chanced upon Korina Today, with Samantha Echavez, Carljoe Javier and Dean Francis Alfar, talking about their works included in what seems to be the anthology on tales of enchantment and fantasy, which is really beside the point of this critique.
the point being this: Alfar says that having readers isn’t a matter of length or short attention spans, as with the blog and its accessibility in terms of form, but that it’s a matter of, and i quote, “the story”. he says he doesn’t think it’s true that there’s a problem with readership, and that readers will be lost to new media, because the Filipino reader wants a good story. he then of course, talks about himself, and his experiment with Salamanca, which he says, he had published in parts on his blog for 30 consecutive days, and he got a lot of comments, and he won the palanca and got published by ateneo press.
and you wish for some truth here. who is that reads us, any of us, who blog in English and write in English and publish in English in our blogs, AND in books? who even cares about Salamanca, or any of the Palanca Award winners in English, or any of the books published in English? where does pride in what we do come from, why do we even have the temerity to pretend that when we speak of readership we are only speaking of readers in English — secondary, if at all, as that language is in this country?
how many of us who write in English even think about the fact of rising rice prices vis a vis the writing that we do? how many of us feel — know — that our lives are intertwined with that woman standing in the middle of the Commonwealth Avenue, in the sweltering summer heat, to avail of the cheapest rice rationed to her and her family of five?
it would’ve taken very little, a one-liner, that acknowledges this gap, in terms of the languages that we speak, write and read in, the concerns that we have, the lives that we live. then at least the assessment we joyfully give out with the huge smiles on our faces about the literature that we hold dearly and closely to our hearts, will be a little more truthful. then, at least, we would be a little different from the generations before us because we prove we know better, know enough, to articulate some truths about what we do.
social class IS NOT something that will go away because we don’t talk about it. not in literature, and particularly not in this present context of crisis where the rice — the food! — you eat every day is not just a blessing, but an injustice.