Archive for the ‘News’ Category

My Interview with Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 27 - 2010

Oh, hey, look whose turn it is on the other end of the (figurative) microphone? Fantastic Filipina writer Rochita Loenen-Ruiz ( who is currently guest blogging at Ecstatic Daysinterviewed me, and Lavie Tidhar posted the conversation over at the World SF News Blog. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: What do you think are the obstacles or challenges that we face as Filipinos writing in a field that’s dominated by the West?

The first challenge is that, as I touched upon a little earlier, most of us Filipino speculative fiction writers are ourselves products of that domination. The books we read in our youth gave us many of the tools and techniques that enable us to be writers, but which, at the same time, might not be right for the kind of stories we now want to tell–at least not without some adaptation. Even the language many of us write in, which approximates American English, while serving as the basic tool of our profession, seems to add a layer of alienation any time we choose to write certain types of stories. You see that a lot in the komiks scene here, particularly the local superhero scene, where you can see creators struggling to decide when to use English, or when to use Filipino, or how to translate a concept or experience from one context/language to another.

There was a recent discussion with regard to the viability of the classic superhero in the Philippines–the type who only focuses on halting crime rather than effecting any social change–given that the scale of problems such as poverty and corruption here. And yet, classic superheroes are exactly what many of the creators grew up wanting to do. In the same way, I grew up wanting to write The Belgariad, or the Wheel of Time, but now that I’ve realized I want to write stories influenced by the historical Philippines rather than historical Europe, I find that there is no great body of fiction that I can turn to and build upon. (Which is one of the reasons I’m all for discovering Philippine myths and legends.) It’s a blank slate, and for a writer that is both exciting and terrifying.

The other challenges are more practical in nature, and apply more specifically to Filipinos who live in the Philippines and want to publish novels.  While the short story market is becoming more and more accessible to writers from across the globe, it’s still difficult for someone who doesn’t live in the West to get a book published in the West, even when we just factor in logistical matters, such as the fact that a writer who lives in the Philippines is less likely to be able to network at a convention, or attend a writing workshop like Clarion. The sad thing is, it’s not any easier for a Filipino writer to get a spec fic novel published here in the Philippines. Most publishers don’t appear interested in spec fic in general, and spec fic novels in particular. There are no literary agents here, nor conventions where an aspiring writer can approach an editor or publisher. That’s one reason why I believe that many authors in the future will take the self-publishing route–they simply don’t have a way to get the attention of publishers. I hope that Rocket Kapre can help change that in the future.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Thanks to Rochita for taking time from her writing to interview me, and thanks to Lavie for sharing the interview.

Launch: Philippine Pantheons

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 22 - 2010


It’s a little more than a month before the deadline for submissions to Alternative Alamat, and I thought it would be an opportune time to launch my second companion project. A few months back, I released the Myth List, an index of Philippine myths and legends with fantastic elements. Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Rocket Kapre’s Philippine Pantheons page, what I believe to be–as of this writing–the most comprehensive list of Philippine Gods and Goddesses on the Internet. Yes, Wikipedia included.

It does not claim to be a comprehensive list–that being said, as far as my research can determine, this is the most comprehensive list of Philippine gods and goddesses on the Internet, with 344 individual entries. Of course, given that the Ifugao alone seem to have had deities in the hundreds, that means there is still a lot of room for expansion.

Still, it’s a good place to start, and I hope that it opens the eyes of writers to the vast potential for stories represented by our myths and legends. Many of the entries are merely names and a domain, but as Michael Chabon found himself inspired by maps “and the romantic blank of unexplored territory”, and names that were like magic spells, calling into being that which had previously not existed, so too do I hope you glean inspiration even from the sparest of entries. The West has its Thors, its Aphrodites… maybe it’s time for our own deities to shine.

How to Help:

  • Spread the Word: … because this list won’t do anyone any good if no one knows it’s here. If you use the list, and it helps you with your story or komik or research, point people back to us with a link.
  • Information: If you think I’ve missed a god or goddess, please leave word in the comments section here, or send me an email at rocketkapre[at], and tell me your source. I’ll verify it as best I can, then add it to the list if warranted.
  • Art: If you’ve drawn or seen artwork of a deity online, post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the proper entry.
  • Stories: If you find a story which uses one or more of these deities as characters, let me know link in the comments and I’ll add them to the proper entry.

Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction 6

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 12 - 2010


It’s that time of year once again (although it seems you’ll have a bit more time to prepare this year): the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology is now open for submissions. This volume will be edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias. Here’s the official call:

Editors Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias invite you to submit short fiction for consideration for Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6.

Philippine Speculative Fiction is a yearly anthology series, which collects a wide range of stories that define, explore, and sometimes blur the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between. The anthology has been shortlisted for the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award, and multiple stories from each volume have been cited in roundups of the year’s best speculative fiction across the globe.

First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Submissions must be:

1. speculative fiction—i.e., they must contain strong elements or sensibilities of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, alternate history, folklore, superheroes, and/or related ‘nonrealist’ genres and subgenres

2. written in English

3. authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry

Submissions are preferred to be:

1. original and unpublished

2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500

3. written for an adult audience

In all cases, these preferences can be easily overturned by exceptionally well-written pieces. In the case of previously-published work—if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:

1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions—i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other market until you have received a letter of regret from us.

2. All submissions should be in Rich Text Format (saved under the file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to, with the subject line ‘PSF6 submission’.

3. The deadline for submissions is midnight, Manila time, November 15, 2010. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pakinggan Pilipinas, a Philippine Podcast, Launches!

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 1 - 2010

Pakinggan Pilipinas

Pakinggan Pilipinas, the first (I think) monthly podcast for narrated Philippine fiction, has released its first episode today, with Dean Francis Alfar’s Six from Downtown, read by Kate Aton-Osias and Blue Soon. Pakinggan Pilipinas is the brainchild of speculative fiction author Elyss Punsalan, and while these stories won’t always fall within the spec fic genre, given Elyss’ tastes, I’m betting we’ll be hearing a lot of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the just plain weird on this podcast. If the first story sounds familiar, that’s because it has been around the block a few times, having appeared in Philippines Free Press (2006),  Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2 (2006, Kestrel),  Kite of Stars and Other Stories (2007, Anvil), and online as part of the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler,  and I think that it’s still the only work of Philippine spec fic so far to be mentioned in a post on io9.

If you’re interested in helping out with this new project, check this page to see how you can help. Congratulations to Elyss and all those involved.

RP612Fic 2010 – Celebrate Independence Day with Twitter Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 7 - 2010


This coming Saturday is June 12, Independence Day here in the Philippines, an occasion well worth commemorating–and, for writers, perhaps commemorating in our own inimitable way. Last year, on my old blog “Bahay Talinhaga”, I invited people to celebrate independence day on Twitter by tweeting six word stories and tagging them with #RP612fic. Even on such short notice–I only had the bright idea a day before independence day–quite a few people chose to participate and we ended up with a hundred original micro stories, (some NSFW so ‘ware the link) give or take, which I personally found to be an excellent way to celebrate our independence.

So, as should be apparent by now, I’d like to do this again this year–and with more advance notice as well. For RP612Fic 2010, I’m doing away with the six word limit–any story which would fit a tweet with the #RP612fic tag will do, so 130 characters, regardless of how many words are included therein. Let’s start posting the stories on Friday, June 11, and I’ll wait until the afternoon of June 14 before putting all the tweets/stories together in a post. Aside from that time limit, there are no real rules, though obviously I’d love good spec fic micro stories about Filipinos/the Philippines–and I have a special love for alternative history stories at this time of year. (For instance, what if there had been perfect attendance at the House of Representatives when the Freedom of Information Bill was on the table last Friday?)

If you’re on Twitter, tag your stories with #RP612fic so I can compile them in a post. If you’re not on Twitter but would still like to participate, just shoot me an email before June 13 at rocketkapre[at] and place “RP612fic” in the subject line and I’ll include these stories in the aggregation post.

So that’s it. I hope that all of you can participate and help spread the word. Looking forward to reading all your stories ^_^

(Image of old school Philippine soldiers from

Alternative Alamat: Now Open for Submissions

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 1 - 2010


And we’re off! The reading period for Alternative Alamat opens today and will stay open until August 30, 2010. Guidelines can be found here.   I ask for your patience and forbearance, kind authors, should it take me a bit to reply to your submissions. For those still in need of ideas, never fear, there’s still quite a bit of time, and I’ll be posting a new aid, similar to the Myth List, on the site soon.

Good luck and write well everyone! Can’t wait to read your stories.

The New Usok

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 18 - 2010


The title of this post has a dual significance: first, I’m happy to announce that the new version of Usok #1, with a brand new digitally painted illustration for each of the five stories, is now live. The art credits are as follows:

  • Tey Bartolome – “The Child Abandoned”
  • Benjo Camay – “The Coming of the Anak-Araw”
  • Kevin Lapeña – “The Startbox”, “The Saint of Elsewhere: A Mystery”, and “Mouths to Speak, Voices to Sing”

I think we can all agree that these artists have done a fantastic job. Thanks to Tey and Benjo, and especially Kevin for helping arrange the art despite his busy schedule.


The second thing I’d like to announce is that I’m changing Usok’s release schedule. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that we haven’t managed to keep to our quarterly release schedule, and the reason is simple: we just haven’t received enough stories. I’m holding on to one story right now, and working with an author on another, but that’s the grand total of publishable stories we’ve received in the roughly six months since we launched. I’ve tried soliciting stories as well, but, as every writer knows, it can be hard to determine when your muse will behave, and when he/she will go on extended vacation in Alaska.

So, as of now, Usok will be a somewhat irregular publication. We’re still open for submissions–so please do submit–but based on half a year’s worth of experience, I simply won’t know how long it will take before I can get enough stories for an issue (my magic number is at least three, but I may need to make an exception soon), and I hate labelling Usok as a “quarterly” magazine, then watching the quarters wave gleefully as they pass me by.The good news is that I hope the more flexible schedule will allow future issues of Usok to launch complete with illustrations from the talented CG Pintor crew.

That being said, I realize that more could be done to encourage story submissions, and to improve the quality of these submissions. While I don’t have the time to run a permanent forum based workshop (something that would provide a venue for critiquing such as the one which indie komplex provides for komiks creators), I’ll try to brainstorm some method by which I can provide some critiques for spec fic writers who want to improve their work.

Thanks for supporting Usok so far everyone, and please continue to support it in the future. There’s no real way to learn some things except through experience, so I’m having to learn a lot “on the job”, so to speak, but I promise I’ll keep soldiering onward.

Launch: Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 7 - 2010


The website is still a work in progress, but Charles Tan, of the Bibliophile Stalker blog and a few hundred (minor exaggeration) others,  has announced that the ebook version of his new reprint anthology, “The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009″ is now available for free download. You can choose from either the PDF edition or the EPUB edition. (If you have the Stanza desktop ebook reader you can export the EPUB file to different file formats–say, if you want a .mobi file for your Kindle/Kindle reader, although such conversions usually junk the formatting). The anthology has cover art Elbert Or, a cover design by Adam David, (who also did the PDF layout and design) qith the Web and EPUB layout handled by Dominique Gerald Cimafranca.

Sixteen stories from fifteen authors, selected by one of the most well-read and difficult-to-please critics in the country–all for free? What are you waiting for?

Charles is the co-editor (alongside Mia Tijam) of the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, which was released in 2008.  I hope that this is the start of an annual compilation (and I hope that this isn’t the only yer a story of mine qualifies ^_^)

Here’s the full table of contents. Congratulations to Charles and all those involved:

  • Summation 2009 by Charles Tan
  • The Fires of the Sun in a Crystalline Sky by Francezca C. Kwe
  • The Day the World Lost Its Gravity by Camsy Ocumen
  • Strange Weather by Dean Francis Alfar
  • The Sewing Project by Apol Lejano-Massebieau
  • Lex Talionis by Paolo Chikiamco
  • Isa by Marianne Villanueva
  • Spelling Normal by Mia Tijam
  • Daddy by Yvette Tan
  • From Abecediarya by Adam David
  • The Annotated Account of Tholomew Mestich by Elyss G. Punsalan
  • Beats by Kenneth Yu
  • Wildwater by Crystal Koo
  • Moondown and Fugue by Alexander Drilon
  • The Maiden’s Song by Kate Aton-Osias
  • Capture by Gabriela Lee
  • The Secret Origin of Spin-man by Andrew Drilon

Chanted Journeys: May 21 and 22, 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 7 - 2010

Well, isn’t this a bit of awesome timing? For those of you who want to experience hearing Filipino Epics performed live and old school, “Chanted Journeys: Discovering the Oral Traditions of the Cordillera” at the CCP will have renditions of the Ifugao epic “Hudhud hi Aliguyon” and a Kalinga Ullalim (not sure which one). The show, a part of Filipino Heritage Month 2010, takes place at 8p.m. on May 21 and 8p.m.on May 22, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, CCP. It will feature performances by The Community Chanters of Tungngod, Lagawe, Ifugao; and Manlilikha ng Bayan Alonzo Saclag with the Kalinga Budong Dance Troupe.

(Wow, they translate “Manlilikha ng Bayan” as “National Living Treasure”. That sounds head and shoulders above National Artist to me @_@)

You can buy tickets at Ticketworld. A larger image of the poster can be found here.

I’ll be buying tickets this weekend, and I’m already excited. :) To whet your appetite, let me repost the descriptions of the Hudhud and Ullalim from our Myth List:

  • Hudhud hi Aliguyon (Ifugao)
    • The life of Aliguyon, dealing with his eight year war against Pumbakhayon, which results in the two adversaries gaining respect for each other, until at last peace is made between the two peoples.
  • The Kalinga Ullalim
    • The ullalims in the book (ullalim is a general term for ballads that “eulogize bravery”) deal with the Banna-Dulliyaw Cycle of Southern Kalinga. The first deals with how Banna is born (through the intercession of a piece of betel nut-his mother eats a slice which his father owned and magically conceives) and rescues his father. The second ullalim is the tale of the ordeals Banna has to undergo (several headhunting expeditions, village annihilations, giant exterminations – the typical mythical courtship) in order to win the hand of Laggunawa, who had been promised to Dungdungan.

Komix 101: Required Reading at Fully Booked

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 6 - 2010

The Center for East Asian Languages is holding a seminar entitled “Komix101: Required Comic Book Reading for the Summer” that will tackle recommended comic books and graphic novels, for those looking for something to read this summer. Your guide on this little tour will be none other than Budjette Tan, co-creator of Trese and comics/komiks aficionado.

  • Date: Saturday, May 8, 2010
  • Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Location: U-View Theater, Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street
  • This seminar is for free.

On May 15, a similar seminar will be held covering anime and manga, to be run by Raymond Sison, also from 2-4, at the same venue.



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.