Alejandria tinàwan onra sa Bulan nin Tataramon

Ginawadan nin plake nin pagmidbid kan Sumaro Bikolnon Inc. an Bikolnong parasurat na si Clemente Bolocon Alejandria (1895 – 1981) sa Ika-6 na edisyon kan Padurunongan na ginibo kan Agosto 20, 2015 sa banwaan nin Canaman, Camarines Sur.

Si Alejandria sarong kompositor nin kanta, poeta asin mahigos na paraambag sa Calendariong Bicol, Sanghiran nin Bikol, Bicolandia, Bicolnon asin iba pang mga babasahon pangkultura poon kan dekada 1920 sagkod sa mga huring taon kan saiyang buhay. 

Kan 1926, nagunò niya an ikaduwang premyo sa sarong patiribayan sa pag-Bikol kan rawitdawit na Mi Ultimo Adios ni Jose Rizal. Mantâ, an saiyang panurat na tituladong “Paniki” iyo an guminana sa sarong patiribayan sa Sanghiran nin Bikol sa mga halipot na usipon sosog pa man sa websityo kan Bikol Wikipedia.

Iginawad ni Hon. DC Nathan Sergio, sarô sa mga kagtugdas kan Sumaro Bikolnon, an onra sa kapag-arakian ni Alejandria na ipigkokonsiderar na dyamante kan banwaan sa lantad nin literaturang Bikolnon. Nagin bisitang tagapagtaram sa okasyon si Kristian Sendon Cordero, sarong premyadong parasurat sagkod direktor sa pelikula.

Bàgo an paggawad, nagpatiribayan an mga eskwela gikan sa manlainlain na pampubliko asin pribadong elementarya sa Canaman sa pagsimbag sa Bikol quiz, tirigsikan asin sa Dama nin Tataramon na inspirasyon kan kawat na Scrabble sa tataramon na Bikol.

Nagunò ni Mary Joy S. Vidal kan Poro Elementary School an kampeonato sa Bikol Quiz. Nakua man ni Reyna B. Yocampo kan Palo Elementary School an inot na premyo sa Tigsik. Mantang, kampeon sa Dama nin Tataramon si Kane Randy P. Beringuela kan Kurtland Grade School na iyo man an idineklarang over-all champion sa siyam (9) na eskwelahan na nagpartisipar.

An taonan na patiribayan ginigibo lambang bulan nin Agosto bilang parte kan selebrasyon kan anibersaryo kan pagkamuknâ kan banwaan nin Canaman, siring man kan History Month asin Bulan nin Tataramon. (Irvin P. Sto. Tomas)

Gawad Emmanuel Lacaba now accepting entries

Gawad Emmanuel Lacaba is the annual literary contest of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Luzon. Emmanuel ”Eman” Lacaba, considered as one of the greatest Filipino poets, was also a dramatist and student journalist. He served as an editor of The Guidon, the official student publication of the Ateneo de Manila University and one of the founding campus publications of the Guild. In his student days, Lacaba joined the protest movement and fought against the Marcos dictatorship. He went underground and died as a revolutionary martyr at the age of 27 at Asuncion, Davao del Norte.  Lacaba is best known for his posthumously published books Salvaged Prose and Salvaged Poems. He was also the brother of renowned Filipino writer Jose ‘Pete’ Lacaba.


  • The contest is open to all current members of tertiary student publications within Luzon (membership to CEGP is not a requisite), except to current officers and coordinators of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in any formation and even the secretariat.
  • A contestant must be registered as a delegate of Lunduyan 2015 which will be held in Legazpi City, Albay on November 6-10, 2015.
  • The contest has two divisions: English and Filipino 
  • Translation of an entry submitted in English shall not be qualified for the Filipino division and vice versa.
  • The contest has five (5) categories: short story, maikling kuwento | essay, sanaysay | poetry, tula | flash fiction, dagli | photo
  • Entries must be relevant to the theme KASARINLAN
  • Entries must be original and solely written by the contestant. Only one (1) entry per category shall be allowed per contestant.
  • Contestant shall only submit entries published within the present academic year 2015-2016 in their respective student publications or previously unpublished works.
  • Entries shall be typewritten, 12-point, Times New Roman font, double-spaced on a letter-sized (8 ½ x 11) bond paper, with 1-inch margins on all sides. Page numbers shall be placed on the bottom-center of each page.
  • All entries shall remain with the CEGP Gawad Eman Lacaba Committee until the awarding.
  • Entries and filled out registration form must be sent via email to 
  • Email subject format: 11gel_literarycontestentry_<insert category>_<insert division> (Example: 11gel_literarycontestentry_shortstory_english)
  • For photo entries: <firstname>_<lastname>_photo_<entry number> of <total 
  • entries>.<file format> (Example: Maria Clara photo 1 of 2.jpg)
  • Deadline of submission is on October 2, 2015.


  • For the short story category, each entry shall be composed of at least 10 pages but not more than 15 pages.
  • For the poetry category, each entry shall consist of a compilation of at least three (3) but not more than five (5) poems. 
  • For the essay category, each entry shall be at least five (5) but not more than 15 pages long.
  • For the flash fiction category, each entry shall consist of a compilation of at least three (3) stories but not more than five (5) stories with maximum of three (3) pages or 750 words.
  • For the photo contest, below are the mechanics: 
  • A participant may submit a minimum of two (2) and a maximum of five (5) photographs.
  • Strictly no photo manipulation. Photo editing techniques must be limited to cropping and dodge and burn only.
  • Both black & white and colored photographs are accepted.
  • Photographs should be in JPEG or TIFF format and at least 1,600 pixels wide for a horizontal image or 1,600 pixels tall for a vertical image.
  • Photographs must have been taken within the present academic year 2015-2016. Entries which have won in other photo competitions are not allowed.
  • Each photo should have corresponding caption that would not exceed twenty (20) words.
  • Any identifying mark or watermark is not allowed and will be disqualified from the contest.


  • The Board of Judges shall consist of persons appointed by the CEGP National Office.
  • The Board of Judges shall have the discretion to withhold awarding if it does not deem any entry meritorious of any award for any particular category.
  • The Board of Judges has the right to disqualify the entry piece proven by plagiarism or if proven that the piece is not the original work of the entry holder.
  • The decision of the majority of the Board of Judges shall be final and irrevocable.
  • Top three entries shall be declared the winners for each division and category.
  • Winners shall be announced and awarded on the last night of Lunduyan 2015 on November 9, 2015.

Submit your entries to on or before October 2, 2015.
For queries contact, please contact 0936-811-0677 or
Registration forms: 
For literary contest:
For photo contest:


Gawad Digmaang Rosas 11 call for submissions


1.    Gawad Digmaang Rosas 11 is open to Kapampangan Youth participants who are 15-30 years old before November 6, 2015 (ceiling age as defined by R.A. 8044 or the Youth in Nation-Building Act).
2.     “Umalpas: Pagtatalaban ng Kaalaman at Karanasan” serves as the theme for the awards night which will be held in January 2016. Entries may or may not bear the theme.
3.    Participants who are not residents of Pampanga but have Kapampangan roots may join.
4.    Entries may be written in Kapampangan, Filipino or English. Entries should show Kapampangan sensibilities.
5.    Entries should be original and must not have been previously published and/or included as an entry in any competition.
6.    A participant may join more than one category (genre) and division (language). However, entries in other division/s must not be a translated version.
7.    Past winners and finalists of Gawad Digmaang Rosas are allowed to join.
8.    Present Angelite editors, staff and their relatives are prohibited to join.
9.    Entries will remain as the participant’s property. However, The Angelite reserves the right to publish or use them in any activity.
10.    All entries, except for Photographer of the Year and Artist of the Year, should follow the prescribed format: Times New Roman, 12 pt., 1.5 spacing, 1 inch margin on all sides, 8.5 x 11 document.
11.    Real name, pseudonym, or any clue to the identity of the writer must not be written on the pages.
12.    Judges composed of established authors, critics and academicians will select and declare the winners. The decision of the judges is final.
13.    The judges will evaluate entries as a whole body of work.
14.    The judges may declare no winner in a category or division depending on the cut off score set by the organizing committee.
15.    Entries that do not comply with the requirements will not be processed.


1.    Scanned copy of the following
a.    One (1) valid I.D.
b.    Certificate of Originality (Download the file here:

Note: Electronic entries, scanned I.D. and Certificate of Originality shall be sent through

Call for papers for 3rd Literary Studies International Conference deadline extended to August 31

Call for Papers for 3rd Literary Studies International Conference (Universitas Sanata Dharma, Indonesia)

The 1965 Coup in Indonesia: Questions of Representation 50 Years Later
Conference date and venue: Oct. 21-22, 2015 at Universitas Sanata Dharma, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Department of English Letters, English Education, and the Graduate Program of English Language Studies, Universitas Sanata Dharma, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in cooperation with Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University and Reading Asia, Forging Identities in Literature (RAFIL), a consortium of universities in the Asia-Pacific region with programs and projects in the field of Asian literatures

The deadline to submit an abstract has been extended to Aug. 31, 2015.

In 1965, one of the worst massacres of the 20th century occurred in Indonesia. At least 500,000 citizens were murdered without trial following what has been portrayed in the country’s “official” history as an abortive leftist coup. The political dissidents were called by the Army “Gestapu” (Gerakan September Tigapuluh [The Movement of the 30th September]) after the Nazi secret police.
Observers have noted that the cracking down of any form of resistance to the regime became a systematic political strategy of the “New Order,” a term used by Suharto to refer to his regime, and henceforth also used to refer to the years 1965-1998 in which Suharto ruled. With “Pancasila” as the national ideology, the New Order is said to have been propped up by widespread proliferation of representations of the “coup” in the regime’s historical accounts, mainstream historiography, and in the major media such as films, demonizing and blaming the victims themselves for the tragic event.
The 1965 Coup, the Writers and Artists, and the New Order
Among those who felt victimized were famous artists and writers allegedly associated with the Indonesian Communist Party, such as the members of the Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat [Institute of People’s Culture]) who had been known, for many years, for producing socially committed literature and art which were dedicated to the country’s social transformation. Members were arrested and forbidden from producing literary and artistic works. Since then, writers and artists associated with the assumptions, values and meanings of liberal humanism—instead of principles clearly in the service of social change that guided the Institute of People’s Culture—like the members of the Manikebu (Manifes Kebudayaan [Cultural Manifesto]), have been observed to have dominated the artistic and literary scene in Indonesia.

It has been said that literature potentially gives voice to the voiceless and is capable of representing the silenced subaltern, despite efforts by a dominant power to ensure submission and subordination of its citizens. The extent to which Indonesian literature in the New Order era was able to live up to expectations may be arguable, but beyond this question, contemporary literary and cultural theory and practice allow for the laying bare of the political dimension of literature so that the ideological character of seemingly innocent works could come to the fore or that an apparently political text could be shown to owe its power to the very artistic design at its core. In this way, the silenced texts are able to “speak.”

But what have they said?

Fifty years after the tragedy and 17 years after the demise of the New Order, works which give some voice to the victims of the tragedy are now relatively free to circulate. This does not mean, however, that the discourse demonizing so-called dissenting views like communism is gone. It has been noted, for example, that the latest Indonesian presidential race witnessed how this discourse is still very much played out in the electoral rhetoric of Indonesia, as in other countries. Be that as it may, the democratic and liberal humanist credentials of the dominant power—a hegemony which has repressed alternative histories and excluded dissenting perspectives—can now be taken into account and called into question.

Conference Focus
This conference focuses on the question of how the events of 1965 have been represented during the Suharto regime and after its collapse. We invite and encourage the submission of papers from Indonesia and other countries, dealing specifically with the Indonesian case, as well as by extension, cases from Southeast Asia. The conference also seeks papers that discuss similar ideological, cultural and political conflicts involving local leftist movements in Southeast Asia in order to see how they have been represented, silenced or questioned not only in their national literatures but also in films, pop culture, performing arts and other cultural forms.

Topic Areas for the Sessions
Literary and artistic representations of the events of 1965-1966
Literary and artistic representations of ideological conflicts and repression
State censorship in cultural production and mass media
Artists, writers and political imprisonment
Films before and after the New Order
The events of 1965 in social and new media
Popular and protest music, community theater and other cultural forms during the New Order era
Art, memory and historical trauma in the wake of the 1965 coup and the New Order era
Cultural forms of resistance before, during and/or after the New Order (e.g., Pramoedya, Riantiarno)
Historical amnesia and the educational system
The political role played by the school teachers preceding the New Order era
Suharto’s legacy and the communist stigma
Writing from the margins
Literary theory and the reading of the events of 1965
Translation and the question of representations
Guidelines for Submitting Abstract
1.    Write your 150-word abstract; provide a title; indicate your name, title/rank, name of department and university.
2.    Indicate under what particular topic area or alternative topic areas your abstract is being submitted.
3.    Submit your abstract no later than Aug. 31, 2015.
4.    Indicate any audio-visual equipment or logistical requirements you might need for your presentation at the conference.
E-mail: Submit your 150-word abstract to the Organizing Committee c/o (cc and 

UP Press announces critical essay contest


As part of its golden anniversary celebration, The University of the Philippines Press is holding this contest to encourage Filipinos to read UP Press titles, and to promote the growth of critical literature about the multidisciplinary field of Philippine Studies.

1. The contest is open to all Filipinos, except those who are presently connected to UP Press, as permanent or contractual members of its board, editorial, marketing, and administrative departments, as well as their families up to the first degree of consanguinity.

2. The contest will have two divisions: English and Filipino.

3. In both divisions, the primary object of evaluation and/or analysis has to be a UP Press book, which may be as old as the press itself (in other words, published between 1965 and the present).

4. Submissions must be previously unpublished.

5. The critical essay, in either language, must be between 6,000 to 12,000 words, be of publishable quality, and hew strictly to the conventions of this form. References must be listed at the end of the article and follow the MLA style sheet.

6. Entries must be accompanied by an abstract, written in English, of not more than 350 words.

7. Entries must be sent to UP Press in the form of a soft copy in Open Office or Microsoft Word 2000, whether in CD or as an email attachment (the email address is found on the right side). Place UPP Critical Essay Writing Contest in the email’s subject line. The attachment’s cover letter must express the writer’s intent to join the contest, and must attest to the entry’s originality. 

8. Deadline for submissions is October 30, 2015. Only one entry per division for every person is allowed. 

9. There will be five winners in each division. The writer of the first-place essay will receive P30,000.00. The writer of the second-place essay will receive P20,000.00. The writer of the third-place essay will receive P10,000.00. Writers of the fourth- and fifth-place essays will receive P5,000.00 each.

10. The decision of the board of judges is final, except in cases where intellectual dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism) may be proven in any of the winning pieces. This will result in the automatic revocation of the award and its prize money.

11. UP Press reserves the right to first publication of the wining essays.

12. Finalists will be invited to, and their placements will be announced at UP Press’s collective book launch on November 27, 2015.

Address Communications to:

The Director
University of the Philippine Press
E. de los Santos Street
University of the Philippines Diliman
Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Tels. (632) 9282558

UMPIL announces Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas awardees

The Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) or The Writers’ Union of the Philippines will hold the Writers’ Congress on 29 August 2015, from 9:00AM to 5:00PM. Venue will be the Escaler Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

This year’s Adrian Cristobal Lecturer is Solita Monsod, notable economist and media personality. This annual lecture, delivered by a public intellectual, is sponsored by the family of the late writer and former UMPIL chairperson whose name the lecture carries. This will be followed by the Writers’ Forum on the topic “E-Karapatan: The Writers’ Rights On-line.”

The congress’ highlight is the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, given to Filipino writers who have contributed significantly to the development of Philippine literature in any language. This year’s awardees are: Crisostomo B. Balairos (Hiligaynon Fiction), Nemesio S. Baldesco Sr. (Waray Poetry), Rafael A. Banzuela, Jr. (Bikol Poetry), Marcelo A. Geocallo (Cebuano Fiction), Susan S. Lara (Fiction in English), Linda T. Lingbaoan (Iluko Fiction), Yen Makabenta (Essay in English), Victor Emmanuel Carmelo D. Nadera, Jr. (Poetry in Filipino), Danton R. Remoto (Poetry in English), and Rody Vera (Drama in Filipino).

The Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez for outstanding literature teacher will be conferred upon Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, former director of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos in Cebu. The Gawad Pedro Bucaneg for outstanding literary organization will be given to the Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG), the resident theatre company of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).

This event is organized in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, and the Ateneo de Manila’s Department of Filipino
Open to the public. Free admission. UMPIL writers and members are enjoined to attend the Congress and renew their membership. For more details, please contact Ms. Eva Cadiz at (63)9178453721; or email Michael Coroza, Secretary General of UMPIL at

UMPIL to host ASEAN Literary Symposium

26-28 August 2015
Escaler Hall, Ateneo de Manila University 
Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Organized by the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) (Writers’ Union of the Philippines) in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) (Commission on Filipino Language), and the Ateneo de Manila’s Department of Filipino.

The Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, and the Ateneo de Manila’s Department of Filipino will host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Literary Symposium on 26-28 August 2015, at the Escaler Hall, Ateneo de Manila University.

The symposium gathers scholars and writers from ASEAN member countries to respond to the needs and challenges of regional integration, and locate the place of literature and literary education in Southeast Asia.

Country speakers include Melani Budianta (Indonesia), Trisilpa Boonkachorn (Thailand), Athithouthay Chatouphonexay (Laos), Nor Faridah Binti Abdul Manaf (Malaysia), Rebecca T. Añonuevo (Philippines), among others.

A panel discussion on the importance of translation in the ASEAN Literary Education by poet-translators Marne Kilates, Mario Miclat, and D.M. Reyes will culminate the symposium.

The symposium is open to the public, but does not include meals and kits. To enlist as guest, email convenor Michael M. Coroza at or head of secretariat Louie Jon A. Sanchez at

Paglulunsad ng tatlong bagong aklat ng mga Resident Fellow ng UST CCWLS

Inaanyayahan ng UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (UST CCWLS) ang lahat na dumalo sa TABAS NG DILA, ang ikatlong kabanata ng UST Authors Series. Dito ilulunsad ang tatlong bagong aklat ng mga Resident Fellow ng UST CCWLS, ang TITSER PANGKALAWAKAN (Visprint, Inc.) ni Joselito D. Delos Reyes, ISANG GABI SA QUEZON AVENUE AT IBA PANG KUWENTO (UP Press) ni Mar Anthony Simon dela Cruz, at KUMPISAL: MGA KUWENTO (UST Publishing House) ni Chuckberry J. Pascual.

Gaganapin ito sa TARC Auditorium, Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, University of Santo Tomas sa ika-5 ng Setyembre, Sabado, 3:00-5:00 ng hapon.

Imbitado ang lahat sa paglulunsad na ito.

An Overview of Philippine Speculative Fiction

by Joseph F. Nacino

Any overview of Philippine Speculative Fiction needs to look at not only at its current shape and form but also the context of its rise. 

Thus, it may seem that Philippine Speculative Fiction had its start in 2005 when writer Dean Francis Alfar came out with the first volume of the Philippine Speculative Fiction series. However, there were already a number of stories in Philippine literature published before 2005 that would fit in the same category. 

But first, what is speculative fiction? Alfar described speculative fiction—or specfic in short hand—in his introduction to The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010 as fiction that “asks and answers ‘what if?’” He noted that speculative fiction as an umbrella term encompasses the types of stories classified genre-wise as fantasy, science fiction, and horror. He also threw in the following: magical realism, surrealism, and “stories that fall in between genre boundaries (including the boundary of realism) and are difficult to categorize, such as slipstream and interstitial texts”. 

Lastly, he included stories in other genres that are written with “speculative sensibilities”. By doing so, Alfar wanted to include output by writers who profess not writing in the vein of speculative fiction but whose stories have a particular resonance that make them a good fit.  

With that idea in mind, Alfar pushed for the idea of Philippine Speculative Fiction, “the types of stories we wanted to read (that we saw published all the time abroad, but very rarely in the Philippines), and more importantly, that these stories were created by Filipino writers.”  

Using this as our springboard, we can now look at the history of Philippine Speculative Fiction, its precedents, and its place in the world today. 

Traveling Backward: From the 1940s to the Present

The problem in looking for Philippine Speculative Fiction prior to the days of the Internet is reading all published Filipino stories since then in order to categorize them. However, lacking a centralized archive of such stories whether off- or online, this would be an impossible task. 

However, Singapore-based writer Victor Ocampo made a go of it in his personal blog despite the possibility of missing out on stories already lost in time. He details the first Filipino science fiction tale was written in 1945 when Mateo Cruz Cornelio published a short R.L. Stevenson-inspired novel called Doktor Satan in Tagalog. 

Copies of this book are now rare with one of the few still existing to be found at the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University. With the publication of this book, Ocampo notes that: “Most Filipinos readers don’t know that the first Filipino science fiction story was written almost seventy years ago (making the Philippines, to my knowledge, the first country in Southeast Asia to have a written SF tradition).” 

On the other hand, in her essay “New Tales for Old”, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo pointed out that the iconic Nick Joaquin wrote his signature story, “May Day Eve” in 1947, which utilized magic realism long before it became popular with Latin American writers. Likewise, a fairy tale by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, “Horgle and the King’s Soup”, was published by PAMANA in 1965 but she had been publishing stories even before 1962. 

Another earlier science-fiction work is Ang Puso ni Matilde, which was serialized in Aliwan Magazine, a famous print venue of literature of that period. Written by author and film director Nemesio E. Caravana in 1959, the novel is described by Ocampo as “a dark and brooding story reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but with a touch of Alfred Hitchcock and H.P. Lovecraft”. 

But aside from these two short pieces, most of Filipino science fiction were comic book serializations done in the pulp variety, Ocampo detailed. 

From the 1970s to the 1990s, most of what could be deemed as Philippine Speculative Fiction was printed in local comic books or put on the movie screen. On the other hand, Philippine Literature began its transformation as a vehicle of Social Realism to raise discontent of the Marcos years. 

However, there were still non-realist works being published. Ocampo relates that there was Tantaroo in 1971 written by Ilonggo writer Jose E. Yap (under the name Pedro Solano) and written in the Hiligaynon language. Likewise, in 1981, Gregorio Brilliantes wrote the social commentary/science-fiction story “Apollo Centennial”, considered by many critics as one of the best English Language short stories written by a Filipino.  

Tapping into the vein of magical realism, poet and writer Alfred A. Yuson published the novel Great Philippine Jungle Energy Café in 1988. The year 1992 had short-story collections from Joy Dayrit (The Walk), and poet Eric Gamalinda (Peripheral Visions), some of their stories being speculative fiction in nature. Even Hidalgo herself had published anthologies (including the overtly speculative fiction anthology Tales of Fantasy and Enchantment in 2008) as well as her own fabulist-infused short stories and novels. 

In 1995, Arnel M. Salgado published the short novel Kidnapped by the Gods that Ocampo dubbed an “Erich von Däniken-inspired ‘metaphysical science fiction thriller’” complete with “Salgado’s signature purple prose” and “‘alternative’ use of vocabulary and grammar rules.”

The tide shifted at the turn of the millennium when the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, the country’s prestigious literary awards body, decided to add the “Future Fiction” category in both Filipino and English languages. The Palanca Awards committee wanted this category to address fiction that “looked beyond into the future to transcend the boundaries of the present.”

Though this category was discontinued a decade later, it did manage to award stories that were wholly speculative fiction, like Alfar’s “Hollow Girl: A Romance”, Khavn De La Cruz’s “Ang Pamilyang Kumakain ng Lupa”, Raissa Rivera Falgui’s “Virtual Center”, and David Hontiveros’ “Kaming Mga Seroks”.  

During that decade as well, a visit by the popular writer Neil Gaiman to the Philippines led to the short-lived Fully Booked/Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards, which recognized stories like Michael A.R. Co’s “The God Equation” and Ian Rosales Casocot’s “A Strange Map of Time”.  

As if making up for lost time, other venues for Philippine Speculative Fiction emerged or became open to Philippine Speculative Fiction, like the giant-sized all-fiction magazine Story Philippines (edited by Jade Bernas), the online website Rocket Kapre with its illustrated stories in Usok (edited by Paolo Chikiamco), as well as iconic magazines like Philippine Graphic and The Philippine Free Press.  

These venues published stories like FH Batacan’s “Keeping Time” (which later won in the Free Press Literary Awards in 2008) and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s “The Song of the Body Cartographer” (which was nominated for the British Science Fiction Association Awards in 2013).

It was then as if the floodgates were opened as books and stories now considered as Philippine Speculative Fiction were published via traditional publishers, self-publishing, or as ebooks. 

University presses of Ateneo de Manila, the University of the Philippines (UP), the University of Santo Tomas (UST), independent publishers like Adam David and Kenneth Yu, publishing houses like Anvil, Visprint, Psicom, and the ebook publisher Flipside also started coming out with a number of titles. 

From the writing side, Alfar led the charge with his story “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)” being published in Strange Horizons, an international website, in 2003 and was later reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Seventeenth Annual Collection (edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin Grant) in 2004. This story later headlined his first collection, The Kite of Stars and Other Stories (2007).  Meanwhile, his first novel of magical realism Salamanca won the Palanca Award for Best Novel in 2005 before it was published in 2006. 

Despite the absence of dragons in Philippine mythos, Vincent Michael Simbulan fought for these kinds of stories in A Time of Dragons (2009). Horror writer Karl de Mesa collected his short stories and published them in Damaged People: Tales of the Gothic Punk (2006). This was followed by horror doyen Yvette Tan’s own collection Waking the Dead and Other Horror Stories (2009). 

There were horror stories galore in the obviously-named Nine Supernatural Stories (2005), which was edited by April Timbol Yap and Lara Saguisag. There were SF-themed stories in the Carljoe Javier-edited Pinoy Amazing Adventures (2006). 
Voices from the other Philippine cities were heard with Dumaguete-based Casocot and Davao-based Dominique Gerald Cimafranca coming out with their own respective collections, Heartbreak and Magic (2011) and An Unusual Treatment (2011). Comic book/movie buff Hontiveros (who wrote a horror trilogy of novellas) and the rather prolific writer Eliza Victoria likewise came out with separate SF novels, Serox (2013) and Project 17 (2013).   

Nikki Alfar put together her lyrical stories in a collection in Now, Then, and Elsewhen (2013), Marivi Soliven Blanco had fun with Spooky Mo: Horror Stories (2008), while Karen Francisco wrote about mythical beings in her novel Naermyth (2010). 

Lastly, I published three anthologies with the help of three co-editors—Dean Francis Alfar, Karl de Mesa, and Professor Emil Francis Flores—first online which I later transferred to print: The Farthest Shore: An Anthology of Fantasy Fiction from the Philippines (2013), Demons of the New Year: An Anthology of Horror Fiction from the Philippines (2013), and Diaspora Ad Astra: An Anthology of Science Fiction from the Philippines (2013). 

Even as writers produced their stories and were lauded by the larger audience now available thanks to the Internet, blogger/writer Charles Tan put Philippine Speculative Fiction on the global map with his tireless efforts to promote the stories to the world. 

Looking back today and seeing how the idea of Philippine Speculative Fiction has grown and spread, one could say that it is doing well: a readership that spans both a local and international audience and its stories taught and accepted in universities. 

If there is a “Golden Age of Philippine Speculative Fiction” as Ocampo said, it is ongoing. 

Presenting an Idea: Philippine Speculative Fiction

It was only around 2005 that the idea of Philippine Speculative Fiction was first given life, when Dean Francis Alfar made a call for stories for an anthology focused on these stories even as a lone publisher Kenneth Yu wanted to spread the joy of reading. 

Alfar was the first to use the term Philippine Speculative Fiction and was the first to push for the idea. A businessman-entrepreneur as well as a writer, Alfar managed to turn his love for reading and writing speculative fiction into a crusade that would eventually become a movement. 

But he was also the first to admit that there were already stories written even without such a title, that such tales were part of our culture and heritage as Filipinos. 

As he said in the aforementioned introduction of The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010: “Make no mistake: the literature of the fantastic existed in these islands, long before the term ‘speculative fiction’ was used. In the oral traditions of many parts of the Philippine archipelago, wonder tales and myths rubbed shoulders with horror stories about underworld denizens. Heroic legends were told and retold, while supernatural narratives were recounted. The Spanish brought stories of the miraculous along with the Christian faith, but even more fantastic stories were already flourishing in Muslim Mindanao.”

“We are a people of mountain, sky, and sea, and our oldest stories took in elements of the other cultures that came to our shores. We are, and always will be, a nation of storytellers, no strangers to the strangeness that is part and parcel of what it means to live in these islands,” he added.

But despite these stories, Alfar thought it wasn’t enough. As he noted in his blog in 2006, he thought a lack in writers and quality fiction among the problems in developing Philippine speculative fiction. 

With regard to the lack of writers, he said, “While it is true that some Filipino authors, from time to time (or as anthology calls are sounded) write fantasy, horror or science fiction, majority write in the realist mode. Realism, among its many strengths, carries the force of verisimilitude, a sense that what is written about is true. Observations of the human condition are evoked in stories that deal with families and relationships (domestic realism) or in stories set against the greater backdrop of Philippine history or politics (social realism).”

“These stories are powerful because they are perceived (and positioned) as relevant. Fiction that adheres to the truths about Philippine life and daily struggles, big and small, is the dominant mode. This is the kind of writing that we, as young writers, readers and students, are taught to admire and emulate. And there is nothing wrong with that. Except that it is assumed that everything else that is not realism is somehow inferior, not literary, not relevant, not important not crafted, and ultimately not worth reading,” he said.

To remedy this, he wanted to set a high standard for Philippine Speculative Fiction: “All specfic should be well-written, with all the craft a writer can muster, paying attention to all things that make fine literature—because specfic is literature.”

He added, “Only then can we create literature that can stand toe-to-toe with fiction written elsewhere. A third world country should not be constrained to write third world literature, especially since at its core, speculative fiction is all about imagination—possession of which has nothing to do with social realities.”

With stories and writers, he came up with the first of a series of anthologies dubbed Philippine Speculative Fiction to address the lack of markets open to these stories, challenging “other writers to write speculative fiction”.

In a turn of serendipity, Yu, whose family was in the printing business, was also thinking of markets as a way to encourage the joy of reading in the younger generation. That’s why he decided to come out with a digest-sized print magazine of genre stories ranging from fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery as an independent publisher.

With regard to the creation of The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories (DPGS), Yu said: “My goal in doing so was to develop more readers, especially among the youth, in the belief that if my road to becoming a lifetime reader was through genre stories in my younger years, then I wanted to introduce that same road to them—but this time through genre stories written by other Filipinos.”

The release of the first Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology and the first issue The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories in 2005 made it a banner year for Philippine Speculative Fiction. Combined with the all-fiction magazine Story Philippines and magazines like Philippine Graphic and The Philippine Free Press open to Philippine Speculative Fiction submissions, there were now markets for both exclusive speculative fiction stories as well as Philippine fiction that included such stories. 

Looking back at what happened, Yu said that “I’m happy to say that even as early as 3-4 years after the first (DPGS) issue was released, I had been told by readers both young and young-at-heart that they enjoyed reading (DPGS), and that this led them to actively look for more work to read, especially from local writers.”

“So, I look back on the experience as worth it, and even with a small readership, I believe I did achieve my goal. And despite the difficulty of being an independent, I look back fondly at all that I went through in getting the print digest out,” he added.

Alfar was also happy with what has happened: “Looking back, we see how much we’ve grown and have yet to grow. While the series and specific stories have garnered critical acclaim (nominations for the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award, citations in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, and top prizes in literary competitions such as The Philippines Free Press Literary Awards and the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, among others), we continue to be excited most by the fact that more and more writers are producing speculative fiction.”

“(Philippine Speculative fiction) has been appearing with some regularity in markets here and abroad,” he noted. “Anthologies, novels and short story collections are available and more are forthcoming. National-level writing workshops—such as the UP and Silliman National Writers Workshops—have added speculative fiction to the conversation, encouraging its creation and critique. Specfic is written about and thought about in universities.”  

“It is a good time to write,” he concluded.

Going Forward: The Philippines and the World 

Despite the inroads made by Philippine Speculative Fiction in the field of Philippine literature and in the minds of the Filipino reading public, there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Dean Francis Alfar reiterates that the dream is far from being solid reality: “Because dreams grow and mutate, and what we want now is something beyond the remit of a single English-language annual. We dream of anthologies specific to fantasy, dedicated to science fiction, particular to horror or slipstream or weird fiction. While we believe in the value of the umbrella term we espouse, we can also see the day when robust production and readership, plus a vibrant market, will celebrate all of the collected genres—as discrete genres that create new spaces in the landscape of Philippine literature.”

Moreover, he said, “We want anthologies in the different languages of the country, not just in English. We want a broader and less Manila-centric representation of writers—for Manila cannot, should not be the centre of literary production. We want fearless secondary-world anthologies that fuse the Filipino experience with imagination.”

Speaking from outside Metro Manila, Ian Rosales Casocot, Kristine Ong Muslim, and Dominique Gerald Cimafranca gave their own assessment of what still needs to be done. 

Based in Davao, Cimafranca said there is speculative fiction being written in Davao thanks to a flourishing writing environment: two annual workshops and a biennial fiction contest for Mindanao residents, a weekly outlet for literary works from young writers (Dagmay), and a writing community whose membership spans several local schools. He said, “We get enough of that in our workshops from young students. Very (fan fiction), though.” 

In terms of Davaoeno writers and their published stories, Cimafranca pointed to Edmond Julian de la Cerna, who had been published in Alfar’s Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology. However, he said there are more stories written in the vein of speculative fiction rather than writers of Philippine Speculative Fiction. 

Cimafranca said, “Thinking about it: the works and writers vis-à-vis the category isn’t so easy to pin down.  For instance, Mac Tiu’s “Balyan”, which won the Palanca, is about a healer who has a direct line to Apo Sandawa. Does that count as specfic?  Perhaps to you and me, yes; but Mac himself doesn’t count himself as a specfic writer.” 

“Another of our venerables, Aida Rivera Ford, likewise writes stories with supernatural elements, but I doubt she thinks of herself as specfic, either,” he added. This is unavoidable, he said, as Filipino writers writing about what is Filipino inevitably leads to things outside what the Western world considers is the natural realm: “The supernatural pervades the everyday sensibilities of common folk, so much so that there’s really little to differentiate it from the natural.”

Muslim, who is now based in Maguindanao, has a different take on things. She said, “I worked in Cebu for five years, and in that time, I did not meet or hear of any Cebu-based published writer who had genre leanings.” 

Likewise, she has only read a handful of non-Manila published writers like Casocot, Cimafranca and De la Cerna, whose stories focus on re-imagining local mythical elements: “What we have is mostly dark fantasy and supernatural fiction skewed toward reworking Philippine folklore. I also notice this characteristic focus on folklore among Manila-based writers.” 

Casocot, who is based in Dumaguete, cited a number of Dumaguete writers producing speculative fiction like Renz Christian Torres, Robert Jed Malayang, Stacy Danika Alcantara, Fred Jordan Carnice, Carlos Arsenio Garcia, and Rolly Jude Ortega. However, he said there are problems in spreading the word about Philippine Speculative Fiction from Manila to the provinces as well as having a stable writing community producing this type of work in Dumaguete. 

“There’s a huge gap between the writing culture in Manila and that in Dumaguete. And all too often the call for submissions coming from the centre, or even the dissemination of information regarding specfic as a literary movement, just don’t reach the provinces,” Casocot said.

“What I’ve noticed is that many young local writers actually do write specfic because of their love for Japanese anime or because they’re into genre,” he said. “But they are completely unaware that what they’re writing actually gets published in the Philippines. They mostly keep their writings to themselves.”

Because of this, he said, “I get kids in my Philippine Literature classes who are usually astounded to finally discover people like Dean Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Yvette Tan, Gerry Alanguilan, and Carlo Vergara. They soon get hooked, but it takes somebody to tell them Philippine literature with a specfic bent actually exists.”

Likewise, he said that unlike in Manila where most writers basically stay for the rest of their lives so that it allows things like permanent cycles of workshops and publishing to grow, it’s very difficult to have any culture of Philippine Speculative Fiction to take deep roots in a university town. 
“There was a stirring in 2007-2009 when LitCritters Dumaguete (a writing group) was quite active, but the sad truth about Dumaguete is that it is a university town: many people here, especially young writers, are transients. They write, they produce, they graduate from college, and then they transfer to Manila where life and/or work eventually consume them,” he lamented. 

Fortunately, the Internet is a big help, he said. “Facebook, I think, is changing that. But still to get kids who don’t know anyone to actually come within the circles of Dean Alfar, that takes prodding and direction. I see myself in that prodding role, of course, especially for Dumaguete. But I get tired sometimes being a one-man crusade.”

Speaking of the Internet, there are also Filipino writers from outside the country that are making themselves felt via cyberspace. Given how Filipinos are now global citizens—whether as OFWs or via the Internet—it’s no surprise that some of them embody the very notion of displacement, whether as the quintessential Filipino living abroad or as a Filipino writer writing speculative fiction that tries to analyse the Filipino identity in a global context. 

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who now lives in the Netherlands, is a writer and columnist for Strange Horizons who is recognized for her opinions on what it means to be a specfic writer of colour. She said, “What living abroad has done is to make me more keenly aware of who we are as a people. What does it mean to be Filipino? What does it mean to be a Filipino writer writing speculative fiction?  How do I as a Filipino navigate a society and a culture that’s not the same as mine? How do I express myself effectively in a language that isn’t mine?”

“That I am writing in a field that is still predominantly white and that I am living in a society that is predominantly white, I think it’s inevitable that these realities and the struggle with these realities finds its way into the work,” Ruiz said.

“As I contemplate decolonization and decolonial work, I think of the acts of recognition that are important to us as Filipinos,” she added. “They may not mean anything to those who don’t know our culture or who don’t speak our language but they are significant to us. As a writer I have reached this point where I don’t want to adhere to prescriptions of what should and should not be included in our fictions.  As if we can put imagination inside a box and say ‘that’s the only thing you’re allowed to do with it’. Hanggang dyan ka lang.” 

“I am confronted with the ways in which people respond or react to my presence in society as well as in the speculative genre. In both areas, I work to destabilize the status quo and my being Filipino in the Dutch sphere also relates to my being Filipino in the science fiction sphere,” she noted. 

But this displacement serves a purpose, Ruiz concluded: “If we make the choice to make space for the next generation, if we think of those who will follow after, the path is always the path of struggle. No one will open the doors for us, it is we who wrestle those doors open. It is to us to make our own spaces and in doing so, we make space for the next generation. 

One among the 200,000 Filipinos in Singapore, Victor Ocampo knows about living with culture shock and being displaced: “Speculative fiction in general (and science fiction in particular) is all about facing the new and the wholly other. As a Filipino living and working overseas, this is an experience that I am (for better or for worse) very familiar with.”

“I have been living in Singapore for the last 15 years yet in many ways it’s still an alien world, an undiscovered country if you will (to use Shakespeare’s turn of phrase), one which you can go to but never come back from, at least not as the same person,” Ocampo added.

He pointed out that: “There is a kind of liminality that I like to document in my stories—that unsettled feeling of no longer belonging to the mother country yet not quite fitting into your adopted one. I feel that a science fiction setting reinforces this sense of alienation and adaptation much better than a realist story can, especially if you like telling petits récits—small, local narratives.”

Likewise, he said, “I write from the fringes of both my chosen genre and the world of Philippine letters. Despite the more than 12 million Filipinos overseas, immigrant and OFW narratives make up a tiny portion of the Filipino writing canon. This volume is even thinner for Filipino science fiction for whose audience both local and abroad is even smaller.”

“Nevertheless I believe that we who write overseas are an integral part of the Philippine experience,” he remarked. “We have stories to tell and our voices must be recorded and heard.” 

But despite these important questions and issues, Yu thinks that this is all part of the process. 

Yu admits that he’s not as involved as before, having placed the now-online Digest of Philippine Genre Stories on hiatus to focus on personal things, including his own writing. Likewise, some outlets like Story Philippines and Philippine Free Press are now gone.   

“Having said that,” Yu said, “What has made me comfortable about going back ‘inside my cave’ was the knowledge that after (DPGS), the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies, Story Philippines, Free Press, and Philippines Graphic did what they did during the movement, there followed a number of younger advocates who pushed their own similar agendas in the various media: through narrative, art, comics, essays, reviews, etc., and they did so both in print as well as digitally.”

“From where I sit, things seem to be going quite well. Maybe it’s not going as fast as some people wish it was, but things are moving forward in small, sure moves, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he declared.



“A Short and Incomplete History of Philippine Science Fiction.” Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, The Infinite Library and Other Stories.
“New Tales for Old.” Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Panitikan.
Fabulists and Chroniclers, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo (University of Hawaii Press, July 2009). 


Joseph Nacino is a writer and the editor of anthologies Diaspora Ad Astra and The Farthest Shore, both published by the UP Press.

From Sidewalks to Cyberspace: A History of Komiks

by Emil M. Flores

The komiks, long part Philippine popular culture, has gone through a number of phases. What was once known as the “literature of the masses” since the 1950s practically disappeared in the new millennium. Now, through the efforts of dedicated creators, the komiks has found new life in the digital age. 

The Komik Strip and Komiks Magasin

     The first comic strip by a Filipino is “The Monkey and the Tortoise” by Jose Rizal published in Truebner’s Record in London in 1889. It was part of a piece on Asian folktales.

     In 1929, in the pages of Liwayway Magasin, Tony Velasquez introduced “Kenkoy.” 
Other characters followed, such as “Kulafu” by Francisco Reyes and Pedrito Reyes July 7, 1933. Both “kenkoy” and “kulafu” have since entered the Filipino lexicon. Newspaper komik strips continue to be popular toady with “Pugad Baboy” and “Kiko Machine” as prime examples.

     After World War II, Filipino publishers saw the potential of comic books. American GIs had brought the books along for entertainment during the uncertain and chaotic times of the war. The Filipinos also used the medium as a balm. In 1946, the first komiks magasin, Halakhak was born. Halakhak only lasted a few issues but it was followed by a number of comics anthologies such as Pilipino Komiks, Tagalog Klasiks, Espesyal Komiks, and Hiwaga Komiks. The publisher of Liwayway, Don Ramon Roces and his family would practically run the entire komiks industry in the country.

     Throughout the 1950s and the next three decades, the komiks would become “the literature of the masses” as thousands of komiks were sold in sidewalks and sari sari stores throughout the country. A number of great creators would produce sterling work that would influence Philippine popular culture for years to come. 

     Francisco Coching, a contemporary of National Artist Botong Francisco, virtually created the “Filipino style” of komiks art. With his dynamic figure drawings and attention to detail, Coching’s work, according to Dr. Patrick Flores would act as art books for aspiring Filipino artists who could not afford to go to art school. Coching’s works would be made into numerous films and Coching himself would be nominated for National Artist. Coching’s “El Indio” published in Pilipino Komiks #147, 1953 was included in the book 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett published in 2011 in the United Kingdom. Coching’s 1973 illustration of Lapu Lapu was used in a postage stamp in 2004. The image was also used as a t-shirt design.

     Mars Ravelo is well-known for creating the iconic character Darna in Pilipino Komiks May, 27, 1950. The character would star in movies in the 1950s up to the 1990s.  There have been two television shows in the 21st century so far. Aside from Darna and other superheroes such as Captain Barbell and Lastikman, Ravelo would also create Maruja and Dyesabel, – fantasy romance, Roberta- social drama and Bondying- humor.

     Pablo Gomez wrote komiks for Pilipino Komiks and Tagalog Klasiks and then established his own publishing House PSG in 1963. He wrote such memorable works such as “Inday Bote”, “Machete”, “Kapag Puno na and Salop”, and “Bunsong Kerubin.” Most of his works were translated into film and television.

Komiks Artists in America

     While it was the writers who were well-known in Philippine komiks, the artists were the ones who became renowned internationally. In 1971, Tony Dezuniga met with DC Comics editor Joe Orlando which led to the “Filipino invasion” of the United States Comics scene.

     Numerous Filipino artists would work for American fantasy and horror tiles published by DC, Marvel and Warren. Tony Dezuniga himself co-created Jonah Hex. Nestor Redondo, the original artist on Darna, drew for acclaimed titles such as Swamp Thing. Alfredo Alcala, aside from drawing and inking numerous titles from swamp Thing to He-Man would have the distinction of having his original komiks creation Voltar published internationally. This last image was from the reprint in the The Rook #2, 1980.

English Language Superhero Komiks and Pinoy Graphic Novels

     While the international exposure of the komiks artists did not significantly affect the komiks in the Philippines, the success of Whilce Potacio in the 1990s ignited a new form of komiks. Created by writers and artists more influenced by American mainstream comics, the new works were mostly superhero books written in English. The monopoly developed a lack of innovation in the industry leading creators to self-publish their works.
The superhero book Flashpoint was the first self-published work and feature early work from Carlo Vergara. Titles such as Exodus and Memento Mori followed. Because of the lack of mainstream publishers, the books did not finish their storylines. Some would just have two issues published. 

     Arnold Arre’s Mythology Class would not only finish its four issue run, it would also usher in the graphic novel into Philippine komiks. It would crate a template of being a self-published work in separate issues that would be collected and published by mainstream book publishers such as Adarna Books. Others like Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah (written in Filipino and English) by Carlo Vergara and Trese by Budget Tan Kajo Baldisimo would also go through this process. Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer was also self-published in separate issues. In collected form, Elmer won the Best Asian Album in France and nominated for the American Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album in 2011. It has since been published internationally.

Pinoy Manga and Indie Komiks

     In the year 2000, Culture Crash was released and ushered in the “Pinoy Manga” trend in Philippine komiks. The anthology was in full-color and was heavily influenced by Japanese manga and anime aesthetics. Articles written in English about Japanese films and music were also part of the book. The stories themselves though were mostly written in Filipino. The popularity of Culture Crash led to the country’s first comics convention C3 Con in 2002.  English-language “Pinoy Manga” magazines such as Mango Jam would follow the trend which still proves to be popular today. 

     With the collapse of the komiks magasin industry in the mid-2000s, the indies took over. Due to the opportunities created by desktop publishing, the online community, and komiks centered events such Komikon, the grass-roots indies are what komiks historian Randy Valiente calls the “new face” of komiks.

     Ang Maskot by Macoy, a photocopied black and white pamphlet has become a cult favorite and an independent short film version was produced. Trese also began as photocopied indies picked up by mainstream book publisher Visprint.

     In May 2013, Flipreads converted independent komiks into digital format and released them for free for a limited time. These e-komiks included Ang Maskot, Mythspace by Paolo Chikiamco and various artists, and CADRE by Emil Flores and Ron Escultura.

     From a strip drawn in Europe to digital comics, the komiks continue to evolve and provide an outlet for expression and a source of entertainment and inspiration for people in the Philippines and beyond. 


Emil Flores teaches at the UP Diliman Department of English and Comparative Literature.