Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Writers' Forum at New Worlds 5

Tobie, me, and Joseph Nacino

A partial shot of the crowd, Chiles Samaniego and Charles Tan in front.

Left: Joseph Nacino, Tobie Abad, Mr. Abad
Right: Mrs. Abad, Prof. Emil Flores, Charles Tan

Tobie's Mom and Prof. Emil Flores

Tobie Abad and his Dad

Stardate: October 27, 2007. The Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City. An important gathering of emissaries from across various regions in the nearby system have gathered for a convention on this date to discuss...

...naah...I'd better stop. I don't think I can pull off a "Star Trek" like entry.

The New Worlds Alliance held their fifth Science-fiction and Fantasy convention last October 27, 2007 at the Glorietta Activity Center. It was the first time for me to attend such an event, whether here in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world. I had a chance to attend a similar convention once, many years ago, in the U.S. My family was passing through the area as tourists, and being curious about all the people dressed up as fictional book, movie, and TV characters, I wanted to walk in and see what it was all about. Sadly, the farthest I got was about twenty feet inside the area; there were just too many people. But that short experience did prepare me for what such a convention must be like.

Despite the events of the previous week (my condolences to the injured and to the families of those who lost loved ones) the show went on; whether the blast was intended or an accident, the New Worlds people decided to stay positive and push through in spreading their brand of fun and enjoyment. I had been invited some weeks before by Tobie Abad and Rej Layug, two of the organizers, to sit in the panel for the Writers' Forum as PGS publisher. Come the day of the event, I found myself sitting beside Joseph Nacino, author of "Insomnia" from PGS1, and later on, Professor Emil Flores from the University of the Philippines. It was good to see both of them again, Joseph from the last time we saw each other in Libis months ago, and Prof. Flores from here. Also present in the crowd of about thirty-plus were Chiles Samaniego, author of The Saint of Elsewhere from PGS2 and who flew in from Singapore (not for the forum specifically, but it was a case of good timing), Charles Tan, author of The Devils Is In The Details from PGS3, Rebecca Arcega of The Philippine Speculative Fiction website, and writer and PGS contributor Mia Tijam, whose submission is due out in a forthcoming issue.

Rebecca, or Bhex, which is her online handle, has posted her thoughts on the forum here; Chiles, too; Charles also has an entry about it on his blog, and, as has become his habit (a welcome one), he recorded and posted the whole thing here (the sound quality isn't too good; the sound system wasn't the best, and the mall was quite noisy).

Tobie had chosen us so as to have a set of varied representatives from the writing world (Joey), publishing (me), and the academe (Emil). The topic was science-fiction and whether it was relevant in such a country as the Philippines. It was great to get everyone's thoughts, and the topic of fiction, writing, publishing, etc. almost always draws me out of being just a quiet spectator and into sharing my thoughts. In fact, after the forum, I think many of those who attended were just like me! We passed the microphone along to people who I believe were quiet individuals who normally mind their own business, but who stepped up and had their say. Despite the differing opinions, everyone shared their ideas. This forum was neither a one-way street with just us panelists talking, nor a quiet gathering where no one participated. I was very pleased to hear everyone share their ideas, to forego their shyness, take that mike, and make their musings known. Terrific! No, no fights broke out, but there never was a danger, I think. Everyone just wanted in on the discussion. The topic was of such interest to everyone. At the end of it, and though the topic never strayed far from science-ficiton, I felt very encouraged that there are more than a few like-minded people in this country who value literacy.

The forum lasted for about ninety minutes, after which Tobie and his parents graciously treated us panelists to a small snack at Pancake House on the second floor of the mall.
Charles was there too, and posted about our small gathering. In general, we talked about how other countries like Korea, Japan, Thailand, and others, have a growing artistic presence in the world, be it through literature, music, art, film, etc. We lamented the fact that the Pinoy presence has lagged behind these other countries, but I say that we cannot stop trying. If we keep on producing and keep on sending out, whether we have institutional help (like these other richer countries) or not, we're bound to find an audience and eventually share our stories with others.

Thank you very much to Rej and Tobie of the New Worlds Alliance, to Tobie's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Abad (Tobie's very lucky to have understanding, positive, and supportive parents--please thank them again for us, Tobie!), to Joseph, Emil, Charles, Chiles, Bhex, Mia, and all the others who attended the forum! I hope the forum was worth everyone's while.


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