Alternative Alamat and other Visprint titles will be sold from the Precious Pages booth at this year’s Manila International Book Fair, and both Mervin Malonzo and I will be there for a signing on Friday, the 19th, at 1PM. Merv will primarily be there as the creator of the bloody awesome “Tabi Po” but as he provided illustrations for Alamat as well, readers of AA can get a rare two-for-one signing. So come on down if you’re free
For the digital release of Alternative Alamat, I ran interviews with several of the contributing authors, asking them about writing in general and their stories in particular. I wasn’t able to interview everyone, however, so for the print launch today– yep, the 25th — I went back to the contributors I wasn’t able to interview last time.
Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?
But when I’m writing a short story, I need to guide the reader into that world and get to spend more time talking about the details of Trese’s Manila. So, I end up knowing more about it and at the same time the reader comes along for the ride.
Here’s the new poster and some new details for the new launch date of the expanded Alternative Alamat print edition. It will be on July 25, Friday, from 4PM onwards, at Powerbooks Greenbelt 3 (2nd floor). Here’s the official Facebook event page.I’ve also updated the Book FAQ page to reflect the suggested retail price of PHP250. See you there!
For the digital release of Alternative Alamat, I ran interviews with several of the contributing authors, asking them about writing in general and their stories in particular. I wasn’t able to interview everyone, however, so for the print launch
this coming Saturday [EDIT: LAUNCH HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO JULY 25, FRIDAY, 4PM, SAME VENUE] I went back to the contributors I wasn’t able to interview last time.
TIMOTHY JAMES DIMACALI
Timothy James M. Dimacali, author of “Keeper of My Sky”, has always been fascinated by the intersection of science and mythology. He is currently the Science and Technology Editor of GMA News Online, but loves to play his violin every now and then. He has been a fellow for fiction at the annual Silliman University National Writers Workshop and the Iligan National Writers Workshop, and graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines.
The people of Panay tell the story of the god Tungkung Langit’s eternal search for his wife, the goddess Alunsina. They speak of how Tungkung Langit scattered Alunsina’s jewels in the sky in an effort to call her back to him; how her necklace became the stars; her comb, the moon; her crown, the sun. According to the old story, she never returned. Perhaps she had a good reason.
Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?
It’s a love story based on a very simple premise: What is it like for a god to be lonely?
The structure you used for the story was very striking. What led you to the decision to construct the story in this way?
I tend to write my stories in chunks, not necessarily in a specific order. If I think of an interesting scene or turn of phrase, I’ll write it at the bottom of the page. I’d collect several of these and move them up the page if I find a place for them to fit. But somewhere along the line when writing Keeper of My Sky, I realized that a lot of the random scenes I had thought up could be tied together as a parallel narrative. From that point on, it was just a matter of weaving the two streams together.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?
The whole writing process is fun for me! It’s like being on a rollercoaster that you built yourself, except that you’re riding it *while* building it. You have just a general idea of where you’d like to go, but the track is never quite the way you plan it and you never really know for sure how it’ll all end.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?
I honestly think it’s waiting for the pieces to fall into place. Sometimes I’d stare at the page and all I’d see are just bits and pieces, fragments that I’m not quite sure will fit together if at all. And that gut-wrenching feeling when you know that you’ll inevitably have to throw something out.
How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?
My single fondest memory is of a little book of Philippine myths and fairy tales, written in the 1960′s, that I found in my grandfather’s house.
Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?
Not any story, in particular, but the fabric of it all: the texture of the languages and cultures. I’ve always been fascinated by how closely Tolkien’s world echoed the myths and cultures of ancient Europe, and I feel that something similar can be done to Philippine mythology as well.
Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?
Seriously, it’s always been Tungkung Langit and Alunsina. Yes, that’s two characters, but they might as well be a single one. We often talk about lovers being “made” for each other, but just imagine what it must be like to be gods who have only ever existed for each other. And then imagine that, despite being a god, you can never be with literally the only other being in the entire Universe who completes you. That’s the loneliness that only a god could know.
In the run-up to the print launch, I’ll be reposting old material on Alternative Alamat that’s still relevant for the new, expanded edition. Today, I’ll be reposting the relevant parts of an interview (conducted by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, a contributor to Alamat) that originally appeared on the late, much-missed, World SF Blog. It provides some insight into the editorial side of things, and why I initially went the digital only route.
Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, what made you decide to start Alternative Alamat?
First, my more selfish reason: I was very into mythology as a child–but it was always Western mythology, not Philippine mythology. I only discovered Philippine myths well into my teens, and was mortified both by my ignorance and by the fact that I couldn’t see many modern writers drawing from these old stories. The reason I put up Rocket Kapre was to allow me to produce/encourage stories of the type that I would want to see on the market, and from the very beginning, I knew that one of my first projects would be to create an anthology which would bring together such stories, or give those stories a reason to be written.
My second reason was to help, in some small way, to promote awareness of both modern Philippine speculative fiction and Philippine mythology. In a sense, both are still invisible, internationally and in the Philippines itself, and one of the most effective ways I know of becoming more visible is simply by producing more content. To put out a book is, I think, the literary equivalent of “showing up”.
How did you first become acquainted with speculative fiction?
I grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and science fiction. The first novel I ever read was a fantasy novel (YA wasn’t a category back then). I’m an only child and, in what I’m sure is a familiar story, I found a haven in these other worlds.
Now, my encounter with specifically Philippine speculative fiction came much later, in the form of, first, the Mythology Class comics, and second, the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology.
Did your experience as a slush reader for Fantasy Magazine come into play when editing the stories for the anthology?
Yes, in the sense that my experience in the slush pile helped me refine my personal taste in short fiction. I find it much easier now to decide whether or not a story is a good fit for me. I did, however, have to always remember that I was an editor as well as a slush reader. As a slush reader, it doesn’t usually matter if a story is “fixable”–it’s a pass or fail. As an editor, those aren’t my only options.
What was your criteria in selecting the stories?
The presence of a mythological element–whether that be in the form of a character, a concept, an artifact–was the first factor I considered. Equally important to me, however, was for the stories to have a clear and coherent arc–even with the more experimental formats employed in the last two stories of the book, readers will know what the stories are about. One of the goals of the anthology was to offer a glimpse of our cultural heritage, and it didn’t serve that purpose to have stories that were amorphous or unclear.
Who was your target reader for the book? Were you gearing it towards local readers or to an international audience?
I tried to make a book that would appeal to any fantasy reader who was interested in mythology–particularly the lesser known mythologies. As far as nationality goes, I didn’t make a distinction between a Filipino and non-Filipino reader because the sad fact is that Philippine mythology is, for the most part, a mystery to both Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. It’s one of the reasons I put so much non-fiction content in the anthology.
What made you decide to go with an eBook release?
Lower costs, wider distribution, and faster turnaround. That and the fact that I probably buy ten books a month for my Kindle, so while I still love physical books, I love digital books just as much. That being said, I am still considering a print run, if only so I can put Alternative Alamat on library shelves.
It’s been a long time coming, but the much-requested print version of Alternative Alamat is heading to bookstores near you — and sooner than you think! The good folks at Visprint are launching it o
n July 19, Saturday, [EDIT: LAUNCH HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO JULY 25, FRIDAY, 4PM, SAME VENUE] part of a four-title launch that takes place from 11AM to 6PM at Powerbooks, Greenbelt. Not only is this a print edition of Alternative Alamat, but it’s also an EXPANDED edition, with a new short comic from Andrew Drilon, and a new story from Eliza Victoria, set in the same universe as “Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” I’ve also updated a bit of the bibliography to help with your Philippine mythology research needs.
Of course the rest of the book is still intact, with eleven stories that re-imagine Philippine myths and legends, each preceded by a gorgeous rendition of a Philippine deity by Tabi Po’s Mervin Malonzo. And in case you’ve forgotten what people said about the book when it first came out…
Winner: Best Short Story Anthology, Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards 2012: “Alternative Alamat does for Philippine deities what Neil Gaiman’s American gods did for the lesser-known gods of europe, Asia and Africa. Readers will find that the gods, goddesses and supernatural beings of the Philippines are as fascinating as those of any other nation’s pantheon. By turns shocking, tragic, even malevolent—the beings featured in this collection of stories are given new shape and form in stories that traverse the past and the present of Filipino culture. If myth is said to form a nation’s collective subconscious, then Alternative Alamat gives Filipino readers a much-needed injection of myths that are truly ours, and truly deserving of more widespread attention. Because of this collection, we’ll never view Filipino mythology the same way again.”
“[A] treasure trove of Philippine myths and legends reexamined and rendered for modern readers…lyrical…ground-breaking” - Angelo Ancheta, Philippines Graphic (December 25, 2011 – January 2, 2012)
“OK, if you only read one anthology all year, please let this one be it.” - Jaymee Goh. (Scroll all the way down – this post reviews three books.)
“[B]rings Philippine mythology closer to modern readers like no scholarly book of myths possibly could… delightfully diverse.” - Meann Ortiz, The Girl Who Read
“Somehow, I felt that this book and the stories in this collection were mine — mine because I am a Filipino…” - Tina Matanguihan, One More Page.
“…an excellent work indeed, well done!” – Catherine Batac Walder
“[A] marvelous attempt to gather in one volume some of the finest renditions of Philippine folklore.” - Kristine Ong Muslim (Amazon review)
“Different, but clever. Brilliant.” - Monique, Bookish Little Me
“This anthology came to me late in the year, but rocked my world on most counts. Between the illustrations by Mervin Malonzo and the intelligently done interviews at the back of the book, it was difficult to put this one down…” - Katrina Stuart Santiago, Facebook
“I know nothing of Filipino culture, and these stories were all brand new to me. And I loved them!” -Robin Edman, Goodreads.
Next Thursday is June 12, Independence Day here in the Philippines, an occasion which I, and a growing number of Filipino writers, like to commemorate with a little something we call #RP612fic.
For anyone late to the party, here’s all you need to know:
- What is #RP612fic?It’s Filipino authors coming together on Twitter to create tweet-length stories (130 characters, because you need to leave space for the hashtag) and sending them out into the wild with the #RP612fic hashtag. When the event is over, I’ll collate all submissions into a single post here on the site.
- What’s a Hashtag? It’s a word/code you put in your tweet after the “#”. It acts as a label of sorts and makes it easier for me to find all participating stories.
- When does this take place? At least once a year on Independence Day, but sometimes we participate in other events, such as a Blog Action Day. For any compilation or selection post I do, I’ll be looking for stories sent from 6PM on June 11, to 6AM of June 13.
- What kind of stories should I submit? For Independence Day, I’d love to see alternative history stories, but it’s not like I’m going to tell you to delete your 130 character realist micro fiction opus.
- What if I’m not on Twitter and I want to participate? Just send me your tweet length stories via rocketkapre[at]gmail.com and I’ll try to tweet them or include them in any compilations of the stories that I do.
- I may, time allowing, be doing a “Notable Stories” post, to highlight tweets/stories I found to be, well, noteworthy. The simple fact is, participation grows every year, and while this is a good thing, it’s reached the point that it’s no longer practical for me to compile everything.
- That being said, I’ll try to throw up a RAW file of all tweets with the #RP612fic hashtag – I say raw because I won’t have the time to separate the actual stories from non-stories, or original tweets from retweets.
- Artists are also free to participate. Just tell your stories with a single picture instead of a single tweet, and send it out on Twitter, or to my email account, with or without text (but if you put text, keep it to the Twitter limit, which includes the link to your image, if possible.) If you decide to illustrate one of the old RP612fic stories, from my previous compilations, please indicate the username of the original author, as found in the list.
Spread the word! For those who want to see the previous RP612fic stories, you can check out these links:
So it’s that time of year again, and I realized that I never did get around to posting a “Notable Stories” list of #RP612fics from 2013. I thought a curated “best of” list would be easier for me to do given the sheer size of #RP612fic nowadays, but that very size made it difficult for me to go through each and every story, and by the time I was through, it was August @_@ So I decided to simply make a raw compilation of all tweets that used the hashtag during the #RP612fic period last year, and put it up before the 2014 edition — which is a week away, so here it is! I say raw because I won’t have the time to separate the actual stories from non-stories, or original tweets from retweets, which also explains why this compilation comes in three PDFs and clocks in at over 250 pages.
Here then is #RP612fic 2013, in all its glory! Gasp in awe, quiver in fear… and get ready for the next round!
Tweets are listed in reverse chronological order, so the earliest tweets (not taking re-tweets into account) are found at the bottom.
Old venue, new event – the Bayanihan Center (home of the Komikons) plays host to the newest convention on the block. Billed as a science fiction and fantasy convention, NexCon takes place
this weekend on MAY 31 – JUNE 1 (apologies for the error!) . Here’s a description of the two day event, from their website:
End your summer with the biggest genre event of the year!
Dubbed NexCon Manila, it is the ultimate celebration of all things science fiction and fantasy where fans can meet some of today’s important names in genre entertainment, and party while they’re at it!
The event happens on May 31 to June 1, 2014 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City. It will run from 11AM to 9PM, and will be filled to the brim with exciting activities that will thrill Pinoy genre fans.
The biggest activities are the various panel events featuring some of today’s biggest names in Pinoy genre entertainment: international comic book superstar Leinil Yu (Avengers, Superman: Birthright), and filmmakers Erik Matti (Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, On The Job), Louie Suarez (RPG: Metanoia), and John Wong (editor, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, White Lady). Other guests include horror and fantasy authors Karl de Mesa, Yvette Tan, Joseph Nacino, and Carljoe Javier; and Pinoy cartoonists like komiks veteran Danny Acuña, Andrew Villar, and Lyndon Gregorio.
Another major event is GeekFight! Battle Royale, where genre fans can test their knowledge of sci-fi and fantasy trivia and slug it out with other triviaheads to be declared Geeks Supreme. The contest happens on May 31, and is organized by the people behind the hit bar game series GeekFight!
Cosplay is an important part of Nexcon Manila, which has two events for costuming enthusiasts: Cosplay Rumble and Cosplay Masquerade. Cosplay Rumble is a Western-format cosplay contest spotlighting characters from Western and Filipino comic books, TV series, video games, and everything in between; awards will be given to Best in Show, Hero of Heroes, Villain Most Vile, Stupendous Sidekick, Extraordinary League (for group cosplay) and more! Cosplay Masquerade, on the other hand, is a free-form cosplay contest where secret judges positioned all over the venue can determine the winners; all a cosplayer has to do is show up and be in character!
Closing the event with a big bang is NexCon ROCKS!, a rock show of mindbending proportions featuring the rousing music of indie rock bands Peso Movement (featuring former Rivermaya member Japs Sergio and guitarist Francis Reyes, formerly of The Dawn), dance-rock outfit Paranoid City, and Stereodeal.
All these and more happen at NexCon Manila! Ticket prices are set at P150 (Bronze Pass) for the Dealers’ Hall and public access areas, P500 (Silver Pass) for a one-day access to the entire event, and P999 (Gold Pass) for two-day access to the entire event. First 200 people to purchase a Gold Pass get to receive exclusive NexCon shirts. Tickets can be purchased at all SM Cinemas and SM Tickets branches all over the country. Those who wish to watch NexCon Rocks! separately (P150 only) can purchase tickets at the venue. Bronze and Silver ticketholders can upgrade to watch NexCon ROCKS for only P100. Gold ticketholders watch NexCon Rocks for free.
The event is is produced by Cosplay.PH in partnership with Stompworks. Cosplay.ph is behind the highly successful Cosplay Mania events in Manila, while Stompworks is a media solutions company specializing in television and video productions. The event is also brought to you by Content and Media Partners Warner Bros. Philippines, Magnavision, and Cinema One; and Official Regional Media Partners AXN and Animax. Also by Universal Robina Corporation, Visprint, Flipgeeks, WhenInManila.com, RadioRepublic.ph, SM Cinema, SM Tickets, Snack Time, Digipost, GeekFight!, the Philippine Outpost of the 501st Legion, and Lyric.
Check out www.nexconph.com for more details.
Happy World Book and Copyright Day! Copyright is important for creators — for economic reasons, creative reasons, and moral reasons. I’ve been putting some thoughts together on Wattpad about it — because that’s where the sharks seem to be circling — and on April 26, Adam David is running a free forum on the subject of copyright, covering both the current reality of how publishers and authors deal with these rights, and to prescribe how, ideally and equitably, these rights should be dealt with. Whether you end up agreeing with all the views presented at the forum or not — you can bet there will be advocacy mixed with practicalities — you’re sure to come out of this forum better prepared to either fight for your rights, or sell them at a premium.