Archive for April, 2011

Usok 2 Interview: Elaine Cuyegkeng

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 27 - 2011

Whenever an issue of Usok comes out, I conduct a short interview with the authors, to give readers some insight into the creation of the stories, as well as the authors themselves. Next up is Elaine Cuyegkeng (check out her new author’s page here), whose Usok story, “The Widow and the Princess of the Dwende“, is her first to be published online. The story is illustrated by the exceptional Mark Bulahao, who we interviewed last month. Elaine is a new author, but one already hard at work on her new novel, so keep an eye on her new author’s page as she continues to build her body of work.

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your story.

The Widow and the Princess of the Dwende is actually a prequel to a NaNoWriMo project I was working on in 2009: A Brief History of the Enkanta. Both of them came about in a rather roundabout way. The vampire craze was going strong then (as it still is), and while I’m fond of vampires, I was frustrated by the current trends.  The vampire was always the Romantic Male Lead, and while I think vampires are awesome when they’re not just predators, they were depicted in such a way that they weren’t frightening anymore. For me, that takes away the compelling power of the vampire archetype.

And I thought: But hey, how much more scary would the vampire be if he was in a position of institutional power? If somehow, refusing to be a vampire’s paramour, or not welcoming him into your home, was bad news for you and your family? The idea of the vampire frayle was born, and from there, the idea of various enkanta clans wrestling for agency and survival in the Spanish era.

What aspect of the story gave you the most joy?

I love delving into the back stories of characters and fictional societies. The intricacies of Filipino society under the Spanish are fascinating to me, and it was immensely fun to delve into enkanta societies, mix enkanta lore with Western myths, and explore how they would interact.

What aspect of the story gave you the most difficulty?

The problem is, when you geek out like that on the page, you need to balance all of those details with telling a story. With a short story, you need to condense, condense, condense, which I found very hard to do. But I had awesome friends and an awesome editor [Editor Pao: Naks!] . They taught me how to fix the little things that were driving me mad.

Have you ever worn a costume? What was your favorite one? What about the most ridiculous?

I was waaaaay too little to remember this. But there’s a picture of me at three in a Supergirl costume. The geeky DC Comics-loving adult I am loves it.

Does your cultural background influence how you write, or what you write?

I don’t think I could have written The Widow and the Princess of the Dwende or a Brief History of the Enkanta if I wasn’t Pinoy—if I hadn’t grown up on stories of the cruelty and romanticism of the Spanish era, or stories of the aswang lurking in the streets of Manila, or of the dangers of the various enkanta. And I think it’s partly due to my heritage that I’m particularly interested in colonial stories—stories that look at the dynamics between the powerful and the powerless, and the people caught in between.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever read or received?

Finish everything you start. Incidentally, the best method for finishing what you start appears to be writing fast, which I still need to work on.

Cuyegkeng, Elaine

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 27 - 2011

A librarian and writer, Elaine Cuyegkeng lives with her partner in Melbourne, working feverishly on her first novel. She is possessed of two tiny familiars, shelves full of magnificent books, and items of immense geekery. She loves myths and fairy tales, and occasionally dabbles in their making. “The Widow and the Princess of the Dwende” is her first short story with Usok.

Art Fantastic: Interview with MJ Pajaron

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 20 - 2011

MJ Pajaron (janemini on deviantart) grew up in Caloocan with two brothers and a sister who all share her love for karaoke. An avid anime fan and a gamer who enjoys roleplaying games and first person shooters, MJ provided the art for Kate Aton-Osias’ story “100% of Me” in Usok #2. In this interview, MY talks about games, anime, and some differences between two dimensional and three dimensional art.

You’re the first artist I’ve met (virtually speaking) who is equally at home with two dimensional and three dimensional art work. Or at least, it seems that way–are you more naturally inclined toward one form?

I am an artist, a game developer and a gamer… For someone like me who loves games and has the passion to make games, it actually seems only natural that I’d be interested in both art forms. I would say that I didn’t have the slightest idea about 3D models back in college, but when I found out that one of my units in 2nd year college would be 3D modeling, I got excited. I was amazed when I first saw how 3D models were done (from modeling to animation), but then… I was disappointed to learn that there were the professors were not as knowledgeable nor as capable as I’d expected them to be. Fortunately, in my second job I met the people who taught me all I know in 3D modeling, my officemates and friends who shared tips and techniques Ranging from the most basic to the most advanced. I truly thank them for all they’ve shared with me! Great games also inspire me to do more 3d models :-D

Which games have had art design that truly impressed you?

The Prince of Persia game released in 2008. I just love it, from the concept to the in-game art! (Although I do have mixed feelings about Elika always being there to pick you up whenever you fall…) Another would be Call of Duty Modern Warfare. I really like the lighting in the game, which was very realistic!

What are the advantages of 3D art as compared to 2D, and vice versa?

In 3D- Effects, lighting and shadow are processed in real-time, and that is awesome! On the other hand, in 2D, lighting and shadows are fixed. SFX is complicated.

2D games doesn’t require powerful computers unlike 3D.

Animation is easier to do in 3d rather than in 2D, especially considering the latest technologies that make the 3d animator’s work easier and faster.

In 2D, however, you don’t need plug-ins–instead, you sit for an hours, do some trial and error for the lighting and special effects, and from that you can create a really nice looking piece.
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Launch: Philippine Genre Stories Online

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 18 - 2011

Kenneth Yu’s “Digest of Philippine Genre Stories” was one of the reasons why I even realized it was possible to write and publish speculative fiction in the Philippines, and it gave new writers such as myself a chance to be recognized as authors. It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a regular publication that was open to submissions year round and accessible to young writers.

That’s why it gives me great pleasure to announce that PGS has been reborn online. You can read about the journey to the digital domain and the changes to the magazine here, or jump in and read the new story, “What You See” by Ian Casocot (art by The One Left Behind), the first of three selected by sub-editor Charles Tan. Expect a bit of chaos as PGS finds its place, as Kyu says in his introduction:

PGS online (as with the print digest before it) is a work-in-progress. I hope to improve it bit-by-bit over time, and I’d also like to see how this site fares over the next 12 months or so. The goals are the same: To get more people—especially younger folk, most especially Pinoys, but anyone would do—to discover the pleasures of and develop the habit of reading through fiction, fiction written by fellow Filipinos, in particular.

Congratulations to Kyu, Charles, and Ian, and best of luck on the new endeavor!

Summer Komikon 2011 Impressions and Photodump

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 17 - 2011

The 2011 Summer Komikon took place yesterday at the Bayanihan Center. I didn’t have enough time to go around as much as I usually do, but here are a few pictures and some thoughts on the event.

The turnout seemed about equal to what it was at the Bahay ng Alumni, which was a pleasant surprise and is a testament to a bang up job that organizers and advocates did getting the word out. I found the Bayanihan Center to be an improvement over the Bahay ng Alumni in most respects: the air condition really helped to make the event more comfortable (and hence more accessible to the more casual fan or newcomer not willing to bathe in sweat – their own and that of assorted strangers’ – in order to browse the wares). It also seemed to me to be easier to secure – the Bahay ng Alumni had a lot of ingress/egress points. I didn’t notice any food/drink concessionaires, however, which could be a downside to those not willing to cross the street to the restaurants around Pioneer supermarket.

I also wish that the hall itself had been made to look a bit more festive – the hall doesn’t have a lot of character, and the wedding reception type music that was playing (at least when I arrived) seemed out of place. I’m not looking for giant Kubori Kikiam blimps – although, hey, that’d be awesome – but  few more banners, posters, and standees would have helped give the convention more of a “convention” feel, especially since cosplayers are usually sparse in comparison to other cons.


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Summer Komikon 2011

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 13 - 2011

It’s summer time, and you know what that means – another Summer Komikon, where the Philippine comics/komiks scene gathers to sell their wares and celebrate the medium we love. This year, the even will be held at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig (near Pioneer supermarket, if you know that area) and not at the Bahay ng Alumni – you can get a map here. The event starts at 10am on April 16 and is a one day affair, so clear your calendars – many of the komiks sold at these cons have limited print runs and are only available at these cons, so snap them up!

Here’s some additional info from Krisis Komix:

This year’s theme is “Bayanihan: Komiks Moving Onwards” and the main highlights of the event include:

* the opening of the nominations for the 3rd Komikon Awards for Komikon 2011;

* exhibit and guest spotlight on women cartoonists;

* release of the first Summer Komikon Tabloid;

* screening of Animahenasyon 2007 and Animahenasyon 2008 winning entries;

* book launches of new comics titles (28 titles from the Indie Komiks Tiange);

* various comics-themed competitions

Filipinos Nominated for the 2011 Eisner Awards

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 12 - 2011

Komix 101 has a post up listing the Filipinos with work that has been nominated for the prestigious Eisner Awards for this year. The big news of course is the nomination of Gerry Alanguilan’s “Elmer”, but other Filipinos have made the ballot this year, and Komix 101 also lists those who, as Gerry pointed out, have made the ballot or won the award in the past.

Congratulations and good luck to this year’s nominees!



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.