Friday, September 28, 2007

On Monday, Byzarium will be releasing its October issue. "Six Events in A Love Story" is my third Remedios Varo inspired piece to be published. I love the way Byzarium invites response to art and to me this ezine is a gem because of the way art and words are intertwined. It's a wonderful symbiotic relationship where the one nurtures the other. I think this has to do with Leigh Dragoon's personal engagement of art. It's more than a superficial thing and her passion for art and for words is expressed through the ezine.

I've been rereading Janet Kaplan's "Unexpected Journeys", and I find myself reflecting on the affinity I feel towards Remedios Varo's work. I wonder if it has to do with the many migrations she experienced, and the migrations I have experienced.

I think of my migration from the province to the city suburbs, from the city suburbs to the city itself, and from the city to a country outside of my home country. While my own migrations were not as intense as Remedios Varo's own migrations, I do recognize how these upheavals influence the way I look at my own work.

Somehow, I keep having this feeling of wanting to press beyond and to look on the other side of the page where worlds and possibilities exist.

In a sense, my writing of speculative fiction is a product of my migrant experience. From childhood, the sense of not really belonging or not really being part of "a culture" has pursued me. I remember my own intense desire to fit in with the culture of the mountain provinces, only to be reminded that I did not belong to this minority because my parents weren't from Ifugao. Spending all of my childhood years in the mountains still didn't make me Ifugao, and no matter what I did or how much I wanted to belong, nothing would change that.

When we left Banaue and moved to the city suburbs, the sense of uprootment and non-belongingness intensified. Maybe it would have been different if my parents had opted to send us to a semi-public school instead of to the exclusive private school they sent us to. How to write about those painful first years in High School when I could not even speak Pilipino properly because in Ifugao, folks don't speak tagalog. We spoke either English, Ilocano or Ifugao.

Early on, I learned the importance of wearing a smiling mask when inside I felt like crying. It didn't help that the first friend I had turned out to be someone who wanted me to give her all my lunch money and to give her the answers to tests or assignments until at a certain point, I didn't have any lunch money left and so she left and found someone else to get lunch money off and to copy answers from. Which made me feel at that time that Ifugao folks were very justified for not trusting city dwellers. Of course, I did eventually hook up with some fabulous folks who were true friends and remain true friends to this day.

Following the links on Dean Alfar's blog which leads to interesting debates on what makes certain stories Filipino, I find myself wondering at this obsession we folks seem to have with labels. I remember this discussion on the Online Writing Workshop list about what makes specfic what it is and why is it that some literary works still are literary when they employ genre stuff.

I have no answers to what makes a piece of specfic Filipino. None at all. I do believe in creating the best possible work I can create and pushing myself to be better than myself. In the end, one must be faithful to the muse and to what one is called to write. I also believe that all arguments as to what belongs to where are fruitless. Perhaps all this desire to categorize and labellize stems from our own need to belong and to be part of a culture.

I'd rather adhere to what Eileen Tabios says in reply to my question about genres in this Interview on The Sword Review:

Eileen: I no longer distinguish between forms (e.g. poetry vs fiction). I think all of what I do is a poet's practice -- or my poetic practice. That not only includes what I write (and in what form) but how I relate to other people, how I vote, how I blog, how I try to respect the mountain on which I'm blessed to live, how I cook (or not cook), how I watch TV (or not watch TV).... Because I wish to live my poetry vs trap it on the page, this kind of focus on genre is, for me, amateur hour.

It feels very weird for me to be thinking aloud like this on the page, and I wonder what this all means in relationship to what I'm working on and how I'm working on it.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Saving Leonardo and The Bodegraven Autumn Fair

Before all else, I thought I'd post a picture of "the red chair". I got this chair during the Bodegraven Autumn Fair, at the church shop where folks bring stuff they don't want anymore. I saw this chair, fell in love, and bought it. It looks like no one's ever sat in it before, there's not a single spot or a single signs of wear. Some folks will discard at will...some folks (like me) are glad there are folks like that.

(It was the Annual Autumn Fair with the Cheese Queen Parade and all the hoo-hah that comes with that, and if you want to see fotos you can click on the link. It is all in Dutch except for the fotos. )

Anyway, the church shop takes this opportunity to sell whatever they've got and whatever doesn't get sold lands in the scrapheap. After rescuing the red chair and a couple of lovely rotan chairs, Joel Jan and I headed for the bookstands. Joel Jan bought books about the moon landing and an annual on the year 2000. Samuel got a thick carton book on trains, and I rescued Leonardo. Here's a little whimsy that resulted from that:
Saving Leonardo
by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

I saved Leonardo da Vinci from the scrapheap. It was two in the afternoon, and the bookstands were crawling with people scrabbling about for books and things. I spied Leonardo hiding under a pile of books—red leather bound spine peeked out at me, with “The World of Leonardo” printed in faded gold.

Lo and behold, here was Leonardo in his glory days, with the kneeling angel, the half completed almost surrealistic Saint Jerome, and other works that made me say yes to parting with a couple of euros in exchange for a peek into the great man’s brain.

I spotted Van Gogh and Michelangelo on the stand after I’d gotten my hands on Leonardo, but I waffled a bit as the man watching the stand was not willing to negotiate on the cost of both books. Later, I regretted not taking them home with me and decided to go back for them. Too late though, by the time I arrived at the church, the scrapheap men had arrived and I could hear the crash of glassware, the solid thunk of furniture and was just in time to see the remains of what used to be the bookstand being poured into the maw of the devourer.

Dear Vincent, I hope you’ll forgive me for not being on time to rescue you. I hope it comforts you to know that I do have a replica of you on my bookshelf, and someday, I’ll probably find another book bound example, with a red spine and faded gold letters that read: The World of Vincent.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Today is one of those days when being far from home really bites. It's on days like these that I struggle with my emotions and struggle to keep from questioning God on his reasons for bringing me to this place. I know he's got his purposes and I know he never fails to keep his promises, but there's something heartbreaking about seeing your eldest child grow up too fast and take on responsibilities quickly because he has too.

I suppose I could see this as being a blessing. For his age, Joel Jan is quite mature, and while he has his moments of daydreaming, I see him shedding bits of his childhood as he realizes that we've really only got each other over here.

I mean, we do have good neighbours and good friends, but still when it boils down to the nitty-gritty we've only got each other.

I do realize how blessed I am to have a caring and thoughtful son. With Sam still not well enough to brave the chill of an autumn evening, Joel's gone off to football practice alone (for the first time). I couldn't keep from being emotional about it. I suppose I could have asked if he could bike with someone, but at this time of year, everyone goes with a car except for carless folks like me...and there is this fear of being a burden that still plagues me somewhat.

I'm thinking of how easy it is to surrender to resentment and depression. And while I write this, I'm only thankful I can pray for my son and commit him into God's hands. Sometimes, I just forget that we don't just have each other...more than any other, we have the Lord.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Last week's flash entry to the Liberty Hall flash challenge was voted as best flash in my group. It didn't win best of the best, but it was pretty cool being best flash in the group, esp. as flashes are pretty rough.

I flashed tonight (without feeling guilty) as Jan is off to France and isn't peeping from behind the door saying "I'm off to bed, good night." Yes, Jan, if you are reading this, I do feel guilty about writing into the wee hours while you drop off to sleep. This week's flash entry is very grounded in the Philippines. I'm curious how readers will respond to that. So far, the response to my other piece which is out and out Filipino has been great. Lots of readers gave me positive feedback and helpful hints on how to make the story stronger.

Both boys are in bed, safely and soundly tucked in. Nothing down here but me and the click-clack of the keyboard. I know there are ergonomic keyboards that don't make a sound, but I think the click-clack sound inspires me. Reminds me of when I used to type out those silly rhyming poems on my Dad's ancient typewriter. There was also that ka-ching when you hit the end of the margin...and for some reason, I never could seem to make a straight margin even if the typewriter was set to make a straight margin. I always had words that needed to extend beyond the margin. Thank goodness for computers.

Do not ask me about how I did in essay writing when I was in grade school. Do not ask about the red marks and the minus points on my essays because my margins looked like slanted corridors growing closer towards each other at the end of the page.

I'm going to try and complete the final rewrite to the piece I wanted to submit to PSF III. It's been great to read the feedback on the piece . I do need to rework the tragic ending to a more hopeful ending.

So, Jan, if you're reading this, that is what I'll be doing on the nights when you aren't here .

I have been taking a poll as to whether people will be interested in attending a reading, and the response is good. Next thing on my agenda is looking for a venue. I was thinking of hosting the reading here in my house, but a friend suggested asking their church if they had room we'll see if I can arrange something. That will be exciting :)

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Copied from the list. News of Madeleine L'Engle's death.

She was one of the family's favorite authors, and this news makes me very sad. A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Wind in the Door, Meet the Austins, A Ring of Endless Light...

Her books have touched the lives of many young readers. She lives on through her stories...


Thursday, September 06, 2007

in the meantime...

Crossposting from my lj as this offered some food for thought:

I cam across this link through a mail sent by an OWW list member that made me go...oh my, and uh-oh. Some interesting discussion going on regarding SFWA's recent boo-boo.

John Phy Cooke of Ray Gun Revival has also written about this on his blog.

I'm rather late on this as I confess to being a slacker.


In the meantime, I've been offered a gift of time. Tomorrow, while Joel is at school, Samuel is going off to a good friend who will be babysitting him while I work on stories, polish up submissions, and iron the clothes (oh so mundane that last one ).

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Copying this invite on the blog. It's at times like these that I wish going home was as easy as opening a door and stepping through into our living room back home. Wishing Dean a happy, happy launching. Kite of Stars still is one of my top favorite reads of all time.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Me and my boys

I should ask for more fotos of me and my boys. This is one of the rare ones. Taken sometime in April.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Things to look forward to...

The big boys went to the Feyenoord vs. Willem II football match, baby boy went to sleep, and I decided it was "me" time, and did some surfing, checking of mails and updating of blogs.

Last year, Byzarium published my flash fiction piece, Mistress Vogel. I haven't yet had the guts to send them another submission, but early this week, I sent them another Varo inspired piece entitled, Six Events in a Love Story, and today brought me this wonderful acceptance email from Leigh Dragoon.

So, I will be in Byzarium again this coming October. I'm quite pleased about Six Events being in the magazine that introduced me to Remedios Varo and a number of artists whose works I love. Pretty cool too as this story is definitely with a filipino setting, what with the lead character living in a nipa hut and the town elder bearing the name Juan. How much more Pilipino can a person get?

Our wedding anniversary is coming up in September. I can hardly believe we'll be celebrating our 9th anniversary this year. One more year to go and we'll hit the big 10... Good news, guys, we've made it past the seven year itch . Hubby and I have agreed that we will celebrate by visiting this year's "WoonBeurs" (Living Fair or Home Fair) which will be held in Amsterdam's RAI center. Last year was pretty cool and I came home with a number of magazines I bought simply because the pics were mouthwatering . Yeah, I shall probably be on the lookout for the architecture magazine stand and I shall probably buy myself not one but two super thick glossy MARK mags because if a person writes science fiction, a person has to know what the future will probably look like, right?

The one I bought and still read for inspiration has these amazing buildings in Tokyo designed by poets. Very cool indeed. Much food for thought. I hear the big boys arriving. Here's a short list of things I'm looking forward to:

1. The OMF Lit book release
2. The Orange Room Review --October Issue
3. Byzarium --October Issue
4. My Wedding Anniversary (oh wait, that should be number one)
5. and the Home Fair (buy, buy, buy)

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