Flipreads Easter Sale (High Society and Alternative Alamat)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 5 - 2012

Looking for something to read during the longest Philippine holiday of 2012? Flipreads will be having a sale from today, April 5 – 8, 2012, with P40.00 off on selected titles, including High Society and Alternative Alamat. Here’s the complete list of participating publishers/authors:

Publishers:

Authors:

Flipreads Promo: Read an Ebook Week and Read Aloud Day

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 6 - 2012

Flipreads is running a promotion this week , in celebration of Read an eBook Week (which is this week, from March 4 to 10) and World Read Aloud Day(which is March 7, tomorrow). Flipreads has placed several digital titles on sale, and amongst these is our very own “Alternative Alamat” which is now being sold at the discounted price of PHP200 (down from the regular PHP235). A fine time to get your copy, if you haven’t purchased it already! Flipreads accepts payment via Globe Gcash, Smart Money, PesoPay, Paypal and Cashsense.

Alternative Alamat Interview: Andrei Tupaz

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 18 - 2012

For our second Alternative Alamat contributor interview this year, I’ve spoken with Andrei Tupaz, author of “Offerings to Aman Sinaya”. Andrei used to work as a primary school teacher in the Philippines but now lifts heavy boxes of produce and stocks shelves five days a week at a supermarket in Wellington, New Zealand.  In his spare time, when he isn’t recovering from all the lifting he does at work, he works out at the gym, or spends time with his wife doing extremely productive things like lazing about near the Wellington wharf, watching shows and movies, or acceding to his body’s gastronomic demands.

Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

My story focuses on a fishing tribe, and their relationship to the sea goddess Aman Sinaya.  It also asks and “answers” the question: “If Aman Sinaya, goddess of the sea, really existed, what kind of offering would she accept from those who fish within her domain?”

Did you draw upon any specific personal experiences in writing this story? Experiences of the sea, of love, or a clash between old and new?

I guess an experience that I drew upon is the time my friends (including my then girlfriend and now wife) and I swam with whale sharks in Donsol. I wore a life vest because I couldn’t swim (I knew how to paddle but couldn’t stay afloat).  We saw four whale sharks.  The first one I saw (was it really the size of a bus?) went straight toward me, and then veered away at the last second.  If I stretched out my hand I would have touched the whale shark’s snout (touching the whale shark would have been wrong of course); it felt like I was that close.

I still can’t truly put into words the awe and amazement I felt swimming with those whale sharks. Our guide, a man in his forties, was an incredible swimmer and diver. Seeing him, and the other men in the bangka we hired, move so effortlessly around the bangka, and in the water – that also affected me. Another experience that probably “jumpstarted” the story was seeing a high school friend’s photo of the sunken cemetery in Camiguin, with the iconic cross rising out of the ocean.  My friend had composed the photo so that the cross was in the upper third of the photo.  On the lower third of the photo, there was a bangka moving towards the cross.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?

The part of the writing process I like most is the start – when the screen is white and devoid of any text. Because then I can write anything, and it doesn’t have to make sense or be coherent.  I like writing short 250 to 500 word ‘freewrites’ about a concept I have (if you’re ‘freewriting’ about a concept, is it still a freewrite?), because it feels like I’m just indulging in my imagination, but to turn that concept into a whole story… ahh that’s hard work.

That’s how Offerings to Aman Sinaya actually came about…out of a 500 word ‘freewrite.’  I wrote about a parent telling a bedtime story to his child, of fishermen diving to the bottom of the sea, to pray to a statue of the Virgin Mary. Funny how the original freewrite had such a Catholic motif.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?

Creating a coherent story.  I had written so many “what if” versions on the idea of giving an offering to a sea goddess, with so many different characters, that I had a hard time choosing what the plot was going to be about.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

I learned about some folktales from my parents and carers (including stories of aswangs and the like), and read a bit of Lam-ang in high school, but I only really started learning about Philippine myths and legends when I bought a copy of Damiana Eugenio’s Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths.  Sadly, I lost my copy of the book before I could finish it.

Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

Bernardo Carpio maybe?  Also Maria Makiling, because the tales about her are so varied; sometimes she’s extremely kind, sometimes a lover who has been spurned, at other times a forbidding and dangerous guardian of her domain.

Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

Bernardo Carpio, because he was named after a hispanic character, and yet was supposedly seen by the Katipuneros as a symbol against Spanish oppression.  Also Maria Makiling, for the reasons stated above.

As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:

      “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:

      Catherine Batac Walder Reviews “Alternative Alamat”

      Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 9 - 2012

      Filipina writer (and Ruin and Resolve contributor) Catherine Batac Walder has a wonderful story-by-story review of Alternative Alamat (now updated with her comments on Mervin Malonzo’s artwork) up on her blog. Here’s what she has to say about some of her favorite stories from the anthology:

      “The Alipin’s Tale” is very rich both in Philippine mythology and historical characters. Endlessly fixated on Greek mythology, this is the first time that I remember encountering a Filipino story that reads like one…

      “Keeper of My Sky.” Alternate realities, a series of what could have beens, like reading Einstein’s Dreams, trying not to kick up dust. This has to be my favourite in the volume. Beautiful.

      “Conquering Makiling” is sharp, witty and sexy. I felt I was invited by friends for a climb up Makiling and instead of getting nervous and tired, it became a walk in the park and just that – a gathering with friends. (Damn I didn’t realise Philippine myth is this hot haha).

      Thanks for the review Catherine! As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:

      Alternative Alamat Interview: Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

      Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 4 - 2012

      It’s a new year, and for the first interview of 2012, it’s my great pleasure to present a short question and answer session with Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. Rochita  attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in 2009 as that year’s Octavia Butler Scholar. Her work has been published in print and online, both abroad as well as in the Philippines.  Some  of  the  publications  she  has  appeared  in  are:  Weird Tales  Magazine,  Fantasy  Magazine,  Apex  Magazine,  and  the Philippine  Speculative  Fiction Anthology (second and fourth volumes). She has stories coming out in the Second Apex Book of World SF and Realms of Fantasy.  She is currently working on a tribal sf novel.

      Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

      The inspiration for this story came from reading the poetry in Mangyan Heritage. I had an exchange with the curator of the Mangyan Heritage Institute and I expressed my desire to use the poetry in some of my work.

      Harinuo’s love song was an experiment in combining mythic storytelling and the Ambahan. In a certain sense, Harinuo’s Love Song resembles the story of the Star Maiden. It’s not the same though.

      What made you think of using elements from Mangyan poetry and Ifugao folklore in the same story?

      To be honest, I didn’t set out with a definite plan. I was reading the poetry and I allowed myself to be led by it to the story which turned out to be based on Ifugao folklore. I suppose this was influenced by my absorption in tribal lore at the time of writing. I was very much inspired by the poetry of the Mangyan and wanted to showcase it against a background that was much more familiar to me which was the Ifugao culture.

      What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?

      What I enjoyed the most about writing this story was how it just flowed. I wasn’t really concerned about whether it was publishable or not. I just wanted to put the words on the page. To me capturing that image and the feeling was very important. In writing this story, I didn’t pay attention to the conventions of story writing. I think I was more immersed in the language and the rhythm of the language. I was not so much concerned with writing a traditional story as being true to the spirit of the telling.

      What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?

      Letting go and sharing it with readers. As I said, it was very much a personal experiment. Stuff like this isn’t easy to let go of. I guess, it’s also because it exposes the artist’s vulnerable soul.

      How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

      I think that we grew up with it in a certain sense. It’s kind of impossible to be unaware of certain mythologies when you grow up in a tribal area. Later, I became more fascinated with Philippine myths and I wanted to read more and more that was Filipino.

      Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

      Aponibolinayen and the Sun.” It was this tale about a maiden who got married to the sun. I liked that story a lot.

      Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

      I am rather fascinated by the character of Bugan. Perhaps because this name is the default for a lot of female characters in Ifugao mythology. In any case, I find myself speculating on Bugan and wondering what if she was a recurring being. I’m still pondering on it and I know I’ll probably write something about that sometime in the future. But to me, Bugan is fascinating because the myths connected to that name allow the imaginer to travel diverse pathways and still in a sense remain tied to the original tale.

      Tina Matanguihan Reviews “Alternative Alamat”

      Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 2 - 2012

      Reviews of “Alternative Alamat” are starting to trickle in (we were in the Philippines Graphic last week), and I’m happy to say that so far they’ve been of the positive variety. The latest comes from Tina Matanguihan (One More Page, PinoyWriMos) and she gives it a 5/5. You can read the full review at her book blog or on Goodreads, but let me just say that when I reached the part where Tina goes “I felt that this book and the stories in this collection were mine”, my head swelled to the size of the Lion’s Head at Kennon Road.

      As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:

      Alternative Alamat: A “Notable Book” of 2011 (GMA News Online)

      Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 1 - 2012

      We’d like to thank GMA News Online, particularly writer Meann Ortiz (who just last week gave her positive early impressions of “Alternative Alamat”), for including “Alternative Alamat” on their list of Notable Books from 2011. Amongst the other local speculative fiction books mentioned are “Philippine Speculative Fiction vol. 6″, “Heartbreak & Magic”, and “Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight.” Here’s how Meann describes “Alternative Alamat”:

      Philippine mythology isn’t just about aswangs, duwendes, and kapres; there exist pantheons of deities and a deep well of other legends and myths that we were never taught in school. Alternative Alamat makes some of these lesser-known tales and characters more accessible to modern readers with 11 engaging re-tellings. The book also includes interviews with scholars of Philippine mythology, a reference guide, and a list of notable deities accompanied by illustrations by Mervin Malonzo. This is only available as an e-book, though, so I hope that the publisher will consider releasing it in print so that it will be accessible to more readers. Because of efforts like this anthology, it won’t be long before we find our own local Rick Riordan who will successfully skyrocket this aspect of our culture into the popular consciousness.

      As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:

      Alternative Alamat: World SF Blog Interview

      Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 29 - 2011

      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:

      Alternative Alamat Interview: Celestine Trinidad

      Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 27 - 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.

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