Rogue Magazine Bacolod Issue Redux

Self is never going to lose the Bacolod issue of Rogue Magazine (Philippines)  Never, not in a million years.

She will never forget that Charles Tan Fed-exed a copy to her, either.

It gives her story after story —  and even though she knows her Bacolod cousins didn’t take to the articles too well, all of the pieces are interesting.

The big landowning families aren’t as rich as they used to be because of CARP (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program), and everyone’s hanging on, just hanging on, to the vestiges of the past (either that or leave for Dubai), but she still remembers the time a cousin invited her to lunch at “21.”  Self happened to glance at the narrow street adjacent, and what she saw was this :  two lines of parked SUVs, most of them a gleaming black, and all of them with drivers patiently waiting.

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Rogue editor Jose Maria Ugarte, “At Play in the Fields of the Lords.”

From these closet liberals grew a dense forest of family trees in Negros, their branches wrangling and tangling together and their fruits bumping.  Some trees stood tall and with a quiet elegance, while others lurched with savage wildness, but they were all interconnected by sex and sugar and they were all disturbingly rich.

And self also remembers her cousin L saying:  “Heaven only knows where you came from.”  Because self is such an oddball and contrarian that she actually wants to retire in Bacolod, a poky small city, not very beautiful, with one great church (San Sebastian), a plaza, shopping malls, and family homes turned into museums.

She remembers Dearest Mum telling her this anecdote, a long time ago:

A Bacolod girl was complaining about the amount of homework assigned by her teacher.  Her father told her, “Hija” (My Dear) “if something will not enter your head, then why force it?”

With stories like the one above, self doesn’t know why the island of Negros isn’t just teeming with writers!  As she told a cousin way back December 2010:  “The Villanuevas may be crazy, but they’re my kind of crazy.”

Bacolod is the closest thing the Philippines has to New Orleans:  ” . . .  because if you play with the same test tubes for too long without washing them,” Ugarte writes,  “you’re going to end up with something weird.”

Ugarte himself has family in Bacolod.  That’s why he can write about it like that.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Joy of Reading Luning Bonifacio Ira

Luning Bonifacio Ira, Filipino writer, has passed away. In her honor, pinning this post to front page:


Self has discovered a new kindred spirit and Filipino writer!

Of course, this writer is very well known in the Philippines, but self only discovers her now.  She is Luning Bonifacio Ira.

Self is reading her story, “Tell Me Who Cleft the Devil’s Foot,” in The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century, edited by Isagani R. Cruz.

Self promised to finish this book, finally, this week, but every time she begins a new paragraph in the aforementioned story, she has to stop, it is so beautiful, and fills her with so much nostalgia.  (The phone rings, a rare occurrence.  Self lets it ring.  She will check momentarily to see who it was that just called)  Take, for example, this paragraph:

Rounding Luneta’s manicured acres, she turned right at Del Pilar, left at Padre Faura, and right at a side street whose new name she could not recall.  She felt at home in this part of town.  South Manila was was where an ambience was compounded of old acacia trees which shed their leaves gently like confetti, breezes that might carry the tang of salt (for, south, the sea was never far away), and a tranquil quality which went by the name of “Before the War.”  She parked her car in the shade of an acacia which trailed lush green fern plants, for sale by sidewalk vendors parked there day after day.

Dr. Twig’s clinic was in the back portion of a hotel which had bloomed before the advent of tourism and was now shrunken in the shadow of the skyscraping internationals.

“Dr. Twig will see you in a little while.  Please be seated,” said the mini-skirted young receptionist.  She looked fifteen, though of course she couldn’t be.  Filipino girls just looked younger than their age.

Dr. Twig’s equipment had always impressed her, even aroused a proprietary feeling due partly, she supposed, to all the past bills she’d been paying.

Her last visit had been when she’d had reading glasses fitted two years ago.  But when Dr. Twig came in, lean, stooped and shiny-domed, she was not prepared to find him so aged.

(Boy, and what self wouldn’t give to be one of those young-looking “Filipino girls.”  Right now.  But, alas, here she is in northern California, where the dry heat robs the skin of its elasticity and results in hundreds of minute lines at the corners of both self’s eyes —  Ahem!  Where were we???)

Self now checks the phone:  No blinking message light.  Perhaps a solicitor?

Self was dealt a cruel blow in the wee hours, when she received the bad news that son would not be able to go with her to Bacolod.  The news was so dire it quite put her in a depression.  Everything she does there, really, is to preserve a legacy for the future —  which is to say, for sole fruit of her loins.  But he has many, many responsibilities now.  He will go another time.

And now self can’t seem to stop wondering:  Who was it who just called?  Who?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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