Publication Day: “Ink: A Love Story”

Publication Day: “Ink: A Love Story”

Yesterday, the ebook version of issue seven of Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction was finally released! I’m thrilled to announce that:

  1. I have a story there. It’s my week 2 Clarion piece, “Ink: A Love Story”, about two writers who write their perfect lovers into existence.
  2. I’m sharing the TOC with Clarion classmate Manish Melwani and the awesome Zen Cho, author of Sorceror to the Crown.
  3. The cover of the issue, done by the talented Lydia Wong, was based on my story.

Please grab a copy now!

I’ve also just returned from the 1st Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop, which was held by the UP ICW at Microtel, UP TechnoHub. The focus was speculative fiction, a first for the Philippines. The workshop completely exceeded my expectations, from the quality of the work to the quality of the discussions to the quality of the accommodations. I was even struck down by stomach flu some hours just before the cosplay graduation ceremony, unfortunately. Photos to follow, but for now, here we are, about to watch the play Distrito de Molo at Palma Hall in UP (photo taken by panelist Eliza Victoria).

Some Notes about the Davao Bombing Tragedy

  1. If you do not live in Davao or were not in Davao during the day of the bombing, do not mark yourself as “safe.” Let those tools be used by the affected people and their loved ones.
  2. Do not share unverified “articles” and rumors about bombings in other places. There is a need to stay on high alert; there is no need to spread panic.
  3. Do not fight people online, whether about the details of the bombing or the decisions of the president in the aftermath–whether or not you agree with him. There are a million other useful things you could do, some of which are:
  4. Check on your Davao-based loved ones. Find out what you can donate, and where. Share posts about visiting AdDU COPERS, especially to your friends who may need psychological counseling after the tragedy. #PrayForDavao. And #PrayForThePhilippines too, because only God knows where we’re headed next as a nation.
  5. Whether or not this was an act of terrorism, do not let it make you hate your fellow Filipinos. Do not hate Muslims or Christians, do not hate anti-/pro-Duterte supporters, do not hate Dabawenyos or Manileños. DO. NOT. HATE. That is how terrorists win–by turning ordinary citizens into unthinking machines of fear and hatred.

How COMELEC Disenfranchised Me


Even though I am the only one in my family with a Voter’s ID, complete with biometrics, I couldn’t vote. Why? Because no one could find my name on either the precinct or master list.

What made it worse was that between 5am and 8am, I got sent from my precinct to the help desk and back. At the voter’s assistance desk, the COMELEC rep found my mom and my sister, but not me. Everyone–poll watchers, teachers, student volunteers–was nice to me, and one person even told me not to feel nervous. But they really couldn’t help me. They were just doing their jobs, and those jobs do not entail protocol for when a registered voter cannot be found in the precinct or master list. Even the poll watchers were complainjng about how inefficient it is to look through a printed list instead of a computer. My dad finally told me we should just go home after the reps at the voter’s assistance desk couldn’t find my name. They were too busy to help and I would’ve just wasted my time and breath complaining.

I walked out of that elementary school crying. It’d been a long morning and this is just the latest string of misfortunes and disappointments in an already shitty month. (Oh and by the way, we lost our power as I was writing this.) And now my name may be used in whatever election scam will probably hit the nation this year.

The best thing I can do now, no matter who becomes president, is to be an even better citizen of the Philippines than I ever was–from abiding even the most minor of rules and ordinances to actively supporting causes I care about. That goes for all of you. We can’t count on one man or woman to “save” us. We need to save ourselves. If you want to believe that change is coming, then remember that it comes from within.

Because apparently, not even COMELEC can change how I and maybe so many other people didn’t–couldn’t–vote today.

Portrait of the #WriterMom as a Member of the Working Class


“Although the labor conditions of motherhood and artists are both bad, the system maintains its power by teaching us to blame ourselves. Mothers spend a great deal of time feeling anxious and guilty that we’re not doing it right. Artists spend a great deal of time feeling insecure, discouraged, or fraudulent. Both groups would be served by understanding that these labor conditions are so terribly under-resourced that they set us up to fail or to always feel like we’re failing. If our lives as moms or artists aren’t going well, we are taught to believe it’s our personal deficiency, when it’s actually a function of the society’s structure.”

Aya de Leon

writermomIn an election year, and this election in particular, there is more talk than ever about class. On one extreme, we have Bernie Sanders, talking about revolution and remedying income inequality. On the other extreme we have billionaire Trump who represents the interests of the rich (to the degree that he represents anyone but himself), but is popular among poor and working class whites, particularly men. In this way, Trump is simply a caricature of the Republicans’ usual strategy, using racism and sexism to get poor and working class people to vote against their own self-interests. Our society is founded on this principle, this strategic manipulation of the white working class to accept terrible labor and living conditions.

For women, this manipulation has conditioned us to buy in to our labor being exploited and invisible. Inside of this mythology, I’m not spending six hours doing arduous emotional and domestic labor…

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The Good Friday homily that melted my heart


Very timely for Holy Week, if you are Catholic. A Jesuit discusses how people cannot handle so much love and how they fight outrageous love with outrageous hate.


Below is the homily that Fr. Arnel Aquino, S.J. gave today at the Gesu for Good Friday.

I didn’t get to hear this in person. I only stumbled on this when my friend, Harvey Parafina, posted pictures of the sheets of paper it was printed on. I was very moved by the words that I immediately had to type them out. I can only imagine how much more moving this would have been to have heard this in person.

Thank you very much for sharing this online, Harvey. It’s exactly what this time for reflection is all about and what I needed to hear on a night like this.


A Good Friday Homily by Fr. Arnel Aquino, S.J.

A couple of months ago, ISIS took a video as they incinerated a Jordanian pilot in a cage. My friends said the internet was awash with the footage, but I resisted the temptation of…

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Book Review: ‘News Hardcore: Hukbong Sandatahan ng Kahaggardan’ by Manix Abrera


WARNING: This review will get personal.

Back in 2013, when I was new-ish at my previous (and first-ever) job at GMA News Online, I once spent an entire day reading Manix Abrera’s News Hardcore from the first strip to the latest. Concealing my laughter became a struggle.


Image from Visprint.

News Hardcore at first followed the adventures of a newbie journo and then branched out into the experiences of her co-workers in the difficult but noble profession of news. The comic was only about 150+ strips at the time. Even if I couldn’t (yet) relate to a lot of what was going down in the comics–from the failure to hail a cab to going to work during outrageous typhoons–I told myself and my officemates that this would make a great book and I’d buy it if it was. Little did I know that one day, Manix would email me a strip every week, that I would have to upload these comics onto the GNO website myself, that we would meet in conventions here and there, that he would give me a copy of 14 to review.

Flash forward to 2015, two years and a few odd months later, to the November Komikon. Manix was at the head of a long line of people who wanted autographs on News Hardcore: Hukbong Sandatahan ng Kahaggardan. I was not the same girl who read 150+ comic strips in one afternoon during some downtime from work: no longer naive, no longer a journalist, and preparing to leave my second job to move into my third, I’d left my fulfilling but ultimately toxic media job behind. But I still wished to have a hard copy of News Hardcore because no matter what happened to me next, the fact remains that my time in journalism has become an indelible part of me. (Spoiler alert: I did not buy a copy. Manix gave me a review copy for free.)

The truth is that my last six months at GMA were fraught with anxiety, stress, office politics, and the beginnings of a year-long depression. There came a point when I cried during a car ride to work–my body’s way of telling me that I did not want to be there anymore. Remembering what was good and what I loved about the job became an unreachable dream. In the months after, I even stopped listening and reading to almost all kinds of news because I would remember some small thing that brought on so much boiling anger and resentment.

I read my physical copy of News Hardcore not in one sitting, as during that day in 2013, but in bursts between tasks at work, breaks, car rides, and an hour before going to bed. I noticed that I laughed more during this second reading than I ever did during the first. I could recognize myself and my former colleagues in beautifying yourself after coverage upon coverage; in gossiping about &#%$@^*@#% grammatical mistakes and other ridiculous writing sins committed by contributors; in trying to get HR to reimburse a hellish commute fee. I remember going to work the Saturday after Typhoon Yolanda struck, having to return gifts over P300 in price, pushing through a crowd just to get an assignment done. I remember having moments to myself on the rooftop or in the bathroom, not exactly questioning my life choices but taking stock of my life thus far anyway. I remember all the chats with my colleagues about what we really like to do beyond office hours (actor, writer, photographer, comic artist…there were many of us with other hobbies). I remembered all of it, laughing (and cringing a little).

It’s been a year since I left GMA. It’d be an understatement to say that coping with the fallout, the near-constant rush of triggering memories, the slow climb back to a place that isn’t dark and so far down from an exit, hasn’t been easy. But I have done it, and I just so happened to read News Hardcore in a better frame of mind and under better circumstances. This book helped remind me that there were some good times, great memories, moments I could be proud of. And that yes, there are things I miss about the job, moments when I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed and the situation had been better. This book also helped me realize that that chapter of my life really has ended and that I am done wallowing in pain. Thus, reading this book is a wonderful way to go full circle.

I don’t know if I can offer an objective review of the book and its contents (is there even such a thing as an objective review?). But this is what News Hardcore means to me, and I am so glad it played such a significant part of my life.

Now all that’s left to ask is, kailan kaya yung volume 2?😀