Paolo Chikiamco's Blog

February 1, 2015

Over on her blog, Honey de Peralta has a post up summarizing a wonderful evening we had with his Excellency Jaroslav Olša, Jr., the new Czech Republic ambassador, who is also a scholar and editor of science fiction, particularly non-Western science fiction. Head on over and give the post a read — lots of pictures too.

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on February 01, 2015 06:58 • 6 views

January 7, 2015

It’s the most… wonderful time… of the year — if you’re a Filipino spec fic writer that is! Have at it you guys!

Call for Submissions: ‘Philippine Speculative Fiction 10′ – your atTENtion, please!

‘Philippine Speculative Fiction’ is turning ten this 2015! Yes, it’s been X years of eXtolling, eXploring, and eXpanding what Filipino writers have done, are doing, and can do in the realms of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things betwiXt, between, and beyond.

Editors Dean Francis and Nikki Alfar would love for you to be a part of this year’s landmark volume of this trailblazing annual anthology, which has repeatedly been shortlisted for the National Book Award, and multiple stories from which have frequently been cited in roundups of the year’s best speculative fiction across the globe.

First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Submissions must be:

1. speculative fiction—i.e., they must contain strong elements and/or sensibilities of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, alternate history, folklore, superheroes, and/or related genres and subgenres

2. written in English

3. authored by persons of Philippine ethnicity and/or nationality

Submissions are preferred to be:

1. original and unpublished

2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500

3. written for an adult audience

In all cases, these preferences can be easily overturned by exceptionally well-written pieces. In the case of previously-published work, if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:

1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions—i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other publishing market until you have received a letter of regret from us. But we don’t mind if you submit to contests.

2. All submissions should be in Rich Text Format (saved under file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to, with the subject line ‘PSF 10 submission’.

3. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2015. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

Editors’ notes:

1. Please don’t forget to indicate your real name in the submission email! If you want to write under a pseudonym, that’s fine, but this can be discussed upon story acceptance. Initially, we just need to know who we’re talking to.

2. If you’d like to write a cover letter with your brief bio and publishing history (if applicable), do feel free to introduce yourself—but not your story, please. If it needs to be explained, it’s probably not ready to be published.

3. We advise authors to avoid fancy formatting—this will just be a waste of your time and ours, since we will, eventually, standardize fonts and everything else to fit our established house style.

Authors of selected stories will receive PhP500 compensation, as well as digital copies of the book.

Please help spread the word! Feel free to copy this and paste it anywhere you see fit that happens to be legal.


Dean Francis and Nikki Alfar, co-editors

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on January 07, 2015 01:22 • 7 views

January 5, 2015


Interested in manga and how the form is engaged with and perceived in other Asian countries? Interested in how women in particular create and engage with comics? This month, Ateneo de Manila hosts the 15th Annual International Conference on Japanese Studies & the 6th Women’s Manga Conference – Manga and the Manga-esque: New Perspectives to a Global Culture –  and it may be right up your alley.

Manga and the Manga-esque: New Perspectives to a Global Culture

15th Annual International Conference on Japanese Studies and the 6th Women’s Manga Conference

22-23 January 2015

Ateneo de Manila University


Day 1 Venue: Leong Auditorium

8:30 Registration and Coffee Break

9:30 Welcome Remarks

Filomeno V. Aguilar Jr., Ph.D. Dean, School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University

Opening Remarks

Sh?ji Takatori, Director, The Japan Foundation

10:00-12:00 Plenary Session 1: Manga and the Manga-esque

Considering the ‘Mangaesque’ as a Cultural Condition: Where Japanese Studies and Manga Studies May Meet

Jaqueline Berndt, Kyoto Seika University

The Role of National Mediators in the Construction of the Global Meaning of Manga

Zoltan Kacsuk, Kyoto Seika University

Manga-esque in a Single Frame: An Exploration of the Bounds of Japanese Irasuto and Cartoons

Ronald Stewart, Prefectural University of Hiroshima

12:00 – 12:30 Artist Session 1: Philippine

Moderated by Elbert Or

Elbert Or, Robert Magnuson, Ace Vitangcol

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Artist Session 2: Women’s Manga in Singapore

Moderated by Fusami Ogi and Jaqueline Berndt


2:00 – 3:30 Paper Session 1: Manga-esque in Southeast Asia

The Domestication of Japanese Manga Representation in Malaysia : The Universality of Visual Language and Cultural Characteristics

Suraya Md Nasir, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Manga in the Philippines: from niche market to an (invisible) market

Ma. Victoria Cayton, University of Asia and the Pacific

“OTAKU NO RIKO”: Gratifications Derived from Filipino Anime Engagements

Thea Pamela Pauline A. Javier, M.C., San Sebastian College Recolectos – Manila

3:30 – 4:00 Artist Session 3: Vietnam

Moderated by Fusami Ogi and Jaqueline Berndt

Nguyen Thanh Phong

4:00-4:15 Coffee Break

4:15-4:45 Artist Session 4: Women Comics in the Philippines

Moderated by: Kristine Michelle Santos

Tin Tin Pantoja, Black Ink Comics

4:45 – 5:30 Paper Session 2: Frameworks in Popular Culture Studies

Performing 2.5 dimensional characters: Cosplay as a Practice in Hybrid Reality

Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Yokohama National University

Glocalizing Appearance: Filipino Cosplayers and the Mukokuseki Aesthetic

Tiffany Lim, University of Tokyo

Quantitative research in manga/anime studies: Methodological considerations and three Europe-based surveys

Marco Pellitteri, Kobe University

Day 2 Venue: Leong Hall

9:00 Registration

9:30-11:00 Plenary Session 2: Women’s Manga in Japan

Manga-esque Hybridity Coming out of Women’s Manga

Fusami Ogi, Chikushi Jogakuen University

On Sexual Issues of Aging Women: Shungiku Uchida and Challenges in Women’s Manga

Kotaro Nakagaki. Daito Bunka University

“What Female Manga Artists are doing with Shakespeare”

Yukari Yoshihara, University of Tsukuba

11:00 – 11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-11:45 Artist Session 4: Women’s Manga in Indonesia

Moderated by Febriani Shihombing

Jhosephine Tanuwidjaya and Stephani Soejono

11:45-12:45 Lunch

12:45-1:15 Artist’s Session 5: Malaysia

Moderated by Gan Sheuo Hui


1:15-2:15 Plenary Session 4: Manga and the Manga-esque in Southeast Asia

Analysis of the Terminology “Komik Indonesia” in Indonesian Comics: A Discussion Case Study of Three Indonesia Comics Exhibition after 2000

Febriani Sihombing, Tohoku University

Locally Made! – The Gag Comics in Malaysia

Gan Sheuo Hui, National University of Singapore

2:15 – 3:15 Paper Session 3:Women and Manga Beyond Japan

Girls’ D?jinshi in the Philippines: Challenges and Transformations in Local Girls’ Culture

Kristine Michelle Santos, Wollongong University

Kartoon-y: Boys’ Love Manga Flourishes in Conservative Thailand

Poowin Bunyavejchewin and Ormwajee Pibool, Thammasat University

3:15 – 3:30 Coffee Break

3:30 – 4:30 Paper Session 4: Women and Japanese Manga

Defining Yuri Fandom in Japan: Women and Men Reading and Writing About Girl–Girl Romance Media

James Welker, Kanagawa University

On the role of characterization and engagement in sh?jo-manga as a genre

Giancarla Unser-Schutz, Rissho University

4:30 – 5:00 Artist Session 5: China’s Artist Panel

Moderated by Jaqueline Berndt

Luo Rongrong

5:00 – 6:00 Paper Session 5: Gender and Japanese Manga

Winry, Hinata, Mikasa: Feminine Imagery in Sh?nen Manga and Japan’s Masculinist Cultural Nationalism

Hansley A. Juliano, Ateneo de Manila University

Sex Tourism, Filipina Brides, and Japanese Comics

Ryan Holmberg, The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

6:00 – 6:10 Ending Remarks

Karl Ian Uy Cheng Chua, Director, Japaese Studies Program

6:10 – 7:30 Special Screening of “Illustrated By: Filipino Invasion of US Comics”


Illustration in Conference poster by Kiko Dans

Conference poster layout by Elbert Or

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on January 05, 2015 23:24 • 2 views

November 12, 2014


This morning, I was asked by the NBDB to give a reaction to the Report on the State of the Book Industry Address given by Ma’am Neni Sta.-Romana Cruz, speaking from the perspective of an author-creator. I’ve received a few requests for the text of the speech, and since this is one of the few times I didn’t extemporize (much), here it is. (Weird to post it without the speech I’m responding T) but I’m not sure I have the permission to post that one.)

I’ll be back there tomorrow for the Contract Consultation activity, then all day for the Filipino Reader Con and, of course, the Mythspace launch.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the speech:

Ma’am Sta. Romana-Cruz views the book industry as a book, and I see her point. But in an industry that is in a state of such flux, perhaps the model we strive for should not be a regular book, not a linear novel, but something else.

I propose that the task at hand, for those with the clout, is to make the industry more like a gamebook. A text of interactive fiction.

The most obvious difference between writing an ordinary novel, and an interactive one, is the presence of choice. An interactive text allows the reader-slash-player to directly influence what happens in the story. These choices represent the author surrendering a level of control to the reader, and I think that a similar phenomena has occurred in publishing.

Concerns about “setting of standards” about the “”quality of books” assume an ascendancy of curators, of gatekeepers, of tastemakers, that is quickly being wiped away by technology that enables a creator to reach his or her audience directly. Whether this is a “good” thing or a “bad” thing can take up hours of discussion, but the fact is — it’s the way things are now, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Control, to a certain extent, has been surrendered.

What needs to be done, is not to attempt –in vain — to put the genie back in the bottle. Going back to my metaphor, the role of the author of an interactive text is not to limit the choices of the player, nor to judge those decisions, but to make sure that, whatever the choices the player makes, the player ends up with a satisfactory story. And the player’s story is only satisfactory if they feel like they’re selecting between viable choices, that they were allowed to make intelligent decisions, that they were given enough context to make informed selections.

The book industry now has choices aplenty. What creators need, is help navigating those choices, and creating their own story. Creators need information to make informed decisions. Creators need support ensuring those choices are viable.

In practical terms this means a few things:

*It means more attention being given to non-traditional forms of writing, uncommon modes and niche modalities. Writing for games, writing in the regional languages, writing in genre… These need support if they are to be seen as viable choices for a local creator. The report mentioned that Romance, Humor, and Comics were among the top literary genres in the country — yet where is the institutionalized support for authors who want to write these kinds of books? The classes, the grants, the awards? I still remember a literary awards ceremony where the idea of a comic being nominated in every category was treated with laughter.

Respect is support. Respect means not valorizing “traditional” over “alternative” when all of these are choices – and hence, all alternatives. Respect means not creating false conflicts or dichotomies, where print is not opposed to digital at all points, but both seen as items in a menu of options now available to writers. Our job is not to demean the choices others make, but to make sure that in our own chosen areas, we create environments favorable to creators. You work in print?  Make your contracts and terms fair to writers.  You work in digital? Make your contracts favorable to writers. You work in a bookstore? Maybe think about dissolving the filipiniana ghetto and putting local books in their proper genres.

Don’t waste time proclaiming how your chosen modality is better, more proper. In the focus on number of books published don’t equate that number with whether the industry is doing all it can for authors, authors present and future.

The report mentions talent and yes we have that aplenty — but we need to do more than applaud it when it appears on its own. We need to recognize that in most cases, talent needs to be nurtured and cultivated. There’s no such thing as wannabe writers. There are writers who release work and writers that dont. There are writers who have been helped and writers who haven’t. Compare when and how athletics institutions scout, nurture and incentivize that, to how literary institutions do the same.

* Part of nurturing that talent means also nurturing those who create an environment in which that talent is honed and supplemented. It means that steps must be taken to make it a viable choice for people to enter the industry in positions other than that of writers. Translators, book designers, critics and reviewers — other roles require education and nurturing as well. Editors and editing practices were mentioned in the report — but is there an existing formal framework whereby would be editors can learn the art and skill of editing? Or is it, like so many roles in this industry, one where the only available training is either DIY or OJT?

* By cultivating and educating here, I don’t mean a pedantic dictation of “the way things should be done.” Like I said, the industry now is defined by choice, and what we need from curators and veterans is an articulation of stances and positions, so that prospective students have a clear idea of their options.

* It means that we must rethink how and when creators learn about copyright and the rights inherent in creation. We need to reach writers before they are approached with offers, much less sign contracts. We need a Miranda Rights of basic copyright knowledge, core information that a publisher must be sure authors are aware of before negotiations even begin.

Wattpad was mentioned earlier, but please, please remember we should not declare an author a success simply because an authors story has been made into a movie. We must ask how much does the author earn from those movies? Does he or she even have a right to the profits from ticket sales? Merchandise? Unqualified celebration of the Sudden popularity in writers who have not been educated in their rights is like enjoying a splash of red in a sea of blue without understanding that it’s blood in the water. And there are sharks ever circling.

* It means taking steps to help make the choice to be a creator a viable one in the first place, financially speaking. The report mentioned that literature makes “a significant contribution to the nation’s GDP” but how many creators receive a significant contribution to their income from their work? Greater education for creators regarding financial matters may help — sales trends and expectations, an understanding of how retailers operate and how best to market to an audience. But the burden for the success of the book should not be borne solely or primarily by the author — better practices are also needed from traditional publishers with regard to marketing and selling in an era where reader engagement is long-term and uphill, and requires more than just a book launch or two. How many publishers know — or are interested in learning — how to engage their audience on social media, how to make the most out of memes or hashtags or blog tours, how to turn readers into fans?

It’s an exciting time for the book industry, and an interesting time as well, in the sense of the familiar Chinese proverb. It’s important that as we deal with the changes in the industry, we ask the right question. The question is not “how can we stay the same” but “how can we evolve with the times.”

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on November 12, 2014 01:59 • 8 views

October 29, 2014

A report from last month’s library-and-spec-fic panel at the Philippine Literary Festival, is up over at GMA News: 10 reasons why libraries should carry local speculative fiction. Alternative Alamat’s print cover makes an appearance in the article, hooray! Here’s an excerpt:

3. It provides hope and escape from the mundane.

“Do not look at the word ‘escapist’ as a negative term. We all need to escape from reality from time to time—why? Because we’re not animals,” said Dean. “We can have physical cages whether we are political prisoners or held in cages by our politicians in some other way—but we can escape these with our dreams and imaginations of change. And then we make the change and watch reality come to pass.”

4. It reflects the human condition.

Spec fic can comment on what it means to be human, or to be Filipino, just as well as any other piece of literature can.

5. It has didactic and educational aspects.

There are stories and books specifically for this purpose, but Dean stressed that one can take any story and use it to teach. He cited classic examples from Philippine mythology and folklore.

6. It offers alternate ways and different perspectives of seeing the world.

Spec fic can give marginalized persons—such as LGBT, women, persons with disabilities, indigenous cultures—a voice for their concerns. If one is in a position of privilege, Dean said, one should consider themselves lucky and take up the burden of helping voice those concerns or give voice to those who do not have any.

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on October 29, 2014 18:12 • 7 views

October 28, 2014

The latest volume of the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, already available digitally, will be having a launch event on November 22, Saturday, from 2-4pm at the CBTL at Shangri-La Plaza. PSF launches are always fun, so do try to pass by!

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on October 28, 2014 18:12 • 9 views

October 13, 2014

Damiana Eugenio, the Mother of Philippine Folklore, has passed away. Her anthologies of myth and folklore opened the eyes and hearts of many, including myself. Everyone who loves Philippine mythology and folklore owes her an immense debt. She has shaped generations. Our sympathies go out to those who knew her and lover her.

I’ve been told that the wake is at Claret Funeral Chapel, QC.

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on October 13, 2014 00:20 • 9 views

October 9, 2014

Co-editor Andrew Drilon brings word that the flagship book of local spec fic, still going strong. Congrats to Andrew Drilon and Charles Tan, Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar, and all the contributors! Lots of new names here, always a good thing:

A young tikbalang auditions at the country’s largest TV station; a priest travels the universe to officiate sacraments in outer space; a murdered girl returns unscathed to the home of her perpetrators. The Philippine Speculative Fiction series showcases the rich variety of Philippine literature. Between these covers you will find magic realism next to science fiction, traditional fantasy beside slipstream, and imaginary worlds rubbing shoulders with alternate Philippine history—demonstrating that the literature of the fantastic is alive and well in the Philippines.

Stories from this series have been included in the Honorable Mentions list from The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin Grant.

I’ll update this post as more links become available, but you can already pick up your copy at the following places:


Massive thanks to David Ong and the rest of Flipside Publishing for helping us put the book together!

Charles and I are so proud of the quality of the stories in this volume, and we’re very excited for people to finally read it. We are planning a book launch to get all the amazing authors in together in one place, so stay tuned for details on that.

In the meantime, please enjoy the book! We hope that it thrills, frightens, amuses, saddens, endears and entertains you!

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on October 09, 2014 03:38 • 15 views

September 14, 2014

Alternative Alamat and other Visprint titles will be sold from the Precious Pages booth at this year’s Manila International Book Fair, and both Mervin Malonzo and I will be there for a signing on Friday, the 19th, at 1PM. Merv will primarily be there as the creator of the bloody awesome “Tabi Po” but as he provided illustrations for Alamat as well, readers of AA can get a rare two-for-one signing. So come on down if you’re free :)

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on September 14, 2014 19:51 • 8 views

July 24, 2014

For the digital release of Alternative Alamat, I ran interviews with several of the contributing authors, asking them about writing in general and their stories in particular. I wasn’t able to interview everyone, however, so for the print launch today– yep, the 25th — I went back to the contributors I wasn’t able to interview last time.



 Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

One of favorite bits from Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS was this vignette of how Egyptian Gods now run a small funeral parlor in Middle-America. Which made me wonder, where are the old gods of death from Philippine mythology? What are they doing now in the city? I then remember a story my mom told me, about a story she heard from the sales lady in the mall, who heard it from the security of the mall; about how, every now and again, senior citizens were found dead in the movie theater of the same mall. Obviously, they died of natural causes. Well, maybe they did.

This one was also a bit different, in that it didn’t start with a call from the police, but from Spunkmeyer…

I guess I just wanted a break from the usual way Trese gets brought in for a case (Captain Guerrero calling her up). It was also an opportunity to shed more light on Spunkmeyer of the City Morgue, who’s actually patterned after fellow author, David Hontiveros.

How different is it, writing a prose Trese story as opposed to a comic book script?

Whenever I write a TRESE prose story, it allows me to immerse myself (and the reader) in her world more.

When I’m writing the comic book script, I can easily just tell Kajo, “Page 1, Panel 1: we are inside The Diabolical. It’s a Saturday night. Full of people bouncing up and down the dance floor.”

But when I’m writing a short story, I need to guide the reader into that world and get to spend more time talking about the details of Trese’s Manila. So, I end up knowing more about it and at the same time the reader comes along for the ride.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?

I had fun revealing those bits about Spunkmeyers’ back story.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?

Usually, it’s the middle part. I usually know how things will end and sometime I know where things start. So, it’s trying to figure out how to get there that’s the problem.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

Oh wow! I have no idea. Does the legend of Malakas at Maganda count? That was probably my first exposure to a “creation myth”, which confused the hell out of me, since as far as we were taught in school, we all started from Adam and Eve. So, who the heck were Malakas at Maganda? Took me awhile before I sorted all that out.

Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

Unfortunately, I can’t really name a specific one. I think all of our major myths and epic poems should be adapted into some new form. I recently attended a book conference in Singapore and the featured country of the year was India. One talk specifically focused on the Indian comic book market, which has numerous adaptation of their myths. It seemed like every couple of years, they’d have a new version of their myth, retold for a new generation. It would be great to see that happen for the Philippines.

Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

What about the myth of The Honest President? No? That doesn’t count?

 •  flag
like  • 
Published on July 24, 2014 15:14 • 18 views