Literary Attempts

Collection of essays that recaptures the imagination and a spark of reality through the written word.

The essential is still invisible

I first heard of the book, The Little Prince during our recollection for graduating high school students when the seminarian/facilitator quoted an excerpt in Visayan dialect, “nganong makipag-amigo man ka nako nga fox man lang ko,” dealing with the topic on friendship and taming. Years back, I was able to watch its movie adaptation, and lately its animated version. Early this year, it came to my knowledge that another author tries to write its sequel, The Return of the Young Prince. I noted some drawings on its pages just like the original written by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. Still don’t know its content, that’s why I’ll be reading this book tonight, asap!






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Every Ocean Deserves A Visit

Now putting the book, “Everything, Everything” after reading it for five nights, to its predestined spot in my YA bookshelf. Also today is the first screening day of its movie adaptation, but to my disappointment, it isn’t screening in either SM Cinema or Robinsons Movieworld here in Isabela, so after putting the book down, I content myself now in viewing its movie trailer and video clips via Youtube.

“Everything, Everything” is the first novel written by Nicola Yoon, and it’s a New York Times best seller. What I love most in this novel is that, it is not racist, a proof of a paradigm shift of modern YA authors that romantic dramas don’t really need white, beautiful sick girls to make us care.

The lead female character in the novel is Maddy, an 18-year old aspiring architect, plagued with a rare illness called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), a rare and incurable immune disorder that means she can never go outside, so she has to spend her whole life in a glass smart house designed to keep her from getting infected. Her protective mother, a doctor, closely monitors her every move. Maddy takes an immediate interest in the cute neighbor boy, Olly whom she spies moving in next door. They get to know each other and managed to converse through texting and gmail. Further on, it develops into flirting and soon, fine romance. SPOILER ALERT: (if you haven’t read or watch it yet, stop reading it now) Towards the final chapters of the book, it turns out that Maddy was never actually sick. After her father died, her mother convinced herself that her daughter was ill, terrified of losing her. But of course, love conquers all —-







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Sibbling Struggle

This month, I am really hooked into South Korean teleplays and films, the like of the Goblin and The Legend of the Blue Sea, which more often than not, I got hard time following through its English sub. This morning I came across this film, MY ANNOYING BROTHER, downloaded it, and just watched it in my laptop. Yet, I felt betrayed because what I thought the film to be a comedy focusing on sibling struggle, a shift in tone suddenly came in conflict towards the second half of the film. That’s the selling point, that thing called “just when”, the film delve much deeper, leaving me torn between laughing and devastating tears, almost I was like being pulled out of a buddy comedy and thrust into yet another tear-jerker film. Yes, just when the two half-brothers are starting to make amends, the elder bro found out he’s on the final stage of terminal cancer. He has only a short time to say farewell to his brother and help him win gold at Rio Paralympics, which will secure his future. Perhaps going in with perceived notions about the film hinders the viewing experience, so watching with an open mind might make all the difference.



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MY THIRTEEN REASONS (and maybe more…) WHY

I intentionally delayed my “guilt-trip” to write something on what I read, listened and watched about Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY because it’s my choice. Yes, a choice – just like Hanna’s choice, your choice, or just anyone’s choice, because we all have this freedom. Though, the novel or the hard-hitting tv series via Netflix is a work of fiction, yet it gains controversy because it deals with varied topics most of us rather won’t talk about.

I don’t know where to start. . . Just like creating thirteen recordings on cassette tapes is not an easy task. In the advent of the digital world, maybe some of us, most notably the millenials may not even know how to use cassette tapes. But on my part, my very first job after college revolves on tapes. From the news room, I recorded aired news from radio and tv, and transcribed the same – all in my 8-hour shift. What happened to those transcribed news scripts were sole resposibilities of the news editor and the news anchors who would afterwards deliver the news on air.

I remember during the early ‘80s, aside from the snail mail, the use of the cassette tapes was very useful to those working abroad, particularly those in the Middle East. It was a medium via voice recordings as a means of an exchange communication between a nanay or tatay working abroad and their families here in the Philippines.

What compels me to write something about Thirteen Reasons Why, is because even at the most holy of all weeks, I can almost hear Hannah’s voice, recorded on seven cassette tapes the night before her suicide. Hanna’s recordings are different. She elaborately planned it, even distributes individual starred maps to her listeners, which they’re supposed to follow as they listen to her recordings. She isn’t using the tapes for self-reflection, to try to figure out how she can gain power over her surroundings. Instead, she’s trying to put her listeners in her shoes – to show them how it feels to be on a list, how it feels to be accused of things and have rumors spread about them, and further confirms her belief that her problems are unsolvable.

No matter how calculating she was about her plan, it’s very clear from these tapes that Hannah isn’t thinking straight. For example, Hannah reveals the names of some alleged criminals (Jenny Kurtz) but not others (Bryce Walker), regardless of how bad each person was to her. She also threatens to publicly release the tapes if her listeners don’t do what she asks. But the last person on her list is Mr. Porter, who will almost certainly have to turn the tapes over to officials anyway. These tapes were definitely a plan made in desperation and we can hear it both through the anger and the confusion in Hannah’s words.

That’s what these tapes are all about. It’s through her recordings, and Clay Jensen’s reactions to them, that we get to know Hannah. We hear Hannah’s description of her life at her most desperate and disturbed, which makes it easy to forget that she wasn’t always this way.

To be more honest, it’s a challenge on my part to remain objective about the characters being accused of serious illegal activity, particularly Bryce, Tyler, Justin, and Jenny whose side of the story I haven’t heard, while still trusting the voice of Hannah..#
1. the tapes
(To be continued)




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I am a walker…


I’m no fitness freak, but I like to keep myself fit by walking. Allow me to exaggerate. If I could measure all the walks of my life – from my first toddler steps up to now, I could dare say, those small steps and brisk walks could equal to the distance one can travel to the moon and back.

Roughly 10 to 15% of my high school life was spent with walking. From the break of day, while other students of my batch was still on bed, I was already walking on my way to school, and during the twilight where they were already on their families enjoying dinner, I was still half-way home, walking.

I spent the afternoons-after-work of the year 2000 walking with the elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints doing missionary work to both members and non-members of the church in the town of San Manuel, Isabela. I never get tired of walking with the Mormon missionaries – spreading and proselytizing the gospel, the best one year of my life as member of the LDS church.

My single all-walking-week was on September 2010, a 7-day trekking from Sindon Bayabo, Ilagan City to the coastal town of Divilacan, Isabela. That was 3 years after I was diagnosed with hypertension. Yet, after the diagnosis, I could still walk for hours and hours.

These days while I am on the prime of my life, I walk from my house to the gate of the subdivision to catch a tricycle ride, going work. And during off work, I opted to walk a few hundred meters from the capitol lobby to the highway to catch a jeep ride going home.

Yet, on top of all these walking, I walk the talk. Because of human imperfection, sometimes I could make mistakes, but more often than not, I make it a point to translate my words into meaningful actions. This is more important than physical walking, per se. One sloppy note to end the month#

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Rosary Cactus

A houseplant that can withstand neglect


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Whatever became of the inn – the one whose keeper could not receive Mary and Joseph on the eve of Jesus Christ’s birth?

Some ancient man built that inn of stone or bricks of clay. Perhaps this builder mixed and spread something across its walls for a smooth appearance, then hung shutters to cover its windows, tamped down the dirt floor, firm and level, and attached a gate or door.

A man and a woman had made that inn their home, prepared food and drinks, and took in guests. Was it the only inn in Bethlehem? If so, then its proprietors were surely well known in town. Perhaps he was prominent in the synagogue, and she was sought out by other women in the town‘s well. This couple may well have had children and grandchildren of their own. Could they have been pleased to turn away the man from Nazareth with his pregnant wife?

Then, after Mary‘s child had been born in one of the inn‘s outbuildings and Herod‘s soldiers came to kill all the little boys in town, whom did the innkeepers lose to this slaughter? Grandsons, sons, nephews, and cousins all fell beneath the Roman blades. Sobs of grief must have echoed throughout that inn as family blood stained its floor.

So whatever became of that inn? It is gone, it is dust. Not only is the inn dust, the innkeepers have returned to dust along with all the jars in their kitchen and guests in their rooms. Only one artifact remains to memorialize their existence – the record of the birth of the Christ -child.

Maybe the story of the “too-full inn” is a parable for us in the season of Christmas: Of all the gifts and gatherings that fill your heart this month, which of them will remain when you have returned to dust? Only Jesus Christ really matters.



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Pointsettia and Me

Just committed an “unforgivable sin” to this soft, yet innocent pointsettia. It brought me so much joy when I saw its almost full bloom, vibrant red leaves that my inner self wanted a photo shoot for posterity. In my hurried pace preparing the shoot, something hard from up above suddenly fall that it caused two of its branches to break apart. “Awww”, was all I could say, in a small, soft voice, almost a whisper, but with deep regret. Then I spotted an empty pot and planted the stalks of the broken branches. How I wish, that in passing with time, these branches will develop roots, and live. I can do nothing more to it, than console myself to the concept of broken things. Isn’t it a wisdom of the ages that a broken seed will sprout a tree? That broken clouds will bring rain, that God loves a broken and contrite spirit? Basically, God loves broken things. One lesson learned. This is my first day of Christmas!




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The Essence of Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Basty’s other pair of SM’s share a bear now find its place beneath the dimly-lit Christmas tree at home. The bear seems lonely, looks like he needs a pair, too. The green one I spotted at SM Toy Kingdom may seem to perfectly fit to accompany him. I hope the child who will receive the other pair of bear will be happy this Christmas.  I always feel, that time and again, the essence of Christmas is SHARING.


Basty's bear underneath the Christmas tree

Basty’s bear underneath the Christmas tree

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My Idea of a Hero


a personal reflection in light of recent events

by Alvin E. Lauran

I can visualize my picture of a hero to an angel with a halo, but without wings; a little bit of an imperfect saint with some allowance for pardonable misgivings.

My hero is patriotic – one who is simply willng to die for his country or one who is reaching out a long-stretched arm to an enemy or a friend who is about to fall from a ravine. He may not be well-decorated in terms of his accomplishments, but his willingness to serve others above self “na walang halong pag-iimbot o pagkukunwari” is more dominant. In our daily existence, there are people who may save our aweful day, “an angel in disguise”, whose heroic deeds were unknown to us. My parents, my teachers and mentors – they are all heroes to me. Our overseas contract workers, those people risking their lives to save other people from fire or some similar emergencies and disasters are heroes, too. The unsung heroes, they told us.

In light with recent events, the nation is once again divided. One tv station last night stressed in its prime time news the sneaky burial of the dictator. Stressing the word “diktador” in full voice with sarcasm. Well, I can fully understand the gesture.

I grew up in a small fishing village in Cebu, in a time when Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was president of the republic. Although we heard about curfews and the so-called “killings” in some areas like the foot “tsinelas” patrol or NPAs in the forest region of Tuburan, but I can say, we were not that affected because our parents were just busy enough for our simple living, and we kids were just that – kids, enjoying the innocence of childhood. I remember our family, along with other families in our neighborhood and nearby barangays, was recepient of the swine dispersal, a national government project of Pres. Marcos via Kilusang Kabuhayan para sa Kaunlaran, popularly known as KKK. We had a transistor radio which played Cebuano dramas, sometimes with interruptions when the president had an important announcement or proclamation. And it was heard all throughout the country in basically all stations in a radio dial.

In our elementary days, (circa 1976 – 1982), the regal portrait of Marcos with his prominent signature was hung in the center walls of every classroom. I remember I used to copycat his signature, and I hate to admit it, Marcos signature was the blueprint of my signature during my younger days, yet I opted to change it when I reached the age that I would have to sign legal and official transactions. And in one corner, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS) along with other Ministry thrusts and development goals were appropriately displayed. We had a peaceful childhood where we could freely play. I was even more encouraged to go to school and look forward almost everyday of the free feeding program featuring Nutri-Bun, and in some cases, a free hot meal or lugaw and “utan” with malunggay and kalabasa.

It was during my sixth grade when I could fully grasp that we had indeed a leader in the country, and one of the most popular leaders at that time. Miss Rizalina Soto, our Social Studies teacher introduced us the Philippine and world map, the current events, the national and world leaders at that time, even successful enough to convince us to memorize all their names, and the meaning behind the anagrams like the BLISS, KKK, the UN, NATO, SEATO, UNESCO, UNICEF, etc. Most prominent and is still vivid in my memory was that, when Ms. Soto handed me a note on a Friday afternoon, asking me to memorize a poem in a weekend so that on a Monday flag raising, I would deliver the message. September 21, 1981, I faithfully recited the poem infront of the teachers, pupils and some invited guests from the community, as a tribute to the man behind the martial law. It was more of an oratory than a poem, lifting a strong man, that was Marcos, into some kind of high pedestal. I can still remember a line, every last line of the 6-liner, 8 paragraph poem had it, stressing the line, even stretching my right arm into the thin air and say or shout with conviction, MARCOS IS THE MAN! It started just like that. As a young kid willing to absorb knowledge, I searched for more, about the man. I couldn’t find anything in a school like ours with very limited resources. I was just contented reading a book from our Class Adviser, Ms. Erlinda Ouano, featuring Imelda Romuladez Marcos and her regal family in Malacañang.

No Marcos-related personal encounter during my high school days, except that when we were about to graduate on March 1982, we had so much fear to not able to make it to our graduation. People Power revolution erupted on the third week of Febuary that led to the oust of the “dictator”, and the first woman president took place. Rumors had it, that during the Edsa revolution, Cory Aquino took refuge in Cebu, without us all knowing. Well, amidst all the chaos, we were able to march on stage and got hold of our high school diploma, with the commencement exercises theme “The graduates’role in good government”. Sounds familiar, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) of Pres. Cory after that.

During my college, when I could go search the library and read news and magazines like the Philippine Free Press, when so much had been said about the deposed president, I came to know more. But who I am to judge?

Just recently, I bought what I call “my yellow book”, REMEMBERING/RETHINKING EDSA edited by Paul S. Manzanilla and Caroline S. Hau. It’s about the anthology gathered together among the reminiscenes of activists, academics and artists focusing not only on those who took part in the event, but also on those who came of age in the wake of Edsa. As I leaf through its pages, it seems to me that the book is really an act of remembering, rethinking and reassessing the contested legacy of Edsa and its continuing implications for present and future generations of Filipinos.

Now, the question if Marcos is fit for a hero’s burial is not mine to fathom. For me, a hero is nothing like a metaphor associated with how other people see or judge our actions. Sometimes, history books do not tell it all. The ultimate and supreme, all-knowing God is the only one who can judge us. The least we can do is to continue living with the Golden Rule, and if we can’t do good to others, at least don’t harm them. #

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