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.

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Check out Don Jaucian's full book review here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Cause back in school. . .

GONZO ARMY is coming to Lipa with the rest of the noisy gang. Now it's time for a real education, so get 1/4 piece of paper and stuff it in your ears. It's going to be a cacophonous day, children.


The sheer absurdity of this situation is like something out of an Ed Wood film. And not in a good-bad way at all. This is harassment, pure and simple. 

Kindly re-post this and send it to your friends and family. Let's get all up in the faces of the creeps who're hassling ma'am Jing. 


By Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo

From February 2005 to May 2010, I was Vice President for Public Affairs of the University of the Philippines System, serving under UP President Emerlinda R. Roman. Under me were the Information Office, the Office of Alumni Relations of the UP System, and the Gurong Pahinungod.

Because UP was preparing for the celebrations of its Centennial in 2008, our work load—heavy at best—became considerably heavier. A slew of other tasks was added to the regular responsibilities of running three newspapers, maintaining the UP System website, producing regular magazine-sized reports, writing and sending out regular media announcements, providing support for the Office of the President during the annual presentation of the UP Budget to Congress and the campaign in Congress for the approval of the new UP Charter, and providing communications support for the offices of the other Vice Presidents.

Among these additional responsibilities were President Roman’s alumni caravan, which took us around the country to involve UP alumni in the celebration and in the fund-raising campaign; and several special projects—a coffee table book, another book called Kwentong Peyups, a short documentary film, a UP history book project, supplements for the print media, and several Centennial contests (for the Centennial logo, the Centennial literary award, the Centennial song, the Centennial short film, etc.). My Assistant VPs and I worked long hours, including weekends, and out-of-town trips.

Throughout this period, I continued to teach graduate courses--sometimes one, sometimes two, each semester.

On one such weekend in June 2006, Lydia Arcellana (AVP and Director of the Office of Alumni Relations) and I had a lunch meeting with a group of UP alumni at the Dulcinea, a restaurant on Tomas Morato.

On September 14, 2006, UP received a Subpoena from the “Task Force O-Plan Red Plate” of the Office of the Ombudsman, directing it to submit my driver’s Trip Tickets “and all other appurtenant and relative documents authorizing the use of government vehicle with plate no. SET-536 (the car assigned to my office) for the period June 13-28, 2006.” It contained the ominous threat that failure to do so within 3 days of receipt would “merit the filing of criminal charges” as well as administrative charges. The document, signed by Atty. MARK E. JALANDONI, Assistant Ombudsman, “issued by authority of the Honorable Ma. Merceditas, Tanodbayan,” did not state what these “charges” were.

Read ma'am Jing's complete note here.