Arnold Arre’s Trip to Tagaytay is a Sci-Fi Comic with Human Emotions

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Trip to Tagaytay sounds like the title of a coming-of-age road trip comic, not one set in a dystopian view of Manila in the future. But that’s what it is. It’s set in the distant future, one where people have migrated to stars, Aga Muhlach is president, and the Eraserheads are performing on the moon.

At the center of Arnold Arre’s comic is a young man, still living in Manila, as he muses on his love, who has migrated to the Orbital Space Station. The comic is short, spanning only 44 pages, and depicts the man walking to the Tagaytay Ocean Tunnel that connects to Cebu.

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Sarah Lahbati is the cover of Esquire November 2016

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On a lark, I decided to subscribe to Esquire Philippines. I used to be a faithful reader, beginning its first issue, when I trekked the entire avenue of Espana after catching a glimpse of its maiden issue on a drive back to my office, which was then located across the University of Santo Tomas. It was days ahead of its planned release in bookstores, so I made the effort to walk and search for the magazine stand I found it in.

I fell in love with the first few issues, but I was also reading Rogue. I preferred Rogue‘s voice, content, and layout, as opposed to Esquire‘s cluttered design. To be fair, I found most magazines cluttered after being introduced to Rogue’s clean layout. I also didn’t like how Esquire published a lot of stories from its US counterpart, some of which didn’t affect me as a Filipino. So I stopped reading the magazine.

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Charo Santos-Concio is On the Cover of Rogue’s November 2016 Issue

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This is a cover two years in the making. When I applied for an internship at Rogue magazine in 2014, there was a board with their cover ideas for October. The name written was Charo Santos-Concio, then the president of the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation and the host, until now, of Maalaala Mo Kaya, the longest-running television drama anthology in Asia.

I don’t know why they chose to feature a model and John Lautner’s mansion in Los Angeles instead, but it must feel so satisfying for the editorial team to wait for this moment.

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Books, Tea, and Champagne with Readers, Writers, and AA Patawaran

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Instagram / aapatawaran

Whenever someone asks me to recommend a book about writing, I always offer AA Patawaran’s Write Here Write Now. It’s a stylishly-written book about writing that is more inspiring than technical, and I always reread chapters whenever I am filled with my doubts. I even consider it as my writing bible. I’ve never met Patawaran, but he has always been responsive on Instagram, so imagine my joy when he invited me to a tea party.

He invited me, along with some readers and writers, for an afternoon of tea and deep conversations on the reading and writing life at the Writers Bar of Raffles Makati.

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BOOKS 2016: Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

I first discovered Smaller and Smaller Circles when it was announced that it was going to be turned into a film. And it’s hard not to be attracted to the links being posted on Facebook. The film was advertised as two Jesuit priests who investigate a serial killer. It’s not something that happens every day in Philippine cinema (or in real life), but what surprised me the most was that the book came out in 1998, and a lot of my friends have read it.

My first question: how did I miss what is called the first Filipino crime novel?

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The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2016

Last Friday, I attended the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival, hosted by Raffles Makati and National Book Store. It was my first time, so I didn’t have any expectations except to be inspired from the local and foreign writers who were going to speak.

I attended the festival’s first day, and I missed the first talk I wanted to hear because I was late. I missed Leloy Claudio’s Teaching History and Current Events to Millennials, an important talk given how misinformation is prevalent in social media these days. I managed to catch the latter part of Pam Pastor, Mae Paner, and Noreen Capili’s Untold Stories Inside: Writing About What You Love and Sharing it to the World, where Paner told us that we should write all the time, and to write things down because we are “write-rs” and not “remember-ers.”

I met my ex-officemates from TeamAsia (I had my last day the day before), and we had a late lunch, so Merlee Jayme’s Everyone Can Be Creative was brimming with people by the time we arrived. I was sad because I wanted to hear the story of an ex-convent girl turned chief creative officer at a communications agency, but I also felt happy knowing a lot of people turned up. Instead, we attended Carla Pacis, Cyan Abad-Jugo, and Sophia Lee’s Teaching Young Adult Literature, where Lee mentioned how characters should be flawed and multi-dimensional, instead of fitting tired stereotypes (i.e. protagonists are pretty and villains are ugly).

The next talk we attended was a panel hosted by CNN Philippines Life, called The We and the I: Stories Beyond the Page. The website invited photographer Shaira Luna, illustrator Dan Matutina, designer Mark Higgins, director Jade Castro, and furniture designer Ito Kish to talk about stories that don’t necessarily use the written word. Sadly, I had to do a French exit because I had to interview Anna Todd and Paula McLain, two of the authors National Book Store flew in to do signings. I did get a thought-provoking tote bag from CNN Life, though!

Readers and Writers

I met Todd at Writers Bar, where we talked about her After series of books. She’s an inspiring figure because she started publishing her story as a One Direction fan fiction on Wattpad. One billion reads later and there’s a bidding war between publishing houses and four follow ups. After tells the story of Tessa Young, an optimistic college freshman who falls in love with a troubled guy.

I then met McLain at Long Bar to discuss Circling the Sun, a reimagining of the love triangle between “Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator, safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton, and Karen Blixen, author of the classic memoir Out of Africa.” McLain is a soft-spoken lady and I believe we made a deep connection as we talked about the power of imagination and how to harness it even if you lead an ordinary life.

After having my books signed, I rushed back upstairs to catch The Great Homo Huddle Queries on Queer Pinoy Publishing, Post-Orlando and Post-Geraldine, hosted by the wonderful Team magazine. Editor-in-chief Paolo Lorenzana (who celebrated his birthday!) was joined by poets Wanggo Gallaga and Lakan Umali, author Loreen Ordoño, and singer B.P. Valenzuela to talk about how important it is to have a strong queer voice in local media.

Looking back, I realize that I was not able to complete a single talk, but I am happy to have attended because it awakened my inner writer, the one that hungers to tell a good story that does not necessarily relate to public relations.

One of the festival’s speakers is AA Patawaran, who wrote the inspiring book Write Here Write Now. It is one of my favorite books about writing because it is written so eloquently, so stylishly. In one of my favorite chapters, he said, “Experience is food for the heart and so they say a writer has to open himself up to the whole gamut of human emotions, from deep sorrow to boundless joy, from nagging doubt to unwavering certainty, from murderous passion to killing ennui.” Now that I have more free time to pursue my passions, I am excited to see, not just look at, what the world has to offer.

Riding in Cars With Boys By Beverly Donofrio

Riding in Cars With Boys Beverly Donofrio

 

I’ve read my fair share of coming-of-age books, but few have captured my attention the way Beverly Donofrio’s Riding in Cars With Boys did. It’s the “confessions of a bad girl who makes good,” and the book made me cheer for Beverly as she dealt with being a teenage mother in the 60’s. It’s an honest look at growing up, and it’s inspiring because Beverly is a young mother who thought all hope was lost.

Riding in Cars With Boys is an autobiography of Donofrio, a noted memoirist, children’s books author, teacher, and essayist. Her list of accomplishments is admirable, but her family background is humble, painted vividly by Donofrio in the memoir. She grew up in a patriarchal Italian household, but her sassy nature got her into a lot of trouble, including getting pregnant in high school. Stuck with a deadbeat husband and no future in sight (her parents couldn’t afford college), Beverly is forced to mature while dealing with the challenges of raising a child.

It took a while for me to appreciate this book, but I’m glad I finished it. Beverly’s story is inspiring, and it’s special because it’s the story of millions of people, who have to deal with idle spouses and the temptation of drugs, men, and good times. You feel like all hope is lost, but Beverly gathers enough courage to face the odds against her. It’s a well-written piece that illustrates triumph through hard work. The timeline spans from Beverly’s childhood to her son’s last summer before college, and when you finish the book, you realize that it’s not just her son who grows up, but Beverly as well.

Celebrate: The Art of the Special Occasion by Lucia Van Der Post

Celebrate Lucia van der Post

 

I love hosting parties, so my friend Nikko gave me a copy of Lucia van der Post’s Celebrate: The Art of the Special Occasion. The South African author, columnist, and socialite writes about how to throw different parties, from Christmas parties to birthdays, anniversaries, christenings, and even funerals and memorial services. Van der Post also recounts the best parties she’s been to, giving readers tons of ideas and inspiration when throwing their own get-togethers.

It’s hard to read this book if you’re outside the UK because most of her tips only apply to London. Plenty of times van der Post recommends restaurants, caterers, items, and businesses in London to add a magical touch to any proceeding, but if you’re resourceful enough, you can find (or make) your own version here in the Philippines. As a novice host, some of the ideas are way over my head (like serving champagne and foie gras), but I still picked up a few ideas here and there. After reading about picnics, I threw a small picnic with my man for our 10th month together at Ayala Triangle in Makati, complete with a red checkered blanket. I’ll write about it soon.

Even if a lot of the recommendations are exclusively based in London (and if her sample parties are of the posh kind, like renting a castle for the weekend or going on safari), van der Post stresses that good parties are not always about money and the finer things in life. Some of the most spectacular parties are the simplest ones, where you have a bowl of pasta, a pizza, and some bottles of beer. For me (and I’m glad the author agrees), the true measure of a successful party is the number of laughs, stories, and connections shared. And it’s a kind that you can get anywhere, even outside London.