Monday, December 2, 2019

George R.R. Martin On His Development As A Writer

George R.R. Martin is without question among the most well-known writers of this generation. Even before the adaptation of his books into an uber popular television series by HBO, Martin occupied a special spot in the hearts of millions of bibliophiles. I am among those who look up to the man not just in the context of a reader but as an aspiring writer as well.

As with any aspiring writer who looks up to a writing giant, I’ve always been curious as to how Martin developed as a writer. What books did he read as a child? What made him decide to write stories under the banners of science fiction, fantasy, and horror? Why didn’t he take the routes of spy thrillers or historical fiction?

I found bits of answers to these questions in his Introduction for the anthology book Warriors 3. Published in 2010, Warriors 3 is a collection of stories by seven bestselling authors (Diana Gabaldon, Robin Hobb, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn, David Morrell, James Rollins, and Joe R. Lansdale). Martin co-edited the book with Gardner Dozois.

In his Introduction which he aptly subtitled Stories from the Spinner Rack, Martin takes us back to when he was growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey. A kid who loved books, Martin agonized on how to budget his dollar-a-week allowance.

My allowance was a dollar a week, and figuring out how I was going to split that up between ten-cent comic books (when the price went up to twelve cents, it really blew the hell out of my budget), thirty-five-cent paperbacks, a candy bar or two, the infrequent quarter malt or ice cream soda, and an occasional game of Skee-Ball at Uncle Milty’s down the block was always one of the more agonizing decisions of the week, and honed my math skills to the utmost.” – George R.R. Martin

Martin recalls the joy and mystery of going through the paperbacks in a spinner rack at a corner store. In those days, the books weren’t arranged or shelved based on genres. The books were mixed together. You might find The Brothers Karamazov sandwiched between a Barbara Cartland heart-stopper and a Robert Heinlein space saga.

Martin remembers his days going through the spinner rack:

Looking back now, almost half a century later, I can see that that wire spinner rack had a profound impact on my later development as a writer. All writers are readers first, and all of us write the sort of books we want to read. I started out loving science fiction…but inevitably, digging through those paperbacks, I found myself intrigued by other sorts of books as well. I started reading horror when a book with Boris Karloff on the cover caught my attention. Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp hooked me on fantasy, just in time for J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. The historical epics of Dumas and Thomas B. Costain featured sword fights too, so I soon started reading those as well, and that led me to other epochs of history and other authors. When I came upon Charles Dickens and Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling on the spinner rack, I grabbed them up too, to read the original versions of some of my favorite stories, and to see how they differed from the Classics Illustrated versions. Some of the mysteries I found on the rack had cover art so salacious that I had to smuggle them into the apartment and read them when my mother wasn’t watching, but I sampled those as well, and have been reading mysteries ever since. Ian Fleming and James Bond led me into the world of thrillers and espionage novels, and Jack Schaefer’s Shane into westerns.” – George R.R. Martin


Martin now laments today’s bookstores where “genre is king”. You walk into a store and you know exactly where the fantasy or the self-help books are. The mystery and surprise that the spinner rack afforded is now gone. Martin admits it’s good for selling more books but he adds that it’s not good for readers.

It’s good for selling books, I guess. It’s convenient. Easy to find the sort of books you like. No one has to get down on their knees in hopes of finding jack Vance’s Big Planet behind that copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

But it’s not good for readers, I suspect, and it’s definitely not good for writers. Books should broaden us, take us to places we have never been and show us things we’ve never seen, expand our horizons and our way of looking at the world. Limiting your reading to a single genre defeats that. It limits us, makes us smaller.” – George R.R. Martin

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Christmas Ed Kapangan (December 14-15) To Feature Hiking, Spelunking, Rappelling, And Overnight Camping

The town of Kapangan will be staging another edition of their annual Christmas Ed Kapangan invitational event this coming December 14 and 15. Organized by the town's tourism office, the event aims to introduce more people to the various tourist destinations within the town.

The two-day affair will feature outdoor activities such as hiking, spelunking, swimming, rappelling and night camping. Participants will get the chance to visit tourist destinations which include the Taba-ao View Deck, the Obellan Catampan Rice Terraces, Longog Cave, Amburayan River, Dangwa Cave, Bulalacao Cave, and Badi Falls.

Participants will stay in Kapangan for the two-day event. They will spend the night at a camp in barangay Sagubo. The overnight camp will feature a cultural show, bonfire, and jamming. On the second day, participants will enjoy a trek to Badi Falls, arguably the town's most well-known tourist destination.

The event will culminate with dinner, awarding of certificates, and closing program at Suvani's Avong.

Photo by Daniel Ted C. Feliciano.
Those who are interested in joining the event should log into Facebook, look for the Kapangan Tourism page, and send them a message to reserve a slot. The fee for the event is 2,000 pesos. This covers meals and snacks for two days, complimentary shirt, transportation from Baguio City and back, tour guide fees, entrance fees, environmental fees, and certificates.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Marcelino Palitog Sana-oy: A Man Of The Mountains Gone Too Soon

. Marcelino Palitog Sana-oy (March 30, 1990 - November 20, 2019)
. A man of the mountains gone too soon.

He liked to call himself the "simplest runner" and he lived up to it from the time he started racing in the mountains when he was just eighteen years old to when he started flying through mountain races here and abroad. He came into the trail running scene when he was crowned the first champion of the Cordillera Mountain Marathon in Mt. Pulag and the Cordillera Mountain Ultra in Itogon, Benguet.

He has run the King of the Mountain running series. He has won the Pilipinas Akyathlon crown. He even ran races outside the country.

His name was Marcelino Palitog Sana-oy. He tragically passed away today during a freak accident in Bokod, Benguet.

Anyone who has ever met Marcelino can attest to the reality that he was one of the kindest and most humble person you'll ever met. He can be really shy but he'll always be there meeting you with his infectious smile. A smile that extends from ear to ear.

The oldest in a family of six siblings, Marcelino came from a humble background. He grew up in Cabayo, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. He moved to Bokod where he settled with his wife Fely and their young daughter Kee-Yah.

Life has always been a challenge for the decorated mountain runner. He has lost his mother. He lost a few of his fingers while working as a machine operator. Although he and his wife got blessed with a beautiful daughter they named Kee-Yah, life threw them a curve ball when Kee-Yah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Despite all this, Marcelino kept trucking on with his optimistic attitude and an indomitable spirit. In hindsight, if you think about all the races he has finished and won, you get a sense of the type of man that he was even if you have never met him. He eats challenges for breakfast.

Today, we've lost a good husband, an exemplary father, and an inspiring ambassador of the sport of trail running. Runners will surely miss that petite man with a larger-than-life smile. Whether he was running as a racer, working in an aid station as a marshal, or sweeping runners, he has always been a ball of inspiration and positivity.

Rest in peace, Simplest Runner.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Brave Combat Federation 29: Jeremy Pacatiw of Team Lakay Loses to Ali Al Qaisi

Jeremy Pacatiw, a mixed martial artist under the Team Lakay banner lost his most recent fight at the Khalifa Sports City Arena in Bahrain on November 15, 2019. The 26-year-old fighter went the distance against Ali Al Qaisi of Jordan. The unanimous decision victory was awarded to the Jordanian.

Pacatiw started strong in the first round with vicious leg kicks which are signature moves by fighters coming from Team Lakay. In the same round, Al Qaisi scored a takedown and mixed it up with submission attempts.

The second and third rounds were more of the same with Al Qaisi controlling most of the fight with his takedowns and top control. Pacatiw was winning the exchanges on their feet but the tide turns whenever Al Qaisi goes for and secures a takedown. For his part, Pacatiw never stopped dishing strikes even when he is down on the mat. He was able to land punches and elbows from down under.

The judges awarded the victory to Al Qaisi. With the victory, Al Qaisi is a step closer to becoming a top contender for the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight strap which is currently held by Stephen Loman, who happens to be a Team Lakay fighter thus a teammate of Pacatiw.

With the loss, Pacatiw's three-win streak comes to a halt. Prior to facing Al Qaisi, Pacatiw had victories over Keith Lee, Uloomi Karim, and Mark Alcoba.

Photo credit: Brave Combat Federation


In the main event, Azamat Murzakanov was crowned the Brave Combat Federation Open Weight Champion and the KHK World Champion.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Kibungan Invitational Climb Scheduled For November 29 - December 1

The municipality of Kibungan is staging a three-day mountain trek that will take hikers through the town's picturesque climbing trails. Scheduled for November 29 to December 1, the trek will start in Kibungan and end in the nearby town of Bauang in the province of La Union. Home to towering mountains and well-established trails, Kibungan is the perfect destination for people looking for a challenging trek.

The invitational climb is spearheaded by the municipality itself through their tourism office. Climbers joining the event should expect days of trekking through the towns rice terraces, community trails, and mountain passes. This is a three-day affair so make sure that your body is ready for it before you sign up.

Registration fee for the climb is 2000 pesos. This covers transportation from Baguio City to Kibungan, transportation from La Union back to Baguio City, guide fees, certificates, tokens, shirts, snacks for the first day and send-off meal on the third and last day.

Photo credit: Fheb Lynary

Those who are interested in joining the climb, visit the event page here or contact the Kibungan Tourism Operation Facebook page here.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

3 Team Lakay Fighters Score Impressive Wins In One Championship: Masters Of Fate

All three of the Team Lakay fighters who saw action in last night's One Championship: Masters of Fate event at the Mall of Asia Arena emerged with their hands raised. In the main event, Joshua Pacio defended his strawweight belt by submitting fellow Filipino Rene Catalan in the second round of a scheduled five-rounder. It's his first defense of the belt after regaining it from Yosuke Saruta last April.

Pacio first won the title last year when he decisioned Yoshitaka Naito of Japan. Catalan earned the shot at the belt after notching six straight wins. He cemented his number 1 contender spot when he dropped Yoshitaka Naita, the former champion, in the very first round.

In the co-main event, Eduard Folayang placed himself back in the winning column with a technical decision victory over Tsogookhuu Amarsanaa of Mongolia. Folayang was in control most of the fight. An accidental headbutt occurred midway in the second round which caused a huge gash in Folayang's cheek. The bout was stopped and Folayang was awarded the technical decision victory.

Prior to his win over Amarsanaa, Folayang lost two straight bouts to Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki, two of the most decorated fighters in the promotion. With the victory, Folayang starts his journey back to the lightweight belt which is currently held by Singapore's Christian Lee.

Joshua Pacio celebrates after submitting Rene Catalan to retain his strawweight belt. Photo credit: One Championship

Geje Eustaquio, the former bantamweight champion, also rebounded with a knockout victory over Toni Tauru of Finland. Eustaquio ended the fight with a spinning back kick in the third and final round. This was the second time that Eustaquio and Tauru fought. They first met inside the cage in 2016 which the Finn won via submission.

Friday, November 8, 2019

PMA Cadet Found Lifeless In Academy's Swimming Pool

A 4th class cadet of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) was found dead in the bottom of the academy's swimming pool on Friday afternoon (November 8). The cadet was identified as Mario Telan Jr. He is the third cadet from the military school to die in the last few months. Telan Jr. was a classmate of Darwin Dioso Dormitorio, the cadet who died last September due to hazing.

Telan Jr. was reportedly found already lifeless at the deep end of the swimming pool by his classmates. The incident is believed to be an accidental drowning. However, the police are investigating if there is any foul play involved.


Telan attended a swimming class at 11:00 am which ended at noon. When he failed to show up for his succeeding classes, his classmates started looking for him. After an hour-long search, they found him at the pool.

Telan was rushed to the station hospital inside the academy where he was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

"PMA deeply grieves for this unfortunate loss of one of our sons. All necessary assistance will be extended to the bereaved family and loved ones of Cadet 4th Class Telan," the academy said in a statement.