Face To Face With The Past

I went to the National Museum this afternoon.

I have come face to face with my ancestry.

I need research for my stories, information that will fill the
gaps in my stories and what have been lacking in our
collective consciousness – the nameless heroes of old.

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I asked the guide, since we were only allowed mobile
phones (on silent mode, of course) and no-flash cameras.
Fortunately, a friend gave me his android phone and now I
have the convenience of capturing anything within the
confines of the museum.

Suggested to proceed, my instinct told me to start from
the top, which is the 4th floor and work my way down.

What can i say? It was completely overwnelming. What
was mere images on the internet are there just a few feet
from my face and I had to keep myself from acting like a
schoolboy copping his first feel.

It was that exciting.

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Rethink

These past few weeks, my thoughts and actions have been to write and draw, revise and redraft, build it up and tear it down so I can start over again and see what I could come up with.

It occured to me that all these have some twisted analogs with my life. And truth be told, there are some things I would like to change with how I have lived the recent 5 years or so, but that’s a digression.

To rethink what I have learned and known all these years. Taking a step back and see where can make the changes, or improvements for that matter on how i would like my story to be. What do I know about my past, our collective past? Sure we have been fed the usual crap movies about dwarves and elves, those enchanted beings that we alll so loved and feared. But was that it?

Are dwarves (or elves) really just little beings with pointy hats and pointy shoes in colorful garb and not much else? How magical are they? How come they always seem to mingle or interfere with humans? Are tiyanaks anything more than just scary childlike ghouls that devour infants? Where do they live? who gives them, command? Are these pitiful tiyanaks the result of some aborted pregnancy?

Questions and more questions I hope to find the answers.

Early this evening I went to my newfound eatery. Of course, my standards for good food and cooking was from the fact that I believed , and it is still true up to this day, that my mother is the best cook in the whole world. Whenever I try a new place to eat , and not the franchised fast food kind, nor the expensive restaurants and culinary spots all those hipsters are fond of taking photos first before actually tasting the food, I go for the cab-driver sort of food joints. Places where thesoup is hot, the dishes are laid on the counter and you just pick the one you want. This particular place makes the best Kinunot, in thick coconut cream and generously spiced with siling labuyo, a real Bicolano fare. I have been coming here in the last couple of months or so because, simply put, I like their cooking. Upon my first sitting here I went for the Nilaganhg Baboy and that I enjoyed very much that I keep coming back, if my budget doesn’t limit me to instant noodles and pancit canton that is. So, I like their cooking but I don’t put much stock on Sinaing na Tulingan that is not made by my mother. Years ago I gave up on it, because nobody, no one, no place anywhere could cook this dish like my mother could. It’s even dangerous if Tulingan is not prepared right. But tonight, I let down my guard and picked the Tulingan, because I am feeling lucky.

It was marvellous. The pork fat was just right, the fish pressed wide, and the Camias was a revelation. And the broth was thick. It was Sinaing na Tulingan like my mother used to make. My acquired animosity towards urbanized Sinaing na Tulingan was shattered.

Now that is a complete turnaround. I learned another lesson.

In building my fictional town, I realized I can’t just draw anything from thin air. It has to have some basis, some solid foundation. The chacarters should be as real as your next door neighbor or else it woud be just like Roderick Paulate in Duwende garb, all color and pretty vague. Same with our Diwata, Kapre, Tikbalang, Nuno sa Punso. At least what I know then were paper thin descriptions, and it’s only now that I am learning a lot about our pagan beliefs and traditions, lore, myth and legend. You can’t substitute cabbage for lettuce.

Just like the Sinaing na Tulingan, I found out this eatery pays homage to the real, old fashioned way of making the dish, it’s a skill way above average cooking.

There’s a reason why in this modern age, we still have our Hilot, the medicine women and men who relieve us of pain and afflictions, or the old Sage who when things got rough, are sought by the people for guidance. To reach back and take those stories and retell hem the way I want, but as much as possible, keep the essence of the lore, as close as can be or else as in the case of the tulingan it wouldn’t be edible. I mean to throw rocks and break those misconceptions that was forcefed to us by our educational system and the film industry that fueled the vacuous depictions of our folklore.

And notice how in the brink of living in space or travelling towards other planets, superstition and fear of the dark still cling to our consciousness. The old ways does not necessarily have to fade away. There are reason these persists. These stones that I throw will also be the one I’ll use to rebuild those long lost tales.

I just have to find out how. So In the meantime, I continue to write what tales and anectdotes from my youth can provide. And as a form of respite from fictional writing and illustration, I do this blogging stuff to rethink my process.

See? There is something going on here. I may be getting the hang of this thing called writing. I am doing this blog post because after several hours of plotting and writing, my head is in overdrive and if I don’t stop, I may choke on it. I even refrained from playing Heavy Metal and shifted into something moderately raunchy, if you could classify Def Leppard moderate.

Rethinking spilled over to my character designs. Oh I would love to show them to you, but I guess there’ll be time enough for it.

Let me just sit back and sip coffee, for now…

It’s The Little Things

Last night I hardly slept. I should have, you know, snored halfway to valhalla, if we  factor in the copious amounts of brandy I had in my system (I came from regular  hangout with friends from way back and needless to say, alcohol and food is a  staple in those parts). Not that I am complaining, I didn’t spend anything. And  these friends know that. These are the same friends that held my hand when I was  about to break from the endless deluge of rejected job applications and failed  business deals. It’s these small handshakes, the little pat on the back that assures  me they have my back. Even a brother whom I bothered too often about my  financial predicaments suddenly sent help, and in the most timely manner,  because I am really going for the loanshark at this time, which my Mayor Street
friends discouraged.

So, short bursts of sleep, and series of graphic books in the works, a life saving  rescue by my brother, and the unflinching loyalty of friends, what else is there to  be thankful for?

It’s the little things.

  • Those free Uni Ball Eye pens that went with my purchase of three felt-tip pens at National Bookstore. I was looking for drawing ink but bought a 03, 06 and 08 Uni Pen and didn’t realize till I was home that the freebies were put in my bag.
  • Books and audiobooks.
  • Pares and Mami carts that provide delicious sustenance for the thrift. The chili and fried garlic added liberally makes it better.
  • Gigabytes of data riding tiny USB flashdrives. The 80s saw a Chess Grandmaster square off with Big Blue, a machine that was powered by 1Gb of data that was stored in something as big as a house. Nowadays you could carry the data you need 32 times over on a thumb drive.
  • Coffee. No buts about it.
  • Street corner laundry service. Even if I try to do my ow washing, sometimes it’s better to have them done, just because I have nowhere to hang the laundry to dry in my current inhabited space.
  • Mp3. Digital music. Yes, I long to hear music the way it should be heard, on vinyl, on a phonograph, with the amp and speakers tuned through an extensive equalizer set up and played loud. But I need a home to do that, and in this city living, Mp3 is my saviour. I could write and draw continuously with my favorites playing in the background.
  • Mall comfort rooms. Don’t ask.
  • Analog mobile phones. Smirk at the idea, but the way I see people griping about battery life and lugging extra powerbanks just so they can browse continuously, I go for the bar phone that lasts a week with a single charge. And don’t get me started about android updates, nor iPhone upgrades.
  • Twitter. And no, not for reasons most people think.
  • Internet connection. However shitty the service is, still something to be thankful about.
  • Blogging. Not for fame, nor profit, but for my sanity.
  • Wix!
  • Technology in general. Most people take this for granted but growing up with less, access to modern technology is still a joy to behold.
  • Movies. In data format. I could marathon The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings as often as I want. And all the films I want to seeover and over.
  • My landlady. Her kind heart let me stay even if I can hardly pay the rent. She understands, bless her.

And we could go on and on about the little things that make life worth going through each day, but go list your own.