Wednesday, May 1


Aboard a cab on the way to a nice inuman place in Bacolod called Garaje in Art District, C remarked that in this life we naturally gravitate toward allies, and there is relief in the certainty that we would find them, sooner or later. He actually said "friends" but now I think that is simplistic, for we have friends, who laugh and cry with us, and we have allies -- kins -- who understand what we want to do in this world, and often it is more than eating in all the right places and taking photos of our impressive meals.

I was telling him that Ma'am Chari and I were texting the entire day while we were touring Bacolod and some neighboring cities (which she had called "the tour of fake history"). And so I agreed with C, because whenever Ma'am C and I talk -- or "consult" -- for hours, it would always leave me breathless, not only because she is brilliant but because she understood my project so well and shared it, and I only need to show her a story and she knows exactly what I am trying to do (unsuccessfully, most of the time). Often, I am tempted to record our sessions because of all the precious things she says, and I would look at her gray-specked hair and be depressed that I hadn't met her sooner, or that I wasn't born 30 years earlier so we could have been, truly, friends.

Last night, in the middle of waiting out a delayed flight, I got another text from her about her most recent Booksale finds, and would I want them? I have recently stopped telling her my own lucky discoveries because most of the time she would just insult them, call the authors "panderers" or the fiction "that which gets high praises in workshops -- for all the wrong reasons." ("Pandering" had been a germane accusation at the criticism workshop, for which I went to Bacolod, for the gatekeeper-plebeian schema that informs such activity certainly left a lot of room for the massive amount of pandering that took place; we have, in fact, taken to calling one particular fellow "panderer;" another, noise pollution, and I couldn't decide now which is worse.)

A few days back, uninformed of my itinerary, Ma'am C asked me if I wanted to discuss a revision of a story of mine, which I had left, out of habit, in the envelop outside her FC office. She was in Via Mare, she said, reading it. There had been scarcely enough cakes and treats in Bacolod to stop me from taking the next flight out so I could sit across her and alternately smile and cringe at the preposterous things she would say. Things that would be off-putting. Things that, to me, would immediately make sense. Once, complaining about a workshop that had scheduled way too many dinners and out sessions, she said she wanted to ask everyone, "Manunulat tayo, 'di ba? Bakit tayo nag-aaksaya ng panahon?" Indeed.