Archive for March, 2010

Joseph Nacino on the Demons of the New Year

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 30 - 2010

With the launch of Estranghero Press’ new horror anthology, Demons of the New Year, we cornered EP founder and anthology co-editor Joseph Nacino for a short interview. Here are Joseph’s thoughts on the second anthology, the existence of demons, and the state of the horror genre in the Philippines.


Congratulations on the new anthology! Were there any lessons you learned from The Farthest Shore that you applied here?

Thanks Pao. I suppose if there’s a primary lesson I learned from the first anthology, it’s that it’s possible. That if there is something you want done, you have to do it yourself. I’ve always heard Filipino writers (myself included) lamenting the lack of local writing markets. So actually having completed The Farthest Shore convinced me that I could actually do this.

This is also your second time collaborating on editing duties (Estranghero Press’ fantasy anthology, The Farthest Shore, was co-edited by Dean Alfar). Why go down that route, rather than monopolizing the editorial reins?

Well, don’t you get bored at times of hearing only yourself in your head? (Of course if you start hearing someone else, I suggest you go see a shrink.) I figured it would be great to have different editorial perspectives of what the Story is, what it means. So rather than limiting it to my perspective, I thought it would be great to share the fun with other writers and making them guest-editors.

Do you and Karl share the same taste in stories?

Well, we have different tastes– I think he goes for the more edgier stuff while I dig the weird shit– but both of us have the same reverence and joy of horror stories. I’m primarily a fantasy reader/writer but horror is a close second favorite in my clockwork world.

How did you settle on the theme of demons/horror for the anthology?

I threw a number of topics to Karl and he picked one and threw it back to me. From there, it was just a matter of selecting the right title. (And really, once you have the right title, everything else is easy.)

Are any of the writers included in the anthology new to you?

One thing I like with this whole gig is that I get to read– and introduce– new writers to the world. There are some writers here and in The Farthest Shore that I’ve heard about but never worked with (or read) before. And there are some writers that are new to me, i.e. it’s the first time I’ve seen their names, and they have stories that expand what Philippine Speculative Fiction is.

What do you think of the state of the horror genre here in the Philippines? Not just in fiction necessarily, but even in film, the state of the fandom/s, etc.

I do think that among the genres, horror is the one most alive and well in the Philippines. All you have to do is look at the moviehouses during the year-end film festivals with Shake, Rattle and Roll series, movies like Sigaw, Feng Sui and Sukob. TV as well with Wag Kukurap, E.S.P. and Nginiig. Print you have writers like Yvette Tan, Karl de Mesa, and David Hontiveros– as well as the Psicom horror series. Obviously, some people would disagree on the quality of the horror genre locally but still– unlike science fiction– it’s there. You might say this stems from the Filipinos’ need to scare themselves silly when relating ghost stories during the wee hours of the night. Or it could be due to our inherited memories of a time when there were no bright lights and big cities, when it was always dark once 6 p.m. rolled around, and we had to shutter ourselves in our bahay kubos at night.

Are you a believer, insofar as the darker side of the supernatural/paranormal spectrum is concerned? (From the introduction, Karl seems to be.) Does that affect your writing at all?

Do I believe in ghosts? Yes, though I’ve not actually seen one. As with most people, I have seen some things from the corner of my eye. Do I believe in demons and monsters? Well, I keep an open mind– it’s easier to run away when you’re not asking stupid questions in the face of “the jaws that bite, the claws that catch”!

What’s next for Estranghero Press?

Well, given that I’ve already done one per genre leg of fantasy and horror, there’s only one left– science fiction! Now to look for a guest-editor!

Re-Establishing the Lines: Interview with Carljoe Javier (Part 2)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 26 - 2010

CarljoeCarljoe Javier is the author of “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth“ (he also did a recent guest post for the site), and an avowed geek whose particular background and history gives him a unique view of life and geekdom in the Philippines. We published the first part of the interview a while back–here’s part two, where we talk about his life as a writer and a critic.

Let’s talk about your own writing now. How did “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth” come about?

The first essays I wrote in the book were written for MA classes in nonfiction that I was taking under Prof. Jing Hidalgo. Based on that output, she asked me if I could submit a manuscript to Milfores, which is owned and run by her husband, Antonio Hidalgo. It took me a while to piece it together, but as I was writing it became clear that the things I was writing about all had to do with some type or other of geekiness. So that’s when I had a unifying element, and I came up with the title after I finished the manuscript.

You had a prior draft of the book that was lost due to a computer virus. How did you cope? What were the essays that were lost?

How did I cope? Well, first off I switched to Mac (Hello, Apple Marketing execs, are you out there? I’m endorsing you right now. please give me free stuff. Please.) Then I kind of avoided the book for a while. Some of the finished essays had been presented in classes, or sent out, so I was able to recover those. But I lost a lot and I felt bad about it so I wrote some other stuff or a while. I don’t know what it is thought, maybe selective memory, but at the moment I can’t remember what those essays were about anymore. Then, since I’d promised Milflores a manuscript I had to get back to it, so I finished by writing lots of new material. It’s kind of a blessing in that I think that the essays in the book are better than the ones that I lost.

What was it like, the first time you entered a bookshop and saw your book on the shelf?

The first time I got a copy of my book I was in the middle of the shooting of a webseries that I was trying to make. It didn’t really mean too much at the time, since I was focused on directing and stuff. But a few weeks later, we had a launch, and that’s when it really sank in. And I’d go to bookstores and see my book on the same rack as Nick Joaquin and F. Sionil Jose, Stevan Javellana and I thought, wow, I was just goofing when I was writing, but this is something really meaningful.

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Demons of the New Year is now live

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 24 - 2010


The latest online spec fic anthology from Estranghero Press has now gone live. Go check it out! From the site:

These are the Filipino horrors: the garden-variety demons from hell with plastic forks and spongy tails, the ones in your head that come out to play at midnight, the spirits that make up most of your lives like a Frankenstein monster. We’re letting out all of these things that haunt our days in 2010.

“Demons of the New Year: Horror from the Philippines, edited by Joseph Nacino & Karl de Mesa” is published electronically to make this collection of stories available to a wider international audience. Through this anthology we will be able to show the world that the Filipino writer can create horrors that can scare with the best of them.

3rd PGFA: What Neil Read

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 18 - 2010

Neil Gaiman read two poems at the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards last March 17 (because, as he said, who was going to stop him?) and, while I was a fair distance away from the man, I think I managed to capture his twin performances adequately–even if my Vado was at the most minimal setting. Surprisingly, my Internet cooperated, so I’m posting these videos tonight instead of tomorrow.

First up, Neil read his poem “Locks”, which he said could be found in the Smoke and Mirrors anthology. You can also read it online at the Journal of Mythic Arts archive here.

Second, Neil treated the crowd to a reading of an unpublished (!) poem, which he says he finished only weeks ago. The title of the poem is “In Relig Odhráin” (you can spell that as “Oran” and it seems to be pronounced as “Orrin”) or, in modern English, “Saint Odhráin’s Graveyard”. He says that the poem was inspired by an old legend from Scotland–I did a bit of digging, and I found a page which details several versions of the legend, as well as a site with a picture of the actual chapel.

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3rd PGFA: What Neil Said

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 18 - 2010


No, I don’t mean at the press conference–you can head over to Azrael’s for some coverage–but during the event itself, where he commented about each of the winning entries (in the main contest, not the people’s choice). Again, I wasn’t there for the film category, but here’s what he said about the winners for prose and comics (because you can never have enough reminders that Neil Gaiman called your story “glorious” ^_^):



(Bibliophile Stalker has sound files of Neil’s commentary on the prose winners here.)

Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu: “… the voice is really really good, and its really, seriously nasty. It’s the only story that I’ve ever read in which half way through sort of the first page I thought ‘Oh I got it. He’s a pedophile!’ And then I realize no, no, no… it’s so much worse than that. But it’s a beautiful little story… the way the story is told is as important as the content. It’s very good, very, very imaginative.”

Remembrance by Dean Alfar: “…it’s a story about death, and what we take with us when we die. Beautifully written, haunting, managing at exactly the same time to be both incredibly depressing and incredibly uplifting. The combination of these two things at once is what made it as a story for me.”

Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento: “…as those people who voted for it would know… it’s funny and it’s angry… nice, solid, futuristic science fiction that is fundamentally a satire of things going on today. And it’s great. A lovely piece of work.”

A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano: “Every now and then you think that you’ve seen it all, and a staple of science fiction is telepathy… What’s glorious about A Kind of Flotsam is that it’s the story of a the life of someone either blessed or cursed with telepathy. And she says something new. It’s really very, very beautiful, very, very moving, and I think at the end… there’s a moment which for me, I thought was glorious: that what unites us in the end is connection, the ability to hold out, to reach out, and eventually touch. Beautifully done, and very, very much a deserving first place winner.”


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Winners: 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 17 - 2010

Had to leave the event early, but had time to hear the winners of the prose and comics categories, [Edit: Thanks to Diabelle and Charles for the additional info] so here goes:


1st Place:  A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano

2nd Place: Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento

3rd Place: (Tie) Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu and Remembrance by Dean Alfar

People’s Choice 1st Place: Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento

People’s Choice 2nd Place: A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano

People’s Choice 3rd Place: The Street Child and the Dwarf by Diabelle Joy M. Pazcoguin


1st Place:OK this is a bit confusing. There was apparently no first place prize awarded because the entry that won was “published during the contest period”, but they did acknolwedge the piece that would have won – I See by Manuel Abrera

2nd Place: Douglas by Genevieve Go

3rd Place: (Love) at Last Sight by Heubert Khan Michael

People’s Choice 1st Place: Hunger by Jeremiah D. Faustino and Norman Jim Faustino

People’s Choice 2nd Place: Raisinhead: A Tale of a Modern-Day Tiyanak by Christian Oliver A. Cruz

People’s Choice 3rd Place: Traffick by Alarice A. Francisco


1st place: No winner (see comment below. Thanks Diabelle!)

2nd Place: Kumot ng Panaginip by  Jedd Chris P. Dumaguina (Thanks Charles! His comment below and blog post are the source of the rest of the Film winners)

3rd Place: Squatters from Mars by Rommel Sales

People’s Choice 1st Place: Kumot ng Panaginip by Jedd Chris P. Dumaguina

People’s Choice 2nd Place: Anak ng Tikbalang by Desiree Ann C. Samson

People’s Choice 3rd Place: Embrace by Ron Sapinoso

Will post again tomorrow with some pictures, and maybe some vids on Friday. In the meantime, congratulations to all the winners :)

IWP and VONA Writing Workshops/Residencies

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 11 - 2010


News of two interesting writing workshops/residencies his my feed today. However, while both are open to non-U.S. residents, they do take place in the United States, so bear that in mind.

First up (via the Philippine Genre Stories blog) is the 2010 International Writing Program (IWP) Residency. Here’s a description from the Ateneo website:

The 2010 International Writing Program (IWP) Residency is now open for nominations. The objective of this program is to bring together a wide range of international and U.S. writers to examine current trends in literature including fiction, drama, poetry, and screenwriting and to explore the creative process involved in writing. Participants will spend 10 weeks in residence at the University of Iowa presenting their work to local audiences, participating in university level workshops and working with translators. The program also includes field trips to attend literary events in order to meet and possibly collaborate with local writers and artists from other fields. Expenses of selected applicants will be covered by the embassy of the United States.Poets, fiction writers, dramatists, and screenwriters are eligible to apply. Literary translators and writers whose publications and careers focus on creative non-fiction (feature journalism, cultural commentary, biography, and memoirs) are also eligible for this program. Candidates should have at least one published volume of work or works that have appeared in significant publications over a period of at least two years. All nominees must be fluent in English, comfortable with cross-cultural dynamics, and interested in close interaction with other artists from a multiplicity of diverse cultures.

Our second item comes from the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. (PAWA) Blog (which is currently open for donations): the VONA (Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation) Voices Workshop. You can see an overview of the workshops here and the application guidelines are here.  Here’s a bit about the workshop, taken from the guidelines:

The Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation at University of San Francisco invites applications from unpublished as well as published writers-of- color –anyone dreaming of writing as a serious pursuit. The Voices Writing Workshop is a special gathering of writers who spend 1-2 weeks working with authors and artists of color. This workshop honors the literary traditions of heritage and culture and promotes the styles, voices, forms and concerns of writers-of-color and their connections to the literary world. Held at The University of San Francisco, The Voices Workshop creates an intimate and interactive community with an atmosphere of sharing and engaging.

RRT: Fiction Without the Speculation

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 9 - 2010

It’s officially Palanca Awards season again, writers from all genres and walks of life are  gearing up for two months of feverish writing (or hand-wringing). While works of speculative fiction can and have won the Palanca, it’s hard to shake the impression that the prestigious body (and ever changing panel of judges) is more receptive to stories of love lost and regained, when the method of “regaining” that love doesn’t involve the dark art of necromancy. Thinking about a submission for the Palanca Awards is about the only time I even consider writing a story without speculative elements, and it’s always been difficult for me to shift gears. With the 2010 awards opening for submissions this month, I became curious as to how other speculative fiction writers go about writing non-specfic pieces–which meant I finally had an excuse to start the second Rocket Round Table:

How different is your experience writing a story without speculative fiction elements, as opposed to writing Spec Fic?

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? On to the answers then, and many thanks to the authors who found the time to sate my curiosity.

RRT2 Slider_s


==Marianne is the author of several short story collections, and has been a finalist for the Philippines’ National Book Award. She teaches creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writers Program, and her latest short story collection, “The Lost Language”, was released by Anvil last year.==

Very interesting question!

I’m not a writer of speculative fiction, but I do like to “play” in the genre occasionally –  as I also like to play in the “crime” genre, or poetry, or anything.  Because experimenting is what keeps writing fun!

It always starts, for me, with an emotional trigger.  It’s when I find I can’t end my story properly that I start turning to more non-traditional elements.  Then I go back and start again, but with the non-traditional elements as a fixed part of the story.  Then I see if I can finish it.

So, it’s always how to end that bothers me.  And I’ll try anything, ANYTHING, to see how I can get to the end.  And if I have to throw in some speculative fiction elements along the way, so be it.


==Adam is an indie publisher, published author, opinionated blogger. He was recently awarded the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award for his book, The El Bimbo Variation==.

Nothing really significant as far as authorial mindset is concerned. I used the same amount of braincells when I wrote *snip* as when I’m writing my 365 Stories book, the same amount when I wrote the El Bimbo Variations when I’m writing my terribly irregular essays on komix kritisism. The language is different in various levels, as well as in their little textual effects and affectations, but all those things are only merely decoration – or at their highest level, gilding – for the real substance of the thing, which never changes no matter the medium, whether audience or producer, critic or buyer: art is something you work on.

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30 for 30: Adarna House Sale

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 7 - 2010


Here’s a neat sale taking place two weeks from now. From the Adarna House blog:

On March 20, 2010 (a Saturday), all Adarna House  storybooks — worth 65 pesos on regular occasions — will be on sale for 30 pesos each from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.   On that morning, the showroom doors will only be open for that fateful hour.  The rest of the morning, only Adarna House staff will be allowed to enter the showroom.

The thirty-peso purchases will be limited to 30 books per person, so books in excess of the 30 books have to be purchased at regular price.  Not to worry, all customers who enter the showroom during the given sale period will be allowed to stay in the showroom beyond 11:00 AM  in order to settle their purchases.  After 11:00 AM, selling of 30-peso books will stop, only the books in the hands of customers by 11:00 AM will be considered for the sale.

Eastern Issue at Crossed Genres: Call for Submission

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 4 - 2010


Just a quick note: Crossed Genres has currently opened for submissions to their Eastern-themed issue, which they’re loosely defining as any story set in an Eastern culture. Seeing as we are the Pearl of the Orient and all, I thought this would be right up the alley of most of our authors, so do try and send something to Crossed Genres before the end of March. Don’t forget to check out the submission guidelines first though.



About Me

Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.