The second UP Interdisciplinary Book Forum, dubbed “Ad Astra Per Aspera: Two Science Fiction Anthologies” will be held at Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman on April 21, from 1 to 4 in the afternoon.
The forum is sponsored by the UP Institute of Creative Writing and the UP Press. It will draw on two books: Diaspora Ad Astra: An Anthology of Science Fiction, published in 2013 and edited by Emil M. Flores Joseph Frederic F. Nacino, and Science Fiction: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults edited by Dean Alfar and Kenneth Yu. Diaspora Ad Astra  represents science fiction made by Filipinos for Filipinos. It looks at the future of Filipinos and wonders whether we’ll be exporting human workers to Mars or ruling a new Empire of Humanity. Will Filipinos be running a guerrilla war against mad robots as the rest of homo sapiens flee into space in derelict battleships?
Science Fiction explores explores the concerns and issues of today’s youth through the lens of the science fiction genre.
The discussants for the IDBF’s second event are Dr. Giovanni Tapang of the U.P. National Institute of Physics, Prof. Ronald Allan L. Cruz of Ateneo de Manila’s Department of Biology, Prof. Gabriela Lee of the U.P. English Department, and Mr. John Gabriel Pelias of the U.P.’s Institute of Mathematics The moderator is Dr. J. Neil C. Garcia, U.P. Press Director.
Ronald Cruz is an Assistant Professor and the current Undergraduate Student Coordinator of the Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University. He is also the founder and Moderator of the Ateneo Biological Organization – eXplore. eXperience. eXcel. (BOx). He currently serves as the Loyola Schools Coordinator for Teacher Formation Institute (TFI) and Faculty Spiritual Formation. His book, The Cosmic Wild: Biology of Science Fiction, was published in 2015 and has won the Outstanding Book Award from the National Academy of Science and Technology and the Best Book on Science award from the 35th National Book Awards. He has also written several short stories and scientific journal articles.
Giovanni Tapang is a Professor at the UP’s National Institute of Physics and the Associate Dean for Student and Public Affairs at the UP College of Science. He has received numerous grants for VISSER – Versatile Instrumentation System for Science Education and Research and has published many international scientific papers. He is the National Chairperson of Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan/AGHAM) and a columnist at the Manila Times
Gabriela Lee has been published for her poetry and fiction in the Philippines, Singapore, the United States, and Australia. Her first book of prose is titled Instructions on How to Disappear: Stories (Visprint Inc., 2016). Her previous works include Disturbing the Universe: Poems (NCCA Ubod New Writers Prize, 2006) and La-on and the Seven Headed Dragon (Adarna House, 2002). She has received a Master of Arts in Literary Studies from the National University of Singapore (NUS), and currently teaches literature and creative writing at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. You can find her online at
John Pelias is an instructor at the UP Institute of Mathematics who likes to read fiction. He received his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science from UP Diliman. He broke UP’s 63-year postwar record by graduating summa cum laude with a general weighted average of 1.016. He has made oral presentations in numerous conferences and is the author of two calculus textbooks. His research interests are Differential Geometry and Mathematical Physics.
The Interdisciplinary Book Forum is part of U.P.’s Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Cycle, and is set to take place once per semester, from hereon. It will cycle through the different disciplines and main literary genres. From this year’s focus on non-fiction, future iterations of the book forum will concentrate on poetry and fiction.
Both the Institute of Creative Writing and the U.P. Press hope that this initial foray will encourage and enliven dialogues and critical thought on recent books and their impact not just on the academe, but among student readers. Dr. Jose Y. Dalisay, U.P. ICW Director, says that the EIDR is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and “involves initiating and maintaining strong relationships with the language, literature, and humanities departments and divisions of all the U.P System’s constituent universities, as well as with related fields. Its results should have a direct impact on the way the university teaches and promotes Philippine literature and literacy, particularly in terms of bilingualism and cultural diversity and inclusivity.”
Dr. Dalisay adds that the Interdisciplinary Book Forum should, in particular, “help engender greater interdisciplinarity and promote a more positive climate in the University’s intellectual life… The University of the Philippines must champion profound forms of reading and writing.”
Admission for the IBF is free. Those interested in attending are advised to come early.