Monthly Archives: April 2009

A Time for Dragons Review at Wandering Star

Spec Fic author ekmisao over at Wandering Star has just penned a review (the first that I’ve found online) of A Time for Dragons, the anthology of Filipino Draconic fiction.

Here’s a snippet:

The anthology has a good eclectic mix of the serious and the humorous, the fantastic and the horrific, high fantasy and urban fantasy, the completely foreign setting and the purely Pinoy setting. Sometimes the dragon took center stage, other times it was a key element for a character piece.

While PSF4 covered most of the spectrum of spec fic writing styles, the dragon anthology mostly stayed within the traditional story format (rising action, conflict, climax, resolution; use of descriptions and dialogue in equal amounts). Therefore the story set sold well with me, and I liked almost all of them.

And no, I’m not linking to the review just because my story is in her top 5 (though to say I’m not thrilled would be misleading ^_^)

I still need to polish off PSF4 before I hit the dragon anthology, but have any of the rest of you finished it? What did you guys think?

Deadline Reminders: Palancas and New Genre Review

A couple of deadlines coming up for you writer-folk out there, both falling due on April 30:


Of course the big daddy of Philippine literary honors is counting down to the traditional April 30 deadline. Not so traditional is the fact that the Palancas are now (except Novel and Dulang Pampelikula) allowing submissions through their website as stated in their rules:

18.    All entries (except Novel and Dulang Pampelikula) submitted through the website should be in Rich Text Format (RTF) or in a Word Document File and should be sent as an attachment together with scanned copies of the following: (a) duly accomplished Official Entry Form, (b) notarized Authorization Form, (c) Consent, if applicable, and (d) the author’s full résumé. The time of transmission should be NOT LATER THAN 12:00 m.n. of 30 APRIL 2009. An entry will only be considered submitted if official confirmation is received through the website or by the CPMA administration. An envelope containing the original signed requirements listed in Rule 17(a) (b) and (c) above should then be sent to the CARLOS PALANCA FOUNDATION, INC. by mail or courier and postmarked not later than 30 April 2009.

Note the above emphasized caveat though – you still have to send the other requirements to them by 30 April 2009.


Adam David sent me this rather unique reminder (click for a larger view) that the deadline for submissions to New Genre Review is fast approaching–so if any of you have been holding out, better throw your hats in the ring by the 30th.

Filipino Fantastic – Link Roundup (19 April 2009)

Some news and opportunities for fans and creators of the Filipino Fantastic:


Coffee Black – a new story is up at Tales from the Diabolical (where writer-creator Budjette Tan releases fiction set in the Trese universe. This one featuring bar tender Hank.

(taken from the story page, copyright to sirs Budjette and Kajo)

Sunday Inquirer Feature on A Time for Dragons – (via Village Idiot Savant and PGS): Hurray for main stream press coverage! The article is by Ruel S. De Vera and features a bit of an interview with editor Vin Simbulan.


The Ancient Age: Speaking of A Time for Dragons, the ever-talented artist of that anthology, Mr. Andrew Drillon, has been hard at work on a contribution to a Free Comic Book Day anthology called the Ancient Age from Wide Awake Press.

Wilson Tortosa’s Wolverine Manga - (via Komiks News Now) Marvel seems set to make a new attempt at a manga-version of wolverine, and this time it will be drawn by one of our very own, Mr. Wilson Tortosa (whose deviantart page we previously featured).

Darna Museum Rises in Laguna -(via Komiks News Now) Whoa. Apparently Mr. Herbert Chavez has put up a museum (Museuo Adarna) devoted to the most famous of Pinoy Superheroines (no, you’re not quite up there yet Zsa Zsa).


I found two good ones over at Looking for Juan - the official blog of Canvas, the publishing house.

Goethe Institute Seminar/Workshop: the Goethe Institute has invited some illustrators to give a three day seminar/workshop on children’s books illutration and design here in Manila, in connection with the  Zeitgenössische Bilderbuchillustration,” an exhibition of contemporary illustration in picture books touring through Goethe Institutes all over the world which will travel to Manila in June to mid July 2009.

Pacific Rim Friendship Park: Canvas is looking for someone who can help document the building of the Philippines’ Pacific Rim Friendship Park. You can learn more about the project here and here, but Canvas describes the Park rather succinctly as Survivor-Meets-Habitat-for-Humanity.

Secondary Fantasy Worlds and the Filipino

Where the great plain of Tarphet runs up, as the sea in estuaries, among the Cyresian mountains, there stood long since the city of Merimna well-nigh among the shadows of the crags. I have never seen a city in the world so beautiful as Merimna seemed to me when I first dreamed of it. It was a marvel of spires and figures of bronze, and marble fountains, and trophies of fabulous wars, and broad streets given over wholly to the Beautiful. – Lord Dunsany, “The Sword of Welleran”

I read that fantastic excerpt of Dunsany’s work (which is available in its entirety from the Project Gutenberg folks) from the most recent edition of Michael Moorcock’s “Wizardry & Wild Romance” a study, retrospective and call-to-arms on epic fantasy by one of the most opinionated masters of the field. I picked it up awhile back and finally read it over the last week, partly to participate in a challenge but for the most part to help me prepare for a submission to The Farthest Shore: Fantasy from the Philippines a soon to be released online anthology of Fantasy Secondary World fiction from Filipino authors, edited by Dean Alfar and Joseph Nacino.

Of course after reading the book I felt woefully incompetent at writing anything remotely resembling Epic Fantasy–but then that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with a man who dismisses even Grandfather Tolkien’s work as “Epic Pooh.” (His words, not mine!)

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Resource: The Medieval Fortress

I’ve been slaving away to make the deadline for the Farthest Shore anthology, and I can now say with all honesty that anyone who believes that writing fantasy is easier than writing science fiction has never really tried to find out how much thought goes into the creation of your typical medieval castle. A quick Google or Amazon search however will be quick to reveal that there is more to that fantasy staple than four towers, a drawbridge, and a princess framed in a window.

Note to self: the next time you write a fantasy, set it in a wide open plain.

Unfortunately as my intended submission deals with a siege, there really was no way around doing at least some rudimentary research into the topic–even knowing full well that ninety percent of what I learn isn’t going to go into this story. In case anyone might find it helpful, I’d like to reccomend the book I used as my primary reference material: The Medieval Fortress by J.E. Kaufmann and H.W. Kaufmann.

Since I was a bit pressed for time, my research was focused only on certain portions of the book, but it’s safe to say it is a very useful resource for anyone planning to create a work in a medieval setting: it is liberally interspersed with charts and diagrams that clearly distinguish everything from siege maneuvers, to the parts of a fortified town, or layouts of famous castles.It goes through the development of the castle as a defensive structure, from its early beginnings to its fall from grace in modern times.

If I have any quibbles, it’s the fact that while the charts are clear, some of the black and white photographs are too dark and hence it can be difficult to make out the details in pictures of the actual edifices. Likewise, while it was helpful, I found the few pages devoted to social organization and army size to be a bit lacking, at least insofar as the “social organization” part is concerned.

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Using the Kindle (App) in the Philippines

As a book-lover–and one who doesn’t strictly define “book” as a physical item composed of ink and paper–the gadget that has always inspired the most envy in me is not a flashy phone nor an overclocked computer but the Amazon Kindle: not because of pleasing design (it’s quite clunky) or a surplus of handy features (it’s no smart phone) but simply because… well it’s a bookstore in my hand: what’s not to like?

Well, two things come to mind: (a) the price ($359); and (b) the fact that the “bookstore” element is only really available in the US. So when my old faithful Palm Zire went to the great gadget heap beyond, I decided not to wait for the inevitable international version of the Kindle and nabbed an iPod Touch instead–little did I know that, in a way, I’d gotten both.

This year Amazon released a Kindle App for the iPhone and iPod Touch which addresses both of my earlier concerns: (a) it is free; and (b) we can use it without leaving our tropical (oh man this summer heat) homes.

Here’s how:

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New Genre Review: Call for Submissions

The “New Genre Review” is a new online quarterly anthology/journal which is intended to showcase new methods and forms of Filipino writing which have not yet garnered main stream attention or popularity. I recently stumbled upon a call for submissions (might be NSFW)at wasaak/an exercise in youthful blasphemy, the blog of author Adam David. Let me re-post it here:

ito ay isang call for submits para sa NEW GENRE REVIEW, isang prospective online downloadable PDF antho quarterly journal na magshoshowcase sana ng kung ano mang makabagong pamamaraan ng pagsusulat sa Pilipinas, mga akdang wala pang audience na nakakapag-appreciate, o kung ano man ang tingin natin na mga dapat gawing babasahin para sa paparating na postGMA/Nicole-Smith New Optimism, pagpapakilala para sa mga bagong estetiko, pagbigay-buhay muli sa mga luma o patay na, pagbigay-halaga sa wika sa pamamagitan ng pagbababoy nito, mga hinliliitang-ngarat sa nostril ng konsepto ng “genre” bilang “form” at “subject,” mga kaning-baboy na paglabulabo ng gampanin ng mambabasa at manunulat at salita bilang wikang nakaimprenta sa pahina, mga akdang hindi mangangailangan ng basbas ng blurb o intro mula kina Lumbera, Yuson, Dalisay, o Evasco, etc etc etc! ieMail sana sa juncruznaligasATgmailDOTcom bago matapos ang buwan ng Abril, para masaya! pakipost po sa blog niyo, ipasa pa po sana sa iba, basta may husay, may yabang, at may interes sa pagpapalawak pa ng ibig sabihin ng salitang “panitikan,” hindi lang dito, kundi sa buong mundo, pati na rin sa japan (hi yol, sana magbigay ka!)! ayuz! salamat po!

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Ozine Fest 2009: Modern Masquerade

Every now and then, when I need that extra dollop of courage to face the world, I hang a drill around my neck. I’ve gotten quite a few odd looks and hesitant inquiries because of my strange choice of fashion accessories, but this afternoon no one even noticed it–which stands to reason I suppose, since most of the people around me at the time were decked out in shiny assortments of power armor, armed with swords twice their height and possessed hair styled as if by angry porcupines.

Oh, plus a Prinny.

Ah, the wonders of cosplay.

Anime and manga have a robust fanbase here on our shores, and summer vacation means conventions galore. Today was the first day of Ozine Fest 2009, a three day event organized by Ozine magazine as an anime/manga/videogame/cosplay convention. The venue was packed (largely in my opinion because (a) they only used one Megatrade Hall; and (b) many of the attendees had tails, swords, booster engines–and in one case–a wingspan of at least six feet from tip to tip.

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Review: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV (2 of 4)

I’ve been reading the most recent volume of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar, so here’s the second batch of reviews. Here are my thoughts on the next six of the twenty-four stories in this volume, with my thanks to each author for sharing their story with us.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but nevertheless, fair warning: Here There Be Spoilers.

“The Day that Frances, the Copywriter, Became God” by Monique Francisco

I got a kick out of the mention of the “hope that was dashed” in the last Harry Potter book, as my wife had been clinging on to that very same slim thread of ambiguity ^_^ I also enjoyed the biblical phrasing which can lend a very particular tone to a contemporary piece, letting it read like a fable, or a parable – which in a way, this was.

On the down side, while this was a very short story (four and a half pages)I think a lot could still be cut, strangely enough. The “Or…” paragraphs in the first part were a tad too numerous (yes I know that repetition is also a part of the Biblical style but it didn’t work here) and the references a tad too specific.

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Last Week In Science (22-29 March)

Every now and then I’ll put together a list of noteworthy science related news/research that might prove useful or interesting to creators of the Filipino Fantastic, whether as indicators of future trends or inspiration for future works.

And no, these are not April Fools’ articles ^_^

News and Developments:

Here’s the joke: the authorities had no choice, as the court ruling made clear: “From the evidence we have, we can deduce that at least one of the brothers took part in the crime, but it has not been possible to determine which one.” Identical twins share 99.99% of their genetic information, and the tiny differences are impossible to isolate because of their nature; they tend to be spontaneous mutations limited to certain organs or tissues. “Identifying those [differences] would amount to dissecting the suspects,” says Peter M. Schneider, a University of Cologne forensic expert. “Our hands are tied in a case like this,” says criminal-law expert Hans-Ullrich Paeffgen of Bonn University. “The law doesn’t allow us to detain someone indefinitely just because he is suspected of a crime. This may be different elsewhere. But I’d rather live in a country where someone guilty is not convicted for lack of conclusive evidence than in a place where innocent people are locked up.”

Yobs are being shamed out of anti-social behaviour by bright pink lights which show up their acne.

The lights are so strong they highlight skin blemishes and have been successful in moving on youths from troublespots who view pink as being “uncool.”
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