Taking our cue from SF Signal, in Rocket Round Table, we pose a single question to those who toil in the fields of Philippine SF. Our aim is to promote reflection and discussion, as well as to simply compare notes on the genre we know and love. We’ve got a few more answers to this month’s question:
What is your favorite Filipino-created Speculative Fiction story?
Joey Nacino: [blog]
==Joey has taken home the first prize in the prestigious Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards and his stories have been published in Philippine Speculative Fiction, the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Manual and FHM. He’s recently launched Estranghero Press, which in turn is set to release its first anthology–The Farthest Shore: Fantasy from the Philippines–this month.==
If I were to pick my favorite Philippine Speculative Fiction story, it would be Mia Tijam’s “The Ascension of Our Lady Boy” which first appeared in Dean Alfar’s Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 3. I love this funny-stark-sad story, which is about the coming-of-age of a gay boy living in the province, moving to the capital, and meeting his “fairy godmother”(the Filipino version). What makes this story great was the fact that it was written in the native language, an exercise in transliteration. Talk about making the English language jump through hoops!
What’s more, the editors of the international collection Year’s Best in Fantasy and Horror probably felt the same since they gave it an honorable mention in their 2008 selections. Now there’s a story that was written for the local audience but managed to make it internationally.
Kristel Autencio: [blog]
==Kristel is a literacy advocate, has written for the Manila Bulletin, and helps run the Philippine Online Chronicles for the Vibal Foundation. She’s used Philippine Speculative Fiction as the basis for a college term paper, and maintains a blog dedicated to crime fiction where she posts about real-life mysteries and the best way to dispose of corpses.
I chose two stories that have elements that appeal most to me as a reader. Obviously I have a very high regard for “historical stories.” Setting is something so underutilized in fiction sometimes, and it’s wondrous when writers can use it with great aplomb. The Death of Fray Salvador Montano Conquistador of Negros by Rosario Cruz-Lucero. (I’m not actually sure that this story would qualify as spec fic but it’s pretty wondrous for me so I guess that’ll do.) I wish more people read her, she’s a tour de force. From the opening paragraph, you are transported to a different space and time, a Philippines you and I don’t know.
An Excerpt from Princes of the Sultanate (Ghazali 1902), annotated by Omar Jamad Maududi, MLS, HOL, JMS by Dean Alfar is a story written like an encyclopedic entry but the political intrigue happens in the footnotes, which at once a clever stylistic trick and a subtly poses a question about the nature of historical writing and how much of it is subjective. A very good piece of metafiction.
M.R.R. Arcega: [blog]
==Rebecca “Bhex” Arcgea’s stories have been published in the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, and Philippine Speculative Fiction. She also runs the Philippine Speculative Fiction Blog. Equally adept at English and Filipino, she’s won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award in the Filipino screenplay category and was a fellow at the University of the Philippines’ National Writer’s Workshop.==
Mahirap ang tanong mo ha. [Ed. Note: Translation-That's a tough question.]
I don’t find it easy to call things favorites, and I really can’t recall the titles and authors of the short komiks stories I liked as a kid, so the ones I’m going to list might not be my all-time faves, but they certainly made an impression on me at the time I read/watched them.
With local stuff, I find myself drawn to speculative works that have a comedy base. Alas, those works tend to lose a lot in translation, so it’s hard to share the love with people who aren’t comfortable with the Tagalog language. I remember that I enjoyed “Spirit Warriors” starring Joel Torre and a very young Vhong Navarro, but I don’t know if I’ll still like it if I see it again now. At any rate, that movie got me liking Vhong Navarro, who impressed me again later in his starring role in another fantasy cult classic, “Gagamboy“. I wish both movies were easier to find in local shops these days.
I also love “Ang Kagila-Gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah,” the graphic novel by Carlo Vergara. It’s clever, hilarious, insightful and oh so memorable. I remember buying that book for some friends and all my secret Santas, a few Christmases back. Drained my thirteenth month pay like anything, but it was a worthwhile investment! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind work, and I’ve been hoping it would set the standard for other local independent comic artists. Well, maybe if it reaches more people?
As for fiction – there are so many good new stories coming out, so I’m finding it hard to choose a favorite. I think it would be a toss-up between Dean Alfar’s “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)“ and Michaela Atienza’s “Atha”. Not comedy, but both extremely well-written. “Atha” blew me away with the stark imagery. “The Kite of Stars” is a true classic, recommended reading for all ages.
Paolo Jose Cruz: [blog]
==Paolo ordinarily uses his story-telling abilities to keep US customers satisfied with their plastic. His stories have been published in Manual and Philippine Speculative Fiction, and he serves as the intrepid quiz master of GeekFight!==
Dreams of the Iron Giant by Joseph Nacino. [Ed. Note: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV] What Nacino did was take tropes from world (military) history, Japanese pop culture, and fuse them with a sense of indefatigable hope in the face of adversity, which I read as distinctly Pinoy. On top of that, he used a real life conflict as a launching point for an alternate history built on references (Astroboy, sentai) that are an undeniably a part of the shared childhood of middle class Pinoy adults.
Sean Uy: [blog]
==Sean has been writing since he was 12 years old, and is a writer of essays and short stories, two of which, “The Final Interview” and “Tech Support”, have seen print in the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. He is a silent anti-plagiarism advocate, an occasional critic of modern storytelling, and a lover of stuffed toys. Given the right circumstances, he may turn into a homicidal maniac one day. Or even worse… an accountant.==
I don’t want to waste too much of your time on what amounts to a personal choice, so I’ll put it straight: the work at the top of my list right now is Vlad Gonzales’s Lunes, Alas Diyes ng Umaga. To my knowledge, it only came out in a cheap anthology called “Pinoy Amazing Adventures”, which I picked up and reviewed way back in 2007.
You’ll want a short explanation, of course.
Lunes, Alas Diyes ng Umaga is a remarkable combination for me: I feel that it’s a piece of science fiction that touches on the less obvious aspects of the genre. Surprisingly, the story lacks the advanced technology that marks your traditional sci-fi. Instead, it places the reader in a very familiar contemporary situation, paces you through some very strange events involving parallel universes/timelines, and throws in a subtle twist that reflects a clear — and regrettable — facet of human behavior.
I cite Lunes as my favorite local work of speculative fiction so far because I feel that it’s gone well beyond the other attempts that I’ve seen. It carries a central message that can only be effectively communicated via speculative literature, it ruminates on that knowledge, and it delivers without benefit of the usual trappings on which we poor amateurs usually depend. It’s easy enough for the man on the street to read and identify with, and it points out that some things about culture and humanity will never change, even when the potential of the entire universe lies at our fingertips.
More importantly for me, however — and I’ve been chewing on this fact for the last couple of years — it represents the kind of story that I’d like to write someday. To me, it’s that nasty piece of writing that hits you right where it hurts, that work that makes you slap yourself on the forehead and wonder why you didn’t put it together yourself.
In short, I wish I’d written it.
Heck, I wish I’d simply thought of it. That’s a huge bit of estimation in my book.