29 May 2009

natapos din si vakler

me at the dumaguete writer's workshop
some ten years ago, as a fiction fellow.



the much-awaited ten--errr, eleven na nga pala--year ordeal was finally put to an end last wednesday afternoon, the sked of my MA thesis oral defense. yes, oral defense as they call it in CAL where i have been taking up my masters degree in english studies major in creative writing at the department of english and comparative literature for eleven years. eleven frakking years, man. kung nanganak ako noong 1998 ay may pinapaaral na akong grade 5 sa elementarya ngayon noh! may ganung factor! hahahahaa. pero tangeeenaaaa natapos din!!!! woot!

sadyang anti-climactic itong defense ko dahil nga sa tagal. nagkaroon pa ng panibagong external conflict at the last stretch of this decade-long dramaturgy of mine during my birthday. poootangeena birthday na birthday ko noong abril, naglalalakad ako para m
aghabol ng UP officials para sa shortcoming ng isang departamento na di naman ako ang may kagagawan. well, thank goddesses na-achieve naman ang objective, at na-resolve lahat at wala nang loose ends. hay.

happy lang yung defense. my thesis adviser, dr. jing hidalgo, is a longtime teacher and well, colleague na ring matatawag siguro, since 1997 UP national writers' workshop days pa namin in cebu and baguio where i became a fellow. in fact, in baguio, she was the one who encouraged me to take up an MA in CW. i'm glad i took her advice. masaya ang CW life for me heheh. kaya i'm still there now. well, at least part of me does that to this day. yey.

it was a hoot to hear ms.
jing do the defending for me sometimes hehe. i so love her. may kinda CL slash CW dichotomy kasing nangyari with the presence of another colleague na naging friend na rin dati, si ruth pison who teaches CL at the english dept. she was my panelista kasi maalam sa gender theories chenelyn. i took my postcolonial literature undegrad back subject under her when i began my MA in 1998 at sobrang aliw ang learning experience doon. happy siya. it was cool to hear the pros and cons of the CL thinking and the CW thinking in one table. super happy learning experience for me. wala, tawanan lang kami ng tawanan in between comments hahaha!

no frills ang defense. no pakain chenes unlike eons ago, kasi nga alam ko, bawal na ito sa kayoopehan. ni magkape nga, ayaw nila, so tipid ako hahaha! ms jing didn't want long
elaborate powerpoint presentations so a 2-pager thingie was fine for me, then the rest of the work, sila na gumawa hahaha!

aliw din ang observations ni celeste flores coscolluela, fellow CW major ko na kinontratang maging critique. siya ang nag-provide ng hetero side of comments. well, hetero din naman yung kay ruth pero iba ang atak ng lola mong yon, mas sa teorya-teorya chorva nga at reality of things (mga tanong na "may lalaki bang ganyan?" and stuff. hahaha so ruth! funny.) kaya si cel ang by default na hetero commenter chenes. tapos si vlad gonzales served as the dean's rep at aliw din ang comments niya ha. dami ko napulot kay koya hehe. haylavet. textmates na kami hahaha! chos. dati ko pa namang kakilala si koya vlad, mga panahon pa noong nabuo yung akdang bayan writer's org, short for artista para sa kultura at dalumat ng bayan kung saan kami kasapi. man, sayang talaga yung grupong yon. tsk. oi may bagong libro nga pala si koya vlad published by milflores, buy kayo. buy ako next next week, pahuhupain ko lang ang kaguluhang bookstore dahil magpapasukan na. google niyo na lang yung title, haba e.

aliw din si mam jing sa comments, of course, especially her panalong wrap-up on the "what's next" on my plate chorva. panalo! basta, if you know her, you know na she's a CW-CL goddess by default. kaya nga lagi kapag may nagtatanong sa akin kung sino ang okay kuning titser sa MA doon, lagi kong sinasabing kahit ano'ng ituro ni ms jing, enrollan mo! same comment ko actually yan kay mam betsy enriquez dito naman sa cmc hehehe. basta, alam mong may mga gurong sulit enrollan at kritikal ito lalo na at MA ka at hindi galing sa paryentes mo ang pang-tuition mo kundi sa sarili mong bulsa. poonyemas masakit ang 500 pesos per unit sa MA ha! may 1 or 2 courses nga ako dating nakuhang i wanted a refund, but that's another story na lang for next time.

haaaay... poonyemas puwede na ko mag-kikay ulet! hahaha. hamfanget ko na noh dahil sa thesis na toh!!! okay kaya papagupit na akey, ukay ng new clothes, at back to workout moda olympic level. as in!!! oo vain ako to a certain extent bakit ba! hahaha! and back to my house repairs na din, na inuunti-unti ko dahil mas may kelangang unahin sa buhay minsan, tulad nitong MA.

hm napaisip ako doon sa what's next a. actually, parang alam ko na pero so many colleagues are against it. i want to have a second MA kasi, this time malikhaing pagsulat naman. didibdibin ko ang pagiging bilingual writer literal hehe. wala, gusto ko lang, bakit ba. actually, muntik ko na ngang inabandona itong CW thesis at magshi-shift na sana ko dahil nababagot na nga ako noon sa "philippine literature in english," kung di lang ako tinalakan ng ilang upfi colleagues (even the dean breathing down my neck! dean nic, that was.) at pinandilatan ng mga film dyosas like mam gigi na tapusin mo na yaaaaan hahahaha! salamat sa talak! haylavyoooo all! oo, ganun kami magmahalan sa upfi, karinyo brutal hahaha! chos.

so yan ang life hehe. yes, okay na ko. sobrang okay, pare. SOP. hahaha. chos.

so sa pagtatapos ng post na ito, share ko lang dito yung aking naging super short and sweet na presentation of my thesis project chorvaloo. short and fast lang ito pramis, like hayden kho's "performance." charot!!!

oo bangenge pa ko.

salamat nga pala sa mga friendsheeps ko na bumati sa fezbuk at sa offline life, sa mga actual na dumalo at nanood for moral support or to jot down notes for their own pending MA CW fiction thesis defense hehehe. :)


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MA CW Thesis Oral Defense Presentation
27 May 2009

F L Y L E A F
libay linsangan cantor

This thesis, a collection of 17 short stories, is called Flyleaf. I used the flyleaf metaphor of the blank pages of books where sometimes, as readers, we use these blank pages at the front or back of the book to jot down our notes or thoughts or maybe reactions to what we have read in the book – provided of course we own the book and don’t vandalize others’ property. Sometimes, the notes we jot down surprise us, for they could be rather insightful, meaningful, but most of all, we jot down these notes to sometimes make sense of what we just read. This is what I am hoping my collection would do – make sense
of what it is to be a lesbian in contemporary Philippine society as narrated through the stories in this collection.

In my introductory essay, I tried to locate myself as a lesbian writer in Philippine literature in English. This is because, as I have studied in the past, there is an obvious absence of lesbian voices in this field. I found a handful of stories with lesbian content and also know of only a handful of lesbian-identified writers like myself who create lesbian-themed fiction or creative nonfiction in English. But compared to gay-themed writings or gay-identified writers, we lesbians lag so far behind in numbers.

I also tried to deconstruct what that identity means, to be a “lesbian writer,” to understand where my poetics are rooted or grounded, which I believe is primarily influenced and enhanced by tenets of lesbian feminism. And as a writer, I also wanted to locate where my audience is. I know for a fact that there is an audience out there for this kind of material, an audience primarily composed of women like me – women who identify as women and as lesbians, who look for and yearn to read about themselves and their experiences—or our experiences—in Philippine literature.

I tried to analyze why I write the way I write, as my stories sometimes unfold differently from one another. There are stories that are metafictional and there are stories that are traditional. I concluded that this is because perhaps I also need to relate my stories to a “more traditional” type of audience, the audience I also hope to reach with my stories, which are non-lesbians. But as a storyteller exposed to various media such as cinema, I also like to discover and experiment with new ways of telling or retelling a story, much like how I also like to discover and experiment with new ways of showing a story via the audiovisual medium when I shoot as a filmmaker.

So what kind of experiences and stories are here? In the beginning, I tried to map out the life of several contemporary middle-class educated lesbians living in Metro Manila who work in the fields of media and the arts. But upon my consultations with my adviser, it was best to flesh out just one persona from these different stories, for it was noticed that there was a dominant voice emanating from most of the stories. Thus, the order of the stories were rearranged and presented as how you all read them in the manuscript.

The individual stories narrate one persona’s experiences that span almost ten years, set during this decade. The development is in accordance with the main persona’s discovery of her lesbianism. In the beginning, she is presented as a twentysomething heterosexual woman who discovers that her more authentic sexuality is that of a lesbian. We see this persona undergo happy and horrible relationships; we see her being single alone and being single with friends both straight friends and friends belonging to the LGBT community; and towards the end, we see her as a thirtysomething lesbian at the beginning of a more domesticated life with a partner as they try to begin a family, which includes having a child.

In between these experiences, there are, of course, the staple stories of discrimination directed towards lesbian women (particularly feminine-looking lesbians), and we see how this persona struggled with these discriminatory experiences, particularly being verbally taunted or sexually harassed because she is a feminine-looking lesbian, and even being raped because she is a lesbian, period. As I wanted to reflect real-life lesbian narratives in my fiction, I included a balance of happy stories and not-so-happy ones in order to fully characterize how this certain Filipina lesbian lives in this day and age. //


okay lang mag-comment, kahit nega. ako si miss workshop, kaya you can comment away :)

2 comments :

  1. ateh, tama ka..i agree, walang writer about lesbian life in the philippines.. samantalang ang ladlad ni danton ay nakailang episodes na.. hayan ha kahit mahaba itong thesis defense na ito e binasa ko sya kahit na itim ang background (sakit sa mata reali..) sige sana ma publish ang kwentos na ito at maging best seller ala harry potter..naks..
    --twisted.halo

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  2. Congratulations Mother! Sa wakas natapos rin. Parang 10 years na rin tayong magkakilala kaya ka-age ko yang MA mo. Great job and all the best - sige attack ulit sa isa pang MA! Huway nat! I miss you. Sometimes when I read your blog and FB posts/comments I can hear your voice...teorya-teorya chorva, atak-atak, tangeeeeennaaaa...HAHAHA! Good luck teh, painom ka!

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