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Critical Essay

Looking at Space and Place: The Navigation of Meaning Making

During the 1st Cebu Writers Workshop held in Oslob from the days of Feb 7 to 9, there arose during the sessions a constant need to talk about place-making. Here Place-making was dominantly figured through two other relevant concepts – that of space and that of meaning making. Fellows and panelists alike talked about their own uniquely framed politics ? concurrently nostalgic, translational, and migrational ? as intersecting with the various means by which they live in and make sense of the world around them. This has enabled multiple ways of thinking about our sense of place and the values that we charge or even burden it with.

With that being said, while the workshop took place after the call for this issue, the questions and points that were raised throughout the three-day discussion I feel are relevant in framing the significance of the ideas of space and place with regards to this issue. Such questions may cover race and gender; how do we think of our sense of Filipinoness? Of our sexualities? Of our ability to speak of our marginality (as queer, as non-English, as non-Tagalog) within our own spaces dominated by external discourses? Can we articulate a decidedly unique way of representing our cultures, of our homes, of our beingness in these spaces if we are to speak in differing tongues? Does our distance from each other (geopolitically and culturally) offer a way of affirming multiculturalism and plural-nationalism in times of political and historical homogeneity?

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Critical Essay

(Re)Solving the South(ern) Puzzle: Katitikan as Alternative Discourse

The impetus for the Katitikan project- a literary journal embedded firmly in the intersections of national, regional, and postcolonial discourses- lies in an often misarticulated necessity for the interrogation of various notions of ?South? and its socio-political implications vis-?-vis literary production within the Philippine Archipelago. Crucial to this investigation is the critical turn in moving away from understanding the ?South? merely in terms of geographic, identity politics, but instead understanding its theoretical potentialities through a poetic and representational practice that straddles the interconnection of various regions in the Philippines while simultaneously problematizing and deconstructing the notion of a ?regional? literature.

Perhaps much of the difficulty, of which this theoretical proposition must first negotiate with, results from earlier discourses on the theoretical and creative production inscribed within the inchoate spaces that emerge from national-regional boundaries, which has prematurely signified ?regional? writing as a marginal subject haunted by the Metro Manila spectre, articulated through problematic national-regional binaries. Nevertheless, attempts to carve out a regional space has only further elided discursive, intersectional possibilities by which writers, located throughout the Philippines, may negotiate with their own socio-historically situated subjectivities. The notion of a Southern literature is precisely located in what has been a tumultuous discourse that has had to content with unstable, naturalized contentions from both the center and margin attempting to contain it within specific modalities of enunciation which, while offering opportunities for writers in these spaces, can only be considered a limited articulation at best, a restricted silence at worst.

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Critical Essay

Excavating the Trauma: Notes on the Teng Mangansakan?s Forbidden Memory

If the emotional is too on-top of the speaking voice, surrendering to a guiding thought ? an idea, a proposition, a question ? can pass as urgent.

In watching the premiere of Gutierrez ?Teng? Mangansakan?s Forbidden Memory last 2017, I had to quell a kind of rage gearing to erupt in the wake of a reopened rupture ? its closure is a delusion ? that has rapped the country?s memory for decades.

When we speak of Martial Law, we speak of the human rights violations; we speak of the infrastructural progress that birthed international debtswe are still paying today; we speak of Imelda?s lavishness, we speak of the Marcoses? theft; we speak against the temptation to just forget or move on.

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Critical Essay

The Settler Settles In: Locating a Space for the Settler in Rogelio Braga?s Colon

What if one flees the enemy?or better, pursues him?only to find that the enemy is one?s self?  Such is the fate of the post-colonial subject, whether identified with the colonizer or the colonized.  Indeed, one could argue that the lines between colonizer and colonized, such as they were drawn, have long bled into each other.  

Rogelio Braga?s novel ?Colon? takes to task the narratives of nationalism in the Philippines.  It attempts to dismantle, or at least interrogate the meanings attached to the scholar and the savage, the capital and the provinces, re-presenting each one in what Braga hopes is a fresh light.  It is possible to discern an effort to present a three-dimensional view of Philippine society, where the picturesque personalities of Manilenyo call center agent, Moro merchant, or university professor, are never quite what the reader thinks they will be.