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An unpublished book and some throwback “Thank Yous…”

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It was nice to hear former Mayor Calixto Catáquiz’s friendly voice again.

This charismatic political veteran, now known as San Pedro Tunasán‘s “Living Legend”, was the man who helped put my trust back into politics. I haven’t seen nor talked to him for months because I’ve been busy trying to sort out financial problems brought about by Yeyette’s delicate and life-threatening childbirth. This afternoon, I received a phone call from him. The line was terrible, but his reassuring voice still went through. From what little I understood, he said something about going to Ángeles City tomorrow to check out some rare wood carving or something like that. I would have agreed to go with him but I couldn’t because I accompany my daughter Krystal every Saturday afternoon to her flamenco class in Rockwell under the tutelage of another living legend, the great Señor Gómez (tomorrow’s only her sixth session, yet she has already learned three dances!).

Although Mayor Calex is a family friend for years, I only started to learn more about him and his life’s work back in 2008 when Arnaldo and I started to work on his biography in the hopes of breaking it into the publishing scene (every writer’s dream). But Mayor Calex’s biography still remains in developmental hell — due to personal reasons, Arnaldo completely left the project to me; Mayor Calex faced several political controversies which led to his unjust disqualification from the mayoralty race last year; and I, for years, have been struggling to keep awake every day just to read and write because of my nightly corporate appointments. Sad.

Anyway, I’m glad that Mayor Calex called because he also reminded me about the book project. He is still keen on having it published. And I’m 90% done with it. 90%, because I have to add the recent events that had transpired in his life as an effective public servant who catapulted a once obscure Lagunense town into one of CALABARZON‘s strongest cities today. I am now reblogging Arnaldo’s recent post wherein he published beauty queen-historian Gemma Cruz Araneta’s brief review of the book’s first few chapters. The ageless Gemma, a fellow hispanista (she used to be a member of the Círculo Hispano Filipino where I was once its youngest member), had our manuscript reviewed and was kind enough to publish it in “Landscape“, her column in Manila Bulletin. Gemma also told me that he already met Mayor Calex many years ago to transact some realty business. Small world.

Mayor Calex with the Alas kids. Taken last February 22 (Sampaguita Festival).

By the way, in Arnaldo’s blogpost (which I am reblogging now), he also included clippings of that Landscape column which Gemma wrote. Excerpts from chapter 1 of Mayor Calex’s biography appears there. It deals mainly with San Pedro Tunasán’s early beginnings. I would just like to add that I have already edited chapter 1. So if you see any errors regarding historical fact, don’t worry; I’ve already corrected them.

Without further ado, here’s Arnaldo…

Originally posted on With one's past...:

I took part in writing a biography a few years ago. It was about the longest serving town mayor of San Pedro Laguna, Calixto Cataquiz, an unpretentious local politician who became a friend during the course of the project.

I would have not agreed to write the bio if my friend, Pepe Alas, was not on board. I was a supervisor at a BPO in Alabang; Pepe, a Spanish speaking agent under my program. I assumed the writing task would be easier working with someone I knew personally. We often times wrote while we’re both in the office.

We had a great time writing. Of course, there were a few bumps and misses but nothing we couldn’t handle. The only frustration was that the book remained unpublished.

The last time I caught up with Mayor Cataquiz was during Pepe’s wedding. He told me of a few political issues that made…

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NCCA’s “Bloggers’ Hour”: Philippine Arts Festival 2014 — Art on the Edge

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It’s all systems go for this year’s National Arts Month!

In preparation for the upcoming Philippine Arts Festival (PAF), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) held its second “Bloggers’ Hour” last Thursday in its headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. The first Bloggers’ Hour was two years ago wherein I signed up as ALAS FILIPINAS. The blogpost I wrote for it was largely ignored in this wonderful country of ours because it was written in Spanish. Although I was hoping to grab the attention of the Spanish-speaking community overseas, it was not a clever move if I had wanted a Filipino audience. Actually, I didn’t. But never mind that. Anyway. This time around, I signed up as the Filipino eScribbler. And yes, I bet this pretty blogpost of mine will garner thousands of hits. Because the NCCA said so.

Last Thursday, me and other fellow bloggers who attended the simple gathering were informed about the upcoming events for the PAF 2014. The PAF is a month-long celebration held every February in time for the National Arts Month which was created by virtue of some presidential decree which nobody has ever heard of. This year, the event will start from January 31 up to March 3.

PAF 2014 will have a “soft opening” later this morning. At exactly 8:00 AM, there will be a flash mob of various artists coupled with performances by hip hop, ballet, and Filipiniana dancers at the Doroteo José station of the Light Railway Transit in Manila. It will be followed by another one at the Metro Railway Transit’s Cubáo station in Quezon City at 10:00 AM. So slackers who plan to be late for work will have a pretty good excuse: “I was mobbed by people with fancy Bohemian clothing, and they were armed with paintbrushes, chisels, and they were talking smack verses! I was totally helpless, boss!”

I’m supposed to be there later but I couldn’t because I haven’t slept yet since yesterday morning, and I’m still wide awake listening to the howling Siberian winds outside, and it’s close to 4:00 AM as I write this, and I have a thousand other lame excuses. But I think the ever-reliable blogger Gemma San José will be there to blog about it. So stay tuned to her blog Lifelong Learning. And yes, her latest blogpost has just saved me (and probably the other bloggers) from further explaining in detail what the highly informative NCCA Chairman Felipe de León, Jr. spoke about during last Thursday’s Bloggers’ Hour. Snippets of his absorbing impromptu speech about Filipino Identity and the arts can be viewed from Hoshi‘s video below:

And yes, that pretty boy to the right of the video is me. Talicogenic pa rin.

NCCA’s Bloggers’ Hour may not be as huge as other blogger events, but I am still honored to be part of it nonetheless especially since it is organized by the country’s bastion of —what else?— culture and the arts.

Hey. It would be nice if you’d get rid of that humdrum existence of yours once in a while. Or even for just a month. Let February do that for you. It’s National Arts Month, and art is on the edge. Better be there when it happens. As they say over at the NCCA, “Halina’t maqui-sining“. It’s guaranteed to get funky and fun. :D

Click here for more photos of Bloggers’ Hour. You may also visit PAF’s Facebook page by clicking here.

La Familia Viajera — not just another travel blog

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Finally, a travel blog that I could call my own!

Actually, not just mine, but my family‘s. :-)

LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, probably the country’s first and only family travel blog (if there’s already a Filipino blog that has claimed the title first, feel free to pinch my ears when you get to see me). The blog features our very humble exploits wherever our itchy feet take us. It was soft-launched last October 21, two days after we roamed the ancient streets of Intramuros and took photos of fancy stuff there.

Fancy stuff that is our heritage.

Since LA FAMILIA VIAJERA is a family oriented blog, I will be much tamer there. I will try my best not to sound belligerent, no anti-imperialism remarks, no clenched fists raised high above the air, and no Rage Against the Machine blurting out in the background. All that indignation is reserved only for FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS (I said I will try my best).

OK. I’ll shut up now and let my third blog do the talking. Please click here for my family’s first entry to its online travelogue.

And oh, did I forget to mention? My long-time nemesis Carlos Celdrán is featured there. Believe it or not. :D

PS: And since I’d be traveling with my wife and four kids in LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, there will be no more travel blogposts in ALAS FILIPINAS and FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES from now on.


33 ways to stay creative

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And if I may add a 34th: if it’s impossible to avoid #4, at least don’t allow Facebook and Twitter to eat up most of your reading and writing/blogging time. :D



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