Sunday, April 30, 2006

back from taal

I'm back from a grueling 2-day shoot for my hotel client in Taal. You might think that directing girls in bikinis at the poolside is a lot of fun (and you'd be right) but it's also a lot of hard work under the sun. I ended up having to rehydrate myself so often that I felt like a walking glass of iced tea. Thankfully, majority of my shots were interiors - the imperial suite, the spa, the sports facilities, the resto and such - and had a smaller number of exterior shots, such as capturing the concept of a barkada having coffee during sunrise (for which my call time was 5AM).

I brought along my new camera and took some shots myself, playing around with apertures, shutter speeds and ISOs and taking some food shots myself. One of my personal highlights was the shoot for the dance troupe who performed several dances, including the tinikling and the fandango.

During the first day, I made sure we ended before 10AM because there was no way in hell that I'd miss the American Idol results show (and I felt so rewarded when Kellie was send packaging - without a final song LOL).

Apart from my agency's fees, I also got some gift certificates from the hotel so you can be sure I'll be back, family and friends in tow, to actually enjoy all the amenities I shot. Perhaps even the P1,250 volcanic clay treatment which gave my models incredbly smooth skin (don't I sound like an endorser?).

I had mixed feelings about the models I worked with. All were body beautiful (being contenders past and present for things like the Mossimo bikini competition, with previous credits in TV ads like Nescafe, Globe and such) but a few were possessed of the most unprofessional attitudes which never fails to set me off. A shoot is hard work and the last thing I need is for a model to act as if she there on vacation. I also struggled with the male model for his body shots because of his body hair. My client wanted a particular clean (shaved) look and the talent agency played switcheroo at the last minute, giving us someone more hirsute than hairless. Funny thing about the girls: I found myself acting the conversative dad as I went around repositioning people and finding creative ways to cover up too much exposed areas (again, because of client requirements - it's a wholesome hotel, not a loathsome motel). I was joking with my crew how I wished it was FHM instead, in which case I would have insisted that they wear nothing more than three bandaids.

In the end though, I had a good time, though I was exhausted by the time I got back to Manila. For souvenirs, I have a bunch of food shots I shot myself. One day I hope to be good enough to add photography to my skill sets - but for now I'm happy to just try and learn in the process, and am content to leave the real heavy lifting to the professional photogs.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

palanca entries

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Well, Nikki and I are done and have submitted all our entries plus the necessary notarized authorization forms, resumes and entry forms for each manuscript for the Palanca Awards. As we have for the past two years, we submitted via email, saving on the cost of having to print out four copies of each entry. It's a two step process: first, send everything digitally; second; send the original notarized form before April 30th. I'm having my messenger deliver our forms by the end of day today, so all this paperwork is done.

All that happens now (providing nothing silly occurs to the digital entries en route) is the usual waiting until June (when whispers of the short listed entries begin to circulate), July (when incomplete roster of winners per category begin to reach certain ears, courtesy of loose lips), August (when the winners are officially declared and informed via mail), and September 1st (when winners, judges and the Palanca family gather together to celebrate).

I was a bit more relaxed about my entries this year (but by no means less serious). I started out early in January with a long list of categories I thought I'd compete in. As time passed and work at the office piled up, I found myself in reduced circumstances and began to strike off things that would be impossible to complete, given my realities: the full length play, for example, would have to wait another year. My biggest decision was about Futuristic Fiction. One of my stories won the award previously, and the entire scifi-ness of the category obviously fits into my spec fic agenda, but I wasn't too thrilled with what I managed to write. The story could be a contender, but right now it needs a lot of rewrites, more spit and polish, so I opted not to enter it. I've entered 3 other categories, all in the English Division.

Win or lose, I'm happy about competing and flexing my writerly muscles, so all is good. Nikki and I overlap in two categories, and I'm delighted to face off against my wife (I think her short fiction beats mine but I will fight to the bitter end - haha).

We'll see how things go.

Good luck to everyone who entered this year!

in the kingdom of kawaii

"The Quest for Katsudon in the Kingdom of Kawai" appears in the latest issue of iReport, the quarterly journal of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

It is a story I tell endlessly about our stay in Japan.

An excerpt:

My personal quest for the perfect katsudon began inadvertently, when I stepped off the airport shuttle in Tokyo, hungry, grumpy, and tired from the plane ride from Manila. “We need to eat,” I informed my wife, who was traveling with me. “Miniscule airplane meals are not real food. We need to eat now.”

“Okay,” replied my oh-so-supportive helpmate. “If you spot a McDonald’s around here, let me know.”

‘Around here’ was one of the many perplexing prefectures that make up the city of Tokyo, festooned with dozens of neon and cloth signs that no doubt offered tons of helpful information—if you happen to read Japanese, which neither of us did. It was past midnight and I would have given my luggage and possibly my wife for a heartening glimpse of those famous fast food golden arches.

Instead, we managed to find a little hole in the wall dining establishment—which Nikki probably thought of as ‘quaint’, while I immediately classified it as ‘dubious’. Still, we were in what has repeatedly been ranked as one of the safest cities in the world. So I let my hunger win out over my cautiousness and we stepped into the tiny eatery, which even I had to admit was done up charmingly inside with movie-perfect wooden tables, paper panels, and little cloth banners with brush stroke calligraphy.

My charmed state lasted mere moments, as we were immediately chased out by billowing clouds of steam and an equally gasp-inducing volley of hollered Japanese. After much confusion and frenzied gesticulation, I realized that we were supposed to order our food by using a sort of vending machine just outside the door—you pushed the button for the item you wanted to order and got a little slip of printed paper which you then presented to one of the apocalyptically scowling service staff within.


Go and check it out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

summer in dumaguete

I'll be in Dumaguete in a couple of weeks for a number of reasons: to deliver a lecture on Speculative Fiction as part of the Literatura Filipiniana Summer Festival at Silliman University (organized by Ian Casocot); to visit the annual Dumaguete National Writers Workshop (I was a fellow way back in 1992) and touch base with Mom Tiempo; to meet new writer friends; to get a couple of new stories done from the steadily growing "to complete" pile; and to take a break from the stress of life and work.

I'm looking forward to speaking about spec fic as it is an advocacy I feel very strongly about. Since I've made the announcement that I am open to submissions for volume 2 of Philippine Speculative Fiction, I have already received a number of queries and emails of intent to submit. I'm hoping to bump into writers old and new in Dumaguete so I can personally ask them to send stories for consideration. Part of my agenda is to be able to encourage new and previously unpublished writers, those who, like me, are not part of a clique, but have something interesting to say. Naturally, I am not adverse to having a Big Name or two contribute something original to the antho (for example, I'd be delighted to have a newly-minted fantasy story from Krip Yuson or Greg Brilliantes). Is it validation I'm looking for then? Not really. As my friend (and co-Silliman fellow) Sarge Lacuesta told me, perhaps there are no true genre walls in the first place. Ultimately, beyond being an expression of agenda, I want the yearly anthology to just have excellent stories that provoke wonder by Filipino authors who tell their stories well.

I plan to talk about the kinds of Filipino spec fic during my lecture, my learnings as an editor and as a writer, why I think spec fic is important and why it should it as big as it is in other countries (for example, Wendell Capili tells me, rightly so, that spec fic is huge in Australia). As a bonus, If I have time, I will lunge into a blistering tirade against realism - haha.

I also want to see Edith Tiempo again. "Mom" (she is "Mom" to all the writers who sojourned there) was instrumental in my development as a writer. It has been 14 years since I last saw her and at last I have something I can show her that I'm proud of. It's no secret that she's one of my literary parents - which just goes to show how words of encouragement can make a difference in the life of a young writer, perhaps more so than a summer's worth of intense critique (though of course that is also important).

As for meeting new writers, why not? While the act of writing is indeed something best accomplished in isolation, I am for creating new friendships, engaging new minds, immersing myself in new conversations and permitting myself up to seven days of socializing with people who attach as much importance to the act and craft of writing as I do. Frankly, I'm also hoping to read new stories from whomever I meet, to taste the fruits of someone else's labor and act as a reader, a lover of words.

I actually expect to finish a new story or two while I'm there. I have a room booked at the CocoGrande Hotel along Hibbard Avenue and expect to spend some time there with my laptop. On the priority list is the much delayed "Levitation of Princess Karnak" which may suddenly morph into a Muslim love story for all I know, and a story that I can use as a test bed or anchor for the new novel (right now, I'm using "Sinverguenza" as a working title; it's a Spanish term that means "without shame").

As for the "take a break from the stress" part, I plan to eat and sleep, imbibing Deantime - away from my businesses and clients, beloved wife and daughter, friends and games.

Just me and the words.

Monday, April 24, 2006

at the movies

Yesterday, as part of our weekly Family Day, Nikki and I took Sage, along with her Ninong Vin and Uncle Andrew, to watch "Eight Below". Sage loves films, watching her cache of DVDs - but she especially loves the big screeen, with its amped up volume and gigantic screen.

It was Vin who suggested the film.

Nikki: But it's a sad doggy movie.

Me: I think, of the 8 dogs, several will die.

Vin: ...

Me: Okay, I'll handle it. Sage, come here.

Sage: Yes, Dad?

Me: Guess what we're going to do?

Sage: What?

Me: We're going out to watch a movie!

Sage: Whoohoo!

Me: A sad doggy movie!!!

Sage: Huh?

Me: Yup! Remember how sometimes we like reading sad things?

Sage: Like "The Giving Tree"?

Me: Yup.

Sage: But only sometimes, Dad. I like it when it's happy.

Me: Yes, but this movie is special.

Sage: A sad doggy movie? Does a doggy die?

Me: Well...yes.

Sage: Why?

Me: We need to watch the movie to see why.

Sage: It will make me a bit sad and I'll cry.

Me: Me too. But we'll be together, right?

Sage: Right.

Me: So are we excited? Huh? Aren't we excited?

Sage: Yes, we are!

Me: Whoohoo!

Sage: Whoohoo!

And so, with light hearts we went to watch a film about dogs in Antarctica. Midway through, before all the deaths, Sage leans over to me.

Sage: Dad, it's so quiet.

Me: Yup.

Sage: No, Dad. I mean, everyone is quiet here.

Me: Because no one is supposed to talk while they watch a movie.

Sage: But people were noisy when we watched "Madagascar".

Me: Because at that movie, there were a lot of kids asking their daddies questions.

Sage: Like me?

Me: Shhh. Sit down and watch.

She watches for a while.

Sage: Dad?

Me: What?

Sage: Dad, I'm bored.

Me: What? How can you be bored with this sad doggy movie?

Sage: But I am, Dad. I want to do something else.

Me: Well, you can't. We paid to watch this movie and we'll finish it.

Sage: Oooo-kay.

Me: Now, shhh.

She watches for a while.

Sage: Dad?

Me: Sage, come with me, we're moving to the front.

We walk to the very front of the theatre. The nice thing about the swanky Shangri-la movie houses is that - because of the prohibitive cost of the tickets - less people watch and the place is very clean. Sage and I take seats.

Sage: Dad, can I play on the carpet?

Dad: For as long as you are quiet and do not lick it.

Sage: DAD! I promise I won't lick it! Silly Dad. And I'll be quiet.

So she plays on the carpet, later asking for her papers and markers, drawing and rolling around in utter silence. During an exciting part of the film, she is taken by surprise by the appearance of a terrifying animal and runs all the way back to me. Her mother, who had also moved to sit with us, was grasping one of my arms while Sage struggled to climb up on me.

Sage: Dad! I'm scared.

Me: Sweetie, I'm scared too. So is Mommy. It's okay to be scared but remember that it's only a movie, okay?

During the very sad part, it was her mother and father, softies that we are, more than Sage, who had tears in their eyes.

Nikki (to Dean): I told you it was a sad doggy movie.

Me: I feel so sad...

Sage: It's okay, Dad. It's just a movie.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

babbling at iBlog2

Here I am at iBlog2, cut mercifully just as my phone rings in the middle of my speech.

Video courtesy of Manuel Viloria.

Friday, April 21, 2006

books in and out

books in

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when a package arrived at my office. It turned out to be the books I ordered from Amazon, stunningly ahead of schedule by a couple of weeks. I'm so impressed by the service that I'm more than willing to negotiate the slippery slope of ordering online over and over again (so much for being a Luddite) - but only (or so I tell myself) for impossible-to-find-in-Manila books and a few choice camera things (yes, I've been lugging around my new Digital Rebel, thanks to Amazon and Jamie who brought it back from the US with him).

I got four books, all of them the peculiar flavors of speculative fiction that I love reading:

The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford - Jeff is one of my favorite authors, especially for short fiction. This is his second collection of stories, which includes prize-winners as well as previously unpublished fiction. The fact that its a hardcover sweetens the acquisition. (Ford is also one of the authors the Litcritters, my literary criticism/reading/writing group discussed last night, taking on "Exo-Skeleton Town".

Leviathan 4: Cities edited by Forest Aguirre - I've heard about the Leviathan series, collected stories that can be described as dark fantasy / surrealism/ decadent/ slipstream. Between the previous volume that won the World Fantasy Award, I opted for this one, hoping there are more stories in it that are strange and unfamiliar to me. I'm big on discovery. Looking at the TOC, I'm happy to note a number of familiar names, including Sydney-based author Ben Peek , one of the writers I sent a copy of Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.1 to.

Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer - This collection of short stories and a novella explores Vandermeer's city of Veniss. Incidentally, he and his wife Ann are editing a new anthology of Best American Fantasy ("The definition of “fantasy” shall include fabulation, non-realist fiction, magic realism, surrealism, post modern experimentation, cross-genre, etc.")

Conjunctions: 39 The New Wave Fabulists edited by Peter Straub -First published three or four years ago, this anthology has become a seminal work of literary speculative fiction, with contributions from a Who's Who of Big Names (Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, Elizabeth Hand, Nalo Hopkinson, John Kessel, Jonathan Lethem, Kelly Link, China Mieville and Gene Wolfe, among others).

These books push at boundaries of genre - and I like that.

books out

With the delivery of some author's copies of Salamanca, I was finally able to ship off my books off to friends, relatives and fellow writers in the Philippines and across the Pacific Ocean. I wish I could send a copy to everyone who wants one but I just can't.

For Manila-based readers, these books (written by or edited by or contributed to by me) are available at Fully Booked:

Salamanca - novel (cover and press release here)
Philippine Speculative Fiction vol.1 - anthology of short stories (review here)
Siglo: Passion - comic book anthology (review here)
Siglo: Freedom - comic book anthology (review here)
Project: Hero - comic book anthology

Available at ComicQuest, SM Megamall:

The Lost 1 & 2 - my first comic books with interior art by pals Arnold Arre (Mythology Class, Andong Agimat) and covers by Carlo Vergara (Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah) and Marco Dimaano (Angel Ace, KIA) (old website here, designed by the inimitable Cynthia Bauzon-Arre). Someday (because I do owe it to the readers), I'll release the completed issue #3 and collect the entire thing as a trade paperback. The key word is "someday" because speculative fiction has taken precedence over comic books for me, in terms of agenda and allocated of my limited resources.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

do note fear tomorrow

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(Photo by Jove Francisco)

Despite the fact that I was feeling dehydrated and almost overwhelmed by heat (especially in the car on the way to UP), I had a great time at the iBlog2. I spoke about writing in the context of blogging, and how it can benefit an author. I think it went well.

Well, not quite. Towards the very end of my talk, a mispelled word appeared on my powerpoint presentation (that's what I get for guerilla writing LOL), so instead of "Do not fear tomorrow", it read "Do note fear tomorrow". Ay naku talaga!

I was happy to renew acquaintances and meet new friends whose blogs I peruse. Thanks to all the people who attended my speech (despite my spelling indiscretion, the bloggers who bought copies of Salamanca, and the organizers who made the event possible (with special shout outs to JJ Disini and Janette Toral). And to Jove Francisco for the photo!

Power to the Filipino Blogger!

Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.2

I am now accepting submissions of short fiction pieces for consideration for the anthology "Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.2". Speculative fiction is the literature of wonder that spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror and magic realism or falls into the cracks in-between.

1. Only works of speculative fiction will be considered for publication. As works of the imagination, the theme is open and free.

2. Stories must cater to an adult sensibility.

3. Stories must be written in English.

4. Stories must be authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry.

5. Preference will be given to original unpublished stories, but previously published stories will also be considered. In the case of previously published material, kindly include the title of the publishing entity and the publication date.

6. First time authors are welcome to submit. In the initial volume, there was a near 50-50 split of established and new authors.

7. Each author may submit only one story for consideration.

8. Each story’s word count must be no fewer than 3,000 words and no more than 5,000 words.

9. All submissions must be in Rich Text Format (.rtf – save the document as .rft on your word processor) and attached to an email to this address: Submissions received in any other format will be deleted, unread.

10. The subject of your email must read: 2nd Philippine Speculative Fiction Submission: (title) (word count); where (title) is replaced by the title of your short story, without the parentheses, and (word count) is the word count of your story, without the parentheses.

For example - 2nd Philippine Speculative Fiction Submission: The Last Siren 4500.

11. All submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes your name, brief bio, contact information, previous work (if any).

12. Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2006. After that date, final choices will be made and letters of acceptance or regret sent out via email.

13. Target publishing date is December 2006/January 2007.

14. Compensation for selected stories will be 2 contributor’s copies of the published anthology.

Dean Francis Alfar, editor

say that you love me

Ian had this ticklish idea of Googling in the phrase "I love (your name) because", choosing what you like and then posting it. So out of supreme conceit, here are my Top Ten:

I love Dean because he doesn’t have the drummer’s hair from Yellowcard (In fact, I feel like I've had this semi-kal look forever - but it's not true; in my post college days I had a ponytail)

I love Dean because I think he can win (Well, honestly, most of the time I do want to win, but I'm not so utterly persuaded of my own powers to think I can win all the time; but I will put up a good fight because I love competition)

I love dean because he's so hot and sweet (Um, okay)

I love Dean because he stands up for something and has a backbone (My blog tagline used to read "opinionated bastard" - I should restore it LOL)

I love Dean because he is so cute, so cuddly, and so fuckable (Gah)

I love Dean because he tells the truth (Haha, not all the time)

I love Dean because Osama endorses him (Please tell me it's not that Osama)

I love Dean because maybe before I die I will actually be insured and be able to go to the doctors office for a full physical (Hookay, whatever rocks your boat)

I love Dean because he is absolutely pragmatic (Well, not "absolutely", but pretty much so; I'm not a fan of rose-colored glasses - they make my eyes hurt)

I love Dean because he's okay w/ me dressing as a whore (A woman after my heart - and direct from Yahoo)

And while we're at it, here are some reasons I'm reviled:

I hate Dean because I am pretty sure he is an abortionist (Actually, I'm pro-life, but defer to the choice of the woman involved and do not make further judgments)

I hate Dean because he likes her (Well, too bad)

I hate Dean because I'm stupid and I wanted to be his lover but he ... (I what? What did I do? Don't leave me hanging here!)

Monday, April 17, 2006

siglo: passion review

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 17, 2006

The darkness and light of 'Passion'
By Ruel S. de Vera

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"Siglo: Passion"
Edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Vincent Simbulan
Kestrel IMC, Nautilus Comics and Quest Ventures QC, 2005, 200 pages

AMBITION IS THE MIGHTY scaffolding of literary and visual feat: the greater the height to be scaled, the more substantial the risk, the more abundant the possible reward. And yet that attempt can be breathtaking by itself, a challenge to the void, a call to arms against the mundane.

This is the gap being minded-and crossed -by the comic-book anthology "Siglo." Edited by comic-book veterans Dean Francis Alfar and Vincent Simbulan, the daring, award-winning "Siglo: Freedom" gathered short pieces of what Alfar calls "grafiction" that unfurled varied artistic styles and dissected diverse aspects of the Filipino's experience of liberty.

Two years later, Alfar and Simbulan have spawned the next incarnation in the "Siglo" saga, "Siglo: Passion," an even worthier adventurer in the graphical and literary continuity that is Filipino comic books. The big idea is, as the editors write in the introduction, to expose "the boundless enthusiasm that drives us to be both baneful and divine; to aspire to exalted heights or sink to ignoble depths."

"Siglo: Passion's" cast is prodigious, an assembly of international stars, local stalwarts, award-winners, up-and-coming kid wonders.

Aside from the two editors, there's Nikki Go-Alfar, Lan Medina, Reno Maniquis, Edgar Tadeo, Hiyas de Guzman, Vicente Groyon, Honoel Ibardolaza, Paolo Manalo, Andrew Drilon, Carlo Vergara, Jason Banico, Marco Dimaano, Quark Henares, Antonio Abad, Ma-an Asuncion, Gerry Alanguilan, Jaime Bautista, Michelle Soneja, Cyan Abad-Jugo, Luis Katigbak, Jonas Diego, Joel Chua, Ariel Atienza, Jeremy Arambulo, Angelo Suarez, Rafael Kayanan, Leinil Francis Yu, Josè Illenberger, Jac Ting Lim, Camille Portugal, Oliver Pulumbarit, Wilson Tortosa and Ma. Camille Francisco.

Primary arsenal

Twelve stories array themselves in parade as "Passion's" primary arsenal, each tackling a different decade and location. As always, the stories intend to show off the unique attributes of the writers and artists. "Passion" bookends the stories with Suarez's illustrated poems and a sensational cover by Illenberger, all in all a gorgeous package.

Solid work abounds from all around. There is a dark, dark undercurrent in "Passion" as the storytelling here is quite mature and very sophisticated. Manalo's tale, combined with Drilon's graphic gambits, generates a creepy vibe that is taken even further by Vergara's spooky, meaningful anti-romance. Alanguilan's ghost story is harrowing in its stillness.

Ibardolaza's deceptively bucolic pattern unhinges, because of how it hides and then unleashes the truth in Groyon's story. Go-Alfar's story uses the artists' strengths to craft a lushly rendered journey to unexpected and bittersweet redemption. On the other tangent, Simbulan and Atienza's cozy piece makes wise use of a recipe passed down through the generations.

The book's most hypnotic, most arresting piece is "Manila 2019." In Katigbak's reality-bending exploration through what amounts as romance and obsession at an age where the soul hides behind the oh-so-aptly chosen avatar.

How can you not get into a story that has an oversized guinea pig named Briggs walking around in a dystopian Philippines? It's a well-written parallel to what's happening among the whiz kids of today and what may happen still.

Visual stylings

Just as "Freedom" introduced to a wider audience Or and Drilon, talents who have since established themselves, "Passion" lets readers discover the pleasures of De Guzman's and Arambulo's visual stylings. Just as the first "Siglo" was a black-and-white project, "Siglo: Passion" equips itself for the next mission. While "Freedoom" deployed some of these same talents in black-and-white, "Passion" features full-color coated pages for every story; there are 12 stories instead of the predecessor's 10. Most importantly, "Passion"
continues its permutation of "Siglo"'s purpose as a test bed for grafiction's possibilities in telling the Filipino story.

There are hints of whimsy and compassion, but mostly the unimpeachable inertia of love, all whipped together in a complex comic book bouquet. It's not all melodrama, manga and Manila.

In that sense, "Passion" is very much the more serious older brother of the earlier "Freedom," fulfilling the promise of the "Siglo" evolution, and, as always, setting the bar higher for whatever comes next in the "Siglo" series.

This lovingly produced, high-concept anthology deserves all the superlatives it will snare, for "Siglo: Passion" is an irresistibly dark vision of all that a Filipino comic book can be, when imbued with the right amount of emotion and devotion.

Available from all Comic Quest and Fully Booked branches.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

summer reading

From the the April 9, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Read Ahead

IT is the perfect time. The books await, lying in the cramped comfort of the darkness in handbags and backpacks, just longing to raise their opened pages to the imperious sun. The books are ready. Let the Sunday Inquirer Magazine provide the dead reckoning for your literary journeys as we present the season's most remarkable reads in our annual Summer Reading Issue. Time to open up. Ruel S. De Vera

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume I
edited by Dean Francis Alfar Kestrel IMC

A WELCOME visitation, this collection of short stories from Filipino writers delves exclusively in the realm of fantasy and science fiction, yet the pieces in “Philippine Speculative Fiction” may have evolved into a different breed somewhere in between, which is a good thing. From Ian Rosales Casocot’s audacious investigation of Jose Rizal to J. Pocholo Martin B. Goitia’s vision of the Filipino’s future in the being Magenta, the stories here lace the future with the flavor of our past. New and old fictionists like Angelo R. Lacuesta, Gabriela Lee and Francezca C. Kwe lend their vibrant voices to this project. “To find the fantastic, we must create the fantastic,” Alfar writes in his introduction to this fantastic find.

I'm delighted that the antho I launched last December is part of the Inquirer's recommended summer reading list. Interesting note: Ruel de Vera cited two stories in particular - Ian's "The Pepe Report" and Cholo's "Introduction to the Luminescent", both scifi pieces. "The Pepe Report" went on to be published in one of the local magazines, and "...Luminescent" won the Ustetika Award last year.

I'll be sounding the call for submissions for Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.2 next week or the week after that. I'm planning to launch the 2nd volume around the 4th quarter of this year, and am looking towards publishing more tales of wonder from a variety of authors. With Vin Simbulan's A Time for Dragons antho, that's at least two collections of genre fiction this year.

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.1 (and Salamanca, for that matter) is available at all branches of Fully Booked.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

blog matters

write here, write now

Attend iBlog 2, the Philippines' 2nd Blogging Summit!

I'm one of the speakers next week, April 18th, at The 2nd Philippine Blogging Summit . Here's the info:

The long wait is over! iBlog2: The 2nd Philippine Blogging Summit shall be on Tuesday, April 18 at the U.P. College of Law, U.P. Diliman, Quezon City from 9 am to 5 pm. Same as last year, this event is FREE!

Here’s our program for this year’s event:

9:00 to 10:00
Keynote Message
by Rebecca MacKinnon, Global Voices

Blogging and Podcasting as Tools for Political Education
by Dr. Ronald Meinardus, Friedrich Naumann Foundation

Sponsor Talk: DotPH


Parallel Tracks: Breakout sessions (2 Rooms)

10:30 - 12:00

Track 1: Political Blogging Panel
Panel Moderator: Atty. Fred Pamaos

Blogs and the battle for ideas: personalities and issues
by Manuel L. Quezon III
(According to MLQ3, “We have to address how people are concerned over how nasty the political debate is getting.”)

Blogging and Participatory Governance
by Davao City Councilor Peter Laviña

Track 2: Personal Blogging Panel
Panel Moderator: Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

Blogging for mere mortals
By Joel Yuvienco

Making your blog funny and humorous
by Anton De Leon

Shameless Self-Promotion: How to Be Heard in a Referral World
by Mike Abundo


Breakout Sessions

1:30 - 3:00
Track 3: Legal Blogging Panel
Panel Moderator: Atty. Noel Oliver Punzalan

Speak No Evil?: Libel for Bloggers
by Atty. Marvin Aceron

Look Before You Link: Avoiding Plagiarism, Copyright Infringement and Other Pitfalls
by Atty. Bong Dizon

Track 4: Art & Literary Blogging Panel
Panel Moderator: Lionel Gonzaga

Write here, Write now: The Author as a Blogger
by Dean Alfar

Comic Books and Blogging
by Jonas Diego

Blogging as a Tool for Teaching
By Zarah Gagatiga


3:30 - 5:00
Track 5: Professional Blogging Panel
Panel Moderator: Atty. Ma. Elena Cardinez

Problogging: Professional Blogging and Blog Monetization
by Abe Olandres

Blogging as a Profession: From Full-Time Employee to Full Time Blogger
by J Angelo Racoma

Putting Search Engines to Work for your Blog
by Marc Hil Macalua

Tracking Blog Performance
by Charo Nuguid

Track 6: Media Blogging & Podcasting Panel
Panel Moderator: Ernesto Sonido Jr.

Blogging from a journalist’s point of view
by Ellen Tordesillas

Blogs as source for story leads
by Erwin Oliva

How to create, promote, and monetize podcasts
by Manuel Viloria

Use of Podcasting in Promoting Advocacy and Products
by Pocholo Gonzales and Brian Ligsay


5:00 Closing remarks, raffle, group picture taking

All speakers are requested to refrain from product or service pitches.

We are also sending sponsorship invitations for this event. If you are a company offering products and services targeted to the blogging community, we invite you to be a sponsor. Part of the package includes table space, and streamer display at the event. If you are interested, send me and email with your contact number at and we’ll get back to you.

toc: a time for dragons

Vin Simbulan has posted the table of contents for his upcoming spec fic anthology, "A Time for Dragons". Shamelessly, I'm replicating part of his post here:
Here are the stories that will make up A Time for Dragons, pending final sequencing.

The Bridge by Yvette Tan
The Transfiguration of Zhang Bai Long by Elbert Or
Dragon Brother by Cyan Abad-Jugo
3:30 PM Appointment with Sir Galahad by Kate Aton-Osias
Dragon Eyes by Dean Francis Alfar
Moondown and Fugue by Alexander Drilon
Tholomew Mestich and the Tiles of Ganew by Elyss Punsalan
Capture by Gabriela Lee
Glass by Nikki Alfar
The Last Feast of August by Andrew Drilon
Johnny Tato and the Dragon of Pasig by Joseph Nacino
A Fishy Tale by Apol Lejano-Massebieau
Chasing Ouroboros by Vincent Michael Simbulan
Lex Talionis by Paolo Chikiamco-Recio
The Delivery by Ron Cordova
Gunsaddled by Alexander Osias
A Change of Guards by Oscar Alvarez Jr.
Fossil by Sarge Lacuesta

Congratulations to all the contributors!

As someone who feels very strongly about Philippine speculative fiction, I am naturally ecstatic about both the list and the notion of the book itself. I'm happy to note that I'm familiar with all but three names, and have published many of the authors myself - which shows that these storytellers have many tales of wonder to tell. Vin also selected an interesting mix of unpublished, rising and established voices (I snuck a peek at Nikki's story while she was editing it, and I was totally floored - I want it for my anthology LOL).

Can you imagine it? A Filipino antho brimming with dragons. Now the poor editor will be pestered by me and the other authors for the next announcement - when is the publishing date? And, will there be dragons at the launch? Hahaha. I can't wait to have the book in my hands!

Here's a bit from my contribution, Dragon Eyes. It is part of my cycle of Hinirang stories.

From Dragon Eyes by Dean Francis Alfar

Each Tsino person has several names that are used at different times in life and death: true name, birth name, family name, milk name, child name, nickname, use name, professional name, the heroic name if you became someone of import, the name you gave to non-members of your immediate family, the name you gave to foreigners, and the name you left as payment at the Black Gates.

If you were a woman you added several more: your young woman name, your smoke name, your name of respect, your seasonal name, and more depending on your circumstances – married, unmarried, widowed, firstborn, lastborn, beautiful, ordinary, tainted or dead.

My mother’s smoke name, given to her by my father when they first met seven days before their wedding, was Lúng Yânjìng, Dragon Eyes. He said that looking into he eyes was like locking stares with a dragon – such was the depth of her gaze that it swallowed him whole, a capitulation he willingly performed because of his duty and her beauty. Even after they were married, my father called her by her smoke name, but only in the privacy of our home.

But growing up, whenever I looked into my mother’s eyes, I did not see a dragon. Her eyes could pierce me as if she saw see directly into my soul, yes, but it had always been something I could fight. She did not have a dragon’s power of dominance, only the ability shared by all mothers which all daughters must, sooner or later, learn to accept.

Monday, April 10, 2006


I was sorting through all the photos I have on my laptop, as part of the process of burning them on to cds, and found several shots that made me smile.

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+ Jeremy, Siglo: Passion launch. Jeremy blew me away with his art for my piece. You can see for yourself and read the comic here.

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+ Nikki, Philippine Speculative Fiction launch. We're sitting on the floor, taking a break from signing - and of course, showing off the book.

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+ Paul, Project: Hero launch (we launched three titles last December). It was inevitable that the two guys wearing the Superman and Batman icons should strike a pose, a la Alex Ross.

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+ Kit, triple launch. I was so delighted to finally meet Kit Kwe, whose story in Phil Spec Fic was simply delicious.

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+ Vin, still at the triple launch. By the time my Siglo co-editor and I were done, we just wanted to collapse.

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+ Sage, Florida. Father and daughter mug for the camera at the Japanese resto.

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+ Cris & Ty, AUB shoot. In between set-ups at a photo shoot for a bank client, the crew and I fight for the last iced tea.

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+ Lilit, Palancas 2005. Lilit (winner for the screenplay),director Erik Matti and I bonded over cigarettes.

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+ Pierre, Globe shoot. A test shot taken by photog Pierre (and me without facial hair).

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+ Eric, AR shoot. One of the craziest photogs I love to work with.

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+ Mystery Feline, iBlog 1. Who is this cat? Nope, no links from me, but he's a fine budding author.

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+ Alex, Aton-Osias Nuptials. It was the happiest day of my friend Alex's life when he and Kate tied the knot.

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+ Vin, Marco & Arnold, KIA launch. The launch of Marco's fun antho, which we all contributed something to.

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+ Giraffe, SM shoot. To show the models how I want them to look, I usually make a fool of myself.

on leaders

What Needs to Emerge

We are surrounded by leaders; they affect aspects of our lives on a daily basis. Our parents and elders guide us towards becoming productive family members. Educators show us the paths of knowledge, preparing our minds for the rigors of life after university. Religious leaders help us in spiritual matters. Business leaders help determine the flow of commerce.

And government leaders?

Put in fundamental terms, in theory they should act as representatives of their constituents, the people in general, and put into action systems and laws that are beneficial, realistic and reasonable. In practice, however, this is often not the case in this country.

A look at any given day’s newspapers shows the tremendous levels of improvement that can and need to be made. Any informal backyard survey will bring to light expressions of dissatisfaction, confusion and cynicism from the population. People long for good leaders. People hope for great leaders.

But what sort of leaders do we need?

What kind of leaders need to emerge?

What requirements - beyond educational background, work experience, quality of ideas, ability to think long-term and act with necessary speed, capacity of meet the challenges of their specific roles or office, and other traits (which should all be givens) – should these leaders possess?

Leaders, in general, come in every shape and form, with various differences in personal manner, management methodology and leadership style. But there are certain qualities that leaders, in the context of government service, need to have. We have a number of leaders in government service currently who are doing good jobs, but we should have more.

Representation and Communication

Government leaders must serve the people by acting as their true representative, acting on behalf of the citizens who are not able to speak for themselves.

They are servants of the people and the Constitution. This is the primary reason they are in office. They must be active in spheres where the common man is paralyzed by the self-defeating attitude of only getting by on a day-to-day basis, providing the necessary momentum to ignite significant change. They must effectively communicate with the people at large and with the stakeholders that they represent. They need to abandon the ivory towers of obstructionist bureaucracy and honor the social contract that they have entered into.

They must develop a rapport with the people, formulating a personal chemistry that persuades and encourages people to participate and act together to implement the set objectives and attain the agreed-upon goals

Government leaders exist to serve, to act on behalf of those they speak for, to communicate in plain and understandable language to their stakeholders, and to inspire others towards cooperative endeavors.


Government leaders must be responsible.

They must not use their position for self-aggrandizement or to pursue the narrow self-serving agendas of special interest groups. They must be the strongest proponents of self-responsibility, advocating the idea that government is not about only proper systems but also about the quality of leadership. Once elected to an office, they must make good on their electoral promises. Honor is not an antiquated idea – it has its value and importance in the Philippines of today.

A responsible leader is one who holds himself or herself accountable, and is his or her own harshest critic.

Trust and Leading by Example

Government leaders must lead by example and consistently maintain a high personal standard of morality.

They must understand that their credibility ultimately comes from their moral stature and personal example. They must be trustworthy so people will believe in them, and they must trust the people to follow their example. People are not only looking for a leader that they can trust; they are also looking for a leader who will trust them.

People have come to accept corruption, personal corruption, as a given. This is unacceptable.

Our leaders must change this perception and take on the responsibility of being a positive role mode, someone we can respect and respects us, someone we can aspire to emulate.

Trust is powerful when it is present. It brings people together and demonstrates the pinnacle of human cooperative efforts. When it is absent in government there can only be unrest, as absent answers to difficult questions lead to disastrous consequences.

A Realist Outlook

Government leaders must adopt the fundamental posture of a realist.

They must subscribe neither to the cynicism that affects the great majority of people who have all but conceded the fight to the ingrained and reinforced behaviors of “Palakasan”, “Pakikisama” and “Bahala na” – nor to the unbridled exuberant optimism of the those who blind themselves to the true social realities of our country. This realist outlook that acts in the national interest permits the dual drivers of goal-oriented motion and internally-motivated behavior that our country’s leadership sorely lacks.

They need to reimagine the role of government and believe in the ability of the people, of the nation, of themselves, to create progressive and rational change.

This is governance with a sense of purpose.

Expanding Increments

Government leaders must know how to think “big picture” without losing sight of the small details and move in ways that make a difference.

The practice of incrementalism can be further improved by expanding the scale of the increments, with an eye towards making more than the smallest ripples that are usually unfelt and unseen. As agents of change, government leaders must be able to affect change on a large scale, given the fact that their policies, to be effective, must affect signifcant numbers.

The key is to extend and expand the definitions and span of increments with the ultimate goal of making life better for everyone in status quo-altering ways that are visible and lasting.

The Strength of Strong and Weak Ties

Government leaders must champion the idea of a nation, going beyond the small and paralyzing notions of small circles and instead embrace the idea of a network.

As a people, we are big believers in the idea of the Strength of Strong Ties. Strong Ties are direct relationships: family, personal contacts, business partners, friends, small organizations we hold membership in. It is all too easy to act on behalf of people we know by name.

But government leaders must also believe in the principle of the Strength of Weak Ties. Weak ties are people we do not know by name, are not members of our immediate circles, but whose lives we affect by the quality of our ideas that we communicate, the consequences of our action or inaction, and by the fact that we are all networked in the framework of a nation.

Weak ties are the majority of people who voted our leaders into office, persuaded by promises, and hopeful that their leaders go beyond charismatic rhetoric.

There is certainly nothing weak about these ties; and they are very significant ties.

A nation is not a notion. A nation is a real state composed of real people in ever-increasing overlapping ties.

The Filipino Leader of today must come to accept the reality of the Strength of Weak Ties, going beyond those he personally knows to those he should fully represent.

Now, now, now

We cannot afford to wait for the leaders of tomorrow who will arrive in glory with all of these attributes – the pressing matters that bedevil our nation are very much of the here and now.

Those who sought offices and were elected, chosen by the people, must bear the responsibility of becoming the kind of leaders they need to be.

We need our current leaders to make personal changes in significant, positive and transparent increments in the way they think, act and comport themselves.

We need them to provide evidence of their moral regeneration by example to restore lost confidence

And we need them all to do so right now.

There is no other way about it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

reading and writing

critical reading

A few weeks ago, I began a regular lit crit workshop with a small group of writers. Normally, I'm too swamped with work to conduct something like this, but the request from the writers was persuasive - for me to help them better articulate why or why not they liked a story. I began with helping them develop a fundamental critical framework for reading, giving everyone tools ranging from the basics (such as looking a characterization, narrative flow and tone) to the more advanced (looking at margins, semiotics and such). My approach reflected my own informal (and hodgepodge) attitude towards critical reading, not subservient to any particular creed or flavor, but with a definite slant towards speculative fiction (but requisite readings in realism, of course).

Our initial author was Colombian Albalucia Angel whose exquisite "The Guerillero" spawned much discussion due to the power of her craftwork (and no, her writing shares no common ground with Latin America's magic realist icon, Marquez). More interesting though was an entire evening devoted to "What I Didn't See", a stunningly well-executed story by Karen Joy Fowler (2004 Nebula Award winner for Short Story), which provoked numerous readings and endless discussions on its various merits.

I decided to also hold, in parallel, a sort of writing workshop, to help push my circle's creative expression. I am by no means an expert, but what little I know I'm willing to share or hold open for discussion.

In the (brief) time that I've been writing I've realized two things:

You learn to write by reading.

You learn to write by writing.

No other ways about it. My little group does both, so my hope for stronger speculative fiction continues to burn bright.


Speaking of writing, Kit Kwe, one of the wonderfully accomplished fictionists of today, asked me to tell you that Story Philippines - that giant-sized quarterly of original Filipino fiction - is accepting submissions of all stripes. So check your inventory, or better yet write something new, and submit to

In writing, as in life, it is always worthwhile to try. In the publication's first two issues, there have been both established and new authors, so do give it a shot. There are no themes nor deadlines, but only email submissions with complete name and contact details will be considered for publication.


I'll be in Dumaguete around the second week of May, to visit Mom Edith Tiempo (I last saw her when I was fellow way back in 1992), meet up with Ian Casocot and other friends, discuss my novel, and hopefully, get some writing done.

Oh, and to get some vacation time - which, given the rather toxic past few weeks, is desperately needed.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

i give in to sin

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After much hemming and hawing, I finally took the plunge and ordered the camera I've wanted since December last year from Amazon - the Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR.

For a long time, I was okay with what Nikki calls "happy-for-fun" digital cameras. But after a while, I seriously hankered for an SLR. The Canon line of Prosumer (midway between professional and consumer) cameras are amazing - and fit the bill. After consulting with my photog friends (and ensuring that once I get the camera wither Pierre or Jo Avila will teach me actually how to do more than point and click), I coordinated with Jamie (in the US right now) to bring what I ordered back home.

And so, if all goes well, I'll have a camera by the end of next week, and can at last take better pictures of my little girl as she moves around like a whirling dervish (try taking pictures of movement with a "happy-for-fun" camera and you'll either get a blur or miss the action completely).

This also marks a stunning change in my attitude towards purchasing things online. I've been a luddite about it for many years, afraid of giving credit card info, uncertain of delivery and order fulfillment and generally suspicious of the entire process. But after much agonizing, I decided to hell with it, ordered some books I wanted the other day, and the cameras today. If something happens, it happens (so Filipino of me, I know - bahala na) - but I could not continue to exist in this state of perpetual fear of online purchasing.

So here's to the power of online retailers!

(But wait! How about the iPod? Gah. Wala nang budget, hanggang tingin nalang muna.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

translation: khavn's cockroach

The Cockroach Inside The Trashcan
by Khavn

Translated from the Tagalog by Dean Francis Alfar

A COCKROACH NURSING its injured wings makes a temporary home inside the trashcan in the living room. The structure is a small marvel; the cockroach slowly transforming crumpled paper, used cardboard and fragments of unwanted plastic into a grand dining room, a comfortable bedroom and a wide-enough roof for basking in the sunlight should circumstances permit.

The wastebasket is shut most of the time, and rightfully so. People tell stories about these being breeding grounds by creatures of dubious circumstances.

(Once, someone forgot to cover the trashcan, and a pair of spiders of uncertain origin managed to get in. After a few hours, it attracted the enfeebled attention of the old man of the house. At the moment his hand reached down to cover it, he paused, startled by the unexpected scene revealed within: a tiny crowd of color pulsed with motion within the wastebasket, dancing and singing in an exhilarating celebration of pure life.

The old man hurriedly retrieved a pail of water and emptied it into the trashcan, consigning the oscillating families to a deluge of biblical proportions.)

THE GROWING HOUSE of the lonely cockroach now occupies more than half of the wastebasket’s interior, adding more rooms and levels in an attempt to obviate its occupant’s solitude. Even if its wings are already healed, the cockroach’s head is flattened from smashing into the trashcan’s cover, from doomed and heartbreaking attempts to fly out, hoping for that elusive moment of freedom.

It is dark inside the trashcan. Even if it has a crack on the side, it is the smallest of holes; even the most intrepid ray of light concedes and refuses to attempt entry. (Every time someone uncovers the wastebasket, the cockroach maniacally splays itself on the roof of its home, soaking fleeting sunlight in desperation.)

THE HOUSE OF the cockroach is now almost as tall as the trashcan, rooms upon rooms, floors upon floors extending every which way.

A child lifts the cover of the trashcan, intending to discard a bit of used tissue paper. At that precise moment, the cockroach takes the opportunity to escape, falling over itself in excitement. When it reaches the tip of the wastebasket, it extends its wings, readies for flight, hurls itself into the air and finds itself repealing the law of gravity for one exquisite moment before falling helplessly to the ground. The child, surprised by the unexpected motion, lets out a cry. His older brother chances upon the scene and sees the stunned cockroach quivering next to the trashcan in a paroxysm of agony. He quickly takes his slipper in hand and repeatedly strikes the cockroach, which is stuck to the floor until this very day.

Monday, April 03, 2006

salamanca means magic

Until the last moment, part of me was convinced that everything was just a cruel joke (a launch on April Fool's?) and that I would be shaken awake by my wife - and it's 2004 and everything has been a fever dream, a wish fulfillment fantasy - and that I did not, in fact, have a novel.

But last Saturday, I was faced with the truth of the matter, that I, in fact, had written one and there it was in my hands, a book swathed in mysterious green with a blurred face of a woman and an inset black and white photo of an eye (which, I assure everyone, is not my eye). Add to that the startling fact that every copy of the advance print of the book on sale during the launch was purchased, leading to a frustrated list of people who didn't get a copy (but more on that later).

I arrived early for the launch at Fully Booked, wanting to help my publisher set up, for two reasons: first, I was used to doing that whenever we'd launch our stuff (as hardened self-publishers of comics and books, you learn early on to do your own heavy lifting); and second, because I could not sit still. I mean, honestly, who could? (Come to think of it, perhaps authors who've launched 15 books can be jaded, but give me a break). The caterer was there, and the food arrived, but I didn't see much people.

"I'm going to the Children's Section to cry," I told my friend Kate.

"They'll come, Dean," she reassured me.

And come they did. Friends old and new came, from my intimate circle to old high school chums to my college barkaka to bloggers to gamers to fellow fictionists and authors to workmates, clients and people I've met only once or twice in my life. Family came, my mom, my stepdad (whose presence made me so happy I gave him a book in the midst of my speech), my siblings (half- and step-), uncles and aunts, and cousins. Friends of my mom came - in droves, peer-presured into dressing up and attending the book launch of the son of their good friend (and what a mix: police generals, government officials, matrons, newspapermen, businessmen, fashionistas, art patrons, dancers and artists and people visiting from Europe - it was crazy).

My good friend and fellow Silliman/UP workshopper Sarge Lacuesta gave a talk about the book which became a talk about how he and I once had a close encounter with aliens in Cebu in 1992 (really, it has been blocked from my mind by the grays, no doubt). I was floored by his kind words, shocked that he referenced one of the first stories I ever wrote ("The Sad and Strange Tale of Sister Maria Dolores, the Nun who Exploded"). Privately, he confessed that he didn't feel it was right for him to be one selected to speak about the book - but we laughed it off by saying that since Greg Brilliantes bowed out at the last minute, neither of us had any choice in the matter (and it's true - my publisher went to pick him up but he ultimately had a more important matter to attend and sent his regrets).

Maricor Baytion, my publisher (Ateneo Press), introduced me and asked me to read a portion of my novel. I took a deep breath and dove into the text, failing miserably to budget my air (because, as one fellow observed, my prose is not meant to be read aloud by smokers with little capacity for storing air) but plowing on through anyway, twice (there was a reprise - and Tobie took me to task for not reading the secy part earlier so I threw it in the second time around).

Later, during my speech, I thanked everyone I could remember and told every person in attendance to stop listening to me and to get something to eat (because, as someone who has attended these things, I know how hungry people get). And to buy the book.

I started signing books handed to me by friends and friendly strangers and I think I started out fine, chatting a little with every person who asked me to sign, and writing a little something special on the flyleaf. Until the volume of people (especially those who bought 5 or 10 copies at a time) reduced me to generic "Thanks!" and a hastily scrawled signature (again, because i identify with the people in line, hating waiting myself). After some time I actually failed to recognize people I knew - such as Karina Bolasco, the publisher of Anvil (it much later in the day when, chatting with her, she told me that I didn't recognize when I generically signed her book - I gasped in horror, took her book and made amends).

I didn't get to eat (well, maybe a couple of forkfulls of pasta) because a lot of people wanted to talk, and I tried to accomodate everyone. It was surreal. One of the people who came up to me on my camelia-laden signing table was the woman who used to buy me books and read to me when I was three years old - Vivienne de Venecia. I was in tears when we embraced, and I told how much she meant to me (I hadn't seen her since I was in grade school). There was so many people whose presence meant so much to me, that I feel like a heel that I couldn't spend time to catch up with my barkada from high school, or my friends from Magic: The Gathering, or with the speculative fictionists, playwrights, filmmakers and poets who came for me (Cyan, Luis, Yvette, Banzai Cat, Alvin, Lilit, Gelo, Gabby and more). And all the time, my mobile phone was filling up with messages from people who couldn't make it, all promising to buy a copy. It was incredible.

After everything, a smaller circle of friends and loved ones joined me for prawns and grilled pork at Dampa, then for coffee and conversation at Tomas Morato. By the time we decided to keep the celebration going, I realized how tired I was (and how I really really really wanted to hold my book in my hands and read it).

So thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone for helping make this dream come true, for coming over, supporting me and for buying my book at the launch; for all the calls, and text messages, and emails, and blog comments (yes, I know I sound sappy, but too bad). Oh, and to Butch Dalisay for his kind words in todays Philippine Star.

Fully Booked should have their stocks sometime this week (fingers crossed - my guilt-stricken publisher has been assaulting the printers, demanding for more).

And to all who asked, well, I hope this isn't my only novel (one can always hope, right?).

Salamat, salamat po!

Some pictures, courtesy of my photographer pal, Pierre Cruz:

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Maricor Baytion of the Ateneo Press presents me with the first copy of Salamanca

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For a while we had no sound system and I thought I'd lose my voice

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Breathlessly reading the sexy part of the book, to the shock of some of my mother's conservative friends (haha)

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Sage with her mom and Uncle Vin Simbulan before she elected to go home, away from the madding crowd

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Signing at the camelia table (which, I'm informed, is a "unisex" flower)

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With Vivienne de Venecia and my mom

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With my family

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With my friend and business partner Marc, his wife Teret and my brother Ricky

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With my creative barkada who keep me both rising and grounded