I’ve been thinking lately of the things that belong to us; and of what makes us believe that they belong to us.
In part, this is because I’ve been thinking of what possessions leave behind, when they are taken from us (in retrospect, we lose things everyday, but the passive silence and lack that an active getting-from-us creates is more powerfully a hollow that is more palpable because involuntary). Reading V‘s doctorate thesis brings to the mind (at least on a scale of relativity), the thought of missed opportunities: what careful planning might have saved us from, even if the fault was not perhaps voluntary.
But if one is not careful, what is also tool for redemption becomes excuse for wallowing; in the opposition of reimagining versus linear thinking, what is hollowed out becomes similar to staying put. That is the danger, to become obsessive rather than forward-looking; to lose ground rather than to find the potential of future footing.
Moreover, the essays, precisely by way of their construction, evoke a sense of openness: gaps between elements are as crucial as the elements themselves. Benjamin writes that dialectics at a standstill produces a figural relation between constellated elements: it is this figural relation of openness that Joaquin proposes by way of the Almanac‘s structure. By privileging porosity, non-linearity, and simultaneity, the Almanac forces its addressees–principally ManileÑos but theoretically any reader–to reckon not just with what Joaquin has blasted apart but also with what he has put together: to come to terms with relations between fumigant and myth, architecture and festival, calendar and essay. Joaquin’s aesthetics of historiography doubles back and forth from present to past, referring simultaneously to one of the most ancient of genres, and to an open, indeterminate present shot through with clips of the past (Serrano 91).
What are, really, the things that belong to us? In moments of wakefulness (what I like to call Our Most Rational Selves), we realize that the world doesn’t owe us anything. Yet it is our right to claim what is ours (in such cases, what are the chances of misunderstanding; of our work being attributed, even by implication, to be not-ours, somewhere else? Quite a lot, in fact).
Perhaps because in losing things, we are decentralized: the reason, then, why we assign to the dispossessed the area of the margins. Then, I think, in losing things, we can then ask if the footnotes weigh us down or enrich us (ending, in my experience, at least, to the intersection of both; a conjoining of interstices), and reminding me ultimately of Gina Apostol and her The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata:
January 20, 1872   
…We played the game Guess What the Branches Look Like, Tanga. Stumps of gnarls and tangled crosses. Corpses, scimitars, and rocking chairs (Apostol 37).
And then there is also the opposition between dispossession and longing, and the fight for what is believed to be a nation’s belonging: at a time when it becomes important how we call what it is we claim is ours: Scarborough, or Panatag? We claim possession even when we believe we are being stripped of what is ours.
The game of territory possession can be discussed in length by another source. I have better knowledge of the politics of my own.
Personally, I believe that what ties our principles to our belongings to ourselves is the principle of time: moments fingering twisting lipsticks, applying them in a semi-smile; the rush-touch of hands in a bag looking for a pen; the thankful ownership of a USB for a needed file. Life is broken down into moments and the moments are linked with the objects we spend them with; hence we believe they are ours, just as we believe that the time we spend is ours.
Not so for the field of postmodernism, which is not so much a space of play as it is of acknowledging that linear development, which is repudiated in distinct ways, in turn by Agoncillo, Ileto, and Benjamin, can also mean stasis (Serrano 91-96). But in Hooks, we learn that it is also of identifying not only where the center lies but who is talking of the margin when there is actually little contact with the margin.
When desire for footing and multicultural experience, without actual emphasis or tangible evidence or impact in the economics and personal politics of real life can be found, theory fails. What we believe we posses, achieve, or are given become instruments to disengage with the discourse we are trying to touch base with: an aunt who died who gave you that branded zip-up makeup kit is hardly remembered, except in the gift’s loss: in this realization, the rupture is not just the dispossession of what was taken, and gives a reason to disengage from the object itself so that the hollow of its loss creates a more tangible connection to the deceased.
Always, it must be remembered: that every act of severing ties means new space, and this is true even for the things which we believe belong to us.
Postmodern culture with its decentered subject can be the space where the ties are severed or it can provide the occasion for new and varied forms of bonding. To some extent, ruptures, surfaces, contextuality, and a host of other happenings create gaps that make space for oppositional practices which no longer require intellectuals to be confined by narrow separate spheres with no meaningful connection to the world of the everyday. Much postmodern engagement with culture emerges from the yearning to do intellectual work that connects with habits of being, forms of artistic expression, and aesthetics that inform the daily lives of writers and scholars as well as a mass population. On the terrain of culture, one can participate in critical dialogue with the uneducated poor, the black underclass, who are thinking about aesthetics. One can talk about what we are seeing, thinking, or listening to; a space is there for critical exchange. It’s exciting to think, write, talk about, and create art that reflects passionate engagement with popular cultures, because this may very well be “the” central future location of resistance struggle, a meeting place where new and radical happenings can occur. (Hooks, Postmodern Blackness)
These, of course, are mere meanderings. I mull over concepts, things left in the dust or margins, and stop, telling myself to exercise the mind. I leave to those who would know better, the degree of seriousness with which these words should be treated. And just think! That I almost lost this pendant, too, while writing this entry.
 This, of course, is the year of the Cavite Mutiny, often considered a vestigial phase of the revolution of 1896. In fact, in the Calendar for ManileÑos, I note that it is the date of the Cavite Mutiny! But the Calendar is unreliavle (it has no bibiliography); so let me check Agoncillo’s Revolt of the Masses. Yep, it’s the day of the Mutiny (Trans. Note.)
 On this date, fiesta fireworks went off in Bilibid, a jail town visible at the time from Cavite (now obscured by miles of videoke bars and the diesel belch off Southern Luzon Expressway). Philippine-born Spanish solders of the Cavite arsenal mistook fiesta noise across the Bay as a signal for battle (but why?!), and so began their sorry motin . It was a bourgeios riot, similar to the Boston Tea Party instigated by American-born British merchants. Some historians call this “the first labor strike” in our history. I call it katangahan, yes, idiocy!–typical of the tragic absurdities that bedevil the province of Cavite. The mutiny ended up killing Gomburza: three innocent priests of varying reformist tendencies, Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora–further proof of the errors of Cavite! (Estrella Espejo, Quezon Insitute and Sanatorium, Leyte)
 Clue; three-syllable dvandva used as Katipunan password. Answer: What is Gomburza? And why was it a password? Because Gomburza mattered! No one (except invalid scholars writing in primitive spleen) disputes the importance of the Cavite revolt (just as few would portray the Easter Rising of 1916 only as some drunken Irish mayhem–though some have tried). The Cavite Mutiny is a glorious case of dysrecognition and mis(taken) identification! Every Filipino should take a stab at interpreting its mess(age). In “The Garrulous Garrote: What is GOMBURZA Says, “I point out that the triad Gomez-Burgos-Zamora is, ies, a pancit mix, a noodle combination that will never cohere. The triplet priests, each of whom has nothing to do with the other, are a symbolic knot. Sure, Father Gomez, saintly reformist, was by then retired. Father Zamora was perhaps just a jugador, an unlucky gambler; no wonder he lost his mind at the scaffold: he thought all he’d been doing was losing at cards! Father Burgos, the radical heresiarch–he was the genius provocateur, prelude to the overbearing genius, Rizal. His talents as prator, philosopher, and elegant blasphemer–the panoply of his skills–give lie to the notion of equality among this Holy Trinity. He is the center of tragedy. This, the notion of GOMBURZA as a salutory unit and singular heroic entity is, yes, arbitrary, a bad yoke: the sad fate of the signifier. But that does not lessen its importance. (Dr. Diwata Drake, Clyde, Ohio)
Tagged: "Wedded in the Association": Heteroglossic Form and Fragmentary Historiography in Nick Joaquin's Almanac for Manilenos, Bell Hooks, criticism, Gina Apostol, literature, local, local artists, Nick Joaquin, Panatag Shoal, Philippines, Postmodern Blackness, postmodernism, Scarborough Shoal, The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata, Vincenz Serrano