Friday, August 31, 2007

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts!

It's September tomorrow, where did the year go? I'm already dreaming of Christmas presents, and think that all my holiday shopping is going to be done online.

I promise to be back to my regular Provenciana mode very soon, but at the moment I am really hung up on Etsy. I made a list of my favorite things over there. If like me you're already thinking of buying something for friends and family, click here to see my Etsy Treasury: Soft, Begging to be touched! It's only up till dawn of Monday, September 3, so go now if you can.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Good Morning!

I don't know what got into me but it's 7:30 in the a.m., and I've been up for an hour and a half. To commemorate this rare occasion, I'm posting a photo of this very early morning light, for all those other days when I only roll out of bed after 9:00. Here I am, enjoying the sunrise and a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why I Go Slow

"You've lost the Manila driver in you," Pierre kids me a lot these days, because I'm paying attention to all the road rules. I put on the warning a good few moments before I turn, never honk my horn, will only overtake if it's all clear, yield at all the broken white lines, and when I see the red sign, I make a full stop. It's the gendarmes, I tell him, there are too many of them on the road, I don't want to be paying any fines or losing my points. He chuckles, but perfectly gets it; these days, he refuses to touch the wheel if he's had a drink.

I lie though.

Driving in this country, I always see them. Pinks roses, white lilies, yellow chrysanthemums, bouquets of flowers on the roadsides. One time, on a bridge near Saint Bauzille de Putois, the blooms were accompanied by a plaque, "Pour Maman." I think of them, those to whom these offerings are left, lost sisters, lovers, fathers, and friends. I see Maman, studying her lilies because after the terrible accident she has nothing else to do, looking forward to when they are replaced every two weeks or so, until the day comes when they forget. The last of the lilies turn brown around the edges and wither away. She is left staring into eternal nothingness.

I see them, and I remember to slow down to 90.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He's a Sweetheart

To celebrate the great news of the last entry, last night my husband took me out to our favorite restaurant. I had the foie gras and the lamb curry. He had the same entrée, but after went for le tournedos de boeuf. Being the very social people that we are, by dessert we were happily chatting away with the couple at the next table.

At a certain point in the conversation, Pierre just had to tell them: "We are here tonight because of my wife," he paused to smile at me. "She just won at the Academy Awards for the Best Writers in the Philippines."

Roll out the red carpet and bring me my Monique Lhuillier gown, mga ate. This guy makes me feel like a star! :)

P.S. Congratulations to the two other people I know who won! Dean Alfar places second in the Short Story for Children in English category, and Jerome Gomez wins second for Short Story in Filipino.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Good News Come in Twos

2007 is only half over, and I'm loving it already!

Lots of good things have happened, and the latest of these had me screaming at the top of my lungs barely an hour ago, sending the cat scampering to hide under the bed and my husband come running to see what heinous crime was being committed. Instead of his wife all bloody, he found me with a grin slicing my face in half, dancing a weird kind of jig to a strange kind of chant. When he'd finally managed to make me coherent, he understood that I was repeating over and over, "I won a Palanca! I won a Palanca!"

That he replied, "Congratulations, honey, I'm so proud of you... but, uhm, what's a Palanca?" is the subject of a different blog entry altogether, but if you're asking yourself the same question, you can read about the awards here and here.

I placed second in the English Essay category for my piece, Culture Shocked: A Story of Recovery, which, it's easy enough from the title to guess, is a lot about you've been reading about in this blog for the last two years.

Oh, and the second piece of good news is that the shortest short story I have ever written in my not-so-short life, Making a Garden, has been accepted for publication in the flash fiction anthology being edited by Vince Groyon for Milflores Publishing. Groyon writes me that the tentative title of the book is Mga Kuwentong Paspasan: Very Short Stories for Harried Readers, and that it is due out before the end of the year. And, yes, I also danced a jig when I found out about this one.

P.S. (a.k.a., Let Me Plug): Remember Sawi, the Milflores anthology I told you guys was being launched in December 2006? Well, it finally did come out, but a couple of months ago. If you're interested, you can buy it through National Bookstore Online.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Etsy Shop Update

During the weekend, I kept getting calls from family and friends on their way to a vacation somewhere, ending up stuck in one of the South's infernal summer traffic jams. (Yep! Another summer indicator aside from bare peripatetic feet!) I felt bad for them, really, I did, but I sure was glad that I chose to stay home quiet, with just my fabric scraps and beads for company.

The result of my own little weekend away in my head somewhere: I just updated my Etsy shop. It's at, or click here to go. Lots of fun products in there, so why not visit? Have a good week ahead, and stay away from the highways if you can.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

When Love Sucks

I always get asked, "Don't you miss the Philippines?" And the honest answer is No. After the initial period of adjustment, I'm finding that what my sister Bel once said is true: "Pareho-pareho lang yan kahit saan ka magpunta." I'm living exactly the kind of life I had wanted for myself in Manila after quitting my old job, except that here I'm not eating as much rice. My family? They're a YM Buzz or a phone call away. Pinoy food? I can cook it up whenever I want to.

Pressed about it, I would have to admit that there is one thing I occasionally look for, something I can't recreate over here. "Gutom" is what I call it. Hunger. It's this fierce energy you find amongst artists' circles back home. In a country where most everybody has to fight just to survive, every time you create something, you're proclaiming, Hey, I'm still here, taking up space, breathing in as much oxygen as I can, hanging on even if it's just by the soggy threads of Lucky Me Instant Noodles. I suppose you can't have that attitude if you know that even if you don't sell a painting, at the end of the month, you still get your RMI*.

So as a way of again tasting that energy, and because we really should be paying more attention to talent, every now and then in this blog I'll be telling you about the works of Filipino artists.

Today it's Wasted, a graphic novel by Gerry Alanguilan that delighted me when I first read it in the 1990s. It's angry, violent, insane, bloody, and some parts are hilariously funny. It's all about love. Go see for yourself. Wasted is being serialized online.

And I'm going to do the same as Budjette (from whose blog I also stole the image above) and say that if you haven't ever read Wasted before, then you should click here for your introduction. Afterwards, for your daily dose, it's here you want to go.

By the way, speaking of Filipino komiks, I was a big fan when I was a kid and one of my favorites was Mantisa, about this gorgeous woman who would seduce a man to her bed and then turn into a giant praying mantis to eat the hapless stud. I have absolutely no memory who the artist was. Do you?

* financial aid from the government given to unemployed French citizens