Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Greatest Rivalry Of Them All!

With my great hopes for another Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal finals at this year's French Open and Wimbledon, and with the great possibility of another Boston Celtics vs. L.A. Lakers matchup for the NBA Championship next month, I've got rivalries on my mind!

Pardon once more these old sports and pop references, but I'm thinking Army vs. Navy, Ali vs. Frazier, Evert vs. Navratilova, Crispa vs. Toyota, Agassi vs. Sampras, AdMU vs. DLSU, King Kong vs. Godzilla...

...and of course, Writers vs. Editors: A Battle For The Ages!

"Writers are sensitive souls--generally intelligent and hardworking but easily bruised. Treat them right, though, and you will be rewarded. Writers shape words into luminous sentences and the sentences into exquisitely crafted paragraphs. They weave the paragraphs together into a near perfect article, essay or review. Then their writing--their baby--is ripped untimely from their computers (well, maybe only a couple of weeks overdue) and turned over to editors. These are idiots, most of them, and brutes, with tin ears, the aesthetic sensitivity of insects, deeply held erroneous beliefs about your topic and a maddening conviction that any article, no matter how eloquent or profound or already cut to the bone, can be improved by losing an additional 100 words.

Writers...are whiny, self-indulgent creatures who spend too much time alone. They are egotistical, paranoid and almost always seriously dehydrated. Above all, they are spectacular ingrates. Editors save their asses, and writers do nothing but bitch about it. "If anyone saw the original manuscript from ..." (and you can insert the name of your favorite Pulitzer Prize-winning writer here) "... that guy wouldn't get hired to clean the toilets at the Stockholm Public Library. Say, the Pulitzer is the one they give away in Scandinavia, isn't it? I better remember to change that in a piece we're running. The stupid writer says it's the Nobel. What would they do without us?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dogberry Asks For Help

From this post, over at Dogberry's blog, and still on the ongoing discussion:

"So what now? What should we read? How should we read? What guidance shall we provide to those who want it but don't know where to find it?

Good questions, and important ones. Anyway, I hope to write more on this large topic. I'm thinking of writing two or three more pieces revolving around these theses:

(1) The role of pleasure in the reading process...
(2) The high-brow / low-brow debate...
(3) Classics...

So, dear readers, please help me out by giving me your thoughts on these last three points as well as other things I haven't mentioned that might deepen the discussion."

Click on this link to read Dogberry's full blog entry.

This post with all the previous links has been updated.

Monday, May 26, 2008

And Another Two...

This one, "Questioning The Canon", from ExpectoRants. An excerpt:

"(Sassy was not really being pointless, just underequipped for the subject.) If anyone wants to critique the canon, one must be sure to build a strong case. But first, one must be very familiar with the canon. I think Sassy's basic error in her questioning and line of defense is that she was criticizing something she didn't bother to study in-depth, thus she came off "philistinic," in the words of Exie Abola. Trouncing a critically acclaimed work just because one didn't understand it because it's too hard indeed smacked of something unswallowable. No wonder the academic and literati types were up in arms, what with all that intricately hard work of theirs brushed aside in such a cavalier fashion. As Angela Stuart-Santiago wrote, Sassy would've made a better argument had she claimed, for instance, that Amado Hernandez's work is a piece of leftist propaganda; she could've made a more passable argument and spurred a more interesting exchange. Familiarity inevitably also means one must know one's art and literary history, the evolution of theories, the philosophies shaping a given art at a given time, or else, one hasn't much to say on the subject. But this is not to say Sassy is being pointless. It's just that she wasn't equipped enough and she came off really dismissive to the point of being arrogant."

This one, "On Reading", from Being A Crafty Neko. An excerpt:

"Maybe it’s the method of teaching which should be modified in order to bridge the gap between the two generations: the present-day students’ and the writer’s. I recall the summer I had to read Beowulf for an English class. Our professor gave us history lessons in order to make us understand the background of the text. She also read aloud certain parts of the text and gave her commentaries and asked us questions too. It might not have been the most interesting class (and being so early did not help one bit) but I didn’t hate Beowulf despite the difficulty I had reading it. Oh and I also had other readings in Middle English which were painful to read so I could relate with what could be called nosebleed moments. The Noli and El Fili were also difficult to understand and I even had the experience to try and tutor someone in Filipino class because of that. I had to review El Filibusterismo and history because of that. It was difficult because the tutee was not well-versed in Filipino because he grew up speaking in English in school and at home. That didn’t mean that we gave up. It meant more effort. The problem is, as I see it, if we don’t help each other understand the text, what will happen? Nothing.

But I swear, language does matter. If we don’t understand the language of the text, or find a way to somehow read the text, we won’t be able to figure out the beauty within the text. Sadly, Filipino is not a strong point in our educational system. Our textbooks are in English and in my experience, my parents have been speaking to us in English even when we were kids and they were buying us a lot of books in English. As you can read, most of my reading experience is in English. Maybe that’s part of the reason I could relate with Connie’s frustration with reading the text."

Click the links above to read the whole posts.

This post with all the links has been updated.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Four New Viewpoints

There are four new (and long) essays on the ongoing discussion. Some brief excerpts:

From Tomatomaria:
Connie Veneracion's and that other girl's statements are indications of some people's attitudes toward learning and discovery. When has this all started? When has it been considered bad or undesirable to read books that would enlighten you, that would make you grow as a person, that would enable you to think more critically?

I am the product of two readers and I think this is the one thing in the world that I am most thankful for and am insanely proud of. If my parents were lax and let me learn how to read at my own pace, if they were the sort of parents who never pushed me to understand the things that I do not, then I seriously don't know if I could've gotten a good job or if I would even be posting stuff in this blog now. Because of my parents, I was able to grasp the reality that life isn't something that you go through by making small, easy steps. The lessons you learn and the experiences you encounter should be able to push you to be someone better, someone who embraces what it can offer.

If you don't have the time to read Tolstoy, then say so. Don't make disinterest an excuse because it just makes you seem stupid. Reading classic literature is no walk in the park. It has to be done with a certain grace and persistence. These works have been published for us to learn important lessons from them and they have been crafted, yes, to be taught by capable people.

From The Read Or Die Weblog (Part 1):
"...people insulting Ms. Veneracion’s intelligence and/or ranting about stupidity (called for though it may be) would serve as more evidence, yet again, of the elitism of the Filipino literati. And no matter how beautifully written other posts on literature might be, they still wouldn’t reach me. How could they? I would read them without fully understanding their arguments, because I wouldn’t actually have experienced the beauty of literature — despite all assumptions to the contrary.

The original article is indeed as guilty of elitism as the literati it accuses: in its case a reverse elitism, a prejudice against difficult reading and books considered “high literature” (a concept still valid to most of the people who agreed with Ms. Veneracion). However that does not diminish the fact that there really is elitism in the way many Filipinos view, read, and write literature. That there are people disgruntled with the current status quo — or at least their perception of it — should come as no surprise, and though some of them take it to extremes it doesn’t excuse the apparent lack of material written to change their perspectives, especially in light of the amount of effort that has gone into discrediting Connie Veneracion.

What would have been a possible alternative?"

From The Read Or Die Weblog (Part 2):
"Perhaps we needed something to demonize, to pour all our frustrations about literacy and literary appreciation onto, and this article just happened to come up at exactly the right time.

A different (we cannot exactly say “deeper,” as some of the reactions have in fact gone so far as to overanalyze particularly inflammatory sections) analysis of Miss Veneracion’s column would yield a genuine concern for the country’s educational standards. The classics are losing an audience among readers - especially young readers - with more contemporary tastes, and our educators are failing to address that loss.

Thanks to the opinions exchanged, it became clear that there IS resentment between readers and literary writers in the Philippines, and it has been brewing under the surface for ages. It’s certainly not a one-way street - some readers resent writers for feeling like they’re being deliberately alienated from the text and then made to feel inferior about it. But some writers also feel alienated from their intended readers because the latter don’t make an effort to understand their work - and even passionately discourage each other from doing so!

The thing is, this whole war appears to be going badly, as it’s now lending itself more to typecasting than to any sort of righteous indignation. If there was a rift between writers and readers before Ms. Veneracion’s article was written, it could well have grown after our respected literary bodies have turned it into something to be blindly despised."

From Go Away:
"Hindi elitista ang literatura. At least hindi lahat. At base sa nilalaman at paksa ng Ibong Mandaragit, I think it’s safe to say na hindi subscriber si AH sa school of thought ng art for art’s sake. As with other forms of art, we have to put literature in it’s proper perspective before we are able to give a proper review and commentary on its form and content. Put it in its proper context and you’ll realize why it was written that way. I have two words for you: 60s, Tagalog. Tagalog as opposed to the other languages in the Philippines. And the simple fact that there exists subversive literature, contradicts the point that literature is elitist. It’s not about wanting to appear profound and learned, but about literature being a form of art that have different forms and styles, and experimentation with their use to achieve something new. Ang dali niya i-dismiss ang Ibong Mandaragit bilang obsolete at elitista, pero siya ang elitista. Sasabihin din ba niya yun sa mga sinulat ni Shakespeare?"

The summarized links have been updated on this post.

Links On Lady Authors, Literary Critics, And Scientific Accuracy in Science Fiction

An interesting article about J.K. Rowling and how she's getting bashed for not being male: "When Harry Met Sexism", via Zen In Darkness. The article details how it seems that all female fantasy writers are treated with less respect than their male counterparts. The article's author is against this, and writes:

"Speculative fiction - whether that is historical epic, space psychodrama or telepathic warrior quest - has always been about infinite possibilities. Why is it so hard to imagine a world which acknowledges the importance, multitude and sheer brilliance of its women writers?"

Frankly, I agree. If lady-writers get short-shift simply for their gender and at the expense of having their works disregarded, then it's a poor basis of judgment.

Some more links that I chanced upon over at The Bibliophile Stalker:

Who Killed The Literary Critic? over at
Scientific Accuracy In Science Fiction over at SF Signal

The Stalker says that he finds the article "relevant in light of the local literary discussion".

As for the article over at SF Signal, what do you think? Should science-fiction writers make their science accurate in their tales? My initial reaction was "Yes", and then I thought about so many of the science fiction stories I've read over time and wondered about their accuracy vis-a-vis their popularity. It got me thinking about stories whose science may not have been as sharp, but have nevertheless appealed to many people, regular as well as science-oriented.

I thought about Jules Verne, for example, and his novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. That novel includes a submarine, way before they were invented, and perhaps even inspired the creation of such vehicles. And yet, as has been pointed out to me by a friend of mine who dives (and who is beside me right now and is irritatingly reading over my shoulder as I type--go on, get out of here!), shouldn't the people on the Nautilus have suffered the bends everytime they surfaced too quickly? My friend said Verne's science was wrong, but I defended Verne for writing "speculatively" with the knowledge available to him for that time. "No excuse for factual errors," my friend answered, to which I said Verne might have despaired of writing his novel if he had known of the bends, and the concept of the submarine might have never been presented through his novel.

Or take another classic, H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man. (In fact, take every invisibility power that has ever been used, including but not limited to Sue Richards, Bilbo and Frodo when they're wearing the One Ring, or Harry Potter when he has that cloak draped over him; or maybe not, since these are examples of fantasy and not science fiction).

Putting things very, very simply, the reason we are able to see anything with our eyes is that light bounces off the surfaces of objects around us. That reflected light enters and hits our eyes' lenses, and that information is then processed by our brains to tell us what these objects are.

The Invisible Man is invisible because light can't bounce off of his body; it passes through him. That's why we can't see him. But then, if he is invisible and light passes through him, then that means he should also be blind to the rest of us because light won't be able to hit the lenses of his eyes so that his brain can process the objects around him! And yet, in H.G. Wells' story, he sees just fine.

(I am suddenly reminded of these two earlier blog posts (here and here) about Mundane Science Fiction, because I can see just where this discussion could be headed.)

And now, we soon might have the real thing, a real invisibility cloak, one that can actually bend radio waves and electromagnetic radiation in any direction, a cloak that would not reflect visible light or cast a shadow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We Tell Stories

Received this email from the Imagination Station recently:

"Penguin is exploring and pushing the boundaries of digital fiction with We Tell Stories. Interesting experiment. Worth clicking through :)"

The tagline on the website reads: "We Tell Stories. Six Authors. Six Stories. Six Weeks. Digital fiction from Penguin."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The fourth Talecraft workshop will be held this Sunday, May 25, 2008, 1 p.m., at Powerbooks Megamall. The Romance genre will be tackled, and the guest speakers will be Faye Ilogon and Ma. Celeste Flores-Coscolluela from Cozy Reads Publishing. Please do find the time to go.

The next Manila Litcritters Open Session is on May 24, 2008, from 2 p.m. onwards at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch along Emerald Avenue, Pasig City. Click the link for details and to see how to join the e-group. It's free to attend the session, and you can just listen in if you don't want to join the discussion. Just make sure to read the stories before you go so you know what's being talked about.

The "Show, Don't Tell" writing workshop of the U.P. Writers Club begins on May 26, 2008.

This post has been updated with the latest links on the ongoing discussion about reading and literature.

A New CANVAS Contest For Writers

CANVAS, the non-stock, non-profit organization that promotes awareness and appreciation for Philippine art and culture, has announced a new writing contest for young children (ages 4-6 years old). They have tied up with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency for this contest, which could open doors for Filipino writers to be represented for publication in the U.S. Click on the link above for details.

Via The Sumatra Woman

's Brew.

Rosen On Potter

Here's a blog entry, "What I Really Said About Harry Potter", by Michael Rosen, poet, children's novelist, and Children's Laureate in the U.K. He blogs about being misquoted by the media, and about education and literature. Some quotes:

"A story has been created which erroneously poses me in opposition to J.K. Rowling. Then, rather than anyone phoning me up to clarify (my phone number and email is freely available round the Press, as are the Laureateship press officer's), the Daily Mirror and some of the radio channels repeated the story. It's as if it was too juicy to be worth checking.

I take from this that anything that suggests that JKR or HP should be knocked off their perches is sexy. If it comes from someone with apparent knowledge or authority (sorry to puff myself up like that, but I only mean to acknowledge that the Laureateship has status rather than me personally), then the story becomes even sexier. What a shame. The world of children's books is full of extraordinary stories of people writing in adversity, of new and exciting experimental writing, of huge successes post-HP, of new publishers trying things out. It's also full of stories about how things could be improved or helped through television and radio, changes to the school curriculum and the library service.

There is also a big story that any of the broadsheets could have carried which is about literature itself. It goes something like this: British public culture acknowledges that literature is, or should be, an important part of life.

If this is the case, then there is a question to be asked about what part does education have to play in this literary culture? I would suggest that this kind of question has slipped off the agenda as far as primary schools are concerned. To put it crudely, many schools have been squeezed into being more concerned about literacy than literature."

via Zen In Darkness. Thanks for the link!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Horrific Crime Prompt

"9 Killed In Bank Robbery In Philippines". They were lined up and shot in the head, gangland execution style. The robbers were in such a hurry they left a lot of money on the bank floor before escaping. What a horrific crime prompt.

When my wife and I read about it, we found it so atypical. Usually, bank robbers don't hurt anyone here in the Philippines unless someone fights back. It's enough for them to scare the bank employees and patrons into submission. So, why?

"Drugs," my wife speculated. "They must've been high."

"Or there's a personal vendetta woven in there, somewhere," I said.

A local anti-crime crusader, Teresita Ang-See, believes there's a correlation between kidnapping and robberies.

Years ago, my father had his own close enounter with bank robbers. He was in his car rolling past a bank when the robbers burst out the doors with their guns and their loot. Fortunately for him (but unfortunately for the driver in front), they chose to commandeer the car ahead as their getaway vehicle. Talk about near-misses.

My thoughts go to the families and friends of the murdered.

Some More Links On Reading "Mga Ibong Mandaragit" (Updated)

From here, to here, to here, and now to these:

Encourage Your Kids To Read from The Sassy Lawyer
High-Brow, Low-Brow, And All That B.S. from The Spy In The Sandwich
The Sassy Lawyer Strikes Back from The Bibliophile Stalker
Preying On The Birds from Taking Stock
Sassy, Sassed from ExpectoRants
Preying On Ignorance from Scenes From The Planet
May Problema Ang Sassy Lawyer Kay Ka Amado, At Paalam Ka Bel from One Fine Day I'll Fly Away
Mga Ibong Mandaragit Issue from Welcome To My Life
My Reaction To Sassy Lawyer`s The Birds Of Prey And Batjay from The Bachelor Girl
She Didn't Get Amado Hernandez from Pinoypress
Dogberry On Sassy from Newsstand
The Birds Of Prey Attracts A Flock Of Readers from Dogberry
Reading And Blogging "Mga Ibong Mandaragit" from The Spy In The Sandwich
On The Birds Of Prey, Batjay, And Sassy Lawyer from ADRL
The Value Of Difficulty by The Salimpusa Chronicles
If Language Eludes You, Don't Act Deluded from The Scribe Vibe
Tyranny Of The Insecure from The Sassy Lawyer
On Reading from Tomatomaria's Brand New Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Walang Pamagat from Go Away
Who's Preying On Whom?: Two Experiences from the Read Or Die Weblog and the Manila Bulletin Online
On Reading from Being A Crafty Neko
Questioning The Canon from ExpectoRants
No Sunny, Merry Month Of May from Under The Sun
Mga Ibong Mandaragit Update from Under The Sun
Life Beyond Sassy, And Continuing The Conversation About Reading from Dogberry
Bloggers On Mga Ibong Mandaragit from The Filipino Librarian
Absolutely The Last Word from The Spy In The Sandwich
Sa Muling Paglipad Ng Ibong Mandaragit from The Sumatra Woman's Brew
On Literature: Inspired By The Sassy Lawyer's Take On Ibong Mandaragit from Clengb

And some have taken it upon themselves to blog about their reading experiences of Amado V. Hernandez's "Mga Ibong Mandaragit".

So, the discussion continues. I hope everyone's learning something from this. :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

To Be Worthy Of Great Writers

Dogberry's column this week, "To Be Worthy Of Great Writers", collects and summarizes some other responses to the column of The Sassy Lawyer first mentioned here, and which garnered a list of reactions here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Soledad's Sister

Look what I received, and from the author himself, Sir Butch Dalisay. It's an advanced copy of his latest book, "Soledad's Sister". The formal launch is still some months away, but I've got a copy in my hands right now. Mwahahaha!

I'll blog about this book again in July when it's launched so the rest of you can get your copies then.

Hehehe. Excellent.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Show, Don't Tell!"

The U.P. Writers Club will have a summer writing workshop from May 26-30, 2008 at the U.P. College of Arts and Letters, open to all high school students. For details and other information, click here.

If you're no longer in high school, maybe you know someone who is, someone who just may find the workshop worth attending. If there had been something like this when I was younger, I think it would have generated in me more than just a passing interest...

This announcement via Anne Lagamayo, winner of PGS's first Image Inspiration contest. I'm sure we're going to hear more from Anne in the future ;-P. Thanks, Anne!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

the revenge of e.e. cummings

(Yes, in honor of the poet, the title is intentionally lower-cased.)

Came upon this article, the revenge of e.e. cummings, over at the International Herald Tribune.

a big natl study by the College Board and Pew Project on the Internet and American Life finds teenagers riting more b/c of txting but in a hybrid language with conventions of its own: call it Textlish. they don't consider it frml english but 64 percent admit it seeps into their writing at school.

we get da need for shorthand when thumbs fly on tiny keypads. but we thot technology wd enhance communication, not blur every boundary b/w frml language and slang. and dont even get us started on emoticons!

well, tempora quid faciunt. dis not lingo but latin: times change. early america's founders wud uppercase almost every noun; maybe Sterling really is a visionary. Still, on the 25th anniversary of "A Nation at Risk," the seminal report on America's educational challenges, who wudda thot the big threat to riting wd b the cellfone?

Click on the link above to read the whole piece.

Given the way history has worked, I have a feeling text and chat-speak is going to take over eventually. Well, let’s see.

David Dizon Reports On English Proficiency

David Dizon, the reporter I met some months back, has a new article up, SWS: English Proficiency Of Filipinos Improves.The article mentions that the reason for this could be market-driven, as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has risen in the country.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Palanca winner Yvette Tan will be the guest speaker at the Talecraft Horror workshop this Sunday, May 18, 2008, at 1 p.m. at Powerbooks Megamall. Yvette is also the guest editor for the coming Special PGS Halloween Issue, and has a story, "Chimaera", in PGS4. She also announces in this blogpost her first article, a fashion story, for The Philippine Star. I talked about Talecraft here, here, and here in the past. Please do find the time to attend this workshop and to get yourselves a copy of this game, created by Ria Lu. It's a wonderful aid at identifying story conventions, and at prompting your imagination.

I blogged about M.R.R. Arcega's piece on libraries here, then a short time afterward she emailed me to tell me that she has another one out: "Why We Need More Libraries In Provincial Areas". Her point in this second article? "Somewhere out in the rice fields, or in the shadows of the mountains, the constantly beleaguered shorelines, are kids who need to read more and better, and feel like there's more for them out in the world. There are very talented kids who need the extra pat on the back, the assurance that they can pursue their dreams without abandoning their roots, or being ungrateful and selfish." M.R.R. Arcega is the author of "The Magic Christmas Box" from The PGS Special Holiday Issue.

Joseph Nacino, author of "Insomnia" from PGS1, has a fantasy erotica piece, "Love And Noir In The Time Of Call Centers", out in the FHM erotica anthology. Joseph also won 1st place in 2007 at the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards for short fiction for his story, "Logovore".

And while we're on this line of thought, Nikki Alfar, author of "Beacon" from PGS2, has a new story, "Bound", out in the May issue of Rogue Magazine. I was lucky enough to have read it some weeks ago. Like Joseph's, it's an erotic speculative fiction tale, and her story has heavy build-up, lots of seeding, and multiple climaxes. ("Oh behave!")

I wrote here how Mia Tijam (author of "Blink, Wake Up" from PGS4) and Dean Francis Alfar (author of "The Middle Prince" from PGS1 and "In The Dim Plane" from PGS4) have stories published in recent issues of The Philippines Free Press. Their stories were "Wishes Do Come True" and "Sunboy", respectively. Well, another PGS contributor, Sharmaine Galve (author of "Y" from PGS3), will have her story, "The Death Of Roy", published too in a coming issue of the same publication. Go and get copies of all these Free Press issues so you can read their stories!

Crystal Koo (author of "The Scent Of Spice" from PGS2), who wrote me about her upcoming trip to the Sydney Writer's Festival, updates us on recent developments via her blog. It seems she'll be meeting Butch Dalisay and Wendell Capili there, both of whom will be giving speeches at the Festival. Here's her latest email:

"Just an extra piece of news to go with the thing in Sydney. I've been invited by Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Sydney, Maria Theresa P. Lazaro, to attend a reception in the Philippine consulate in honor of Dr. Butch Dalisay and Dr. Wendell Capili, the Filipino speakers in the Festival. Waaaa. It's funny how all these things are suddenly happening. I hope I can take pics, haha.

It's a bit of serendipity actually, because a year ago I WAS in the Sydney consulate, trying to get through the bureaucracy of getting my Palanca entry and copyright notarized by them, lol. (And I'm glad I went through all the trouble, since it's the same story that's bringing me back, haha.)"

The story she's referring to is "Benito Salazar's Last Creation", which placed third at the 2007 Palanca's. More on that, and the anthology it'll be included in, here in this earlier Announcement.

Congratulations, all!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Preying On Ignorance (Updated Again)

Dogberry has, in his own column, answered the piece I mentioned in early May, "The Birds Of Prey And Batjay", written by The Sassy Lawyer. His essay is entitled "Preying On Ignorance". His view is opposite that of The Sassy Lawyer's, as he takes issue with some of the points raised in her post. More things to ponder on, which I think PGS readers will find interesting. A quote:

"What is difficult varies through time and across cultures. Languages change, and so do literary conventions. The world changes, and so do we. We may find the sentences of Henry Fielding or the late Henry James or James Joyce more tedious than elegant. That is not the fault of Fielding, James, or Joyce; it is simply that we have become accustomed to shorter, simpler sentences, and it takes some effort for us to read writers of a previous age. (We haven’t even discussed the blank verse of Shakespeare.) They weren’t trying to be difficult; it’s just that they weren’t writing for us. We need to make allowances for such differences if we hope to succeed in understanding works of a different era."

Update: some other links on the same subject...

Here and here at The Spy In The Sandwich (also here)
Here at Stuart-Santiago
Here and here at The Bibliophile Stalker

Here at Accidents Happen
Here at Dreamlessness
Here at Alimbukad
Here at The Naked Truth
Here at Wandering Star
Here at Filipino Writer

Whew! That's a lot. Not as much as this one from last year, or even this one, but if this keeps up...

In fact, the Stalker is compiling links here, much better than I can.

Updated Again: There are more links here and here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Piece On Libraries

M.R.R. Arcega, author of "The Magic Christmas Box" from the PGS Special Holiday Issue, has a piece over at the Read Or Die blog: "The Need For More Libraries, Or For Better Bookstores". A quote:

2007 Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing once spoke of the need for good libraries, saying that “In order to write, in order to make literature, there must be a close connection with libraries, books, with the tradition.” We always hear talk of Pinoy writers needing to write more. But as a good friend once said and I never forgot: “The more I read, the more I want to write.” Some of us tend to notice it off the bat - our most productive times are when we are in the company of other artists, when we’re being forced to catch up with a reading list, when we’ve just experienced something awesome and we’re driven to share it with other people. In short, when we’re being inspired.

And in other countries, they have places where you can just walk in and be inspired, and you have no excuse not to be.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Three Somewhat Related Links...

...or maybe I'm forcing the connections here.

In any case, here they are:

The first is from Tahanan Books, who have announced a warehouse sale from May 14 to May 17 at Unit 402, Cityland III Building, 105 Rufino corner Esteban St., Legaspi Village, Makati.

So, if you're going to be buying new books, you might also be clearing shelf space. Dogberry has a post that talks about Getting Rid Of Stuff You Don't Need. It's a mindset, really. Difficult for packrats and hoarders, I can imagine.

If you are clearing shelf space, your old books have to go somewhere. This place is as good as any: Brigada Eskwela. They're a group who actively hunt down old books of any kind to be given to public school children. If you're not going to be using your old books anymore, someone else could.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Announcements (Updated)

Tobie Abad of the New Worlds Alliance will be the guest speaker at the Talecraft Scifi Workshop this Sunday, 1 p.m., May 11, 2008, at Powerbooks Megamall. Please do find the time to attend, and to get a copy of Talecraft for yourselves or as gifts (it's available at Powerbooks and at select National Bookstore branches). I talked about it here and here, too, and Elbert Or, PGS layout editor, uses it in the classes and workshops he handles.

The Manila Litcritters will be having another open session at 2 p.m. this Saturday, May 10, 2008, at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch along Emerald Avenue (Ortigas Center, Pasig City). One of the stories they're taking up is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, a story I first read when I was twelve, that I enjoyed then, and still enjoy very much today. If there's a speculative fiction short story that has succeeded in reflecting so well a number of aspects of humanity, and that you can pass on to non-readers of speculative fiction without fear of them saying "What's this?!", this is it. Do drop by. No pressure to speak; if you just want to listen in, that's perfectly all right. Just make sure you read the stories beforehand so you know what's being talked about. Also, a member of the Manila Litcritters, Dean Francis Alfar, has a story, "Sunboy", published in last week's issue of The Philippines Free Press (Sarge Lacuesta, Literary Editor). Kudos, Dean! He's the author too of "The Middle Prince" from PGS1 and "In The Dim Plane" from PGS4.

As I first announced here back in February, Crystal Koo, author of "The Scent of Spice" from PGS2, is heading for Australia. She's attending the Sydney Writers Festival in, well, Sydney, where one of her stories, and last year's 3rd place winner at the Palanca's, "Benito Salazar's Last Creation", is included in a book that's being launched on May 25, 2008. The book is Salu-Salo: An Anthology of Philippine-Australian Writings. She's promised to keep me up-to-date while she's there, so I can post about it on the PGS blogs, or link up to her blog as she writes about her trip. Here's a portion of her latest email to me:

"...there's a chain of bookshops in Australia called's not as big as Dymocks or something like that, but it's pretty famous in Australia among the literati...they contacted me and said that they were the supplier of books in the Festival...then they asked me for copies of my previous publications so they could sell them in the launch during the Festival. My jaw dropped, pretty much. They wanted any contacts of book publishers or distributors that had published me before. Didn't matter which country it was. Only, of course, the thing is, this is the first book that's publishing me! I swear, if they could see and display magazines, I'd send them your contact in a heartbeat (except previous issues mags and journals aren't really sold in launches). Maaan. Suddenly, though, I feel extremely vindicated of every rejection I've had, hahaha! (Which really isn't a proper feeling, but I was so stunned.)"

I suggested to Crystal to bring copies of PGS2 where "The Scent Of Spice" is printed even if it's just shown for display, and she said she'll try to do just that. I asked her for pics of the Festival too (and of PGS on display, if that's even possible!). And here, let Crystal's experience be something to ponder for those of you who write and have been letdown by rejection: persistence counts, as well as learning and growing in your writing. Hey, even Stephen King has famously written about the huge pile of rejection slips he has accumulated in his life.

Congratulations, Crystal! And like I told you, you can always count on me to support you and all the other PGS contributors. I really get a kick out of seeing you and all the others either winning contests or getting published elsewhere.

Update (as of 5:00 p.m., May 8, 2008), via Banzai Cat: Mia Tijam, author of "Blink, Wake Up" in PGS4, has also been published in the latest issue of The Philippines Free Press. Her story there is "Wishes Do Come True". Congratulations to you too, Mia!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Free, Downloadable, And Legal Horror Novel

An acquaintance emailed me about a horror novel that's free and legally downloadable off the web. His message:

"Hey, Kyu. I accidentally found this site, It's a horror novel, for free. It's going to be made into a movie, according to the link. I haven't read it yet, but since it's legal to get it I'm going to give it a try. Nothing to lose, right? Maybe PGS genre readers will be interested. You want to blog about it?"

My acquaintance is right: nothing to lose. The publishers have made the free download legal, so I guess that's okay. The book is Autumn, by David Moody. Its premise reminds me of "I Am Legend": virus kills many, and the dead become monsters. I don't think I can get to it right away anytime soon because of work and my own backlog of books, but those of you who can and do try it, comment away and let us know what you think of the story.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dinner And Music

I spent Friday evening last week having dinner with a couple of writer friends I had met only in the past year; I even made a new one too, among some others who have no online presence, as far as I can tell. Update: my mistake, another person I met that night does have a website; he's Prof. Lester Demetillo of the U.P. College of Music. Please do check out his website to see where and when he'll be performing. Taking everyone into account, I was in the presence of so much genius that Friday evening.

Despite being the semi-hermit that I am, despite the fact that I rarely venture forth from the comfortable confines of my familiar haunts, or go beyond seeing those safe, friendly, and trustworthy faces I've known since I was a kid--in other words, despite myself--the evening was wonderfully enjoyable.

A get-together of friends, a time when you can let your guard down, be yourself, and be accepted for that with no questions asked, is a surefire recipe for a pleasant time, one of those moments--which include the time I spend with my family--that let you know life can be good. What made the evening extra fun was the fact that almost all those who were at dinner that evening were gifted with healthy doses of musical talent (I say "almost" because I was the exception there). One writer friend brought her treasured, decades-old guitar, another was provided by the restaurant owner, and once dessert was served I was treated to something I did not expect and had not experienced since my college days almost twenty years ago: a night of live, personable, well-played and well-sung music with nothing else but voice and instrument. Even my other writer-friend picked up the guitar and sang despite years of rust (or so he claimed), while the new one I made, well, see and hear for yourselves. It felt like everyone could play, everyone could sing. As was described by another friend, jadedfolk, in the comments of this post (with regard to something his guitar teacher had told him), everyone around me that night seemed to have already "Gotten it, because they've gone past the technicalities and have risen to an artistic level."

There was enough music and laughter to attract the attention of the other restaurant patrons, but I don't think they minded at all (at least, I hope they didn't). As one of us remarked, "Kulang nalang, beer", but the restaurant didn't serve any alcohol, so we were left to get drunk on the music. Which was more than fine.

Perhaps it's serendipity working here again. I think I was ready for this. I've been a Tuck and Patti fan for years. I've also been recently enjoying the music of Co-E-Sion on Youtube; they're a Pinoy duo based in Australia who, like Tuck and Patti, rely on guitar and voice. I've embedded one of their songs from Youtube at the end of this post just so you get an idea of the song and sound I experienced that Friday evening (though the songs that were sung at the restaurant were some decades older than the one in the video).

Hey guys, I hope you don't mind my blogging about this. Wala naman akong linagay na photos, as one of you requested. Thanks very much for inviting me to dinner, and for a great night. I retract though my tongue-in-cheek promise to "rap" the next time we get-together. Also, have a safe trip back, ma'am!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Thank You, Ria Lu

I'd like to thank Ria Lu, creator of the Talecraft Story-Creation game (which I first wrote about here), for having me over as a speaker during the Talecraft fantasy workshop on May 4, 2008 at Powerbooks Megamall. To all those who attended, I hope it was worth your time, and it was an honor to have been your speaker. As he commented on the PGS Multiply site, PGS layout editor Elbert Or has been using Talecraft regularly for his comics workshops and classes. In his words: "Talecraft rules." Talecraft is available at Powerbooks and select National Bookstore branches, so go and get your copy now.

The Talecraft workshops aren't over yet. They'll be held each Sunday in May of this year at the same venue, at 1 p.m. Next Sunday will tackle science-fiction, with guest speaker Tobie Abad from the New Worlds Alliance; the Sunday after that will have PGS4 contributor Yvette Tan tackling horror (she's also the guest-editor for the PGS Special Halloween Issue); and then the Sunday after that will have Faye Ilogon and Ma. Celeste Flores-Coscolluela from Cozy Reads Publishing handling romance. Admission is free, so please do find the time to come by, meet people, learn a few things, and try out Talecraft.

The talk was fun, and as I always do, I enjoyed meeting younger folk with an enthusiasm for reading, books, and stories. It was good to see Ria again (who, by the way, also writes, and has a book out, Cross Your Heart). It was also a pleasant surprise to have encountered illustrator, Joel Chua, whom I've corresponded with a few times in the past via email and phone, and met for the first time in the flesh yesterday. We should get together again in the future and talk some more, guys. The discussions were fun. Ria and Joel also gave me a list of Hayao Miyazaki films to watch, encouraging this anime newbie, this old guy, to try them out. Maybe I will. It might help me understand why anime stories have captured the imaginations of younger folk. I think I can even watch them with my kids; Ria and Joel assure me they'll enjoy them. Who knows? It might also help turn back my own clock. Thanks again, Ria, Joel, and all who were at the Talecraft fantasy workshop! And for those of you who missed it, please do find the time to attend the next ones.

No Fear

No, not the clothing brand. Rather, it's advice on how non-native English speakers can improve their English. Have No Fear. A quote:

"Non-native English speakers, like Filipinos, should not fear to use the language differently from the way native English speakers do. After all, English has a Philippine version, which should be acceptable since there is more than one way to use the language."

I think you can follow that same advice in learning any language. Or in learning anything new at all.

Here's the rest of the article.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Birds Of Prey And Batjay

Dogberry told me about an article written by The Sassy Lawyer (who is also the same person behind the blog, House On A Hill): The Birds Of Prey And Batjay. I quote:

What is so objectionable about the use of simple language in literature? Is literature naturally elitist and meant to be appreciated only by a few? Is it what makes it special? Is that what makes it good?

Is literature a form of snobbery or a concept invented to make a few chosen men sound important?

I believe PGS blog readers will want to read this blogpost. There are many strong points raised there that can give all of us something to think about. Take the time to also read the comments section; the discussion is interesting.

Friday, May 02, 2008

From "Love Kitten" To Child Literacy

Here's a CNN article: From "Love Kitten" To Child Literacy. It's about a librarian, Yohannes Gebregeorgis, who believes reading will save Ethiopia. A quote:

"Children could imagine everything from books -- connections to other cultures, to other people, to other children, and to the universe at large," recalls Gebregeorgis. "It gives them hope. It gives them pleasure. It gives them everything that they cannot otherwise get in regular textbooks."

We may not have the wherewithal, either financial or educational, to set up our own libraries, like Mr. Gebregeorgis has done. But we can read to our children. We can read to our nephews and nieces. We can expose them to books. We can read for ourselves, and let the younger ones see us doing so. If everyone did this for their families, it would have an effect equivalent to having a well-used library. Like Mr. Gebregeorgis, I believe only good things can happen from reading.