Saturday, September 27, 2008

A few beats short of having enough (an actor-mover's rant)

I’ve tried. We’ve tried. God knows I have. God knows we have.

I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent trying to humor and help others during rehearsals (because it beats doing nothing during rehearsals), how many Pantas workshops I’ve missed (God knows how much I love my writing organization), how many nights I’ve had to rush so many other requirements for other subjects because I have to walk to the apartment all the way up in Faculty Village every night, dead-tired from the fatigue of doing everything in order to not reach the point of doing nothing. How much time, that one truly irreplaceable resource, I and so many others have wasted.

To date, I have only asked to miss three rehearsals (not counting the other productions I and several of my co-actors dedicated to because they actually produced results): two were because of important Pantas workshops, and the third was this morning, because I made a promise to accompany someone home around lunchtime. So I ask him if I can leave early. He replies with his usual “kailangan kita sa rehearsal” line. I insist that I have to leave early, and he replies with “mag-run lang tayo ng isang beses”. In short, he’s asking for just one hour. Just one hour. This after he comes an hour late, just a week or so after telling the actors off for tardiness, after announcing that he will have to be much stricter with punctuality “from now on”. The worst part, though, is when he looks at you with that disappointed look of his, as if you haven’t attended any of his daily rehearsals at all, as if you have no idea as to what you have to do when the play date finally comes. Not like the others. No, I don’t have to drop names, those idiots know who they are.

But something inside me tells me to be gullible for the nth time. So I play along for the next few minutes, asking him between rehearsed movements. By my fourth request, he’s too busy with rehearsing the chorus he literally loves playing with that he either doesn’t hear me anymore, or he does a real good job of acting deaf. That was the last straw. I get off the linoleum, pack my bag, and walk out of the entire farce without saying a word. And he was too busy playing with the chorus to notice me. So much for that.

On the way home, I text Tisa, and hear that he’s into another one of his arguments with the chorus people. Some of them are naturally bitchy anyway (again, they know who they are), I tell myself. I’m surprised, though, when I hear that this time it’s with Tinay, a person who is so tolerant and who smiles so often that I can only imagine what pushed her over the edge to speak up against him. Heat, hunger and fatigue can do that to people.

Most of you may see this rant as making a big fuss out of something as insignificant as walking out of a rehearsal, which is not an uncommon phenomenon. But for me it’s so much more than that. It’s the idea of, if only for a moment, losing all faith in an individual’s credibility, something that more impulsive and spontaneous people may do much more than walk out of.

Too bad, at the start of this semester I expected the most from two subjects: Creative Writing class and Acting class. At least one of them didn’t disappoint. Clue: It has something to do with writing. Stanislavsky, Artaud, Strassberg, Brecht, Aristotle and Grotovsky rang in my ears. Too bad none of us have gotten the chance to know them better. Maybe Yapo was right, maybe the secret was lowered expectations. On second thought, nah.

But I know how gullible I am. I know that tomorrow morning, I will be at the DL Umali Auditorium, doing my movements and helping others with theirs because it beats warming up for an entire day of sitting down and doing nothing in a stifling-hot theater. Might as well see this farce to whatever end it arrives to.

posted by Ocnarf @ 7:54 PM   2 have spoken

Ako din maglalagay ng sched

Course Units Section Lecture
COMA 190 3 X 2:30-4 TTh
COMA 200 1 AR(1) TBA TBA
ENG 107 3 G 4-5:30 WF
NASC 2(MST) 3 B 8:30-10 WF
PHLO 171 3 W 1-2:30 TTh


posted by Ocnarf @ 3:44 PM   0 have spoken

Monday, September 22, 2008


Can't. Write.

posted by Ocnarf @ 8:04 AM   0 have spoken

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Because English 106 makes our heads spin, or because I just loved the assignment a little too much

We're supposed to look for our single favorite poem for English 106 (Creative Writing) class. And since the poetry part of the class has been something I had admittedly been looking forward to, I took the assignment to heart almost immediately (sorry, SOSC 2, you and your dumbass of a teacher will probably never reach this state, not even with your "My Utopic Philippine State" paper due in a few weeks).

So for the past week or so, I've been racking my brain, trying to remember every significant piece of verse that has helped me shape my life into whatever it is now. Heck, I've even spent several hours reading through my old blog, looking for anything I've written in the past that could pass for "poetry" in a world where even a blank piece of paper already counts as a poem. That, and also because I'm only a pathetic poseur of a poet who's probably only a margin above those sad emo kids who put "blood" and "pain" in their "poetry" just because it sounds darker (ergo, "cooler") that way. And because I'm a pathetic poseur, I like reading my "works".

I may be no poet, but I've always liked reading poetry. My love for Latin American literature translates to admiration the verses of Borges and Neruda. My love for vivid images translates to my reading "Love Song of Night and Day" and memorizing Death Cab for Cutie lyrics. And no mention of poetry, I believe, would be complete without those poems of William Shakespeare, who captures human conditions so masterfully that he now appears cliche.

Where is this seemingly tautological piece going, you ask? Concerning the assignment, yes, I did find out which my current favorite poem is. Problem is, though, in the course of my retrospective, I found too much good stuff along the way, and now I have no place to place them in.

Ergo, this post. Presenting, in the following order, my current (meaning it can change within the next hour, or it may not change until the time I quit my first job, or... you get the point) top ten favorite poems.

X: Sa Poetry (Rolando Tinio)

Sa poetry, you let things take shape,
Para bang nagpapatulo ng isperma sa tubig.
You start siyempre with memories,
'Yung medyo malagkit, kahit mais
Na mais: love lost, dead dreams,
Rotten silences, and all
Manner of mourning basta't murder.
Papatak 'yan sa papel, ano. Parang pait,
Kakagat ang typewriter keys.
You sit up like the mother of anxieties.
Worried na worried hanggang magsalakip
Ang odds and ends ng inamag mong pag-ibig.
Jigsaw puzzle. Kung minsan, everything fits.
Pero sige ang pasada ng images
Hanggang makuha perfectly ang trick.
At parang amateur magician kang bilib
Sa sleight-of-hand na pinapraktis:
Nagsilid ng hangin sa buslo, dumukot,
By golly, see what you've got---
Bouquet of African daisies,
Kabit-kabit na kerchief,
Kung suwerte pa, a couple of pigeons,
Huhulagpos, beblend sa katernong horizon,
You can't say na kung saan hahapon.

I remember way back in high school, when we were discussing this poem during Filipino class, one of my friends was giggling because he thought "isperma" meant "sperm" and that the only way to let sperm drip onto water was to masturbate it out. The mention of "medyo malagkit" in the next line probably didn't help either. Even years after and apart from the incident, though, it still serves as a beautiful description of the anxieties of writing, not only poetry.

IX: When I Born, I Black (anonymous)

When I born, I Black,
When I grow up, I Black,
When I go in Sun, I Black,
When I scared, I Black,
When I sick, I Black,
And when I die,
I still black..

And you White fella,
When you born, you Pink,
When you grow up, you White,
When you go in Sun, you Red,
When you cold, you Blue,
When you scared, you Yellow,
When you sick, you Green,
And when you die, you Gray..
And you calling me Colored ??

Anybody who's watched MAD TV, The Simpsons, Chappelle's Show or any similar material will have to admit sooner or later that racism is funny. This poem turns it around and slaps the racist with it in such an entertaining way that I just had to spoof it back way back when. Oh well.

VIII: Jolography (Paolo Manalo)

O, how dead you child are, whose spoiled
Sportedness is being fashion showed

Beautifuling as we speak -- in Cubao
There is that same look: Your Crossing Ibabaw,

Your Nepa Cute, Wednesdays
Baclaran, "Please pass. Kindly ride on."

Tonight will be us tomorrowed-
Lovers of the Happy Meal and its H,

Who dream of the importedness of sex as long as it's
Pirated and under a hundred, who can smell

A Pasig Raver in a dance club. O, the toilet
Won't flush, but we are moved, doing the gerby

In a plastic bag; we want to feel the grooves
Of the records, we want to hear some scratch-

In a breakaway movement, we're the shake
To the motive of pockets, to the max.

The change is all in the first jeep
Of the morning's route. Rerouting

This city and its heart attacks; one minute faster
Than four o'clock, and the next

Wave that stands out in the outdoor crowd
hanging with a bunch of yo-yos-

A face with an inverted cap on, wearing all
Smiles the smell of foot stuck between the teeth.

It may have started with Rolando Tinio's Sa Poetry back in high school, but it was this poem that told me what the potential of Taglish poetry could be, given such a postmodern cultural hodgepodge such as ours. Furthermore, how could a coñotic "Patay kang bata ka!" in the first line not be appealing to a Taglish reader?

VII: Sonnet XI (Pablo Neruda)

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

A poem that seems to talk about the insistence of an unrequited lover, but animalistic and imaginative enough to not be seen as emo. I believe the eating part, in particular, is what makes this my personal favorite among the poems in One Hundred Love Sonnets. I'm probably just yet another repressed horny animal Id that way.

VI: Poetry (Pablo Neruda)

And it was at that age...Poetry arrived in search of me.
I don΄t know,
I don΄t know where it came from, from winter or a river.
I don΄t know how or when,
no, they were not voices,
they were not words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say,
my mouth had no way with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened
and open planets, palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated, riddled with arrows,
fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry void,
likeness, image of mystery,
I felt myself a pure part of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars;
my heart broke loose on the open sky.

My favorite part is the part where the persona confesses to writing something he/she is not sure of. Reminds me so much of the first time I tried to write poetry, especially the part where I didn't know if what I wrote was simply senseless or maintaining a sufficient semblance of sensibility in order to be called poetry. Probably reminds you of your first attempt at poetry too.

V: Robin Goodfellow's Soliloquy from A Midsummer Night's Dream (William Shakespeare)

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I'm an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call:
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Abuse of the fourth wall and of suspension of disbelief from a master of his language. Plus, it rhymes, which is a huge factor in a world where people are too lazy to put rhyming words together anymore. Need I say more? (Hey, that kind of rhymes!) Honestly though, I was disappointed when the guy playing Robin Goodfellow at the ComArtSoc's tagalized version of the play (Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-Araw) didn't even say something similar to this piece, which, for me, was the only way the play should have ended.

IV: What Sarah Said (Ben Gibbard)

And it came to me then that every plan
Is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes in the ICU
That reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself
That I’ve already taken too much today
As each descending peak on the LCD
Took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines
In a place where we only say goodbye
It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds
And I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose
Than to have never lain beside at all
And I looked around at all the eyes on the ground
As the TV entertained itself

‘Cause there’s no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes ‘round and everyone lift their heads
But I’m thinking of what Sarah said
That love is watching someone die

So who’s gonna watch you die?

My problem with most singer-songwriters these days is that they either make really good music but with crappy, usually even repetitive lyrics, or that they write good lyrics but sound forced to the point of being boring when placed onto melodies. Death Cab for Cutie, for some reason, manages to balance the two so well that their songs sound good whether recited or sung. Lyric-wise, this is my favorite. It's so emo, it's beautiful, which goes to show that you either not be emo or be emo all the way.

III: Ars Poetica (Jorge Luis Borges)

To gaze at the river made of time and water
And recall that time itself is another river,
To know we cease to be, just like the river,
And that our faces pass away, just like the water.

To feel that waking is another sleep
That dreams it does not sleep and that death,
Which our flesh dreads, is that very death
Of every night, which we call sleep.

To see in the day or in the year a symbol
of makind’s days and of his years,
To transform the ourtage of the years
Into a music, a rumor and a symbol,

To see in death a sleep, and in the sunset
A sad gold, of such is Poetry
Immortal and a pauper. For Poetry
Returns like the dawn and the sunset.

At times in the afternoon a face
Looks at us from the depths of a mirror;
Art must be like that mirror
That reveals to us this face of ours.

They tell how Ulysses, glutted with wonders,
Wept with love to descry his Ithaca
Humble and green. Art is that Ithaca
Of green eternity, not of wonders.

It is also like an endless river
That passes and remains, a mirror for one same
Inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
And another, like an endless river.

Love how the poem goes back into itself especially in its first stanzas, in order to screw up the reader's notions of reality and unreality (does time flow like a river, or does a river flow like time?). Borges loves dreaming and the infinitesimal nature of things as much as I do.

II: Love Song of Night and Day (Jenny Scott)

He (Night) / She (Day)

Wrap yourself in your best bright clothes, your red and purple scarves of silk.
Run with me to the festival, where we will dance until sunrise.
The dwarves will beat their funny drums of zebra skins and hollowed trees,
while stiltwalkers perform, and the musician blows his bamboo flute.

And late in the night, the poets and storytellers entertain,
delight us with their dancing words, as we listen, clapping by the fire.
Enchant me with your tale-telling. Tell about Tree, Grass, River, and Wind.
Tell why Truth must fight with Falsehood, and why Truth will always win.

I will tell my father's stories: how the giant mantis fooled Death
by holding still as a felled tree; how the elephants trampled
the leopard cub, and its father, though he knew, killed nine goats instead;
how pirates gambled with a djinn and lost the thing more dear than gold.

Tonight we'll eat a farewell feast. Cold corn porridge is not enough.
Let's peel papayas, pineapples, and mangoes, drink coconut milk,
and bake bananas. We'll dine on crocodiles, wild birds, and turtles,
perhaps a hippopotamus--if only you can catch it first.

I'll build a palace made of stone. Two hippo-headed guards will serve,
and tigers carry in your meals. I'll capture flying zebras
for your steeds, and fill the stable with every kind of unicorn.
Butterflies and salamanders will decorate your garden.

I'll strand long strings of beads for you, blue, the color only kings may wear.
I'll carve a soapstone lioness, a wooden box to lock it in,
girded with sapphire amulets, ostrich feathers, ivory.
These things will protect you while I'm gone, remind you of my love for you.

Your voice resounds like a songbird's, every word is a sweet, soft song.
When you run you're graceful and swift, sleek as a powerful panther.
Mysterious chameleon, you're a thousand women at once,
sharp and strong as a lioness, yet gentle as a striped gazelle.

On this our last day together, let us walk across the grasslands.
Hold my hand and let's walk slowly, seeing everything as children.
Let's walk on the Daraja Plains, where leopards hang from trees, dosing,
tasseled tails swaying in the shade, near villages of tree-dwelling elves.

Glorious, to walk again across the savannah with my beloved.
A lion walks commandingly, a general among his troops,
camped the night before a battle. A snake, colorful and coiled, loops
around his bough, mischievous, hanging over the village path.

We'll find termites in their nests, hard tall towers above the plains,
and point-eared cats, taking their turns, guarding their many entrances.
We'll find the basket-nests of birds hanging from the acacia tree.
Rhinoceroses and dragons for once will let us walk in peace.

When lightning tears the sky's dark cloak and heaven's bird beats the water
on the muddy plains with its big wings, termites and frogs escape their homes
toward the lamps in the nearest village. Spiders dry themselves indoors,
the spotted lizards that never fall from ceilings suddenly appear.

In the forest, fires light the sky as the black clouds unfold their weight.
The black-and-white sacred monkey holds her children to her, and waits.
Love, like lightning hits suddenly. It sparks the heart with blows of light,
its fire extending, bends, expands, beats and breaks your hiding places.

* * *

Remember when we were children, herding the sheep together,
leading them over the grassy hills with long sticks. Your silly songs
made me laugh, and in the evening, you'd enchant me with your stories,
lying on your back beside me. Even then my heart was yours.

I remember your sacred rites. You were so funny, so grown up,
so stiff and serious, all arms and elbows. You went in a girl,
but you returned a warrior. You marched back with the others--
your hair was cut, your eye tattooed with the red triangle of war.

Tomorrow I must go, my love. I will tattoo my head with braids.
My shield will bear a shining sun so you will always be with me.
Inlaid with gold, it will shine like glowing embers. I will return
with lizard skins for your sandals. Paint your eyes black and wait for me.

I am the sun, you are the moon. Wherever you lead I will go,
following across the wide sky, as long as I live and you love.
Sun follows Moon until she tires, then carries her until she's strong
and runs ahead of him again. I'll carry you, too, my beloved.

My love, we are not Sun and Moon. Instead we are like day and night.
The old ones say Day is a woman, who works only while it is light.
She herds her goats and catches fish, fills her fields with golden corn,
shows her children what is just and protects them from the cobra.

Day loves Night, who works in darkness, walking through heaven's milky sky
collecting stars with his quick arms, piling them into a basket
like a child collecting lizards and piling them into her pot
until the pot overflows with lizards, 'til the basket overflows with light.

Night wears a black cloak lined with fire, studded inside with gleaming stars.
At dawn and dusk he spies his love. Across the rolling hills of sky,
they glimpse each other--so briefly. They throw each other kisses, cry.
Their tears spill over Jamuraa. Mixed with blood, they wash everything red.

But once, with a magician's help, Time was stopped and Day stood still.
Night spread over Jamuraa, wrapped Day in his dark cloak and held her.
In their miraculous embrace, the two became as One. Until
pulled from Day's arms, Night sank, commanded by the western horizon that always beckons him to come.

I won't give up hope, my love.

Our love is like the river in the summer season of long rains:
For a little while it spilled its banks, flooding the crops in the fields.
But soon it will evaporate with the dry heat. Like Day from Night,
I'll live my life apart from you, just glimpsing you across the sky,
because you cannot change, my dear, and nor can I.

This was a poem composed by a member of the creative team behind the fictional continent of Jamuraa in Magic: the Gathering mythos. Think of the African landscape, put a few magical creatures here and there, and you'll see why I like the imagery of this poem. The fact that it was quoted in seventeen Magic cards is also a cute little testament to how reliable this poem was in building a world for planeswalkers (eternal über-sorcerors in the game) to battle in.

I: Poor Fellows (Pablo Neruda)

What it takes on this planet,
to make love to each other in peace.
Everyone pries under your sheets;
everyone interferes with your loving.
They say terrible things about a man and a woman,
who after much milling about,
all sorts of compunctions,
do something unique,
they both lay with each other in one bed.
I ask myself whether frogs are so furtive,
or sneeze as they please.
Whether they whisper to each other in swamps about illegitimate frogs,
or the joys of amphibious living.
I ask myself if birds single out enemy birds,
or bulls gossip with bullocks before they go out in public with cows.
Even the roads have eyes and the parks their police.
Hotels spy on their guests,
windows name names,
canons and squadrons debark on missions to liquidate love.
All those ears and those jaws working incessantly,
till a man and his girl
have to raise their climax,
full tilt, on a bicycle.

If there's one thing Ferdinand de Saussure, Michel Foucault, Perez Hilton and Kris Aquino have taught us, it's that gossip is simultaneously more constructive and destructive than most of the other forces in society. Pablo Neruda here shows us the destructive side. Also, gossip has been simultaneously bonding and ruining people for years (not only in the CommAts batch, mind you, though it's a pretty big factor there).

So there. Like I wrote earlier, all this can change within the next hour, or it may not change until the time I quit my first job, or... you get the point. What matters is that these are the win in the now for the me. Whee. (Hey, like I said earlier, I'm no poet.)

Maybe I just did love the assignment a little too much.

posted by Ocnarf @ 11:14 PM   2 have spoken

Friday, September 12, 2008


I'm getting tired too.

But to Hell with me if I ever sincerely wanted to just keel over and die.

posted by Ocnarf @ 7:11 AM   2 have spoken