Archive for November, 2010

Folk Tales Interview on SLIA Blog:

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 4 - 2010

Zarah Gagatiga did a couple of interviews in preparation for her upcoming book Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories (co-authored with Dianne De Las Casas), including one with yours truly. She posted my answers on her blog, School Librarian in Action, so head on over if you’re curious. (Let me take the chance to remind everyone that I’m no expert when it comes to Philippine mythology though, just an enthusiast.) Here’s an excerpt:

d. As a writer and collector of folk tales, what is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered yet? Where do you attribute this challenge?

As a collector, the greatest challenge is finding material that not only gives a narration of the old stories, but also gives a proper context, one that explains what the myth as a whole or elements of that myth meant for the people and culture from which it originated. If I’m reading an epic, say, where the hero turns into a particular kind of animal, it’s very helpful to know whether that animal has a particular cultural significance. The old tales were always more than just literal narrations of events – like the universe itself in the eyes of many cultures, the old stories had layers, and if one simply reads a retelling of the story, without any context, that depth can be lost.

As a writer, the greatest challenge for me is trying to embrace these old myths and legends as a part of my Filipino heritage, without wrongful appropriation. These are my stories and yet, at the same time, they are not, because many of the stories which are considered Filipino folklore emerge from communities which pre-existed the idea of a Philippine nation, or even a Filipino race, communities which still exist today in a sort of grey area where they are struggling to maintain their unique cultural identities.

You can find the rest of the interview here.

Usok 2 is Live

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 3 - 2010

The second issue of Usok is now live! I’ll post my introduction here, but you can also see it on the front page of the new issue itself. I hope you enjoy the stories and the art, and if you do, please comment and encourage the creators, because feedback is sweet ambrosia for writers and artists. For those who are looking for Usok #1, you can get a PDF of the illustrated edition in the Past Issues section of the Usok site.

Introduction: Hidden Selves

Kept you waiting, huh?

It’s been a long journey to get to the second issue of Usok, and while I’ve had to deviate from my original plans for the magazine, I’ve learned a lot about editing, working with creative people, and the speculative fiction scene in the Philippines, during the past year. There were ups and downs, but I have no regrets; sometimes the only way to get any solid data about an endeavor is to try it, to let your plans and dreams drum against the craggy shore of Reality. Usok will continue to evolve from here on out, and I hope you will all continue to support the magazine.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to find a unifying theme among stories that I’ve already accepted, than it is to assign a theme and wait for the stories to come in. Or maybe it’s just serendipity that all three of our stories in this issue (released days after Halloween) touch upon the theme of hidden selves, the masks we put on for the sake of blending in with “normal” society. It’s a common enough theme in speculative fiction, but it’s one of my favorites, and I hope you’ll find that each of these stories engages it in an intriguing way.

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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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