Recordings from the 5th Filipino Reader Con

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 10 - 2015

The 5th Filipino Reader Con took place a few weeks ago, and as always it was a great deal of fun. No local convention truly feels like :coming home” to me like the ReaderCon does. The theme of this year’s activities  was “Toward a Reading Revolution” — you can feel that readers are starting to influence local publishing more, but the revolution, in the sense of a radical change in how things work, isn’t here yet. What we do have are a lot of discussions about where we should be headed and how readers can use their newfound power. As has become customary, I was the emcee of the event and moderated a pair of panels, which I’m sharing with you all here.


This panel was basically meant to be a power fantasy, with the panelists replacing the Powers That Be — any powers necessary to make their bookish wishes come true! It’s primarily a way to talk about being a reader in the Philippines — in general and for the panelists and audience specifically — and in the process of checking off things from a big wishlist, we get an idea of what can be done to make readers happier. We touched upon a wide variety of topics here, including the type of books we wanted to see, the role of libraries, the Filipiniana section, and the need to get books and bookish events outside Metro Manila.


Eriele Japsay is a 19 year old book blogger and cosplayer. She loves bringing book characters to life, thus making her cosplay debut as America Singer from the Selection Series during Kiera Cass’ first book signing event in 2013. She is now taking her degree in Marketing in University of Santo Tomas.

Blooey Singson is the owner and author of Bookmarked!, a blog for book reviews, author interviews, and other things book-related.  An administrator of the book club Flips Flipping Pages, a member of the Filipino Book Bloggers Group, and organizing chair of the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards for the annual Filipino Reader Conference, Blooey reads over 250 books a year and cannot leave a bookstore empty-handed. Blooey is also a published children’s book illustrator and a partner in a public relations firm in Makati.

 Tarie Sabido is a fangirl and her fandoms are children’s and young adult literature. She is the chair of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY), a nonprofit organization committed to the development and promotion of children’s and young adult literature in the country.
(Note there are two recording files here, but both cover more or less the whole panel. Volume is a bit low, sadly.)

Readers Take the Reins (MP3)

Readers Take the Reins (CAF)


The panel’s goals were two-fold: to detail a variety of ways that different kinds of readers can help different kinds of authors, and to inspire readers to go out and support authors in a variety of ways. The feeling I’ve always had is that readers would be more than happy to do more to support authors (within their individual comfort zones) if they felt that their actions truly mattered to the authors in tangible / important ways. The ensuing discussion was very lively — any panel with bebang usually is — and touches upon where authors earn the most money, how to spread the word about a good book, and “shelving problems.”

Si Bebang Siy ay isang manunulat, tagasalin at copyright advocate. Isa rin siyang lover… as in book lover. Nag-umpisa ang hilig niya sa pagbabasa nang matuklasan niya ang matalinghagang mga entry sa kolum na Xerex ng tabloid na Abante noong siya ay bata pa. Sa kasalukuyan, abala siya sa pagtataguyod ng mga writing at bookmaking workshop sa buong bansa dahil naniniwala siyang lahat ng tao, anumang edad at background, ay kayang-kayang gumawa ng sarili nilang aklat. Makipag-ugnayan kay Bebang sa pamamagitan ng email:

 Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance and young adult novellas. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the Ateneo de Manila University and a master’s degree in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines. Her contemporary romance novellas won the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards for Chick Lit in 2012 (Fairy Tale Fail) and 2013 (That Kind of Guy).

Kimberly Joy Villanueva started writing when she was in high school. She daydreams most of the day, thinking about what ifs, and scenarios for her stories. Music helps her in creating plot outlines. Before becoming a writer, she was an avid reader. She’s a bibliophile. Time is irrelevant when she’s reading. Her first book, The Bet, became a major motion picture this 2015. Just the Way You Are was produced by Star Cinema, starring Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano. Her other stories are posted on the online site Wattpad. She hosts the yearly Wattpad meet-ups as Wattpad Filipino Ambassador. She took up Marketing Management in Holy Angel University, and now, she works as a Marketing Officer at Jocson College.

Tepai Pascual is a Fine Arts graduate of the University of the Philippines, Diliman and worked as an Art Director in a top advertising agency, now creates storyboards for TV commercial / movie directors. She is co-founder of Meganon Comics and one of the organizers of Komiket. She’s best known for her National Book Award Nomimated graphic novel, MAKTAN 1521. Tepai also produced three more comic book series: Mark 9Verse47 with Maika Ezawa; Noodle Boy and Buhay Habangbuhay (Life Afterlife) with Paolo Herras and has a comic strip series in Adobo Magazine called Krokis.

Supporting Authors We Love (MP3)

If you’re interested in attending or participating in the Filipino Reader Con, please do join our community on Facebook. Thanks!

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!



Video: Real People Write 2010, My Talk

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 23 - 2010

Since I’m giving a talk tomorrow at Adamson University, I thought it might be a good time to finally post this. Last October 15, 2010, I was invited to be one of the resource speakers at the Real People Write symposium at the Ateneo de Manila High School. The symposium is held during Communication Arts Month, and different Filipino writers are invited to deliver a talk to Third Year High School Students in order to “expose students to Filipino writers from different genres, and help foster in students both an appreciation for the art of writing and a love for reading”. With the help of fellow speaker Carljoe Javier, I was able to take a video of my talk (more an audio file than a video file though – my recorder isn’t equipped for low light), which I finally got around to posting today, for the benefit of anyone who wants to hear me ramble about why I write, why I love spec fic, and my four tips to help new writers keep away from the one unpardonable sin: giving up.

It was an interesting experience. all in all. High school boys can be a tough crowd for any speaker, but I don’t think anyone walked out, so I don’t think I was a complete waste of their time @_@ During the open forum (not recorded), most seemed more concerned about the admittedly lousy picture I painted of law firm life… I’m not quite sure if I should hope I didn’t dull the enthusiasm of budding legal eagles, or hope I did. Ah well…

Thanks to the good people of the Ateneo High School English Faculty, particularly Katz Navarrete, for inviting me (and to Mia Tijam and Joey Nacino for suggesting me).

[Image from 101ReasonsToStopWriting, no rights claimed]

RRT: Favorite First Lines in Speculative Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 9 - 2010


One year ago, 9/9/09, Rocket Kapre officially launched. In celebration of our first year anniversary, here’s a new installment of one of our most popular features: the Rocket Round Table. For this batch, the question – to coincide with the anniversary – is: “What is your favorite first line in speculative fiction?” Prose and graphic novels/comics were fair game (movies and television were not), as were local and foreign works – I only asked that the respondents include any first lines from Filipino-made spec fic that stood out for them. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Thanks to all those who took time to participate in the round table, and for all those who have supported Rocket Kapre in its first year. Here’s to many more to come!

[Warning: Some language may not be safe for work, or children, or adults who like to pretend they're as innocent as children.]

ELBERT OR Comic book creator, university lecturer, graphic designer, freelance writer, entrepreneur (he’s part of Brain Food, which gives speech and writing workshops) Elbert is a jack of all trades and master of… well, lots. He currently runs Global Art and the Komiksabado Comics Workshop.

Happy first year, RK! How time flies!
I owe much of my interest in current Philippine SF to Dean Alfar’s “Kite of Stars,” and its first line/ paragraph which grabbed firm hold of me and has still not let me go:

The night when she thought she would finally be a star, Maria Isabella du’l Cielo struggled to calm the trembling of her hands, reached over to cut the tether that tied her to the ground, and thought of that morning many years before when she’d first caught a glimpse of Lorenzo du Vicenzio ei Salvadore: tall, thick-browed and handsome, his eyes closed, oblivious to the cacophony of the accident waiting to occur around him.

I wish I could say though that memory allowed me to remember each word, but I admit only to committing the first eleven words. But the blame lies solely on me and my poor memory.

Here’s to the next ten years for Rocket Kapre!

* * *

CATHERINE BATAC WALDERCatherine is based in England and works as a research group administrator at the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. From 2005 to 2007, she moved across Norway, Finland and Portugal for a European MPhil. scholarship. Her fiction appears in Big Pulp, Demons of the New Year, Philippines Graphic, Ruin and Resolve Anthology, Expanded Horizons, and Philippines Free Press. She blogs at

Just when the idea occurred to her that she was being murdered she could not tell.” – The Small Assassin, comics adaptation of a tale by Ray Bradbury

At some time near dawn, on March 25, 1913, there came a loud knocking at the front door of the Uyterhoevens’ home in the Dayton View section of Dayton, Ohio.” – The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses.” – Fade by Robert Cormier

““I can do this,” I told my squirrel.” - Speed Dating and Spirit Guides by Rod M. Santos

In the tiny lifeboat, she and the alien fuck endlessly, relentlessly.” – Spar by Kij Johnson

My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years.” – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

* * *

G.M. CORONELA Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University in 1985, he is a first-time author with no literary background to speak of other than a genuine love of reading and a passion for writing. Coming across back issues of Writer’s Digest a few years ago started his writing career. Some previous personal encounters with the paranormal convinced him to pursue the horror genre. He believes that stories to tell and experiences to share are best put in written words. He is the author of Tragic Theater.

The night wind howls like a wounded dying animal.” (Trese Murder on Balete Drive) — This is a very compelling first line and it engages the reader’s interest in the story.

* * *

DON JAUCIAN - Don regularly reviews books for several publications, both print and on-line. He is the resident bitch of the film blog Pelikula Tumblr. His book dump is

The Ascension of Our Lady Boy – Mia Tijam (PDF of Expanded Horizons #14, which includes the story.)

Let us begin with my earliest memory as a lady: Daddy had complained to Iyay who was my yaya(and his yaya before and his mama’s yaya before that) that I was lacking something strong in my bones and in my hips.

Tijam’s Lady Boy is hands down one of my favorite spec fic stories. It effectively combined Philippine culture, gay-isms and the whole ‘triumph of the heart’ thing. I like how the first line promises a wonderful story, equal parts whimsical and endearing, like Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and it really delivers.

Visitors – Luis Katigbak

When they first arrived, they transformed themselves into everything we ever secretly wanted to be.

Stories of ‘encounters’ are never amusing. They mostly run as dubious paranoiac rants but in a few words, Katigbak manages to brush off the fluff usually associated with this tripe. ‘Visitors’ is beautiful, a different approach into the Wonderful World of Alien Mysteries; humanized and hopeful.

Brigada – Joey Nacino

When the news came, Captain Fernando Tabora of the Philippine Navy was meeting with the two-man salvage team at the top of Manila Hotel.

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories and Manila Hotel underwater is just too awesome to ignore. Just like the head of Statue of Liberty chopped off in Cloverfield!

Flicker – Ian Rosales Casocot

Something had apparently come to live, or stir, in the house down the road, that old mansion on the corner before one turned left down Mango Street, which led toward the coconut groves that bordered the farthest end of the village.

Suburban horror stories always fascinate me and Casocot’s ‘Flicker’ definitely sustains the tension from the first sentence to the last. It is eerie, ominous and it’s refreshing to see a horror story devoid of hysterics and cheap scare tactics.

[More after the cut]

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My Interview with Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 27 - 2010

Oh, hey, look whose turn it is on the other end of the (figurative) microphone? Fantastic Filipina writer Rochita Loenen-Ruiz ( who is currently guest blogging at Ecstatic Daysinterviewed me, and Lavie Tidhar posted the conversation over at the World SF News Blog. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: What do you think are the obstacles or challenges that we face as Filipinos writing in a field that’s dominated by the West?

The first challenge is that, as I touched upon a little earlier, most of us Filipino speculative fiction writers are ourselves products of that domination. The books we read in our youth gave us many of the tools and techniques that enable us to be writers, but which, at the same time, might not be right for the kind of stories we now want to tell–at least not without some adaptation. Even the language many of us write in, which approximates American English, while serving as the basic tool of our profession, seems to add a layer of alienation any time we choose to write certain types of stories. You see that a lot in the komiks scene here, particularly the local superhero scene, where you can see creators struggling to decide when to use English, or when to use Filipino, or how to translate a concept or experience from one context/language to another.

There was a recent discussion with regard to the viability of the classic superhero in the Philippines–the type who only focuses on halting crime rather than effecting any social change–given that the scale of problems such as poverty and corruption here. And yet, classic superheroes are exactly what many of the creators grew up wanting to do. In the same way, I grew up wanting to write The Belgariad, or the Wheel of Time, but now that I’ve realized I want to write stories influenced by the historical Philippines rather than historical Europe, I find that there is no great body of fiction that I can turn to and build upon. (Which is one of the reasons I’m all for discovering Philippine myths and legends.) It’s a blank slate, and for a writer that is both exciting and terrifying.

The other challenges are more practical in nature, and apply more specifically to Filipinos who live in the Philippines and want to publish novels.  While the short story market is becoming more and more accessible to writers from across the globe, it’s still difficult for someone who doesn’t live in the West to get a book published in the West, even when we just factor in logistical matters, such as the fact that a writer who lives in the Philippines is less likely to be able to network at a convention, or attend a writing workshop like Clarion. The sad thing is, it’s not any easier for a Filipino writer to get a spec fic novel published here in the Philippines. Most publishers don’t appear interested in spec fic in general, and spec fic novels in particular. There are no literary agents here, nor conventions where an aspiring writer can approach an editor or publisher. That’s one reason why I believe that many authors in the future will take the self-publishing route–they simply don’t have a way to get the attention of publishers. I hope that Rocket Kapre can help change that in the future.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Thanks to Rochita for taking time from her writing to interview me, and thanks to Lavie for sharing the interview.

3rd PGFA: What Neil Said

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 18 - 2010


No, I don’t mean at the press conference–you can head over to Azrael’s for some coverage–but during the event itself, where he commented about each of the winning entries (in the main contest, not the people’s choice). Again, I wasn’t there for the film category, but here’s what he said about the winners for prose and comics (because you can never have enough reminders that Neil Gaiman called your story “glorious” ^_^):



(Bibliophile Stalker has sound files of Neil’s commentary on the prose winners here.)

Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu: “… the voice is really really good, and its really, seriously nasty. It’s the only story that I’ve ever read in which half way through sort of the first page I thought ‘Oh I got it. He’s a pedophile!’ And then I realize no, no, no… it’s so much worse than that. But it’s a beautiful little story… the way the story is told is as important as the content. It’s very good, very, very imaginative.”

Remembrance by Dean Alfar: “…it’s a story about death, and what we take with us when we die. Beautifully written, haunting, managing at exactly the same time to be both incredibly depressing and incredibly uplifting. The combination of these two things at once is what made it as a story for me.”

Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento: “…as those people who voted for it would know… it’s funny and it’s angry… nice, solid, futuristic science fiction that is fundamentally a satire of things going on today. And it’s great. A lovely piece of work.”

A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano: “Every now and then you think that you’ve seen it all, and a staple of science fiction is telepathy… What’s glorious about A Kind of Flotsam is that it’s the story of a the life of someone either blessed or cursed with telepathy. And she says something new. It’s really very, very beautiful, very, very moving, and I think at the end… there’s a moment which for me, I thought was glorious: that what unites us in the end is connection, the ability to hold out, to reach out, and eventually touch. Beautifully done, and very, very much a deserving first place winner.”


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Winners: 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 17 - 2010

Had to leave the event early, but had time to hear the winners of the prose and comics categories, [Edit: Thanks to Diabelle and Charles for the additional info] so here goes:


1st Place:  A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano

2nd Place: Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento

3rd Place: (Tie) Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu and Remembrance by Dean Alfar

People’s Choice 1st Place: Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento

People’s Choice 2nd Place: A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano

People’s Choice 3rd Place: The Street Child and the Dwarf by Diabelle Joy M. Pazcoguin


1st Place:OK this is a bit confusing. There was apparently no first place prize awarded because the entry that won was “published during the contest period”, but they did acknolwedge the piece that would have won – I See by Manuel Abrera

2nd Place: Douglas by Genevieve Go

3rd Place: (Love) at Last Sight by Heubert Khan Michael

People’s Choice 1st Place: Hunger by Jeremiah D. Faustino and Norman Jim Faustino

People’s Choice 2nd Place: Raisinhead: A Tale of a Modern-Day Tiyanak by Christian Oliver A. Cruz

People’s Choice 3rd Place: Traffick by Alarice A. Francisco


1st place: No winner (see comment below. Thanks Diabelle!)

2nd Place: Kumot ng Panaginip by  Jedd Chris P. Dumaguina (Thanks Charles! His comment below and blog post are the source of the rest of the Film winners)

3rd Place: Squatters from Mars by Rommel Sales

People’s Choice 1st Place: Kumot ng Panaginip by Jedd Chris P. Dumaguina

People’s Choice 2nd Place: Anak ng Tikbalang by Desiree Ann C. Samson

People’s Choice 3rd Place: Embrace by Ron Sapinoso

Will post again tomorrow with some pictures, and maybe some vids on Friday. In the meantime, congratulations to all the winners :)

RRT: Fiction Without the Speculation

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 9 - 2010

It’s officially Palanca Awards season again, writers from all genres and walks of life are  gearing up for two months of feverish writing (or hand-wringing). While works of speculative fiction can and have won the Palanca, it’s hard to shake the impression that the prestigious body (and ever changing panel of judges) is more receptive to stories of love lost and regained, when the method of “regaining” that love doesn’t involve the dark art of necromancy. Thinking about a submission for the Palanca Awards is about the only time I even consider writing a story without speculative elements, and it’s always been difficult for me to shift gears. With the 2010 awards opening for submissions this month, I became curious as to how other speculative fiction writers go about writing non-specfic pieces–which meant I finally had an excuse to start the second Rocket Round Table:

How different is your experience writing a story without speculative fiction elements, as opposed to writing Spec Fic?

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? On to the answers then, and many thanks to the authors who found the time to sate my curiosity.

RRT2 Slider_s


==Marianne is the author of several short story collections, and has been a finalist for the Philippines’ National Book Award. She teaches creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writers Program, and her latest short story collection, “The Lost Language”, was released by Anvil last year.==

Very interesting question!

I’m not a writer of speculative fiction, but I do like to “play” in the genre occasionally –  as I also like to play in the “crime” genre, or poetry, or anything.  Because experimenting is what keeps writing fun!

It always starts, for me, with an emotional trigger.  It’s when I find I can’t end my story properly that I start turning to more non-traditional elements.  Then I go back and start again, but with the non-traditional elements as a fixed part of the story.  Then I see if I can finish it.

So, it’s always how to end that bothers me.  And I’ll try anything, ANYTHING, to see how I can get to the end.  And if I have to throw in some speculative fiction elements along the way, so be it.


==Adam is an indie publisher, published author, opinionated blogger. He was recently awarded the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award for his book, The El Bimbo Variation==.

Nothing really significant as far as authorial mindset is concerned. I used the same amount of braincells when I wrote *snip* as when I’m writing my 365 Stories book, the same amount when I wrote the El Bimbo Variations when I’m writing my terribly irregular essays on komix kritisism. The language is different in various levels, as well as in their little textual effects and affectations, but all those things are only merely decoration – or at their highest level, gilding – for the real substance of the thing, which never changes no matter the medium, whether audience or producer, critic or buyer: art is something you work on.

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3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards: Shortlists

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 19 - 2010


As mentioned on the Philippine Genre Stories blog, Fully Booked, in cooperation with Pelicola, has published the stories, comics, and films which made it to the respective shortlists of the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards.  While I assume the respective winners have already been selected, you can help determine the winners of the People’s Choice Award in each category by voting for your favorite at the links above. Congratulations to all those who made the short list!

For your convenience,  here’s the shortlist in each category:


1. Babymakers by Laura Jermina R. Abejo
2. Leg Men by Dominique Gerald Cimafranca
3. Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu
4. The Sweet Stranger by Michael A.R. Co
5. A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano
6. Won’t You Be My Friend, Mr. Faceless Creature of Evil? by Karlos de Mesa
7. The Street Child and the Dwarf by Diabelle Joy M. Pazcoguin
8. Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento
9. Remembrance by Dean Alfar
10. Pursuit of the Litaniera by Elyrose G. Punsalan

(Comics and Film categories after the cut)

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Chained Links: 5 January 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 4 - 2010


Happy new year everyone! If you’re anything like me, the holidays were less a time for rest and more a time for oh-my-god-why-are-they-here-we-don’t-have-a-gift-quick-rip-that-fruit-cake-in-half… you get the picture.  Here’s your latest batch of chained links to catch you up on what you might have missed during the holiday season.

We’ll lead off with a few from the Metakritiko section of the Philippine Online Chronicles. I’ve recently been named editor of the section (which is the POC’s arts/culture and reviews portion) so if any of you have arts news of interest, events that need attention or creative works that you’d like reviewed, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do.



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.