Category: joel

“The Filipino is Worth Blogging For” and indie publishing

The Filipino is Worth Blogging For is the title of a book katrina and i are self-publishing and launching on thursday july 19, along with the main attraction, katrina’s first book: of love and other lemons, essays personal and political about being girl-woman-pinay, otherwise known as ka-women-an (hyphens mine), in this day and age in this macho-pa-rin country, the kind of essays i would have wanted to write for my generation but never had the courage to, just because my parents and sibs would have disowned me.  a must-read for all girls, young and old, and their fathers sons brothers lovers too.  the essays are illustrated with new and previous works of artists met, friends made, in the last two years.

… an honest, moving portrait of a young woman who cannot but train her critical eye on the world even as her life splinters around her and who realizes, not without cost, that “the most personal things that informed our real lives, kawomenan could not respond [to].” Where the writer breaks into a lyrical mode, the reader becomes privy to the intimate and the hidden that the persona shares with a beloved. No mere intermissions, these privacies serve as yet another act of resistance when held in counterpoint to the weight of the public and political that inform her life, small acts but no less significant. By turns brave, bewildered, unsparing, and vulnerable, the essays strive to reinvigorate kawomenan by accommodating the experiences and aspirations of a new generation of Filipinas. — from the foreword by Mabi David

while katrina was wrapping up of love…, this second book happened on the side.  the title had come first, inspired by the slogan “The Filipino Is Worth Designing For” on t-shirts of the cobonpue-layug-pineda group at the height of the naia-1 controversy.

joel remembers when it came to him, The Filipino is Worth Blogging For! that at once he bought the domain name, for a support marketing website.  then we sat on it, haha, naghintayan, until i realized that it was i who had the luxury of time while awaiting the foreword and blurbs for my edsa uno book, so i plunged in.

the hard part was going through more than a thousand blogposts over 4 years and choosing the events / issues / people that katrina and i had both blogged about (without repeating each other), and finding that with some rearranging, under new categories and in chronological order (rather than newest blogpost first), narratives are revealed of recent and current history, social and political, as it unfolds in natural time.  a leap from the computer screen into the pages of a book, and it works (if i may say so myself who shouldn’t)!

… this collection fairly crackles with inquisitive and insightful electricity, and serves as engaging, persuasive testimony regarding the merits of following the writings of these authors in venues online or otherwise.  — from blurb by blogger Jaime Oscar M. Salazar

Binabasag nila ang pagkamanhid na namamayani sa lipunan, ipinaparamdam ang samu’t saring porma ng pang-aapi at panlilinlang. Kung hindi ka man sang-ayon sa isang tindig, hindi mo naman maikakailang may punto ang kanilang pag-iisip.  — from blurb by blogger Teo Marasigan

why indie publishing

mainstream publishing houses can make it easy for you, in a sense, put out your book at little cost to you, if any, but usually you have to make pila for who-knows-how-long — unless you’re part of the canonized circle, or very well-connected — but you get only a rather small share of sales, far from commensurate to all the time and energy and creativity you poured into your work, unless of course you’re already a sikat bestseller, in which case you get a better deal, someone correct me if i’m wrong.

the alternative is to do it yourself.  you put out your own money to pay artists who will layout your book and design your cover.  meanwhile you find a printing press, preferably one that’s known to do good work for indie publishers, like benny jalbuena’s corasia, and you choose the paper you like or can afford, and you negotiate prices, and talk serious deadlines, so you can plan your launch.

of course you’ll try to keep expenses low.  you’ll make tawad the artists — helps if you know them personally, mga kindred souls ‘yan — but make sure they’re also into digital technology, because the printing press will expect a usb stick or hard drive containing all the book data.  you’ll choose cheap but presentable paper; you might even keep the number of pages down as the cost per book goes up the thicker the book, and the fewer the number of copies you want.  if you’re lucky the printing press will ask for 50 percent down lang, the rest to follow as the book sells.

you’ll get your money back naman , and possibly turn a small profit in the long run depending on how you price your book — what profit margin you’ll be happy with — and, most important, how you sell it.  you could get into the bookstores, directly or through a distributor, but they’ll want anywhere from 40 to 55 percent of sales (yes, without any puhunan on their part, at least the ones we checked out) which would mean your book gets quite expensive, unless you’re willing to forego profit and just make bawi your puhunan, then it gets just a little expensive.

the alternative is to sell it yourself, which means turning on your most shameless and yabang self — your book is worth buying and reading, you’ll even sign every copy, who knows it might become a collector’s item!  at the launch, get as many of your family and friends and friends of friends to come and buy.  it helps a lot if you give away copies to writers and columnists in the hope that one out of ten comes up with a rave review for the papers and/or the internet.  it helps a lot, too, if you have a website for your book, where you can promote it and  post contact numbers for orders.

we learned all that when we published lola concha’s book, revolutionary routeslast year.  i didn’t want to be edited by a publisher whose concerns would be different from mine, and i wanted to be sure it would look exactly as i envisioned it, which meant katrina working closely with the artists to the very end.  and i wanted to price it cheap while making a little for my work, so i did the index myself, and a cousin did the editing, gratis et amore, and i asked for and got donations from family that covered printing costs and a sosyal launch sa filipinas heritage in makati, lots of food and drinks, lola concha style.

in contrast, of love and other lemons is a katrina project — sampid lang ang the filipino is worth blogging for — all expenses ours, so we’re doing it the way katrina’s indie-publishing friends do it.  in a launch-friendly venue, chef’s bistro in q.c, which doesn’t charge for events in the hope that those who attend will order some of their good food.  katrina’s buying the first 100 or so bottles of beer to get the ball rolling. :)

the good news is, mang benny has texted, tapos na katrina’s book, and worth blogging for is almost done, delivery on wednesday, what a relief!   see you at the launch!

the state of the zodiac

woke up at noon to an email from my son joel asking, “so am i a virgo now?   seems to be all over the news — but no mention of it on any astrology sites :-)”   followed by an email from my brother louie:  “am i now a virgo!  did you know about this?”   both with links to last night’s breaking news:   astronomer park kunkle reveals that because of earth’s wobble our zodiac signs as we know them may no longer be our signs.   according to his calculations, i would be a leo, but i know i’m not ;))

the good news is, libra pa rin sila, virgo pa rin ako.   and to all katrina’s friends who have been asking, stressing out, having identity crises, including two whose birthcharts i recently read, relax, nothing has changed, this is nothing new.   it’s an old issue that astronomers have long been throwing at astrologers to debunk derogate diminish the celestial grounds of astrology.   and really, it’s not that astrologers don’t care to know the earth, stars, and constellations as astronomers do, it’s just that we have a whole different way of viewing the whole.   read astrologers kevin burk and dane rhudyar, if you have the time and the inclination.   it’s all there.   (i love the web!)

i will admit that the first time i learned about the precession of the equinoxes, nagdalawang-isip ako for a while and cut down on readings (this was back in the 80s) while getting my bearings.   so far my experience had shown astrology to be compatible with the psychology, traditional and new age, that i had i learned in and after diliman, but suddenly i wasn’t sure…

it was around this time that direk ishmael bernal gave me his birth time and asked for a reading.   couldn’t say no to ishma, so best efforts na lang.   to my dismay he mostly took my reading with a blank stare.   but a month or so later he phoned, apologizing, he had given me the wrong birth time.   this time he was sure, galing mismo sa kanyang birth certificate that he had to get from his mother.   vastly different a birthchart it was, and so was his reaction.   i got a lot of vigorous nods, a sparkle in the eyes, and in the end, say niya, yes, ako yan mismo.   it was validation enough.

the precession problem i came to terms with via the basic principle of astrology, the moment of birth (whether of a person, or an idea, or a project) as the crux of the matter.   i found i could live with the original zodiacal elliptic and its properties codified by the greeks over 2000 years ago as reference point.   just because it works.

but i’m not talking sun-sign astrology which is what daily horoscopes are about.   there’s more to it than the sun-sign alone.   there’s the moon, too, and at least eight planets, their signs and configuration (the angles / aspects they make with each other) at the moment of birth, to take into consideration.   the sun is the most significant of them but always taken in the context of what the sign represents in the 12-step process of personal growth and development — from individual to collective concerns — that the zodiac wheel offers the seeker.

this is not to say that i don’t read daily horoscope columns.   there are a couple that i follow because they keep accurate track of the moon, which moves very fast, just two days or so in a sign.   they give me a sense of the day’s vibes without having to check out my ephemeris.   also i send joel daily readings for his sun-sign, moon-sign, and ascendant-sign (based on birth time) whether he reads them or not.   today i also sent him the reading for virgo, with a smiley, just in case.   and this was his response:

I’ve always been aware that there was theoretical and proven science out there that just probably totally messes up the foundation of astrology. Earth spinning off its axis, moon drifting farther away by the decade, expanding universe, uh, Pluto’s planetary status (although that’s arguably more a matter of semantics)… but between its hit-and-miss record and generally vague advice, I’ve pretty much settled on viewing my daily horoscope as reminders of proper conduct, patience, managed expectation, tempered behavior, etc…

More than anything else, the daily horoscope you send is like motherly advice. Be good, be cautious, show enthusiasm, start something, be diligent, watch out for opportunities, etc. That they’re copied off a newspaper or a site doesn’t make much difference to me — this is part of your personal value system which I respect and, considered responsibly, hasn’t ever steered me wrong.

o di ba.   sulit na sulit naman.

and finally, can’t help wondering why it’s taken astronomers all this time to go mainstream on this.   or maybe it’s mainstream media that just never cared to pick up ’til now?   maybe astrology’s getting too popular in these troubled and much-too-interesting times?   incidentally, the church has always frowned on astrology but i hear the vatican has the best and biggest library of astrological materials dating from ancient times ’til the present, under wraps of course.   so there.

showbiz sheet

habang mabaliw-baliw ang amerika (at ang mundo na rin) sa inauguration ni obama that’s turning out to be the greatest show on earth — mairaos sana nang maluwalhati — ang dami ring nangyayari sa local showbizscene na puwedeng patulan either dahil nakakainis o nakakapagpaisip o nakakamangha.

nakakainis: all the praise and adulation for charice whats-her-name, that small girl with the big voice who sang god bless america, susmaryosep, at some pre-inaugural show.  read wrong on so many levels, my thoughts exactly.  but i don’t blame young charice, who may indeed be wanting a green card, so this was a great career move.  i blame the americans who asked her to sing a songthat should have been sung by an american.  why not an american nga ba?  to make a political statement?  see how this asian loves us?  see how we love this asian?  well they can have her.  i think she’s raw and overrated.  hindi nga siya mananalo ng singing contest dito sa atin.  but these americans, they’re too kind, too nice, to her.  i sense a touch of condescension.  kakainis.

nakakapagpaisipvicki belo‘s broken heart.  on the one hand, what did she expect, really.  bakit naman niya inasahan, bakit siya nag-ilusyon, na magiging tapat sa kanya si hayden kho, a horny hunk almost half her age.  painfulas it is, conventional wisdom is right, she should find someone closer to her own age who’s more likely to be faithful or at least, to be discreet.  on the other hand, i can imagine how in love she still is and her head says no, don’t take him back, but her heart says yes yes yes, give him another chance.  how hard.  it doesn’t help that her ex resorts to dramatics like that suicide attempt kuno.  men can be so mean.

nakakamanghabebe gandanghari.  i saw her on the buzz and, oh my, kinilabutan ako sa transformation, ang ganda niya, babaeng-babae,pinong-pino, talbog si ruffa at si kris!  kung hindi ko alam na siya yung guwapong rustom na kapatid ni robin at ka-live-in ni carmina until finally nagpakasal sila, it would take me a while to wonder who she reminds me of.  nakakabilib.  it would have been an easier life if s/he had stayed a gay rustom na nagmu-mujer lang when the urge hits or the talent fee is good.  going all the way, calling attention to her new self, career move or not, is very brave of her.  good luck, bebe!  so long, rustom.

and speaking of transformation, it was a blast waking up one morning to find my blog transformed, thanks to my techie son joel na pinagbigyan lang ako with that parchment paper effect but who was working pala on a new theme and upgrade, and i love love love it — it’s so me ;))


when i first started blogging in september 2007 – thanks to joel who wouldn’t stop telling me i should and who managed to patiently guide li’l ol’ me long-distance through the internet – i had been surfing seriously for a year, mostly for news and opinion, local and foreign, the better to understand, have a sense, of what’s really going on ba here and abroad.

all that googling of course led me to the pinoy blogosphere, the political blogs in particular, and i thought it was great, the freedom of expression, the freewheeling exchange of ideas, and the option of every reader to comment and be published in the blink of an eye. instant gratification, what joy all around. i could see myself thoroughly enjoying it, puwedeng pag-trip-an, ‘ika nga. my concern was, i would be taking away from time spent finishing two book projects na gumagalaw naman pero ubod nang bagal.

well. as it turns out, i’m managing to blog AND to continue writing one of the books. better yet, the blogging is good exercise, which must be why the book is really moving now, slowly but surely, the writing almost easy. best of all, blogging keeps me sharp, keeps my braincells alive as i try to take in and make sense of diverse schools, and levels, of thought, from the wonderfully sublime to the really really arrogant and really really crass.

but i wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim the internet and blogs as the new media. “a new media,” perhaps. it is hardly a threat to mainstream media, considering that access to the internet is limited to a small educated-and-wired sector of our mostly poor population. newspapers and magazines and radio and television reach a more diverse public, which is as it should be.