notes from the philippine literary festival 2015

    • There were still a lot of people despite the INC rally blocking EDSA. Probably people from the South of Metro Manila? Happy to see the crowd.
    • The moment I sat in the Visprint area, someone approached me to have copies of my books signed. Buena mano! Salamat, Kevin.
Photo from Kevin.


Philippine Literary Festival 2015

Philippine Literary Festival 2015

Photo from EK
  • Our first stop was at the “Translation: A Creative Act” panel in the Namayan Room, with John Green English to Filipino translators Luna Sicat, Julz Riddle, Bebang Siy (who was cosplaying Margo Roth Spiegelman) and Ronald Verzo, moderated by Anvil’s RayVi Sunico. Happy to sit next to Elyss Punsalan. It was an excellent talk about the difficulty of translating not just language, but class, culture, and nuances in perspective. (How do you translate “fuck” when the word “sex” is used in the same sentence? How do you translate “state” when we don’t have an equivalent in Filipino? Do you use “lalawigan”? “nayon”? Why do American authors love using “my” — my floor, my bed, my room — and how do you translate that without sounding awkward in Filipino? How do you translate the “poverty” of living in a trailer park, when some Filipinos live in houses smaller than these trailers? How do you translate a story that is not believable to you, as a Filipino author and reader?) I really enjoyed it. Sulit ang pagpunta sa Makati.

Philippine Literary Festival 2015

  • Book signing pa more. Thank you Anne and the others who dropped by.


  • Before the night ended, Mervin Malonzo and I were able to share a few pages from After Lambana. We were in a corner of Ballroom 2, sharing the time slot with Meganon Comics.
    Photo from Meganon Comics’ Tepai Pascual.

    Photo from Tepai.
  • Sharing with you some snapshots here (from pages 10, 14, and 16). Some people in the audience expressed excitement, so that’s promising!

Lambana, the realm of the Diwata, has fallen, the Magic Prohibition Act has been signed into law, and there is something wrong with Conrad’s heart. Only magic can delay his inevitable death, and so he meets with Ignacio, a friend who promises to hook him up with Diwata and magic-derived treatments, illegal though this may be.

But during the course of the night, Conrad may just discover Lambana’s secrets – and a cure to save his life.

from After Lambana

from After Lambana 2

from After Lambana 3

Thank you to the National Book Store and the Visprint team for making this happen. Sa uulitin!

new books, new stories, and more

How have you been? We’ve had storms making landfall in the country, one after the other, as if we’re an important bus stop for their tour or something, and the news has been pretty strange, Chris Brown sitting next to Iglesia ni Cristo expelling members sitting next to the discovery of a possible second Earth. Sometimes my stories can’t keep up with reality.

On to the updates:


20150723_092933You can buy the book straight from the publisher.

  • Mervin Malonzo is making headway with our comic book collaboration, After Lambana. It was also featured on Bookwatch. See the gorgeousness.

Art by Mervin MalonzoArt by Mervin Malonzo


  • A story of mine, “The Seventh”, is accepted for publication in the 9th issue of LIKHAAN: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature. From the referee’s notes: “A disturbing narrative pursuing the uncanny as both atmosphere and lingering effect. The story is relatively short but it builds up to a palpable sense of horror…”
  • Tangent Online reviews Lontar #4.

“Rebecca’s life is falling to pieces one memory at a time in ‘Fade’ by Eliza Victoria. Her dreams are a fractured mix of reality and portent, while her waking life seems to be fading into an ever more nebulous fantasy of false memories and disquieting omissions. What is real and what isn’t splits further when the people in her dreams come to life during the course of one oddly deja-vu-like day. Unexpected visitors promise to bring clarity to the whole mess, but already suspecting she can’t trust her own mind and memory, how can she be expected to trust the words of two seemingly random strangers?”

“Dwellers has paranormal and suspense elements that got me right at the edge of my seat. Victoria’s work is something you shouldn’t miss—her prose is fluid and engaging, not to mention that you’ll get so immersed in the books’ universe, you’re going to want to dive in to more of her stories.”

Now: Line-edited around 40K words of a new short novel, for publication (hopefully!) before the year ends. Title and teasers to follow. Thanks again to Visprint, Nida and Kyra for the love. Also working on a collection of interconnected short stories.

things i love, summer edition

I turn my head and suddenly it’s June. I don’t write blog posts as often as I used to; I often find myself composing essays in my head but it appears that I enjoy doing that more than actually posting them. That should give me more energy for my fiction, I suppose. What’s new? I found a new old job (long story), got a new haircut, slowly melted in the heat. I hear we’ll see the end of humanity in a hundred years (the prediction was old — made circa 2010 — but the linked article is new, saying an old thing about carbon emissions, to which no one ever listens). I feel happier and more content than I’ve ever been, and I see the irony in this.

Well, since we humans are still around, here, some things I love:

Acacia Hotel Manila

J and I, for his birthday weekend, were looking for a nice place to unwind when I found Acacia Hotel‘s deal on Deal Grocer. We got two vouchers to stay for two nights in their Executive Suite, buffet breakfast included. The hotel is located in Alabang. Great location, great service, excellent amenities. Everything looks new and clean. (And they offer Aromatherapy pillows, which I like.) I recommend you check it out.

We made plans to take a dip in the hotel pool, check out the spa, use the gym, and so on and so forth, but of course we ended up just staying in the room to watch movies or heading out to eat sushi. Also, we realized that we like Alabang and wouldn’t mind living there. If only it weren’t so expensive, and so far from everybody and everything.

– Sink into your own much raved-about custom-made, memory-foam “dream bed”.
– Bathe in a sublime bathroom with separate rain shower and bathtub.
– Prepare hot meals in your own kitchenette and take advantage of suite perks such as personalized butler service.
– Then, enjoy other first-rate amenities that are deliciously part of your stay: Wi-Fi access, flat screen TV, a full-sized executive desk, an electronic DND panel and safety deposit box, among others.
– Lounge around the beautiful swimming pool and spa, bask in natural daylight or romantic moonlight at the gorgeous Samanea outdoor garden, or discover the newest in dining experiences on this side of town with the hotel’s restaurants.
– With Acacia Hotel’s sophistication, style, and signature authentic Filipino hospitality, you don’t need to go out of town to experience a luxurious getaway.

Acacia Hotel Manila

5400 East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue,
Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang,
Muntinlupa City 1781

Telephone: ++63 2 7202000 / ++63 2 5885888
Mobile: ++63 917 5281504 (room reservations only)





I love the toiletries.




20150605_220605Butterbeer from Early Bird Breakfast Club

Also recommended: their grilled cheese and tomato soup, their Yin-Yang Champorado, their French toasts.


20150601_190754Love Letter: Batman

J found this by chance in Hobbes & Landes in BGC. I’ve played the original Love Letter, but I enjoyed this variant more! I took this home and my siblings got obsessed with it.




like this one

20150531_142439along with Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (until autumn 2014) and Stjepan Šejić and Ms. Marvel by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona.

This speaker

that I didn’t buy but took a picture of while in the store because I thought it looked really cute.


saturday fun day: ‘light’ launch + bgc art mart + ludo!

I had a fun Saturday that left me energized instead of depleted. (You know how sometimes you do so much socializing in one day that you crash and burn at the end of it? No? Is it just me?)

First stop, the book launch and signing event for Rob Cham’s Light. I am a fan of his work, and this silent comic book did not disappoint. Really amazing art. And great quality printing too on glossy paper. Congrats to Anino Comics and Rob.

LIGHT by Rob Cham

LIGHT by Rob Cham

LIGHT by Rob Cham

LIGHT by Rob Cham

The launch was in Fully Booked. J and I took a short walk and checked out the BGC Art Mart. Megan Diño, whom I have worked with years (and years) ago, has a booth, and I got myself this lovely tote and some postcards featuring J’s favorite European football players. She’ll be there until tomorrow; do visit her, say hi, buy her stuff.

BGC Art Mart
Photo from Megan.

Last stop was Ludo‘s 24-hour Gaming Marathon! They were serious about the 24 hours; there was a big digital display up front showing the countdown.

Ludo's clock
This clock! Photo from Jay Mata, VP of Marketing at Ludo.

The marathon was in full swing when we got there. (We didn’t sign up for the 24-hr marathon; my brain was too tired to handle it.) I was able to play: Love Letter, Evolution, Mai-Star, Mr. Darcy, and Coup. I enjoyed all of them! But I enjoyed Coup so much that we ended up buying it. What is impulse buy.

Ludo 24-hr Gaming Marathon

Ludo 24-hr Gaming Marathon

Ludo 24-hr Gaming Marathon

Ludo 24-hr Gaming Marathon

Ludo 24-hr Gaming Marathon


I hope you’re having a good weekend.

‘after lambana’ sketch sample

Mervin Malonzo has begun working on the art for After Lambana and posted a sample below. (This is a panel from the first pages of the book.) Exciting times.

Love the Tabi Po Easter egg. :) Can you spot it?

after lambana art by mervin malonzo

And now with color. Amazing work by Mervin!



komiks review: abangan + tabi po isyu 1 + sad comics + cfcca

Abangan: The Best Philippine Komiks 2014

Series Editors Rob Cham, Adam David, Carljoe Javier, & Elbert Or

Published by Visprint

Every time I enter the halls of Komikon I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories that are being sold at the tables. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I couldn’t stay at one table for too long because 1) that would cause a gridlock; and 2) I get weirded out by the creators’ eyes tracking me. Admit it, it happens! I don’t want to be guilt-tripped into buying a copy — which leads us to 3) I wouldn’t have minded being guilt-tripped into buying something, but I am not made of money.

The best I could do was walk like a somnambulist, like a visitor at an art gallery, and look at the covers. In the end, I usually end up at the big publishers’ tables (like Visprint), or I just ask friends what I should buy. J and I have talked about this, and he said at the last Komikon he felt sort of depressed — he was sure there were indie gems out there; he just didn’t know where to look.

Abangan is a good place to start. It is a generous collection of samples and full strips from our local comics creators. It has its shortcomings, which Charles Tan talks about here, and I felt a bit sad that the hilarious Dead Balagtas strips by Emiliana Kampilan are reprinted here in English (I read her in Filipino) and without the historical annotations, but I think it is still a worthy buy. I was astounded by Sixty-Six by Russell Molina and Ian Sta. Maria, Borderline by Bong Redila, and Blue Dusk by Mica Agregado. There are truly exciting works in this volume (Para Fierra, Wingnaut, Windmills, Manix Abrera’s silent Diwata, etc etc), and I hope there will be a follow up.


Tabi Po

Story & Art by Mervin Malonzo

Published by Visprint


I remember when I first read the webcomic I was stunned by the quality of the art and the writing. And the art. Have you seen Mervin’s art for Tabi Po?


Look at that.

I am glad the story, now in print, will be able to reach a wider audience locally.  (I don’t have the numbers, but speaking from personal experience, my titles sell more as print copies than as ebooks.) A knowledge of Rizal’s Noli and Fili will enrich your reading experience (especially when you get to the prose part at the end of Isyu 1 – it is like a nudge and wink from the creator), but even without knowing Rizal, this is still an immersive story, tackling the origin of the aswang, and life during 19th century Philippines under the Spanish regime. The monster – in its truest sense, in its figurative sense – is front and center here.


Sad Comics for Dirty Lovers

Art & Story by Rob Cham and various collaborators

I admire Rob Cham’s art and his snarky humor (see: Stories), but this is a breakup volume. The stories are contemplative and quiet (save for a couple of sections of comic relief), more resigned than sad. My absolute favorite is “Beehive Heart”, written by poet Petra Magno.

says the protagonist with the beehive heart. Stunning, inventive use of metaphor.


Crime-Fighting Call Center Agents

Art by AJ Bernardo

Story by Noel Pascual

Noel and AJ move the call center agent (overworked, forced to affect an accent and pretend they are from another nation) away from the office cubicle and into the center of…crazy stuff.  Adventure is juxtaposed with mundane concerns like team building sessions. Go check this series out if you haven’t already.

books books books: summer komikon + gina apostol lecture & book signing

So how’s everyone doing post-Komikon? We woke up early so we could be at the venue early. Tried Highlands Coffee for the first time. (There was a branch across the street from the Bayanihan Center.) Though I’ve had Vietnamese coffee before (here and in Vietnam when we traveled there last year), it felt like the coffee I had that Saturday morning was sprinkled with crack. I was seriously jumping out of my skin around lunch. I hope people didn’t notice.

Anyway! The Summer Komikon was fantastic. The star of the Visprint table were (as always) Manix Abrera with his 10th volume of Kikomachine Komix, the editors of Abangan: The Best Philippine Comics 2014, and Mervin Malonzo, with the print version of his webcomic, Tabi Po. I was there signing copies of my two books. Check out my headband.




With Mervin and his book. Congrats!


Funny about Manix: you had to take a number to have your copy signed. We were there early. We got #67. Sixty-seven! After 30 minutes I asked what number was being served, and they said #12. Dyos ko. Daig pa ang doctor’s clinic. Char.

Congrats Manix and please sign my books next time I see you.

Got these cards that I ordered from Shani Tan of Aromateria. Pretty! I’ll be giving these out to readers in upcoming events.


Mervin’s promise regarding After Lambana. Posting this here SO EVERYONE WILL KNOW.


We left Komikon early (with Honey, Adam, and Ken) to attend Gina Apostol‘s Lecture & Book Signing at Glorietta 1. I have not read a novel of hers, but I deeply admire and enjoy her essays, like this one, on reading/writing novels, and Rizal.

Enjoyed Danton Remoto’s introduction, particularly the Doris Lessing anecdote. (He asked her if they could have a picture taken with her; the British novelist and poet said no. “We’re in New York, but I’m from Loyola Heights, you know. Hindi ko naman alam na may mga protocol na ganyan!”)


Gina Apostol was equally hilarious, reading sections from her novels Gun Dealers’ Daughter, and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. I only brought money for Gun Dealer’s Daughter but (and I told her this) ended up getting Raymundo Mata as well because I enjoyed her reading and discussion so much. Rizal and the revolution through the eyes of a “kooky” blind man. (Raymundo Mata was the blind man who went with Pio Valenzuela in his controversial 1896 visit to Rizal in Dapitan.) Premise pa lang ulam na.

Gina said Raymundo Mata is actually her favorite. I have started reading it and it. Is. Hilarious. Also very inventive and carefully and beautifully written. Check it out.



My little loot at the end of the day. Happy.