Saturday, March 19, 2011

PGS -- The Special Crime Issue


Guest-edited by F.H. Batacan

Cover art by Josel Nicolas

"Less Talk, Less Mistake" by Xin Mei
He opened a bag of watermelon seeds and one by one popped the seeds into his mouth. He cracked them open with his front teeth and then spat the shells onto the floor. She held onto the ends of her skirt and tried to avoid being spattered with the shells.

Then, his hands, so much stronger than hers, removed hers from her skirt. He moved his hands up and down her legs. She tried so hard to keep her eyes on the screen, to read the English subtitles of the Chinese movie. The words came and went faster than her mind could comprehend them.

He whispered, “Beautiful, she is so beautiful. Ya sui.

Something excited her, something she could not understand. She looked at the actress and wondered what made her beautiful. She portrayed a Chinese princess, dressed in a Chinese empress costume, and she could not see her face because his heavy arms blocked her view.

“Look at her jewelry, her tsiu siak. You want jewelry, too? How beautiful!” He whispered again.

She looked at the princess and thought she was decorated like a Christmas tree. She heard his voice but refused to look up. He repeated the words, “beautiful, beautiful,” until she looked up and saw the face of her grandfather. She cried out loud.

"God Is The Space Between" by Maryanne Moll
I remembered myself covering the full-length mirror with the sheet years and years ago, crying through the pain in my head, which had just been rammed into a wall, and remembered, all of a sudden, all the tiny details of the past eleven years--torn lips, hard slaps on the face, cuts on my thighs, punches in the stomach, kicks on the legs and hips, being locked in the bedroom until my visible bruises had healed.

"Grenadier" by Dominique Cimafranca
It happened so quickly. He really only had time to slam the brakes.

The brown Nissan Sentra had been following them since that intersection at Lobregat Street. On Ruste, just before the school, the Sentra zoomed forward, cut him off, and forced him onto the curb. Two men came out from the passenger side.

One carried an M-16, the other a .45-caliber.

He fumbled with the gear stick, tried to put the car in reverse. But when he looked behind him, a beige Mitsubishi L-300 was blocking the way. Its side panel door was open. He saw two men in the van. One man stood near the front of the van, pointing an M-16 at the onlookers. Another man with a .45-caliber walking towards them.

"Lock the doors!" was all he could think to say.

"The Last Time I Saw Uncle Freddie" by Crystal Koo
The insignia of the Hong Kong Police consists of the Admiralty waterfront framed by a garland of thirty-six leaves and topped with a bauhinia flower. Below is a blue scroll with HONG KONG POLICE printed in English and Chinese.

I have been sitting in the waiting room staring at the banner behind the empty desk for nearly an hour. They have been passing me around ever since I stepped into the Tin Shui Wai Division Station and asked if my elderly uncle had been murdered in the Wang Chau reservoir three months go.

I wrote Uncle Freddie's name in Chinese but no one had ever reported a Wong Shing Hang to have drowned there and no one recognized the name. The sergeant told me that it wasn't very uncommon for bodies to be fished out from there, given that it was part of a popular nature trail. Their records were off-limits to me and that was the end of the matter. The best I could do was to file a missing person report and to wait.

I had refused to leave and he led me into the waiting room and left me for an hour. When you're left by yourself with no one to contradict you, you become more doubtful of your position. It was possible Uncle Freddie had never drowned. It was possible he had never been murdered. In fact, it was possible that he never met up with the person waiting for him there. Maybe he had gotten lost along the way. He was pushing seventy and he had been traveling alone.

"Blogcaster" by Alexander Osias
Some friends of mine went missing the other week. They were real journalists, protégés of my lolo from his days with the Times. That's the reason I chose the term "blogcaster" over the more popular and more difficult to pronounce term blogjournalist. Not only does blogcaster sound better--it's more accurate. There's no art in my writing, no effort in my research, no real danger in my anonymous (though factual) posts.

They told me that an informant had suddenly called for an emergency meeting scant days after their last tête-à-tête and didn't even haggle over price. I warned them that it sounded suspicious, but Erlinda scoffed at my paranoia. "Death will come for us in the night," she said with a fatalistic glint in her eye, "not from some coffee meeting with an aging bureaucrat." Louis laughed and slugged back the remainder of his beer.

Now, two days later with no responses to texts or calls, all I can do is hope for the best.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

can't say i agree with that cover...i mean this is a crime issue...not a motor vehicular accident issue...where's the man with no face? where's the femme fatale? where's the sleazy gangster? where's the down on his luck private eye looking to solve his latest case? the text previews don't do much either...sayang...

1:26 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Anonymous: The type of crime being addressed and explored in the PGS crime issue are those that are seen in the Philippine setting. These include: terrorist violence and kidnapping; inheritance issues; violence against those who are disseminating information; and domestic abuse. F.H. Batacan, in the intro to this issue, explains this. More common tropes like the private eye, the femme fatale, etc., which may be easily found in other settings, aren't found as much in this country.

In any case, thanks for your comment, as it clearly shows where the needle on the barometer of local reader expectations is when it comes to the crime genre (which is neither unexpected nor uncommon, given what the genre is more known to be; you're not the first to mention these tropes, as others have done so too). Nevertheless, this issue would like to explore local tropes and characteristics of Philippine crime, in the same way that crime stories in other countries in other cultures explore theirs.

And please do identify yourself. There's no need to hide behind anonymity when expressing your opinion, and doing so allows you to stand behind what you said.

Again, thanks very much. Your comment is appreciated.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Blue said...

sorry to give the impression i'm "hiding behind anonymity". i'm not comfortable leaving my name anywhere. in any case thanks so much for your reply. it broadens my perspective with respect to the type of crime fiction that can and should be written. oo nga naman, it doesn't need to be confined to gangsters and private investigators and damsels in distress. just a question though, may nagsulat ba tungkol sa jueteng? hehehe

i can understand if you would simply delete this comment without reading it. i'm still not comfortable leaving my name. i just wanted to reply. again, thanks so much. i will still definitely get this issue. i'm assuming fullybooked will have a couple of these? sana ung susunod na crime issue may hostage taking, may salvage, may jueteng, at ang karambola ng agawan sa pera at kapangyarihan ng iba't ibang tao (at pwesto) sa gobyerno at simbahan...ah oo at ung terroristang peke maganda ring kwento. :)

11:30 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Blue: Hello, Blue. Nice to meet you.

Walang nagsulat tungkol sa jueteng. Sayang iyon. Sana nga meron. Pero meron kaming:

1. domestic abuse (in the form of incest/rape as well as physical beatings, which is, unfortunately, more common in the Philippines than I wish it was).

2. violence against those who are looking to spread important facts to the general public, which reminds me of how the Philippines is in the top ten unsafest place for journalists (Ampatuan massacre, anyone?).

3. Kidnapping/terrorist story set down south, where it seems high-powered weapons are easier to come by without the bother of papers, training, or licenses.

4. A story with a will and the issue of inheritance, and where police detectives are present, but what does it say that if the police are the "good" guys, we have to go to another country to find them?

Maganda yung mga sinabi mo: hostage taking, salvage, gobyerno at simbahan, terorista. Sana nga may magsulat ng ganun for PGS (w/c may be shifting online soon).

Don't know if Fully Booked will still carry PGS, but Comic Quest Mega and SM North will have it, and we'll be teaming up with an online distributor, so you can order online and someone will deliver to your doorstep. Will share details once this is settled.

Hope you get over your discomfort with leaving your name in the future, because your comments become stronger and more credible with a real person behind them. Thanks again, and once more, nice to meet you.

9:29 AM  
Blogger dave said...

Hi Kenneth! Can't wait to read this. All good things to those who wait!

4:56 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Dave: Hi, Dave! Thanks very much! I'll try and get this out asap!

8:41 PM  
Blogger dementedchris said...

Hey, Kenneth! Just saw this on your FB and I have to say that I'm really looking forward to reading this. :)

10:08 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@dementedchris: Thanks! I'll try and get it out as soon as I can, and blog about it when I do. TY again!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Will said...

hi where exactly could we find copies of PGS? did it stop publishing after the christmas issue? I have 3 or 4 of your old issues (from way back) and I thought you stopped publishing altogether. really glad there's a new one coming out.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Will said...

i mean i noted that you have the areas to buy in your sidebar but I haven't seen an issue in years:(

10:36 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Will: Hi, Will!

Hang on for just a bit longer, please. We're revamping our distribution, and planning to use an online distributor to have PGS delivered straight to you. The only brick-and-mortar we will be found in soon will be Comic Quest Megamall and Comic Quest SM North Edsa. I'll be making a blog announcement as soon as I thresh out the details with the online distributor. Thanks!

10:51 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

@Will: Hi, Will!

Hang on for just a bit longer, please. We're revamping our distribution, and planning to use an online distributor to have PGS delivered straight to you. The only brick-and-mortar we will be found in soon will be Comic Quest Megamall and Comic Quest SM North Edsa. I'll be making a blog announcement as soon as I thresh out the details with the online distributor. Thanks!

10:51 AM  
Blogger Tagamasid Asid said...

Hi, it's 2016 but I just learned that this book was published way back in 2011. Can I order it online?

11:14 PM  

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