Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why You Can't Write Filipino Science Fiction

My presentation for the recently concluded Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2012.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2012, Day 5

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2012, Day 4

We started the day with a talk by Dr. Mac Tiu, who explained to us his techniques in writing his award-winning fiction.  Mac admits he is a die-hard Aristotelian, so his stories take on the classical structure of "a single rising action with a single effect."  Mac starts with the beginning and the end, or in other words, the problem and the solution; getting from one point to the other is the story.
Clearly that's a very basic tenet of storytelling, but something that many young writers forget.  Everyone was in rapt attention.  You just can't go wrong with a classic.
Mac divides his stories into "frames", or "scenes".  Each frame moves the story forward, adding complications and driving up the action.  Mac then showed us the differences between his drafts and final version for his short story "Black Pearl."
And for something new and different: we brought the workshop on the air!  Farah, Greysh, and I hopped over to the radio booth next door during the snack break to do a quick spot for Blue Knight radio.
Farah read an excerpt from her short story "Purple Box", and Greysh read from her creative nonfiction piece "An Ode to My Left Ventricle."  I wasn't wrong in my selection of Farah and Greysh because their voices were just fantastic and radio-perfect.  At the end of each reading there was a pause as the DJs recovered from their stunned silence.

Now that's girl power.

Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2012, Day 3

Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2012, Day 2

The second day of the Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop proceeded apace. We opened the day with a talk on poetry by Prof. Ric de Ungria. Addressing the present misunderstandings by young writers on the form, function, and motive of poetry, Prof. de Ungria took us through examples of bad poetry, such as "A Tragedy" by Theophile Marzails and "The Stuttering Lover" by Fred Emerson Brooks. Poetry is refined taste, Prof. de Ungria pointed out, and most bad poetry, stem from lapses in taste.

Poetry conveys emotion, a characteristic lacking in the works of many beginning poets whose works tend to be idea-driven discursive pieces. The poem must communicate emotion from sheer reading. However, with poor word choices, pathos, which good poetry aims for, can easily degenerate into bathos.
Allen Samsuya, Jeff Javier, and Karla Singson, past fellows of the Davao Writers Workshop and Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop paid a visit and listened in on the discussions.
The day also had pleasant surprises and intensive and interesting discussions, especially on a piece written by Farah Aimee Virador from USEP. It's a piece we hope to publish in Dagmay soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mr. Roboto

My desktop companion and anti-boredom device.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2012, Day 1

 Today was the first day of the Ateneo de Davao University Writers Workshop 2012.  All in all, a pretty significant affair for me because it's my first time to be a workshop director, and the burden of responsibility weighs heavy on my shoulders.  Which is not to say that it wasn't a fun day, which it was; and by many measures, I'd quality the day as a success.

Old Dog Terence

It's sad to see a dog grow old. I remember him when he was a young, frisky, misbehaving, and uncatchable blaze of fur.  Eventually we channeled all that energy into agility training, and for a time, he was the poster pup for many local dog shows.  Now he's droopy and limp. But he still comes when I call. I only wish I could have brought him with me after I got married, and we might still have had plenty of morning walks together.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Two questions from a former student

1. How well do the concepts in a book translate into reality outside its pages?

A literary work is an interplay between the author and the reader. What the author writes cannot be a fully accurate translation of what he means to convey; such are the limitations of language. So the reader likewise must fill in those gaps with his own experiences. In effect, a book reflects the reality of the reader.

For more on this I would refer you to Sven Birkerts in "The Gutenberg Elegies." There's an essay there on the relationship between author and reader.

2. What is the difference between a sci-fi fantasy story, and a mythology?

Fantasy stories rely on some degree of unreality, either in character, setting, theme, or plot. Scifi stories are essentially fantasy stories, but they rely on plausible scientific explanations of aspects of their unreality. The scope of mythology is broad, but I like to think that myths are fantasy stories that have come to wide and enduring acceptance within a certain culture.

I would also refer you to GK Chesterton's essays on fairy stories in his book "Orthodoxy" and to John C. Wright's essays.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Avengers one more time!

Avengers fever is dying down, so here are some parting shots until the next movie.  These chibi figures are part of my small collection; officially, they're called "Marvel Heroes 2-Inch
Self-Vending Buildable Figures." How's that for imaginative branding?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Even as the light dies, we can still capture shadows and shapes.


Quite a common sight in these parts, and mostly ugly, too, what with their crisscrossing wires and such.  But sometimes I pause and consider the geometry and, well, they can be fascinating, too.

You want my advice?

Revel bars, lemon bars, and chocolate chip cookies: all home-made and fresh from the oven, and baked by my wife.

You want my advice? Marry a baker.

Photo fun on a Thursday morning

It's been a busy couple of days and I haven't had time to take the camera out for a spin.  I decided to break that lassitude and inactivity with a morning walk around the park: take some shots, never mind how trite.  These are what I came up with.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Transformers: Sideswipe

Nope, not from the Mindanao Toy Convention, just one of my own collection.  I dusted Sideswipe from ye olde toy shelf so we could have a little posing fun.  I took this shot sometime dawn (I'm an early riser). I like how the light catches the silver finish.

Mindanao ToyCon: Bird's Eye View

I didn't get to go on the last day of the toy convention, but I did swing by yesterday. Here's an overhead view of the whole affair.

Mindanao Toy Convention: More Gundams

More Gundams from the Mindanao Toy Convention. They had a model building contest, too.
This Gundam was put together by my student, John Paul. It had a place of honor among the other models from the local Gundam modelers.
This was an entry from the kit-building contest.
As was this.