Alternative Alamat: Table of Contents

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 13 - 2011

It gives me great pleasure to finally be able to announce the table of contents of our first commercial anthology “Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology”. It’s been a long road, but I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. The book will be digital-only for now, and will be published in cooperation with Flipside Digital before the end of the year. I’ll be releasing more information about the anthology in the coming weeks.

“Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” by Eliza Victoria

“Harinuo’s Love Song” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

“The Last Full Show” by Budjette Tan

“The Alipin’s Tale” by Raymond G. Falgui

“Keeper of My Sky” by Timothy James Dimacali

“Conquering Makiling” by Mo Francisco

“The Sorceress Queen” by Raissa Rivera Falgui

“Beneath The Acacia” by Celestine Trinidad

“Offerings to Aman Sinaya” by Andrei Tupaz

“Balat, Buwan, Ngalan” by David Hontiveros

“A Door Opens:  The Beginning of the Fall of the Ispancialo-in-Hinirang” by Dean Alfar

Appendix A: A Few Notable Philippine Deities

Appendix B: Interview with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben

Appendix C: Interview with Professor Fernando N. Zialcita

Appendix D: On Researching Philippine Mythology

Cover and interior artwork by Mervin Malonzo

Trese 4 Launch Videos

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 11 - 2011

So last Saturday’s book launch of Trese volume 4, “Last Seen After Midnight” was a smashing success. Not every Trese fan could be there of course, which is why I’m uploading the question and answer portion of the event. After all, how else is the world going to know the rift running through the middle of Trese fandom: should Alexandra ever get a romantic interest? Budjette and Kajo also address fan influence on the storylines, a Zsazsa Zaturnnah crossover (make it happen!) and when book 5 will be coming out.

Trese 4 Pre-Launch Interview: Kajo Baldisimo (with Sneak Preview)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 6 - 2011

I hope everyone is excited for the Trese 4 book launch this coming Saturday, 5pm, at the National Book Store Bestsellers at Robinson’s Galleria. The book is entitled “Last Seen After Midnight”. I’ve already spoken with writer Budjette Tan–now artist and co-creator Kajo Baldisimo answers my questions about Trese. As an added bonus, we have exclusive preview pages from “Wanted: Bedspacer”, one of the new cases in Trese 4. In these pages, Trese explains to a doctor the difference between two creatures of Philippine folklore. Click on the pages for a larger version.

Do you view volume 4, “Last Seen After Midnight” as the start of a new tone for the series?

Parang yes.

The first trilogy tells the story of a hero who is still quite reluctant to accept that role. The next few volumes will show what happens when she starts facing that destiny head on.

Or not.

How different was it working on this volume, as opposed to the previous ones? Was it easier or harder to complete? I can imagine that as the anticipation increases for each new installment, the pressure on you two must also be growing…

Budj was done with the scripts years ago. As for me, I had a harder time completing this book because my focus constantly zigzaged from ‘just having fun’ to ‘living up to expectations’. The book got finished when I flushed ‘expectations’ down the toilet.

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Trese 4 Pre-Launch Interview: Budjette Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 4 - 2011

The much anticipated fourth book in the Trese series (which is popular enough to merit a Wikipedia entry) will be launched this Saturday, October 8, 5pm, at the NBS Best Sellers branch at Robinson’s Galleria. The book is entitled “Last Seen After Midnight”. I caught up with series writer Budjette Tan to ask him about the newest installment of Alexandra Trese’s ongoing adventures.

In many ways, Trese: Mass Murders (the previous volume) felt like an ending to a chapter of Alexandra’s life. Do you view volume 4 as something of a fresh start?

At one time, there was actually a possibility that the stories in Book 4 might have been part of Book 3 to begin with.

I never really envisioned Book 3 to be such a sprawling story arc. I really tried to tell the story of the Great Balete Tree in 20 –pages and was trying to tell the “secret origin” of the Kambal in the usual 20-pages as well. But as I kept writing that story, it just didn’t allow itself to be contained in 20-pages. So, it ended up becoming 113 pages long!

Book 4 is once again a collection of stand-alone stories. I like doing these types of stories. They feel more like a short jog, as compared on the long marathon that was Book 3.

We’ve actually started on Book 5. Looking at where that is planned to go, I think Book 5 will come closer to a “fresh start” for Trese. Or maybe it’ll take her down new path,s is more like it. We hope to finish Book 5 before the Summer Komikon of 2012.

So we’re seeing a return to the episodic cases then. How many pages will this volume be?

This volume will have four new cases. Each case is a stand-alone story. The stories range from 20 to 22 pages. We’ve actually released three of these cases in the past Komikons because we wanted to always have something new for the readers, just to show them that we are working on the new book. It also pressured us to finish each case for whatever was the upcoming Komikon of the quarter.

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Visprint WIT 2011

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 12 - 2011

The indefatigable Charles Tan has uploaded audio recordings from the recently concluded 1st Annual Visprint Readers’ Day event entitled “WIT” or “Writers in Talks”, including presentations by speculative fiction writers such as Budjette Tan, Karl de Mesa, Paolo Fabregas, Karen Francisco and Carlo Vergara. There’s a lot of material here aimed at creating your own works of fiction/komiks, so aspiring writers and creators, take note.

WIT: Visprint Reader’s Day 2011

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 5 - 2011

Visprint–publishers of such Philippine speculative fiction titles as Trese, the Filipino Heroes League, News Of The Shaman, and Naermyth, as well as fan favorites such as Kikomachine Komix and the books of Bob Ong–will be having its first annual “Reader’s Day” on September 10, this coming Saturday, at the SMX Convention Center, Meeting Rooms 7, 8 & 9.  Entitled “WIT”, the event promises to feature an exhibit of never-before-seen artworks by Visprint artists; behind-the-scene revelations by the book creators; talks on creativity; and a sneak peek of upcoming Visprint titles.

Now, this is the first of what will be an annual event, but if you’d like to get a taste of what WIT might be like, you can check out my videos from “Literature From Shakespeare to Bob Ong: Bridging the Divide Between the Popular And the Canonical”

EDIT: Here’s the updated poster:

Big Dreams and Awesome Costumes: An Interview with David Hontiveros

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 18 - 2011

David Hontiveros is one of the most prolific writers of speculative fiction in the country today. He’s won a Palanca award and been nominated for a National Book Award, and his work spans both prose (his Penumbra novellas) and comics (Bathala: Apokalypsis). Hontiveros recently re-released his online novel Pelicula as an ebook for the Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.  I thought it might be a good time to talk to Dave about the novel, superheroes, fantaseryes, and the state of publishing in the country. Here’s what he had to say:

[Art by Kajo Baldisimo]

Tell us a little bit about Pelicula. Do you think it will appeal to fans of science fiction and fantasy, particularly the superhero subgenre?

Pelicula’s about a young up-and-coming actor, Luis Conrado, as he navigates the tricky and turbulent waters of the Philippine showbiz industry, something that’s already difficult under normal real life circumstances.

In the novel, I’ve populated the industry with supernatural creatures from local folklore, who are the movers and shakers of the scene, multiplying the difficulties exponentially as a result.

Luis also happens to be the star of the highly-rated and uberpopular fantaserye, Habagat, on which he plays the title role, the super-bayani of the Philippines, Habagat.

Given that’s there a lot of superhero stuff in the novel– with some of my thoughts regarding superheroes, and what they mean to us as individuals and as a society, and the potentials of their physicality in the real world, informing the narrative– I sincerely hope that Pelicula appeals to that section of the audience into SF/fantasy and superheroes, of which I’m a proud member of, if that isn’t too obvious yet.

Of course, one always hopes for a broader section of readership, so hopefully other sections are pulled in by the romance angle, as Luis falls in love with a mannikin, an actress created by occult means to be the ultimate movie star. (So, aside from my thoughts about superheroes, some of the thoughts and impressions of a lifelong film geek about the film industry also serve to inform Pelicula.)

[Art by Ian Sta. Maria]

You mentioned in your author’s note a love for “live-action superheroics”. Most people would have just said “superheroes.” What is it about the live-action adaptations that interest you?

That goes way back to my grade school days, when, while reading superhero comics, I’d be constantly fascinated by the idea of these heroes stepping out of the panels and into the real, physical world. Things like how would they carry themselves, what would their body language be, what would their costumes look like, how would they sound, kept me preoccupied long past the reading of the comic itself.

It was fascinating to see the ‘50’s TV Superman, and the ‘60’s TV Batman and Green Hornet, and even back then, somewhere at the back of my young head, I was beginning to understand that tone was something that affected the entire package, and that you could have wildly different interpretations of the same character and that was fine (certainly, Adam West was not the 1970’s comic Batman, and George Reeves seemed more interested in tackling gangsters and hoods than interstellar menaces like Brainiac). Perhaps more tellingly, I was also being taught, quite subconsciously during those early years, that budget also dictated how a superhero’s live-action adventures were approached and executed.

Then Richard Donner’s Superman detonated across my young geek psyche, and that was it. If I wasn’t a lifelong fan of the stuff yet, I certainly was when I stepped out of the theater. It was the greatest superhero ever to grace a comic book panel, in real life. Yes, a man could indeed fly!

From that point on, it’s been a constant search for all sorts and manner of live-action superheroics, from the low budget ‘80’s Marvel productions like Captain America (with J.D. Salinger’s son as Cap!) to the glorious cheese of the ‘70’s Superman rip-off, Supersonic Man (still a personal favorite) to the fantastic wire fu/men in rubber monster suits extravaganza of Guyver: Dark Hero, with David Hayter, voice of Solid Snake and Captain America, and screenwriter of X-Men and Watchmen playing Guyver when he’s out of the bio-armor (the mind boggles at the audacious level of that geek cred).

The Betamax era brought treasures like the Kirk Alyn Superman serials my way, while today’s internet offers all the episodes of the zany Japanese Spider-Man TV show on marvel.com (who can resist Amazoness with her pink hooker wig?).

There’s the fantastic world of the superhero fan film out there, and the amazing costume work being done on the cosplay scene.

Then there’s the maddening variety of live-action superheroics in non-English tongues: everything from Indonesia’s Panji Manusia Milenium and Superboy on TV, all the way to the big screen, where we find curious gems like Thailand’s Mercury Man and India’s Krrish, the latter complete with Bollywood-style song-and-dance numbers!

Not to mention the martial arts badassery courtesy of first, Jet Li, then Andy On in Tsui Hark’s Black Mask movies, or the killer moves brought to us by Marko Zaror in Chile’s Mirageman.

Plus the insane tokusatsu sugar rush of Ultraman or Kamen Rider. (And yes, at this juncture we can safely toss our own Captain Barbell and Darna and Zsa-Zsa Zaturnnah into the mix.)

Now, despite what it may sound like, it’s not just about the kickass action, or the amusement and laughs one can find in some of these titles (and there are those, believe me), but it’s about that universal feeling of hope inherent in the idea of a hero who can make things right by doing what he does best: getting into the spandex and kicking some baddie ass.

There’s something reassuring about that thought, that no matter where we are on the globe, no matter the geographic distance and the cultural differences, there is always that shared belief in the power of the hero to make things right. That’s what I try to find in any title I happen to come across, and it’s there, even if it’s in some tiny moment or throw-away line or some badly-written, awkwardly-acted, and terribly-shot scene, it’s there, and it’s honestly a really nice thing to see.

These days, when part of the definition of “Hollywood summer blockbuster” seems to be the word “superhero,” I’m like a deliriously happy pig at an overflowing trough. Now, it’s become about finding the off-kilter, the atypical, the ones that say more and delve deeper into (or even subvert) the material; the Hancock as opposed to the Iron Man 2, the Defendor as opposed to the Daredevil. (And looking back at that, I realize that I’ve singled out two titles that are actually original pieces, as opposed to comic book adaptations.)

But still, typical narrative or otherwise, original or adapted, it’s about that idea of how a superhero can impact on the real, physical world, and taking that thought all the way to its possible real world end point, how can I emulate the best about a superhero even if I’m not actually one at all?

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“Skygypsies” – Free Philippine SF Comic, Now Online

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 1 - 2011

Filipino artist John Raymond Bumanglag illustrated a comic adaptation (originally a thesis) of a prose story from Timothy James Dimacali entitled “Skygypsies”, which was published in “Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 3.” The result is a classically illustrated comic book adaptation of “Skygypsies” which has been posted on John Raymond’s blog in its entirety, for your viewing pleasure.

It’s quite an unexpected treat, and a quality read. The artwork is meticulous and it is clear how much care and love went into its production. As for the tale, Philippine space-based science fiction stories are something of a rarity, and the fact that this features one of our more distinct indigenous cultures is a bonus. The Sama Dilaut (or Sama-Laut, as referred to here) are sea nomads who tend to avoid violent confrontations. I’m no expert, but based from what I’ve read about the Sama Dilaut, their portrayal in the story seems consistent with their history–they have a tradition of male bonding that develops from the prolonged isolation of each ship, and suffered discrimination at the hands of some of the more aggressive cultural groups. They could find their way across the seas through the use of sailing songs, kalangan tebba, which helped them commit to memory precise alignments or landmarks. [Herminia Meñez Coben, "Verbal Arts in Philippine Indigenous Communities"]

May I extend my congratulations to both creators, as well as my thanks–I’m thrilled to be able to use the tag “Sama-Laut Science Fiction” in a post. (And thanks to Budjette Tan as well for bringing this comic to my attention.)

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.

Rocket Kapre’s Budjette/Kajo Interview in the Inquirer

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 18 - 2010

Today’s 2BU Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer has republished, online and in print, my post National book Award interview with Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Glad to see the Trese creators getting more much deserved exposure–though I do wish they’d spelled my name right ;)

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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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