Archive for the ‘Slider’ Category

Interim Goddess of Love: Interview with Mina Esguerra

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 24 - 2012

Mina Esguerra is one of the Filipino authors most beloved by the blogging community, partly because she writes excellent “chick lit” stories in a Philippine context, and partly because she maintains a regular online presence. Her next romance novella is a YA book with speculative elements, so I jumped at the chance to have her on the blog for a short interview.

Tell us a bit about your new book, “Interim Goddess of Love”:

Interim Goddess of Love is my first YA romance novella, and it’s about Hannah, a sophomore scholarship student at a college just outside of Metro Manila. Her world changes pretty much overnight when her friend (and not-so-secret crush), reveals to her that he’s actually the god of the sun, and that he needs her to temporarily be the goddess of love. Because the original goddess is missing. It’s the first volume of what I’ve planned as a series. (Operative word is “planned” of course.)

In an interview last year, you mentioned how your first novel pitch was for a YA story that was not picked up. What made you decide to return to that genre now? How do you approach writing a YA novel as opposed to one that is not aimed at that market?

Before getting published that first time (My Imaginary Ex, a chick lit novella), I had only ever really written YA — stuff that was more Sweet Dreams- and Sweet Valley-ish. Writing chick lit now, I actually still take my YA concept and just age the characters by five to seven years. My books are not very “adult” or raunchy. (My mother will disagree, but anyway.) I’ve also used a lot of flashbacks to college, so I feel like I never really left that comfort zone.

I pay attention to readers mentioning my books in social media though, and I noticed that they’re young. Teenagers. Younger than I’d expected since the stories are about twenty-somethings.  So I thought maybe I could work on a story and keep the characters teenagers too, instead of aging them. That’s how Interim Goddess of Love started.

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“Alternative Alamat” on the Nook and Three Reviews

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 17 - 2012

Good news for Barnes & Noble Nook readers–”Alternative Alamat” is not only available on the Nook, it’s also been discounted there to US$3.99 (B&N’s decision, not ours) so now would be a great time to check it out, or spread the word to a Nook loving friend.

I’d like to point to three recent reviews of “Alternaitve Alamat”. The first is by Filipina writer Kristine Ong Muslim, and is on the Amazon page of “Alternative Alamat”, Kristine calls it “fine volume which showcases the contemporary retelling of Philippine myths” and gives it 4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Kristine!

The second review comes from GMA News Online (courtesy of Melay Guanzon Lapeña), and it’s a very positive review, and she calls the book “an impressive collection of stories”.  Of Rochita Loenen Ruiz’s “Harinuo’s Love Song”, Melay says it is “[b]eautifully told, the words swirl as the story unfolds” and she also says that “[f]ans of Budjette Tan’s hit graphic novel “Trese” are in for a treat” with the Trese prose story, “Last Full Show”. Melay takes the time to say a little something about each story, even if it’s just a brief description, and that’s greatly appreciated. Thanks Melay!

The third review comes from book blogger (and fellow lawyer!) Monique, who gives the book a perfect 5 out of 5 rating, and calls it “[d]ifferent, but clever. Brilliant.” Thanks Monique!

Don’t forget, you can find Alternative Alamat at these fine establishments:

High Society: Book Page and Reviews

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 10 - 2012

While it’s not a Rocket Kapre release, “High Society“, my steampunk comic book with Hannah Buena, is getting a book page on the site, to give me a central hub to post purchasing information (now that it’s available from four different online retailers), as well as reviews. One notable review has come from Frida Fantastic, over at Adarna SF. Here’s an excerpt:

The comic does a good job of immersing the reader in the setting while still keeping it accessible for readers who aren’t familiar with the Philippines. I love details like the use of Filipino sound effects (e.g “bog!” instead of “wham!”).


Buena’s art is expressive and dynamic, with a subtle manga influence that makes everything extra adorable. It has a bit of of a sketchy feel because some of the pencils are visible, but it I think it’s aesthetically pleasing.

It’s also relevant to mention that “On Wooden Wings”, my short story in Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6 that is set in the same world as “High Society” (and which will become the first part of the “Wooden War” series) was the subject of an in-depth review/analysis by Jha over at Silver Goggles. It’s very interesting to read impressions of that alternative history from a reader who is not Filipino but who is a fellow Southeast Asian.

Launch: Diaspora Ad Astra

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 3 - 2012

Estranghero Press has released its third free, online, themed anthology of Philippine speculative fiction. “Diaspora Ad Astra” is a collection of fourteen science fiction stories by Filipino authors, edited by Joey Nacino and Prof. Emil Flores.

1. Introduction

2. Dean Francis Alfar, The Malaya

3. Alexander Marcos Osias, Oplan Sanction

4. Raymond P. Reyes, Ina Dolor’s Last Stand

5. Vince Torres, The Cost of Living

6. Isabel Yap, A List of Things We Know

7. Audrey Rose Villacorta, The Keeper

8. Carljoe Javier, The Day the Sexbomb Dancers Invaded Our Brains

9.  Dannah Ruth S. Ballesteros, Ashes/////Embers

10. Eliza Victoria, Rizal

11. Katya Oliva-Llego, Gene Rx

12. Raydon L. Reyes, Robots and a Slice of Pizza

13. Raven Guerrero, Lucky

14. Anne Lagamayo, Space Enough and Time

15. Professor Emil M. Flores, War Zone Angel

It’s the New Year–and wouldn’t it be great to land an international publishing deal before the End of the World? (Sadly, your book won’t see the light of day before the end of the Mayan Calendar, but hey, at least you’d know it WOULD have if not for the floods/rapture/snowpocalypse/supernova.) If you want to go this route, landing an agent is a necessity, so here’s some contact details that may help. This information comes from the always thoughtful Mia Tijam, who attended the Great Philippine Book Café (Manila International Literary Festival)

Jayapriya Vasudevan

Literary Agent

+65 9362 4559

331 River Valley Road

09-03 Angsana Lobby 1

Yong An Park

Singapore 238363


Priya Doraswamy

Literary Agent

+1 973 379 4185

39 Delwick Lane

Short Hills, NJ 07078. USA

Mia says: “These two ladies from Jacaranda are hands-on and pretty sweet. They were the ones who signed FH Batacan for her next novel. They like crime/suspense/adventure thrillers but they’ll read anything.”

You can also send your manuscripts straight to one particular editor-in-chief:

Ravi Mirchandani


Direct Line: (+44)- (0)20 7438 1202

Fax: 020 7430 0916

Ormond House, 26-27 Boswell Street, London WC1N 3JZ

Mia says: “Ravi’s inclined towards immigrant stories but he also reads everything.” She also mentions that Ravi is the editor of “House of Sand and Fog.”

Good luck, Pinoys!



RK Recommends: “Writing the Other” by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 20 - 2011

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.

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Typhoon Sendong Relief Incentive: Free Ebook “Ruin and Resolve”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 20 - 2011

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, and now on (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 ofAnd the Geek Shall Inherit the Earthand 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.

Release Day: Alternative Alamat Now Available

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 14 - 2011

Cover for "Alternative Alamat" by Mervin Malonzo

The day has come!

Alternative Alamat“, our digital anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology, is now available for US$4.99 at the following fine establishments:

  • – US$4.99 (note there’s an extra US$2.00 charge for certain non-US territories/accounts, including, unfortunately, the Philippines)
  • (epub file) – PHP235.00
  • [iTunes and Barnes & Noble/Nook editions to follow]

I hope that by now you’re all excited to get your hands on the book (or, rather, the hardware holding the file), and if so, thank you and what are you waiting for? If you’re still on the fence even after the preview of our contributor and story introductions, and our author interviews (Raissa, Mo, Eliza), then read on (or download the press release here)!

As a celebration of today’s launch, I’d like to give you a glimpse of some of the non-fiction segments of the book, as well as the wonderful artwork of Mervin Malonzo, creator of “Tabi Po“. You’ve already seen the beautiful cover Mervin made for us, but you may not have realized he’s also doing internal artwork as well. Each book is graced with eleven original illustrations by Mervin, where he gives his spin on eleven of the most interesting gods and goddesses of Philippine mythology. I don’t want to give too much away, so here’s a montage-teaser using elements from all eleven pieces:

After the cut: one full sample of Mervin’s interior artwork, the full text of the book’s introduction, and excerpts from my interviews with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

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Expanded Horizons Fundraising Drive (Christmas 2011)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 7 - 2011

The online SF magazine Expanded Horizons is undertaking their holiday fundraising drive, and this time they aim to raise enough funds to pay their authors semi-pro rates nextyear. Expanded Horizons is a quality magazine, but that’s not the only reason it deserves support from Filipinos and from readers of Filipino Fantastic Fiction–Expanded Horizons was founded in order to “increase diversity in the field of speculative fiction, both in the authors who contribute and in the perspectives presented.” This includes a focus on fiction by authors of color, or featuring characters of color. You can read more specifics about their laudable mission here.

Expanded Horizons has published many stories/poems by Filipino authors, including Eliza Victoria, Kristine Ong Muslim, Katya Oliva-Llego, Anne Abad, Catherine Batac Walder, and Mia Tijam. A well funded Expanded Horizons can only benefit Filipino authors in search of markets for their fiction. To highlight the support that Expanded Horizons gives Filipino authors, here’s a hyperlinked list of all of the Filipino-written stories/poems they’ve published to date:

Design and Desire: An Interview with By Implication

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 30 - 2011
There are few things I enjoy more than speaking with passionate Filipino creators, and helping them garner the attention they deserve. The game designers of By Implication should need no introduction from me–as I mentioned in my post on Scram, they’re the Filipino game design team that won Microsoft’s prestigious 2010 Imagine Cup Game Design Competition last year. Since they just released their first commercial game, I thought this would be a good time to sit them them down (virtually) and get to know them better. Game designers are usually more anonymous than creators in other media, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as eccentric interesting as other artists, as you’ll see from this interview.
If you like what you see, do give Scram a try and support awesome game design that just happens to be from the Philippines.
Q: We know a lot about “By Implication” as a team, but what about as individuals? Tell us a little bit about yourselves, your lives outside of By Implication, and what your role in the team is–and by that, I don’t mean “position” such as artist or programmer. 

Kenneth: My name’s Kenneth Yu. I’m supposed to be By Implication’s writer and story director-guy, but because I studied Economics and Business in La Salle, I’ve seen been press-ganged into also being the team’s producer / project manager. This means, basically, that besides writing up copy and coming up with game concepts + stories, I have to do all the crap no one else wants to do. Like creating sound effects and ambiance, recording payments and purchases, bugging people to get stuff done, writing up hare-brained marketing schemes, buying everyone coffee and chicken sandwiches, keeping everyone on speaking terms, and beating down supervillains. The 2-3 hours per day I spend outside work go to reading, toy collecting and playing Batman: Arkham City (and, on occasion, eating and sleeping). All of these inevitably lead to new game and story ideas, and thus to more work in By Implication. Man.

Jim: My name is James Choa though I go by the nickname of Jim (or trigger-happy, if you play certain online games that are not considered as mmorpgs). Outside of being one of the programmers in the group, I also function as the resident Linux guy, programmer, non-teaching-guy-who-can-represent-programmers-in-most-meetings, hardcore gamer and programmer. My apologies, I think I left out the important detail of me being a programmer in the group.

Wil: This is the Wilhansen Li, self-proclaimed PROGRAMM_CAT, of the group. He smites anyone that dares defy the laws of Computational Complexity, using an Infinity (+1) Hammer forged from the very darkness of the universe. He has warped through the Universe-ity of Ateneo, obtaining the coveted combined degree of Computer Science and Math, only to end up back in the Universe-ity to bestow epiphany to those who are willing to accept the Enlightenment. He shall ensure and verify that all laws of any universes created by Implication neither explodes nor collapses to a singularity. The PROG_CAT balances; the PROG_CAT; the PROG_CAT listens.

Thomas: I’m Thomas Dy. I mostly do the other programming that neither Wil nor Jim particularly want (i.e. non-Apple and non-game programming). Like our almighty PROG_CAT, I’ve also taken up the challenge of bestowing Enlightenment upon those who are willing (to pay the Ateneo).

Philip: I’m Philip Cheang, one of the two designer-artists in the group. I graduated in Fine Arts, but have always been partly developer at heart, and continue to write some code here and there (though on a much smaller scale than our beloved developers above). In this regard, I sometimes mediate between the technical and non-technical sides of the team. I enjoy (and dread) nudging lines and shapes ten pixels to the left, then maybe five to the right, but wait-I-have-a-totally-different-idea-now- -I’ll-just-delete-everything, several times over the course of the day. Recently, I’ve also started teaching (like Wil and Thomas), but in Ateneo’s FA department.

Together with Levi, I work directly on graphic assets, art direction, and interface design. Together with Kenneth, I represent the team in events, press, and business meetings. Together with Wil/Jim/Thomas, I discuss technical and architectural decisions. By myself, I generally dick around and waste time, which is why it’s important that I’m together with someone. 

Wait, that sounded wrong. Can we omit that? Is this live? Hello— —

Levi: Levi refers to himself in the third person during interviews. He performs exactly half of design/art duties, leaving Philip to do the other half. Every now and then he brings the team to work, and the rest of the time he hitches; fuel economy is very important to the crew. When food needs to be ordered over the phone, he is often the one to do it, and he will do it in a foreign accent. He is also an unlicensed chemical engineer, and thankfully does not practice. Surprisingly, his training in this field has been helpful in a variety of unexpected ways in developing games—such as in threatening his teammates to work.

Kenneth: Now you see what I have to deal with every day.

Q: What was it like, winning Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Game Design Competition? How did your concept for “Wildfire” come about, and did it change much from conception to execution? 

A: Competing on a global scale, representing the Philippines, and winning first place against many other teams was simply a fantastic experience. In many ways, it was a culmination of our efforts since high school. As young, ambitious kids, we loved (and hated) all these different games, and so we tried (and failed) to create games we could call our own. Winning in the Imagine Cup gave us the validation that creating games was something we could seriously pursue. It’s been an interesting ride so far, and we look forward to the road ahead.

Wildfire’s inception sat at an interesting intersection: we had just come from two competitions, we had been playing with these cool algorithms for autonomous agent behaviour and crowd simulation, and we had just experienced this terrible typhoon called Ondoy. With the drive to win and accomplish something, the technology to build something upon, and an inspiring story to share with the world, we set out to create Wildfire.

The Imagine Cup’s theme was the Millennium Development Goals (poverty and hunger, environmental sustainability, global partnership, and so on) — really big problems. What we saw after Ondoy was that big problems like these can be solved by the collective effort of many individuals. In the Filipino spirit of bayanihan, people from all walks of life volunteered their time and effort in helping their fellow man. The thing is, it’s normally difficult to directly address real-world problems with a game. Other utility-style apps are easier to link to a theme, because you can do directly useful things like aggregate information, offer networks and connections to interested parties, and open lines of communication.

With a game, you generally have to just teach people about the reality of a problem, by inserting that problem as your game’s main theme. Now, many games with a “theme” are, sadly enough, detached from it. The theme is nothing but a layer slapped like a sticker on top of an existing mechanic. “The game will be like a Tower Defense, except it’ll happen in someone’s organs, and will teach people that diseases are baaaaad.” (This was actually one of our earlier ideas, which we ran with for about a month or two.) We had the opportunity to create something that was genuinely inspired.

Wildfire was designed as a “volunteer movement” simulator, from the very start. The idea was to portray the movement of a single good intention, as it “spread like Wildfire” across a population. From the very beginning, we had grid-style cities, crowds of people moving about, and “bad-guy” agents getting in the way. The idea was always for the main character to “inspire” crowds of citizens, and lead them around the city to complete a variety of tasks.

Our initial version of Wildfire was a 2-D affair with only dots for characters. (You can still see traces of this early version in some of our promotional / trailer videos for the game.) When we go through the elimination rounds for the Imagine Cup, we had the opportunity to expand Wildfire, turning it into the full 3-D version that people can download and play today. Along the way, we attempted to implement additional mechanics, like bullet-hell style opponent dodging, and strategy game-style territory control, but many of these features were dropped, for the sake of clarity.



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.