Keynote speech delivered on the occasion of the Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2013 held last May 27
My Facebook shows a photo of the well-known critic, Isagani Cruz, home from an European sally. He writes, “Geneva might be the cleanest city in the world…Soon I will return to the Gates of Hell, but dirty or corrupt though it may be, Metro Manila is home sweet home.” It’s almost the same way I feel about every place where I have set up a bed and a kitchen, home in its plainest sense–it may not be much of anything in comparison with the magazine-sleek, full-colour portrayals of the homes of the rich and famous. Home to me is three-dimensional, solid and sensual, populous and visceral. It is the house where I live, the cluttered room, the dirty kitchen, the straggling garden, the people I love, those who might dislike my smell or the sound of my speech, the heat, the cold, the mud. If you transport me to another, better place, this sense of home will follow me like the smell of frying buladin the morning, like the muscular memory of the language I grew up with, like the tireless eyes of my mother watching us all from her grave in Ormoc’s hillside graveyard. No matter where I would be in the world I know I belong here even if by chance I will never return here for the rest of my life.
Continue reading Imagination and the Making of a Nation, Part 2
Keynote speech delivered on the occasion of the Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop 2013 held last May 27.
We have just completed a major political exercise, the mid-term elections of 2013, which left in its wake varied effects upon the countryside, conflicting memories for us to deal with, many dilemmas, lessons and realizations to ponder, and prospects and speculations about our future as a nation. This election has not been as loud and strident as elections past. It did not leave us mountains of trash–literally–to put away as in earlier elections, when thousands of brigades had to be mustered nationwide to rip off the posters and markings from walls, electrical posts, even trunks of trees in every barangay and even along the highways.
This election left a bad taste in my mouth because for the first time I had a close encounter with the vote-buying syndrome. Our day helper is a nice cheerful garrulous lady in her mid-forties, who lives near our little subdivision in Tacloban City. In my family the helper sits and eats with us. So for the duration of the election season dinnertime conversations were instructive on how our neighbors were gearing up for the election. My house help told us how much she expected to “earn” from each candidate, from mayor down to councillor. She did not give a thought about the senators–there were no pickings to be had there, she observed dismissively.
Continue reading Imagination and the Making of a Nation, Part 1