Monday, October 7, 2019

Cordilleran Runners Shine In Grueling 160-Kilometer Race (Sandugo Pacific Coast Ultra 100 Miles)

Cordilleran runners continue to make their marks in the local running scene as a good number of them emerged top finishers in the recently concluded Sandugo Pacific Coast Ultra 100 in General Nakar, Quezon. The race was held from October 4 to 6.

The Sandugo Pacific Coast Ultra 100 is a 100-mile footrace (160.934 kilometers) that takes runners through the coastal town of General Nakar. The hot weather and the terrain makes it one of the most difficult ultra races in the country. It's not uncommon for runners to quit and not finish the race. In trail running parlance, this is referred to as a DNF, an abbreviation for "did not finish".

Aside from the 160-kilometer race, the event also offered lower distances. There's the 100 kilometers, the 50 kilometers, the 25 kilometers, and the 2 kilometers for kids.

Maria Cecilia Kiswa of Ifugao extends her winning streak as the first female runner to finish in the 160-kilometer distance. It's not that long ago when Kiswa officially started racing. She's now considered as one of the best female runners in the country. She has won nearly every race she joined prior to the Sandugo PCU 100.

Jovencio Luspian who hails from Mankayan, Benguet finished second in the male category of the 160-kilometer race. He trailed the champion, Anthony Calixterio, by 46 minutes. Calixterio also won the same race last year. Luspian is not a stranger to 100-mile races. Last year, he ran and finished the Western States 100 Endurance Run in California.

In the 100-kilometer distance, Alfonso Ampalo of Baguio City was the second male runner to reach the finish line. He trailed the champion, Wilfred Lelina, by 51 minutes.

Maria Cecilia Kiswa posing with her 100-mile buckle. Photo credit: Race Tech Philippines (racetechph.com)
Cordilleran runners were also top finishers at the race's edition last year. Louis Ganayan and Casey Camiwet were second and third finishers respectively among male runners in the 160-kilometer distance. Novena Manacnes finished second in the female category.

In the 100-kilometer distance, Jovencio Luspian was the champion followed by Fletcher Cuyaman in the male category. In the female category, Elizabeth Dangadang was the champion.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hanif Kureishi on Writers and the Writing Process

You don’t have to be familiar with Hanif Kureishi and his previous work in order to appreciate the contents of his book Dreaming and Scheming (Reflections on Writing and Politics). This nice collection of essays and insights that was culled from nearly two decades of Kureishi’s non-fiction writings is some sort of a love letter to writers and aspiring writers. With brutal honesty, Kureishi traces his writing roots from the nights he watched his father stubbornly write unpublished novels to the day he himself made it as a successful spinner of words.

Kureishi has the uncanny ability to inspire you to pick up a pen and start writing at the same time telling you that most of what you are going to write will likely amount to nothing. Zero. Zilch. If you love writing or if you think you love writing, Dreaming and Scheming is a book you should read. Below are samples of the gems and nuggets you can find in the book.

Writing seems to be a problem of some kind. It isn’t as if most people can just sit down and start to write brilliantly, get up from the desk, do something else all day, and then, next morning start again without any conflict or anxiety. To begin to write – to attempt anything creative, for that matter – is to ask many other questions, not only about the craft itself, but of oneself, and of life. The blank empty page is a representation of this helplessness. Who am I? How should I live? Who do I want to be?”

You don’t want to make mistakes because you don’t want a failure that will undermine you even more. But if you don’t make mistakes, nothing is achieved. Sometimes you have to feel free to write badly, but it takes confidence to see that somehow the bad writing can sponsor the good writing, that volume can lead to quality. Sometimes, too, even at the end of a piece of writing, you have to leave the flaws in; they are part of it. Or they can’t be eliminated without something important being lost, some flavor or necessary energy. You can’t make everything perfect but you have to try to.”

At one time I imagined that if I wrote like other people, if I imitated writers I liked, I would only have to expose myself through a disguise. I did this for a time, but my own self kept coming through. It took me a while to see that isn’t a question of discovering your voice but of seeing that you have a voice already just as you have a personality, and that if you continue to write you have no choice but to speak, write, and live in it. What you have to do, in a sense, is take possession of yourself. The human being and the writer are the same.”

One of the problems of writing, and of using the self as material, is that this will recall powerful memories. To sit at a desk with a pen is to recall familiar fears and disappointments – and in particular, conflicts – which are the essence of drama. This is partly the difficulty of coming to terms with the attitude to learning that you have already picked up from your parents and teachers, from the experience of being at home and at school; and from the expectations of all of these. There is the inability to concentrate and the knowledge that you must do so for fear of punishment. There is boredom, and the anxiety that more exciting things are going on elsewhere.”

Then there was writing, which was an active way of taking possession of the world. I could be omnipotent, rather than a victim. Writing became a way of processing, ordering, what seemed like chaos.”

To write is to be puzzled a second time by one’s experience; it is also to savor it. In such reflection there is time to taste and engage with your own life in its complexity.”

Sometimes writers like to imagine that the difficulty of becoming a writer resides in convincing others that that is what you are. But really the problem is in convincing yourself. You can become trapped within an odd, Beckettian paradox. There is the internal pressure of what must be said.”

If artists suffer it is not because their work involves sacrifice and dedication. It is because they are required to have close contact with the unconscious. And the unconscious – bursting with desire as it is – is unruly. That is often how creativity is represented, as being an unruly force, a kind of colonial mob or animal instinct that must be suppressed. Artists become representative of the unruly forces within everyone. They have to live these out, and live with them, all the time. It is the price they pay for “talent”. If most people in the bourgeois world have to live constrained lives, artists do a certain kind of crazy living for those who can’t.”


Photo credit: Jillian Edelstein
One of the conditions of being a writer is the ability to bear and enjoy solitude. Sometimes you get up from your desk under the impression that your inner world has more meaning than the Real one. Yet solitude – the condition of all important creative and intellectual work – isn’t something we’re taught, nor is it much attended to as a necessary human practice. People often avoid the solitude they need because they will feel guilty at leaving other people out. But communing with yourself, the putting aside of time for the calm exploration of inner states where experience can be processed, where dim intuitions, the unclear and inchoate can be examined, and where the undistracted mind drifts and considers what it requires, is essential. In this solitude there may be helplessness. You may be aware of too much experience, and an inability to see, for some time, what the creative possibilities are.”

Any kind of writing is an act of faith. At first it is a “relation” but not yet a relationship. The writer has to believe, somehow, that not only does he have something to say, but that he is of interest to others; that he can engage rather than bore them, that he can stimulate desire and curiosity in other people. He has to believe in the future, believe that writing this page today will, in the years to come, be sufficiently alive for others so that they might even pay to read it.”

I have always assumed that reading and imaginative writing go together. A writer’s originality can consist of how he distorts or uses someone else’s work. Even a failed plagiarist is an artist. What I’m trying to do, I guess, is get the students to read and look as writers, seeing how the author achieved an effect, being aware of what they can use or transform for themselves. If writing is the translation of feeling into language, I want to encourage a closer acquaintance with the language in order to increase the quantity and quality of expressed feeling. This is not reading for fun, and it is not literary criticism.”

Monday, September 9, 2019

Stephen Hawking on the Purpose of Science Fiction

In 1995, the American theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss wrote a popular non-fiction book called The Physics of Star Trek. The book contained a Foreword by no other than Stephen Hawking, the man considered by many as one of the greatest theoretical physicists to ever walk on the planet.

In his brief Foreword, Hawking touched on the role that works of science fiction play in a world that continues to change because of scientific developments and technological revolutions.

This is what he had to say about the “serious purpose” of science fiction in a very modern world.

“Science fiction like Star Trek is not only good fun but it also serves a serious purpose, that of expanding the human imagination. We may not yet be able to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before, but at least we can do it in the mind. We can explore how the human spirit might respond to future developments in science and we can speculate on what those developments might be. 

There is a two-way trade between science fiction and science. Science fiction suggests ideas that scientists incorporate into their theories, but sometimes science turns up notions that are stranger than any science fiction. Black holes are an example, greatly assisted by the inspired name that the physicist John Archibald Wheeler gave them. Had they continued with their original names of “frozen stars” or “gravitationally completely collapsed objects”, there wouldn’t have been half so much written about them.”

Hawking passed away in March of 2018. He was 76 years old. He left behind an undeniable legacy and a body of work that continues to guide aspiring theoretical physicists (and aspiring scientists for that matter) in their journeys toward scientific enlightenment.

Photo by David Montgomery
Hawking also left behind a good number of books he authored that include the ubiquitous A Brief History of Time. If you are looking for a good introduction into Hawking’s work, this is the book you should peruse. Only then should you proceed reading his other books (i.e. The Universe in a Nutshell, On the Shoulders of Giants, and Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays).

Friday, August 30, 2019

September 13 (Friday) Declared as a Non-Working Holiday in the Cordillera Region

It's going to be a long weekend in the Cordillera region come the 13th of September. A proclamation from Malacanang dated August 29 has declared September 13 as a non-working holiday in the region. The declaration is in commemoration of the Mt. Data Peace Accord that was held on September 13, 1986 between core members of the CPLA (Cordillera People's Liberation Army) led by Conrado Balweg and the Philippine government. The event is referred to as the Mt. Data Peace Accord because it was held at the Mt. Data Hotel in Bauko, Mt. Province.

Corazon Aquino, then the President of the Republic was present at the historic peace pact. As tokens for the signing of the peace pact, President Aquino presented a Bible and a rosary, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) presented an ArmaLite rifle, and the CPLA presented an Igorot spear and shield.

Then President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino and Conrado Balweg at the sipat (peace pact) in 1986.
Balweg, the enigmatic leader of the CPLA, was a former member of the New People's Army (NPA). He split from the NPA in 1986 to form the CPLA and its political wing, the CBA (Cordillera Bodong Administration).

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Seaman From Bakun, Benguet Among Those Killed In Mexico Gang Attack

A seafarer from the town of Bakun in Benguet is among those who perished in a grisly gang attack that happened in the port city of Coatzacoalcos in Mexico. The attack occurred on Tuesday night. The latest reports mention that at least 26 people died and 11 others were injured.

The seaman from Bakun has been identified as Nathaniel A. Alindan. Another Filipino sailor identified as Bryan G. Varron also died from the incident. Varron is from Ormoc City in the Visayas. Ramon Guzman, the agent for the ship Caribe Lisa said that the two Filipino seafarers were on leave. They had gone on shore after their ship arrived from Houston.

An armed gang stormed inside the El Caballo Blanco Nightclub (The White Horse Nightclub) at around 10:00 PM. They sealed the emergency exits before setting fire to the entrance hall. They kidnapped the establishment's owner then fled the scene.

Photo credit: 60 Minutos.Info
The chief suspect for the crime has already been identified by the authorities in Veracruz, the southern Mexican state where the port city of Coatzacoalcos is located. Local prosecutors said that the suspect have been arrested in the past for similar crimes.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Official Trailer for the Movie Adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Classic Novel 'Little Women'

Louisa May Alcott's classic novel 'Little Women' had been adapted for the big screen for quite a good number of times already. Seven times to be exact. The novel's earliest movie adaptation dates back to 1917 in an era wherein silent films were still the norm. This coming December, another adaptation of the 1868 novel will roll into theaters.

Directed by Greta Gerwig, 'Little Women' 2019 will feature an ensemble cast which includes Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, and Chris Cooper.  The film has been in development by Sony Pictures since 2013. Production and filming only started in 2018 when Greta Gerwig was brought in as director.

Watch the first trailer for the film below:

Photo credit: Whimsy On Main (https://www.whimsyonmain.com/)
Earlier movie adaptations of the novel were made by Alexander Butler in 1917, Harley Knoles in 1918, George Cukor in 1933, Mervn LeRoy in 1949, David Lowell Rich in 1978, Gillian Armstrong in 1994, and Clare Niederpruem in 2018.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Eduard Folayang Submitted by Former UFC Champ Eddie Alvarez

Eduard Folayang failed to make it to the finals of the One Championship Lightweight World Grand Prix after losing to Eddie Alvarez in their semifinal bout at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday night. Folayang was submitted by the former UFC lightweight champion in the very first round.

The fight was pretty even early on until Folayang threw a leg kick that sent Alvarez to the mat. Folayang went for the finish and unleashed his trademark ground and pound. The experienced fighter that he is, Alvarez remained composed and defended himself against the onslaught. He saw an opening and quickly reversed the position.

On top position, Alvarez immediately worked to take Folayang's back. He pulled Folayang's head for the setup and quickly sank in the choke. The Team Lakay had no choice but tap out.

Photo: One Championship
With the victory, Alvarez advances to the finals of the One Championship Lightweight World Grand Prix which is happening this October in Tokyo, Japan. He will be facing Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev.