Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Signs of Life

I have been tardy in posting new Filipina Elsewhere entries. Sorry! Those should follow soon.

First, some updates:

1) A story of mine, "Queen Midnight", will be appearing in a future issue of The Dark magazine.
Thank you Sean Wallace, co-editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and assistant editor Jack Fischer.

2) Another story, "After the Crash", will be appearing in the 11th Volume of the Philippine Speculative Fiction series. Thank you editors Kate Osias and Elyss Punsalan. See the full list of stories here or below.

Authors In Alphabetical Order:

“Shadow Sisters” by Exie Abola
“Prisoner” by Nikki Alfar
“Cipher” by Ivy Alvarez
“Sparagmos” by Joshua Bartolome
“Cadena de Amor” by Jose Elvin Bueno
“The Man from the Balete Tree” by  Wilfred Cabrera
“The Apologist” by  Ian Rosales Casocot
“Zoetrope” by  Richard Calayeg Cornelio
“Call of the Rimefolk” by Vida Cruz
“Remains” by Andrew Drilon
“Pasig” by  Saquina Karla Cagoco Guiam
“Spacer” by Sarge Lacuesta
“Goddess of Debt” by Leng Malit
“The Sorceress Merula” by Ren Mayari
“Sabong” by Sarah Meneses
“The Punished Train” by Joseph Montecillo
“Dream Watcher” by Marianne Freya Nono
“What Damage We Can” by Alexander M. Osias
“Project DIWATA” by Anne Plaza
“Kaptan” by Jake Ramos
“Things You Remembered as You Broke My Heart” by Vincent Michael Simbulan
“Principe” by Vince Torres
“After the Crash” by Eliza Victoria
“The Greatest Fight of Sunny Granada” by Kenneth G. Yu

3) The latest issue of the Likhaan Journal contains a transcription of the University of the Philippines Press panel discussion "Lines of Flight: The Practice and Limits of Realism in Philippine Fiction". I was one of the panelists. You can read it here.

4) Mervin Malonzo has opened an online store! You can buy After Lambana and other nifty stuff from there. Check it out.

More soon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Out With the Old and So On

Happy New Year!

The New Yorker's Amanda Petrusich, writing about Mariah Carey's "rather perfect farewell to 2016", mentioned the "instantaneous psychic cleansing" promised by the new year. "Many of us were hungry for it," she writes. Hell, yes. I feel like the stresses of the last year, especially the stresses (for me, personally) of the last quarter of 2016, bogged me down like a great, big weight. This was supposed to be a fun, happy space, but I didn't have the heart and energy to be fun and happy. (Magritte's art, as you can see in the header, makes me happy, but also unsettles.) It was a good year (for me, personally as well--it was a very strange year) but I'm glad to enter this new one.

November 2016

So, some highlights from the tail-end of December.

Visprint's Kwentong Komiks at The Book Stop, Alabang

Visprint authors traveled down south to talk about comics and say hi to readers. I've only been to Alabang only twice before: once to have lunch with J's aunt and parents, and once for a hotel stay during J's birthday weekend. I always see Alabang as, you know, an article behind a paywall--unless you really, really want to see it, you just turn away. Two factors: distance (it's farrr) and cost (the Skyway toll fee for Alabang is nearly 200 pesos each way, and Alabang itself is an expensive place).

For this excursion, we were hosted by The Book Stop, a traveling library:

The Book Stop Project refocuses on the core program of a library as a place for books and reading, a space for human interaction, and a platform for learning. In place of a huge monolithic building with an extensive collection, The Book Stop is a network of mobile spaces spread across the city each with garnering far more foot traffic than the typical library. In a modern society where no library or bookstore can beat the collection of books that are available online, The Book Stop refrains from trying to reinvent the purpose of libraries. It instead works on rethinking the physical architecture and the distribution system of libraries, emphasizing casual serendipity and ease of access. (Read more.) 

It's a library with a pretty cool design. You can donate a book and get another book in the library for free.

(Most of the photos below were from Princess Malonzo. Thanks!)

Kuha ni Princess Malonzo.
Here's Mervin Malonzo with Baby El inside The Book Stop.
Kwentuhang Komiks. December 10, 2016.
With my book date!

There were supposed to be four of us--me, Mervin of Tabi Po and our collaboration After Lambana, Kajo Baldisimo of Trese, and Manix Abrera of A LOT of Comics e.g. Kikomachine Komix--but unfortunately Manix was down with the flu.

Kuha ni Princess Malonzo.
Mervin, me, Kajo
Kuha ni Princess Malonzo.

It was a great discussion about the writing process, collaborations, evolving artistic styles, the use of technology in local comics production, the search for diverse stories in Filipino literature, and pushing the envelope in our storytelling. Thank you to everyone who dropped by and participated.

I took home some new books, a set of After Lambana postcards, and the miniature color-proof copy of After Lambana.

Kwentuhang Komiks. December 10, 2016. Kwentuhang Komiks. December 10, 2016.

On to more writing news:

After Lambana is included in Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Top 10 Books of 2016

Magic is prohibited after the diwata realm Lambana falls, but Conrad must find a way, legal or illegal, to save his life in one night accompanied by his friend Ignacio in this creepy, cerebral collaboration between “Dwellers” author Victoria and “Tabi Po” creator Malonzo. 
Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/248133/top-10-books-2016/#ixzz4UqweXajP
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

"Tiny Tragedies" on Kitaab

A new poem of mine is published on Singapore-based Kitaab. My thanks to the editors.

POC Take Over Flash Anthology

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination will be publishing a flash anthology featuring POC (people of color) writers. I am honored to be included in this roster. You can read my short short story here. 

Writers included in the Flash Anthology are:

Ananyo Bhattacharya
Carmen Maria Machado
Caroline M. Yoachim
Cassandra Khaw
Darcie Little Badger
Eliza Victoria
Indrapramit Das
James Beamon
Jeremy Sim
Jeremy Szal
José Pablo Iriarte
Julia Rios
Julie M. Rodriguez
Karlo Yeager Rodriguez
Kuzhali Manickavel
LaShawn M. Wanak
Laurie Tom
Malon Edwards
Naru Dames
Sundar Nicky Drayden
Richie Narvaez
S.B. Divya
S.L. Huang
Samuel Marzioli
Zina Hutton
Eve Shi

Guest editor is Nisi Shawl.

Fantastic Stories is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund special Take Over issues. You can check it out here
Fantastic Stories prides itself on being open to under represented voices. Science fiction and fantasy should encompass the totality of the human experience, in all of its diversity and complexity. Fantastic Stories is determined to explore a more inclusive, realistic vision of the future. Currently, Fantastic Stories is a bimonthly webzine paying fifteen cents per word for original fiction. To increase the visibility of our outreach to diverse voices, we have decided to run special Take Over issues that feature under represented demographics. These Take over issues will run in the off months of our regular issues.
And so

During the last days of December, we ate a lot and quietly ushered out 2016.

Other highlights:

My first ever play staged in the CCP for the Virgin LabFest
Publication of Wounded Little Gods and After Lambana
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Komikon (summer, November)
National Book Store's Readers & Writers Fest
Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop
Story on 8List (first time to record a story)
First time to reach the bestsellers' list 
The Filipina Elsewhere Series
Hong Kong
Manila International Book Fair
We got engaged!
+ fantastic writing-related news I have to sit on for the meantime

May your new year be bright.

Cheese, candy, mulled wine

Fish balls, squid balls, kikiam; lechon and oyster sisig, crispy pork belly (Locavore)


Saturday, December 10, 2016


(Spoiler: This post ends with a book giveaway.)

I turned 30 recently. What a big number, isn't it? So serious. So adult. I've been re-watching Season 1 of Gilmore Girls (to prepare myself for the new series), and I just realized: I was roughly Rory's age when I first watched this show. And now I'm nearer Lorelai's age.


I've felt less than festive. Not because of my age (I'm 30! I did it! I'm still alive!) but because I was in poor health from late October until November. Some stubborn nasty bug, plus an infected eye, plus a family member ending up in the hospital, plus all the heartbreaking things happening in my government and the world, equals a 30-year-old who feels older than she really is.

Let's pause for a sigh.

And that's the only way to deal with all this, isn't it? You pause. You revel in the small moments of happiness.

You take it one day at a time.

November 2016

And now moving on with life and all that is sweet and tasty.

J got me my favorite cake on my birthday. Choco Yema Cake from Slice BGC. It was decadent. It was overwhelming. It worsened my coughing fit.

Best cake ever.

November 2016

We also went back to Baguio to re-visit our favorites. This time we stayed in Camp John Hay, which we found greener and quieter than Session Road. For those booking tickets online: Victory Liner no longer sends tickets. You'll get a voucher in your email, which you'll need to print and exchange for a ticket at the bus station.

November 2016

November 2016 

 I still haven't mastered the art of sleeping on the bus. (J has a doctorate.)

November 2016
#thisis30 I suppose?

November 2016

 We waited at the bus station before walking to Cafe by the Ruins Dua.

  November 2016November 2016

November 2016

Eighteen degrees Celsius in Baguio! Take me back. (I'm sure someone from Canada will read this and think, Eighteen degrees? Oh you are so cute.)

  November 2016 

 That guy behind the flower is having a nice nap.
  November 2016
November 2016

Baguio Technohub, which has some of our Session Road restaurant favorites. Vizco's. Hill Station. 7-Eleven.

  November 2016

November 2016

We also went to Chocolate de Batirol.

  November 2016

We stayed at Le Monet. Great service and the location is superb. AND our room had a balcony!

  November 2016

Happy J eating a steak at Melt.

  November 2016

We went straight from Baguio to the second day of the November Komikon. Thank you to everyone who dropped by and bought copies of After Lambana, and my apologies if I sounded vague and foggy!

(I heard from the Visprint ladies that attendees wiped out the stock of After Lambana on the first day of the event. Excellent.)

November 2016

November 2016

November 2016

November 2016  

We carry on. Here's a great shot of our spicy tuna burrito from Nori.

  November 2016 

Life is yummy, still.

* * *

Now that After Lambana has been released, here’s how you can support it:

1. Buy the book. Of course! :) Delivery to book stores is pending, but you can email bookorders@visprint.net to have it delivered to your doorstep. You may also fill out this order form (closing today, December 11) to purchase this book and other Visprint titles.

2. Share this link and other After Lambana info on your social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest etc.).

3. Review the book. Blog about it. Tell your friends, whether you enjoyed it or not. If you are on Goodreads, add the book to your bookshelf and share your thoughts.

To celebrate, I will be giving away one (1) free signed copy of my new book. (Signed only by me! Sorry--I forgot to ask Mervin Malonzo for his autograph.)

Go to the link below to see the mechanics and enter the giveaway.

Some additional details:
  1. The  winner will be announced no later than December 22, 2016, Thursday.
  2. Open to residents living in the Philippines only.
  3. The copy will be shipped, hopefully immediately (it depends on how busy I am) via courier.
  4. The copy I will be sending are from my own set of advance copies from Visprint, but Visprint is not a sponsor of this contest. Neither is the courier.
  5. The winner will be chosen via electronic lottery, and will be announced on this blog and contacted via email.

Once again: Click here to join!

UPDATE: Congrats to our winner!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Exclusive Preview: Read the First 50 Pages of After Lambana [Studio Salimbal]

Mervin and I are excited to announce that copies of After Lambana will be available at the upcoming Komikon on November 19 to 20, and in book stores nationwide shortly after through our publisher, Visprint. 

I will be out of town on November 19 and morning of November 20, but I will be there on Sunday afternoon to say hi to you all.

For now, we're sharing with you the first 50 pages in digital format on Studio Salimbal.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Filipina Elsewhere: Eula Gonzales

Read the series introduction.
Read Filipina Elsewhere: Bea Pantoja.
Read Filipina Elsewhere: Bianca Consunji.
Read Filipina Elsewhere: Crystal Koo.
Read Filipina Elsewhere: Petra Magno.
Read Filipina Elsewhere: Rhea Alba.

I first met Eula nearly a decade ago in a copywriting job that I didn't enjoy very much. But I enjoyed her company, and she was one of the few friends I made there that I still communicate with to this day. I love her taste in books, and she's also a fine writer. Hopefully she'll write more about her great Australian adventure. Here she talks about battling homesickness, walking the streets of Adelaide, and making room--both physically and metaphorically.

Let's hear it for Eula.
I added emphases (boldface type, italics), links, and photos throughout the text. All photos in this post were provided by Eula Gonzales.

Name: Eula Gonzales
Current Location: Adelaide, Australia
Website: www.instagram.com/oldsoulreads
Age: 29

What was your job back in the Philippines?
I was a Communications Executive for a global logistics company. I handled marketing and corporate communications which meant working with everyone in Country Office and also with Region and Global, from time to time. It was an interesting and challenging job at the same time because I got to do different kinds of things from marketing and corporate communications, events management, CSR, copy writing, collateral development to video production.

What are you doing now?
I'm taking an Advanced Diploma in Marketing and Communication at TAFE SA (Technical and Further Education, South Australia). 

Why did you decide to study/work abroad?
I wanted to try living away from home because I've thought about how a change of scenery can bring a change of perspective, not just in terms of getting better qualifications or pursuing studies but also having those experiences that push you out of your comfort zone and learn new things about yourself (both good and bad, of course, but they're still things that tell you who you really are)

Every time I go to a new place, whether abroad or in other parts of the Philippines, I would always wonder how it would feel like to live there (maybe for just a year or two?). I'd always try to imagine how a normal day would be like (walking around the neighborhood, taking public transportation, having daily encounters with the locals etc) and I think that curiosity has always driven me to try new experiences. But I do have to be honest in saying that this big change I decided to take on has not been easy at all. 

The fact of having gone thousands of miles away from home only sunk in after a few months of being in Adelaide. I remember that slow but steady realization of being halfway here and halfway in the Philippines. It's as if home is starting to feel like it's not just in one place. I remember what they would say about home being a place where you hang your hat. I think I might have two places now for my hat.

What was your biggest challenge when you went abroad?
That I had only a few days to pack all my things, that I had to pick only 5 books (I brought 7, haha) I can bring with me, that I had to start from scratch, figure out the essentials like getting from point A to point B.. those were fun

I guess my biggest challenge was staying focused on what I had set out to do because when you move away from everything that's familiar, you can get distracted/dragged down by that feeling of uncertainty about, well, everything (the routines, the security of having a job, having family and friends around, sleeping in your own bed, seeing all your books on your own shelves, knowing exactly which items to order from a menu, not having to worry about looking like a tourist etc.) The first time I felt homesick, I was crying and laughing to myself at the same time and it almost feels like I was going crazy. When I said goodbye to my mom at the airport in Manila, I didn't even become teary-eyed (I was thinking about getting on the plane as quickly as I can and hopefully, getting some sleep) but as soon as I landed in Adelaide and my sister called our mom and handed her phone to me so I can talk to her, I started crying. 

And what was the best thing that happened to you?
Surprising myself was the best thing that happened to me when I moved abroad. It almost feels like an extended retreat where it's just you and no one else is there to tell you how to take things as they come. I've never had so much free reign over what I can do in an entire day (well, of course, there's still some studying and I also have a part time job). But the feeling of only thinking about what it is that you'd like to do and not think too much about other people is quite refreshing. Growing up around such a tight knit family that's typical among Filipinos, I've never lived alone before even when I was already working so I consider this a milestone. It's something I didn't think I'd be enjoying this much.

Note: An encounter with the kangaroo and the koala :) 

If I were to go fly to where you are, what would you say is:
    the best place to eat? 
It's hard to just pick one place because since I lived in Adelaide, I'd always hear someone say "Oh this place has the best coffee, that one's got the best burrito, and this one's where you can find great sushi etc." It's an adventure that you find yourself in and because there's always something happening around the city (oftentimes, there'll be festivals to go to), you'd eventually figure out which food trucks to go back to. My best bet would always be to go where the locals are. Choose the small places where the barista spends a few minutes asking about your day, they would often have the best food because they almost always own the place or are friends with the owner. 

My own recos, so far (I'm not sure if this list appeals to tourists planning to visit Adelaide because most of the places on it are based on those I've tried/enjoyed considering I'm on a "student budget" hihi)

- Try the German beers and sausages at Hahndorf Inn (it's in Hahndorf, a little German town, which you can reach by bus from the city)
- Coffee from Ciao in Adelaide Arcade or Argo near Victoria Square
- Sushi at Ginza Miyako (I enjoyed the Sushi Train experience, too. There are a lot of branches in the city, but if you want a good, cheap sushi place - there's one across the Visitor Information Centre along James Place in Rundle Mall, it's called Miyabi)
- Oysters at Cardone's Seafood and Grill along Jetty Road in Glenelg (or some fish and chips from Sotos in Semaphore)
- Cheese from Central Market
- Jamface Central at Central Market (it's owned by Poh Ling Yeow) 
- For pancakes cravings, go to the Original Pancake Kitchen (they're open 24/7)
- Meatballs at Ikea (surprisingly good and cheap, too)
- Churros and hot chocolate at San Churro
- Waffles at St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream & Dessert
- Burritos from Salsas

Cheese at Central Market
Hahndorf Inn
IKEA meatballs

    the best place to visit? 
I've always liked walking along any of the main roads - North Terrace is known as the Cultural district because you can find the museum, art gallery, state library and the biggest universities along this strip. If you're ever there for an afternoon stroll, try walking from the north end (start at the National Wine Centre where they've got self-guided tours; don't forget that Adelaide is known for wines so it's a must that you drink at least a glass or two) and work your way down so you can catch a nice view of the sunset. If you're into old buildings and just marveling at architecture, try walking along King William Road and walk past the Town Hall and the General Post Office (you can also take the free tram that runs along this street) and finish off with a stroll at Victoria Square or a have a bite to eat at Central Market. You can also walk or go on a bike (you can rent a bike for free) along the River Torrens and go on the Popeye ferry or a paddle boat. Or sit on a bench, have coffee and just watch ducks and swans and a few pelicans, too.

North Terrace

General Post Office

    the best thing to do? 
Explore. When I was still in the Philippines, I was already doing a little bit of research of the things to do in Adelaide and honestly, I found quite a few that I thought I'd enjoy. I was actually consciously keeping myself from going to different places all at once just so I can have that steady supply of new things to try/places to go to. And I've already been here for a year now but I still have quite a lot on my list. There's always something to do; you only need to know where to look and who to ask :)

Adelaide Festival Center

Adelaide Writers Week

Elder Conservatorium

Art Gallery
Alpine Village Festival

Will you return to the Philippines? Or will you stay abroad? Why? 
I think I'll always want to come back to the Philippines, whether to live there again or to visit family and friends. Or just to look at how much has changed or how much has stayed the same. In the meantime, I'd like to try living abroad first and get settled and work full-time after graduation. 

Your #1 tip to those thinking of studying/working outside the Philippines:
Make room. Not just physical room for all the new things that you're going to get after you decide to move out. Make room for those experiences that may or may not really change you, but just let them happen to you. Transformation comes when you're not in charge so don't just leave behind your old stuff when you pack your bags. Be prepared to grow both inwardly and outwardly. If there's only one reason why I'd keep on traveling for as long as I can, it's this - how it can embolden you to surrender completely and take chances.

Make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way - make friends, ask them where the best places are and what their days are like, and choose to abandon your assumptions about everything you know or have always known to be true. You can start small. Maybe, make up a little ritual for yourself - it can be talking to at least one stranger you meet every other day on your morning commute, trying out one coffee place after the other on your breaks, volunteering (this really helped me find my feet in an unfamiliar place and you get to meet a lot of interesting people, too) or if you're feeling homesick, try going to places you know you'd go to if you were back home (these were the book shops and city libraries for me) or to places you know you'd never go to if you were back home.

Thank you, Eula!