Happy Listener

Sometimes, I lack inspiration to survive the day. And when everything is dry in my life, I listen to  ear-candy poetry. Here are some of my favorite pieces.

I am looking forward for a world that celebrates individuality

I see every failure and every tragedy as an opportunity to create beauty

I value the special people in my life.

I want to write more poems like Sarah Kay

I want more men who value and respect women

I want to tell stories of people whose lives may never be known to many

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Looking for Philippine Folk Tales?

I’m part of a  new small storytelling group in Manila.  For my piece, I want something unique, something not so familiar among kids. We probably know a lot of western children stories and a lot of Grimm’s fairy tales.  For this reason, I prefer to use a Filipino story. The problem with Filipino children stories or must I say Philippine literature in general. They are not available on the internet.  You’ll probably find a few but very limited. You have to go to libraries and book stores to find one. Luckily, I  found this book in National Book Store. It is a collection of Philippine folk tales about fruits.  It has eight stories. Some of which are  popular ones such as Why the Pina Has a Hundred Eyes, How the Lasones Became Edible, Why the Mango is Shaped Like a Hear, The Story of First Coconut Tree. 

It  astounds me that I only get to know some of these tales as an adult such as  The Story of the First Durian,  Why the Guava Wears a Crown, The Story of the First Banana Plant,  The Legend of the First Makopa Tree.  With this kind of books, there is no excuse to repeat the same stories to children. We have a lot of stories.  We just lack exposure. We, who are stoytellers, teachers, and adults can promote the richness of  Philippine children literature.  And stories feel  closer to us  if the subjects are very familiar to us such  the fruits we regularly eat such as banana, pineapple, and coconut.

This  book suits all ages but smaller kids may not pay much attention. The illustrations are colorless and the characters do no look  cute-like creatures in Cartoon Network.  It is written in a simple language. It is easy to understand, easy to memorize but it is not playful. Hence, if you are reading this  out loud in front of kids, you should be more creative in your delivery.

Philippine Children Books

If you are running out of children stories, go back to folk tales 🙂

Storytelling and Wishful Thinking

Our human mind may have some limit in  mathematics, science, logic but when it comes to imagination,the brain knows no boundaries. That’s the beauty of wishful thinking. It eliminates obstacles. I  realize that you should never estimate ‘wishful thinking’ because as what they said, “Thoughts becomes things. ” Hold on to  your wish list and be careful what you wish for.

One of  the things included in my wish list  is to perform storytelling in a big venue. I even wrote this down last year  on my blog post. I said, “I don’t just want to read a book in front of the kids. I want performance level. (hehe) I want to wear a costume and do some little effects.”

st8

Like a prophecy fulfilled,  I joined a new storytelling group, Storyhouse. It was founded by Jay Menes.  He  is the first Filipino member of International Storytelling Network Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos.

st5nI support the cause of this group, no matter how small and how informal this group is. For one thing, this is a breath of fresh air. We often see storytellers hold a book but with Storyhouse, storytellers don’t read aloud. The storyteller’s body is his main medium.

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Also, it’s one way of going back to our literary roots. Oral interpretation was one of earliest forms of entertainment. The kings and laymen hired minstrels.  Shakespeare’s long lines on stage were palatable. Poets were heard everywhere, not only in an English Literature class. Popular epics  across the world such as Iliad and Biag ni Lam-ang were passed by mouth not through a movie screen. Our Muslim brothers have rich literature in oral tradition. Today, these are replaced by movies, TV shows, and video games. We want something that’s easy on the senses.   Listening like reading requires additional neurons of our brain to paint a picture. I guess that’s how oral tradition stopped becoming a tradition. And with the aid of printing press, the presence of a storyteller is no longer significant.  This is the challenge of a storyteller: How to steal three to five minutes from modern human beings who have short attention span in listening.

I only wished to perform in a book store but never did I think of storytelling in a museum. We did our storytelling in Museo Pambata. That is the ideal place to perform if your target audience are kids. It was not my best storytelling act but that was a good start.

st6I told the story of the first banana plant

I wrote a lot of love letters

I wrote a lot of love letters
Some with coffee stain
Some were insane
Some handwritten
Some heart-written

I wrote a lot of love letters
Borrowed lines from poets
Condensed into a novel
Closed them with “Hugs and kisses”
Sealed them with lipstick

I wrote a lot of love letters
I pricked my finger
Signed them with blood
Perhaps pain might seduce
As vampire’s thirst for blood

I wrote a lot of love letters,
Sprinkled with perfume
Folded with my lightest touch
Caressed all pages
From a lover with no match

I wrote a lot of love letters
I stabbed one by one with pen
I burnt them with tears
I threw them in air
But found them again

I wrote a lot of love letters
But none came out
None had address
None had sense

None

Tattoo Addiction

I thought I had enough of suspense thriller but I was wrong.

After having book and clothing shopping abstinence for two months, I decided to pay a visit in National Book Store. I had a book in mind but I made a split-second decision by picking The Girl with the  Dragon Tattoo. The book cover spoke to me it was a “sexy thriller. ” And without having second thoughts, I took my cash out and consoled myself it was cheaper than the protein shake I had in Manila Peninsula.

At first, I did not plan to read the book because I was intimidated by its length. Plus, it had too many names, and some said it was just “fairly good”. I was expecting to finish reading the book within a month but lo, and behold, I finished the book within nine days. It was definitely a page-turner that I could not put the book down. I was rapidly flipping the pages as if I were a bank robber in a hurry to steal and escape.

Just a short preview: The story revolves around the two characters. Mikael Blomkvist, is a financial journalist who is facing libel charges. Lisbeth Salander is a highly skillful researcher who is considered mentally incompetent. They are tasked to solve a murder case dated forty years ago. The event of discovering the truth behind the murder leads them to discover more secrets.

Reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is like reading a tabloid. It tackles on violence, murder, rape, incest, corruption, corporate crime, ethics, and some moral issues. I bought the idea “it was a sexy thriller”. I find out that there is no sexiness in it but it has a lot of disturbing scenes. If you are reading the book, you will be glad that you are seeing these scenes only though your imagination. If you are watching the movie, you will be glad that it is only happening on screen. If you are asking for romance, categorically speaking, there is none. But within my paradigm, there is. It is something you wish to happen even after you read the book.

 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stands out among other crime stories probably because of the plot’s complexity. It’s like there are two stories to follow, two crimes to understand. Its plot is cleverly done and satisfying as well.

In terms of writing style, I like how Steig Larsson for that. (Though you have to note that it was originally written in Swedish then was translated by Reg Keeland in English) You can tell Steig Larsson is a journalist by the way he wrote the novel. The sentence structures are simple. The descriptions are not very intricate but vivid enough to haunt you. The language is very accessible that a fifth grader can read the novel, given that the kid can grasp adult concepts. I like the way he chops the scenes in the book. Each section leaves you a conclusion which you later find out it is just a mere suspicion.

I read a review in Good Reads that the lead characters are not “likable.” Indeed, they are not likable but they have traits that you will want to have. Michael Blookmvist is very detail-oriented, very systematic. Salander is mentally incapacitated but her memory and analytical skills are above the average. Well, we always like intelligent characters.

What I also like about the book is that it deals with ethical and moral dilemmas. For instance, will you do what is proper with the risk of doing greater harm to a person who is in good faith? When I was reading the book, I was reminded by the Impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona though it was entirely a different thing. I remember that one of prosecution lawyers said something like this “ if an evidence is obtained illegally, it doesn’t mean it cannot be used and that it is invalid. Thus, can it be said that the end justifies the means?  Blomkvist is a man of principle but as what one of the characters said, “You had to choose between your  role as a journalist and your role as a human being.”

While I took a pause from reading, I found a scratch in my elbow. I got it from Sweden while I was tracking a criminal with Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. After I read, I browsed the pages of Financial Times. I realized I took my free subscription for granted. I watched the movie. Now, I’m excited to read The Girl who Played with Fire.

Too bad the author died before his novels became phenomenal.

P.S. If by any chance, read the book before watching the movie. The movie is faithful to the book but the reading experience is much better.

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