BLTX Turns My Life Upside Down In Manila
Amber B. Garma
Every person, at various points in their lives, have what they call ‘epiphanies’, ‘eurekas’ or sudden realizations. These terms are used to describe the particular moment in time where everything falls into place. Suddenly, you know what your next step is. Suddenly, you understand why you are here in this place under these circumstances, doing what you’re doing for this purpose. I had one in the middle of my grade school graduation speech, and while drunk on a rooftop bar in Zambales listening to the ocean. I don’t remember what it was I ‘realized’ in those two instances. People are wrong when they assume ‘epiphanies’ give you specifics. I think the only conclusion I ever arrive at, with any epiphany, is that in this particular moment of time, I’m at the beginning of something amazing. I don’t know what that is, but I’m ready to find out. My latest epiphany was in a sweaty, smoke-filled bar along a random Cubao eskinita, pushing my way through what seemed like a hundred people to get from one selection of self published material to another.
I don’t know if it was because I’ve never been with so many writers in a single space, and I’d been smiling at each cluster of faces huddled over their tiny, stapled masterpieces as I flipped through them. I don’t know if it was because I was so fascinated by how everyone knew everyone, and it seemed like this one night was just as much about friendship and reuniting as it was about writing and literature. I don’t know if it was because I am at the point in my life where I have all the opportunities to switch roads, start new chapters, leave everything behind now instead of later because now I have less to lose, and I don’t know if it was because in that moment, I wasn’t sure about writing. There are a lot of other things I want to do. There are so many things I want to take seriously. But right then and right there, at the farthest edge of the room, standing on my tiptoes so I could take the whole thing in, I started to think about each of the times I felt like I was at the beginning of something amazing. And I decided this was one of those times, except this time, I didn’t have to guess what that was, when it would happen, or where I would be, because I was right inside it. Maybe it’s just an idea in my head, and anyone who reads this piece of text is welcome to tell me the actual truth, but I’ve always known that small events like BLTX, complete with tiny printouts of my poems and writer friends and alcohol, will be a significant part in my future as a writer. Because it’s important to be part of a community, and it’s important to get your writing out there, even in the most underground outlets possible, while waiting for mainstream publishing to be revolutionized. And to be honest, I’ve always been intimidated by ‘writer events’, partially because I’m, like, fifteen, but mostly because I get really anxious at the thought of having to measure up to a number of talented writers, both experienced and just starting out. The thought of having to arrange your work on a table and watch people pick those of others over yours seemed incredibly terrifying. But with each ‘writer event’ I expose myself to, BLTX being the latest, I’ve come to find that a lot of these mental hang-ups are either untrue or exaggerated. I didn’t get to put out a zine for the event due to prior commitments (thesis), but based on the dynamic I saw take place, people will take chances on your writing, and everyone’s just excited about what everyone has to offer.
My favorite little moment, in BLTX and in the Zine Orgy event as well, is the expression on the writer’s face when I would decide to buy their zine. Whether it cost 15 pesos or a hundred, it was almost like they couldn’t believe someone wanted to read it. It made me more excited about publishing in the future. And it made me care less about wanting to be published as much and as widely as Lang Leav is. It would be nice for that to happen someday, for more deserving poets to get as much appreciation from the public, but for now, this is more than special. In many ways, BLTX forced me to face a lot of the things I’ve been pushing down my to-think list for a long time, thoughts about writing and senior high school and the future and whether or not this really was the amazing thing I’m basing most of my preceding decisions. Those are hard, hard questions. And no single event, no matter how life-changing, will ever give me a real answer. On the pedicab ride home, I still didn’t know if writing, and everything that comes with it, was a life I wanted to lead, but at the same time, writing, and nights like that in celebration of it, are glimpses of a life I don’t want to miss out on. All BLTX gave me was a clue, and it’s very difficult to explain in words how far that will take me.