Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Looking Back (Part 1)

If my count is correct, then this should be my 31st suman latik post -- which means that I've technically written one of these each day for a full month. Sometimes I even wonder just where all this content comes from; It's not as though I have any great love for suman, after all.

Every now and then, a visitor to this blog will contact me directly and ask the fateful question: What's with the suman latik?

Personally, I've considered that very same thing myself.

The suman latik posts actually started off as a bit of a joke. You see, way back during the 1st Philippine iBlog Summit, speaker Dean Alfar raised the importance of relevant blog posts, as opposed to mere plain blog posts. As an example, Mr. Alfar put forward the idea of writing about suman; Imagine, if you will, an article that says in its entirety:

May XX, 2005: Ate some suman today. Ang sarap ng suman!

The above item is obviously not much of a blog post, and it most definitely won't rate more than a passing glance.

Mr. Alfar's point seemed pretty clear to me -- any written article, much less a blog post, will hold no substance if it carries little or no relevance to its audience. Now, I will remain quick to argue that any blogger reserves the right to scribble whatever he or she wants in his or her blog (whether it's suman-related or otherwise). But just because one can write anything he or she wants doesn't necessarily mean that people will read it and come away more or less satisfied.

In short, you don't just write about suman; You find a way to make the topic of suman relevant.

The original suman latik webring probably realized this to some extent, which was why a bunch of online writers suddenly developed an affinity for the glutinous rice dish. For all I know, it might even be why you're slogging through one of my mundane Wednesday posts right now. To be quite honest, it sounded more like a challenge when we first set it off: Ladies and gentlemen, your assignment is to write something about suman every Wednesday. You can do anything with the topic -- pen a story, construct an essay, paint a picture, make a comic strip -- as long as you make it interesting and readable. This disc will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.

I won't pretend that all of the resulting articles were pretty good. Some of them were downright rotten, and we knew it. But regardless of quality, we had to admit that every single one of them was readable. Every single one of them was leagues beyond simply saying that suman was good to eat. Every single one of them attempted to tackle the relevance of an unlikely topic in some way, and often, that was more than enough.

If anything, the webring easily demonstrated that it was not only possible to come up with something substantial out of a relatively insubstantial topic, but that it was also possible for multiple writers to come up with completely different approaches to the theme.

It's amazing what one can do with suman latik, you think?

(To be continued in part 2.)


Anonymous said...

this entry reminded me of a writing subject back in my junior year. our teacher put a small potted cactus on her table and we were asked to write anything about it. my essay was titled me, myself and I, and started with "look who's talking?", a cactus whining about her physical appearance... actually, it ended up with some rotten realizations about 'rumors', 'labels' and 'categorizations' etc.

it was the first time I've ever beat the ex-La Sallista guy in any writing endeavor we had during our English classes. Sigh. you've made me reminisce good memories. I feel good. :)

Sean said...

Reiji: The cactus exercise was a good one, and it's apparent that your resulting essay got quite a bit of attention. Who'd have thought that one could put together an introspective on identity from a potted plant? :)