Archive for August, 2011

Komikon Awards 2011 Nominees (Batch One)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 31 - 2011

The Komikon organizers have announced the nominees in four of the categories for the 2011 Komikon Awards (Best Comic series, Best Comic Strip Compilation, Best Graphic Novel, Best Filipino International Artist). Voting is not yet open, but feel free to go over to the Komikon website to see if your favorites have made the cut.

2011 Nominees for Best Comic Series

Ang Astiging Boy Ipis

(Paul Michael Ignacio, Gilbert Monsanto, etc., Sacred Mountain Prod.)

Bayan Knights

(Gilbert Monsanto, etc., Sacred Mountain Prod.)


(Jomike Tejido, KZone Philippines, Summit Media)

Love is in the Bag

(Ace Vitangcol & Jed Siroy, Studio Studio)

The New Adventures of Erek Shawn

(Digital Art Chefs, FHM Philippines, Summit Media)

Read the rest of this entry »

Filipino Reader Fridays: Being a Filipino Reader

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 26 - 2011

As part of an event to promote the upcoming Filipino Reader Conference, I’ll be participating (or trying to) in Filipino Fridays, where Filipino readers discuss a weekly topic. For this week, I’m going to talk a bit about advantages and disadvantages to being a reader in the Philippines.

I can only speak as to the advantages and disadvantages to being a reader in Metro Manila, and what answers I give should be read with the awareness that there will likely be more disadvantages and less advantages the farther you get from a major metropolis.

There are quite a few good things about being a reader in the Philippines today. Book prices (prose and non-fiction, but not comics) are generally lower than other countries (and we have some excellent, if chaotic, second-hand bookstores), and speaking as someone who lived in the days of the true National Book Store monopoly, the selection of titles is very good. Hell, sometimes we even get big releases before the U.S. does (hello, “Ghost Story”).  Another benefit that many people take for granted is that we also have the best selection of Philippine-published books in the world. That’s something that I have a renewed appreciation of, having just met Rochita Loenen-Ruiz the other day, an amazing Filipino spec fic writer who is based in the Netherlands, and who spent a lot of time during her visit home acquiring research materials for her stories. (To see how she applies this research, and her Ifugao background, to her stories, here’s an example of her work: “Hi Bugan ya Hi Kinggawan.” She also has a story in “our upcoming anthology, Alternative Alamat”) For someone who loves reading about Philippine history and komiks, it’s hard to imagine a better place to be. Can you imagine how hard it would be to get the latest Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, or Trese case, abroad?

As for disadvantages, there are quite a few, which I’m always happy to name: First, let’s go with the still unresolved book tax issue; our lack of public libraries (and the lack of support given to the libraries that do exist); the need to have a U.S. address to buy Kindle books at their actual prices (or at all); a lack of conventions that prominently feature and discuss prose fiction; few specialty/genre-focused bookstores; few author-reader events (readings, book tours, panels); lack of a functioning Espresso Book Machine (okay the last is true for almost everywhere in the world, but a boy can dream, can’t he?).

I have a lot on my “cons” list, not because I’m utterly dissatisfied with the way things are, but because reading is something I care deeply about, and so I’m always aware of the problems because I want the local situation to get better–especially now that I have a child. It’s good to be a reader in the Philippines (especially now with the active book communities, online and off)–but we can, and should, make it better.


The Hinilawod and F. Landa Jocano

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 24 - 2011

There was once a young man, who ventured into the mountains in search of a priceless treasure… sounds like the start of a fantasy epic, but instead it’s the start of a true story of the discovery of an epic.  Over on Facebook, Joanah Tinio Calingo pointed me to an article from the Manila Bulletin profiling anthropologist F.Landa Jocano and his work on the Hinilawod. It’s amazing how much of what we know about our mythological heritage comes from the work of a small group of people who persevered in spite of the indifference of the majority. Dr. Jocano is one of the most impressive of that already impressive group, and the article is well worth a read, if you don’t know the story already.

Speaking of the Hinilawod, the epic has been recently adapted into a play, which will be shown at the CCP on September 3 and 4 (two shows each day). The 3pm show for September 3 is already sold out, so those who’d like to catch the Manila run had best get their tickets soon. Prices range from 500-2000 pesos for the evening shows, and 300-1500 pesos for the afternoon shows.

Filipino Reader Fridays: How I Became a Reader

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 19 - 2011

As part of an event to promote the upcoming Filipino Reader Conference, I’ll be participating (or trying to) in Filipino Fridays, where Filipino readers discuss a weekly topic. For this week, I’m going to talk a bit about how I became a reader.

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t always been a reader, that I didn’t spring forth from the womb with my nose buried in a dog-eared paperback. I know that I read voraciously even before I self-identified as a “reader”: I was an only child, and there were no 24-hour cartoon channels back then, so I read whatever I could get my hands on, whether it be a priest’s memoir of his time in detention, or a parenting book that outlined the many ways children manipulate their parents (which I found very educational, for all the wrong reasons). At the time, I wasn’t reading “for pleasure” as much as I was reading simply to have something to do. I discovered comics soon after (and probably met my future editor Vincent Simbulan for the first time at the Goldcrest branch of Comic Quest), but for a long, comics made me feel like a second class citizen. Every issue seemed to be referring to events in some previous issue published before I was born (and there was no Internet to fill in the blanks–”See Avengers issue #5, True Believer!” doesn’t really fill any expository gaps).

But I remember the first genre novel I ever read, because that was when I became a reader. It was “The Sleeping Dragon” by the late Joel Rosenberg, and while it was probably not age appropriate for me at the time (the book had sex, violence, and curse words, and I was probably less than ten years old), it was eminently suited to introducing me to what would become a lifelong passion. After all, it was a story about a group of people pulled into an alternate world of fantasy. I devoured the book, then every other book in that series, embraced genre fiction and never looked back.

Maria Tatar uses the term “Enchanted Hunter” (as opposed to what she sees as the more negative “book-worm”) to describe avid readers, those who “fall under the spell of words, but also remain hunters, active seekers of those glittering portals to forbidden and enchanting lands.” (p.27, “Enchanted Hunters: the power of stories in childhood.”) I like that term, because it jives with my experience–I certainly didn’t feel passive because I loved to read, and my bookstore raids certainly shared many similarities with a hunt, including the urge to bring something home to feed my hunger, even if I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. And I did hunger for books–I still do–but I only equate books with food insofar as books are something that I need. Unlike food, I don’t believe you can ever read too many books–I don’t even think you can ever say that you’ve read “enough” books. Each book is like a single step: no matter how many I’ve already taken, the next one will always move me farther ahead.

PGS Online: “Fragrant Blood” by Elyss Punsalan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 18 - 2011

The third set of stories for PGS Online, this batch co-edited by Dean Alfar, has begun to roll out, kicking off with “Fragrant Blood” by Elyss Punsalan of Pakinggan Pilipinas. Expect stories from Alexander Osias, Vincent Simbulan, and Dean himself in the coming weeks.

PGS Issue 4 Review at Black Gate

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 15 - 2011

Over at the online magazine Black Gate, C.S.E. Cooney has reviewed The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories #4, and has a lot of good things to say about the issue, particularly “Psychic Family,” by Apol Lejano-Massebieau, and the two Forlorn stories, “The Last Stand of Aurundar” by Vincent Simbulan and “In the Dim Plane” by Dean Alfar. (PGS has since gone online, if you’ll recall.) Another reason to find complete your collection of PGS print issues, if you haven’t already, and hey, while you’re at Black Gate, why not see if any of their issues appeal to you?

As an added note, reading about how Ms. Cooney received her copy of PGS (and Philippine Speculative Fiction VI) through the efforts of Charles Tan serves to remind us all why the success of the World SF Travel Fund (which will send Charles to the World Fantasy Convention) isn’t just good news for the Bibliophile Stalker, but for Philippine speculative fiction (prose and komiks) as well. Charles will be The World SF Travel Fund’s first beneficiary (the Fund was set up to enable one international person involved in science fiction, fantasy or horror to travel to a major genre event), but if you want to help ensure that World SF is better represented in future major conventions, feel free to keep the donations coming.

Filipino Reader Fridays: Introduction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 12 - 2011

As part of an event to promote the upcoming Filipino Reader Conference, I’ll be participating (or trying to) in Filipino Fridays, where Filipino readers discuss a weekly topic. For this week, I’m going to talk a bit about who I am as a reader.

People talk all the time about “literary snobs”, those who read only literary fiction and look down on anything else, particularly genre fiction. For the longest time, I was their polar opposite, and true genre snob who simply didn’t see the point in a book that dealt solely with the possible, much less than actual. I went after the longest, most intricately detailed, science fiction and fantasy books I could find, cutting my teeth on every lengthy saga that graced National Book Store shelves: The Guardians of the Flame; Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn; The Belgariad-Mallorean; The Farseer Trilogy; The Elenium-Tamuli; Shannara; Thomas Covenant; Landover; The Saga of Recluce; The Ender-verse; The Homecoming Saga; Xanth; The Star Wars Expanded Universe; The Wheel of Time… I could go on, but then it might not be “Filipino Friday” by the time I’m done.

I still enjoy the occasional hefty fantasy, but my tastes have expanded quite a bit. I now admit that you can create a riveting story without the presence of a single wizard (although I’d still rather read a Dresden Files novel than a Man Booker Awardee, unless it was written by Michael Chabon), particularly in the field of YA, where the fantasy instead takes the form of, for me at least, having that degree of self-possession as a teen. (Favorite authors: John Green; Richard Cormier; Cynthia Voigt) Of course, when you combine YA and genre, all the better. (Favorite authors: Philip Reeve; Cory Doctorow; Scott Westerfeld).  I still love traditional science fiction and fantasy, but I love it more when it’s in a subgenre that didn’t saturate my youth, like the caper-fantasy (Scott Lynch), modern urban fantasy (Jim Butcher, Harry Connolly), or steampunk (see Reeve and Westerfeld).

Comics and manga still make up a large portion of my reading diet, but I tend to focus more on the works that have a definite ending in mind (sorry super-folks)… oh, and Yotsuba&!, which should never, ever end. I also grew to enjoy the virtuoso technique and imaginative breadth of short stories, so I’ve really gotten into collecting themed anthologies (superhero, steampunk, and of course, most anything with a focus on Philippine speculative fiction). I love non-fiction books too: those that untangle complicated issues or illuminate unknown history (particularly Philippine history/mythology); those that show me the beautiful unity of science (“The Canon”, many books from Clifford Pickover); those that provide insight into the genre books I know and love.

As for best (fiction) books of the year, so far? “Child of Fire” by Harry Connolly, “Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits” by Jen Van Meter, “Dash and Lilly’s Book of Dares” by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, “Little Star” by Andi Watson, “Cross Game (vol. 1)” by Mitsuru Adachi.

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Campaign Kicks Off

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 10 - 2011

Sometimes, the most informative part of my work day comes from simply passing through the lobby (one of them) of the House of Representatives. Groups take advantage of that high traffic space to set up exhibits that aim to raise awareness about various issues. It’s not always as exciting as Philippine-made robot overlords, but it’s always educational, and sometimes even something related to Rocket Kapre.

Last Tuesday was International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, and here in the Philippines, it’s the start of a 3-month Indigenous Peoples Solidarity campaign. Awareness of the state and condition of indigenous people is of particular importance to us in the Philippines, since our archipelago is home to 110 ethnolinguistic groups, and 14 million indigenous peoples (accounting for around 16% of our population).

Photo-standees of Evacuees in Surigao del Sur


Despite constituting a significant percent of our population, indigenous people are some of the most marginalized sectors of our society, to a large extent because they are almost invisible to people in the power centers of the country. (Not coincidentally, a majority of these communities are found in Mindanao.) It’s hard to raise awareness about our indigenous people, partly because we have so many different and diverse communities (and we all know that the stories that make the news are usually those most susceptible to simplification/generalization), but it would be great if over the next few months we could try to learn a bit more about the problems that face the communities, or about the people themselves–especially their culture, and the need to preserve the same.

The very diversity that makes it difficult to treat our indigenous people as a homogenized whole is also what gives our country such a rich and diverse culture of myth and folklore. Whereas some countries are limited to one dominant mythic tradition, by “Philippine Mythology” we’re really talking about dozens of traditions. In the past (and in the future) I’ve tried to use Rocket Kapre to shed some light on these grand old tales, and I thought I’d use this post to review some of that content:

And, of course, keep your eyes peeled for the Alternative Alamat anthology, launching later this year.

[Slider image from]

PGS Online: “Stars” by Yvette Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 5 - 2011

Looking for some weekend reading? The newest story on Philippine Genre Stories Online is “Stars” by the co-editor of the latest batch of stories, the inimitable Yvette Tan (site), author of “Waking the Dead”. The other stories in this set are “The Confessional” by Cyan Abad-Jugo ,“Sweet” by Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon and “Malvar” by yours truly.

The First Filipino Reader Conference

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 4 - 2011

Avid readers used to be seen as engaging in an unhealthy form of withdrawal. A few people still see things that way, sadly (and often mistakenly), but the advent of the Internet has opened up a grand new vista for social interaction amongst readers. It’s a frontier that people are only beginning to explore, but whether this is a sea change in how people read, or simply a revival of the Book Club, there are few things more enjoyable for a book lover than engaging with other people who are passionate about books.

On that note, the first ever Filipino Reader Conference will take place during the Manila International Book Fair, and the organizers plan to explore the topic of social reading, and discuss the hows, whys, and best practices of book bloggers and book clubs. See this link for the schedule and speakers, and follow PinoyReaderCon on Twitter for updates.

EDIT: And here’s the Official Site.



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.