enlarge.
This pic was included because it made me realize that, hey, I indeed have Chinese blood, and hey, my eyes are really Sinitic. You win, Ia.
Fellows and Sir Rio. Click to enlarge.
JC, Pau, Pilipoy/Kimpoy, and Sir Rio Alma. JC and Pau are two of my closest friends in the batch. LIRA member Repa Gallos is in the background.
Sir Rio looks like an actor here. Click to enlarge.
I honestly forgot what the fanfare above was all about. Sir Rio looks dead serious in the pic, but trust me, he was jolly the whole night. The one in the black shirt is Sir Fidel Rillo.
Surprise, Miss Bebang! Click to enlarge.
BLAM! LIRA president Beverly Siy gets a surprise. Belated happy birthday, Miss Bebang!
Rio Alma delivering his message. Click to enlarge.
Sir Rio giving his message to the LIRA Fellows. Another ’serious’ pic not indicative of Sir’s mood, haha.
Rio Alma addresses the Conspi audience. Click to enlarge.
As you can see, Conspi is a cozy place…although its reputation is by no means small.
Teo T. Antonio delivers his message to the LIRA Fellows. Click to enlarge.
The great Balagtasista, Teo T. Antonio. Sir, thanks for the very gracious feedback on our metaphors and figures of speech, hehe.
Corsarius graduates. Click to enlarge.
Yours truly is now officially a graduate of the LIRA Poetry Workshop 2007. Too bad my right eye again screwed up an otherwise great photo. (Members of the Kimpo family are supposed to more pronouncedly exhibit these ‘unbalanced eye’ shots. Beats me.)
LIRA group pic. Click to enlarge.
The Fellows (in yellow) pose with some of the biggies of Filipino lit.
Another LIRA group shot. Click to enlarge.
Hurrah for LIRA! The organization’s Christmas party followed in Conspi’s garden. Luckily, nobody got a photo of me playing in one of Miss Bebang’s “dignified games”. No evidence!
LIRA Sidhay folio. Click to enlarge.
This folio is the product of our blood, sweat, tears, and…semen? Just kidding. Kudos to Karla and JC for coming up with the wicked cover. For some scans of what’s inside, head over to my earlier blog post.

There you have it. In dramatic fashion: the LIRA chapter of my life ends on a high note. Will there be a sequel? I’m going to have to wait until January — Sir Rio and the rest of the org will still deliberate on who makes it as full-fledged LIRA members.

In the same manner that I ended my first LIRA-centric post — back when I was still on the outside looking in — so I will end this post with the words:

Wish me luck!

LIRA Fellows’ Night 2007 and Folio Launching Fri, 07 Dec 2007 19:56:50 +0000 Corsarius The journey that began half a year ago is ending on a night of metaphors and imagery.



To translate the original invitation in Tagalog:

The members and this year’s fellows of the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA) invite everyone to the celebration of its 22nd anniversary on December 11, 2007 in Conspiracy Bar, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. LIRA is an organization of poets fervent in writing in the Filipino language.

The celebration will feature the launch of the SIDHAY literary folio of the LIRA Fellows Batch 2007. This collection includes several of the poems written by each Fellow after the lectures and workshops which started last June 2006. Let yourself be swept away by the verses of: Christa De La Cruz, Guia De Leon, Rogerick Fontanilla Fernandez, Pau Hernando, Kel Juan, Phillip Kimpo Jr., Christine Magpile, Alev Maniago, John Montoya, Por Requinto, and JC Sola.

A preview of the folio:

SIDHAY: Sisidlan ng Hay Hay Buhay. Click to enlarge.

The inside cover. The true cover has ’semen’ splotched all over it. (You’ve got to see it to believe it, and for you to see it, you’ve got to pay our little artsy night a visit.) “Sidhay” is one of those ‘manufactured’ Filipino words, and it means “Sisidlan ng buhay”. A human cell, in other words. “Hay Hay Buhay” is an inside joke/utterance in the batch.

The surviving Fellows of Batch 2007. Click to enlarge.

The table of contents. Table of malcontents. Table of the eleven remaining Fellows (the Workshop started with more than thirty).

The Corsarius' poet profile page.

Wala e, that’s the most OK pic I can cough up. Christa told me I look like a 20-year old (or something) in this one. Well, two years younger is good enough.

So. December 11, Tuesday. Conspi Bar in Visayas. The avenue. See you.

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Lack of time kept me from publishing a slew of photo-essayish blog posts on our LIRA Fellows ‘adventures’, so I’ll be doing just that after Fellows’ Night.

* * * * *

One of the biggest lit events of the year takes place tomorrow — Writer’s Night in UP Diliman. I’ll be there for the re-screening of Cinemalaya winner TRIBU, which will be held to help shoulder the medical expenditures of Tata Raul Funilas, a member of LIRA. My dear friend Pau Hernando also won in the Timpalak DFPP of UP’s College of Arts and Letters, and we’ll be there for her awarding (and the booze that will follow).

* * * * *

Corsarius & Nancy C.

I’ve uploaded some vidcaps of my recent TV guesting on Aircraft Models Crux. My ‘toy’ blog is also celebrating my first full year as an airplane model collector.

I began my hobby roughly the same time as my first English poetry publication. In my interview with Nancy C., I mentioned the fact that my first airplane miniature was a self-reward for the publication.

Do the 23 planes in my collection equate to 23 rewards for 23 publications? I wish. Their purpose evolved from reward to mere stress reliever.

And that tells you the magnitude of stress I’ve barrelled through the whole year.

* * * * *

Finally: It won’t replace my main site (, but it does give a better summary of what I’m doing nowadays.

Corsarius, Back on TV Tue, 06 Nov 2007 18:00:07 +0000 Corsarius Update 11/17/07: Airing will be on November 18 at 7 P.M.

Update: The airing has been postponed to November 18. And even that date is tentative. Sorry for this belated notice; their own notice to me was also belated.

If you have the time, catch me later on At Your Pleasure, Nancy hosted by Nancy Castiglione, airing at around 2-3 pm (basta hapon daw e) on the new Makisig Network (channel 76/82 at SkyCable/ HomeCable, ch. 84 if you have an analog box installed).

Me and Nancy.
I think the weird lighting wreaked havoc on our faces. The two sides of my face don’t match. Heh.

The episode is about toys, and I will be sharing my experiences in amassing airplane collector’s models. It will mark the first time in over a decade that I’ll appear on TV. (For some reason, I don’t miss those days as a ‘budding child actor’. I guess I prefer staying at home and writing/reading books/playing video games. And blogging.)

* * * * *

Some tidbits from the episode’s taping, which was held last October 30 (a few days after our Youthlinks radio guesting):

  • Makisig Network’s office along Timog Avenue was sleek and brand new. Heck, it even smelled brand new.
  • Very accomodating and friendly people, the network’s men and women were, from the security guard to the cameraman to the producer. Many thanks to Miss Penny Quesada, producer Yamby Yambao, and the many others whose names I didn’t quite catch.
  • Miss Nancy Castiglione struck me as person you’d have no problem chatting with. Bubbly, and yes, very beautiful in the flesh.
  • I walked into the taping with my English vocabulary having just woken up from a reveille. I’ve used English sparingly since I entered the For-Tagalog-Only workshop almost half a year ago. I think I didn’t screw up conversing with Nancy. Or did I. Grah.
  • While we were having a photoshoot with my ‘toys’ (outside the studio after the taping), two statuesque ladies sashayed by. To my surprise, it was Maureen Larrazabal and Francine Prieto, both of whom I admire for their work in my favorite show Bubble Gang. (And also because they’re drop-dead stunning. But of course.) The scene:

    Francine & Maureen: Wow, ang cute… [Takes a look at the planes laid out on the table.]

    Yamby Yambao: This is Phillip, our guest [blah blah]…

    Francine & Maureen: Sa ‘yo lahat ‘yan? (Are all of these yours?)

    Me: Yeah.

    Maureen: [Leans closer. Yes, she's that tall.] So, magagalit ka ba kung masira ko ang isa d’yan? (So, will you get angry if I break one of these?)

    Me: Kung ikaw, okey lang. [Torpe smile.] (If you’ll be the one to do that, it’ll be fine with me.)

    Garro told me later that I should’ve said, “Depende sa kung ano ang ipapambawi mo.” (Depends on what you’re going to pay to make up for it.) Haha. The type of line I can never pull off. Unfortunately.

Corsair on the Airwaves Sat, 27 Oct 2007 12:33:02 +0000 Corsarius
We're on the air!
Earlier this day, I got the chance to guest in a radio show along with two of my LIRA co-fellows, Pau Hernando and Guia de Leon. Nothing grand an event — there are thousands of people hosting a radio show around the globe at this very second, for example — but still a notable experience. Well, every first-time experience should be.

We came into the PIA Building expecting to zip in for around 15 minutes, promote our upcoming LIRA Fellows’ Night (more on that later), rattle off a few poems, and zip out. Instead, we found ourselves being the ‘main guests’ (is there such a term?) for today’s Youthlinks program at DZSR (918 Khz; the online streaming version can be found here). We stayed for the show’s full hour-long duration.

I miss my long hair already.

We felt at ease with the show’s great staff, which includes co-hosts Allan Elman, Rommel Brillantes, and Jacky Chan (yes that’s his first name; I failed to catch his surname). After talking a bit about our personal backgrounds, the LIRA fellowship process, and workshop details, each of us three was given the time to read two poems. I chose two “battle tested” (pinalihan, or dumaan sa palihan in LIRA-speak) works, namely Talà (”Star”) and Fast Food.

Me, Pau, Guia, and sir Allan Elman.

Time willing, some of us fellows might return to DZSR regularly, per the invitation of sir Allan. As the show title implies, Youthlinks is targeted to the most driven and visionary slice of our society (okay, excluding toddlers). The chance to be able to massively promote Tagalog/Filipino literature, especially a kind attuned to societal sensibilities and yet balancing the writer’s emotional/personal side, is a chance that arrives as frequently as “You’ve been published in [insert prestigious journal title blah blah]” in the mail.

* * * * *

That’s just the radio guesting. If all systems are go, I’ll be guesting at the TV show At Your Pleasure, Nancy hosted by Nancy Castiglione. Nah, nothing about poetry, nor geekery, nor even blogging; I’ll be interviewed for my toys. Yes, my toys. Airplane miniatures, in particular.

The said show (run by the new for-men channel Makisig Network at Skycable 76 and 82) will have the taping of their toys episode on Tuesday, October 30. I still don’t know when the exact airing will be, but I do know that I’ll be sharing the cameralights with Star Wars, diecast cars, and action figures fanatics.

Some other details I’m sure of: it’s a one-on-one chat with Nancy; 7-15 minutes each with the beautiful lady; I need to be there with my only luxuries on this world — all 18 of them; casual conversation in Taglish. Thank heavens. My written English might be passable, bat mai ispoken Inglish is Bisaya en uh, um, eh, bruken.

* * * * *

Just before I get an early and healthy dose of sleep: You’re all cordially invited to the LIRA Fellows’ Night to be held in December 11, 2007 at the Conspiracy Garden Cafe at Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, from 7 to 9 in the evening. Great Filipino poetry and flowing booze are the night’s attractions. We’ll also be launching our batch folio titled, Sidhay.