Archive for September, 2012

U.P. Grail Comic Book Tour

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 27 - 2012

For komiks fans in the Katipunan area, there’s an event taking place at the U.P. College of Arts and Letters today and tomorrow, featuring work and appearances from many familiar faces, including artists from the Sulyap anthology. It’s sponsored by U.P. Grail, a comics organization in U.P.

A Week of Anniversaries for Comic Book Stores

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 25 - 2012

Two of Metro Manila’s finest comic book establishments will be celebrating anniversaries this week. First up is Planet X Comic Shop over at Glorietta, which will be having an anniversary sale from September 27 to September 30.

Next is ComicXHub which will be having an anniversary party on September 29, Saturday, complete with raffles and special guests. If you’re a comics fan, and have got the time, be sure to check out these events and help support local comic book stores.

Rappler article on Komiks Scholars

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 24 - 2012

Remember that fundraising event for Philippine representatives to the Global Graphic Novel Conference at Oxford, England? Well, our reps are back from the conference, and Karl de Mesa has an article on Rappler covering their journey, with profiles and excerpts from their papers. Go check it out!

Teaser: Mythspace

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 24 - 2012

“You are wise to doubt the tales of your youth…
… but all myths, all monsters, are founded on truth.”

MYTHSPACE. A Philippine Mythological Space Opera.

Mythspace: Liftoff Issue #0 will be available at the Rocket Kapre booth at the 2012 Komikon, on October 27 at the Bayanihan Center, Pasig. This is my first comic since High Society, and I’m very excited about it. More information coming soon!

 

Trese Weekend

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 14 - 2012

Two events going on this weekend for TRESE fans. Here’s the good word from Budjette:

See you guys this Saturday at TEAM MANILA (1st level of the New Wing of Market! Market!) September 15, 2 pm. Me and Kajo will be there to sign your books (yes, copies of Trese will be available at Team Manila stores) and we’ll even sign your Team Manila x Trese shirts.

On Sunday, me and Kajo will be at the 33rd Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), along with Mervin Ignacio and Ian Sta. Maria of SKYWORLD. We will be at the National Bookstore booth from 2pm to 3pm. Come over and we will gladly sign, doodle, and vandalize your comic books.

 

Today was the start of the annual Manila International Book Fair, and that’s excellent timing, because it allows me to once again encourage everyone interested in Philippine mythology and indigenous culture to get a copy of Prof. Herminia Meñez Coben’s book “Verbal Arts in Philippine Indigenous Communities: Poetics, Society, and History“.  You’ll remember Professor Coben of course as one of the experts who was gracious enough to talk mythology with me in “Alternative Alamat“, and her book has been a huge influence on how I see our cultural heritage. The book has also just received an excellent review from the prestigious Asian Ethnology journal, and you can get a PDF of that review here.

In short, if they’re selling the book at the Ateneo University Press booth at the book fair, grab it!

Last month, Lethe Press published “Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology”, edited by Charles Tan (and with a story from yours truly). Charles took a moment from his busy schedule to say a few words about the anthology.

“Lauriat” is an anthology of Filipino-Chinese speculative fiction that is being published by a U.S.-based publisher. How’d the idea for the antho come about, and what let to it being published outside the Philippines?

I was brainstorming possible anthology ideas when I realized no one yet has done a speculative fiction anthology based on Filipino-Chinese culture, which has its own set of complexities, relationships, and drama. Lethe Press has always been supportive of my work, and the publisher was willing to publish the anthology and pay the contributors.

When you say “Filipino-Chinese”, what do you mean by that?

The problem when people ask “Are you Filipino?”, “Are you Chinese?”, or something else (Are you Singaporean, American, Japanese, Australian, Indian, etc.) is that it’s usually misses out on the question whether we’re talking about nationality, ethnicity, etc. And it’s a question that comes up year after year, especially in the Philippines where there’s controversy over our athletes, our politicians, etc.

One personal bias I’ve experienced is how many Filipinos don’t consider the Chinese community here as Filipinos, even if we’re part of their culture. Many recognized Filipino icons for example has roots in the Filipino-Chinese community: Jollibee, SM, Pancit Canton, Taho, etc.

But when the term Filipino-Chinese is usually encountered, it usually means, at the very least, someone whose nationality is Filipino, and has had Chinese roots somewhere. I leave the last part ambiguous, whether this means to be part Chinese in culture, heritage, ethnicity, legacy, etc.

What aspects of Filipino and Chinese heritage would you say complement, or are similar to, each other? What aspects cause friction?

I think again, there is a misconception here. The “Chinese” in the Philippines aren’t the Chinese in China. The two have entirely different values, although it’s probably a misconception (even among the Filipino-Chinese community) that they do. There is a difference in the mindset between the Filipino-Chinese and non-Chinese Filipinos, but I don’t think isolating this and that element as “Chinese” and “Filipino” would be too easy.

For example, I think both Filipino-Chinese and non-Chinese Filipinos are fiercely loyal to people they consider their kin. They will fight to the death for them and take their side in a lot of arguments. On the other hand, this is also the source of conflict: for some Filipino-Chinese, those not “Chinese” aren’t as respectable (hence the taboo against marrying someone not Chinese), while many Filipinos consider those not ethnically Filipino to be against them (hence some enmity against the Filipino-Chinese community whom they consider separate from them).

There’s a lot to talk about with regards to the subject and unfortunately discussing each point would be too long for the interview.

Are there any unique challenges or opportunities that present themselves to Filipino-Chinese authors writing in English?

In terms of market, well, there is always the problem of finding a market in the Philippines that’s not limited to your cultural heritage (just look at the output of our fiction books vs. that in which we import and clearly the latter sells better than the former). As for the craft, there is the hurdle of writing for what is a multilingual culture and condensing it into a single language (English), when that isn’t always how we speak (we speak in Tag-lish, Chi-Tag-lish, and Chinese-Tagalog). Which isn’t that unique (it’s the same plight a lot of Filipino writers face), but remains there nonetheless.

Can you tell me a bit about a few of the stories you selected for the anthology, and go into why you selected them, or what struck you most about them?

I think each story in the anthology has something going for them, either on the craft level, cultural level, personal level, or some combination. What makes me enjoy the first story in the book isn’t what makes me appreciate the last. But I did want every story to factor in that this is a Filipino-Chinese anthology, so I wanted the culture to be a factor: some factor into the plot significantly (some stories for example dealt with the taboo of non-Chinese romance) while others are in the background.

Personally I leave it for readers to decide what they think is best. And this is an anthology, so I don’t expect every story to strike a chord in them, but hopefully a few do. I tried to encompass a lot of subjects and genres. There’s horror. There’s urban fantasy. There’s historical fantasy.

What does “Lauriat” have to offer to Filipino-Chinese readers? What about to those unfamiliar with the culture, or even with Philippine or Chinese culture separately?

First, I think Lauriat features a lot of terrific stories–which is subject to my bias of course. Second, it’s written by talented authors that the rest of the world hasn’t heard of. Third, while there’s some speculative fiction being written about Filipinos, not a lot of them deal with the Filipino-Chinese experience, and I hope the anthology rectifies that. Fourth, regardless of your knowledge about either culture, I think the stories stand well on their own.

What has the early feedback on the book been like?

For me the biggest challenge is getting the word out. I’d like to thank Publishers Weekly for reviewing it in their publication (http://christinevlao.blogspot.com/2012/06/publishers-weekly-reviews-lauriat.html) as well as Locus for mentioning it under their New Books (http://www.locusmag.com/Monitor/2012/08/new-books-14-august/). As far as feedback is concerned, a lot of the reviews are on Goodreads (http://www.locusmag.com/Monitor/2012/08/new-books-14-august/).

Where can the book be purchased?

Here’s a direct link to the Amazon page (http://www.amazon.com/Lauriat-Filipino-Chinese-Speculative-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1590212541) but it should can be ordered through bookstores and the eBook is available in a lot of online retailers such as Smashwords, Weightless Books, Wizard’s Tower Books, etc.

PSF6 Review: “Eternal Winter” by Maria Pia Benosa

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 3 - 2012

This post is a part of our story-by-story review of Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6. You can see the introductory post, and our disclaimers here. Bold font is Mia Tijam, everything else is Paolo Chikiamco.

Mia: I’m in the mood for bullet points so let’s tick this way (because we like bulleted documents anyway):

1)      As much as the opening line was very interesting, it was stilted. How about instead:

Just like her, Rico thought, to leave the house in the morning without a word or a kiss, only her panties LEFT—stretched beyond their years, hanging off the radiator to dry— to say hello to him…

Pao: I like it the way it is actually, since I like interjections being immediately next to the word they spring from, but your version works too.
 

2)      And I always say to leave the onomatopoeia out, like with panties going hrrrrnhh, hrrrrnhh. That is scary and can traumatize all the fantasies about panties from here on haha. But hey, if the Shake,Rattle&Roll franchise would go more daring, Eternal Winter’s panties can be an episode. :p

                OK, yeah, the hrrrrnh, hrrrrnh threw me off a bit. Not a sound I’d associate with garments, unless they were in a washing machine.

3)      The story follows the classic formula of post-cataclysm-unto-post-apocalypse in the tradition of Noah’s Ark.  The scenario in the story is very real and very possible and hell if it isn’t happening more so now, and the sad-but-true thing is that we’ll read this now and when this happens in the future we’ll all say “Hey, déjà vu!”  Man, I’m really apocalyptic and believe in post-technology haha.

I’m always happy to see classic genre formulas applied to a Philippine setting, but in this case I don’t think enough was done with it. The story does a good job showing us the state of affairs between Rico and Luna, but it’s not long enough to really develop Rico’s relationship with his job, or to give us a real atmosphere of encroaching doom (as in, say, Batacan’s “Keeping Time”.) I wish the story had been longer so that, even if the plot was conventional and linear, we could get that kind of development.

 –Dude, it’s the external reality (Baguio- Apocalypto Environment) mirroring the internal reality (Marriage-Apocalypto Environment) and vice-versa. If you’re seeing it this way, then this parallelism wasn’t tight enough apparently.

 – Apparently not, for me at least. The world is coming to an end, just as the marriage is coming to an end? I didn’t feel that sense of foreboding with the world, while with the marriage it was quite explicit.

4)      I love the “dramatic” scene(s) in the end: It’s very Pinoy, HK, and B-Movie flicks with the speech/dialogue cum action; like the speech before a bad guy kills somebody or before somebody dies or is saved hahaha.

Since I didn’t really feel there was much of a buildup, those final scenes didn’t have much “oomph” for me. It seemed more to me like the end of Act 1 than the end of the story – I’m much more interested in the situation that Rico found himself in at the end of the story than I any situation he was in during the story.

 –Dude, it was drama that was funny because I just couldn’t take it seriously.

 But for dramatic effect for 4, better if that “Fuck you!” was deleted. “Show don’t tell” rule yo.

 I agree. This would have been a good part to go with something inarticulate. The curse plus      the subdued ending made the final few paragraphs meek instead of strong.

5)      I like how this story touches on the triumphs and follies of Nativism— a) The Native Culture as Cassandra; b) The Native Culture as being consigned to “unrealistic” by the present and the future because of “unwillingness to communicate and be cooperative” which is sometimes synonymous to “against conformity” ;  c) The Native Culture as “stubborn ass rebels who refuse to get with the program” therefore becoming extinct—  how we can all forget our ties to what is our cultural core because of the way things are like technological advances and globalization et al and only return to what matters when it’s too late.

 I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard any Filipino refer to members of indigenous groups as   “natives”, though. When I’ve heard them being denigrated, the names of the cultural groups      themselves served as ample epithets (or the name of one group improperly applied to another). Granted, this may actually be the practice in areas that border indigenous communities, or maybe it was an attempt to draw parallels between rich and the colonizers of old, but it just seemed odd to me.

 –Let me clarify: “Nativism” is a framework and when I said “Native” (Culture), I was using the term used in post-colonial criticism when referring to the NON-Western/Colonized/Hybrid/Synthesis Culture being discussed (and in the story’s case it was the Kankan-e or Kankanaey which is one of the many Igorot Tribes).  Historically, since the Kankanaey have been reached by modern amenities then they consequently put stock on education and desire more socio-economic developments for their large population (which would as much as possible not harm the environment nor go against their core values).

So, there’s that minority and the Baguio Hegemonic Culture in the story. Luna’s character— after being immersed in this Baguio Hegemony— decided to return to her Kankan-e roots (because of the conflict/s provided by the story).  

 And when you’re coming from the extreme end of Post-Colonial Re-Framing, an example of “Nativism” would be, “If I really want to be true to my culture, then I will not write in English but will write in my native language(s) instead.” Kaboom! Gets?

 –No, I get that you were using “native” in an academic way – what I was referring to was the use of the term “native” by characters in the story: “he’d decided he wasn’t going to argue with her about the natives and the birds.” “She’s one of the few that the natives will deal with!” “they don’t need to deal with the natives anymore” and so on…

 –Ah! Kasi naman use reference! Ha ha. That’s how it is really, the Hegemonic Culture does use “native” to refer to the, er, natives, because it’s always a challenge to  the majority  from the time of Genghis Khan, Cesar, Magellan, Mayflower Compact, The British East-India Mates and so on until Benosa’s Baguio to pronounce the proper names of the native minority. Ano ba, Katutubo nga raw eh. In English: Natives! :p

 6)      Really, the story is an elephant that says “MOVE! BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” The storytelling has generally good enough composure but it’s not something that sticks to me.          

A few further points I’d like to raise:

  • I found the prose and dialogue to be awkward at times, particularly Luna’s rant about midway through the story, which is a shame since that’s a key segment in the story.

–A consequence of not yet having the stamina, composure, experience in this kind of storytelling. All a matter of time for the author.

  • While I really liked the opening segment, and felt that it integrated world-building with the day-to-day stressors of Rico very well, the flashback-expositions in the latter parts of the story don’t fare as well. I understand having Rico dwell on memories about Luna during the final exodus, but did we really need that segue to the Korean immigrants?

–The segue to the Korean immigrants is texture for the Baguio setting because the city has turned out to be the Little Korea of the Philippines based on Korean population.

 –Oh, I didn’t know that! Still, I think that there’s mention of Rico and Luna’s friends earlier, and in the second-to-last scene of the story, I still feel the flashback-exposition hurt the momentum more than it added to the context.

  — And so we always learn something haha. But like I said, it’s a story that didn’t really stick to me as I had to re-read it while going through our critique.

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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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