Friday, January 30, 2009

The Philippine International Writers Festival 2009

The Philippine International Writers Festival 2009 will be held from February 11 to February 13, 2009. Click here to see the different panel discussions, the times, and the venues. Three days of discussions about reading, writing, publishing, and books. If you have the time, please go!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Puppy Years" by Nikki Alfar

Nikki Alfar, author of "Beacon" from PGS2, has a new story out in the January 31, 2009 issue of The Philippines Free Press. The title is "The Puppy Years". Buy a copy and read her story!

John Updike, 76

American writer John Updike, author of "Rabbit, Run", "Rabbit Is Rich", and many other books, has passed away.

John Updike, the kaleidoscopically gifted writer whose quartet of Rabbit Angstrom novels highlighted so vast and protean a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism as to earn him comparisons with Henry James and Edmund Wilson among American men of letters, died Tuesday. He was 76 and lived in Beverley Farms. Massachusetts.

The cause of death was lung cancer, his publisher, Knopf, said in a statement.

Click on this link to read the piece about him at The International Herald Tribune.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

By Moon Alone Fantasy Fiction Contest Winner

The winner of the By Moon Alone Fantasy Fiction Contest is PGS contributor Paolo Chikiamco, author of "Homer's Child" from PGS3! He used a pseudonym, Paolo Gabriel, by the way. More details here. Congratulations, Pao! And thank you for sponsoring this contest, HAI!

A Special Call For Submissions: Story Philippines/PGS Collaboration

I had the opportunity to speak with Jade Bernas, the publisher of Story Philippines, a few times over the last couple of months; it's always good to meet old friends. He had the idea of collaborating on one special, experimental fiction issue, a Story Philippines/Digest of Philippine Genre Stories collaboration. Jade always has good ideas.

So in light of that, this post is a special call for submissions for stories for that special issue. Whatever guidelines you know from Story Philippines or from PGS apply, the only difference being that Jade and I will be bringing our sensibilities together as publishers, editors, and most importantly, as readers, to this project. Simply put, we're looking for good stories, stories that work (wait, don't we always? ;P). Disregard whatever restrictions/perceptions you have of our publications for this special issue, and just send in the story you want to write. We're looking to fill 6-8 slots in the Table Of Contents.

We're going to try and bring the best of our publications together. All pending submissions to each of our publications will be considered, but we would also like to invite new submissions. Deadline is February 28, 2009. If you have any questions, just leave a comment here, or send an email to pdofsf(at)yahoo(dot)com. Please send all submissions also to that email address (subject: Submission, Story/PGS, "Story Title").

Looking forward to reading your work! Thanks!

Mr. Choco Lovah Photo Contest

Posting for an online buddy, Jonas Diego: Mr. Choco Lovah Photo Contest. It's a photo contest, but you don't have to be a professional to join. Looks like fun. You guys might want to join! The prize is a trip for two to Vegas...

Yet Another Typewriter

Back from The Fix It Shop. In what I recognize now as an increasingly unhealthy obsession with getting my relatives' old typewriters up and running, I now have with me a fully-working Brother Electric typewriter. I don't know the year it came out, but it looks like a late 1960's early 1970's model. This is the oldest electric typewriter I've ever laid my eyes or hands on, and it's in very good condition, given its age. And it works fine too.

It's another heavy machine, and except for the keys, it's made of solid cast iron all over. When you turn it on by pressing the red, square switch on the right side, the motor starts to roll, turning a small belt inside, probably activating the inner gears. I pulled back the first time I pressed that red button because the machine started to hum loudly, not unlike an electric generator. I thought it was radioactive.

Before it was repaired, the owner said that if you were to type barefoot (as she once did), it would give you mild electric shocks after pressing certain key combinations. This was probably the earliest form of spell-checking. "If you're going to use it, wear shoes," she said.

I checked the wattage consumption at the bottom of the typewriter: 50 watts. To compare, a 19 inch LCD TV being sold in local appliance stores consumes only 40 watts.

But it works!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Are You A Book Geek?

Taken from Azrael's Multiply Land, this article about a Fully Booked contest. Strictly for book geeks only!

Are you a book geek?
Test your mettle against fellow FULLY BOOKED BLOGGERS BOOK CLUB members for the right to be called
The winner gets to take home PHP5,000 worth of gift certificates from Fully Booked.

Fully Booked Bloggers Book Club members must stay tuned for questions to be posted on the website on January 22, 2009, Thursday at 4PM.

The first 25 BBC members who can submit their complete entries with the complete answers shall be qualified as contestants to the competition on January 31, Saturday, at the Forum in Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.

Qualified contestants will be notified via email.

The Book Geek contest will be open to all in the succeeding months.

The winner of the competition will have the chance to compete in the finals on November 2009 for the title FULLY BOOKED ULTIMATE BOOK GEEK.

Click here to see Azrael's post.

The Elbert Or Project

Elbert Or, the PGS layout editor, was featured in yesterday's Sunday Inquirer Magazine (article written by Ruel S. de Vera). An excerpt:

Elbert Or knows how to keep himself occupied.

“I pretend I'm 16, I feel like I'm 40, but I'm actually 25,” he says. That combination of mental states makes him perfect for the work he's engaged in. The bespectacled writer-illustrator had scored a hit with “The More The Manyer,” the tiny but funny book of Pinoy malapropisms he illustrated that turned out to be publisher Tahanan Books' best-seller for 2008.

“The added ‘Yay, I’m so happy’ comes from people who get in touch with me to say that the book’s being used as an educational aid in classrooms. It warms my heart so much it’s affecting the polar ice caps.”

After about half a year of work, Or is back with the sequel, “Without Further Adieu,” out in bookstores now. He’s hopeful it will be a pleasant surprise as well. “I certainly hope it’s just as good, if not better. It took me twice as long to finish it,” he explains.

Now, he’s embarking on “Lola: A Ghost Story,” his first mainstream US project...

The "Printed Blog"

Found this article about print trying to stay in the game against the web: "Printed Blog" To Hit The Stands. An excerpt:

Who says print is dead?

A Chicago-based start up is hoping to both revitalize and revolutionize the newspaper by reprinting blogs in hyper-localized free papers that offer business the same kind of targeted - and cheap - ads found online.

The Printed Blog hits the streets of Chicago and San Francisco on Tuesday and will be launched in New York within the next month.

"What we're trying to do is apply some of the principals that have worked online in aggregators to the newspaper industry and see if it works," said founder Joshua Karp, who has a background in management consulting.

Print runs of just 1,000 issues will allow the paper to be tailored to specific neighborhoods - which Karp envisions could one day result in as many as 50 to 100 different editions in large cities - and users will be able to vote on what type of content they want.

The paper will be focused on "your physical social network as opposed to your online social network," Karp said.

"It's a different idea than the one size fits all you get with the (free daily) Red Eye or Chicago Tribune."

Click here to read the whole article.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On The Future Of Book Publishing And A Half-Pinoy, Half-Australian Teenage Writer

Got this private message from Wandering Star:,9171,1873122-1,00.html

Article present in hard copy in the Obama inauguration commemorative issue. About the future of book publishing.

About this half-Pinoy, half-Aussie 16-year old who self-published and is now being called better than Chris Paolini and at par with JK Rowling.

Thanks for this, Wandering Star! Enjoy these articles, people!

Happy 牛 Year!!

The character 牛 means cow or ox in Mandarin. It's pronounced "nio" (here's a link to a page with an audio file).

So, Happy 牛 Year to all this Year of the Ox!!

Pun fully intended. :D

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Article On English

From this post, to this one over at Dogberry: Paradoxically Speaking.

Isagani Cruz wrote a short but trenchant post titled "Paradox of Philippine education" a few days ago. It speaks for itself:
I have often wondered why Filipinos who speak bad English, who have no doctorates in English language or linguistics, who have never lived or worked in the USA or UK, who have never taught in the public schools, or whose children do not study in public schools are the most vocal advocates of the exclusive use of the English language as the medium of instruction in all our public schools. On the other hand, Filipino language scholars with American doctorates in linguistics, who speak English as good as if not better than Americans, who have published books and scholarly articles in English in international journals, or who have been in the Department of Education and know the problems of public education firsthand are unanimous in opposing such stupid moves. Only in the Philippines!

The Boys From Brazil--Too Close For Comfort

Have you read the Ira Levin book, The Boys From Brazil? It's a creepy story, and the article mentioned in the above link--Nazi Angel Of Death Josef Mengele 'Created Twin Town In Brazil'--makes it feel like fiction come true. An excerpt from the article:

The steely hearted "Angel of Death", whose mission was to create a master race fit for the Third Reich, was the resident medic at Auschwitz from May 1943 until his flight in the face of the Red Army advance in January 1945.

His task was to carry out experiments to discover by what method of genetic quirk twins were produced – and then to artificially increase the Aryan birthrate for his master, Adolf Hitler.

Now, a historian claims, Mengele's notorious experiments may have borne fruit.

For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins – most of them blond haired and blue eyed.

But residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s, posing at first as a vet but then offering medical treatment to the women of the town.

Shuttling between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, he managed to evade justice before his death in 1979, but his dreams of a Nazi master race appeared unfulfilled.

In a new book, Mengele: the Angel of Death in South America, the Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa, a specialist in the post-war Nazi flight to South America, has painstakingly pieced together the Nazi doctor's mysterious later years.

After speaking to the townspeople of Candido Godoi, he is convinced that Mengele continued his genetic experiments with twins – with startling results.

Click here to read the whole piece.

And now, here's part of the Wikipedia entry of The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin:

Yakov Liebermann is an elderly gentleman who is known as a Nazi hunter: he runs a center in Vienna that documents crimes against humanity perpetrated during the Holocaust. The waning interest of the Western nations in tracking down Nazi criminals has forced him to move the center to his lodgings.

Then, in September 1974, Liebermann receives a disturbing phone call from a young man who claims he has just finished eavesdropping on the so-called "Angel of Death," Dr. Josef Mengele, the concentration camp medical doctor who performed horrible experiments on camp victims during World War II. According to the young man, Mengele is activating the Kameradenwerk for a strange assignment: he is sending out six Nazis to kill 94 men, who share a few common traits. All men are civil servants, and all of them have to be killed on or about a certain date.

Before the young man can finish the conversation, there is a muffled sound of sudden action, followed by silence, and then the telephone line goes dead.

Liebermann hesitates about what to do: he gets so many prank calls. But what if what the young man said is true? He decides to try to investigate. It eventually transpires each of the 94 targets has a son aged 13, a clone of Adolf Hitler planted by Mengele. The assassination of the civil servant father is an attempt to mimic the death of Hitler's own father, with the hope of creating a new Führer for the Nazi movement. This suggests that the Third Reich can develop again into a new superpower.

Levin's story hits awfully close!

I've always been interested in World War II stories, both the Asia-Pacific side of it as well as what happened in Europe. My wife is a world history buff, too; this may sound pretty off-beat, but on our honeymoon, when we stopped in Washington D.C., we ended up spending a day at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. How romantic.

I've read/watched several times Schindler's Ark/List, by Thomas Keneally and Steven Spielberg, respectively. The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck is a novella that I first enjoyed as a high schooler, and it was around that time that I also first read Without Seeing The Dawn by Steven Javellana. I've gone through several books on the Nanking Massacre as well as The Holocaust, and some of the young-adult books I chose to read were about the war: The Upstairs Room, Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl, Under The Blood Red Sun, The Endless Steppe.

The effects of World War II linger up to the present. You can see it in the way how couples who name their child Adolf Hitler still make it to the news; or in the rise of neo-Nazism; or in the outbursts that follow whenever Japan denies wartime atrocities or comfort women; or in the way Hiroshima and Nagasaki never fail to be brought up whenever the threat of nuclear war is discussed.

And now we've got The Boys From Brazil come close to being true! Good grief!

Try and get your hands on the book, if you can. And while you're at it, try and get copies of three of his other books too: Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, and Sliver.

I first saw the Josef Mengele article over at Jessica Rules The Universe: The Boys From Brazil, For Real?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Articles On English

Five days ago, this article by William M. Esposo was published in his As I Wreck This Chair column:

The Extensive Damage A Foreign Medium Of Instruction Unleashes

One reason why Filipinos were left behind in Asia by countries we once led during the early 1960s is because we are too parochial in our thinking. We fail to see the big picture and miss the lessons of the successes and failures of other countries.

Now, this parochial thinking is about to set the country into chasing what is called fools gold by re-imposing English as medium of instruction. It is fools gold because it does not really deliver the imagined benefits. On the contrary, it will inflict severe damage to generations of Filipinos.

The legislators who are pushing for the re-imposition of English as medium of instruction obviously did not do their homework. If they bothered to research the experiences of other countries with the use of English as their medium of instruction, they will not even think twice about pushing their bill. That is unless their real agenda is to perpetuate the idiocy (failure to learn and know the truth) that allows the exploitation of the ignorant in this country.

He goes on to detail both the Indian experience and the Hong Kong experience in his article. Click here to read the rest of it.

Yesterday, he continued his argument that the use of English as the medium of instruction will not be for the good of the Philippines in this article:

English As The Big Filipino Hang Up

Whenever your Chair Wrecker writes about the issue of re-imposing English as the medium of instruction here, spirited responses are generated.

Many of those who support the view that English should be taught only as subjects but not imposed as the medium of instruction are from the academe. They understand the impact of language in the learning process. They know that a people will learn more when taught in the language they are most familiar with.

They know that what is important is that we produce world-class farmers, technicians, craftsmen, engineers, doctors, nurses, scientists, laborers and so forth who can compete with the best in the world. English to world-class workers is at best an added advantage. But what is essential is the core competence in the real task or service that they provide.

A physicist who speaks the Queen’s English but cannot put together the most basic of elements is useless and will likely land in a call center.

Also, among those who support that view are the nationalists who know only too well that a country cannot possibly internalize its full sense of nationhood when a foreign language is imposed on its people as the medium of instruction.

Don’t be surprised that many Filipinos still entertain the illusion that they are Americans. The pretense with the language allows the maintenance of this illusion in the Filipino colonial mentality. If you want to talk like a Yank, soon you’ll think that you’re a Yank.

In a Youth Study in 2001, an abnormally high number of our young people openly wished that they were Americans or British. This mindset is easily reflected in a lot of the advertising materials that are directed towards young people.

Many of those who oppose the view — in other words they are for imposing English as medium of instruction — do so for all the wrong reasons.

Some of them think that without English proficiency, Filipinos cannot land jobs here and overseas. They fail to see that the language is secondary to the job competence.

Some of them mistake the current efforts of the Chinese, South Koreans and other Asian nationals to learn English as the key to acquiring the competitive edge. They think that if we learn English ahead of the Chinese, South Koreans and other Asian nationals - then we will beat them. This is fallacious thinking that mistakes the cart for the horse.

How can you beat them when you don’t even have their level of job competence — something which they acquired by learning their skills in the language they are most familiar with? Can a Filipino speaking the Queen’s English be considered better than the Chinese who makes double the quantity of products that the Filipino makes in an hour?

Click here to read the rest of his piece.

I find myself in agreement. If it's competence and learning--in math, the sciences, engineering, business, and the arts--that matters, best to do it in the language that those learning are comfortable with. English, as an international language, can be learned secondarily; ditto for any other widely spoken international language. It's a rather utilitarian view, granted, but it's the learning that counts. I'm fairly sure that the Japanese, for example, teach their students in Nihongo, and the Taiwanese in Mandarin. Courses in those subjects can also be taught in English for those who prefer that language. Of course, this would be the ideal, but we know that the world is far from perfect. The irony that I'm writing this post in English and not Tagalog--and that the same applies to Mr. Esposo--doesn't escape me, by the way.

As a slightly related aside, there is this article that just came out today:

Nashville Voters reject "English First" Proposal

Nashville voters rejected a proposal on Thursday that would have made it the largest U.S. city to require that all government business be done in English.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial results showed the "English First" proposal losing with about 57 percent of voters against it and 43 percent in favor. Proponents said using one language would have united the city and saved money, but business leaders, academics and the city's mayor worried it could give the city a bad reputation. Similar measures have passed elsewhere.

"The results of this special election reaffirms Nashville's identity as a welcoming and friendly city, and our ability to come together as a community," Mayor Karl Dean said in a news release.

Supporter Glenda Paul, 35, said as she exited a voting precinct Thursday that having one language is an important part of keeping government small.

"If I moved to France to start a business, I would be expected to speak French and that doesn't mean that I am not welcome there. It just means I need to respect the language."

But Claire King, 31, who lives in East Nashville, said Thursday that she voted against the amendment because "it sends a message of intolerance."

1000 Novels Everyone Must Read

From Zen In Darkness: 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read. Click the link to see how The Guardian has divided the novels into different categories, such as Science Fiction & Fantasy, State of the Nation, Family & Self, Love, Crime, War & Travel, and Comedy. Maybe you can find something to read from all the given titles. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Request For Puppies

Hello, all. I'm interrupting my usual blog entries about reading, writing, books, bookstores, and my general kalokohan (craziness), to make an unusual request.

I have relatives who are looking for puppies, preferably "askals" (asong-kalye in Tagalog, literal English translation is "street-dog"). They like dogs, and they told me that they have space for two more puppies in their small residence. In case anyone has two mutts too many, my relatives are willing to give them a good home, feed them, and take care of them till a ripe old age. One caveat though, since the owner of the residence believes in some old Chinese superstitions, they won't take in dogs with black fur. :(

Thank you!

INSPIRED! The Book That Started My Love Affair With Reading

Here's something from Powerbooks: INSPIRED! The Book That Started My Love Affair With Reading Writing Contest. The top three winners will be published in Read Magazine and will take home P10,000 total worth of Powerbooks gift cards and gift packs.

Paying To Blog? (Updated)

No, not "Paid To Blog" but "Paying To Blog".

As taken from "One Shot At A Time": Philippines To Require License To Post Content. Her post:


Kaloka naman ito. There's
this proposal that requires for one to have a license before creating online content -- text, media objects, you name it.

Wow. Nagpapatawa ba sila? That's like saying every Filipino who has Friendster, Facebook, and blogs should shell out P6000 annually. Oh, wait! That's the point, isn't it?

I've read the proposal (December 22, 2008 draft date) from the National Telecommunications Commission and its definition is quite broad. For example, under "Content", they have this:

refers to all types of contents delivered to/accessed by the users/subscribers such as music, ring tones, logos, video clips, etc.

Under "Information" they have this:

refers to all types of information delivered to/accessed by the users/subscribers, e.g. road traffic information, financial information, visa application information, etc.

Under "Contents Developers" they have this:

are persons or entities creating contents

The filing fee is P300.00. The annual fee is P6,000.00.

Bloggers can fall under "Contents Developers", since bloggers by nature are "creating contents". In fact, they create all kinds of "contents".

Under "Contents" and "Information", none of the specifics mentioned there fall under what most bloggers do, except for the "etc." at the end, which can mean practically anything. A blogger though who copies-and-pastes "financial" or "visa application" information taken from, say, a newspaper website, would surely fall under this. Given that I'm thinking of bringing PGS online so as to reach a wider audience, I would fall under the "etc.", since I'll be providing stories by Pinoys. And like I mentioned, all bloggers, even if they're just blogging about what happened to them during the day, are already providing "Information" and "Contents", and are "Contents Developers" by default.

Am I reading this right? Are all bloggers and website owners going to be required to register and pay the annual fee just to blog? Whoah. I suppose the National Telecommunications Commission is trying to cover all Pinoys who post content on the web. How will they enforce this, not just locally, but on Pinoys blogging from overseas as well? By the proposal's broad definitions, even updating a social networking site (like Facebook, Friendster, and the like) can be considered "providing content", right? Your Facebook or Friendster page is your page, after all, as long as you follow the regulations of the social-networking site; that's the deal.

Here's the post from The Mike Abundo Effect, the link to which was provided by One Shot At A Time.

I'm attending a hearing tomorrow on a proposal by the Philippines' National Telecommunications Commission that will require licenses for online content developers.

Yes, you read that right. The Philippine government wants to require licenses for people to create and post content online. Under the proposal's extremely broad definition of a content developer, you would need a license just to comment on this post.

This is the most unenforceable proposal I have ever seen. What are they going to do, require five million Filipino Friendster users to get a license before posting pictures? This proposal clearly comes from the outdated mindset that only corporations can develop content.

It's a public hearing, so feel free to join me. If nothing else, it'll be good for a laugh.

Update: It seems a flood of interest in this proposal has brought down the NTC site. For your information, the public hearing's set for 2pm Thursday, GMT+8 at the NTC Executive Conference Room, 3rd Floor, NTC Building, BIR Road, East Triangle, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Updated: There's a comment from Marking Out over at the PGS Multiply mirror which explains that only those sites which work "for compensation" are covered. That's a relief! Click on this link to read his full comment. He has also made a blog entry, "On Blogging And Regulation...", further expounding on the topic.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Call For Filipino Short Stories And Illustrators

Received this email in my inbox, care of Breaking The Silence, who forwarded it to me when she received it from her relative:

Hi guys! I know I'm spamming you again and it's off-season so I really shouldn't be doing this, but a friend is asking for help for her school project, and where else can I find great writers (and illustrators, I guess?) than NaNo? :)

Here we go: ===========================

Dear friends, as some of you may already know, for my internship/research I'll be working with small educational technology devices at an underserved site in the Philippines. Focus is math and literacy for grade 1/grade 2 level. There are already existing applications but since the devices were piloted in the US, most of the materials are in English. Basically, I'm looking for people who are willing to write short stories in Filipino or illustrate.

I hope you guys can forward this to people you know who may be interested in this worthwhile project. This really means a lot to me. Thanks.

I'll be deploying the teachermate to an underserved site in Pinas. (I'm still in the process of finalizing the exact details with the partner site.) The teachermate is basically an educational mobile device. It is currently targeted towards teaching math and improving literacy at the grade 1/grade 2 level.

There are existing applications that will be deployed to the site in the Philippines. However, a big concern is the literacy part. Since the teachermate was initially created for US children, the e-books are in English. My target is to come up with at least 20 stories in Filipino for the Philippine audience. Unfortunately, this is out of my expertise. I was hoping you could help me find:

* people who are willing to write short stories in Filipino. It doesn't have to be that long -- a minimum of 100 words is OK since these are grade 1/grade 2 level children
* people who are willing to do some illustrations based on the stories. The initial deployment is at the 3rd week of March. Not all of the stories are targeted to be digitized by then. Again, since the stories are short, this would require around 4 or 5 illustrations per story

(Note: It doesn't have to be the same person writing and illustrating.)

Unfortunately, we will not be able to pay anything other than warm fuzzy feelings for contributing. However, volunteers will be recognized for their efforts. Any stories or illustrations they create will be attributed to them.

Thanks! If you find someone who's interested, please have them contact me directly via my school e-mail address (


Mela Sogono
MA Learning, Design, & Technology
Stanford University, Class of 2009


This is due around February, and she's targeting around 20 stories. This should be a good post-NaNo exercise.

Thanks guys! Oh, and if you have similar announcements that you'd want to share with the group, just send me an email about it, so I can email/spam the group. ^^;


ML for the Philippines

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let's Translate This...

I'm watching the Obama inauguration on CNN, and I'm suddenly wondering how to translate this Tagalog question into English:

"Pang ilang presidente si Obama?"

Sa Tagalog, simple! But in English?

*What number is Obama president? (ang pangit!; trans. ugly)
*Obama is president number what? (maspangit pa!; trans. "FUGLY")
*What is Obama in the order of presidents? (ang pormal! hindi simple! trans. Too formal! Not simple!)
*In the sequence of presidents, Obama falls under what number? (kailangan bang mag-kurbata pag tinatanong to? trans. is a tie necessary when asking this question?)
*What is Obama's number? (cellphone o landline? trans. mobile or fixed-line?)

I know the answer to the question (it's 44); it's getting the translation right that bugs me right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Storytelling Workshop

The National Library Of The Philippines, in partnership with Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines, the volunteer storytelling group whose mission is to promote literacy through storytelling, will conduct a storytelling workshop on January 24-25, 2009, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the 6th Floor of the National Library, T.M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila, Philippines. Click here for details.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Her Dark Side

Yvette Tan, PGS contributor and guest-editor for the PGS Horror Issue, was featured in today's Sunday Inquirer Magazine (article written by Ruel S. De Vera). Head on over and read about why she writes horror! Thanks to Welcome To Simpleton for the link.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Speculative Fiction, Multiculturalism, And An Online Free For All!

As taken from The Wolf's Lair: Speculative Fiction, Multiculturalism, And An Online Free For All! Here's his post:

So, a friend links me to an index of links to an ongoing discussion of multiculturalism in speculative fiction/sf&f. Taking a break between writing a story and cramming for a French test, I tell myself, what the hell, it might be an interesting read. Famous last words. :P

There goes my productivity for the rest of the night.

The Index

Whatever You're Doing, You're Doing it Wrong.

It begins with a blog post by Elizabeth Bear about "Writing The Other". Her initial article mutates into a look at multiculturalism in SF&F (which is dominated by the Western/White Science Fiction/Fantasy Megatext)

This of course stirs up the hornets nest, infuriating feminists and post-colonials alike. I haven't even finished reading the other articles yet, but there was one reply up there by an Indian that hits in the gut, because in a way, it could be argued that the same thing has happened here in the Philippines (I Didn't Dream of Dragons.). Another one that I liked tackles what the blogger considers racist bias in SF&F, bringing up examples like Andromeda's Tyr Anasazi and Stargate's Teal'c and how minorities become bit characters saddled onto white heroes (An Open Letter to Elizabeth Bear).

There's a lot more I still haven't read, and the fascinating thing for me is that this sucker is still ongoing, with a few of these posts still hot off the keyboards. If you stalk the blogosphere, love SF&F and enjoy all the conondrums of cultural criticism and postcolonial eck-eck, you might want to keep your sights trained on these. Heck, you might even want to dive in yourself and have your say. (I for one am too sleepy to cook up a coherent comment on these tonight) Enjoy.

There goes my productivity for the rest of the bloody weekend, I guess. When will I ever get Mother of Monsters written up for CW 198?

EDIT: Much thanks to thebumpercar for the links.

What's being discussed might strike a nerve with some of you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Philippine Speculative Fiction IV

Philippine Speculative Fiction IV will be launched on February 28, 2009, 5:30 p.m., at Fully Booked Fort Bonifiacio, Taguig. More details here at Notes From The Peanut Gallery.

Coffee And The Voices In Our Heads

According to a study, big coffee drinkers hallucinate more. Below in italics are quotes from the article:

People who drink more than seven cups of coffee a day tend to hallucinate more than less caffeine-driven colleagues, according to a study published Wednesday.

Those with a high caffeine intake are three times more likely to have heard a non-existent person's voice than those who drink one cup a day, said the research by psychologists at Durham University.

I have friends who develop L.B.M. after more than just one cup of coffee. Not on topic? Oops. Sorry. Let me just say that when they develop L.B.M. they end up talking in funny voices.

But the study noted that the tendency to hear voices or have other hallucinations may not be caused by caffeine, but simply reflect the kind of people who drink lots of coffee.

I know a lot of writers who need a mug of coffee beside them when they write. With all the voices they hear, maybe that's why they can write terrific dialogue.

So what's the real reason? Is it the coffee, or the kind of people who drink coffee?

Co-author Charles Fernyhough stressed that the study did not confirm a causal link between caffeine intake and hallucinations, noting also that three percent of people regularly hear voices in their head.

It's the kind of people who drink coffee.

"It's surprising that there has been so little research into nutrition and hallucinations. In some countries high consumption levels of sugar and saturated fat are linked to poor mental health outcomes," said Jones.

So I can now blame my food for the way I think!

I remember that Nick Joaquin was a great drinker of beer. Maybe we should all try this: Drink hefty amounts of beer and coffee (at the same time, if you wish), sit down with pen in hand and paper at the ready (or your computer or typewriter beside you), and see what wonders will result!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Publishing Really, Really Works

From Village Idiot Savant, this video (which you can also view here in case the first link doesn't work): How Publishing Really, Really Works.

Know what goes on behind the curtain! ;-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Quotes From Life Of Pi

I'm done with Life Of Pi by Yann Martel; wonderful story, enchanting storyteller.

I may be taking these quotes from the novel out of context, but they are applicable to our situation here in the RP:

There is this paragraph on why people move:

People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.

And there is this quote near the end of the Author's Note:

If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.

Chapter 78 (page 271 in my paperback) is enrapturing. It's the chapter that begins:

There were many skies. The sky was invaded by great white clouds, flat on the bottom but round and billowy on top. The sky was completely cloudless, of a blue quite shattering to the senses. The sky was a heavy, suffocating blanket of grey cloud, but without promise of rain. The sky was thinly overcast. The sky was dappled with small, white, fleecy clouds. The sky was streaked with high, thin clouds that looked like a cotton ball stretched apart. The sky was a featureless milky haze...

The author goes on, drawing you in to what being stranded in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean is like. You have to read the full chapter to appreciate it; better yet, go read the whole novel. I waited years before getting to Life Of Pi because of my large backlog of unread books. It's a good thing I didn't know what I was missing.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Writing Project: Unfinished Business; P10,000 To A Charity Of Your Choice

Taken from Filipino

We are throwing down the gauntlet, this is a challenge to not forget the lessons of the years gone by, a challenge to not forget the issues that have yet to be resolved. This is the writing project that will ensure the new year of accountability and the realization that we have a duty as Filipinos to keep the fire of burning, because if this is our only tool to bring a voice to the issues that have died down, to the issues and incidents that have been forgotten, then so be it.

Cris A. Mendez has not found justice, activists are still missing, murders have not been solved, politicians both local and national still rule with impunity, Sulpicio’s victims still cry out for justice, a proper impeachment complaint has not been heard, Joc Joc still can deny everything, and farmers all over are still uncertain about their fate.

The question is not if we can face these challenges, the question is if we have the stamina to endure a fight for the ages, and a memory strong enough to remember the issues that once held our undivided attention.

Let this New Year, and let this Writing Project be our chance to say, that we remember, that we can endure as long as injustice is still there.

And so, I ask you, and you can leave answers here as comments, with any relevant links, either to your blog, or to articles, as to what is an unfinished business for you?

Click here for the mechanics of this writing project.

The winner gets P10,000, which will be given to a charity of his or her choice.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

US Adult Porn Industry Needs Help

Check out this article on The Huffington Post: Porn Bailout: Larry Flynt, Joe Francis Seeking Government Money. An excerpt:

An article in next month's Atlantic asks, "Is porn recession proof?" According to porn magnate Larry Flynt and "Girls Gone Wild" king Joe Francis, the answer is no.

TMZ reports that the pornographer pair is heading to Washington to ask for a $5 billion porn bailout:

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind," Flynt says. "It's time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America."

Francis sees his industry like the big three automakers, only BIGGER: "Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses; we feel we deserve the same consideration."

So, even they need a "stimulus package".

Hehehe. Sorry, sorry! This is a nonsense blogpost, completely unrelated to what I usually blog about, but I couldn't resist getting that joke in there. :D

The Plot Curdles -- A Modest Proposal For The Publishing Industry

Here's a funny article from The New York Times: The Plot Curdles -- A Modest Proposal For The Publishing Industry. An excerpt:

For Immediate Release:

Statement by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. following Congress’s passage of today’s rescue package:

As we all know, lax writing practices earlier this decade led to irresponsible writing and irresponsible reading. This simply put too many families into books they could not finish. We are seeing the impact on readers and neighborhoods, with five million Americans now behind on their reading. Some are just walking away from novels they should never have been reading in the first place. What began as a subprime reading problem has spread to other, less-risky readers and contributed to excess inventories.

These troubled novels are now parked, or frozen, on the shelves of libraries, bookstores and other reading institutions, preventing these institutions from financing readable novels. The normal buying and selling of nearly all types of literature has become challenged.

Click here to read the whole article.

Sent in by Zen In Darkness, and he described the piece as "something to get your mind off your troubles". Thanks very much!

Can You Say Rashomon?

By now, and since the incident has been reported on mainstream media, I'm sure everyone's heard about that brawl on a Philippine golf course that occurred last December.

Just like in Akira Kurosawa's film, we have a number of versions of what happened. So now, who knows what is the truth? Perception, among other factors, may or may not have skewed it.

Can you say Rashomon?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Call For Submissions To A New Anthology

Taken from The Grin Without A Cat:

(Remember my question last year about secondary worlds? This is the reason why...)

Secondary fantasy worlds are well-written fantasy stories that take place in a self-contained and self-consistent fantasy world created by the writer. These can be epic fantasy, high fantasy, or even dark (horror) fantasy.

The Farthest Shore: Fantasy from the Philippines, edited by Joseph Nacino & Dean Francis Alfar” will be published electronically to make this collection of stories available to a wider international audience. Through this anthology we will be able to show the world that the Filipino writer can create worlds with the best of them.

Combining these two ideas—the short story and secondary fantasy worlds—is well-within the Filipino author’s ability. As a guideline though, we are not looking for treatise or travel guide books of the secondary fantasy world. In the end, a good story and the humanity of the characters in them must take precedence over the well-formed setting.

In keeping with the concept of fantasy secondary worlds, stories based on Filipino mythology are acceptable.

Click here for the complete guidelines.

Manila Litcritters Open Session

Taken from Notes From The Peanut Gallery:

The next session is set - Jan 17, Saturday, 2PM, at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Robinsons Galleria.

Click here for the links to the stories that will be discussed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Writing Contest Announcement

The 2009 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition is now open to submissions.

Happy New Year!

Start the year right and join CANVAS' 5th Annual Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition! This year's contest is based on an original untitled oil on canvas painting by Juanito Torres.

Please read the rules carefully… there are a number of changes from our previous competitions, not least of which is a P5,000.00 increase in the cash prize. :-)

In addition to receiving P35,000.00 in cash and a trophy, the winning author will also see his/her story rendered and published as a full color children's book in mid-2010.

Click here for all the rules and details.