Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Human Face,' the book

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

The Manila International Book Fair is ongoing (Sept. 11 to 15) at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Among the participants is Anvil Publishing, copublisher (with Inquirer Books) of my book, “Human Face: A Journalist’s Encounters and Awakenings” (2013). There will be as much as 80 percent off 724 Anvil titles and 50 percent off 697 titles. I hope my newest book is among the discounted ones.

Some people have asked me when “Human Face,” the book, was or will be launched. We didn’t formally launch it, but it made its debut at the exhibit of the Women Writers in Media Now (WOMEN) of which I am a member. There were 17 of us who exhibited our more than 30 years of works and memorabilia at the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (Aliww) from February to April 2013.

If “Human Face” (336 pages) has to be launched at all (it’s already in 80 National Bookstores nationwide), it might have to be launched with my other book “You Can’t Interview God: Church Women and Men in the News” (Anvil, 2013) which is going to press any time soon. We want this to make it on time for the Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization in mid-October.

Unlike “Human Face” which is a compilation of column pieces, “You Can’t Interview God” is a mixed bag—profiles, features, column pieces and news stories. Will write about it (plug it, that is) when it is out. We hope to come up with an affordable price for young people who might want to read about inspiring lives.

So, okay, this might sound like—to borrow a Norman Mailer title—an advertisement for myself, but if I can write about other people’s works, why not about mine?

As I said in my “Writer’s Note,” the daunting part about publishing “Human Face” was shaking up close to 2,000 articles (features, investigative stories, special reports, news articles and column pieces I had written) in their resting places, separating the “Human Face” columns—over 1,000 of them—and choosing less than 100. The 93 pieces in the book are representative of various topics and issues.

My filing system for both hard and soft copies of my articles that date back to my early writing days is relatively orderly. What was daunting was being confronted by the memory load these articles carried.

The book’s title, “Human Face,” explains itself; choosing the subtitle took some time. Journalists are averse to long words and I couldn’t find shorter ones. So “a journalist’s encounters and awakenings” it had to be. Like in my previous book’s title, the word journalist had to be there, to show where the writer is coming from. Somewhere in the book I wrote about the beginnings of my writing life.

Under my byline on the title page is my name written in ancient indigenous script used in pre-colonial times. The cover photo was shot in a T’boli area near Lake Sebu. I stopped an overloaded jeep and clicked twice. Only after I looked at the shots and counted the faces did I realize that I had something rarely seen in this world. Only in the Philippines.

Many of the pieces included in the book are also in my blogsite,

The humbling part was contemplating how the trove got to be written. That it is only by divine grace that I have understood the power and meaning of the word, and the confounding process the word takes—from reality to brain, heart, soul and hands, to pen, paper or keyboard and finally to the printed or digital page—and the world.

The heartwarming part was calling to mind the persons who had assisted or conspired so that these pieces could be written, see print, be read, and finally be included in the book. They are mentioned in the “Writer’s Note.”

It would be quite immodest for me to quote the blurbs on the back cover written by Lorna Kalaw-Tirol, journalist and editor, who wrote the Foreword; Leticia Jimenez-Magsanoc, Inquirer editor in chief; and Virginia R. Moreno, poet and playwright. But if you need to see the front and back covers of the book I can e-mail them to you. Like most books, “Human Face” will be an e-book, too.

The book is dedicated “to the faceless, nameless, voiceless.” The book’s 92 pieces are divided into 16 chapters: Herstory, Beyond Borders, Poor and Obscure, Faces of War, Wet and Wild, Cry Justice, Breaking Through, Tribes are Us, Brave Hearts, Faith and Fire, Pressed Freedom, OFW, Remembering, Encore, Outer Spaces and So Pinoy. Each chapter breaker is a blurb taken from one of the pieces.

The prequel is titled, “Better Dead than Read: The Years of Writing Dangerously,” a piece I wrote for the Sunday Inquirer Magazine on the 40th anniversary of the proclamation of the dreaded martial law. Those dark years of martial rule was when all the writing began. “Suicide journalism” was how editor Magsanoc called what I did. I look back and say, only by the grace of God.

Well, let me end by quoting from Stephen King’s “On Writing: A memoir of the Craft,” one of his two nonfiction books. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy…

“Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”