Friday, February 26, 2010

SpecFic Talk Highlights

I gave my talk on Speculative Fiction this afternoon to a very receptive group of Ateneo students. They turned out to be quite in tune with the genre; it felt great to have them catch most of my references. Even better, they shared my dislike for "Avatar."

Early in the talk, I touched on "Agua Bendita" and "Mulawin/Encantadia", my starting points for discussion on Character and Setting, respectively. I asked them what made Agua such a fantastical character. The answer:

"Hindi nababasa ang damit niya!"

which happened to be exactly what I had in mind. That got laughs all around. As I said, they were a very receptive bunch.

Philippine Graphic will continue its literary section

It turns out the sad news I wrote about yesterday isn't true at all: Philippine Graphic will continue its literary section, as this message from Associate Editor Alma Anonas-Carpio says:

Dear Dominique,

I am the associate editor of the Philippines Graphic Magazine and I am writing this to refute the rumors that we no longer have a literary section. We will continue to publish short fiction and poetry in the tradition set by Nick Joaquin.

The Nick Joaquin Literary Awards will also continue.

We at the Graphic look forward to reading your submissions of poetry and fiction. Send them to litgraphic at geemail dot com.

Please help us at the Graphic spread the word.

Thank you,
Alma Anonas-Carpio
Associate Editor
Philippines Graphic Magazine

Happy Birthday, Crafty Cat!

Happy Birthday to my Plurk Pal, Crafty Cat

Thomas the Transformer

Strolling through Victoria Plaza last night, Emily and I found this mashup monstrosity: three Thomas the Tank Engines which would combine into...a giant robot!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Open Source Mini-conference at Ateneo de Davao

In hindsight, I realize I took a gamble when I decided to organize an open source mini-conference at Ateneo de Davao. The way I envisioned it, the students from my CS312 Advanced Topics class -- whom I had been guiding through various open source technologies -- would be the ones to run the sessions. I would be strictly hands off.

They came up with all sorts of interesting topics, too: ELGG social networking software, site management with Joomla and Drupal, application development with CakePHP, Android, and Google App Engine with integration to Facebook. I also shanghaied two students from my operating systems class to talk about Ubuntu, and three students from last summer to talk about osCommerce, Synfig, and Blender.

I had a daring plan, too, one probably never been tried in Ateneo before: we would be running parallel sessions. That meant four rooms, with at least two sessions each.

But a day before the event, all sorts of worries plagued me, foremost among them: would anyone show up? That worry continued right until 5 minutes before we actually started.

Election season

Found on the corner of Roxas Ave and one of the tributary streets. 'Nuff said.

Creepy Kitty

Found this at Victoria Mall last night. To be honest, I jumped back in surprise when I bumped into it. Cre-eeeepy!

The aspiring congressman

Well, it had to happen. One of my high school classmates entered politics, and has his eyes on a congressional seat. I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it: Bong Lu, formerly known to me as Ferdinand Lu. Quite likely, too, that I'll vote for him, if only because he's running against Karlo Nograles, and I don't want another Nograles in Congress.

Sad news

UPDATE: Apparently, this rumor is not true, after all.

This morning I received a bit of sad news -- Philippine Graphic will drop its literary section.

No, it's more than sad, it's terrible. Aside from losing another outlet for literary output, it feels like the magazine is turning its back on a tradition that goes back to Nick Joaquin.

Now, I don't know the full story behind this, and so I'll withhold any judgment on the publishers. Perhaps more will be said in the coming days.

I guess I should be thankful I managed to put out three stories in the magazine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Real Stargirl

From my friend, Elbert Or:
I need your help, each and every one of you.

The Reader's digest version is this: my girlfriend Lorra has been the victim of mean-spirited anonymous people who've not only set up a fake blog, but has since then posted mean comments on other people's websites under her name, and have tried hacking into her email accounts as well.

The past few days, we've tried reporting the fake blog to Wordpress in the hopes of having it shut down, but they've so far chosen not to even acknowledge our messages.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jonah Hex and Campbell

After six straight hours of labs, classes, and undergraduate thesis panel defense, I came home with an overheated and unthinking brain. Geez Louise! No one ever told me this part of teaching would be so exhausting. No, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. Just a little tired, is all.

Well, maybe just a teensy bit sorry.

With cerebral functions low and spirit even lower, I turned to my good old friend Jonah Hex for entertainment. Yessiree, nothing like Jonah Hex to make you feel better. Because no matter how bad your day gets, it can't possibly get any worse than Hex's.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Speculative Fiction presentation

A topic like this usually raises the hackles of quite a few folks; but what the hey, it can't get any worse than it already has, can it? Besides, I had fun putting this presentation together. It gave shape to my philosophy on Speculative Fiction. I will use this for my talk at Ateneo de Davao this Friday (assuming that the students who organized this actually get their act together.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

AdDU Writers Workshop Poster

I put together a small DIY poster for the Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop. I didn't want the usual clich├ęs around writing. Who wants to see another pen or typewriter anyway? This is what I ended up with.

Assembled using Inkscape, with some postprocessing in The GIMP.

Linux buttons

I had some Linux buttons made for the open source event my students are running next week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vote for Me!

No, I'm not running for public office. My story, Leg Men, has been shortlisted for the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. Given the names involved, including some very fine friends, competition is stiff. However, there's also a People's Choice Award. This is where you can help me win! Vote for me!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cobalt Saint

While I'm not a camwhore by any means, I couldn't resist taking some shots of myself in front of the blue-lit mirror at Cafe Andessa.


We stumbled upon this robot / ride at Gaisano Mall. Danged! I fell in love with it right away. If only I weren't so big, I'd actually have a go at its controls. Heck, I probably will anyhow.

Hermit Crab

Emily picked up a hermit crab and had some fun with it. She put it back. Promise. Taken at Paradise Beach Resort in Samal Island.

Spot the crablet

There's a crablet hiding somewhere in this picture. If you squint hard enough, you'll see it. Taken at Paradise Beach Resort in Samal Island.

Magnificent Sky

Shot at Paradise Beach Resort in Samal Island last Sunday. The sky looked particularly stunning that day.


Shot at SM Cebu City last February 13. Please don't ask me who the girl is; I have no idea. My Valentine's date wasn't till the 14th.


I attended Mass early this morning to avoid the crush of the noontime and evening services. Ash Wednesday isn't a holy day of obligation, but many Filipinos make it a point to go to church and get "ashed" anyway. The 6:00am Mass at Sacred Heart Parish wasn't exactly packed, but it was full enough for a weekday that we used the main church instead of the chapel.

Getting "ashed": in Bisaya, the word is "badlis", that is "to mark." One would expect sombre solemnity of the occasion, but my friends and I used to have a good laugh about this. Some ministers leave a bigger mark than others. And what about bald people? Do they get a bigger mark than everyone else, owing to their larger surface area?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Open source talks

My CS251 Advanced Topics class will run a mini-workshop entitled ATMOSPHERE -- Advanced Topics Meets Open Source -- this Feb. 24. Just a tentative poster for now, as I asked for some changes, but the lineup is just as it's written. I've also shanghaied a couple of students from my operating systems class to talk about Ubuntu, and some students from last summer to talk about their own projects.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bringing the Wild West to Davao

Last Thursday, the Mangudadatu and Ampatuan brought their rootin'-tootin'-shootin' wild west show to Davao. I don't know how the rest of the city feels, but as for me: disappointment, outrage, helplessness, and fear. Mostly outrage, I'd like to believe. I want them -- all of them -- out of Davao as soon as possible. Heck, I want them out of Davao NOW.

The news reports two different versions of the story. It doesn't really matter which one was true, because at the end of the day, a man is dead, shot dead in a busy shopping mall in the center of the city.

What is Mangudadatu doing strutting out in the open, knowing that he's the target of retaliation from the Ampatuans? What is Mangudadatu doing with armed bodyguards in a mall, in the middle of what is supposed to be an election gun ban?

And you know what? Something strikes me as off with Mangudadatu. Caught on TV after the incident, he acts like nothing at all has happened, wearing the same blank look on his face. Much like he did after his own wife was murdered. Macho? Maybe. Psychotic? Surely.

Taboan Writers Conference Day 3

Friday, February 12, 2010

The etymology of "Uyab"

In one of the side conversations here at Taboan, I learned that etymology of the word "uyab." "Uyab", as everyone knows, means "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", common enough in everyday contemporary Bisaya as to be innocuous.

But do you know the origin of the word?

Taboan Souvenir Shirt

Please don't mind the big tummy.

Taboan Writers Conference Day 2

No, no pictures for today, unfortunately. The schedule turned out to be quite hectic, and there were too many interesting people to talk to.

Our first fiasco of the day: the bus that was to pick us -- the second batch -- up came in very late. We missed the early part of the morning proceedings. I caught the tail end of the session run by Renato Madrid, a.k.a., Msgr. Rudy Villanueva.

I have to confess that I don't know much about Renato Madrid. Chalk that up to my own ignorance and my engineering education. But man! was he popular, especially among the older writers. Among his novels are "Devilwings" and "Mass for the Death of an Enemy." I'll have to look them up sometime.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Taboan Writers Conference Day 1

I'm writing this close to midnight, the end of a long day jam-packed with activities and conversations. I wish I could capture even the spirit of the discussions here, but with all the lore I'm soaking up, I wouldn't know where to begin (the origin of "lakwatsa?" the politics of awards? the quixoticism of novel-writing? the nature of Cebuano poetry?) The best I can do is a brief skeleton of the day; the rest I will have to keep within.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Taboan Writers Conference Day 0

If I had known being part of the literary circles was this much fun, I would have become a writer much sooner. Ha ha, small joke there, folks, and those of you who know me can imagine the self-mocking sardonic brow as I say it.

But seriously, this is fun. I joined Taboan last year at UP Diliman, and I'm fortunate to be a Davao delegate again this year. Our delegation is smaller in number, owing to some folks off on further studies. With me are Ric de Ungria, Jhoanna Cruz, Tim Montes, and my professor Mac Tiu.

Monday, February 08, 2010

This little piggy

Piggy fondant cake, made by Emily for a customer.

The network nomad

In the future, even the homeless will have notebooks; they will leech free wifi from nearby cafes to update their blogs. That future isn't too far off.

Photo taken at Victoria Plaza, outside Basti's Brew. I don't know who the woman is. I felt too embarrassed to ask.

Koi pond

Stella Maris has a nice koi pond in the midst of the line of admin offices. They didn't have it during my time. I like how the fish look healthy and frisky.

More protest art

Protest art always amuses me. I wish they didn't paste them on walls, though, because it just makes the place ugly.

Photo above was taken near Ateneo.

Writers Workshops in Davao

May will be a busy month for me as I'm involved in not one but two workshops. First there's the Davao Writers Workshop from May 3 to 7; then there's the Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop from May 25 to May 29. Quite a bit to get involved in, but I can't say no to my teacher Mac Tiu or my friend Jhoanna Cruz.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

My next book

In the final stages for my next edited book, "Oyanguren: Forgotten Founder of Davao" by Aida River-Ford. This one had challenges of its own, but after the hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing (just to be clear: I pulled my own hair and gnashed my own teeth), it turned out to be quite instructive.

I have another one planned for the middle of the year, some translation work possibly involved.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Online Literature

A presentation I'm giving at Taboan Writers Conference next week.

Miting de Avance

Just as the country is caught in election fever, so too with Ateneo de Davao, though in the school it's for the annual student government elections. I still have no idea how student government works, all I know is that they make a lot of noise.... Seriously, I never thought there'd be such a large turnout.

The names they come up with

We saw this on the way to Tagum last Sunday, and took a picture on the way back. Though the quality isn't very good, I think you can still make out the sign.