What Comes Next

Almost a year has passed now since we started living this life in pandemic limbo. “Unprecedented” is a word that has been thrown around, just as metaphors comparing the virus to a war waged by an invisible enemy have become ubiquitous. Through language, we are conditioned to think of militarism as positive and necessary in combating this crisis—unconsciously consenting to draconian security measures because they are done under the name of public health. Not only is the war metaphor dangerous and wrong, it also reduces the complexity of the problem into something as simplistic as ‘beating the virus’, without first examining the systems in place that allow its proliferation and the catastrophic impact it brought along. The only thing this pandemic has in common with war is what it has in common with other collective crises: it exposed all the ugliness and inequality of the society which we participate in.

Definitely, there are other metaphors. And while they might seem lacking or imperfect, too, they can help us rethink this crisis. In Arundhati Roy’s provocative essay, she likens the pandemic to a portal: 

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The Social Semiotics of Our Sensibility: A Filipino Workshop Method Adapted by the 1st Cebu Writers

Freshly cooked rice partnered with scrambled eggs and utan Bisaya was the first meal I had upon arriving at Ocean View, Oslob. I took a quick nap from my long and tiring travel. My plane landed in Cebu at midnight.  I arrived at the 7 Eleven rendezvous place around 5 A.M. Then I took the bus ride with the fellows and panelists to Oslob. At the back of my mind were the backlogs I had in school and the video I needed to film for a class project. Tiring was an understatement but it was all worth it.

Raphy, a friend from UP Mindanao and a fellow, was giving me a life update over brunch, how things were back in Davao, what news was there of the literary scene down south. There were knick-knacks at the table beside the buffet of main courses. I left my emptied plate with Raphy and fancied myself with coffee. When I got back to my seat, the plates and utensils were dished out by our panelists.

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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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(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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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 debts we 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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