PSF6 Launch Photos

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 29 - 2011

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The launch for the sixth volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction took place last Saturday, with the inimitable Dean Alfar once again serving as master of ceremonies and all-around entertainer–the PSF launches usually turn into roasts for the editors and contributors (and being absent is no defense) and a grand time was had by all. I’ll have videos from the launch and the earlier launch of the crime issue of Philippine Genre Stories later this week, but first here are some photographs from the event.

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In spite of the rains, (and some *ahem* premature storm warnings), the UView Theater of Fully Booked was jam packed–this photo is from early in the proceedings, and by midway people were lining the walls, in spite of the addition of the monobloc cavalry. The downside to that is the volume sold out minutes after the launch was over–if you want another print run, make sure you make your voices heard!

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“Pericos Tao” by Andrew Drilon

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 25 - 2011

Pericos Tao” is a comic from writer/artist Andrew Drilon which was released online recently by Top Shelf. It’s not a new work, but it hasn’t seen wide release until now–you may recall Adam David talking about it during our Rocket Round Table on favorite Philippine spec fic stories (slight spoilers here, so go read the comic first if you like–it’s only ten pages):

Barring my own set of scintillating sensurround scifi scintillations, the best Pinoy SpecFic story would be the unfortunately still largely unread “Pericos Tao” by Andrew Drilon. It was supposed to be part of Drilon’s Kare-Kare Komiks print remix a bunch of people – me included – tried their best to make manifest around the middle of 2008. I was the layout artist so I was privy to the actual finished pages – “actual finished pages” being actually “virtual” as Drilon assembled everything on computer – and I was one of maybe ten or so people who have seen the whole book (maybe I still am). The publisher ran out of money, so the project didn’t push through. The book was 96 pages of Drilon’s full-colour ChemSet strips, and a handful of new ones to round off the collection, some of which already saw publication in places, but not “Pericos Tao” for some reason.

“Pericos Tao” is one of those too few gay stories that’s ABOUT being gay and at the same time ISN’T in the sense that it isn’t pushing an agenda. It’s about a young man trying to escape the past, and, unsuccessful, finally decides to come to terms with it in his own terms. It makes use of a few characters/creatures from Visayan tradition and somehow making them not clunky as how most of these things are on the page more often than not. It also employs some formal play by way of recreating the young man’s Visayan childhood via impeccably mimicking Larry Alcala’s unmistakable cubist brushstrokes, while the present rendered as how Drilon renders his usual, only slightly better, all of these things running in synch all focused on telling the story, and telling it well. Of everything I’ve read by Drilon, or any one else’s in SpecFic for that matter (and I’ve probably read about 90% of what’s been published so far as of 05:04AM of 7 September 2009), “Pericos Tao” remains to be the most honest and most complete and most heartfelt and really just one of the best stories I’ve ever read, printed (or not) on paper. It’s really all just downhill from here for Drilon. I hope more people will get the chance to read “Pericos Tao,” before he decides to sell out and go manga on everyone. Make it so, Andrew!

High praise from someone very hard to impress. Intrigued? Then go check out Pericos Tao

Free Ebook Sampler: Circuit

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 7 - 2011

The thing about using a broad term like “speculative fiction” is that it can be a bit tricky figuring out what does or does not fall under that umbrella (especially with something more poetry than prose)… but I’m pretty sure that a book of blurbs about itself (the book of blurbs) qualifies, especially with contributions from familiar spec fic names such as Dean Alfar, Mia Tijam, Adam David, Andrew Drilon, Josel Nicolas,  Khavn, and Budjette Tan. Curator Angelo Suarez has thrown up a PDF sampler which you can find here, and I’ll let him explain the project in his own words:

This book was assembled in 2009 as something that was titled “The Blurb Project”— admittedly an unimaginatively unimaginative tentative name—intended for release w/in the same year. The procedure: Ask writers to blurb for a book whose content would solely be the blurbs to be collected from them, a critico-creative exercise in closed-circuit self-reference that could function as a collaborative epic poem of modular components. The material gathered was hence largely speculative: the book would talk about itself even before the book was complete, the collaborators either working blindly or else w/ what few blurbs were already available for their use.

Trese (and Komiks) After the Award: Budjette and Kajo Interview

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 30 - 2010

For fans of komiks, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo need no introduction, and neither does Trese, their komiks collaboration, now published by Visprint, which is one of the most popular and most successful komik series’ in recent memory. While komiks still remains, at this point, a niche market, Trese continues to make inroads into mainstream consciousness, its most recent success being recognition in the National Book Awards in the category of Graphic Literature. In what I think is their first post-award interview, Kajo and Budjette talk about the success of Trese, the importance of their fans, transmedia storytelling, and the future of Philippine komiks:

ROCKET KAPRE: First of all, congratulations to you both for winning the National Book Award for Graphic Literature. Is it somehow sweeter to win it this year, when you were up against such strong competition, in Francisco Coching’s “El Indio”? (I remember that in his introduction to the first Trese collection, Gerry Alanguilan mentions Coching, so it seems a weird symmetry for Trese to win the award this way.)

KAJO: Thank you. It feels great to be recognized. Good to have additional gallons of inspiration to do more work like TRESE (or in our case, more ‘play’).

BUDJETTE: Of course, it feels great to finally win! How I wish we could’ve been there to accept the award. Last year, me, Kajo, and Nida (our publisher) were all dressed up at the awards and my jaw just dropped when they announced that there was no winner in the category. You’d think that if you’re the only finalist in the category, then your chances for winning are pretty high. But, as it turned out, TRESE: UNREPORTED MURDERS didn’t get the unanimous vote of the judges and that’s why it didn’t win.

So, when I found out that we were up against “El Indio” this year, I didn’t want to get my hopes too high. I was happy we got in finalist status again and I just hoped for the best.

I still remember the early days when Trese came out as individual photocopied issues, each resolving a single case. Do you still remember your initial print runs for the early issues? How many times did you have to reprint/go back to press before the first collection came out from Visprint?

BUDJETTE: When we were just photocopying TRESE in 2005, the only place you could get [the komik] was at Comic Quest. So, we probably just made 30 copies and made more whenever we’d get sold out. And we’d get a call from Comic Quest every couple of weeks that people were looking for Trese.

During the Komikon of 2005, I only had 50 copies made, thinking we wouldn’t sell a lot.

We were sold out before 3pm. I was so happy that we sold 50 copies!

KAJO: During our ‘photocopied Trese’ days, Budj was technically the publisher, so he’s the one who kept track of the copies being made and copies being sold. I rarely cared how many people were buying [the komiks] because for me, the only loyal customers we needed to maintain were Budj and Kaj. It appeared that many people were like Budj and Kaj, ‘specially when Visprint appeared and gave us a giant hand regarding distribution.

Do you remember when it was that you first realized that you had a hit on your hands? That this was going to go beyond the convention circuit?

BUDJETTE: I’m not sure of the exact tipping point of Trese. I was getting an inkling of it when I would spot the occasional review online. (Yes, yes, I Google “Trese” once in awhile.) It amazed me that people took the time to write reviews that read like someone’s thesis report. These were very detailed and passionate reviews about the stories. It was also great to get feedback from guys like Gerry Alanguilan and Marco Dimaano about the book early on.

And then, when we released TRESE: MURDER ON BALETE DRIVE, me and Kajo were invited guests at the Mangaholix Con in SMX, where we sold 100+ copies. By that time, we knew that people really liked our stories.

KAJO: Honestly, I knew we had a hit when I first read Budj’s script ‘At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street’. I knew that this would be a story that Budj and I were going to love reading, so making it was pretty easy. [Budj and Kaj] are easy customers, you see. It’s a little different now, but I still try and please those two and hope that many others are just as willing to ride along.

You two have always seemed to value Trese fandom, featuring fan created artwork in your collections and online. What role has fandom, in particular online fandom, played in the success of Trese? Has any feedback changed how the story was told, or presented?

KAJO: The fandom is very important to the success of Trese. They are the big, smiling reflections in our mirrors that tell us ‘you’re looking good, keep it up’ or ‘you look like crap, don’t go out’. The feedback they share with us is as valuable as a steering wheel in a car, IMHO.

BUDJETTE: I think the biggest change that affected Trese’s storyline was the feedback about the Kambal. More often than not, people would ask, “Who are the Kambal? What are they? Where did they come from?”

Like I mentioned in the afterword of Book 3, the original “secret origin” of the Kambal was just supposed to be mentioned in passing in the very first Trese story. I just wanted to get that out of the way and focus on the mysteries that Trese had to solve. But Kajo deleted those captions and told me that he’d like to do a whole story that just focused on how Trese met the Kambal. I said okay and thought that it was going to be a simple 20-page story where Trese rescues the Kambal and I was going to write that sometime in the future.

More people asked about the Kambal’s origin after Book 2 came out. So, I thought, I might as well tell it in Book3. I was trying to tell it in the usual 20-page structure, but the story just wouldn’t cooperate and it became the 100-page book that was MASS MURDERS.

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Black Folklore: Andrew Drilon on Dagim and Black Clouds

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 12 - 2010

Project Raincloud–consisting of a movie, a graphic novel, and a website–is one of the most ambitious Filipino creative projects I’ve seen in recent years, and the film, “Dagim”, has just been released as part of this year’s Cinema One Originals for screening at the Shangri-La Cineplex 4. (You can check the schedule here.) Speculative fiction author and komiks creator extraordinaire Andrew Drilon has been a part of the projection almost since its inception, and will be the pen behind the graphic novel component, called “Black Clouds”. He took a moment out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.

Can you tell us a bit about Project Raincloud, and the extent of your involvement in it?

Project Raincloud is a tri-media project comprised of a film, a graphic novel and a website, all working toward a single concept. It involves a lot of local folklore and re-examining it from a modern perspective, exploring what it might say about us. When I first got involved in this project, I basically sat down with the writer/director of Dagim, Joaquin Valdez; the curator of the website, Misha Lecaros; and Mark Dantes, one of our project coordinators, to hash out the concept, the framing story, the characters and the themes we wanted to explore. Part of this involved outlining a whole world–almost an alternate universe–that might exist between the cracks of the one we know.

The project has been an amazing multimedia exercise.  My involvement in Dagim only goes so far as the story level—I mean, I attended the shoots and helped out with the legwork a bit, but the film is really the work of Joaquin and the wonderful cast and crew he’s assembled. They’ve taken full advantage of the medium, playing to the strengths of cinema and breathing life into the world. On my end, I’m doing the graphic novel and trying to push the limits of what comics can do. Our stories parallel, but the different mediums enable different approaches, so Dagim is taking a very beautiful, haunting, hi-res perspective of the story, while Black Clouds explores it from multiple angles and a sprawling overhead view. They each stand alone, but play off of each other in interesting, complimentary ways.

Meanwhile, Misha Lecaros is curating the website, Project Raincloud, which sits in the middle of the film and the graphic novel, tabulating the whole creative experiment and offering its own robust behind-the-scenes perspective. There’s this fantastic meta-narrative condensing above it all once you’ve digested each side. Everything’s rolling out in phases, and synchronizes in the end, so I think it’ll be a worthwhile experience.

Dagim, the movie which is the first “leg” of your project tripod. Can you tell us a bit more about it, and why it may appeal to genre fans?

Dagim is a quintessential Filipino horror film, tackling a genre specific to our country—“the aswang movie”. There are loads of predecessors to this kind of film, from Peque Gallaga’s ouvre of movies (“Sa Piling ng Aswang”, “Hiwaga sa Balete Drive”, “Tiyanak”) all the way to “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. What’s interesting about Dagim is how it turns the genre on its end, looking at it sideways and dealing with the horror obliquely. There’s a lot of implication in the movie, a lot of narrative going on in the shadows and spaces, which I’m certain will be clear to sharp viewers. And it’s a beautiful-looking film. I haven’t seen a local movie that’s pushed its visual aesthetic this far. The colors are mesmerizing.

The ground level of the story is about two boys who’ve lost their father. They decide to journey up a mountain and end up meeting a very unusual tribe of people. And as these things go, they discover scary things that happen in the dark… blood spilled, conversions, existential hunger, death and dreams. It’s like an elevator experience, in a way; as the altitude changes, perception shifts. A lot of elements layer upward as the film progresses. I’ll stop myself before I get into spoiler territory, but I think genre fans may want to see this, if only to experience the familiar in a strange new light.

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Filipinos and the Genre, September 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 24 - 2010

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A few of our countrymen-and-women have been making news in the genre (and genre) related front, and I’m starting up this new type of post “Filipinos and the Genre” so that I have a place to collate all the news, in case I fall behind.

The most recent bit of information we have comes from Kenneth Yu over at Philippine Genre Stories, where he informs us that PGS contributor Alex Paman has a book out that will definitely be of interest to Rocket Kapre visitors:

PGS contributor Alex Paman‘s first book, Asian Supernatural, is now out and available at Amazon! (see above scan of its cover)

As described in the book’s preface, it is “an attempt, for the very first time, to truly catalog ghosts and monsters from all the Asian and Pacific cultures in a single volume. Its contents come from oral tales, old anthropology books, travel narratives, and other native resources that were written before the advent of the internet.”

It’s pretty comprehensive; looking at the table of contents, it covers not just China, Japan, and Korea–arguably the first cultures that come to mind among many when “Asian supernatural creatures” are mentioned, but also countries like India, Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and yes, the Philippines.

In other news, Joseph Nacino, editor of Estranghero Press, recently had his story Logovore republished over at Fantasy Magazine. The magazine also has an interview up with Joey, where he graciously mentions our humble site. Thanks man!

Logovore is but one of many speculative fiction stories by Filipino authors picked up by international publishers. The Philippines also has two representatives in the recently announced table of contents for the Apex Book of World SF Volume 2: Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s “Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life” (from Interzone 229) and Andrew Drilon’sThe Secret Origin of Spin-man” (from Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 4). Many of these foreign sales are available online–here are a few of the most recent, and you can also take a look at Charles Tan’s database for stories published in 2010:

June 2010

September 2010

Philippine Speculative Fiction 5 Launch: Videos (Batch 1)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 26 - 2010

The launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 5 took place last Saturday, April 24, 2010, at Fully Booked Bonifacio Hight Street, and this is my first batch of videos from the event, for the benefit of those unlucky enough to be elsewhere while we were laughing it up (usually at the expense of Kenneth Yu, or Andrew Drilon, or any author who was absent from the launch :P ). Please excuse the rather shaky footage, low volume, and occasional passer-by – we were way at the back of the U-View Theater.


These are the introductory remarks of Dean Alfar, speaking on behalf of his publishing house, Kestrel DDM, which has put out the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology for the past five years.

Dean marvels at the fact that this is the fifth volume of the anthology, and talks about the thrill of finding new, young, spec fic writers in the course of putting together each anthology. At the end, he introduces the two co-editors, Vincen Michael Simbulan and Nikki Alfar. (All in the process of gamely resisting the urge to give a political speech ~_^)

The PSF launches are always good fun – the audio isn’t too clear alas, but Kenneth Yu’s expert pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull alone was enough to provide laughs for the rest of the afternoon. Dean is a marvelous (glorious?) host, and he uses the understandable absence of the foreign contributors as a constant source of good-natured humor that helped make everyone feel at home (I speak from experience, having attended the previous launch as a mere spectator).

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Komikon Kontenders: Best Web Comic

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 15 - 2009

Voting for the 2009 Komikon Awards ends in less than a week, on 20 September 2009, and while it might be hard to scrounge up copies of all the nominated physical komiks, the magic of the Internet means that it’s easy for prospective voters to bone up on the nominees in at least one category: Best Webcomic. (Webkomik?)

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I thought I’d do my part to promote voter education (practice for 2010 maybe?)–especially since all of the nominees have some Speculative Fiction elements–so here are links to the nominees, as well as some sample panels, because we’re all such suckers for good visuals. I’m also including a bit of personal analysis for each, but please don’t take my word for the quality of the works–just click on the links and discover these worthy kontenders for yourselves. (Yes, that was an intentional misspelling in the post title guys ;) )

Warning though: Kubori Strips for the Soul are NSFW and NSF-Minors, whether or not you’re at work.

What the Cigarette Said by Andrew Drilon

Language: English

Speculative Elements: Without spoilng anything… Philippine mythology and folklore is present. And oh, a talking cigarette.

Andrew is, as might be obvious from some of the answers in our first Rocket Round Table, one of the most admired storytellers in the country today, whether the medium be prose or komiks, since he’s as adept with words as he is with art. When he combines those two talents, as he does in “What the Cigarette Said”, the effect can be magical: Andrew uses words and images to give a dream-like quality to a surreal love story. One advantage this has over the other nominees is that WTCS is not a serial webcomic but a 12 page mini-comic that tells a complete story. Even if you’ve already voted or have no interest in the awards, taking the time out to read this comic will be minutes well spent.

By Moon Alone by Hai Ibardolaza

Language: English

Speculative Elements: Magic, demons, prophecies, and an entire secondary world. (Or is it?)

Hai is another of that rare creative breed who has mastery of both prose and art. It is the latter that will first strike you however, and how–I can honestly say that Hai is one of my favorite artists, local or foreign, webcomic or no. The way he portrays emotion on a character’s face, the vivid aesthetics of his coloring, the splendor of his set pieces… and when he does his one panel “splash” pages… wow. (His recent strips showing a city under siege by giants are some of his best yet.) While the art lures you in though, it’s the writing that elevates By Moon Alone from “pretty pictures” to “awesome comic”–there is a wounded-ness to his main characters, a sense of impending tragedy that makes me read each new strip with a mixture of excitement and dread. At this point there’s no big “payoff” yet–I get the feeling we’ve barely scratched the surface of this story–but what’s there is mesmerizing.

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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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