In his year-end article In the Pit of 2007 for the December/January issue of local magazine Rogue, Tad Ermitaño begins by discussing major headlines in local news in the past twelve months (a Teri Hatcher remark on Desperate Housewives, censoring of the Neo-Angono Artists Collective mural, explosion in Glorietta mall, ZTE NBN deal, and the pardoning of ousted President Joseph Estrada after being convicted of plunder), before ending with this description of a familiar feeling, about trying to work in the field of arts in the Philippines today:
What the hell do I know. Why do I care about art, these gestures in the air, when every time I actually think about what’s in the paper I think all the fucking names in there ought to be lined up against a wall and shot? They’re the ones who really deserve the bullet in the last paragraph, but there’s no way to get Jonas and Mariannett to kill them all off without writing in a freak metaphysical accident that turns the two of them into agents of the Apocalypse. I am become Death, destroyer of worlds. The latest art thing I’ve done is a little machine in which a video image winds thread on a spool. Something virtual performing work in the real world. Cute, maybe even witty, maybe even a signal in the history of Philippine video art. When I’m not thinking about the stuff in the paper, I think I’m kind of on the ball, a pretty good artist, a pretty good writer. When I do think about the paper, I think it’s all stupid and I’m a fool to keep at it. Schizophrenia and frustration. An adolescent’s schizophrenia and frustration. A dilettante’s schizophrenia and frustration. I suspect that the poet-turned-guerrilla Eman Lacaba was in some extreme variant of this mood when he decided to fuck off from the Malate art scene and put himself in the service of the Revolution. The masses are Messiah. But I’m not going anywhere near a gun, nowhere near an army, and probably nowhere near a march. I distrust crowds and hate podiums and slogans and want nothing better than to screw around in my cave, with my computers and my cameras and circuits. The country careens towards the year’s end and no end in sight. Babylon gnaws its guts and I’m sorry for the mess. We will meet again, and I will be in a better temper. Nehru once called Bali “the morning of the world,” but I remember thinking the first time I heard that that every morning everywhere must be something like the first morning of the world and that it was probably just easier to remember it in that Bali then–in the middle of temples and rice paddies and gamelans and kretek cigarettes. We will meet again in 2008, and we will talk about what we like about the world, what we like about the country. We’ll talk about something small, but made with care and attention. A painting, a sidewalk, a program, a piece of fish, a box, a shirt, a lamp, a sentence: the details of continuity and faith
(Tad at home)
Features and literary editor Erwin Romulo is doing some very nice things with Rogue. While I’ve written a handful of film-related articles for them–on Lav Diaz’s Heremias, Rox Lee’s The Great Smoke, the short films of Antoinette Jadaone and a brief Ingmar Bergman obituary–it’s their prose and fiction I’d like to plug at the moment. Currently on its seventh issue, the magazine has published interesting new fiction by the likes Luis Katigbak, Sarge Lacuesta and Tony Perez, new prose by Lourd De Veyra and Erwin Romulo himself, and been the latest outlet for one of my favourite local writers, quoted above.
Update: April 12, 2008
Some issues of Rogue can now be read online in high quality at Issuu:
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