Friday, May 13, 2016

May 9, 2016

Voter's Finger

May 9, 2016
- Justine Tajonera

Turds and 'tards and faded yellow
ribbons. Bullets and grain. Red
for change and blue for hope.
When we hold up the mirror,
we see the cracks. Into them go
our broken trains and hungry
farmers. Into them go our bank
accounts and tears and children's
tuitions. From them spring
the stones we hurl at each other.

Last November 2013, a torn cloth
flew over our devastation. That same
cloth shrouded fallen soldiers last
January. What color of cloth
will hold us together now and shield

"Everything will be all right," I tell
my son. He puts his trust in me.
It makes me tremble, yes, but
it helps me see beyond
my fears.

Note: May 9, 2016, Philippine National Elections 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016


Justine Camacho-Tajonera

We live in a vast, old
world. We think we know
enough to dream of launching
ourselves into the stars,
a collection of vast,
old worlds.

Our pioneer states
only exist in
our minds.

We conquer nothing
of what is already


Justine Camacho-Tajonera

I am no singer but there are moments
when I join the choir and my voice
finds a universal note, gathering me
then dispersing me
into the afternoon


The Deluge
Justine Camacho-Tajonera

I need somewhere to put all these tears.
Stone-faced, I save them in my fists
though they are no place for keeping
anything for long. I know I cannot
pretend that they are not falling.

These tears need to find their
level and join the cycle of all
things though sometimes it feels
like they need a vessel for all
their significance.

So I gather them and honor them
and shake them into the wind
and rain. This world is full of
weeping as it is full of
light. All seasons begin
as all seasons end.

I will crawl from this deluge
into dry land.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

#4 of 24: A Story in a Story, A Review of Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Fairy Tale FailFairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Story in a Story

I am not like Ellie Manuel, the protagonist. There are elements to her that I can identify with but she's the carefree type. That was why it was fun to get inside her head. That's for starters.

After having read Mina Esguerra's #RomanceClass textbook, it seems that Fairy Tale Fail fits perfectly into the Hero Journey. It felt meta. :-) But in a very fun way. And I was rooting for Lucas the whole way. Okay, no spoilers.

What I really liked about Fairy Tale Fail was Ellie's journey into self-awareness. She realizes that getting what she wants doesn't necessarily mean it's the best path for her. For many people, getting what they want is the be-all and end-all of things. That's the whole point of the journey. But I'm glad it didn't turn out that way. It's nice to see Ellie be who she is and appreciate herself just the way she is. This is the kind of protagonist that I'd like my daughter to read about one of these days.

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#3 of 24: The Thrill of a Bad Boy's Past, A Review of That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra

That Kind of GuyThat Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Thrill of a Bad Boy's Past

What hooked me immediately with this story was: WHY? Why did good girl Julie say no to a marriage proposal from obviously hot Anton? The story begins with one of Anton's past "conquests" and that sucked me into the story.

To begin with, Julie isn't an all-around nice girl after all. Her staff actually hates her. So, that kind of made her a more layered character, someone I wanted to get to know better. I really liked this story. For all the good girls (a.k.a. Manangs) reading it (haha!) it will give you some vicarious thrills. I liked how Julie wanted to get to the bottom of her feelings, no matter what the situation. She knows there's something missing in her relationship, so she doesn't just follow her feelings. That's a brave thing to do. Confession: I wanted Anton to be "badder." Or maybe I wanted to know him more, to understand what was going on in his head throughout his string of flings. But this is more of Julie's story. Don't get me wrong. It's a really good perspective. Go read it!

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Friday, February 19, 2016

#2 of 24: A Review of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; A Very Long Journey

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Very Long Journey

I've been told by a friend that the TV series is where all the excitement is at. I wanted to read the book, nevertheless. It took me several months to read. And I stuck with it. It wasn't exactly a page-turner for me. It's a brave new concept: romance/science fiction/ historical fiction/ adventure. So, I committed to it even though it took me forever to finish. Claire was likeable enough and Jamie was hot. Maybe that's what spurred me along. Or maybe I wanted to find out more about Geillis Duncan, one of the most interesting characters in the book and a time-traveling witch villainess. On paper, it looks like the type of book I should have liked more. But I don't think I'll be moving along to Dragonfly in Amber. Outlander alone was a very long drawn out journey. But, hey, I stayed the course.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

#1 of 24: A Review of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert; Permission To Write For The Heck of It

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Permission to write for the heck of it

This was a long, leisurely, meandering read for me. What I loved about it was the paradoxical way she made writing both sacred and mundane (something embodied in the last story she tells from Bali...but I won't spoil it for you). Writing is both divine and frivolous. I get it. Would I still write even if I never make a bestseller in my lifetime? Yes, I would. Because writing is a lovely thing. It *is* being touched by the divine...and yet it is also totally unnecessary. A poem is a privilege and a gift in a way a physical chair or even a dentist's appointment never would be. It is totally not practical, useless in a sense, and yet contains the meaning of life or at least the seed of it. I also love how she encourages creators to follow their curiosity and to put away the costume of "the tortured artist." Write for the pleasures of writing and don't feel guilty. Share it and move on. Perfect to share this during Valentine's weekend. Love is ephemeral and yet eternal. That's the same thing I can say of the creative life. Big magic. Tiny, beautiful thing.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Mermaid from Siquijor Giveaway for Oct. 24, 2015: Book Plates with the Design of My e-Book Cover

I'm new to this Rafflecopter thing.

Here's what's up for grabs: 3 bookplates with the design of my e-book cover on it. I'm giving away ten (10) sets.

Here's how the book plates look. 

This is my e-book cover. :-)

You can enter my giveaway by doing three things:

  1. Telling me the name of Marceau Egasse's hometown. For you to know this, you'll most likely have read the book (or you can just make a wild guess hahahaha). Here's the link to the e-book: 
  2. Following me (@justine_tajo) on Twitter
  3. Tweet this: Supporting Filipino fantasy writers #StrangeLit #FatefulTurns #TheMermaidFromSiquijor @justine_tajo

Click on the link below to participate. :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm announcing winners on Saturday Morning (Oct. 24). I will be picking 10 winners randomly (using a randomizer). To claim your giveaway, you need to show up at the e-book launch of #StrangeLit at Recession Coffee, Eastwood City, Libis, at 2PM.

The bookplate giveaways are only for those who can show up at the e-book launch.

That's it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#12 of 36: A Much-Beloved Companion, a Review of Mindfulness on the Go by Jan Chozen Bays

Mindfulness on the Go (Shambhala Pocket Classic): Simple Meditation Practices You Can Do AnywhereMindfulness on the Go (Shambhala Pocket Classic): Simple Meditation Practices You Can Do Anywhere by Jan Chozen Bays
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book on a whim because it was so small and so promising (the keywords were: simple, do anywhere). It was true to its word. This will not be the first time I will read this book. This was actually my "banyo" read (sorry, TMI!) for the whole of August and September. My favorite practices were: 1) using my left hand (non-dominant hand) to brush my teeth (that was all I could manage for August), 2) feeling the bottoms of my feet. It's very interesting how relaxing it can be to put one's awareness in one's feet. We are all so used to centering our attention in the head or the heart (or even the breath), it's very refreshing to feel one's feet entirely. 3) When eating, just eat. It's very easy to use eating time as a time for talking or doing something else (like reading or browsing through Facebook!). Eating to just eat helped me pay attention to being full. 4) Just three breaths. This is a very easy mindfulness exercise. It just takes the space of three breaths and it can instantly bring me into the present. 5) Being present to the temperature. I notice that when I feel the slightest discomfort, I try to change the temperature (put on the fan or put on aircon) but actually adjusting to the temperature is a good mindfulness exercise. After a few minutes, it's not as bad as one thinks. This book will be a much-beloved companion in the future.

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