Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sago Daddy Lourd de Veyra digs responde

GRIT EXPECTATIONS Norman Wilwayco's short stories take us inside his world of the foulmouthed, dopeheads and sickos. Lourd de Veyra wants in. You hear the word "responde" a lot over news reports involving fire, robberies, and other emergencies. "Responde," in shabu parlance, refers to the notion of a quick follow-up, a second helping. Sort of like "extra-rice" or "coffee refill," except here it involves tiny crystal bits, strips of Reynolds Wrap, and a nervous errand boy scurrying across unlit alleyways. Or so my, uh, rather well informed friends tell me.


And appropriately it’s also the title of writer-graphic designer Norman Wilwayco’s second book. The independently published Responde (Pinoy X Press) is a collection of short stories in Filipino (the fact that it uses newsprint adds to the gritty charm). In the 12 stories we meet Wilwayco’s crew of mad, lovable, downtrodden, foulmouthed, alcohol-and-narcotics-fueled misfits. Friends might conclude that some of them are the author’s unmistakable alter egos-definitely not the meek-mild-oppressed-romantic archetypes populating the stories in Philippine literature. There’s Tony, the once-poor-and browbeaten kid who wreaks vengeance on all his enemies, from the slums to his UP classmates. There’s the graphic designer in “Asin, Live!” working on the legendary folk-rock bands album sleeve whose memories of deep, childhood longing to have his own guitar strikes bittersweet chord. There’s the narrator of “Pulutan,” who eventually slaughters his beloved childhood pet askal, Doro, and the ending is one of the most disturbing you’ll ever read in this side of Liwayway. Dark characters, yes, but there’s always a glimmer of humanity that shines through, all told in clear, terse prose that mambos between the pedestrian and the poetic. By bagging the grand prize in the 2002 Palanca Awards for his novel Kung Paano Ko Inayos ang Buhok Ko Matapos ang Mahaba-haba ring Paglalakbay (later published as Mondomanila), Wilwayco broke into the literary scene as if carrying a switchblade in one hand and a near-empty gin bottle in the other. Esteemed fictionist Jun Cruz Reyes-himself an iconoclast of Philippine lit-christened Wilwayco as his rightful successor. Responde is available at Dateline, Bound, Bukswagen, and soon at Mag:net and Popular Bookstore.

Metro Him Volume 4 No.3

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