Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Projects’

Pop-up book sale and signing at Cibo in Shangri-La tomorrow, 28 June at 2pm

June 27, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Cats, Projects No Comments →

Behind Saffy: A handwoven rectangular bag in a banig weave from Antique. Rene is having some book bags (smaller than this) made in this design; they will be available in a few weeks.

Saffy reminds you that we’re having another pop-up book sale and signing at Cibo on the second floor of Shangri-La Mall at Mandaluyong on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 2-4pm.

You can buy your books there at Php399 for one and Php699 for both, or order them at The Library of Babel online store.

Pictures from Saturday’s book-signing. Next stop: Cibo Shangri-La on Saturday, 28 June

June 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Books, Projects 3 Comments →

This is our gene pool—our nieces, from left: Eowyn (Yes, Eowyn) the perpetually cheerful, 9 months old; Daenerys (Yes, Daenerys) the cranky and picky one (Yesterday at lunch in a tonkatsu restaurant she only wanted miso soup, lots and lots of miso soup), 2 years old; and Mika the politician (is on beso-beso terms with the mothers of her classmates; did not take after us), 7. We are the Bene Gesserit chapter of Makati (We could also be hair donors).

jules and the escatroids
Jules is getting her kids started on reading early. No, they are not twins.

Lucky we did not wear the exact same shirt Paulyn is wearing. Argh, we even shop at the same place.

Kurt has lost so much weight since our last blog event.

Jeannie is wearing a Peanuts shirt. We all read Peanuts as kids. It stars a depressed child.

Doctors! Doctors! Not there to check if we were warging again.

The survivors of our writing workshop, in random pairings. From left to right, first row: Angus, who runs a reading group; and Deo, who’s read nearly everything; Reg and PJ, who are working on a Lifestyle Asia portfolio which features us with our Jedi master; second row: the two Mikes, science-fiction Mike whose novel could be adapted for film, and disappearing Mike because he had chikungunya during the workshop; Momelia, whose tattoos come to life, and Lloyd, who told us of his adventures looking for a WC in the banlieue of Paris; third row: our tireless Minister of Propaganda Allan, and newly-appointed Minister of Teleportation Evan, whose job is to usher away the makulit (so they don’t feel too bad, cause they’ll be thinking, “Hey, it’s…”); and Jaime who has hopefully gotten to page two of his novel, and Noel, author of Crime-Fighting Call Center Agents.

For a complete (obsessive-compulsive) coverage of Saturday’s pop-up book sale and signing at Cibo Greenbelt 5, with pictures of everyone who showed up, liaise with our Ministry of Propaganda at

Instagram @thelibraryofbabel
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Twitter @thelibofbabel
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Get your copies of The Stories So Far (fiction) and Geeks Vs. Jocks (essays) at the Library of Babel online store. Each book (hardbound, bookpaper) retails at the introductory price of Php399; get both books for the special price of Php699.

Thanks to Cibo for the terrific venue and the free iced tea and chips for everyone who had their books signed. See you on Saturday, 2-4pm at Cibo in Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong.

Carpets so gorgeous, we don’t want them to fly.

May 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Design, Projects No Comments →

oriental carpet
The classic handwoven silk carpet

We want them to stay put in our houses so we can walk barefoot on them, sit on them, sleep on them, and most of all look at them. They make furniture seem redundant.

oriental carpet 2
Tribal carpet in a medallion pattern

On Saturday, 17 May at 6pm, In Touch Community Services is holding an Oriental Carpet Auction at the Bahia on the 14th floor of the InterContinental Hotel on Ayala, Makati. This is an event they do twice a year to raise funds for the community services of In Touch, such as the free and confidential psychological counseling helpline whose numbers appear on the left side of this page.

oriental carpet4
A highly unusual design, featuring cats.

You’ll see dozens of gorgeous pieces from the weaving centers of the world, and get a chance to acquire them at prices lower than you can imagine. The auction is not only great fun, but you’ll come away feeling like an expert on the history and traditions of carpet-weaving.

For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact In Touch at (02)893-1893 or (02)810-6233, or email If you’re from a media organization and wish to cover the event, drop us a line in Comments or email

Cocktails will be served.

We spoke on Great Women in Literature at the Thomson Reuters LitFlix Club

March 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Projects No Comments →


As part of its Women’s Month celebration, the LitFlix book and film enthusiasts club of Thomson Reuters, the news and information services company, invited us to give a talk on Great Women Characters in Literature last March 11 at their head office in Bonifacio Global City. There was quite a large audience for the talk; more importantly, they were really into the topic and asked interesting questions. (We have a horror of looking out into the audience and realizing that they are having out-of-body experiences. This happens in schools where students are required to listen to us.)

Among the literary characters who wound up in the discussion were Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Athena of the Greek myths, Buffy Summers, the mythological sources of Katniss, Nancy Drew, the women of Game of Thrones, the protagonists of the rebooted fairy tales in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, and Ursula Todd of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.

ThomsonReuters_Ogilvy with JZ

After the talk and Q&A we had a book-signing. Thanks to Marla Garin-Alvarez, the LitFlix Club, and Ogilvy and Mather for setting up the session. If you’d like us to give a talk to your club or organization, email

Our first workshop series is over. Now finish your novels, and they’d better be brilliant.

March 10, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Projects 7 Comments →


On Saturday we had the last session of Write Here, Write Now, our practical writing workshop. The workshop consisted of 16 hours of discussions spread out over four weekends, with the objective of finishing publishable manuscripts by June. All the participants are working on novels or story cycles.

Twenty-one applicants were accepted to the workshop. One dropped out before the first session, citing personal commitments. One vanished from the face of the earth. One showed up at the first session then never appeared again. We recommend they enter witness protection programs.

One fell ill halfway through the workshop, but is reportedly recovering; you may still send us your manuscript. Another had a spouse who fell ill; send us your manuscript. One could not think of something to write, opted to work on a translation, then flaked out. One was off to a very good start, but may have been abducted by elementals because we have not heard from him. One had a death in the family and was unable to attend the final session.

Fourteen turned up on the last day. Of these, two had submitted their complete first drafts on schedule: Sharon Matienzo and Allan Carreon. Congratulations! We will review the manuscripts with our newly-appointed first reader, Deo, and send you notes in a couple of weeks. Brownie points to Evan Tan and Patrick Limcaco, who met their weekly deadlines. We expect at least eight completed manuscripts by June.

These are (L-R) Reginald Tolentino, Ryan Rivera, and Momel Tullao. Ryan is working on a philosophical novel which we look forward to reading. Momel is getting yet another tattoo. After some false starts and a period of grieving (his cat Prince died), he has gotten to work on a series of stories set in the inner city full of weirdos and perverts. We can’t wait. Other writers take years to find their voice; Momel has a distinctive voice in search of the right subject.

We have advised Reginald to drop his current project, which involves Iron Men wielding Mjolnirs, and get to know the labyrinths of Manila instead, beginning with Quiapo. His assignment is to figure out how to go to Quiapo using the public transport system (leaving his iPhone at home) and write a detailed report on the merchandise that is sold in and around Quiapo Church.

“Kids,” we told Reginald and Ryan, “Until you can get why the name Cristina Moran is funny, you do not understand Pinoy humor.”

“Why? Why?” Reginald asked.

“Clue. What is ‘semen’ in Tagalog?”

“I know!” he said brightly. “Mandaragat!”

“No, the bodily fluid, and conjugation is involved.”

Ryan’s systems lit up. “Oh. Okay, you have to find an analog of the sentence structure. For instance, to be urinated upon…”

They were still discussing this when we left to go to Ricky’s gallery opening.

(L-R) Lloyd Vergara, Mike Co and PJ Caña. Lloyd is stuck in chapter 1, as is Jaime, who could not join us at dinner. Mike’s novel was speeding along until our discussion of allowing randomness into the writing process caused his tightly-structured plot to branch out in other directions. This is a good thing. We expect his Metroplex Manila in June. PJ is working on a novel about friendship and betrayal that he must finish soon, because he has an idea for a second novel that sounds like bestseller material.

(L-R) Patrick Limcaco, Deo Giga and Sharon Matienzo. Sharon has finished her bildungsroman about the events in a small town. To decompress, she is working on a ghost story inspired by a sighting, corroborated by her fellow mountaineers, of Mariang Makiling. Patrick is moving to Bangkok, where he will probably have more time to flesh out his protagonist, the aspiring ‘genius’ Jestoni Jones.

Deo is stuck in the first chapter of his historical serial killer thriller. Given his vast reading list, literary tastes and general erudition, we think he might make a great editor. At this time the world probably needs more sharp editors than it does writers.

(L-R) Evan Tan, Allan Carreon, and Angus Miranda. Angus has planned an ambitious novel about the persistence and inconstancy of memory; it is so ambitious, he has stumped himself. With adjustments, it should be done in a few months.

Allan has finished his first draft of the first book in a novel cycle about aswang (Think Anne Rice). The weekly deadline really worked for him, and he reports that he got more writing done while he was working than after he left his job.

Evan has patiently endured our Sam Milby lookalike jokes (PJ: I don’t see the resemblance). His novel, a supernatural murder mystery, has grown in scope in the course of our discussions, and will now cover the mythical history of the Philippines. We joined the group for dinner, and on our way to the restaurant, who should we spot but the actual Sam Milby. Evan had wisely walked on, preventing us from testing whether the fabric of reality would split if they met. (But which one is the antimatter?)

If your company/group is interested in organizing a writing workshop, email us at

The Write Here, Write Now practical writing workshop was supported by the Ayala Foundation, Ayala Museum, and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

Watch the scene we shot at Solidaridad bookshop with our readers

February 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Projects 1 Comment →

We shot this off a laptop so the sound is muffled. In this scene: Tesa Celdran, Ronnie Liang, Federico Olbes, and our band of extras.

Last year, filmmaker Elwood Perez (Lipad, Darna, Lipad; Disgrasyada; Diborsyada; Waikiki) asked us to write a movie.

“But we’ve never written a movie from scratch,” we said. “It will be terrible for sure.”

“Only you can write this movie!” Elwood declared.

“What’s it about?”

“Oh you know, East is East and West is West…the different types of gays in Manila…and the lead is Ronnie Liang. And Carlos Celdran must be in it, as himself.”

“Yes, but what’s it about?”

“Bahala ka na diyan,” he said, airily. “Daahling,” he added, like Tennessee Williams by way of Rita Gomez, “I’ll be busy all of next week, so just text.”


The following week.

“Where were you?” we asked Elwood.

“Oh, my partner sold his car and I shot an indie movie,” Elwood said, as if this were something most people did anyway.

“In one week?”

“Yes, and I’ve edited it. The title is Otso. What do you think?”

We were floored by Otso and started working on a synopsis for the next movie. After many lunches and coffees, we had a sequence guide.

“Sige, isulat mo na yan,” Elwood said. “Make it sound like you.”

“Who’d want to watch that?”

“Hahaha, ikaw talaga. Can you add vampires?”


Weeks passed. We added vampires.

Elwood skimmed through the sequences. “Puede na ito. Write the screenplay na.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to add anything? Werewolves? Cause once we start writing, we’re not changing the plot.”

“Gawin mo na.”

That night, at 3am, Elwood sent us 10 text messages describing additional characters and changes to the storyline. Ordinarily we hate late revisions, but Elwood’s ideas were so outré, we had to use them. The barrage of text messages continued for weeks. The writing was slow at first, but once we realized that making sense of the whole shebang was not our problem and that the director would throw out most of the script anyway, we finished it in a few days.

“Ang mahal naman ng screenplay mo,” Elwood said. “This is a no-budget movie.”

“You said you wanted parties.”

Elwood’s solution was to call a friend. “Daahling, are you having a party next week? Can I shoot there?”

Elwood started shooting the movie. Next thing we know, the title had been changed from Object of Desire to Esoterica Manila. In January he showed us the trailer.

“I didn’t know Jon Hall was in the movie,” we said.

“That’s footage I shot a long time ago and never used,” Elwood explained. “It works.”

“What are all those socialites doing there?”

“Nag-shoot ako at a cocktail party.”

“Umm…do they know they’re in the movie?”

“They do now.”

Elwood wanted a scene in a bookshop.

“Our hero has a thirst for culture. Literature. Art,” he reminded us.

“We could ask Solidaridad to let us shoot there.”

“Perfect. We’ll need extras.”

So we put out a call for extras, and some readers gamely turned up. This being a no-budget movie, the crew consisted of Elwood, DOP Jopa, and Elwood’s driver Gilbert holding a microphone. Elwood blocked the scene.

“Alright,” he told us, “Turn this way, hold up the book, and sign it at this angle.”

“In mid-air? Isn’t that unnatural?”

“Basta, ako ang direktor!” he declared, turning to our band of intrepid extras. “Hijo, masyado kang matangkad, masisira ang composition. Doon ka sa likod. Okay, when you give her your book to sign, tilt it so we can see the cover, and then hand it to her, slowly.”

“He has to do his own slow-motion?” we laughed.

“Quiet. You there, turn right, crane your neck, that’s your angle. Hold that pose. Dapat maganda kayong lahat, lalo na’t walang bayad ito. Don’t look at the camera. Feel beautiful! Feel gorgeous! Okay, roll!”

Our shoot went quickly. We improvised our lines.

Last week Elwood sent us the rough edit for subtitling in English.

“Uh…Elwood? We don’t recall having written a gay rape scene.”

“No, that’s a movie they’re watching.”

“Did we have transgender characters?”

“Yes, isn’t she gorgeous? I couldn’t get a big star—no budget, remember—so I added her. So much more interesting.”

“There’s full frontal nudity.”

“Ang bongga, diba? That’s why I call it Esoterica. It’s not for everyone.”

“Why are those guys speaking in French?”

“Because they can! So our movie is in Tagalog, English, French and Spanish. Very cosmopolitan ang dating.”

We’re pretty sure we didn’t write it, but we can’t wait to see it. Here’s the scene we shot at Solidaridad with our reader-volunteers. Thank you for showing up! (Sinabi nang act natural, eh.)