Monday, November 30, 2009

Asia In The Heart, World On The Mind

Tarie Sabido, the blogger behind Into The Wardrobe, has a new blog up, Asia In The Heart, World On The Mind.

Her newest blog "is a children's and young adult blog about books set in Asia and books with Asian characters (regardless of where they are published and whether or not their authors and illustrators are Asian), and Asian authors and illustrators (no matter where they are in the world)." She accepts books for review and interviews with authors and illustrators.

I'm looking forward to following Tarie's new blog. Her first two posts are an interview with authors Perpilili Tiongson and Candy Gourlay.

10 Of The Best Chases In Literature (And One From Real Life)

As compiled by John Mullan, over at The Guardian: 10 Of The Best Chases In Literature.

A good chase needs suspense, and a very good reason for the chasee to flee the chaser. I like his choices bar two, which I haven't read yet, but which I should find and get to.

Chases, hehe. This reminds me of a real-life chase I participated in back in the late 80's.

I was a junior in college, still a boy, when, after classes ended one September afternoon, I accompanied a friend--whom I will call B. to protect his identity--from Quezon City to Recto, in Manila. B. and I lived fairly close to each other, and when our schedules allowed, we always rode home together (sometimes we took the air-conditioned Love Bus--the best pic I could find of it is this shirt with the logo--a relic of public transportation from twenty-plus years ago). B.'s father had asked him to buy some tools and small pieces of construction material--screws, tox, nails, rugby, thinner, and such--from the hardware store, and he didn't want to go alone. Even though the stores were farther away from our homes than others that sold the same items, we always bought from Recto because the prices were much lower there.

All told, things went pretty much as expected. We left school and reached Recto in less than an hour with no incident. We walked into our favorite hardware store, and B. spoke to the sales help as I browsed the shelves. After about ten minutes of discussion and a bit of haggling, B. got and paid for what his father needed, and done was done.

While waiting on the sidewalk for a jeep--B. and I were talking about stopping by Ma Mon Luk along Quezon Avenue for a snack before heading home--someone tapped B. on the shoulder. B. turned to see a middle-aged, big-boned, tall man in heavy make-up and bedecked in costume jewelry grinning a toothy grin. I noticed at once how red the man's lipstick was, how powder-white his face, how his earrings dangled like large Christmas ornaments from his ear lobes, how each of his fingers were adorned with gaudy rings. I recognized the man at once for his outfit; he had been in the store with us, though since the place was dimly lit I didn't see his face then, but only his clothes. He wore a shiny, velvet shirt with a long, transparent, red shawl or scarf draped over his shoulders. His pants were tight, and white, painful to the eyes (and probably his groin), and he wore the ugliest pair of square-toed white shoes I had ever seen. I can still see the tasteless gold buckles on them in my mind's eye, which matched the equally tasteless gold buckle of his very yellow belt.

"Hi. Kumusta?" he said, though it really came out as "Haaiiii. Kumustaaaaa?", his voice like overly sweet molasses oozing down a tilted surface.

B. didn't respond, but he smiled nervously and took a step back. The man took a step forward. B. took another step back...and fell off the sidewalk, landing on his butt. Thankfully, no jeep was pulling up to the curb, otherwise B. would've become instant roadkill. What that shameless cretin, that walang hiya (I'm talking about my friend, not Mr. Red Scarf), did afterward I will never forget. That dork, B., got to his feet faster than you can say "Lester the Molester" and took off, right in the middle of the avenue.

My first thoughts were, "Holy sh*t! He's gonna' kill himself!", but my friend expertly dodged every car on the street without skipping a beat, without losing either his knapsack or the plastic bag with his purchases; I'm just thankful that traffic wasn't too heavy. You know how those receivers in American football can evade all those huge defensive backs going after them with murder on their minds? Well, that's how fast B. was. He zigged. He zagged. He successfully avoided vehicles like there was no tomorrow. It was amazing what a little panic and a heightened sense of survival can do for I was about to find out for myself.

The reason I will never forget how that idiot, B., ran off, is that in a few seconds I realized that he had left me alone with that clown in the funny costume! "Holy sh*t! He left me behind!" Realizing perhaps the same thing almost at the same time, Mr. Make-Up and Bright White Pants turned his smile onto me, whereupon I took flight also, right on the heels of my friend, cars and jeeps be damned.

I'd never have guessed it would happen, but Mr. Red-Lips and Dangling Earrings then took off after us!

You know those old Looney Tunes cartoons of that love-sick skunk, Pepé Le Pew? How he would chase the cat which he thought was a female skunk? That cat would run away all frantic and at top speed while Pepé would just hop along nonchalantly after her, but the distance between them never increased, and in fact, diminished. Well, that was us: We were the cat, and Mr. Costume Jewelry and Ugly White Shoes was the skunk. Press the fast-forward button and cue the Benny Hill chase music, "Yakety Sax".

I don't know how many corners we made, how many stores we ran into and ran out of, how many right or wrong turns we took. I don't know how much distance we covered, how many minutes passed, how many times we said, "Put*ngin*! Put*ngin*! Put*ngin*!", but like all good and clichéd comedic chase scenes, we ended up right where we started; we had run down a pedestrian overpass and through some stroke of good fortune found ourselves right in front of the hardware store again. And just our extended good luck! A jeep pulled up to the front, right on time, like the cavalry. We hopped on, B. screaming "Andar na!" to the driver, who thankfully listened. In a cloud of diesel exhaust we escaped in the direction of Quezon City, and home.

The last we saw of Mr. Powder-White and Velvet Shirt, he was on the overpass, watching our jeep drive off, slapping the railings with his hands in frustration. It was a long time before we went back to Recto, let me tell you, cheaper prices or not.

Now, there's a chase for you.

50 Things A Writer Shouldn't Do

As seen over at Three Guys One Book: 50 Things A Writer Shouldn't Do. One of the rules is "You're the artist. Ignore my rules." :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free And Legal Online Novels

Found this site, Online Novels. As far as I can tell, it's all legal, and they categorize the novels by genre (adventure, fantasy, historical, mystery, horror, science fiction, etc.). With short-fiction sites all over the web, sites like Project Gutenberg, and now this, there's no excuse not to read. Have fun, everyone!

What Are The Greatest Fantasy Novels Of All Time?

Over at io9: What Are The Greatest Fantasy Novels Of All Time? An excerpt:

If you could put together the perfect list of great fantasy novels, what would they be? Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians, put together his list and posted about it over on The Week.

Grossman's list is non-ordered, so these are all ranked as equally awesome:

— The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
— The Once and Future King by T.H. White
— Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories
— The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
— Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
— Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

I like Lev Grossman's list. Your choices?

Universal Language? Authors from the Apex Book of World SF Discuss the Global Reach of Speculative Fiction

Here's an article on Strange Horizons: Universal Language? Authors from the Apex Book of World SF Discuss the Global Reach of Speculative Fiction. The Apex Book of World SF is edited by Lavie Tidhar, and in the story-list are two stories by Pinoys: Kristin Mandigma's "Excerpt From A Letter By A Social-Realist Aswang", and Dean Alfar's "The Kite Of Stars". An excerpt from the article:

There is a particular problem that often accompanies the reading of "foreign" literature. It is (to risk stating the obvious) the question of "foreign-ness" itself. Most SF fans must surely remember the day when, after a diet of Heinlein and Clarke and Asimov, they first picked up something by the Polish author Stanislaw Lem, and thought: "I've never seen anything like this before." Ardent fantasy fans may have had similar feelings about their first encounter with Jorge Luis Borges or Mikhail Bulgakov, mystery readers about Natsuo Kirino, and so on.

In high school we are taught "French literature" and "Russian literature" as if they are monoliths, each featuring distinct national characteristics. In college we are then gently corrected, and informed that "national identity" is a construct lacking an underlying reality—like fairies, or the market economy: it only exists if you believe in it.

Clearly, neither of these can be entirely true. We intuitively recognize something different about authors who are outside the standard run of our local print-mill. We know Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch novels feel different than the urban fantasy that's currently coming out of America, or that Natsuo Kirino's thrillers are miles away (literally) from Elmore Leonard.

On the other hand, can we really define people's worldviews with a criterion as broad as nationality? Worse, in an increasingly globalized world, can we really expect "world" fiction to produce something truly alien, not subject to many of the same influences as our local stuff? There is probably some considerable value in questioning whether the feeling that Lem or Lukyanenko sees the world in a fundamentally different light is tainted by an elaborate prejudice, a psychological shell game in which we see "difference" because we are predisposed to believe it exists.

Some authors of speculative fiction see their work as explicitly national, reflecting fears, concerns and dreams that are specific to their society. Others see literature of the imagination as something that is universal, that transcends national and cultural boundaries by creating entirely new worlds that reflect our shared dreams and nightmares. Both have a point.

For Short Fiction Lovers: The Ten Best Short-Story Collections Of The 00's

Though Time is calling this decade about to end as one from hell, it has also been the decade when some of the choicest short fiction was written and published. Here's A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff with his list of the ten best short-story collections of the 00's.

I'd like to narrow it down for us here in the RP: instead of collections, care to name your favorite stories from the past decade by Pinoy writers?

Friday, November 27, 2009

BusinessWorld Feature Of Rocket Kapre and Usok#1

As seen on Rocket Kapre, a feature in BusinessWorld , "Filipino Fantastic Fiction Online", of Rocket Kapre; and a review, "Where There's Smoke", of Usok#1, by Johanna D. Poblete. An excerpt:

There can never be enough fantastic stories out there, or so fans of Speculative Fiction (also known as Spec Fic, the all-inclusive category for works of fantasy, science fiction, alternate history and horror or a hybrid of any and all) will tell you. These are the folks who talk as though thought bubbles were bursting forth from their mouths -- tiny transparencies materializing straight from the world of ideas into one’s consciousness. The newest venue for such storytellers is

Click here to read the whole article.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Covers

Check out this link and see some classic science fiction and fantasy book covers. I'm pretty sure I actually saw the Robert Silverberg book when I was much younger.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Philippine Speculative Fiction V Update

I received an email from Kestrel DDM, the publisher of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies. The email contained the following: the tentative Table of Contents for PSFV, as well as the shortlist (which are the stories the editors wish could be printed but can't take in for lack of space). Some of the shortlisted tales can still make it into the TOC if any of the originally accepted stories have to be pulled out for whatever reason. Please note that this is not the order of the TOC yet as the editors still need to determine it. Congratulations to all the writers, both in the TOC and in the shortlist.

Philippine Speculative Fiction V
edited by Nikki Alfar and Vincent Michael Simbulan

‘A Game of Quam’ by Andrew Drilon
‘A New Hospital’ by Raymond G. Falgui
‘A Yellow Brick Road Valentine’ by Charles Tan
‘Carbon’ by Paolo Gabriel V. Chikiamco
‘Death and Noy’ by Fidelis Angela C. Tan
‘Embedding’ by Aileen Familara
‘Eyes as Wide as the Sky’ by Gabriela Lee
‘Heart in the Flesh’ by Mia Tijam
‘If We Catch Fire’ by Marla Cabanban
‘Just Man’ by Rica Bolipata-Santos
‘Keeper of My Sky’ by Timothy James Dimacali
‘Leg Men’ by Dominique Gerald Cimafranca
‘Monsters’ by Eliza Victoria
‘New Toy’ by Joseph Anthony Montecillo
‘Rogelio Batle and the Curse of the Crimson Court’ by Alexander Osias
‘Sink’ by Isabel Yap
‘Strange Weather’ by Dean Francis Alfar
‘The Autochthonic War’ by Joseph F. Nacino
The Creature’ by Christine V. Lao
‘The Goodlyf’ by Kate Aton-Osias
‘The Left-Behind Girl’ by Veronica Montes
The Sparrows of Climaco Avenue’ by Kenneth Yu
‘There’s a Waterfall in Your Rainbow’ by Ejay Domingo
Three Stories’ by Angelo R. Lacuesta
‘Very Short Fairy Tales’ by Apol Lejano-Massebieau

‘A Novel Escape’ by Celine Roque
‘Bio Notes’ by Monique Francisco
‘Beyond Flight’ by Kristine Draei Dimalanta
‘Carnivale’ by Sarah Catherine Ureta
‘Moving Houses’ by Oscar Bryan Alvarez
‘Robots, Eyeballs, and a Slice of Pizza’ by Raydon L. Reyes
The Beloved Servant’ by Elyss Punsalan
The Void’ by Spencer Simbulan
‘Under a Mound of Earth’ by Celestine Trinidad
‘Upstaged’ by Gerard dela Cruz
Watchmen and Puppetmaster’ by Erica Gonzales
‘Wolf Man’ by John Philip Corpuz


FYI: The last day for submissions for art at START HERE, the artists' initiative for Ondoy victims, is tomorrow, November 26, 2009.

Top Ten Most Cliched Character Types In Sci-Fi

First off, this article, The Top Ten Most Cliched Character Types In Sci-Fi, over at Topless Robot, makes a distinction between science fiction and sci-fi:

Amongst those who make a distinction between the two (us nerds, that is), science fiction deals with how science will change the human condition, while sci-fi usually deals with hallway-chasing-explosions, weirdly shaped knife-fights and Megan Fox's ass... although not necessarily in that order.

Sci-fi is the watered-down, mass media version of science diction, the generic Dr. Thunder to the true amazingness of Dr. Pepper, if you will. But since most people don't know the difference, you get non-fans thinking that Independence Day is the epitome of smart science fiction (although, it did teach us all how explosive a drunk Randy Quaid can be).

Head on over here to see the list. I smiled in particular at Pure Energy Beings, The Accidental Time-Tourist, and The Bumbling Robot.

A Brief Interview On Usok

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Inevitability Of E-Books And The Top Ten Myths About Them

From the blog of Nathan Bransford, literary agent, Efficiency Wins In The End. An excerpt:

And this is why I believe e-books are going to win in the end, and probably sooner than we think. It's simply vastly more efficient to download any book you could possibly want instantaneously and read a book on a screen (even better if it's a screen you already have, hello smartphone) than to cut down a tree, make paper, print ink on it, bind it, ship it across the country in a plane or a truck or both, and make someone walk or drive to a physical store (who may or may not have the book they want) every time they want to read a book.

I think we'll look back on the print era and marvel about all those people who were responsible for delivering all these individual printed objects, kind of like how there used to be a fleet of milk men in every city rather than one guy driving a truck to a couple of supermarkets.

To be sure, no technology disappears completely - people still ride horses, go to plays, type on typewriters, listen to record players, and send handwritten letters. And printed books aren't going to disappear either. All of these technologies have advantages and an associated nostalgia that people will always want to preserve and experience. There will still be printed books and physical bookstores, even if there are far fewer of them.

But things tend to move in one direction: toward greater efficiency and productivity. There's always a delay as people adapt to the new technology, but prices come down, the technology gets better, and the efficiency spreads.

Printed books have their advantages, but they don't win where it counts. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but human nature abhors a bottleneck.

And here's his list of Top Ten E-Book Myths.

"International SF" And Problems Of Identity

As seen over at The Nebula Awards: "International SF" And Problems Of Identity, by Larry Nolen. An excerpt:

We live in a world that increasingly is not defined by national borders. Depending on where one goes, one can hear “Me encanta,” “Ich liebe es,” or “Love ko ‘to” whenever a McDonald’s jingo plays on the radio or television. Levi’s, the quintessential American blue jeans, are not made in the United States anymore, but in factories across the globe. Watch many of the “Adult Swim” shows on the Cartoon Network in the US and one is bound to find Japanese anime-influenced animation. In some ways, the “global village” espoused by Hillary Clinton and others over the past two decades has come to fruition.

But what about Science Fiction? Why is there such a buzz happening now, over two decades after many other pop cultural trends, for “international” SF? What has taken so long for a literary/cultural mode to catch up? These questions may be nigh impossible to address adequately in a short article, but they do bear some consideration, especially as we move toward potential conflicts within and outside the various “international” groups of SF writers and fans.

Literature by its very deliberative nature generally is among the most reactive of various cultural units. It often takes years for a writer to conceive a story, write a rough draft, and then undergo the various revision/editing rounds before it is published. Writers often use elements of everyday life around them in their work, whether or not it be central elements in their stories. Look back at the so-called “Golden Age” of American and British SF. How long was it before concerns raised by second-wave feminists and civil rights activists began to be expressed in speculative fiction? Or what about concerns about environmental degradation? The first Earth Day was held in 1970. How long after that was there much attention being paid to those concerns in SF writings? There always seems to be a lag of a few years between profound socio-cultural events (say, the Stonewall riots) and widespread exploration/acceptance in various literary media. So perhaps it should not be a surprise that it has taken several years for Anglophone audiences to see literature that reflects the increasingly interdependent, international trends of the past thirty years.

However, larger questions lurk under the surface here. If there is such a unified narrative mode called “science fiction” (and for the purposes of this discussion, all perceived forms of speculative fiction may be lumped in with this, despite the inevitable risk of distortion), then how well (if at all) can such a perceived narrative mode be transmitted from culture to culture? Are the Chinese, who apparently have one of, if not the largest, active SF communities outside the Anglophone countries (United States, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand), writing stories that an American SF fan would accept as being “true SF?” Are writers from Brazil or India, two emerging markets out of several possible examples, altering presumed “core” elements that a British reader might expect to be a sine qua non for a story to be labeled SF?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Congratulations to PGS Contributor M.R.R. Arcega

I received word from PGS contributor Erica Gonzales that another contributor, M.R.R. Arcega, won in the short story collection category of the NBDB Pinoy story writing contest. The title is "Post-It Notes From Faraway." The awarding was held awhile ago at Greenbelt 3. Congratulations!

Filipina Author Scores Deal With UK Publisher But Reserves Philippine Rights To RP Publisher

As seen on the NBDB site: Filipina Author Scores Deal With UK Publisher But Reserves Philippine Rights To RP Publisher. An excerpt:

Former Inquirer journalist Candy Quimpo Gourlay this week sold her novel TALL STORY to David Fickling Books (DFB), joining a prestigious list that includes John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) and Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass). DFB praises the book as “an outstanding and highly orginal novel”.

Candy, who lives in London, however reserved Philippine publication rights for Filipino publisher Ramon “RayVi” Sunico.

Sunico is the manager of Cacho Publishing House, which has pioneered in bringing teen fiction to the Philippine publishing scene.

“It was so important to me that a Pinoy publisher will be the one who brings my writing to the Filipino public. I am thrilled that RayVi is going to be that publisher,” Candy said.

In turn, Sunico said, “From the moment I discovered Candy’s blog and read the crisp, crackling prose of Tall Story, I knew that getting her read here would benefit not only the growing field of Philippine Young Adult lit but inspire many young Filipinos.”

Need An Artist?

Helping a friend, Artistmonk, in case anyone out there needs an artist. She's selling some of her artwork here, and here's how to commission her services.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This. Is. So. Cool.

Tamil Pulp Fiction!

Mad Scientists!
Hard-Boiled Detectives!
Vengeful Goddesses!
Murderous Robots!
Scandalous Starlets!
Drug-Fueled Love Affairs!

17 Stories by 10 of India’s best-selling Tamil authors… translated into English for the first time!

I want to read this!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pinoy Creative Writers Recognized In Hong Kong

As seen on Pinoy Creative Writers Recognized In Hong Kong. An excerpt:

Two Filipino creative writers brought honor to the country after they were recognized in Hong Kong for their outstanding literary works.

Eric Gamalinda is in the short list for this year’s Man Asian Literary Prize, while Miguel Syjuco was chosen as one of eight fellows in a prestigious visiting writers’ program.

Gamalinda was one of five authors shortlisted for the award that was eventually won by Chinese writer Su Tong for the novel “The Boat to Redemption."

Meanwhile, Syjuco, winner of last year’s Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel “Ilustrado," was chosen as one of eight fellows in Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)’s prestigious Visiting Writers 2009 program.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award For 2009

As seen on Rocket Kapre: The Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award For 2009. Included in the list are a graphic novel and a self-published book, which, to use the award body's words, "mirrors the changing landscape in Philippine literature". Click here to go to Rocket Kapre's entry.

Meeting With The Village Idiot Savant

I had the good fortune of briefly meeting up with PGS contributor The Village Idiot Savant last Saturday, November 14, 2009, at Trinoma Mall in Quezon City. He was in Manila for a short while, and he updated me on the latest goings-on in the Davao literary scene; and really, it's fairly active too, down there. The NBDB is hosting some talks there, similar to the ones they held here, and he promised to blog about them as soon as he can. We discussed the changes brought on by technology, specifically the movement from paper to digital, as well as trends in reading. I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to meet him in person. Hey, Village Idiot Savant, once you get your blog entries up, let me know, and I'll link up. It was good to meet you, at last. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Sir Butch Dalisay blogs about his latest find, A 1922 Corona typewriter, in "Tribute To A Typewriter". You know how enamored I am myself with these machines, so I can truly appreciate Sir Butch's purchase. An excerpt:

This one in San Francisco was truly special, both in its design and its condition. It was a Corona portable, still in its open carrying case, which also contained the original manual and cleaning accessories. It had been well used, as the indentations of thousands of keystrokes on the platen or hard rubber roller testified, but it had also been very well kept. The black enamel gleamed on the machine; its stainless steel ribs and ligaments were bright and fragrant with oil; a perfect decal marked the paper table behind the platen, the roseate glow behind the white dove still intense despite its age.

I was smitten, but like a young man stricken by but slightly dubious of overwhelming pulchritude, I had to move and look away for a while, and I spent the next hour reconnoitering the stalls and shelves, trying to interest myself in this old leather bag and that old book, my restlessness mounting by the minute. I found and picked up a Parker 51 Vacumatic pen in near-mint condition, a steal at $10, but even that failed to stop the quickening that I felt every time I glanced in the direction of the Corona, just to make sure it was still there, and still no one else’s.

Finally I could resist no longer and returned to the manager’s counter. I asked him if I could handle the machine. “This just came in,” he said, smelling a sale. “You’re only the second one to ask.” He fed a sheet of paper into the typewriter; I pecked out some letters: “The quick brown fox….” They all came out crisply, and something in me groaned. Perhaps I had been hoping that something would go horribly wrong—like the letters would come out broken, like buck teeth, or not register at all. This one even had a fresh ribbon—and the ribbon reverse worked. I sighed in surrender and asked, hoarse with hopelessness, “How much?”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dean Alfar Mentioned on io9

Dean Alfar gets mentioned in an article on i09, where the news editor Charlie Jane Anders talks glowingly about Dean's story, "Six From Downtown", and we get to see another terrific illustration from Kevin Lapeña, the same artist who did the cover for Usok (he has an interview here on Rocket Kapre). My thanks to The Grin Without A Cat for emailing me about this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bibliophile Stalker Reviews Usok#1

Sunday, November 15, 2009

51-Year Library Late-Return Fine

A former student of a school returned some books he borrowed from the library after, get this, 51 years. An excerpt:

A high school librarian in Phoenix says a former student at the school returned two overdue books checked out 51 years ago along with a $1,000 money order to cover the fines.

Camelback High School librarian Georgette Bordine says the two Audubon Society books checked out in 1959 and the money order were sent by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.

At least the books were returned.

Click here to read the whole article.

Call For Stories: The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy: Volume Five

From Notes From The Coode Street:

I edit THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR anthology series for Night Shade Books. The fourth volume in the series will be published in March 2010, and the fifth should appear in March 2011.

I am currently reading for the 2010 volume of THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY: VOLUME FIVE, and am looking for stories from all branches of science fiction and fantasy: space opera to cyberpunk, fairy tales to the slipstream, or anything else that might qualify. If in doubt, please send it. Please note: This is a reprint anthology, so I am only reading material published between 1 January and 31 December 2010.

Click here for more details.

Three More Story Plugs

In addition to the story plugs earlier, here are three more: Mia Tijam has a creative non-fiction piece entitled "Wake From" over at Writers Connect; Joseph Nacino has two fiction pieces up, "Memoirs Of An Ex-Zombie" at All Music Junkies and "Malikmata" also at Writers Connect. Congratulations, guys!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sesame Street, A Force For Good

(Sesame Street, the original cast)

Through a relative, I learned that Sesame Street turned 40 years old some days ago. Seeing as I was born in the same year, somehow, this knowledge made me happy.

I credit Sesame Street as one of the reasons I learned to love reading. My mother plopped me and my siblings in front of the TV whenever Sesame Street was on, not only because she believed it was a good show for us, but like other parents from then till now, she thought it would keep us out of her hair. It did. And since Sesame Street regularly encouraged its viewers to pick up a book and read, my mother was pleased no end. Once the show was over, I'd pick up a book and shy away to some corner of the house, quiet, staying out of the way. Believe me, once you're a parent, the gift of those moments when your kid is quietly behaving is going to be treasured. And it's not like I was just atrophying. I was reading, so, you know, I was "Improving my mind", as educators of the 70's and 80's liked to chant.

Quietly behaving kid. Improving his mind. Out of the way. As a parent, what's not to love? :D

I remember many of the old Sesame Street staples: Kermit the Frog's News Flash reports on fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters; the mad painter who went around painting numbers on everything and everyone; Alistair Cookie's Monsterpiece Theater. I saw Mr. Snuffleupagus go from a figment of Big Bird's imagination to reality. And I still refer to repair places as fix-it shops, to the confusion of my younger relatives. I met Mr. Hooper, not in person, but on TV, when he was alive, so when he passed away I was truly sad, and worried for his store; the producers wrote his passing into the show to teach young kids about death. Years later, when Muppet creator Jim Henson died, I felt pain and a sense of loss, and recognized it as being the same kind I experienced years before when Mr. Hooper left the world. I was in my early 20's then, and I remember thinking, "I'm no longer a kid, why should I feel this way? I never even met the man." But I never met Mr. Hooper either, and I did feel it.

For me, the skits and music from Sesame Street are still some of the best written for children ever, credit to Joe Raposo and the show's other composers. Believe it or not, I can still sing (quietly, to myself, so as not to irritate others) the songs "Somebody Come And Play", "Believe In Yourself", "I Believe In Little Things", the Sesame Street theme song, "Everybody Eats" and "Everybody Sleeps", and the ditty popularized by The Carpenters, "Sing".

Here's more: "Would You Like To Buy an 'O'?"; "The Golden AN"; "Rubber Ducky"; "Doin' The Pigeon"; "Wanda The Witch"; "Sammy The Snake"; "'C' Is For Cookie"; one of my favorites: "Imagination", a scene between Bert and Ernie and how to deal with bad dreams.

Thank goodness for youtube.

In college I was laughed at when I was asked why I read so much, and mentioned Sesame Street as an influence. Maybe it was because of the way I talked about it. Instead of saying it lightly, as a joke and with a smile, I must've uttered "Sesame Street" in heavy seriousness. Others talked about parents reading to them or buying them books, getting in with a crowd that also liked to read, and being captivated by certain stories. All those applied to me, too, but as influential to me was the show. Taking my experiences further, a small sector even went so far as to make me feel ashamed that my influences were decidedly Western. Where were the Filipino writers in my reading list? Why, of all things, is the American show "Sesame Street" a major reading influence? Of course, the question of the subject material of what was being written came next ("Western-influenced, again?"), followed by language ("English?"). Blame was laid squarely on Sesame Street. It was enough to make a short, bespectacled kid retreat back into a quiet corner with a book, and to never mention Sesame Street again.

This is why I try my best not to mock people's choices of reading material, having been on the other end of derision. I'd make light jokes, sure, but they are never malicious. Besides, with all the distractions to books offered by video games, TV, movies, music, and sports, I'm happy to just see anyone reading anything at all. What I do instead is to encourage broadening one's tastes to include all kinds of reading material: local as well as foreign; popular and not; fiction and non-fiction; old and older texts, as well as the very new; all kinds of genres; in any language one prefers, or even not.

I'm not afraid to say it anymore: "Sesame Street" is a major reason why I picked up books in the first place. True, I fell in with friends who also enjoyed reading, and my mother encouraged me all the time, but no less telling was the show's constant suggestions to read, read, read. If I could go back in time, I think that instead of becoming sheepish at the mocking tone of others, I'd throw them back a question: What would you suggest that I read, then? Give me the titles and the authors, and I'll head to the library and give it a go, whether Sesame Street is in my history or not. I'd be willing to take their challenge, since it was clear that saying that my reading preferences and influences were a product of my circumstances would not be enough for them. If anything else, I believe that by saying that I was willing to take up the challenge of their lists would at the very least shut them up.

Perhaps it's a bit melodramatic to say Sesame Street is a force for good, but I firmly believe it was exactly that for me. Maybe I would've still become a reader without the show, but that's not the way it went down. That an American show helped influence one boy on the other side of the globe to pick up books--and I don't think I was alone--says something of how much it has helped increase the literacy of many generations. And this is without taking into consideration the show's actual audience, American children.

Sesame Street is not the de facto show of choice anymore that parents opt for their kids. It's been superseded by other shows on 24 hour cable channels devoted to children. Being a PBS-sponsored show, I wonder if it has the same marketing reach as its competitors. But all these other educational children's shows owe Sesame Street for setting the standard in what a good program should be, and if any of them succeed in the same was as it did in getting youngsters to read, well, more power to them. I wish Sesame Street well, and I hope that it lasts another forty years and then some.

In fact, I hope I do too. With something good to read in my hands throughout the years.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wanted: Writers!

Jonas Diego is looking for writers to help with a short-term project. Click here for details.

Just Some Story Plugs

I'm pleased to announce that PGS contributor Celestine Trinidad recently had two new stories put up online: "Fifty-Five Percent" at Everyday Fiction, and "The Coming Of The Anak-Araw" at Usok #1. In fact, joining her in Usok #1 are some other PGS contributors with their stories: "The Startbox" by Crystal Koo; "The Saint Of Elsewhere" by chiles samaniego; and "The Child Abandoned" by Yvette Tan.

In addition, I've heard through the informal grapevine that the Table of Contents for Philippine Speculative Fiction V (edited by Nikki Alfar and Vincent Simbulan) will be made public very soon. Some authors have already announced on various social-networking sites and blogs their acceptances (and some I found out by myself through my own sleuthing), and of these, the following are PGS contributors: K. Osias, Mia Tijam, Dean Alfar, Dominique Cimafranca, Paolo Chikiamco, Andrew Drilon, Joseph Nacino, Alexander Osias, and Charles Tan. Congratulations, guys! (I'll blog and link up to the complete list once it's online).

Do drop me an email if you know of any other developments, or if anyone else has had their work published anywhere else. Thanks!

The PGS Horror Issue In Olongapo

PGS reader The Ballad of the Comeback Kid emailed me to say that he found and bought a copy of the PGS Horror issue in Olongapo. He's promised to post a review of it soon, as well as a review of Philippine Speculative Fiction IV. After that, he may tackle The Farthest Shore, A Time For Dragons, and Usok #1. Thanks very much! Looking forward to your reviews!


Remember this old post, Electric Fan Euphemism? Here's a similar one: Big2.

It's a bottled water brand from Aklan.

("Tubig" in Tagalog means water. Get it? Huh? Do ya? Do ya?)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Exclusive Interview: Dean Francis Alfar

Writing About Asians

Here's an interesting blog entry, Writing About Asians, by Laughter At The Fringest Of Sanity and the challenge he faces to write more fully realized depictions of Filipinos. In essence, he wants to steer clear of the stereotypes and write more realistic Pinoy characters. An excerpt:

I've mentioned that I wanted to write more fully realized depictions of Filipinos (and I guess that extends to many marginalized minorities in general).

One of the traps you fall into is second guessing yourself. Is this character a stereotypical minority or worse, just a walking cliche?

That's why, even if I don't start out thinking "I'm going to write a story that will redefine Filipinos in the eyes of the world", it's useful to have a list of pitfalls NOT to fall into so that I can double check my initial draft against it.

I found one on the Media Action Network for Asian Americans site. Naturally, these are biased toward an American audience, but they could be extrapolated for local applications.

A quick summary of the high points:

Stereotype: Asian Americans as foreigners who cannot be assimilated. Because they are racially and culturally distinctive from the American mainstream, Asian people have been
widely seen as unable to be absorbed into American society.
Stereotype-Buster: Portraying Asians as an integral part of the United States. More portrayals of acculturated Asian Americans speaking without foreign accents.

Stereotype: Asian Americans restricted to clichéd occupations. Asian American professionals are depicted in a limited and predictable range of jobs: restaurant workers, Korean grocers, Japanese businessmen, Indian cab drivers, TV anchorwomen, martial artists,
gangsters, faith healers, laundry workers, and prostitutes.
Stereotype-Buster: Asian Americans in diverse, mainstream occupations: doctors, lawyers, therapists, educators, U.S. soldiers, etc.

Stereotype: Asians relegated to supporting roles in projects with Asian or Asian American content. Usually, when a project features Asian subject matter, the main character will still be white.
Stereotype-Buster: More Asian and Asian American lead roles.
Comment -- I did the opposite in my short story "Gunsaddled", haha.

Stereotype: Asians who prove how good they are by sacrificing their lives. In the
"classic" movie "Gunga Din" (1939), the Indian water-carrier of the title confirms his loyalty to the Imperial British army by warning it of an attack by nationalist forces. Gunga Din is killed in the onslaught. For decades afterwards, movies have portrayed "positive" Asian characters affirming their loyalty to the lead white characters--and thereby affirming their "goodness"--by sacrificing themselves so that the white characters may live.
Stereotype-Buster: Positive Asian characters who are still alive at the end of the story.
Comment -- I'm all for this! By the way, anyone ever notice that the Philippine National Anthem ends with (roughly translated) "it is our joy, when someone is oppressing [our country] to die for it"? Maybe we should change "mamatay" (to die) to "magtagumpay" (to triumph).

Usok: Open To Submissions

I forgot to mention when I announced that Usok Issue No. 1 is now live that the zine is also open to submissions. If you have any stories ready to be submitted, do consider sending it Usok's way. Read the guidelines well. :)

The November 11, 2009 NBDB Panel: How To Read The Next Generation (Fiction) (UPDATED)

I attended the November 11, 2009 NBDB-sponsored talk (which I announced here) on How To Read The Next Generation (Fiction) at the Filipinas Heritage Library. The panelists were (from left to right in the group photo above): Ed Samar, Tara Sering, Dean Francis Alfar, Sarge Lacuesta, and moderator Charlson Ong (Jose Dalisay, who was the originally scheduled moderator, couldn't make it). The host was Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores (the solo pic at the podium above), Executive Director of the NBDB. Also present was writer, Jun Balde (the solo pic of the man standing, above).

I noted that most of the listeners were teachers, some from the private sector, but most from public schools. After each writer read excerpts from their books (Ed's was particularly raunchy), we were allowed to ask questions, many of which were direct, pointed, and thought-provoking.

All were concerned with how to get their students more interested in reading, and then, reading Pinoy writers. One teacher lamented that at the mention of some popular, foreign books, his students would be enthusiastic and involved, but at the hint of the name of a local writer, they would suddenly become quiet. Another asked a related question about how writers can reach out and do their own "marketing" to their readers, so as to help the teachers make their students aware of what is being produced locally. Atty. Andrea answered that the first world ideal would be for writers to write and publishers and agents to "market", but as we all know, the Philippines isn't the first world (I'd like to add that many writers in the first world are not leaving it to their publishers and agents but are indeed marketing themselves already via websites and online social-networking). Sarge Lacuesta mentioned that he believes a writers' role is to write, to give his best to what he's writing, which is his obligation to a reader who buys his book. Comparisons were made to what other Southeastasian writers are doing in their countries to promote themselves (Jun Balde mentioned their use of print-on-demand), and inevitably the question was raised as to whether local writers could do the same. I'd like to point out that based on my own observations, Dean Alfar has been putting in his own considerable effort to promote via his blog the books he writes and publishes. Nevertheless, it raised envy to hear about how writers in other countries are admired by their countrymen more than here (Sarge mentioned that while traveling abroad, some schoolchildren found out that a local writer he was with was in the same bus, and they all eagerly lined up to speak with him and get his autograph).

One teacher whispered to me that it would have been nice if a curriculum designer or two from the Department of Education could've been invited to the panel so that they could see for themselves what is available from local writers so that their course work could be remade to contain more local content.

Jun Balde raised some interesting publishing figures. He cited that millions of books are sold each year in the Philippines (I forgot the exact number he mentioned, but it was a considerable amount), so it's not right to say that Filipinos don't read. Rather, it's more interesting to parse just what kinds of books are being bought. The bulk of books that are being bought are paperback romance novels, humor books, how-to's, and textbooks. Jun Balde said that fiction actually ranks in the top five of the types of books being purchased and read, and if any type of book-type has not been selling well, it's poetry.

Someone asked about the role of writers in Philippine society, whether writers have the duty and obligation to write stories that make readers aware of the different social issues and concerns we face. Sarge answered that in the end, he writes what he knows, and if it reflects whatever situations the country faces, then there it is. I personally read that he has no outright "agenda" to "inform" readers through stories about the country's social ills. When I mentioned this to some other writers later that evening, their reaction was this is no longer fiction but journalism (I hesitate to use the word "propaganda", but I'm sure someone will bring it up). Personally, I think a writer will be drawn to write on a certain issue if the characters and the issue itself arouse his passions enough to put it into a story.

There, too, was an interesting question about the creative process of each writer, and another about the role of workshops and classes to improve one's writing. All the panelists spoke of discipline and setting aside time to write. Sarge mentioned that writing for him is an obsession; it is something he has to do, wants to do with a passion, and that's something anyone who really wants to write has to ingrain. With regard to workshops and classes, Dean made a good analogy about the Pinoys who sing well: some are trained, some are self-taught. Some from each group go on to become world-class talents. Those who are trained learn a bit more technique and craft, but that's not to say that those who don't can't perform. The same, for writing. Ed Samar mentioned his staying up till the wee hours of the morning just churning out words, implying the amount of work and effort involved.

A most forthright question made by one of the public school teachers was about photocopying texts for classroom use. Atty. Andrea, being the lawyer that she is, answered by citing some law numbers that I can't remember anymore, but in the end cited "fair use". Bottom line: you can legally photocopy parts of a book for students to read, but not the whole book. If you plan to do so, it may be better to buy the book and help the writers and publishers out; but portions of a book for study and discussion is fine.

Charlson Ong made a pointed statement, and I paraphrase, "Until we get a Dep Ed secretary, and even higher than that, a President, as well as other government officials, who are literate, who know the value of reading and the arts because they themselves are readers, I think we all know that nothing will improve."

The discussion yesterday afternoon just confirmed my own assumptions about the difficulties of increasing local literacy. That's a reality and an issue in itself, and one wonders if a story can be made about that. I've mentioned in the past that in my own simplistic analysis, making Pinoys more literate is a root to addressing many other societal ills. The realities brought home by the questions of the teachers only shows how challenging this still is. In 2010, the Philippines will be having major elections. Here's hoping for a change for the better.

Update: I forgot to mention a question made by Bliss, who was there at the talk in the front row, and who reminded me of it in a comment on the PGS Multiply mirror (she blogs about her experience here). She asked about how long it takes for a writer to write good fiction, the assumption being that writing good fiction requires a certain amount of...experience, to which everyone laughed at the age implication in her question. Dean and Sarge said something like, "What are you saying?! Na matanda na kami?!" But I agree with their answer that it doesn't matter. Why wait? Just write. Their answer in a nutshell is, "Why wait? If you do, by the time you get to write about what you want for the sake of "experience", the moment, and your readership, might have passed you by." In other words, Bliss, who is in her early 20's, can write as well as those as old as, ahem, Dean and Sarge. I would've simply said, "No. As with sex, age doesn't matter." ;-)

Hanging Out With Some Pinoy Writers

Hanging out with writers pretty much guarantees witty and stimulating conversation. Had the good fortune of being invited to have coffee with the writers pictured above. I admit that what made it easier for me to go with them was that we all met at places near where I live; otherwise, I might've taken a rain-check. I'm lazy that way. ;-)

They're teasing me in the first two pics above (from left to right, that's The Dumavirus, The Grin Without A Cat, The Merchant Of Menace, and Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies--who blogged about our get-together also!). They're trying to choose between their own books and The PGS Horror issue. I mean...why the doubt? ;-)

The third pic was from last night, after a late dinner, beer, and coffee. I walked home not long after this shot was taken. The rest of them stayed on the streets (no, I didn't mean it that way); younger people have more energy than old folks like me. Note the night club in the background, because I think that may have been where they were headed afterward. ;-) From left to right: The Merchant Of Menace, The Dumavirus, The Grin Without A Cat, Trust Your Black Shirt (who blogged about last night here), and Rocket Kapre. We met at a place that, near the stroke of 10 p.m., turned into a club/techno/dance venue complete with flashing lights and strobes. Not easy on my old ears, unfortunately. Their coffee was pretty good, though; and the food was okay, and reasonably priced.

Till the next time! :)

Brief Respite 2009

Last year's respite was fun. This year's, just as. Not as much marine life to see at this beach, and the journey did take longer; but the sand was finer, the water clearer, shallower, more conducive to swimming, and the food more varied. And yes, I brought a book, "The Whisperer and Other Voices" by Brian Lumley. It pleased me to see another tourist at the airport also reading; her book: "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Of course, I also noted that we were the only two travelers reading. Nevertheless! This was a good rest. :)

Village Idiot Savant has put up a site,, which aims to make clear, in calendar form, the different writing deadlines that local writers may want to keep in mind. You can also use his "Contact" link to inform him of deadlines and writing projects that he can put up on his calendar. Thanks for this, Village Idiot Savant!

The Future Of Latin American Fiction

Here's a very interesting paper, The Future Of Latin American Fiction (Part 1, 2, 3, 4). My thanks to Zen In Darkness for sending this to me via email. To use his words: "Some interesting ideas on national identity in fiction, through the experience of writers in Latin America/the lens of 'Latin American literature'." An excerpt:

As the Mexican historian Edmundo O’Gorman pointed out, our continent was not discovered by the Spanish conquerors; it was invented by them. Or, in the best scenario, reinvented in accordance with the dictates of the medieval imagination: a habitat of monsters and prodigies, tropical utopia and tropical hell, a space of our time, refuge of madmen and poets on the borderline of civilization. And even today, when the frontiers of the West are drawn, Latin America is excluded without fear, not withstanding our claim of being, in words of Octavio Paz, an essential portion, although eccentric, of this kingdom (or at least the ”Extreme West” to which the French diplomat Alain Rouquié referred). If no one accepts us in their exclusive club, it is not due to our development problems or our indigenous past, but to the perennial European desire to maintain us as receptacles of their frustrations and wishes, of their fantasies.

This is not the place to discern the academic, petty things that separate ”magical realism” from the ”real wonderful”: it is enough to underline that the artistic category suddenly became a sociopolitical tag for the whole region. The canonic definition establishes that, unlike traditional fantastic literature, where magic or miracles are not lacking, an essential characteristic of the Latin American current is indifference before the extraordinary. A maiden flies on air, and we lift our shoulders; a corpse asks for his father, and we yawn; time runs backwards, and we make a fastidious grimace; children are born with a pig’s tail, and oh, we prefer a soap opera. Since this lack of reason governs us—a lack which in any other place would be considered unnatural and would unleash curiosity, astonishment, or morbid fascination—these events are a mere distraction. When the critics of Cambridge, Harvard, or Paris fill their mouths with the phrase “magical realism”, we imagine a current of socialist realism.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Online Fiction: Usok, Issue #1 Is Now Live

From Rocket Kapre: Online fiction site Usok Issue #1 is now live!

Clash Of The Titans Redux

(Some of the old promotional posters for Clash Of The Titans 1981. Note, people, the presence of a much younger Dame Maggie Smith as Thetis, way before she became known to many as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter films).

Hey, it seems that Hollywood's at it again. They did the Perseus myth once before in Clash Of The Titans 1981; now, they're remaking it for 2010. Among other tales, I grew up on the Greek myths (specifically, Edith Hamilton's and D'Aulaire's books), so when Clash Of The Titans 1981 came out it was pretty exciting for me and my bookworm friends (it just occurred to me: If someone from Greece is anything like me, is he a Greek geek? Hehehe). After watching both trailers, I think one can see the differences in marketing/advertising and movie-making between 1981 and 2010.

Here's something worth pondering: We've seen many film and TV adaptations of the Greek myths (Jason and the Argonauts, Heracles, Achilles, Odysseus, the aforementioned Perseus). Merlin, Arthur, and The Knights of the Round Table also have had their share (there's Hallmark Channel's Merlin series, and just like Clash Of The Titans, the movie Excalibur came out in 1981, too; even as a young boy I already wondered about that sex scene between a woman and a knight in full armor). The stories of Sinbad the Sailor have also been set to screen.

So--even if I'm not 100% sure, seeing as I could've missed them--why have there been no definitive films based on Norse Myths? I don't count the Marvel comics versions since they're a re-adaptation to suit the Marvel universe; the closest films I could find with some connection are stories with Vikings or brief references to the Germanic deities, as in The 13th Warrior and Beowulf (another myth in itself). As far as I can tell, there are no movie versions of the stories set in Valhalla, Asgard, and Midgard. There are no films on the death of Baldur, on the adventures of Thor, Odin, and Loki before they became estranged, on Freyja, Surtur, Fenris, and the others. Funny, considering that a film adaptation of Ragnarok (no, not the online game, folks) would be sure-fire, kick-ass action.

Oh, wait. It seems that Ragnarok has inspired an opera by Richard Wagner (The Ring Of The Nibelung), and there is one movie, Ring Of The Nibelungs, that came out in 2004 and which I haven't seen yet. The movie's tagline is "The Nordic legend that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings trilogy." But other than that, the film adaptations for Norse myths seems sparse in comparison to the others.

In any case, it was fun seeing the trailer of Clash Of The Titans 2010, and just as enjoyable to view the 1981 trailer. Those old stop-animation effects of Ray Harryhausen fired up the imaginations of generations of youngsters in the same way that today's computer-generated special effects have moviegoers going, "Whoah!" In fact, Ray Harryhausen worked on many films of the Greek myths and of Sinbad the Sailor, and for that, as well as other contributions, he deservedly received an honorary Oscar award (though it's worth noting that none of his films was ever nominated).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Online Fiction: Usok, Issue #1

Usok, first mentioned here on the PGS blog, will be up tomorrow, 11:00 a.m., November 11, 2009. For today, you can see the cover and story line-up here.

Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe Opens On November 11, 2009

Producer Alemberg Ang announces that his movie, Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe, opens on November 11, 2009. Click here for more details.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Galing Pinoy, Basahin!

The National Book Development Board is hosting a series of lectures this month, beginning tomorrow, as part of the 13th Philippine Book Development Month. The November schedule of activities for the series, Galing Pinoy, Basahin!, can now be seen on their website. The lectures will be held at The Filipinas Heritage Library. The details:

How To Read The Next Generation (Poetry)
Featuring: Mesandel Arguelles, Mikael Co, Conchitina Cruz, Joel Toledo; Moderator: Gemino Abad; Nov. 10, 2009

How To Read The Next Generation (Fiction)
Featuring: Dean Alfar, Angelo Lacuesta, Edgar Samar, Tara FT Sering; Moderator: Jose Y. Dalisay; Nov. 11, 2009

How To Read The Next Generation (Non-Fiction)
Featuring: Louie Cano, Vlad Gonzales, Carljoe Javier, Luis Katigbak; Moderator: Tony Hidalgo; Nov. 12, 2009

Reading Nick Joaquin; Nov. 16, 2009

Click on the above links for all the details, and to see how to reserve a place at the lectures. They are free and open to the public. The rest of the schedule for the month can be seen on the NBDB website.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Fictional Hero Beats Evil In The Real World

I got a kick out of reading this article. An excerpt:

"In the 1940s, The Adventures of Superman was a radio sensation. Kids across the country huddled around their sets as the Man of Steel leapt off the page and over the airwaves. Although Superman had been fighting crime in print since 1938, the weekly audio episodes fleshed out his storyline even further. It was on the radio that Superman first faced kryptonite, met Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen, and became associated with “truth, justice, and the American way.” So, it's no wonder that when a young writer and activist named Stetson Kennedy decided to expose the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, he looked to a certain superhero for inspiration."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Anvil Publishing Sale

Just like The Scholastic Warehouse Sale, Pasig City is also where the Anvil Publishing Book Sale will be held. Click here for details.

As seen on Jessica Rules The Universe.


Last night, I had dinner with Adventures In TV Land, the guest-editor of the PGS Horror issue (now available at Comic Quest SM Megamall and SM North Edsa; and at National Bookstore care of Anvil Publishing, the distributor), and with her permission, she has let me blog that she and Luis Is Listening are engaged! They're getting hitched next year! Congratulations, you two!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Scholastic Warehouse Sale

Scholastic is having a sale of its books at its Pasig warehouse. Click here for all the details.

Thanks to Rocket Kapre for blogging about this.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Six Days To USOK

Six Days To USOK, as seen on Rocket Kapre. An excerpt:

...on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 (at 11:00 a.m. Manila Time)...I will be able to present you with the very first issue of USOK, Rocket Kapre’s new quarterly webzine dedicated to bringing you a regular dose of quality short form Speculative Fiction.

In case you need help remembering that, let me break it down into simple numbers:

Six days from now…

Five short stories…

Two Quality Reprints…

Three All-New Tales…

Zero cost…

One Date, November 11…

Four letters: U S O K

See you then everyone!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Experts Discourage The Use Of "Taglish"

An article from The Inquirer: Experts Discourage The Use Of "Taglish". An excerpt:

Organizers and participants of the First Philippine Summit on Early Childhood Education on Wednesday urged parents to “read aloud” to their children, including the unborn ones, to help improve their literacy later in life, but they warned against mixing languages or dialects.

American literacy specialist Laura Benson, a professor at the University of Colorado and a speaker at the summit, said it was important not to mix languages, adding that studies by Harvard University show that the language used at home “primes, prompts, patterns our children’s thinking.”

“Talk to them in the language of your community. If one parent is really good in that language, then speak in that one,” said De Ocampo.

Early learning expert George Morrison, a University of North Texas professor and another speaker at the conference, said parents should read to kids even before they are born, not only for their children’s benefit but also for the parents’ because "we need moms who know how to read to their children.”

“Mothers are important persons in this literacy development so we have to start early and make sure they do a good job on that,” he said.

Morrison said that the Philippines should give more importance to early childhood learning, adding that the United States has not done a good job on this and was now having problems with adolescent literacy.

“We’re finding our adolescents can’t read and are turned off by reading. We should get kids hooked on reading so this can be carried throughout their lifetime,” he said.

“What kind of books? All kinds of books. Read all genre. You want to read fiction, non-fiction, or alphabet books. The alphabet is extremely important,” he added.

With globalization, Morrison said countries should invest more in early childhood education to help with their literacy rates and remain economically competitive.

“Anytime a country losses a business, we ask what can we do better. One of the answers is we can do a better job of educating children so that these jobs don’t go any place else,” he said.

Benson said that parents could start at home by reading aloud to their children “every day,” encourage them to ask questions, and later encourage them to write.

“Marinate them with literacy. When we read to children, one fills their ears with the language of books, authors, poetry, cadence, different styles of talking,” she said.

“It takes multiple exposure to a word for children to learn them …12 to 21 encounters,” she added.

Benson noted that teaching children early about language was “really training the brain and developing neurological pathways” for children to be able to learn more languages other than their mother tongue.

She added that children exposed to languages other than their mother tongue have an easier time learning other languages when they grow up.

Benson also said that children who are taught early also have a bigger vocabulary and learn more quickly in school compared to those who only know a few words.

“And the gap grows pretty quickly because their brain is now wired and they learn at a very drastic rate. It’ll be much easier for them to learn,” she said.