The World SF Blog is one of the most respected sources of truly international SF news, and I’ve always appreciated the work they do to promote Filipino creators. I’ve done a short interview with the ever present Charles Tan to help promote Alternative Alamat–don’t worry, we don’t repeat topics from the Flipside interview. You can check it out here. And, of course, you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:
Archive for December, 2011
“Alternative Alamat” is now available from Amazon.com, Flipreads.com, and iTunes. I’ll continue to speak with the contributors to gain some insight into the stories found in the book. Celestine Trinidad is a newly licensed physician who still tries to read and write as much as she can in her (now unfortunately very little) free time. Her stories have appeared in other publications such as Philippine Genre Stories, Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, Philippines Free Press, and Usok. Much to her own surprise, she won the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in 2008 for her short story for children “The Storyteller and the Giant”.
Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?
Maria Sinukuan, guardian deity of Arayat, is called upon to solve the murder of a young woman from one of the towns under her care. One of her suitors, Juan, insists on tagging along, much to her annoyance. But nothing is as it seems in this mystery—not even her suitor.
I know that you’re a fan of Maria Sinukuan. What is it about Maria Sinukuan (as portrayed in the legends) that makes her so appealing to you?
I like that she is such a strong character—she is called “Sinukuan”, after all, as proof of the strength of her power. According to Damiana L. Eugenio’s Philippine Folk Literature Series (“The Legends”), she was able to defeat everyone who put her power to the test, even those who were said to possess an anting-anting. The young men who came to woo her never stood a chance with her. I love the kind of attitude that I think she would have, based on these legends. She seemed like the kind of character who wouldn’t take crap from anyone, and who can be ruthless, but only if she felt you deserved it. (And yes, it was said that she did turn people into pigs!) I would greatly respect such a person even in real life, though I would probably be very careful not to make her angry.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?
The banter! Mixing someone like Maria with someone as irritatingly persistent and as enigmatic as Juan seems like a recipe for disaster, and that, of course, is fun to write.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?
As with every story I write, I always struggle with the middle of the story, since I already knew how to write the beginning and also the ending, but it’s always such a difficult journey writing what goes on in between. I wouldn’t want to give away too much so the mystery is already predictable, but I also wouldn’t want to give away too little that the reader would feel cheated. It’s a struggle, yes, but a challenge I actually enjoy.
How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?
When I was still very young I liked watching this series on TV, “Ora Engkatada”, which my grandmother appeared in (she played Lola Torya, the grandmother who read from the big book of magical stories, hehe). And then later on, since my parents saw that I liked the fantasy genre so much, they bought me this book entitled, “Mga 55 Piling Alamat ng Pilipinas”, by Pablo M. Cuasay, a collection of various origin legends, which I loved reading even back then.
Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?
It’d be great if Juan and Maria could be made into a movie, haha! Since I do plan on making this into a series.
Seriously though, there’s this a lesser-known legend about a woman named Tonina, who due to trickery on the part of the other wives of Rajah Solaiman, was raised away from the palace, not knowing she was a princess. But in the end, she managed to save two kingdoms from the invading Spaniards, and reclaim her birthright. (There is also a part there where she cross-dresses and almost defeats her future husband in a duel.) I think having a movie on that would be pretty epic!
Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?
Maria Sinukuan is my favorite out of all the goddesses, but you probably expected that, didn’t you? I like female characters that defy conventions, or even redefine them.
Got the new iPhone for Christmas? Or maybe an iPad, or a Nook? If you’re looking for Philippine-made fantasy fiction for you new toys, I’m pleased to inform you that “High Society” (my steampunk, alternative history comic with Hannah Buena) is now available for Barnes & Noble’s Nook device, and “Alternative Alamat” (our anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology) is available at the iTunes Store.
Flipside Digital Content, digital publisher of “High Society” and my digital co-publisher for “Alternative Alamat“, is now open to novel submissions for three of its imprints, the most significant one for Rocket Kapre readers being “FSSF”, which is their speculative fiction imprint. You can view the guidelines for submission at their blog, “On the Flipside“.
I mentioned that Meann Ortiz of New Worlds was reading “Alternative Alamat” and posting a running commentary as she made her way through the text. Well, Meann has finished the book, and has posted a summary of her impressions, with a full review to follow. Meann gave it 5 stars (although she’s rounding up from 4.5–which, hey, I’ll take any day) and enjoyed all the stories, even if she felt there were similarities in theme and a somewhat somber tone.
I’d encourage readers to look at Meann’s comments during her reading, which you can find in a timeline on the same page as her general impressions, as these go into greater detail about her reactions to specific stories, or lines from the book.
It also amuses me that, like many women before her, she was intrigued by the great hero “Kudaman” (mentioned in my interview with Professor Zialcita), and his, er, giant bird:
Angelo Ancheta reviews our new anthology, “Alternative Alamat“, in the latest issue (Dec. 26, 2011 to Jan. 2, 2012) of the Philippines Graphic. The review is very positive, even though Ancheta wishes that the book was available in hard copy, to better appreciate Mervin Malonzo’s artwork. Ancheta calls the anthology “a treasure trove of Philippine myths and legends reexamined and rendered for modern readers.” The review isn’t available online yet, as of this writing, but he finds T.J. Dimacali’s “Keeper of My Sky” to be “lyrical, heartbreaking” and the stories of David Hontiveros “Balat, Buwan, Ngalan”) and Dean Alfar (“A Door Opens”) to be “ground-breaking, earth-shaking…” He does wonder, however, about the absence of male deities from most of the stories.
Still, I think it’s safe to say he liked it, no? Also, Meann Ortiz of New Worlds is currently reading “Alternative Alamat” and putting up comments as she progresses. She’s about half way through so far, and you can read her comments either on her Twitter feed or at Goodreads.
So if you haven’t picked up a copy of “Alternative Alamat” yet, why not click on over to Amazon.com or Flipreads.com and snag a copy for yourselves, or for your friends/family. Nothing like waking up on Christmas day to find some mythology under your tree!
I bought a physical copy of “Writing the Other” last year, but now that there’s an ebook edition out, I decided to write a review that will hopefully encourage more people to buy and read this very important writing. book. We Filipino authors especially should never forget that, as the book says, “difference is not monolithic.” You can find the review at Fantasy Faction, or just read on for the text:
I’m a Filipino, and a geek, but I’m not used to feeling like an Other, like I’m not a part of the mainstream. I live in the Philippines, so I am, in fact, part of the majority, and my geek-ish pursuits tend toward reading books, watching anime, and playing video games, all of which are activities I can indulge in by myself.
But in the world of mass media, particularly genre media, my race ensures that I’m not part of the majority. I know what it feels like to read a story where my country is never mentioned, or watching a movie when the only character that is Filipino is a maid. While I’d wish it were otherwise, I don’t generally view stories created outside of my country to be the venue where I’m going to find plentiful and authentic representations of Filipinos and Philippine culture. As a Filipino writer, I think that’s one of my responsibilities.
But as I mentioned, in the Philippines, I am part of the Dominant Paradigm, the person of Unmarked State (we’ll get to that later). The Philippines is home to many indigenous communities that have often been marginalized by both our local media and popular culture–as a contrast, I live in Metro Manila, “Imperial Manila” as some of our southern brethren call it, who grew up pretending to be part of G.I. Joe or one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, instead of being a Tikbalang or the hero Lam-Ang. And yet, as often as I can, I try to tap into the rich intangible heritage of our indigenous mythologies when I write… and, while I do it out of love and in order to promote those myths, it often scares me out of my mind. When I recently put together “Alternative Alamat“, my greatest fear was that I would be engaging in a form of colonization or appropriation (especially since the anthology is in English). And yet, I know that there are stories that need to be told, even if I’m not a member of the Ifugao, or the Mangyan, or the Tausug.
I’ve already mentioned the devastation wrought by Typhoon Sendong over the weekend. As of this writing, at least 652 people have been confirmed dead as a result of flash floods that affected 135,000 people, nearly 47,000 of whom have been forced to evacuate to shelters. When Typhoon Ondoy slammed into Manila in 2009, Filipino writers and poets collaborated on a charity ebook I called “Ruin and Resolve” , for the benefit of typhoon victims. Since then, I’ve distributed the ebook for free as an incentive and a means to promote awareness during times of need. In the wake of the latest natural disaster to ravage my country, I am once more making Ruin and Resolve available for free–this time permanently–on Smashwords.com, and now on Flipreads.com (both are PDFs). I’m offering the book for free because I realize it would be easier/quicker for people to donate directly to entities such as the Red Cross, rather than course the donation through an ebook retailer as “payment” for the book. Here are a few links with information on how to help:
I hope that this ebook leads more people to those links, and if you do decide to donate and would like a small reward as a sign of our gratitude, please do feel free to download Ruin and Resolve. Thank you!
Here’s what people have said about Ruin and Resolve:
“Borne out of tragedy but driven by a spirit of triumph, Ruin and Resolve takes us to different worlds, fantastic and magical, futuristic and the mundane every day. The collection, meant to help Ondoy victims with is proceeds, provides us all with reasons to keep striving, to never surrender, never quit. It may sound corny to say that one finds inspiration, and yes, the resolve needed, in these texts. But that’s the fact of the matter. More than a few times the reader will find not just beauty of image and power of prose, but genuine uplift and the feeling of elevation.” – Carljoe Javier, author of “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth“ and the “Kobayashi Maru of Love“.
“But outside its being a charitable donation, this newest [Spec Fic] anthology isn’t a throwaway piece of literature; it’s worth buying for its own sake — lending credence to the publisher’s self-effacing introduction of “we hope our stories and poems make you feel all the happier to have helped those in need.” - Johanna Poblete, Business World.
Typhoon Sendong ravaged the southern Philippines last weekend, particularly Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, and aid organizations need all the help they can get. You can text or sms your donations to the Philippine Red Cross as follows:
Text RED<space>AMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4143 (Smart)
Text DONATE<space>AMOUNT<space>4-digit M-PIN<space>REDCROSS to 2882
You can donate the following denominations:
Globe: 5, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1000
Smart: 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 or 1000