In defense of the Alex Tizon article 

*I tweeted this discreetly after a blow up on social media from various parts of the world about the controversial long read. I noted there: article, because I intend to defend the article, not the things that happened in Alex Tizon’s piece for The Atlantic about his family’s secret

People demand truth but they blow up when it’s not to their liking, failing to recognize that the work was not a lie, in fact, a brave truth. It’s naive and idealistic to demand stories to paint black and white portraits of explicitly good and bad characters and behavior. Real life is a web of intersecting good and bad, where people, customs, mindsets, and the ways of the world, are allowed to change and grow. Scrutinizing and nitpicking issues from the place of privilege where one “knows better” is self righteousness guised as righteousness. People wanna intellectual-speak instead of opening up their hearts to a writer who poured his into this. Their bond, in spite of all that was wrong in their circumstance is more genuine than how subordinates anywhere in the world get treated. Note that you can hurt and walk all over people without having to break any laws or violate any basic rights. This was a lovingly written memoir of a family that captures the ff. very crucial phenomena in the human experience:

(1) There are remnants of servitude that haunt us as revamped forms of it still exist today.

(2) There is love in dark and difficult places.

We are all Alex Tizon when we are silent, but we can also be Alex Tizon when we choose to be kinder and softer.

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Marikina: A heritage of homemade

*This is article is by my good friend, the monk himself, Peavey, who had just graduated a few months ago.

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I’ve actually never been here

In what I’m assuming is his last article in The Guidon, he so fittingly features (more like writes a special tribute) to Marikina City. It’s the kind of article every city deserves, and every publication and aspiring journalist needs to be able to type out.

I’m unsure whether I’ve really been to Marikina. I know I haven’t explored any of it then. I bet it would’ve been what Manila has sort of become to me and grown on me in my college years. It would’ve been my playground in between breaks had I stayed in Ateneo. I’m still set on visiting it someday especially after reading this travelogue.

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but I’ve been wanting to go since 2012

But not every joint run by passion is bannered with neon signs and billboards. Tucked away in the most unassuming corners of the city center or Bayan are surprisingly authentic ramen houses, holes-in-the-wall serving uniquely-crafted porridge and Visayan food joints.

Of course, all the walking one goes through helps digest all the eating. As the feet prime the stomach, shoes have been the city’s historical marker and primary product for centuries. Displays and shops sprawled around the riverbanks and traditional city center serve as living testimonies to this heritage.

The story of shoes and food arose together. Marikina resident and former Barangay Administrator Alan Bartolome shares that when shoemaking was the main occupation of the citizens, workers and shop owners would reward themselves and their families after a week’s labor. Too tired to cook, they would place hearty bulk orders of pancit and lumpia on the many eateries that still serve till today.

—Peavey Vergara

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think just how the white & blue scheme goes with a plate of Pinoy breakfast

No one can make pancit after a long day sound so appetizing and culturally significant as you have, Peaves!


Featured images: Rustic Mornings by Isabelo © Ea Senga

Cerulean blue

Ever seen The Devil Wears Prada? I saw it a few times when it first came out and as a partly tomboyish 12 year old girl with a fairly stylish mom seated next to me, I didn’t bother grasping the whole story. I thought I got what I needed to know. Someone like Anne Hathaway’s Andy, someone I knew from dorky to princess on Princess Diaries, could go from badly dressed to Paris Fashion Week, with a little patience and a good eye.

Now on its 10th anniversary, I want to watch the movie again. It seems relevant because I too assume I want to become a serious journalist, like the demanding devil’s right hand set out for bigger things outside the industry she first looked down on with her new sense of confidence and perhaps what you could call style. But there’s more to story than the underling growing up and out, changing through a very staged 2006 wardrobe that’s nevertheless fascinating to see. Rachel Lubitz writes just a few days ago How, In One Monologue, The Devil Wears Prada Nailed the Cultural Appropriation Issue.

Before you try to immerse yourself in an industry or culture, or mock it while appearing to embrace it (like Andy), learn the history. Because, after all, in fashion, a blue sweater is not just a blue sweater, but the result of many different people working very hard to give you something exciting. Every garment has a story.

Have a little respect.

To Madison, Streep’s monologue was the lightbulb. What Priestley is doing in that scene, essentially, is exposing how dismissive and unknowledgeable Andy is of the culture she’s taking part in — a culture that she previously viewed as frivolous.

So many of us, me included, have that tendency to view certain industries as frivolous, don’t we? Yet one way or another we all partake in them.

Despite how much of serious (still not straight news but I guess features and lifestyle) journalism I thought I had to be a part of, a part of me still looks to the left every now and then. The fashion industry repels the side of me that works under the motion that I have to do something sensible with my degree. Ironically I’ve written two final papers about philosophy and fashion, haha. Maybe it repels my face that never looks good in makeup for more than two hours and can’t stand on heels for three. There is however a quite as large side of me that’s drawn to fashion beyond its aesthetic appeal. Though I’ll never be a slave to it like my mom warned and how some of the characters in the film have shown, who knows? I might hate to love and love to hate working in it if I choose to strut into that direction for a change.

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*Here’s another 10th anniversary related opinion article about the film. It criticizes the film but I think moreover, it shoots down the many assumptions people have about how they think the film should be as oppose to letting it just be. 

Welcome to the Grand Budapest 2016

*I feel compelled to share some good news every now and then. This is the kind of photojournalism I hope to be a part of 😊


Sometimes it’s the things that make the least sense, the last of our ideas, that make up the ingenious. And that’s precisely how “an out-of-season Swedish retreat became a temporary home for 600 refugees this year.” The Atlantic’s Emily Anne Epstein and Pascal Vossen have captured life Inside a Ski Resort for Refugees.

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There’s something quite fascinating about the human activity captured through these lenses. The normalcy of it all amidst the tragic circumstances gives me a mix of despair and hope.

It’s fun, it’s boring, well, it’s life. And it’s good to see ordinary life settle in a place where nobody stays more than a week or two. Correction: for them it’s great to be alive. A place for vacation to most has now been converted into a refuge, a temporary home. ‘There’ll be snow on the ground tomorrow’ is as certain as it’s gonna get. Cups that used to serve overpriced hot chocolate with the optional mallows to top it off are now where they drink warm water from. Before moving into this winter wonderland of a refugee camp, finding potable water was probably a luxury for the survivors too. It puts everything into perspective: it’s actually a luxury to have a cup of anything nowadays whether you’re at the neighborhood Starbucks listening to an overplayed playlist or you’re just thankful to have a roof above your head for the night and cup beside your bed.

More hotels and resorts ought to do this around the world 💙🌎🌍🌏 there’s room for everyone. It’s an idea M. Gustave of the Grand Budapest might warm up to, nyahaha 😀

More than words on a wall

*I felt I just had to share this.

Last night Dana Goodyear wrote a beautiful feature published by the New Yorker. It’s one of the best articles I’ve ever read.

This kind of writing reminds me of why I wanted to be a journalist in the first place, which is really what I’ve been needing for a while. I someday wish to dig out stories like this. I want to meet people who are unafraid to share their brave, beautiful lives no matter how messy and risky. The article is about three artists, much of their art, and a whole lot about their story through the years.

“Like children playing away from the adults, Kilgallen and McGee occupied a world of their own invention. They lived cheaply and resourcefully, scavenging art supplies and furniture. Pack rats, they filled their home—first a warehouse building and then a two-story row house in the Mission—with skateboards, surfboards, paintings, thrift-store clothes, and other useful junk. At night, dressed identically in pegged work pants and Adidas shoes, they went on graffiti-writing adventures. She was daring, scaling buildings and sneaking into forbidden sites. He once painted the inside of a tunnel with a series of faces so that, like a flip book, it animated as you drove past.

In the studio they shared, Kilgallen and McGee worked side by side. He showed her how to make her own panels, and she brought home from the library the yellowing endpapers of old books, which they started painting on. She worked on her women; he painted and repainted the sad, sagging faces of the outcast men he saw around the city. They worked obsessively, perfecting their lettering, their cursives, and their lines. “Barry is busy downstairs making stickers,” Kilgallen wrote to a friend. “I hear the squeak of his pen—chisel tipped permanent black—I have been drawing pretty much every day, mostly, silly things; and when I feel brave I have been trying to teach myself how to paint.” When he needed an idea, he’d go over to her space and lift one. Deitch likens them to Picasso and Braque. From a distance, Rojas, too, idealized them. “That was a perfect union, Barry and Margaret,” she says. “You couldn’t get more parallel than the feminine and the masculine communing together.”

As recognition of Kilgallen’s and McGee’s work grew, they tried to retain the ephemeral, pure quality of paintings made on the street. Little pieces they recycled or reworked, sold for a pittance, or let be stolen from the galleries. Wall paintings were whited out when shows closed. When Kilgallen became fascinated by hobo culture, she and McGee started travelling up and down the West Coast to tag train cars with their secret nicknames: B. Vernon, after one of McGee’s uncles, and Matokie Slaughter, a nineteen-forties banjo player Kilgallen revered. The cars marked “B.V. + M.S.” are still out there.”

“He didn’t want to own it; he didn’t want to own anything precious, sentimental, or nice. He’d be afraid of losing it somehow.”

—Dana Goodyear

I guess it’s true that while some people spend their whole lives trying to make art, others really make an art out of living. 

Featured image: © Clare Rojas’ Horse Walks Into Field print

Barry McGee’s 99 Bottles installation, Art Basel, 2009

Installation by Margaret Kilgallen

Decks designed by Margaret Kilgallen 

Barry & Margaret working together

Graffiti by Carrie Marill who pays homage to Margaret Kilgallen

© Clare Rojas, who references native American, American, and Russian folklore in her prints