Category Archives: Blood of Balagtas

All about Filipino creators and their works.

Rocket Kapre: Fantastic Filipino Fiction

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We have lift off ladies and gentlemen.

After months of planning, I’m proud to announce the official launch of Rocket Kapre Books and rocketkapre.com.

Rocket Kapre Books is a digital publishing imprint dedicated to bringing the very best of Filipino-made Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction and other works of a fantastical nature) to a worldwide audience by means of affordable and accessible ebooks (stories contained in digital files that can be read from computers, smart phones or ebook readers).

Rocketkapre.com endeavors to serve not only as the online headquarters for the imprint, but also as a home for creators and fans of Philippine Speculative Fiction, incorporating an active blog that will showcase interesting links as well as generate exclusive content such as interviews, contests, writing tips and original fiction.

So come on over and join the fun! For launch day we’ve got a round table discussion of our favorite Filipino-created fantastical stories, a preview of the ambitious Mind Museum going up at the Fort, and an interview with Kate Aton-Osias regarding the upcoming Farthest Shore anthology. And hey if you want a more complete explanation as to why I put up Rocket Kapre, you’ll find that there too.

Hope to see you there! And please, spread the word: feel free to use our banners and promotional comic strip to get the message out: there’s a new home for Fantastic Filipino Fiction.

T-Minus One Day to Lift Off…

[click to enlarge]

Curious? Check back tomorrow, 9/9/09 at 9 a.m. (Manila time) for the launch of a dream.

[The awesome comic above is a gift from the awesome Dado de Guzman. Watch out for an interview with him, which will be released on the new site!]

Metro Comic Con ’09: Indie Komiks Panel

Indie Komiks Panel: Metro Comic Con 2009

To all future panel moderators, here’s a protip: know who the members of the panel are. I don’t know if Male Host #2 was joking when he asked whether Pol Medina was  amongst the waiting panelists but it was more of an awkward moment than a humorous one.

Inauspicious beginnings aside (the announcement about the missing laptop was also made before the panel began) the Indie Komiks panel proved to be an insightful glimpse in to the prevailing attitudes of some of the most successful veterans in the field of Independent Local Comics. The panelists were Heubert Khan Michael (Unstoppable), Reno Maniquis (Maskarado), Gener “Ner P” Pedrina (Sanduguan), Elbert Or (Bakemono High), Gio Paredes (Kalayaan), Gilbert Monsanto (Bayan Knights), Budjette Tan (Trese), and, in an appearance that was a surprise even to him, Andrew Drilon (The Love Eaters).

What follows is a summary of some of the salient points raised during the panel. If I missed anything significant or interesting, please feel free to let me know in the comments.

Q1: Why do you still call yourselves “Indies”? There is no longer a local comics industry right?

Gilbert: Well, in essence that’s correct. What we mean by “Indie” however is that we produce our komiks with our own resources, without depending on external corporate backers.

[Can't remember if it was Gilbert or Elbert who mentioned that Liwayway still published, though their komiks are a different format. Psicom also gets mentioned, but for its foreign licensed DC and Marvel titles.]

Elbert: Actually, there are still some publishers. There is also the book publishing industry. The komiks industry is mature enough that there is much less of a distinction between komiks and books.

Budjette: Many of the local book publishers we’ve worked with, such as Visiprint and Adarna, give us a lot of creative freedom. Also, we are “Indie” in the sense that, unlike creators who work with Marvel and DC, we own our characters.

[More Q and A after the break.]

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Komikon Awards 2009: Nominees and Voting

While the Metro Comic Con takes places today and tomorrow, the Komikon (non-summer edition), which will take place in October has recently released its list of nominees for this year’s Komikon Awards.

The voting period will be from August 10 (this Monday!) to September 20, 2009. While some online voting mechanism is planned, physical voting ballots will be available in the following stores:

  • Comic Odyssey (a) Robinson’s Place, Level 3 Ermita,Manila; (b) Robinson’s Galleria, Level 3 Expansion Mall,Edsa cor. Ortigas
  • Comic Quest (a) Lower Ground Floor Bldg. A, SM Megamall; (b)2nd Floor Main Bldg., SM City North Edsa

Congrats to all the nominees! The list of nominees is a bit long, so you can find it after the cut. Good luck with the Comic Aid award guys… Lots of deserving folk there.

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Metro Comic Con 2009: August 8-9

Don’t forget everyone, the 2009 Metro Comic Con will be held this weekend at Megamall. I’ll post a rundown of the schedule here, but you can find a more detailed description of each event here.

August 8, 2009 – Saturday

10AM – Ribbon Cutting

Onstage Activities
11-AM – Band Performance – Matilda
12PM – Suspended Animation Media
1PM – Creativoices Panel
2PM – PTK: Show me your desk Awarding
2:30PM – Craze Cosprsay product launch
3PM – Band Performance – Gupit Binata X
4PM – Indie Film Panel – Alessandro Productions
5PM – Indie Comic Panel
6PM – Pinoy Mainstream Artists Panel
7PM – Band Performance – Giniling Festival

Floor Activities
Costrip Day – Cosplay.ph booth
Toy Customization Contest – Cosplay.ph booth

August 9, 2009 – Sunday

10am – Opening

Onstage Activities
11am – Band Performance – Los Chupacabras
12pm – International Game Developers Association – Manila Chapter
1pm – Creativoices Voice acting contest
2pm – E-games
3pm – Band Performance – Gorgoro
4pm – Animax Cosplay Competition
7pm – Band Performance – Nexxus

Floor Activities
Comics Creation 101 – Conference Room SM Megatrade Hall.

Locus Reviews PSFIV and A Time for Dragons

Note: Been having internet problems so updates might be intermittent. I’ll be updating the Twitter account, visible from here, if there’s breaking/interesting news.

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The July 2009 issue of Locus, the U.S. magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, carried a pleasant surprise for fans of Philippine speculative fiction: a review of not one, but two local anthologies, namely “Philippine Speculative Fiction IV” and “A Time for Dragons” by Rich Horton.

The two reviews are not available online, but with the help of relatives I was able to order a copy (which became a less arduous  task when I called off the bookstore hunt after I learned that Locus wasn’t being sold in brick-and-mortar stores @_@). I just got my hands on it this weekend and thought I’d share some of the contents of the review, given the fact that an issue of Locus can be a tad difficult to chase down.

In his dual review, Mr. Horton stated that “[i]n feel these two books are entirely consistent with similar products from the American and English small press” and the fact that many stories are set in the Philippines makes these stories “just unfamiliar enough to most readers to pique additional interest.”

Mr. Horton went on to name a few of his favorites from each anthology, which I’ll list here along with any comment he might have had that didn’t involve a summary of the story. Note that some of the praise he had for these stories was tempered by less positive comments, usually having to do with predictability, but since he did cite them as the best stories, I’m probably safe in assuming that the good he saw in each outweighed the bad.

[The list can be found after the break.]

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Waking the Dead Book Launch

(cover by Andrew Drilon)

Just received word that Yvette Tan’s first collection of horror (mostly) fiction entitled “Waking the Dead” will be launched on August 15, 2009 from 4-7 pm at Powerbooks Megamall. Yvette’s stories have been included in Philippine Speculative Fiction III and IV, Night Monkeys and A Time for Dragons, as well as magazines like Rogue, Uno and the Philippine Free Press. If you want a taste of her storytelling abilities, she has links to works that are available online at her site.

I wonder what she means when she says the stories are “mostly” fiction though… *shivers*

Deviant(art) Filipinos (July 2009)

Recently spotted a news article, courtesy of the ever dependable Bibliophile Stalker, that the Carl Brandon Society was looking to find/spotlight POC Artists, and what better way to help out than to do a new post (the sequel to this) on excellent Filipino artists on deviantart. A bit pressed for time so only have thirteen this time, but each one is worth checking out. The great thing is, I think I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the wonderful Filipino presence in the deviantart community, and I’m looking forward to finding more–so if you know of any, drop me a line!

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The Farthest Shore: Partial List of Stories

Slightly old news (and somewhat self-serving I know, but hey, I would have posted this regardless) but Joseph Nacino and Dean Alfar have announced “after much deliberation” the list of stories accepted for the “Farthest Shore” the upcoming anthology of Filipino secondary world fantasy (which you might remember from here). In no particular order, the stories and authors are as follows:

1. Balancing Darkness- Rodelle Santos
2. Hindsight- Paolo Chikiamco
3. Rite of Passage- Dominique Cimafranca
4. The Just World of Helena Jimenez – Eliza Victoria
5. Spelling Normal- Mia Tijam
6. Emberwilde – Nikki Alfar
7. Light – Kate Aton-Osias
8. They Spoke of Her in Whispers – Bessie Lasala
9. In the Arms of Beishu – Vincent Simbulan
10. Wildwater- Crystal Koo

Two more stories will be added, one from each of the editors, to bring the total number to twelve. “The Farthest Shore” is intended to be released in digital/online form sometime late August.

I’m really excited for this one, even setting aside for the moment that my story will be in it. Still, it’s good to know that all that toil and research was not in vain.

Jeffrey Ford Reviews Philippine Speculative Fiction IV

Awesome news for Philippine Spec Fic: Jeffrey Ford, world renowned fantasy author  (whose works have won and/or been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the Fountain Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award) recently reviewed Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar, and found much to his liking, singling out in particular stories by Andrew Drilon, Noel Tio, Maryanne Moll, Charles Tan, Celestine Trinidad, Isabel Yap, Paolo Jose Cruz, Kate Aton-Osias and Adam David.

From the review:

I don’t know how many US readers and writers are aware of it, but there is a vital and growing SF/F community in the Philippines these days. Good evidence exists for it in this latest volume of the anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction IV.

One need not delve too deeply into this Philippine literary phenomenon to quickly realize that there is a treasure trove of talent there. Volume 4 of the series is, in my humble opinion, the best yet in the series.

I’ve only touched on a representative handful of stories here. There were other pieces in the anthology that I liked as well as these. The book is well worth your time.

Congratulations to Dean and Nikki, as well as to all the authors-especially those given special mention. Now all you guys need to do is make the 5th even better right? No pressure.

If you want to show Mr. Ford some love, his website can be found here, and he keeps a livejournal account here. His excellent books and collections are also available on Amazon amongst other fine retailers (can’t recall if I’ve seen any here).