On the Validation and Value of Filipino Writers

I had meant to publish this back in September. But then life got in the way, and I forgot to do so. As usual.

Ummmm. Better late than never?

My MFA classmates and I often give each other a heads up on calls for submissions, national writing fellowships, and the books we have read and obsess over (among other things) via our Facebook group chats. The posts pile up real quickly when everyone’s online, and when there are several calls and contests going on at the same time.

A few months ago, we were talking about two calls for submissions: one for next year’s Fantasy: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults anthology, and one for this year’s F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards. Several classmates were considering submitting to one or both calls. Since I don’t write YA or fantasy fiction, and I don’t fall under the “young writer” category anymore, I wasn’t paying attention to that part of the conversation.

However, I got riled up when the talk shifted to writers’ compensation. The YA anthology project is paying its writers a pittance of P500 for their work. In stark contrast, the Young Writers Awards is handing out P50,000 for its first-place winner, P30,000 for the second-placer, and P20,000 for the third-placer.

I couldn’t help but start cursing; to borrow a line from that popular local Cornetto campaign, hanggang saan aabot ang P500 mo? Continue reading “On the Validation and Value of Filipino Writers”

Old Made New

Still working on the next batch of reviews, and it’s taking me longer than expected. (Duh.) In the meantime… here are two of the book reviews I did late last year for the Philippines GraphicDwellers and Maktan 1521 were fun reads. I say they’re “old made new” because the former is about taking on new lives (and dealing with the repercussions of your old one), while the latter provides a new take on an old story.

I haven’t been keeping track of my bylines for some time now, so I don’t know if/when they were published and/or edited, or in which issue they were included. In any case, I’m looking forward to reading (and actually finishing and writing about) more books from Filipino writers!

Continue reading “Old Made New”

Life Through Graphic Novels

Well, hello December! Didn’t realize that another three months have gone by since the last update. Then again, long gaps between reviews (regardless of whether I’ve read full-length books or graphic novels) have always been the norm for this blog, yes? And as expected, I have the same excuse yet again: life happened.

Not that I’ve neglected my to-be-read pile during the lull. In between deadlines, applying for/getting accepted/deferring entry in an MFA program, health concerns, moving apartments, and other matters, I’ve been reading one book and graphic novel after another, cover to cover. Reading’s easy; writing about them’s the hard part. How ironic for a professional writer.

Life also happened to the three protagonists in the graphic novels I finished reading back in October, only their lives are/were obviously far tougher and complicated than mine. So if/when you say my excuse is a lousy one, I’d actually agree with you. Before you start with your personal “2015 in Review” assessments (or those issued by Facebook, Iconosquare, etc.) and welcome 2016, consider the lives detailed per panel in Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Persepolis, and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Then start assessing yourself, and answering the question of how you’d like to live your own lives. Continue reading “Life Through Graphic Novels”

Fund This: Steampunk Southeast Asia Anthology!

Help get The SEA Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia get to US$8,000! You have 29 days left to donate. If they meet their funding goal, you get excellent steampunk stories by SEA writers plus perks. Alas, I don’t have US$150 (around PhP7,000) to give.

I love that this anthology presents different versions of the region, and has fiction from a few Filipino writers. Get it to press, folks. Go to Indiegogo to find out more about this campaign, or its Facebook page and website.

(H/T: Joey Nacino)


Remember my previous Trese reviews? I made a shorter version, and that made the pages of the esteemed Philippines Graphic back in August.

Trese 1-6
Put them all together, and… well, damn. That’s beautiful.

Read the revised review here, or visit National Book Store branches to get a copy of the Philippines Graphic‘s August 17, 2015 issue.

Spread ’em!

Errrr, yeah, you’re gonna have to look for back issues. 🙂

Speaking of the Graphic… the 2015 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards is just six days away! It’s also the NJLA’s 25th year, so this May Day Eve-themed fete is extra special. Congratulations to all nominees, and looking forward to a fun night celebrating damn good fiction from the Graphic‘s pages.

A few months ago, I finally went ahead and applied for a spot in an MFA program. At the same time, an editor friend asked me to write a column for their magazine. Decided to write about the former for the latter, and the pitch was approved.

The article came out mid-July — and I found out I got in the program just several days after I got my magazine copy. Sweet. Back to school for me, then. Deferred enrollment due to a medical procedure, so I’m returning to the classroom in a few months.

So. That’s settled, then.

While I’ve decided to take the MFA route, I’m still in favor of taking short writing courses and workshops. Storywriting School has new courses on its calendar, with regular Palanca awardee Dr. Joachim Antonio in charge.

As of today, you can sign up for How to Write Plays for Theatre (September 26, 2-5PM) and How to Write Love Stories (October 24-31, 2-5PM), both at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street, Taguig.

Go to storywritingschool.com for more details.

One last thing. I’m moving soon (with soon being anywhere from this month to maybe another year) and will need to say goodbye to some books. Thanks a lot, limited storage space.

Help me find a new home for these babies. Selling each book for P100, and series go for P300. All are in good condition, although some are really old, and have that yellow-pages-and-old-book-smell combo. But I know you like that. Am I right or am I right?

E-mail me if you want to buy one or some of them books. All unsold books will be donated to a library/reading center being built right now in Mindoro. Will post more details for that one when I get them, just in case you want to donate your old books, too.

Second Chances: Books of Short Stories.

I, like almost everyone else, have an enormous to-read list. At last count, I have 200+ print books on standby, and that number doesn’t even include e-books. It’s an ongoing case of tsundoku, and there is no end in sight. (Yet.)

What I don’t talk about as much is my similarly growing “halfway” pile of books — again, we all have one. Those are the books that end up being put aside because I got distracted by new books, returned to my shelves, then forgotten. Through the years, their pages acquire that nice dark yellow color (and that wonderful old-book smell!), but that’s about as much action as they’re ever gonna get. It’s rare for any of these books to get out of the halfway pile, and rarer for me to go back to Page 1 and finish reading them.

These made the rare jump from Halfway-Read to Done.

These three titles — Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman, and Collected Novellas by Gabriel García Márquez — are the first to make it out of there in a long, long time. Talk about second chances. And they’ve paid their dues: they’ve seen me through at least three house moves, had makeshift bookmarks stuck in random pages for a decade or more, and have gotten the color and smell down pat. Continue reading “Second Chances: Books of Short Stories.”

The Story Continues (AKA More Comics!)

Here’s the thing. The novels I intended for the next review deal with super-heavy themes. The first book alone took me three months to finish, and I admit it was a difficult read. Who knows when I’ll finish the other two — they’re all thick, mind-boggling, and time-intensive.

To decompress, I needed easy reading material with familiar characters and fresh stories. The answer: comics and graphic novels. Continue reading “The Story Continues (AKA More Comics!)”

Sex Criminals, Volume One: One Weird Trick.

Look at that. Almost four whole months have gone by, and I still haven’t finished a single bulk review.

Well… shit.

Relax. I’m working on them. (Yes, I’ve more than one series in the works — which partly explains the long delay.) In the meantime, here’s something relatively new for you: my take on Sex Criminals, Volume One: One Weird Trick. I was supposed to review One and Two together, but my suki comics supplier didn’t come through in time. Sayang.

Which reminds me… I still don’t have Volume Two, and it’s already June. June! goes to the comic-book store

*As seen in UNO Magazine Issue 100 (April 2015); reposted with permission. The only big editorial changes are the swapping of “fucking” for “freaking”, and the inclusion of a title and subtitle; I did only minor edits for this post. Buy a digital copy of UNO April 2015 here.

Of Cumworlds and Non-Superhero Comics

Or why Sex Criminals: Volume One needs to be in your bookshelf (or Kindle)

by KC Calpo

To paraphrase Suzie, one of the main characters of the Eisner Award-winning Sex Criminals: This comic book series. This fucking comic book series.

With a title like that, we can’t blame you for thinking you already know exactly how it’s gonna go down. And yes, Volume One: One Weird Trick is about sex and crime — a specific type of crime committed by Suzie and her new boyfriend, Jon. But there’s much more to these two than their one weird trick.

Unlike in other stories, here, you’ll actually root for the criminals. (Image from Image Comics)

Suzie, an employee at a public library who’s trying to save the facility from foreclosure, holds a fund-raising party at her apartment. She encounters Jon, a secretary and an aspiring actor, in a meet-cute that’s actually cute. Expectedly, these two go from couch to bed, where something magical happens. Continue reading “Sex Criminals, Volume One: One Weird Trick.”