27 December 2020

The orderly mind

Why am I so bad at taking photos?

Except for The Under Dog and The Sittaford Mystery, which came into my possession earlier, these were at 29-peso each at a book sale, so I bought them all — back in 2011. As with any book haul, these Agatha Christie mysteries were mostly left unread. I eagerly devoured And then there were none, being one of her most famous works, then Curtain, since it's Hercule Poirot's last case.

We re-engage with forgotten objects of intrigue during the quarantine and Agatha Christie has been keeping me company since March. There's a relaxing quality about her storytelling rhythm. It's an easy read, in a way that knots are being untangled for you by careful and caring hands.

Maybe that's why I gravitate towards these books in this pandemic. Locked at home, I feel like I have more time in my hands yet I am also bothered by how this phenomenon is affecting the years ahead, already re-arranging what I have yet to plan.

Am now on my fifth title, Poirot loses a client. The swift flow of logic in these pages calms me down. Am like Hastings who do not understand anything at all, finding so many side issues. To whom Poirot would say, "Naturally there are side issues. To separate the main issue from the side issues is the first task of the orderly mind."

16 December 2020

The birthday of the infanta

One of my favorite stories to read, or at least remember during Christmas is The Birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde. In this post I noted how the Dwarf's first gaze at the mirror is one dramatic image I won't forget.

Last week I reread it and, as they say, you know it's a good story when it feels like you're reading it for the first time even if you already know what's going to happen.

This week on my podcast, I further explained why I associate this rather sad story with Christmas. I also tucked in my little holiday wish for those who are thoughtful enough to read and listen to me. Let me share some modified excerpts.


I wouldn't exactly call it a "children's" story, but the main characters are children.

Which is one reason that I think about it during Christmas. You know, they say this season if for children or the child at heart. So definitely there's an element of innocence, and also the cruelty of that innocence. Because when you're a child you don’t have yet that sense of justice and politeness, civility.

So it was the birthday of the Infanta. There were lots of activities to please her. Lots of entertainment. One of the entertainers was a dwarf. The Infanta and her friends loved the dwarf, in a sense that they loved laughing at him.

Why do I go back to this story during Christmas? Because (unlike the dwarf) we are aware that this season is a fantasy.


Listen to the minicast, then tell me what your favorite Christmas story is.

10 December 2020

The D-Word

Art is continuous with life, and choreographer PJ Rebullida's mind weaved through the many facets of life as he talked about dance on the latest episode of The Stunner. With the world under a pandemic, he touched on death, as well. The detailed portion of his account didn't make it to the final cut. Though he allowed it to be on-record, I made an editorial decision to let the persons named, along with their stories, remain hidden.

PJ was making a case for not only accepting but celebrating death. To which I concurred, "it's not defeat," referencing Dan Shcneider's poem, The Faggot and the line "Death is just death, not defeat."

Of course, it is hard to say that in these times, feeling like we've been defeated by our government and long-established systems. Death, when it's truly ours, can't be warmed by wise words. I am aware of that and so is PJ.

Hear more of the lessons he has learned about dance and life, in the past and in the terrifying present. He also answered a question I asked National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes: How is dance, especially choreography preserved for posterity?

02 December 2020

Memories and games

My first memories of playing games were with my cousins. They were older than me and everything they did was new and cool. Whether it was pigeon racing or betting on basketball. We would go to their house on weekends and spend entire days enjoying card games, board games, and video games — all of which were given to them by their father, my uncle, who was working abroad.

Their house was small, tiny, they're far from rich. Close to poor was how I had always thought of them. But their home was crammed with imported branded toys.

Sometimes I play with them and sometimes I watch them play, because the game's either too complicated or, when it comes to video games, too scary for me. Yes I get scared during boss fights with all those evil-looking characters and haunting background music.

We rarely see each other now and my interest in games has tempered. At times I must admit to suppressing it. I'm well aware that games, especially video games are designed to be addictive. And I have actually deleted all the gaming apps on my phone because once I open them, there's no closing it. 2048 kept me awake for weeks.

Recently I discovered Random Levels, a gaming podcast that brings back all the things I loved about, well, games — problem solving, making friends, forgetting about the world while learning about it at the same time.

It's created by one of my friends, Ren Alcantara in the month that I started my own podcast. He's hosting the show with his wife (who's also a gamer) and two other friends. In each episode they select a topic and discuss how it's represented in video and board games. At first I thought I'd feel alienated because of my level of gaming knowledge, but instead it felt like I was eavesdropping on a really fun and informative conversation. I felt like I was back to watching my older cousins beat the boss, while I sit back, relax and learn.


Of course I grabbed the chance to interview my fellow-podcaster friend. Here's how our conversation went.

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