X-List: A Year of Magical Reading

I think it was Stephen King who once wrote: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” This year, I made a commitment with myself to read, and to read furiously. Reading – plus a reinvigorated passion at work, a rekindled interest in origami, and a newfound hobby in kickboxing (more on that when I feel like it) – somewhat rejuvenated me.

All that aside, I think my taste in reading has also somewhat evolved. “Dune” and “Lord of the Rings” are still up there when it comes to things that make me happy, and there was some catching up to do with Terry Pratchett’s universe after years of not reading it. I still enjoy the classics – Dumas, Goethe, Beowulf – but this year was particularly special. Enjoyable, even; lends peace to the chaos.

So much so that overshooting Goodreads Reading Challenge goals is probably one of the best things I did for myself this year.

Without further ado, here are ten of my favorite reads this year. Most of them are a little old: methinks that some of the more recent books I read still need the test of time (except for a few).


A Dental Visit

On so many different occasions, this blog has been host to a lot of (undeserved and unnecessary) posts that have maligned the profession of dentistry, just because I have more than my own fair share of tooth problems.

Like here, here, here, and here.

My dislike for dentists bit me back in so many ways: abscessed molars, dental caries, extractions, impacted tooth removal, advanced prophylaxis, root canals, braces, caps, veneer, and everything else short of dentures.  I’ve called dentists everything from “holy mouth-men,” referencing them in some deep circle of Dante’s hell, and everything else in between.

Make no mistake about it: I hate dentists.  I do not deserve to own teeth.

Could a visit to some different sort of dentist change my mind?  Hmmm…



The big idea for Freshman Masculine Wash is simple: if there’s shampoo for your hair and toothpaste for your teeth, then there must be something for your intimate areas (the word “pototoy” makes bad copy).  A pH-balanced manoy, coupled with the fresh scent of tea tree oil (for whatever it’s worth), apparently gives you that cool and fresh feeling as “she.”  I doubt if the same feeling can be achieved by splashing tea tree Eskinol – or Gilbey’s Premium Strength, on one’s tarugo, but a titi smelling like a tea tree (good grief) would probably be in vogue once Freshman becomes acceptable and quite ordinary.

It didn’t fly (no pun intended) with Penifresh, but once you get the hang (again, no pun intended) of shower gels formulated and manufactured exclusively for your crotch, then Freshman may be for you.  Who wouldn’t want a cool, refreshed, moisturized, bacteria-free manly intimate area?



From my days in the school paper all the way to my current job, I’ve participated in many discussions and heated debates on the matter of logos.  It’s not that a logo is the be-all-end-all of branding, but as a visual element, it occupies a central space in the way things are marketed and (inevitably) sold.

The story goes that Seattle’s Best Coffee, the part of the Starbucks empire that deals with frou-frou coffee, have moved their logo direction from this…

To this:

Streamlined, sleek, and clean… anything but coffee.


Writing Fellows for the 49th Silliman University National Writers Workshop

OK, some readers have been asking when the writing fellows for this year’s National Writers Workshop will be revealed, and where the list will be posted.  I got this year’s list after getting tagged on Facebook by Jordan Carnice (who’s heading off to Bacolod for this year’s IYAS workshop on a fellowship for fiction… nuks numun).

I was a fellow last year, so to pay things forward to that awesome workshop, here’s this year’s batch of fellows:

*     *     *

National Writers Workshop Director-in-Residence Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and Silliman University are pleased to announce that the following young writers have been accepted as fellows for the 49th National Writers Workshop scheduled on 3-21 May 2010:

For Poetry

Gian Paolo Simeon Lao (Ateneo de Manila University)
Dominique Allison Santos (University of Santo Tomas)
Jacob Dominguez (University of Santo Tomas)
Oscar Serquina Jr. (University of the Philippines-Diliman)

For Fiction

Aaron James Jalalon (University of the Philippines–Mindanao)
Jenette Ethel Vizcocho (University of the Philippines-Diliman)
Gilda Ysobel Galang (Ateneo de Manila University)
Anne Carly Abad (Ateneo de Manila University)
Gino Francis Dizon (Ateneo de Manila University)
Jose Carlo Flordeliza (De La Salle University)
Ida Anita Del Mundo (De La Salle University)
Samantha Echavez (University of the Philippines-Diliman)

For Creative Non-Fiction

Kelly Marie Tulio Conlon (University of the Philippine–Mindanao)
Miro Frances Capili (University of the Philippines-Diliman)
Christina Mae del Rosario (Ateneo de Manila University)

Congratulations, fellows!

Crazy With The Heat

The Philippine Star reports that Saturday peaked at 35.8 degrees Celsius (roughly around 96.4 degrees Fahrenheit) here in Metro Manila.  The high temperatures meant a trip to Bench Fix at Podium to get a haircut, and getting as many Quickly taro shakes as I can into my system.  I’ve taken to filling my beer glass with more ice cubes at the risk of diluting below-zero beer, smoking menthol cigarettes, and wearing thinner jackets.

Yes, it’s that freaking hot.

49th Silliman University National Writers' Workshop: Call for Submissions

I found this at the Silliman University website:

Call for Submission of Manuscripts to the
49th Silliman University National Writers Workshop

The Silliman University National Writers Workshop is now accepting applications for the 49th National Writers Workshop to be held May 3-21, 2010 in Dumaguete City.

This Writers Workshop is offering fifteen fellowships to promising young writers who would like a chance to hone their craft and refine their style. Fellows will be provided housing, a modest stipend, and a subsidy to partially defray costs of their transportation.

To be considered, applicants should submit manuscripts in English on or before March 19, 2010 (seven to ten poems; or three to five short stories; or three to five creative non-fiction essays). Manuscripts should be submitted in hard copy and on CD, preferably in MS Word, together with a resume, a recommendation letter from a literature professor or a writer of national standing, a notarized certification that the works are original, and two 2X2 ID pictures.

Send all applications or requests for information to Department of English and Literature, attention Dr. Evelyn F. Mascuñana, Chair, Silliman University, 6200 Dumaguete City.