Archive for July, 2010

My Interview with Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 27 - 2010

Oh, hey, look whose turn it is on the other end of the (figurative) microphone? Fantastic Filipina writer Rochita Loenen-Ruiz ( who is currently guest blogging at Ecstatic Daysinterviewed me, and Lavie Tidhar posted the conversation over at the World SF News Blog. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: What do you think are the obstacles or challenges that we face as Filipinos writing in a field that’s dominated by the West?

The first challenge is that, as I touched upon a little earlier, most of us Filipino speculative fiction writers are ourselves products of that domination. The books we read in our youth gave us many of the tools and techniques that enable us to be writers, but which, at the same time, might not be right for the kind of stories we now want to tell–at least not without some adaptation. Even the language many of us write in, which approximates American English, while serving as the basic tool of our profession, seems to add a layer of alienation any time we choose to write certain types of stories. You see that a lot in the komiks scene here, particularly the local superhero scene, where you can see creators struggling to decide when to use English, or when to use Filipino, or how to translate a concept or experience from one context/language to another.

There was a recent discussion with regard to the viability of the classic superhero in the Philippines–the type who only focuses on halting crime rather than effecting any social change–given that the scale of problems such as poverty and corruption here. And yet, classic superheroes are exactly what many of the creators grew up wanting to do. In the same way, I grew up wanting to write The Belgariad, or the Wheel of Time, but now that I’ve realized I want to write stories influenced by the historical Philippines rather than historical Europe, I find that there is no great body of fiction that I can turn to and build upon. (Which is one of the reasons I’m all for discovering Philippine myths and legends.) It’s a blank slate, and for a writer that is both exciting and terrifying.

The other challenges are more practical in nature, and apply more specifically to Filipinos who live in the Philippines and want to publish novels.  While the short story market is becoming more and more accessible to writers from across the globe, it’s still difficult for someone who doesn’t live in the West to get a book published in the West, even when we just factor in logistical matters, such as the fact that a writer who lives in the Philippines is less likely to be able to network at a convention, or attend a writing workshop like Clarion. The sad thing is, it’s not any easier for a Filipino writer to get a spec fic novel published here in the Philippines. Most publishers don’t appear interested in spec fic in general, and spec fic novels in particular. There are no literary agents here, nor conventions where an aspiring writer can approach an editor or publisher. That’s one reason why I believe that many authors in the future will take the self-publishing route–they simply don’t have a way to get the attention of publishers. I hope that Rocket Kapre can help change that in the future.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Thanks to Rochita for taking time from her writing to interview me, and thanks to Lavie for sharing the interview.

Launch: Philippine Pantheons

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 22 - 2010

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It’s a little more than a month before the deadline for submissions to Alternative Alamat, and I thought it would be an opportune time to launch my second companion project. A few months back, I released the Myth List, an index of Philippine myths and legends with fantastic elements. Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Rocket Kapre’s Philippine Pantheons page, what I believe to be–as of this writing–the most comprehensive list of Philippine Gods and Goddesses on the Internet. Yes, Wikipedia included.

It does not claim to be a comprehensive list–that being said, as far as my research can determine, this is the most comprehensive list of Philippine gods and goddesses on the Internet, with 344 individual entries. Of course, given that the Ifugao alone seem to have had deities in the hundreds, that means there is still a lot of room for expansion.

Still, it’s a good place to start, and I hope that it opens the eyes of writers to the vast potential for stories represented by our myths and legends. Many of the entries are merely names and a domain, but as Michael Chabon found himself inspired by maps “and the romantic blank of unexplored territory”, and names that were like magic spells, calling into being that which had previously not existed, so too do I hope you glean inspiration even from the sparest of entries. The West has its Thors, its Aphrodites… maybe it’s time for our own deities to shine.

How to Help:

  • Spread the Word: … because this list won’t do anyone any good if no one knows it’s here. If you use the list, and it helps you with your story or komik or research, point people back to us with a link.
  • Information: If you think I’ve missed a god or goddess, please leave word in the comments section here, or send me an email at rocketkapre[at]gmail.com, and tell me your source. I’ll verify it as best I can, then add it to the list if warranted.
  • Art: If you’ve drawn or seen artwork of a deity online, post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the proper entry.
  • Stories: If you find a story which uses one or more of these deities as characters, let me know link in the comments and I’ll add them to the proper entry.

Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction 6

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 12 - 2010

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It’s that time of year once again (although it seems you’ll have a bit more time to prepare this year): the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology is now open for submissions. This volume will be edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias. Here’s the official call:

Editors Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias invite you to submit short fiction for consideration for Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6.

Philippine Speculative Fiction is a yearly anthology series, which collects a wide range of stories that define, explore, and sometimes blur the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between. The anthology has been shortlisted for the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award, and multiple stories from each volume have been cited in roundups of the year’s best speculative fiction across the globe.

First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Submissions must be:

1. speculative fiction—i.e., they must contain strong elements or sensibilities of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, alternate history, folklore, superheroes, and/or related ‘nonrealist’ genres and subgenres

2. written in English

3. authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry

Submissions are preferred to be:

1. original and unpublished

2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500

3. written for an adult audience

In all cases, these preferences can be easily overturned by exceptionally well-written pieces. In the case of previously-published work—if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:

1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions—i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other market until you have received a letter of regret from us.

2. All submissions should be in Rich Text Format (saved under the file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to kate.osias@gmail.com, with the subject line ‘PSF6 submission’.

3. The deadline for submissions is midnight, Manila time, November 15, 2010. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pakinggan Pilipinas, a Philippine Podcast, Launches!

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 1 - 2010

Pakinggan Pilipinas

Pakinggan Pilipinas, the first (I think) monthly podcast for narrated Philippine fiction, has released its first episode today, with Dean Francis Alfar’s Six from Downtown, read by Kate Aton-Osias and Blue Soon. Pakinggan Pilipinas is the brainchild of speculative fiction author Elyss Punsalan, and while these stories won’t always fall within the spec fic genre, given Elyss’ tastes, I’m betting we’ll be hearing a lot of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the just plain weird on this podcast. If the first story sounds familiar, that’s because it has been around the block a few times, having appeared in Philippines Free Press (2006),  Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2 (2006, Kestrel),  Kite of Stars and Other Stories (2007, Anvil), and online as part of the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler,  and I think that it’s still the only work of Philippine spec fic so far to be mentioned in a post on io9.

If you’re interested in helping out with this new project, check this page to see how you can help. Congratulations to Elyss and all those involved.

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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.

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