Aug 14, 2017

“He masturbated in a church. During a wake,” begins a Facebook post dating back to Aug. 10, 2015.
“Oh my god, saan?”
Sa banyo.”
“Oh, that’s not bad then.”

It’s privy. For some people, raunchy. But admit it or not, that kind of juicy conversation is what you’d love to overhear. And from just hearing it, you wallow in the revelry of eavesdropping.

The discussion overheard in Cubao is part of photographer Joseph Pascual’s zine called Drinking Will Help: Eavesdropped Data on Tropical Privilege, a collection of conversations and statements he gathered through eavesdropping.

The zine is part of Hardworking Goodlooking’s “The Zines of Production,” which was launched on Aug. 12 at Artbooks PH. According to co-editor Clara Balaguer, the idea behind “The Zines of Production” was born last year when she and her colleagues found the need to create “a snapshot of what’s going on in the independent publishing in the Philippines.” Together with her co-editor Czar Kristoff, they pooled 10 artists of various disciplines. Most of the zines are of visual nature, but Pascual’s work relies heavily on text.

Pascual’s collection of overheard conversations delves into an array of themes: from surprising sex stories, witty musings on local affairs, and insightful ideas on living. For example, the oldest entry dating back to Nov. 11, 2012 in Makati is about a candle’s representation of wasted youth.

Pascual’s work may be “in the form of gossip, confessions, musings, and comic darkness,” but it is also a study of our society and our (perhaps collective) thoughts. Through this zine, Pascual encapsulates what we all do whether consciously or not, whether invited or unwelcome: listening to and collecting conversations that might have vanished into thin air if we simply disregarded them.

How did you become part of “The Zines of Production?”
I became part of the “ZOP” project through Clara Balaguer, who spearheaded it. She was looking for people with material that could be turned into a series of zines. When she reached out to me, she mentioned my Overheard, which I regularly put on Facebook. So, we went through about four years of posts and selected the most entertaining ones.

How did you choose the conversations for the zine?
Conversations you don’t belong to are always interesting to overhear because you’re really not part of it. I chose exchanges which anyone would find absurd, but still see themselves saying at one point.

Do you tend to filter words for this series?
I try my best to quote directly from memory. It’s usually easy to do because I type down what I overhear as I eavesdrop. Usually, people don’t filter themselves in a private conversation anyway, which keeps it sharp, and usually, shocking.

The conversations you’ve gathered are really interesting. Would you say that you have a good sense of hearing? Or do you just really pay attention to what’s going on around you?
It helps that I end up in interesting places because interesting people talking to each other make for the best conversations. I’m actually a little hard of hearing, but there’s always an interesting keyword, or a conspiratorial tone of voice, that piques my attention. You can be immersed in your own thoughts until someone else’s becomes more interesting than yours.

What is the most interesting conversation, statement, or idea that you’ve heard?
All the things I overhear are interesting to me. What surprises me is the variety of things that people always talk about, and I’m always curious about all the potentially amazing conversations that nobody gets to listen in on.

You told me that Overheard is born out of the idea that other lives could be more interesting than yours. But what did you learn about others and about yourself through the years?
We hear what we want to hear. Some of us will focus on chismis, a specific kind of banter, or anything that we hear that can parallel our own head space. After this project, I’m realizing that people can say literally anything in public, and that maybe I’m interested in everything. That’s a comforting thought.

Conversations you don’t belong to are always interesting to overhear because you’re really not part of it.

One last thing, why is it called Drinking Will Help?
The title is a joke. I wanted to call it Overheard In Manila, but Clara asked for a different one. She asked me what someone would need, to more easily digest the zine. And I replied, “well, drinking will help.”

And drinking really helps, I guess.
It helps people get more honest, it brings you out to interesting places, so alcohol (or coffee, I guess) are the driving forces of a good (or terrible, but interesting) conversation.

Drinking Will Help: Eavesdropped Data on Tropical Privilege and other zines under “The Zines of Production” only have 30 copies each and are available at Artbooks PH

Read more:
What it means to be a curator, according to Joselina Cruz
Apichatpong Weerasethakul sets lush, dreamy (almost trippy) scenes
Meet the sweet old lady with a macabre craft
Why are people so obsessed with Korean dramas?

TAGS: Artbooks Hardworking Goodlooking Joseph Pascual nolisoliph Overheard The Zines of Production zines