May 25, 2015

the maguindanaon realm, a context

Excerpt from the manuscript of Notes of Bantugan’s Last Journey which will be out soon.

The Maguindanaon people—the largest ethnolinguistic group in Central Mindanao—occupy the basin of the Pulangi River (Rio Grande de Mindanao in Spanish accounts), which spills down the southern slopes of the Bukidnon massif in north-central Mindanao, snaking south and west across a low-lying marshy plain to Illana Bay[i]. About twenty miles before reaching the sea the Pulangi splits into two branches. The narrower southern fork is known as the Tamontaka River. Near the mouth of the river, stands Timako Hill, and offshore, the dark crescent of Bongo Island. The wider north fork of the Pulangi flows past Cotabato City, which is located on its south bank about four miles above the river mouth[ii].

In the past, the Maguindanaon settled along riverbanks and in the valley regions of the Pulangi River where periodic flooding was experienced. It is due to this inundation that the people occupying the area came to be called maguindanaon –“people of the flood plains.” Today, they are found in several provinces. Maguindanao province accounts for 76 percent of the total Maguindanaon population. In Cotabato province, they are concentrated mainly in Pikit, Kabacan, and the interior villages of Midsayap. In Sultan Kudarat province, they live in Lutayan, as well as the coastal towns of Lebak, Kalamansig, and Palembang. They are also found in Malapatan, in Sarangani province, and Dinas and Labangan in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The Maguindanaon people descended from the waves of Proto- and Deutro Malays migrants from mainland Asia in 3,000 B.C. Exhibiting a higher stage of social development, they formed settlements or communities with political organizations along family or blood lines. Like most descendants of Proto- and Deutro Malays in Southeast Asia, they were animists believing that the rivers, trees, jungles, and mountains were inhabited by malevolent spirits which motivated them to develop elaborate rituals to placate these spirits[iii]. One can surmise that there already existed various forms of ritualistic practices by the time they came in contact with the rest of the region –starting with Indianized state of Funan in 1 A.D., to the contact with Islamic traders and sufis in the late 1500s.

 In the early sixteenth century, Shariff Muhammad Kabungsuan of Johore arrived in Mindanao, landing in what is now Malabang, in Lanao del Sur, and introduced Islam to the native population. He founded the Maguindanao sultanate through his marriage to the daughters of local chieftains. One of his daughters, Mamur, was married to the Buayan chief Pulwa. Thus, the Maguindanao and Buayan sultanate claim descent from Kabungsuan. Later on, succeeding sultanates trace their ancestry from him as well.

During the course of history, the Buayan rulers controlled the datus and territories in the upper valley of the Pulangi –tau sa laya—while the Maguindanao sultans came to control the lower valley –tau sa ilud. Though interdependent, and related through marital and blood ties, they competed against each other for supremacy for most of their histories.

The distinction into tau sa laya and tau sa ilud as inland and coastal people has its dangers[iv], but the contrasts between the two is important in this study. Geographic factors and dialect variations also mean differences in ritual practices. Still both have a lot in common. The traditional Maguindanaon were horticulturists, growing either rice in upland fields or wet rice in lowland paddies. In the modern period, they have shifted to plow and harrow method of wet rice cultivation[v]. The Maguindanaon are excellent fishermen in both the riverine areas and coastlines. They possess a strong weaving, metal craft, carving, and musical tradition.

Although one of the thirteen Muslim ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao, the Maguindanaon people retained indigenous belief systems in their religious culture. It is a reflection of how Islam is practiced by the vast majority of Muslims in Southeast Asia –moderate, tolerant and syncretic.

[i] Ileto, Reynaldo, Magindanao 1860-1888 The Career of Datu Utto of Buayan, anvil Publishing, 2007.
[ii] McKenna, Thomas, Muslim Rulers and Rebels, Anvil Publishing, 1998.
[iii] Nasuruddin, Mohammad Ghouse, The Malay Traditional Music, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1992.
[iv] Ibid, 1.
[v] Stewart, James C., People of the Flood Plain, Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii, 1977.

May 23, 2015

the reluctant fellow

After stalling for the last four years, and with the goading of three senior writers (Vim Nadera, Eugene Evasco and Ricky de Ungria who tried to convince me from August 2012 to February this year), I finally gave in to the urge and submitted an application to the annual UP National Writers Workshop. Now on its 54th year, the Workshop has evolved into a platform for midcareer writers to meet colleagues who also share the birthing pains of a new book and have their manuscripts critiqued by the country's leading literary figures. Until ten years ago, the Workshop was designed to help and cultivate young starting writers but a lot of workshops are already taking care of the beginners (Silliman, Iligan, Ateneo) so the UPNWW took care of the more experienced, published ones.

So I became a fellow, a very reluctant one. And for a week, I switched hats -from filmmaker to writer- and traveled to Baguio and spent a week breathing the cool Cordillera air with a hint of pine and hashish, inebriated in a mix of booze and poetry, and surrendered myself and my ego to the sharpened knives of writers who have walked this same path a long time ago.

November 26, 2014

8 things about salamindanaw

The second edition of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival starts tomorrow, November 27. Here are eight things you need to know about the Festival.

1. The redesigned Festival logo features the durian –an enduring cultural symbol in Southeast Asia— with eleven protruding spikes representing the countries of the region. SalaMindanaw envisions to be an important platform in the development of regional cinema in Southeast Asia.

2. For its sophomore edition, the Festival theme shall be ‘Deconstructing Cinematic Space.’ As it continues to celebrate the development of regional cinemas across Southeast Asia, the Festival attempts to veer away from the traditional space of film screening, that is the movie house, and explore alternative and non-traditional screening venues like buses, parks, markets, and barangay centers to bring films closer to the people. The Festival’s main screening venue is in a university because SalaMindanaw recognizes the educational and cultural value of cinema. 

3. The Festival will launch a film magazine, New Durian Cinema, which is devoted to the discussion of regional cinema in Southeast Asia. It is not enough that we show films, regional cinema must also become part of a critical consciousness. The magazine hopes to help in the formation of such consciousness. 

4. The Festival boasts of the quality and integrity of its film programming. This year, more than 30 films of various lengths, genres and genres will be presented in the Festival. Films will vie for the Golden Durian Award in the Asian shorts and Mindanao shorts category. A Festival prize shall be bestowed to the breakthrough film in the new Philippine Next Cinema section. 

During its inaugural run, the Singaporean film Sayang Disayang (dir. Sanif Olek) had its world premiere in the Festival. It won the jury prize in the Festival. The film is Singapore’s official entry to the Oscars in 2015. Other notable films in the Festival last year include By The River (dir. Nontawat Numbenchapol) which won a special mention at Locarno, Liberta (dir. Kan Lumé) which bagged a special mention in CINDI (Seoul) while War is a Tender Thing (dir. Adjani Arumpac) took home a special mention from Yamagata.

5. Relying on its vision and integrity, the second edition of the Festival is crowdfunded which means that much of its funding is in the form of donations from its supporters all over the world. 

6. The Festival is a cultural investment for the development of the people of Gensan and the region. The aim is expose more people to diverse cinema as well as educate and provide them the opportunity to better understand the world they inhabit. For this reason, all screenings and parallel activities are free to the public. 

7. It is helmed by one of the most important filmmakers in Southeast Asia – Teng Mangansakan. The Festival’s respectability and integrity partly come from who is running it. The vision of the Festival is built upon clear goals and objectives borne out of the Festival Director's instinct, experience and foresight, and the trust and confidence of the Festival Team.

8. The Festival is advised by some of the most distinguished personalities and brilliant minds in world cinema such as Philip Cheah, vice president of NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) and past consultant of the Dubai International Film Festival and Directors Fortnight at Cannes; Paolo Bertolin, Venice International Film Festival delegate for Southeast Asia and consultant of the Doha Film Institute; and Sherad Anthony Sanchez, creative consultant of Cinema One Originals. 

November 25, 2014

salamindanaw 2014 is here.

We present to you the second edition of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival.

November 18, 2014


I still remember, vividly. The first moments we were together. The taxi ride from Balintawak to Cubao. How you meowed and meowed, afraid of the neon lights that veiled Manila at night. How you clinged to my arms, climbed my shoulders, and then perched on my head like a ginger crown when we walked the concrete sidewalks of Cubao at rush hour. You continued to meow loudly, attracting the attention of the crowd in front of the New Frontier Theater and forcing me to buy the pet carrier at a corner store in the huge supermarket that occupied Fiesta Carnival of my growing up years. 

That night, acquainting yourself with the geography of your new home, I wracked my brain deciding on a name to call you, not because I was in a hurry but the cattery you were born into had an obligation to register your name. At midnight, I decided to call you Natarajan Beckham, after the character in Amulya Malladi's The Mango Season which I was reading that time, and my then favorite football player to commemorate the 2015 World Cup.

We were the best buddies for seven years until the affliction took you away from me.

It has been two years now, but the memory of you remains with me. You are missed every single day.

Natarajan Beckham

November 14, 2014

being maternal


I learned a new word today. It's pyometra. 

Three days ago, Basmati became lethargic, spent most of her time in bed, and the voracious eater that she is, she suddenly lost all appetite. When I picked her up, she let out a soft meow. Then last night I noticed stains in my bed. I checked myself for wounds or cuts but there was none. Basmati, sitting near my pillow, stopped grooming herself and looked at me as if wanting to say, "Don't look at me." But you see reverse psych doesn't work for me. I checked her for any injuries. I lifted her tail and was shocked to see a pinkish discharge resembling strawberry shake that has been left out in the sun, oozing from her vajeyjey. The stains in my bed. 

So I took her to the vet this afternoon. "Doctora is doing a house call," the assistant informed me.

"Will she take long?" "An hour I guess." "I'm willing to wait." Basmati was uncomfortable. She meowed. While waiting for the vet, I took a copy of Preview from the magazine stand. Holy Ganesh! It was the November 2004 issue. I grew impatient.

"While waiting for doctora, can you check my cat's temperature?" I asked the assistant.

"She has a fever. 40.9 degrees Celsius."

"Are you sure? Could you check again?" I was in denial. The assistant inserted the thermometer into Basmati's rectum again. The same reading.

The vet arrived five minutes before two. I told her about the loss of appetite, lethargy and the discharge. I even showed her photos of my stained bedsheet.

She examined Basmati. "She's pregnant!" the vet exclaimed. "Oh great! Pregnant?! She didn't even experience her menarche."

"I am going to give her vitamin shots. Antibiotics is not advisable because of the pregnancy."

I was silent.

"She is due in two weeks. But, if she doesn't give birth during that time bring her back to me. We'll do an X-ray."

I just nodded. She gave me a prescription for multivitamins and a can of special cat food.

I hand her my payment. "See you, doc."

In the cab, I texted my friend Alex in Manila to update him of this new development. I got Natarajan and Basmati from his cattery. "Can you call me?" he texted back.

I dialled his number.

November 5, 2014

salamindanaw unveils 2014 line up

SalaMindanaw International Film Festival has announced the official line up of their second edition from November 26 to 29, 2014 in General Santos City.

The Festival will open with The Sermon of the Contemplative Sinner, a dance film produced by SalaMindanaw in collaboration with Teatro Ambahanon.

Eleven films will vie in the Asian shorts competition. These are After The Winter (Jow Zhi Wei, (Singapore-Taiwan-France), Auntie Ma’am Has Never Had a Passport (Sorayos Prapapan, Thailand), Chicken Curry (Lwin Ko Ko Oo, Myanmar), Cita (Andi Burhamzah, Indonesia), Dindo (Martika Escobar Ramirez, Philippines), Geography Lessons (Petersen Vargas, Philippines), Qafas (Prateek Srivastava, India), Somewhere Only We Know (Wichanon Somumjarn, Thailand), Stopping The Rain (Aditya Ahmad, Indonesia), Talking To My Best Friend (Le Nguyen, Vietnam) and Wan An (Yandy Laurens, Indonesia). With the exception of India, all films in the line up are from Southeast Asia.

“Our programming this year reflects the vision of SalaMindanaw, which is to make the Festival a platform for Southeast Asian cinema,” festival director Teng Mangansakan revealed. SalaMindanaw is the first and only international film festival in Mindanao.

Mangansakan added that Southeast Asian cinema is particularly thrilling now because of the development of film movements outside of the capital. Indonesia is represented in the Festival by three films made in the Sulawesi city of Makassar east of Jakarta while one of the Filipino entries is a Kapampangan film. “It is an exciting time to be Southeast Asian and a regional filmmaker at the same time,” Mangansakan noted.

Meanwhile, the Mindanao shorts competition line up comprise of Abakada ni Nanay (Joni Mejico, Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay), Apasol (Ryanne Murcia, Zamboanga), Cresilda (Art Orillanida, Gensan), Dead Stars (Amaya Han, Gensan), End of War (Joe Bacus, Cagayan de Oro), Good Morning, Joey (Monalyn Labado, Davao), Inukban (Lew Avila, Davao), Jamir (Genory Vanz Alfasain, Sarangani), K’na (Anjeilee Pacuin, Gensan) and Sap’ng (Rahil Maningcara, Gensan).

A new section called Philippine Next Cinema seeks to introduce new voices and visions in the host country’s cinema. The line up is composed of Bastes, May Anne M (Bebe Go), Illustrated By (Pepper Marcelo), Magdalena (Anna Isabelle Estein), Sonata Maria (Bagane Fiola) and The Unforgetting (Carl Joseph Papa).  

The Gensan Screen Lab, an intensive workshop intended to develop and cultivate new filmmakers in Mindanao, will culminate with the screening of six short films.

In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre and the little know Martial Law that followed, the Festival will present a special non-competitive section Cinema and Remembrance. The films include Maliw (Rob Jara), Missing (Zig Dulay), Pieta (Herwin Benedictos Cabasal) and the recipient of this year’s Golden Leopard at Locarno Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon (Lav Diaz).

The four-day Festival will close with Little Azkals, a documentary by Babyruth Villarama-Gutierrez whose film Jazz in Love won the NETPAC Prize for Best Asian Film in the inaugural edition of SalaMindanaw. 

October 1, 2014

a festival in two cities

The second edition of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival (SIFF) will be held simultaneously in the cities of General Santos and Cotabato.

“SalaMindanaw is expanding this year to cater to more artists, peace advocates and film lovers in the region,” Festival Director Teng Mangansakan announced.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be held in General Santos and Cotabato respectively, in recognition of the importance of the two cities in the educational and commercial development of SOCCSKSARGEN region. 

“For its sophomore edition, the Festival theme shall be ‘Deconstructing Cinematic Space.’ As we continue to celebrate the development of regional cinemas across Asia, we also attempt to veer away from the traditional space of film screening, that is the movie house, and explore alternative and non-traditional screening venues like buses, parks, markets, and barangay centers to bring films closer to the people,” Mangansakan added. 

SIFF features competitive sections for Asian full-length films, Asian short films, and Mindanao short films, as well as exhibition sections that present the richness and diversity of form and expression in Asian cinema. Submission of entries is open to narrative, documentary and experimental films made in the last two years. Deadline of entries is on October 25.

As the first and only international film festival in Mindanao, SIFF remains strongly committed on its mission to raise awareness and promote international cinema with emphasis on strengthening the cultural ties between Mindanao and its Southeast Asian neighbors, to support the nascent film movement in SOCSKSARGEN and its neighboring regions, and to engage the public in both popular and critical discourse on art and cinema and their transformative power to shape ideas about society, thus encouraging cultural diversity and the plurality of creative expressions.

The second SalaMindanaw International Film Festival will take place from November 26 to 29, 2014. 

For updates, go to the Festival’s Facebook page.

September 26, 2014

norte is philippine bet to oscars

The Film Academy of the Philippines has chosen Lav Diaz's opus Norte: End of History to represent the country in the bid for a nomination for best foreign-language film at the Oscars next year.

Ahead of the October 1 submission deadline for countries to name their official submission, 2014's field of international Oscar hopefuls is starting to come into focus. Norte faces tough competition. Belgium, for instance, has fielded the Dardenne brothers' neorealist work, Two Day, One Night, while Canada has chosen Xavier Dolan's Mommy which won a Jury Prize in Cannes this year. Turkey has high hopes for Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep which beat Mommy in Cannes and took home the coveted Palme d'Or.

After premiering in Cannes last year, Norte enjoyed positive critical reception at nearly all the world’s major festivals including Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Toronto, New York, Busan, Tokyo, Rotterdam and Hong Kong. Whether this is enough to get a slot in the Oscars foreign language film category remains to be seen.

The Philippines has regularly submitted films for Academy Awards consideration since 1953, but none have been nominated.

September 22, 2014

10 reasons to unfriend someone on facebook

Someone unfriended me on Facebook, er, us, because it happened to about five people, because we forgot to greet her during her birthday. I took it in stride and made it an opportunity to crowd source from my Facebook friends 10 common reasons for unfriending someone on Zuckerberg's brainchild. Their response are enumerated at numbers 1 to 7, while 8 to 10 are reasons I added on the list.

1. Getting unfriended on Facebook is magical. It's like the trash took out itself.

2. Game apps invitations (which annoys me because I haven't played any game on Facebook since the Farmville hysteria five years ago. I remember setting my alarm clock at three in the morning just so that I can harvest my crops.)

3. Marcos f*ckers by The Spy Who Ate the Sandwich because strangely a lot of Marcos supporters these past few days have been quite vocal about their adulation for the late strongman-slash-dictator as the country commemorated the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

4. Too many selfies. 

5. Anti-activists. Call the student activists who protested Budget Secretary Florencio Abad's presence in UP's School of Economics 'hooligans' and you'll be unfriended. 

6. Passive aggressive status updates. Being deliberately cryptic to gain sympathy.

7. Simple rudeness.

8. Lack of sense of humor, especially the type who take self-deprecation too seriously. Loosen up, will you?

9. Whatever I say on my status updates is between me and those I deem my friends on Facebook. Pass them around to non-friends who make a big deal about it, then you're not worthy to be on my Friends' list. 

10. Do not abbreviate words or write jejemonese, omit periods and punctuation marks, and above all, respect the caps lock. 

September 20, 2014

salamindanaw returns

The second edition of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival will take place from November 25 to 29, 2014.

The call for submissions is now open for the following sections: Asian full length, Asian shorts, and Mindanao shorts. Narrative, documentary and experimental films are welcome. Films must be produced after January 1, 2013.

Deadline of entries for the Asian section is on October 20, 2014, while the Mindanao short entries must be submitted before October 25, 2014.

For info and inquiries, please go to SalaMindanaw's Facebook page.

September 19, 2014

the birth of tradition

This is a behind the scene photo of the first scene to be shot in The Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan's Children in Matanao, Davao del Sur, in 2009.  We shot the film without a script.  We went on location with a big idea, and would just leave it to geography and atmosphere to bring out the story.  This scene, of women talking about their desire to seek greener pasture as overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait, was decided because the artesian well, locally known as poso, amidst the oversized biga leaves looked 'nice' for a rural conversation. 

But what became important about this day is that it set the tradition for my succeeding films, that is,  lunch on the first day of all my film shoots must have on the menu sinful ginataang monggo (mungbean stew in coconut) and grilled tilapia and pirit (baby tuna).  This was suggested by my assistant director Yam Palma which myself and production manager Elreen Supetran Bendisula agreed to. Dutch scientist and writer Louise Fresco wrote, "Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It's not about nutrients and calories. It's about sharing. It's about honesty. It's about identity."

During the shoot of Limbunan, the tradition of having grilled or deep fried catfish on the first supper, and crabs on either lunch of the second or third day were added, not to mention overflowing Coca Cola round the clock because that's the preferred 'energy drink' of my cinematographer Coicoi Nacario and tech supervisor John J. Barredo. Red Horse beer being part of tradition is totally predictable. Peanuts on the other hand are not allowed. And even before the shoot commences, I would ask Elreen, a Catholic, to offer flowers and eggs in the Carmelite Church and pray for good weather and no rain. 



is a mantra you learn in film school. It’s the Om Namma Shivaya of the indie movement when a studio to bankroll your film project is hard to come by. When you’re a student filmmaker, the next best thing to a Harvey Weinstein is Mom and Dad. You suddenly become extra sweet to them. You become subservient to their every command. You wash the dishes, scrub the bathroom tiles, or take out the garbage. The maid you explain has too many errands on her hands. She can use some help around the house. Besides you have free time. Retreating to your room you suppress the urge to squeal like a pig. You maintain your calm. You assure yourself that patience is a virtue. Later you can throw tantrums at your production team and make an awful excuse for this behavior by saying, “I am an artist. I am entitled to my fits.”

After school your parents expect you to PA for, or if you’re truly lucky and talented, write or direct the next blockbuster starring Daniel and Kathryn. But you haughtily dismiss this idea saying that it’s beneath you. Dad shakes his head and regrets supporting your choice to go to film school. Deep in his heart, he still wants you to have a change of heart and become a bureaucrat or a lawyer.

Finally when you have an idea for your debut film –a ten-hour movie composed of a dozen shots featuring a cart, a horse, a transvestite impersonating the Virgen de la Guadalupe, and an awfully bored peasant reflecting on a koan— your father reluctantly gives you money to produce it. It’s the rave in European art houses you explain. You appeal to his guilt.

“Dad, I would only get half of your money. Don’t worry. I already wrote a film proposal to (insert name of a funding organization).”

As soon as Dad leaves the room, you revert to the saccharine personality of an eight-year-old kid and ask Mom if she can cook for ten members of the production, three meals a day for two weeks. Before she can even protest you shower her profusely with gratitude, sealing your contrived act with a kiss on her forehead.   

Then you talk to other potential producers. Dilemma. Should you wear the signature indie-filmmaker look – denim jeans, ukay-ukay shirt, and Chucks? This way you will look sincere. Or show off in the latest Italian designer shirt and jeans? It can give a semblance of financial stability. The downside is you cannot beg because you will only look like a poseur.

When the potential producer starts quoting the Far Eastern Economic Review in an attempt to turn you down without hurting your feelings, you proceed to Plan B.

You post messages on various art and film e-groups.

In need of actors and camera!

Minimal fee. Independent production.

The truth is you don’t have a budget for camera rental. You only intend to borrow. You can repay this favor by being the PA of the camera’s owner when he makes his film.


Four days ago, I was riding a tricycle with my friend Ryan in Zamboanga. He asked me how did I develop my literary writing when all these years I've worked as a technical writer or journalist. The former is fluid and personal, while the latter has to adhere to a certain level of rigid formality.

"Blogging," I answered. "I started blogging in 2005. After I've done my assignment for the day in the office, I would write a blog entry."

It started on this site.

Now I feel guilty I have abandoned Blogger and moved to new, more fashionable blogging sites like Wordpress and Tumblr. What an ingrate. But I blame Adsense for my migration. They can be so insistent.

So I'm resurrecting this site after a long hiatus. 

July 22, 2013

salamindanaw international film festival emerges

A new exciting event emerges in the Philippines' tuna capital. 

The inaugural SalaMindanaw International Film Festival organized by the SOCSKSARGEN Center for Film Arts, Inc. and the Mindanao Center for the Moving Image will unroll its red carpet in General Santos City from November 26th to the 30th, 2013 coinciding with the Mindanao Week of Peace.

The Festival shall present feature films by established Filipino and international directors alongside short films by budding Mindanao filmmakers in six sections (5 competitive and one non-competitive exhibition): Asian full-length film competition, Asian short film competition, Mindanao short film competition, Summer Film Camp shorts, General Santos inter-school film competition with the theme “Caring for the Seas”, and International Perspectives.

For details on how to submit entries, please go to

July 19, 2013

czech it out

Our friend the Czech journalist Pavel Vondra writes:

"The best piece of writing I came across this year is a torso of an unpublished manuscript of a book on the roots of the Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines. It was given to me by a sister of the author together with an incredible story of how he had disappeared from the face of the Earth nearly four decades ago while writing it [at the height of Martial Law]. Now an incredibly talented film director of the best film I've seen this year is on the verge of making a documentary that would try and shed some light on what happened to Frank Gould in Mindanao in 1974. All he needs before he can do so is a little bit of money to cover the costs of the search/film. Please support this project - the fundraising campaign is in its last week and still more than 50 per cent short of its goal. I'm sure most of us can spare ten dollars or more to make it happen. Thanks."

July 11, 2013

please support

We have thirteen days left into the campaign to raise funds for my new film, Through the Deep Shadows. Please help us make this film happen. The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Frank Gould is as relevant today as it was in 1974. In fact, the number of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration climbed to 16 and 142. More than just numbers, the statistics signify numerous lives and rights being trampled upon.

To contribute, please go to

July 7, 2013

7 things i like about gensan

In February I moved to the archipelago’s southernmost city together with my two cats, Basmati and Aslan. We live in a small studio in the middle of General Santos only two blocks away from the mall and the city's main Catholic university. I have called this city home since then, braving the unfamiliar sandy topography, the regular asthma attacks, and the scorching heat that rendered itself intolerable due to the regular brownout which lasted until May.

General Santos is pretty laid back compared to Davao. You can drink until the wee hours of the morning and smoke anywhere. Davao has imposed a comprehensive smoking ban, and partying is only good until two in the morning. Life here has its perks.

1. Seafood is cheap.

The self-proclaimed "tuna capital of the Philippines," seafood is relatively cheap here. If you find a a vendor selling tuna for more than PhP200 (US$5) per kilo in the market, you can accuse him of robbing you. Tuna kinilaw (Filipino version of ceviche) at Cafe Amoree (Microtel) costs PhP150 (US3.75). It can feed a party of 4. You can savor grilled baby tuna in the carenderia row along Champaca Street for PhP50 (US$1.24). I'm talking about a 300 gram fish here. But for more seafood options, my favorite place is the row of seafood restaurants along Tiongson Avenue where they serve pinaputok na tilapia (grilled tilapia wrapped in foil) this one slathered with copious amounts of butter, grilled squid, and sizzling bagaybay (tuna gonad). 

June 21, 2013

a theory

There are many theories about Frank Gould’s disappearance. 

One account indicated that Frank, together with an ice cream vendor, were killed by Muslim rebels in Katuli village, just across Cotabato City, in Southern Philippines, because they were accused of being spies for the U.S. and Philippine government. This was at the height of the Moro rebellion at the Martial Law imposed by the Marcos regime. His body was thrown into the crocodile-infested river like the one in this photo to get rid of evidence.

The truth is out there.

To help us find the truth, please contribute to

or like us on Facebook at