Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Presenting the new face of metal gaze in progressive hues. Animals As Leaders is the real thing. Not in six, not in seven, but in a double eight-string guitar attack!

Tosin Abasi is the firebrand of the new wave of virtuosos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


While sick I have now watched this achingly emotive and brilliantly-paced docu on one of heavy metal's lost sons. Let's hear it for the resurrection of Anvil. Thanks for the suggestion, Pao Seen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Trese writer and co-creator Budjette Tan picked his "Best of the Year" list on the UK's Forbidden Planet International. Is it that time of the year now when we make our retrospective, listomanias? Had the pleasure to hang out with Trese's artist Kajo Baldissimo a month or so back and he was a very cool, tranquil dude.

Thanks for the pick, Mr Tan! You certainly have good taste  : )

Read the whole post HERE. Have excerpted it below.

Best of the Year: Budjette Tan

Today’s Best of the Year guest blog comes courtesy of the award-winning Filipino creator Budjette Tan, one half of the creative team behind the excellent Trese graphic novels (UK & US publishers, please have a look, this needs a wider audience). Over to Budj. . .

NEWS OF THE SHAMAN by Karl De Mesa (Published by Visprint) This is an anthology of loosely connected horror novellas. The book lends you a flashlight that badly needs batteries and asks you to point at certain spots in Manila, giving you a glimpse of this city where angels and demons roam, where creatures of Philippine folklore and lower-mythology have found new jobs and hobbies in the metro, where people casually practice magic and shamans are hailed like heroes and treated like rockstars.

~ 30


Circle Jerks, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, SS Decontrol, Articles of Faith, Minor Threat, Battalion of Saints, DOA, etc and the great Bad Brains.

A comprehensive documentary albeit stutteringly paced. Did you know Pinoy restaurants and clubs played host to some of the seminal hardcore punk outfits? A; yes sir, the Mabuhay Gardens at San Francisco. A joy to watch. Extreme pit violence is required.

Now. This. Is. Hardcore.

Monday, December 6, 2010


 It's a great Christmas for stoner rock. The new Monster Magnet album Mastermind is here!

Check out their video for the single "Gods and Punks." Thank you Mr. Wyndorf for the gift of weed, sleaze and occult references in a pure mix of rock and roll.

Friday, November 26, 2010


After a thousand years and a several abortions Khavn De la Cruz's film of Normwan Wilwayco's novel will now hit the big screen. Spoiler: mawawasak kayo!


MFMF! Mondomanila Filmfest MotherFuckers!

Wednesday, December 1 at 4:00pm - December 4 at 10:00pm

Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute
University of the Philippines, Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines

Screening Times:
December 1-4. 7pm.
December 2-3. 5pm.

Kamias Road presents

Mondomanila Filmfest MotherFuckers!

December 1-4, 2010
Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute
University of the Philippines, Diliman, QC
Mondomanila, Philippines

National Premiere: MONDOMANILA
This is not a film by Khavn De La Cruz

Tickets: P50 only

For inquiries, contact Kristine +63.916.292.9870
or email oracafe@rocketmail.com.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


One of the best documentaries I've seen for a long while. And it's just 10 minutes long! Awesomely told stories like this that are full of woe and informed by the culture of resistance make me go a big, wet one. And not in the way you think, pervert.

Watch and get yer heart strings pulled.

From the Wired article:

Skateistan Examines Struggles of Young Afghan Skateboarders

by Erik Malinowski

Sports, in its most profound sense, can be cathartic in ways beyond our comprehension. In times of turmoil and anguish, sports’ therapeutic abilities can lead us out of the darkness and toward a better place — if not tangibly, then in the recesses of our minds.

Sometimes, all it takes is a skateboard.

In the war-ravaged streets of Kabul, Afghanistan, that’s what a group of youngsters is experiencing today, thanks to Skateistan, which hosts more than 300 boys and girls from the community every week in classes that focus on skateboarding and education in general. This nongovernmental organization is also the focus of a fascinating, emotional new documentary called Skateistan: To Live and Skate in Kabul. This raw look at young Afghan ‘boarders illustrates the daily struggle to survive in one of the most-violent and poorest places on Earth, and how skateboarding is helping them rise above it all.

Murza, a 17-year-old from the Khayr Khana neighborhood of Kabul, once had to support his family by bringing in extra cash as a car washer, but now he works at Skateistan, cleaning up the facility as well as training other would-be skaters. For him, the violence has become part of his daily routine — “It’s been happening throughout my life, and it will continue into the future” — but Skateistan’s mere existence has given him hope that better days are ahead.

Sharna Nolan, an Australian expat now living in Afghanistan, co-founded Skateistan back in 2007, and has witnessed first-hand how the hobby has changed the lives of those who walk through her doors. “Skateboarding’s a fantastic way to communicate with each other and build relationships with each other,” she says in the film. “There’s nothing like watching an Afghan woman roll down the ramp for the first time and she’s achieved something that she never thought she would.”

Read the whole thing HERE

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Thanks to Atty Pao Chikiamco of RocketKapre for the exposure! Punta kayow mga peeps. may Karen ka na, may Manix at KMFDM ka pa : )


Here's the map to the place. It's at Kamagong cor Bagtikan sts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Gonzo Army is proud to be part of the glorious post-music and sonic bricolage (and all that fancy noise jazz terminology). We play with the rest of our INC (Innovative Noise Collective) friends at the NOV 28/Sunday gig @Victoria Court. See you there!

Dig the fantastically twisted poster!

France's TUJIKO NORIKO and Thailand's  KIJJAZ are just some of the big international artists who are participating.

Find out more about the participating artists HERE.
More about the event details HERE.

Monday, November 15, 2010


They really just get on my nerves sometimes. Salamat sa review, though, at sa pagbili ng libro. I like "Bright Midnight," too sir/ma'am.

Bit of a tip to blog reviewers, it'd help if you actually substantiate your opinions with supporting evidence instead of ranty non-sequturs, digs? "why couldn’t there have been more to the story?" is reaaaly not a complete, self-contained or apt turn of phrase in any publishing universe. Nor is it a substitutes for astute commentary (or attempted witticism).

Props for italicizing the book titles though. Still, read on. I've posted the whole thing verbatim below. The actual post is HERE.


from what i can understand, NEWS OF THE SHAMAN is a collection of four stories all happening in the same universe. heck, the bulk of the story happens in the same town in quezon city: novaliches. and there are four separate stories happening in this universe.

the first one, ANGELORIO, sets up the premise of the story. of how the supernatural has already found acceptance in our world of science and technology. they are effectively married, and their magical properties are already being abused.

ANGELORIO also sets up two characters who will play a major part in two separate stories later on.

NEWS OF THE SHAMAN is the second story from the book; and it’s the one i found hardest to follow. it’s a collection of transcripts from different forms of the mass media: you have a radio show, newspaper clippings, and news broadcasts. the second story tells of cruez, an influential man seeped in the supernatural–and he is being tried for a murder he may or may not have committed.

i must say that i was a little disappointed of NEWS OF THE SHAMAN the story. i thought it was an idea worth exploring, but the “clippings” approach felt very much like a cop-out. at the same time, i think the “clippings” approach made it harder for me to follow, since i don’t belong in that universe. sure, the court proceedings described in the story is very similar to how a trial would be held for a celebrity here in real world philippines. but we’re talking about supernatural people here. why couldn’t there have been more to the story?

to be clear, i’m not saying i want a clear-cut explanation of what’s going on. i’m also not saying that everything needs to be spelled out. what i want to say is that maybe the author could’ve just picked one character and followed the story from his (or her) point of view.

the third story, FAITH IN POISON, goes down memory lane with one of the characters from ANGELORIO. since the events of, or maybe even before the events of ANGELORIO, the protagonist seems to have already been steeped in the world of recreational drugs.

i found myself not liking the third story mainly because of a bias. i’m not a fan of stories where recreational drugs are used by characters without, it seems, any repercussions for their actions. yes, we get one character who reflects on how the drugs are affecting him, but that’s pretty much it.

by this story, NEWS OF THE SHAMAN the book was starting to read not like a horror novel, but a bleak outlook into the lives of filipinos. so much for the blurb “enough of boring epiphanies, quiet middle-class household conflicts…” that lourd de veyra gave the book.

reading the book became a bit of a chore by the time i finished FAITH IN POISON. and then we get BRIGHT MIDNIGHT. it saved the book, in my opinion.

in BRIGHT MIDNIGHT, we go into the life of a tertiary character in the first story (ANGELORIO) and follow the lives he had affected when he was alive, and after he had died. it tells the story in four perspectives, four threads, that weave one amazing story–and then it takes you back to the events of the first story.

i’d recommend for people to buy this book if only for BRIGHT MIDNIGHT. the rest of the stories found in NEWS OF THE SHAMAN, i think would only attract the more academically-inclined people, those who will probably find deeper meanings in the words the author had written.


The MF is glad to be part of. . .
Am speaking as part of a panel on genre fiction on NOV 19 (FRI) 10AM at the Hotel Intercon Makati's Bel-Air and North Forbes Rooms. I know it's an unholy hour of the morning for print peeps but I hope you can check it out.

Some of the big dogs included in this three day gig are:

Andy Mulligan (UK)
Acclaimed authorof young adult novels Ribblestrop and Trash

David Parker (Hong Kong)
Chairman ofthe Man Asian Literary Prize

Vikas Swarup (India)
Bestsellingauthor of the Academy award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire and Six Suspects
Jose Wendell Capili (Manila)
Literary Criticism

Michael Coroza (Manila)

Isagani Cruz (Manila)
Literary Criticism

Jose Y. Dalisay (Manila)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Found this on Manila Bulletin on-line by Ronald S. Lim. It's one of those short survey thingies about Hallowe'en when our Feast of the Dead season arrives.I talk about Clive and Joe Hill in it. Read the whole article HERE.

The one that made them shiver…


October 29, 2010, 5:04pmThrough the years, writers have been able to make chills run down our spines with tales of tell-tale hearts and voices in the dark. But even the hardiest of authors will readily admit that even they have read or heard one particular story that has made them quiver with fear.

With Halloween upon us, the Students and Campuses Bulletin sought out several writers and asked them this: What’s the scariest story that you’ve ever read or heard?

BUDJETTE TAN, writer of the graphic novel ‘Trese.’ – “When I was growing up my dad would tell me stories about aswangs, and our maids would tell of scary creatures from their province. But the scariest story I’ve heard happened to my mother and me.

I was just a five month-old baby and we supposedly moved into a haunted house in Merville. Strange things were seen by my relatives, the maids, and the driver. They talked about lights being switched on and off, about hearing angry voices being in the hallways at three in the morning, and slippers moving on the floor on their own. One time, as the driver was backing the car out of the driveway, he looked in the rearview mirror and saw a young lady seated in the backseat. When he turned around to look, there was nobody there. My mom and dad didn’t believe in all these so-called ghost stories.

One afternoon, after my mom gave me a bath, she noticed that the right side of my face wrinkled up like that of an old man. My right eye stared at her. Angry. Defiant.

She slapped my right cheek and commanded the spirit to leave me. Even though she slapped me hard, I did not cry but just stared back at her. She ended up praying the entire rosary before my face returned to normal.
A séance was held in the house and the medium discovered there were two spirits, a father and a daughter, who died and still believed the house belonged to them. The medium explained that they were already dead and that they needed to move on. The father got angry and didn’t want to leave the house. He took over the body of one of the psychics and tried to make everyone leave. After the struggle, he and his daughter were convinced about their state and were asked to finally depart. Supposedly, after the séance, the weirdness stopped.’’

G. M. CORONEL, author of “Tragic Theater’’ – “It was the movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” since exorcism is the subject of my book. What made it scary was the fact that the victim was possessed by not just one but several demons all at the same time.’’

KARL DE MESA, author of “News of the Shaman’’ – “Right now it’s a toss-up between the old Clive Barker short “In The Hills, The Cities” and Joe Hill’s novel “Heart-Shaped Box”.

For “In the Hills. . .” it’s mostly because I know exactly how people in the hinterlands, especially in the mountain boondocks like the Czech location depicted in the story, get up to some very bizarre things that somehow make perfect sense in the context of frontier life, but also since this is the only story I know that has capsulated for me perfectly the horror creature metaphor of what a body politic truly is.

“Heart-Shaped Box” is a crystal clear evocation of a modern haunting that is also a critique of our vicious, media-saturated consumer culture. Somehow it both frees and enslaves us; and yet with all our gadgets and fancy attempts at a global community we still seem to be none the wiser or compassionate for it. Spooky sh*t right there. ’’

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Ms. Gel Galang included News of the Shaman in a list of must-reads that included big heads like Chuck Syjuco's Man Asia winner Ilustrado and sir Butch Dalisay's Soledad's Sister. NOTS clocked in at number eight. Ayuz.

Btw Ms. Galang, Joaquin is the guitarist of fictional band Shadowland; the vocalist's name is Miguel. Digs? : )
Read the whole post HERE

8. NEWS OF THE SHAMAN by Karl de Mesa

Why you should read it
If you think you’ve seen the dirtiest, most fetid and putrid parts of our beloved city, these four novelas will take you for a ride with fading rock stars, druggie photographers, puppeteer politicians, and otherworldly creatures to a different Manila.

The Bida
Lucas the tripped-up photographer in “Faith in Poison” and “Angelorio.”

The Badass
Joaquin, the vocalist of Shadowland who committed suicide in “Bright Midnight.” Before you say “Kurt Cobain,” make sure to take in the unusual trips, the talking cars, and personal demons that come his way.


Because you need to know your alternatives when the zombie apocalypse finally comes. This is a real contest for undead shelters where you can vote for a winner HERE. Below are two of the contest entries.

I think the SS Huckleberry is the best option for an island nation like ours. Not that borders would be applicable in the post-human world. 



Monday, November 8, 2010


Thanks to Bong Sta. Maria and the editors of FHM Philippines.

This is inside the Ehra and Michelle Madrigal cover. Grab your copy now! Whoohoo!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


My awareness of street art first got deeper when STATUS MAGAZINE assigned me to interview the eloquent and articulate Brooklyn tag artist Caledonia “Callie” Curry, better known as SWOON, about her magnificent work.

With amazing, nail-on-the-head insight that transcended the usual Q and A stuff I did for profiles one of the things that Swoon said that stuck in my head was her motive and manifesto for doing street art.

She said "{Grafiti is} A way to change your city with your bare hands. A way to change someone’s day on their way to and from a routine. A way to participate. A beautiful collage. A massively vulnerable act, masked as aggression." Wow.

The danger, passion, risk and sheer effort it took to pull off their acts of beauty (that was, in its very nature, an art form that would likely disappear next week or when the wall owner decided to repaint) stunned me.

 The entirety of that piece can be read in the Status archive here.

Recently my co-editor recommended I watch the Banksy docu on the history on the movement and so I downloaded that shit (thank you, Lord, for the gift of peer to peer file exchange -- or perhaps more aptly, thank you, Sean Parker, for the seed) right away.

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP isn't just a documentary on the history, gestation and current state of the street art movement and the outlaw curation of urban spaces, it's also a cautionary tale about creative shortcuts and how art can at once be so misunderstood and appropriated by the people closest to it and those with the best intentions.

In short: this is mind-blasting stuff. You should watch it. It is wasak. You don't even need to like street art and graffiti to appreciate it, though I dare say it takes a lot not to be moved by a BANKSY piece.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Ang kawasakan ng Cephalic Carnage video. Bow. Watch and be awed.


Usok2 from Rocketkapre is out. Below is webmaster and editor Pao Chikiamco's love letter to Pinoy genre fans. And isn't the art just sexy sexy?

View the new antho HERE.

Usok 2 is Live

The second issue of Usok is now live! I’ll post my introduction here, but you can also see it on the front page of the new issue itself. I hope you enjoy the stories and the art, and if you do, please comment and encourage the creators, because feedback is sweet ambrosia for writers and artists. For those who are looking for Usok #1, you can get a PDF of the illustrated edition in the Past Issues section of the Usok site.

Introduction: Hidden Selves

Kept you waiting, huh?
It’s been a long journey to get to the second issue of Usok, and while I’ve had to deviate from my original plans for the magazine, I’ve learned a lot about editing, working with creative people, and the speculative fiction scene in the Philippines, during the past year. There were ups and downs, but I have no regrets; sometimes the only way to get any solid data about an endeavor is to try it, to let your plans and dreams drum against the craggy shore of Reality. Usok will continue to evolve from here on out, and I hope you will all continue to support the magazine.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to find a unifying theme among stories that I’ve already accepted, than it is to assign a theme and wait for the stories to come in. Or maybe it’s just serendipity that all three of our stories in this issue (released days after Halloween) touch upon the theme of hidden selves, the masks we put on for the sake of blending in with “normal” society. It’s a common enough theme in speculative fiction, but it’s one of my favorites, and I hope you’ll find that each of these stories engages it in an intriguing way.

My thanks to the authors, Kate, Elaine, and Eliza, all of whom were very gracious and patient during the editing process. I’d also like to thank Kevin for the wonderful cover and for recruiting our latest batch of excellent digital artists: MJ, VN and Mark.

As with the previous issue, some of the stories contain scenes that may disturb those who have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction – children, the easily offended, etc. – so please keep that in mind. (Kate’s “100% of Me”, however, should be 100% safe for all but those who are allergic to percentages.)
Okay, it’s been way too long since I said this last, so without further ado: Kwentuhan na.

- Paolo Gabriel V. Chikiamco


. . .And we wrap up our feature presentation on the scrunks here. Below are excerpts.


PART THREE: In which we present the “hits” of the emerging scrunk canon and where we inform you that neither the author nor the company is liable for grand mal seizures or similar traumatic reactions to extended listens. You’ve been warned.

Rap rock is back with extra crunk
Listen, these are the members of Hollywood Undead: Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man, J-Dog, Johnny 3 Tears. All of the band members also wear their own unique mask, mostly based on a common hockey design. The use of the mask and the pseudonyms are never explained, though it’s most likely a nod to how rappers take on monikers and how Slipknot made the stage mask cool again.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, this band is the current poster-boy for the heavy rock side of crunk core. They’re notable for the lack of auto-tune in their vocals. The band originated in 2005, from a song titled “The Kids” that Jorel Decker (J-Dog) and former member Aron Erlichman (Deuce) posted on the band’s MySpace profile to astronomically positive response and click through hits amounting to something in the vicinity of 500,000 in a mere few weeks.

With badly rhyming anthems to youth empowerment, the perils of Californication, and reprazenting LA, this is the way Fred Durst would likely sound if he was 13 and dyslexic and had Papa Roach as his backing band. Still, their debut album Swan Songs (released September 2, 2008 under A&M/Octone Records) reached number 22 on the Billboard 200 in its first week of release and sold 21,000 copies.

Their song “Young” is featured as a downloadable for Rock Band 2 and an instrumental version is featured in the trailer for the video game Velvet Assassin and also currently has three remixes and covers by other artists. Another song, “Undead,” is featured in the video games Madden NFL 09 and UFC 2009 Undisputed. An instrumental version of “Undead” is featured in a trailer for GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

The Critics Say: “While rap rock bands like Limp Bizkit mined old-school hip-hop […] screamo-crunk bands like Hollywood Undead look strictly to the new school: get drunk, get silly, wear loud clothes, have fun at all costs.” (Revolver Magazine, May 2009)

Similar Groups: I Set My Friends on Fire, Aiden, Jakewolfe, Outta Play, Scene Kidz, SnapKracklepop


Friday, October 29, 2010


The second part of my Scrunk article on Pulse.ph. Excerpts below.


PART TWO: Where we dissect the blemishes and barfs of the scrunk vanguard.

The crunk core kids aren’t too sure themselves about what exact message their music wants to say; but what they are sure about is that they want to party hard, drink lots of booze, get inked, and—as the BrokeNCyde song “FreaXXX” goes—“get fucking freaky now!”

Crunk core (also scrunk, crunk punk, and screamo-crunk) is the newest emergent genre to come out of middle America. It resonates strongly with global teens and tweens and spreads itself via the MySpace and Twitter virus. It combines the rollicking suburban style of dirty crunk rap and the belligerent screams of post-hardcore. More specifically, I should say it tries to.

The Boston Phoenix describes it as “a combination of minimalist Southern hip-hop, auto-tune croons, techno breakdowns, barked vocals, and party-‘til-you-puke poetics.” The way scrunk awkwardly saturates its songs with auto-tune, in particular, is so odious it can make T-Pain sound like Enya.

If you’re not familiar with it, auto-tune is a vocal effect that sounds like Cher, Lady Gaga, and a very horny robot had a vicious animal orgy inside your mouth. [Time answers the question of why pop music sounds perfect—or intentionally imperfect—hereEd.]


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The first of a three-part article on the emerging Crunkcore genre released on local music Net channel Pulse.ph. Thanks to the EIC Aldus Santos. Here are some excerpts.


PART ONE: In which we shake hands and fists with the post-emo brethren.

Seven in the evening and the sky’s awash with PET bottles. Raining with it. I’m in the middle of Amoranto Stadium about 30 meters from the stage barricade surrounded by a couple of thousand strong metal heads, emo kids, freaks, punks, and orcs. A lot of orcs. This is Pulp Magazine’s annual Summer Slam circa 2010.

The torrential downpour of plastic has been an impromptu invention of the kids I’m sharing this sprawling arena with. We’ll call it Inter-Pit Bottle Pong. This new game comes close to being hazardous to my shaved head. And so I hold my crossed arms up to shield my head, fists curled down to the top of my spine, elbows to the sky in self-defense.

Why am I smack dab on ground zero of this heaving, malodorous mass of young flesh bent on destroying each other with a massive display of hurled objects?


When you hit your thirties you start to doubt if you can survive a violent mosh pit at a venue the size of Amoranto. I’ve never been to a Summer Slam but all reports previous pointed to an extremely hazardous environment freed from the comfy walls of a club. There are no safe corners here, bub.

Plus, Testament and Lamb of God headlining this event was just too good to pass up. A couple of things came free with the general admission ticket: a copy of the magazine, a condom (variously flavored), and a Pepsi in a PET bottle. They inflated the condoms and tossed it around the arena like a beach ball. Guess what they did with the PET bottles?

Still, the bottles didn’t hurt per se. They were empty 80% of the time. The remaining 20% were packed with arena soil, dirt, and/or contained urine. So here I am with my hands above my head cursing the idiot who armed the little buggers. When Lamb of God finally started I took my angst out on the nearest punks unfortunate enough to be in the way of my St. Vitus dance.


Monday, October 25, 2010


Just finished watching a couple of horror movies and one that struck me as astounding with its pace and build-up to its no redemption, no apologies climax is The Descent.

A barkada of hot, athletic girls go caving and get lost in a subterranean maze after a tunnel collaspses. What do they find there? No cute li'l bunnies I assure you. The great thing is, since they're mostly athletic they're no damsels in distress.   


I first encountered Clare Grant in the Masters of Horror episode titled "Valerie on the Stairs" where she played a very naked (90% of the time she's in her birthday suit) and very horny succubus/mental construct.

Turns out she just got hitched to hardest working Hollywood geek Seth Green. So how about a nude pix of Seth's wife?

Nice eh?  She's also apparently part of a gamer girl group called Team Unicorn that does great parody stuff. Like this girl on girl saber duel, for example.

Star Wars - Saber from Darth Anonymous on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Journalist Raissa Robles recounts the horrors of trying to get her senior citizen mother her rightful monthly pension. And they say Pinoys are famous for caring for the elderly? Bull crap.

Faith in our national governance? They can't even get their lousy biometrics to work.

Still, read on. The whole  post is HERE.

GSIS Killed My Mother

By Raissa Robles

Let me tell you how GSIS killed my mother.

Actually, she’s still alive.

But GSIS simply decided she was dead.

Even after I personally brought my mother, Gloria L. Espinosa, on November 5, 2009 to the GSIS office along Quezon Memorial Circle. There, she dutifully sat in front of the biometric machine and the technician tried to re-register her existence not once, not twice, not thrice, not four times, not five times, but SIX  #!*^#!! times.

Finally, the technician told my mother that maybe the skin on her fingers was just too thin for the biometric machine to read.

This did not happen only to my mother. Other elderly pensioners who used the same machine at that time also failed to register. Now I wonder, is that intentional on GSIS’ part? To have a machine that cannot register and read the fingerprints of elderly pensioners?

It was actually the second time my mother, Gloria L. Espinosa, sat in front of a GSIS biometric machine. About a year before that, she had gone to the GSIS main office in Manila. The technician there was also NOT able to get her digital fingerprint. !!!!#%$^&!!!!! But GSIS obtained her new address and keyed that into its database. That is the proof that my mother actually went to GSIS to register her existence.
Because she again could not be registered on the biometric machine that November 5, 2009, the technician just keyed in my mobile number (for contact purposes) into the machine.

Just to be sure they had a record of my mother’s personal presence, my mother painstakingly filled up a ‘VISITOR’S REQUEST FORM” to tell GSIS she was still alive. I even submitted a photo of her which I took during her October 24, 2009 birthday. When you become a pensioner, be prepared to lose your dignity. You are required by both GSIS and SSS to pose with a newspaper, much like a kidnap victim.

Let me add something for the record. Before I took my mother to GSIS, she gave me her power-of-attorney and I personally went to the GSIS Quezon Memorial office four times to nag them that she was still alive and they should recognize her existence. I went through the process and did not for once try to short-circuit it by invoking the power of the press. (What power?) I was advised to bring my mother and so I did.

Last month at 11:58:10 of September 29,2010 I got this text message from GSIS:
REMINDER: Pls RENEW ACTIVE STATUS AS PENSIONER ON UR BIRTHMONTH 2 ensure uninteruptd receipt of pension Go w/ecard 2 any GSIS Ofc If cmplyd pls disregard Ty”

I must confess, so many unprintable words rushed through my mind upon reading this.

You see, the GSIS Quezon Memorial office told me and my mother last November to have patience since the GSIS computer system was having glitches. We were told GSIS would not be able to encode my mother’s name into their database until early this year.

Ha, ha. They fooled us.

My mother’s troubles began when she went to Canada to visit my sister for several months and she was unable to appear personally in GSIS on her birth month of October.

In February 2005, GSIS simply killed her without notifying her.

Since then, my mother has not received the monthly survivorship pension as the widow of my late father. GSIS Quezon Memorial told us that on April 13, 2008, GSIS prepared a check worth P101,634.85 for my mother but GSIS CANCELLED it because she never came to get it. How could she? They never !!!!#%$^&!!!!! told her about it.

My mother’s monthly pension is quite small – only P3,504.65 – compared to then GSIS chairman Winston Garcia’s salary and benefits.

But GSIS even tried to cheat my mother my preparing a check for her worth only P101,634.85 for the uncollected pension from March 2005 to March 2008.

Read the rest of the post HERE.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead will soon be released as a TV show adaptation. And Frank Darabont is directing. This is a great thing. Rick's story and the saga of a world in the grip of a zombie apocalypse can now be told on celluloid.

I love the comics series. You should, too. It's a no-brainer.


I find it very amusing how bloggers are the ones who most often complain about the hassle of going on-line to check out stuff they'd like/need to find out more about. As a journalist who started out with just landlines, phone books, snail mail and good old legwork, I tell you it's really really nice not to have to go to an interview cold. 

I digress. This is a confusing review at best, but at least he took the time to write all his thoughts down. Thanks, bro. The original post is here

Oktubre 7, 2010, 8:34 umaga 
Excited ako ng bilhin ko ang librong ito.  Tulad ng maraming Pilipino, mahilig ako sa mga horror stories.  Kumpleto ko nga ang lahat ng libro ni Stephen King.  Mahilig din ako magbasa ng mga True Philippine Ghost Stories na libro.  Kayat masaya ako sa kuwentong katatakutang ito na sulat ng isang Pinoy. 

Nang buksan ko ang librong ito, bigla akong napaisip: Sino ba ang mga taong ito na pumupuri sa librong ito?  Dapat ba ay kilala ko sila? Well, buti na lang at nandyan si kaibigang Google.  Aba’y, mga kilalang personalidad naman pala ang mga taong ito.  Bakit hindi na lang nila nilagay kung sinu-sino sila?  Nag-research pa tuloy ako.  Pwede naman nilang ilagay:  Carljoe Javier, author of And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.  Di ba?

Anyways, ang librong ito pala ay hindi isang nobela, kundi apat na maiiksing novellas.  4 Novellas of Horror, sabi nga sa title page.  Ito ay ang Angelorio, News of the Shaman, Faith in Poison, at Bright Midnight. Medyo magkaka-konekta ang apat na ito bagamat stand-alone stories naman sila.  Sa kabuuan, maganda ang pagkakasulat sa libro.  Hindi ito masyadong masalita tulad ng ibang mga nobelang ingles na gawa ng ibang Pilipino na para bang ipinagmamalaki ang laki ng kanilang bokabolaryo.  Makatotohanan din ang mga dialogue, hindi masakit sa tenga.  Makikita mo rin ang iba’t ibang personalities ng mga karakter sa kuwento.  Matagumpay ito bilang isang literary fiction.  As a source of entertainment, well…

Sa Angelorio, dalawang lalaki, sina Raul at Lucas, ang naghahanap ng kasagutan sa kani-kanilang mga katanungan.  Matatagpuan nila ito (o hindi matatagpuan) sa isang club na pinatatakbo ng mga nilalang ng kadiliman.  Ang Angelorio.  Nagustuhan ko ang istilo ng awtor kung saan nagpapasalit-salit ang pagsasalaysay ng mga nangyari sa dalawang lalaki.  Nakakadagdag ito ng suspense at tension.  Nagustuhan ko rin ang mga stories na nakapaloob sa kuwentong ito, ngunit para medyo misplaced sila at parang wala namang kinalaman sa kuwento.  Kahit medyo marami na ring mga kuwentong naisulat na katulad ng Angelorio, medyo naging unique naman ito dahil sa paggamit ng awtor ng mga nilalang at mga ritwal mula sa kulturang Pilipino.
Nagustuhan ko namang mabuti ang News of the Shaman. Nakakapukaw ng interest ang alternative reality na iprinisinta sa kuwentong ito.  Dito, ang mga shaman, salamangkero, at paganismo ay isang pangkaraniwang bagay lamang at normal na parte ng ating buhay.  Maganda rin ang istilo ng pagkukuwento, sa pamamagitan ng mga radio broadcasts, interviews, at mga newspaper clippings.  Medyo nabitin lang ako sa ending dahil parang naging parang si Batman ang bidang Shaman.

Hindi ko naman masyadong na-gets ang kuwentong Faith in Poison.  Siguro ay mayroong malalim at lihim na kahulugan ito ngunit sa kasamaang palad ay hindi ko ito natuklasan.  Pasensya na po dahil ako’y isang simpleng mambabasang Pinoy lamang.  Ang kuwentong ito, na masasabing karugtong ng Angelorio, ay tungkol kay Lucas at sa naging buhay niya pagkatapos ng kanyang di malilimutang karanasan sa Angelorio.  Naging isang addict siya at parang walang direksyon ang buhay.  Tulad ng Angelorio, mayroong ilang mini-stories dito na para bang walang kinalaman sa kuwento.  Parang pangpakapal lang.  Hindi mo alam kung ang mga nangyari sa kuwentong ito ay totoo o dulot lamang ng droga.  Siguro ay maiintindihan mo ang kuwentong ito kapag high ka din sa droga.

Ang huling kuwento ay ang Bright Midnight.  Tungkol ito sa buhay ng isang banda matapos magpakamatay ang kanilang gitarista.  Hindi ko talaga alam kung anong masasabi ko sa kuwentong ito.  Hindi naman ito horror story, at least, hindi yung horror na kilala natin.  Siguro ay ipinakikita sa kuwentong ito ang tunay na horror ng buhay, mga problema at hirap na kailangang harapin ng tao sa mundong ito kasama na ang pagkawala ng isang mahal sa buhay.

All in all, masasabi kong medyo misleading ang paglalagay ng subtitle na 4 Novellas of Horror (dapat siguro ay Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol na lamang ang inilagay).  Although narito ang mga bampira, manananggal, kapre at kung anu-ano pa, hindi naman sila ang sentro ng kuwento.  Para bang extra lamang sila at kung aalisin mo sila at palitan ng mga pangkaraniwang tao, walang magbabago sa istorya.  Mas ipinakita rito ang mga kadiliman na nasa puso ng tao at sa mga katatakutan na kinakaharap natin sa totoong buhay.  With 183 pages, masasabi kong masyado itong maiksi.  Hindi ko alam kung sinadya ba ito ng awtor o ito ay isang limitasyon ng mga publishers dito sa atin.

Magugustuhan ang librong ito ng mga young adults, lalo na yung mga college students.  Pwedeng-pwede nila itong gawing subject sa discussion sa klase o kaya naman ay gawing thesis.  Pwedeng-pwede itong pagdebatihan ng mga cum laude.  Ano ba ang sinisimbolo ng Angelorio?  ng kerubin? ng manananggal?  Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng Afterword?

Kung gusto niyo namang matakot at ma-entertain, nandiyan naman ang True Philippine Ghost Stories.
Overall Rating: 2.5 Stars

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's not every day you get to sit down and interview a Bond Villainess (from Die Another Day). Rachel Padua Grant -- actor, model, martial artist, Fright Night presenter, Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider body double, charitable causes diplomat and all around perky adventurer -- is one awesome half-Brit, half-Pinoy gal.

Cheers, Rachel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Gonzo Army is honored to play at the local goth scene's annual Hallowe'en Ball. Us spook you long time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Love the Muppets! Better living through pseudo-science with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. So who you gonna call?


Back in August I delivered this speech in front of a crowd of UST communication majors with the rest of the Visprint authors for promotional purposes in line with my new book News of the Shaman. This is where a student asked me the "JAWS question."*

 Thank you to the Thomasian Writers’ Guild, UST’s Faculty of Arts and Letters, The Varsitarian, Visprint Enterprises and the other awesome authors. And you guys for coming down to hear us natter on about scribbled stuff.

When I was a kid growing up in the ghetto of Novaliches the water would only flow from the tap at intervals. Usually it came on early morning and late afternoons.

So I had this daily grind of filling up several buckets of water for our family’s daily use at around 6AM. I did this before I used the water to take a bath myself and prepare for school.

Eventually this routine became my space for daily meditation. A Zen time to muse and dream and make-up stories in that state between the daze of just having woken up and still trying to get in control of your senses.

Eventually the bathroom became a place for me to think out things. Stuff. Knots. Girls.

Over the years I’ve been in worst places trying to iron out plot points (very odd, little odd, extremely odd) but filling up a bucket with water with a pail, especially if it’s a very big pail, NEVER fails to put me in a contemplative Zen mood.

Today, the water from the faucet was black. Probably from some fluke of cloud seeding up at the dam or probably some secret experimental serum designed to make me and my neighbors the first official bio-engineered mutants in the country.

I tell you, it took a lot of courage for me to take a bath today. 

*   *   *
Anyway, this black water got me to thinking about horror stories. And how important a role they’ve played in the choices I’ve made both as an individual and a fictionist. And how it all came to be in the book that Visprint has just released. I can’t tell you how many times reading and writing stories of dread, fright and terror have saved me from a self-destructive abyss.

What I CAN tell you is that we tell stories in psychic self-defense because all sensation is already memory.

Many of my colleagues say journalism is a gun. If journalism is a gun then horror is the serrated knife of fiction that can be used as surgically precise as a scalpel or as brutal as a bucher’s hack.

Horror is the only genre that’s named after an emotion. Horror is the attempt to keep us from forgetting sensation, to enshrine all that intensity in memory before the wind blows it away. It’s the fiction equivalent of a shock and awe campaign.

Nothing but a display of SHEER power. Horror is a Blitzkrieg. Horror is a Brock Lesnar. Horror is the majesty of a millennia-old octopus god that eats planets.  

Sometimes you just gotta say “fuck subtlety.”

*   *   *
In Japan they have a rite of passage for being brave. It’s called kimodameshe. It’s literally translated as “test of guts.” These tests can range from staying overnight at a haunted house or enduring a hazing of a 2x4 plank. Usually it’s the teenagers go for the haunted house. They even have theme parks especially built for it. You can even get a group discount.

Why do we Pinoys have nothing like that? I think maybe getting into your first brawl or your first unwanted pregnancy are probably the things that come close. Anyway, why DO the Japanese do it?

The experience of kimodameshe returns us to the primal experience of living in caves, curled up like bitches dreading the dark and the things that live in the dark who want to eat us. Or worse. 

It is a HUMBLING experience. It is also a THERAPEUTIC experience.

It returns us to the fact of our primal being. That behind you stands a long line of people who have experienced the very same thing and lived to tell the tale. As a corollary it sends a message to the depths of your being that if you DO survive this then you CAN certainly tackle future challenges. TOUGHER ONES

Half of the fun of horror stories is the schadenfreude of it. Schadenfreude =  pleasure at the misery of others. I mean, let’s face it, the heroes in horror stories are in really bad situations.

So you, the reader, can go say: Thank God I’m not possessed by the Devil (Exorcist)! Thank God I’m not being chased by a haunted car (Carrie)! Thank God the dead stay dead in the real world (any number of zombie films)!

If you haven’t noticed, horror is also highly educational. Where else do they teach you how to survive a zombie apocalypse? Or what kind of gear to pack for a righteous exorcism? WAIT, OR DO THEY TEACH THAT AT UST?  

Horror not only lets us resist the psychological drought that comes from having a lack of stories, it also arms us with the weapons to heal ourselves with an inoculation of terror in manageable doses.

It’s like those miraculous concoctions or snake oil that travelling medicine men use as a cure-all. I imagine this liquid thing as black and neutrally scented. Like the water that flowed out of my tap today.

For me, yes, horror is a kind of mental snake oil. It may not taste good but it sure gives you the confidence to charge the zombie horde at your doorstep with a machete. Screaming all the way.

Often, that’s all it takes to survive the horrors of the 21st century. The catastrophe of 9/11 and our drowned city. The sudden outbursts of political violence. A new President. Magunidanao.      

Sometimes. With all that. I often think it’s a miracle we’re sane at all.

 *   *   *
Which brings us to my new book. NEWS OF THE SHAMAN. Wow. Five years waiting in its Pandora’s box to be released into the wild and shake hands with you bright, young, ghoulish, Dominican-educated minds.

The biggest themes in this book I think are heartache and loss. For some characters it’s the loss of a friend and comrade that drives them to do things they can’t fully explain even to themselves.

For some it’s the heartache of discovery, and yearning for more of that mystery only glimpsed that becomes their motivation. For some it’s the loss of faith in your fellow man. For some it’s the loss of God.

At the core of each story is a return to a primal state of the human condition. And how that can either destroy or heal them.  

Again, without stories there is only psychic drought. With NEWS OF THE SHAMAN I hope those of you who pick it up find your way back to that primal state of mystery and grandeur and terror. Find your own kimodameshe. Find your own salvation in the sea of darkness.

The shaman bears good news for all of us.  

But only if you have the courage to drink the snake oil and follow him into the void.

Somewhere in there is the key to an infinite, obsidian wisdom.

Or more likely you’ll find a huge and hairy beast bent on devouring your brains and guts.

The shaman will be with us either way. Thank you.

*THE JAWS QUESTION: "Sir, when JAWS the movie came out tourism in Australia took an all time low. When is horror going to be held accountable for all the damage it's inflicted on the minds of its viewers and readers?" (or words to that effect. i kid you not)

Saturday, October 2, 2010


First chanced on the term Taqwacore in a Rolling Stone piece. Then saw Mike Muhammad Knight's book at a local bookstore. Well, now there's a documentary on them. Bands, a book, a SXSW film and a US inter-state tour. I'd say that qualifies as a bonafide movement.

Wonder if this has reached our young Manila muslims? Hmmm, that's the makings of an interesting investigation there. Makes my journalistic balls go all tingly. TAQWA = consciousness of God

Check out The Kominas' "Sharia Law in the USA" below! I am an Islamist / I am an anti-christ ftw


TAQWACORE documentary trailer

On Mike Muhammad Knight (Taqwacore author)

The Kominas (Iggy Pop would be proud, I think)

Friday, September 17, 2010


Found another review of NOTS on-line.

Not really familiar with who these bloggers are but they do say interesting stuff and certainly feel strongly about their opinions. Feedback is always appreciated : ) The post itself is here

NEWS OF THE SHAMAN Review by "Claire" of Da Couch Tomato Blog

One thing that the News of the Shaman sealed the deal for me: Never, ever, ever again read Introductions, Afterwords, and all those parts where other famous writers try to beg the audience to read this author pleeeeeaaaase.

It. Just. Sucks. And that's putting it lightly.

So anyhow, I bought News of the Shaman because the cover makes it look like a young adult book, which I thought it was. But it isn't. I also thought it was a whole novel. It still isn't.

It actually has four stories in it. Short novels, they call it. Novellas, actually. But I don't know. I think it's too short to be called a novella, and I'm not even thinking page-wise or those big fonts. It just feels short.

1. "Angelorio"

"Angelorio" is a nice frontman for the book. It has the most meaty and the most appropriate story to begin the book with, holding your hand and leading you to the depths of the underworld and all that horror/fantasy thingamajig. So there's two mortals both looking for this taboo/forbidden/unknown/mysterious place that only the unearthly forces can take them to. It starts with a club (or was it a bar?) and secret hallways and other creepy crawlies of the dark that makes up a wonderful formula of being transported into an alternative and dark Wonderland. There's also gambling with the devils─cards actually─which is a nice "fate versus chance" touch. And also, a manananggal. A Filipino horror/ fantasy book will probably never be complete without one.


2. "News of the Shaman"

If I were younger, I would have fawned over this book and included it in my mini-thesis, which dealt with hero construction. I find few authors who make proper stories about communities, the whole shebang of different points of views all cooked into a cohesive meal, served to make us wonder: Was the Shaman really a hero, or a pathetic dangerous spoiled brat? Using different forms to tell the story, from news clippings to radio talk shows, makes it all the more engaging.


3. "Faith in Poison"

Oh, hello. Another let's-glorify-drugs story. Whatever. And don't get me started on the annoying anti-hero.


4. "Bright Midnight"

"Bright Midnight" will probably entice music geeks. Which I'm not. And also those in a band. I imagine it must be a touching story for those who are in a band. Which I'm not. So I actually found it cheesy. It's about a rock/punk/goth band (duh) simultaneously torn apart and brought together by the death of their bandmate. Who committed suicide. Which is probably the main reason why I have qualms about "Bright Midnight". I'm not sure if it's glorifying suicide but hey, it worked for Cobain. Anyhow, form-wise, it's tightly wound. The archetypes each band members represent were not that one-dimensional, so all is cool.


All in all, News of the Shaman is an engaging and page-turner book. It's also cute how characters from the other stories are connected to the other stories, not necessarily a continuation of one story to another. Probably a statement of how many stories one can weave with just one single character draft? Or it could be just laziness to make more characters. Who knows?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Okay I guess I should see what Mieville and Vandermeer are up to. Below is an excerpt of the review that's up now at the POC.

GODS OF THE INTANGIBLE  (News of the Shaman Review)

We see the city in an ambient rush, in the cadence of city lights blurring, souls drowning in the mist. As the sun fades, the night gradually stakes its claim on the individuals that drift in different directions, aimless. In Karl De Mesa’s new book, News of the Shaman, a collection of four novellas, we are shown the underbelly of Manila. Fetid, dark and unabashedly otherworldly, De Mesa’s Manila is a different monster, operating in the same vein as China Mieville’s Bas Lag and Un Lun Dun, as well as containing elements of the weirdness of Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergis.

Here, we meet fallen angels, fading rockstars, drugged-up photographers and sly creatures of the underworld conducting their affairs. We sit in anticipation of the creatures that would lap up our already terrified imaginations, unfazed by the dread of the murky alleys that de Mesa leads us down... But there are no pasty white ghouls seeking for revenge, only stranded souls stuck on this earth, looking for retribution to for their transgressions.

The interconnected novellas of News of the Shaman weave for us a different perspective of the cities we have come to know. The normalcy of things that we encounter every day never merits our notice: the faces we pass, the voices we hear along the way, and the occasional graze of someone else’s fingers on the commute. Like the characters in the novella, we’re all searching for something that validates our existence.

*   *   *
Check out Don Jaucian's full book review here.