Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Funny Ideas about "Selling Out"

A lot of young people have some funny ideas about what "selling out" means, and what "artistic integrity" means.

Apparently, "artistic integrity" amounts to only 10 people reading about your work, namely them, and if you try to reach a much wider audience then you are selling out.

Which is just ridiculous. Stupid even.

What kind of artist are you if your work gets read by only 10 freakin' people? Ridiculous. And it defeats the very purpose of art.

To me selling out means compromising your work for commercial reasons. And by compromising I mean changing the nature of your finished work to sell a product, or push an agenda.

For instance, if you composed a song about love, then that song is about the celebration of love. If you use that same song years later to sell burgers because the burger company is giving you money to use your song, then to me that's selling out.

Take note that I don't make any judgments if an artist chooses to do this. If he needs that money to survive and feed his family, then he has every right to do with his song whatever he wants. But that song has now been compromised. If I hear it now, I no longer think about love. I think about burgers. And that hurts the integrity of the song.

If the artist was commissioned to create a new song for the burger company, then that's not selling out. That's simply a job. Everyone needs a job. Even artists.

I've been accused of selling out when Wasted appeared in PULP. How can that be selling out? My work was never compromised. Not a thing about it was changed. In fact, a lot of people got to read Wasted because of it, and that was what I wanted.

It's selling out because Wasted is popular now and it's published by Pulp. Pulp is not underground. They're the man!


If I was asked by PULP to redraw panels so Eric can be seen wearing Giordano shirts and drinking Coke to make the sponsors happy, THAT is selling out. If a movie outfit paid me for the rights to the Wasted movie and they changed the ending by making Eric live so they can make a sequel, THAT is selling out.

Getting your work out there and read by people is NOT selling out. That is how your art will endure and live on. People need to see it. People need to read it.

Oh yeah, and there's nothing wrong with making money with your art. Some people have funny ideas about art as being free and if you sell them, you lose your "artistic integrity".

Duckshit and piss.

Even Leonardo fucking Da Vinci was paid for his paintings. If art is your life, then you make a living out of it. That is not a problem. Everybody has a job. Why can't yours be what you love doing?

The only people who can afford to condemn artists as being bereft of artistic integrity when they sell their work are kids who still live with their parents and/or don't have to earn a living to survive. It's so easy to say "ooo, Sell OUT!" when you're still living off your momma.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Other Trese

Below are my first two attempt at writing TRESE.

If you've read my babbling in the afterword of Trese:Book 1, you'd know about how Trese was originally supposed to be Anton Trese, and how he was originally supposed to be a police detective and was later changed to a tabloid reporter.

This was all put aside when we decided to make Trese into a female character (originally named Toni --because I wanted her to have a girl's name that sounded like a guy's name-- but TONI TRESE just sounded so wrong!) and made her a consultant to strange, supernatural crime.

Here are the two drafts of TRESE in all it's unedited glory.

MAY 9, 2003

CAP: Detective Anton Trese would usually not place any interest in car accidents like this, but he decided to check it out when he heard on the police radio the particular location of the indecent.

Show street sign that says “Balete Drive”

Show another street sign that says “13th street”

Show a car in the middle of that intersection. A woman in a white dress sprawled on the ground, in front of the car. The dress looks like something from the 1700s. A formal dress.

CAP: The victim: a lady in white with no identification on her.

Important detail, drawn at the edges of the intersection should be a white circle with alibata/runes written near the edge of the circle.


Driver talking to the police. Trese walks near him.

DRIVER: I’m sorry. I guess I was sleepy. Well, I did have something to drink, but not a lot. I swear I didn’t see her. It’s like she just appeared out of nowhere. Must have run from the side. I don’t know. I’m so sorry.

CAP: The victim carried no ID whatsoever.

TRESE: Wake up everyone on this street and ask if they know this woman.


Trese noticed a mound of dirt near the corner of the street. He walks over to it. Stops a foot away from it. He bows down and whispers.

TRESE: Tao po. Magandang Gabi po. Makikisuyo lang po.

Nothing happens.

A nearby manhole suddenly opens.

A dwarf / a nuno comes out, wearing a hardhat and workman’s outfit.

NUNO: Magandang gabi Ginoong Trese.

TRESE: Kilala ninyo po ako?

NUNO: Oo naman. Lahat ng mga taga-ibaba, taga-ibabaw, at mga nasa gitna ay kilalang-kilala ka.

Nuno looks over to the accident.

NUNO: Ngunit sa ibang panahon na natin pag-usapan yan. Gusto mo malaman kung sino ang dalagang ito, `no? Matagal na siya dito.

Nuno stops at the edge of the white circle.

NUNO: ahhh… hmmm… (says something which makes Trese step back to realize the alibata-pentagram on the street)

Trese touches the white powder, smells it, tastes it.
TRESE: Asin? Ginagamit sa pag-bilanggo ng mga espirito at engkangto.

NUNO tastes it.

NUNO: Hindi. Hindi asin… Sirena! Dinurog na buto ng sirena!

TRESE: At saan naman ako makakahanap ng durog na buto ng sirena.

NUNO: hahaha… ayokong masama sa gulong itong. Pabayan mo na ito. Kahit anong mangyari, matutupad lagi ang katarungan ng mga engkanto.

And the nuno goes back to his manhole.

As you see, there even an attempt at writing the story in Filipino, but decided to just all-English in the next draft. Cut-to: two years later...

June 22, 2005

A lady in white was found dead on the intersection of Balete Drive and 13th street.

So, there’s this guy driving home and he’s passing by Balete drive because it’s the quickest way home.

He’s not scared anymore. He’s heard all the stories. And he’s been passing by this road for years and never even seen anything that resembles the so-called White Lady of Balete Drive. But he just can’t help of thinking of that legend every night he drive down this road.

Then it happens, he sees her… as real as she can be.

In his fright he just slams his foot on the gas.

Then he hears the thud.

And he hits the brakes.

And steps out and sees her dead…

He doesn’t even notice that he’s on the intersection of 13th and Balate.

The police finally arrive.

Pictures are being taken of the car and the woman in white.

She’s already being cover with newspapers.

Crime reporter Anton Trese arrives.
Walking around the scene.
He bumps into Detective Michael Andara.

ANDARA: What are you doing here?

TRESE: I should be asking you the same question. Isn’t this just a typical hit and run accident?

Andara stays quiet.

TRESE: Aha… not so ordinary, is it? C’mon tell me what you know and I’ll tell you want I know.

Andara’s reluctant.

ANDARA: She’s not from around here. We asked the neighbors and no one can identify her.

TRESE: Maybe you just have asked the right neighbors.

Trese starts to walk around singing, “who are the people in your neighborhood…”

Andara keeps an eye on him.

Trese sees a “nuno” near one of the trees.

TRESE: Tabi-tabi po! Magtatanong lang.

A manhole near the nuno open and out comes this man.

NUNO: Mr. Trese. Heheheh What can I do for you?

TRESE: Did you know the young miss?

NUNO: Yeah, haunts these parts but never really got in her way.

TRESE: And what do you think killed her?

NUNO: Isn’t it obvious?

TRESE: No, show me.

The nuno shows him that rune circle that covers the entire intersection.

NUNO: This was no accident. This was planned.

The nuno swipes his thumb on the white markings and tastes it.

TRESE: Chalk?

NUNO: Nope, it’s salty.

TRESE: Salt?

NUNO: Nope, it’s the bones of a sirena, ground to a fine dust.
One of the few ways to trap a spirit like our Lady over there.

TRESE: So, where does one find sirena bones?

NUNO: Heh, where does one find a sirena?

And the nuno smiles.

In my original outline, Trese's investigation was supposed to already bring in contact with the the aswang at the docks, the tikbalang king in Makati, and with some sirena along Manila Bay. And that was all supposed to lead him back to Balete, where he would finally solve the case.

I find it interesting that the next draft of TRESE was written a week or so after this one and it was the one that finally became the first Trese story. I guess it took all those years (and Kajo giving me that deadline and that 20-page limit) to get everything on paper.