Archive for February, 2011

Komik Review: Urban Animal #1 by John Amor

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 24 - 2011

John Amor’s “The Urban Animal #1″ tells the beginning of the story of a young man (apparently in college, although he looks like a high school kid) who crosses the wrong person and is placed under a monstrous curse–although, to be frank, none of that is evident from the cover, which does a poor job of giving the prospective reader any idea as to what the comic will be about. The cover also does little to showcase Amor’s stylized art, which is a shame, given that the art is the highlight of Urban Animal. Amor has a hyper-expressive, stubby-figured style that reminds me of the early work of Humberto Ramos. While there are some panels where the facial expression of the characters seems off, or where there were better angles from which to view the scene, the art in general is clean, bold and sufficiently detailed–though nowhere near as polished as Amor’s more recent  work (Urban Animal was drawn ten years ago, and the comic released by Super Debil Robot Comics contains the original art, touched up slightly). The artwork reaches its pinnacle toward the end of the issue, where the story takes a step toward horror, of the “creature feature” variety.

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Here’s are videos of a talk given by Professor Maria Stanyukovich Ph.D., with one of the most interesting titles ever (or maybe it just seems so to a Phil. myth geek like me): “Epic as a Means to Control the Memory and Emotions of Gods and Humans: Ritual Implications of the Ifugao Hudhud”. This is the last of the videos I have from the Songs of Memory International Conference on Epics and Ballads held at the Ateneo last 20-22 January, 2011. You can see an index for all the videos here.

Parts 2-4 after the cut.

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Art Fantastic: Interview with Mark Bulahao

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 16 - 2011

Mark Bulahao (edictiv on deviantart) grew up in Northern Luzon, and came to Metro Manila to pursue his education. A fan of history and warfare (evident in his art and his loves HBO’s “Rome”), he painted a more static, yet sinister, scene for Elaine Cuyegkeng’s “The Widow and the Princess of the Dwende” in Usok #2, and he took the time to sit down with us (virtually speaking) to discuss his influences, the importance (and joy) of drawing backgrounds, and whether or not artistic talent is genetic.


How did you get started as an artist?

I got interested in drawing at a very early age. I think it’s all the cartoons and video games that got me started. I also collected Marvel and DC comic books and copied them all the time.

Me and my brother were fortunate to have a few friends who also liked drawing. After playing video games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, we would do an artjam on our favorite characters or design ones based on them. They later lost interest with drawing in high school but me and my brother stuck with it.

You have a twin brother who also seems to be a very good artist. Do you think that, to some degree, artistic talent is genetic? Does anyone else in your family draw/paint?

In our family, only the two of us are interested in drawing. So far I haven’t seen or read anything that proves the existence of “artistic genes” so I have no reason to believe in it. We just happen to like drawing and have made it a hobby.

A lot of the pieces in your deviantart gallery have a lot of detail invested in the background, whereas a lot of artists I know would prefer not to do backgrounds at all. Do you enjoy rendering those vast, panoramas? Do you like working on the background as much as working on the characters/people?

If art is biology, then those who are interested in backgrounds would be the type of biologists who study not just a certain species but their environment as well: how they interact with it, what role and niche they play in the ecosystem, how they cope with environmental changes, etc. I guess artists who ignore backgrounds are like biologists who are more concerned with a species’ anatomy, behaviors and interactions with other creatures. I don’t want to choose between the two because I’d rather be both.

I wouldn’t say that I enjoy doing environments and landscapes more than characters, but there’s a special kind of feeling in creating thriving ecosystems or living and breathing societies. There’s an incomparable joy in painting places that can allow someone to forget about reality for a while and be transported into another world, even for just a few seconds.

If you want to create fictional worlds, then you have to understand that a setting can become the star of a story while the characters themselves can take a back seat. Environments can have “personalities” and sometimes they’re much more interesting and complex than the characters that inhabit them.
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Continuing the posting of videos from the Songs of Memory International Conference on Epics and Ballads held at the Ateneo last 20-22 January, 2011, here’s the last part (I came in late) of the first talk of the event, given by Professor Fernando N. Zialcita Ph.D. (co-author of the Soul Book), entitled “Chanted Landscapes: The Interweaving of Tangible and Intangible Heritage”. Parts of the video involve introductions of the delegates to the conference, but that may give you a good idea of the diversity of the experts who participated in the conference.

This video was short, but for our final video on Monday, I’ll post the longest one yet, a talk by Professor Maria Stanyukovich Ph.D., entitled “Epic as a Means to Control the Memory and Emotions of Gods and Humans: Ritual Implications of the Ifugao Hudhud”.

SoM Video: Launch of Ateneo’s Online Philippine Epics and Ballads Archive

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 10 - 2011

On the first day of the “Songs of Memory” international conference on epics and ballads at the Ateneo de Manila, the university launched the online version of its Philippine Epics and Ballads Archive. Here are videos of the official launch, with Professor Nicole Revel PhD walking us through the site. (The first part of the professor’s talk traced the historical developments in the study and preservation of Philippine epics and ballads, but it’s a long segment and I’m not certain if the sound quality is good enough, so not posting it yet.)

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics: Free for February

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 9 - 2011

As part of the Art Access promotion, the Rothledge/Taylor and Francis Group will be giving free online access to their complete range of visual arts journals throughout February 2011. Of particular interest to Rocket Kapre readers would be the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics – you can browse the articles from the journal’s first two issues (there have only been two so far) online, or download the articles as PDFs. Here are a few articles that look interesting, just based off the titles:


SoM Video: Ifugao Culture Sung Tradition

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 8 - 2011

The first video from the “Songs of Memory”  International Conference on Epics and Ballads is a talk given by Professor Rosario de Santos del Rosario Ph.D., entitled “Introduction to Ifugao Culture Sung Tradition”. The professor talks about aspects of Ifugao sung tradition that don’t receive as much attention as, say, the hudhud: songs like the liwliwa, lelle’, hehewwe, talidummay, and tulok, from the pre-hispanic songs to post-World War 2 songs.

“Songs of Memory” Epics Conference: Video Hub

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 8 - 2011


Two weeks ago, the Ateneo de Manila University hosted “Songs of Memory”, an international conference on epics and ballads (this is where the Ateneo’s online archive of Philippine epics and ballads was launched). Here’s how the official site describes the mission of the conference:

Songs of Memory seeks to make the Philippine Epics and Ballads Archive of the Ateneo de Manila University accessible to all. Preserving epics helps conserve Intangible Heritage, fosters pride of the self in cultural communities and in the nation, as a whole, and advances UNESCO’s emphasis on the conservation of Intangible Heritage.


I wasn’t able to attend all the talks/lectures, but I did manage to catch a few that may be of interest to Rocket Kapre readers, and anyone interested in the mythic heritage of the people of the Philippines. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be posting the videos I managed to take of the event. Each talk will be a separate post, but for greater convenience, this post will serve as an index to the videos.

Congratulations to the Ateneo and all those involved in “Songs of Memory” for what seems to have been a very succesful conference. Special thanks to Professor Calasanz for inviting me to attend the conference.

Songs of Memory Video Index

Taboan Festival 2011

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 6 - 2011

This year’s Taboan Literary Festival will be held from February 10-12, 2011 at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City. The festival is open to the public and will feature panels, a book bazaar, and film screenings. Speculative fiction writer Dominique Cimafranca is the conference coordinator, and here are a few delegates who will be familiar to readers of Philippine speculative fiction: Carljoe Javier, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Sarge Lacuesta, and Vlad Gonzales.

For those who are in the Davao area (or who can manage to make the trip) this looks like a great event for readers and authors. For those who can’t make it, you can still get a taste of the works of the delegates on the Literary Works page  of the Tabaoan 2011 site. Carljoe Javier’s piece on “the “Post-Apocalyptic as the Neo-Western” seems like it could be of interest to genre readers.

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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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