My one-act play Marte has been chosen as part of the main line-up of the upcoming Virgin Labfest. Very exciting news; I have seen great plays in the fest, and now I’ll be able to be a part of it! I can’t wait to see this little thing come to life onstage.
See the full list below, which was culled from an unprecedented 197 entries.
Virgin Labfest 12
Established in 2005, the Virgin Labfest is a laboratory festival of new plays by emerging and established Filipino playwrights and held annually at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The Virgin Labfest aims to provide Filipino playwrights a venue to present their unpublished, unstaged, untested and untried works to theatergoing public. The Virgin Labfest is a yearly project of the Manila-based playwrights group Writer’s Bloc, Inc., acclaimed theater company Tanghalang Pilipino, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Eliza Victoria’s “Marte”
Carlo Vergara’s “Mula sa Kulimliman” Herlyn Alegre‘s “Bahay-Bahayan Tagu-Taguan” Guelan Luarca‘s “Bait”
Ricardo Dingdong Novenario‘s “Daddy’s Girl” Kanakan Balintagos‘ “Loyalist”
Ma. Cecilia dela Rosa’s “Ang Mga Bisita ni Jean”
Alexandra May Cordoso’s “Ang Sugilanon ng Kabiguan ni Epefania”
Jose Socrates delos Reyes’ “Dahan-Dahan ang Paglubog ng Araw”
Rick Patriarca’s “Hapag-Kainan”
Dominique La Victoria’s “Ang Bata sa Drum” Oggie Arcenas‘ “Si Jaya, Si Ronda, Si Barbra at ang Mahiwagang Kanta”
Alex Dungca’s “Nang Maligaw ang mga Halimaw”
Dwein Baltazar’s “Ang Debutante sa Bubongan” Jerome Ignacio‘s “Perfecto Gomez”
Here’s from the fest’s first write-up on Market Monitor:
Of the playwrights whose works were picked for the main line-up, five are “virgins.” Of these, the most notable is Eliza Victoria, who first gained attention—at least, from the literary community—for her Palanca award-winning poetry collections “Reportage” and “Maps,” and for her National Book Award-winning novel Dwellers.
This is the landmark tenth volume of what’s been called “one of the most important projects to come out of the contemporary writing generation”. PSF is credited as the springboard for the thriving Philippine speculative fiction movement, which defines, explores, and sometimes blurs the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between.
Philippine Speculative Fiction X is proud to present a representative range of exemplary stories from Filipino writers, including both renowned veterans and exciting new voices in the field.
Wounded Little Godsis now out in the wild. See a couple of photos from readers below. Thank you!
I also got my complimentary copies!
My first Visprint book with my latest Visprint book, for size comparison.
As tradition dictates, expect a book giveaway soon–but let’s talk about that later.
Neon Literary Magazine has nominated my poem “What Waits” for the 2016 Forward Prize. You can read the poem and the three other nominated pieces in the link.Says editor Krishan Coupland: “The Forward Prizes, awarded annually, are some of the most prestigious awards for poetry available in the UK. Each year I nominate four of the best poems published in Neon during the previous twelve months for the Best Single Poem category[.]”
My short story “The Seventh“, published in Likhaan Vol. 9, is now available to read online. Feel free to share the link.
My story “Fortitude” will be appearing in this volume:
SCIENCE FICTION: FILIPINO FICTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Coming soon from University of the Philippines Press
With stories by: Kim Sarabia, Eliza Victoria, Kate Osias, Raymond P. Reyes, CP Coulter, Gabriela Lee, Lakan Umali, Daniel Carlos Tan, Nikki Alfar, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
Cover design by: Aletheia Rio
Edited by: Dean Francis Alfar, Kenneth Yu
My story, “The Target”, will be appearing in the tenth volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction.
In case you didn’t know, my publisher, Visprint, is now accepting orders of my latest book Wounded Little Gods, for FREE delivery nationwide. I’m very happy to share this because I know there are readers, especially those residing outside Metro Manila, who find it hard to find my books in their neighborhood bookstores. Now this book will come to you.
The book has 230 pages and will retail at PhP280. If you want to get your copy hot off the presses, email email@example.com now. You will get payment details after you email them.
For those who’d rather get the book in bookstores, don’t fret, because copies will hit bookstores nationwide before month’s end.
Well–while we’re waiting for the courier to knock on our doors, or for the copies to hit the shelves, shall we read an excerpt?
The first two chapters of Wounded Little Gods can be read below. Enjoy, and feel free to share this post.
I’ve spent today putting the finishing touches to the eBook editions of issue forty-two of Neon. If all goes to plan, the latest instalment of the magazine will launch at the end of this month, on February 29th. If you want to be one of the first people to get hold of a copy, why not place a pre-order, or even subscribe?
From a brief biography of a man raised as a chicken, to a mortuary romance, to a tale that teeters on the edge of a precariously-assembled tower, this issue is packed with excellent poetry and fiction. There’s even a grotesquely surreal comic by Swedish artist Janne Karlsson, and an innocuous-looking but unique broadside by poet Jaclyn Weber.
Other writers featured in issue forty-two include Luke Silver, Clifford Parody, Jane Flett, Mack W Mani, Tara White, Eliza Victoria, Gregory Cartwright, Caroline Hardaker, and Natalia Theodoridou.
This will be our largest print run ever for an issue of Neon. Thanks to everyone who has already subscribed or purchased a copy – and for everyone else, it’s never too late to do so.
I am still writing–though not as fast and as often as I used to, as I want to. Work and life get in the way, you know how it is. But I’m enjoying working on the new novel (a murder mystery/fantasy), even if my scattered notes and plot timelines are driving me crazy. I have broken past the 100-page mark. I have a good feeling about it.
How else can you make the doomed love story of Romeo & Juliet new? Baz Luhrmann brought the young lovers to the modern age while retaining the original lines from Shakespeare’s play; Chris Melohn incorporated social media and dance; the Hypokrit Theater Company brought them to New Delhi and spiced up their story with elements of Bollywood.
In Swear Not By the Moon, the Langgam Performance Troupe does two things: they reverse the gender roles, and they change the space, restricting fair Verona to a loft bed.
Romeo & Juliet is perfect for a theater experiment in gender role reversals as the two lead characters already challenge the ideas of what their gender can and cannot do in their day and age. Romeo, unlike the men from his family, is sensitive, pines for his love, shies away from violence and confrontations. Juliet, unlike her nurse and the Lady Capulet, is bold (“Then have my lips the sin that they have took…You kiss by the book”) and is not afraid to take matters into her own hands. The gender bender highlights these supposed feminine and masculine qualities found in each character. (Note Joel Garcia’s [as Juliet] booming voice as he tells the nurse to pick the cords up, and Jacq Nacu-Garcia’s [as Romeo] whiny tantrum when she finds out that she will be exiled; note also that these actors are an actual married couple!)
In a way, the gender bender is not that bold of an idea (it has been done before), but coupled with the restrictions in space, it makes for an interesting theater experience. By moving away from the traditional proscenium stage, Jenny Logico-Cruz and team has to restrict the number of actors (you can’t have 10+ actors bumping into each other on that loft bed), distilling the ensemble characters into only two actors. Note how the characters are categorized: the friar and the nurse–counsel and kunsintidor both–is played by the same actor (Anna Karenina Salgado, who I think is fantastic, in her first professional play), while another actor (Neil Raagas) plays the poor casualties of the feud: Lady Capulet, Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, with the actor employing the same body language, the same languid, cat-like body movements. On a continuum, this runs Tybalt to Paris, with Paris the most cat-like of the four, draping the entire length of his body on the incredulous Juliet.
All of the actors wear white–blank slates–allowing the performance to carry the play, as the actors are unable to hide behind scenery, costume, props, or even hair.
The unique stage design also gave rise to smart lighting and blocking decisions. (In a play where Mercutio and Tybalt is played by the same person, you have no choice but to be creative with your lighting and blocking!)
My main critique would be some of the actors speak the lines so quickly that I can’t understand them. (Which could be a downer for audience members who are not familiar with the original script.) Other than that, it was a great three hours of raw theater.
UPDATE 3/4/2016: Visprint is now accepting orders, for FREE delivery nationwide. Email firstname.lastname@example.org now.
Wounded Little Gods–230 pages paperback, ₱280–will hit bookstores before the end of March.
This was the book that was slated to come out December 2015 and which will finally see the light of day this quarter. I finished writing this short novel in August 2014 but I feel like I will keep revising up until I see the final page layouts and/or Visprint wrenches it out of my hands. (I’m probably only mildly joking.) Don’t you just love the cover art? Cover art and design is by the brilliant Jap Mikel, who also designed the cover art for Project 17. It reminds me of the art and color palette of old komiks. I think it’s fantastic. He will also be working on the interior art, which I’ve yet to see–and I can’t wait.
I will update you all once the book hits the local bookshelves. For now, feel free to share this blog post.
Happy New Year!
Wounded Little Gods
A Novel by Eliza Victoria
Published by Visprint
Regina was born and raised in the small town of Heridos, where gods and spirits walked the earth. Until they didn’t.
Ten years ago, the whole town produced a bad harvest—rice grains as black as soot—and the people of the town moved on, away from the soil and the farms, believing the gods and spirits have abandoned them.
It is ten years later, on a Friday before a long weekend, and Regina ends her shift at an office in Makati. She walks home with a new colleague named Diana. Diana, following a strange and disturbing conversation with Regina, does not appear at the office on Monday, and the day after that.
And the day after that.
On Thursday, Regina opens her bag and finds a folded piece of paper filled with Diana’s handwriting.
On the page are two names and a strange map that will send Regina home.
I did not mention Jammi by name here, because at the time she wasn’t doing a lot of readings and I did not want to bombard her with eager clients. But now, with the lovely Stone & Moon up and about, and the new year coming, I thought it’s time to share this story online, as a way of expressing my gratitude to Jammi.
This essay first appeared in an issue of Esquire Philippines, the one with the Eraserheads on the cover. You know the one.
A friend of mine does Tarot card readings and past life readings. As a catastrophist whose main instinct is to think the worst possible future in any given situation, I found the past life reading more appealing than a reading about my future. What’s up ahead? Probably something fun and rosy, but if the Tower (which signifies sudden change, chaos, disruption) shows up in the spread, it’ll just add more stress and despair in my already stressful and despondent brainspace, so no thank you. Let’s just look back and see if once upon a time I were a princess. Or a serial killer. Or a serial killer princess.
So there we were one rainy Sunday, sitting at a small table in her and her husband’s apartment. “Which of these decks would you like me to use?” she asked. One deck was old and already turning brown on the edges. Her first deck, she said. Another deck was bigger than the average deck, almost as large as a notebook, and had bolder colors. The third deck was a beautiful lavender. The lavender cards complemented the purple scarf covering the table. We just needed a reed diffuser and a bead curtain and we were all set.
Kidding aside though, I came to her with an open, very curious mind. I had just one other reading, years ago, care of a housemate in college who only used the Major Arcana (the 22 main cards of a Tarot deck) and read the cards with a guidebook opened on her lap, like a doctor glancing at a medical textbook during a surgical operation. Is this the appendix or the spleen?
The cards said Yes to my specific question then, but having forgotten what I had actually asked, I couldn’t test her reading’s accuracy. But then, it’s not about accuracy, or proving that the cards told “the truth”. The future is not set in stone, my friend said, which I wholeheartedly agreed with. The Universe might say Yes, but if you didn’t act to achieve this Yes, the opportunity would just dissipate. As is the case with elusive taxicabs, the last cupcake on the table, that one moment when you could have expressed your gratitude to a now-estranged friend.
The most popular reading request, unsurprisingly, was a reading for love. My friend said clients would come to her and ask, When will I find a boyfriend? It was not the right question to ask, my friend said. Instead of demanding When, why not ask, What I can do to invite love into my life? All you needed was a little shift in your thinking. A more proactive stance before the Universe.
I was pretty secure with my love life, so I didn’t request a reading for that. (Also, if the cards screamed BREAK-UP IMMINENT, it would just ruin my Sunday.) I chose the lavender deck, because it looked pretty. While I shuffled the deck, my friend said she once did a past life reading for another friend, on that friend’s birthday during a full moon, at midnight. Birthday, full moon, midnight. As a fantasy writer, and as someone who belonged to a family that believed in the supernatural, this sounded to me like a (very interesting) recipe for disaster. “I wasn’t ready for it,” she said. After the reading she was so drained and thirsty she had to drink more than ten pitchers of water.
It wasn’t a full moon that Sunday, so we should be okay. She told me the reading would present just one past life (“Because we have several”) that most likely affected an aspect of my present.
I wouldn’t bore you with the details, but the past life reading required a large spread consisting of several sections. In the section for love, she said I was patient.
“Really?” I said. Me? Patient?
“You should give yourself some credit,” she said. “The things you simply find annoying is probably the last straw for other people.”
She said this was because I was secure in the belief that my partner and I would go through life together. “You look at the big picture,” she said, pointing at a Major Arcana that said The World, “instead of focusing on the little details that annoy you or trouble you.”
She paused at a new section. “I think this refers to your writing,” she said. She said my stories dealt with dualities, and truths, and uniting two meanings to reach an understanding, even if in the end this didn’t always happen, or even if the meaning reached was not always acceptable. “This is interesting,” she said, after another excited pause. She said the inspiration for my stories came from past lives. I was not creating stories. I was remembering them. “And whenever you get stuck,” she said, “that’s your soul telling yourself, ‘Wait, that’s not how it happened.'”
Wasn’t that beautiful? Of course, my initial reaction was Story idea! because I was shameless and considered everything and everyone fodder for fiction. But it was a beautiful thought.
She turned over the final cards one by one.
In the past, she said, I was a boy. The son of a member of the royal family and a female servant. I lived in Russia, somewhere cold and dreary. The narrative was predictably as dark and melodramatic as a telenovela (or a Russian novel): boy’s family is slaughtered, boy escapes, boy becomes a man, man becomes a leader, man believes life is just a series of trials until he meets a younger man (Ooh!) and falls in love and realizes that life is beautiful and it is worth believing in something. Politics leads to the man’s lover’s death, but the man bears no ill will toward his lover’s murderers, believing that he and his lover will meet again. On his deathbed, the man makes a deal with God.
All he asks is the chance to meet his one true love in every lifetime hence.
“And that’s why you’re so patient,” my friend said, pointing at The World again, miming a tear falling down her cheek.
The most distant galaxy ever discovered was 13 billion light years away, born just 700 million years after the Big Bang, its light expanding with the expanding Universe. Our own Sun is nothing but a dot, hardly visible, next to the red hypergiant VY Canis Majoris. We are a speck of dust in the eye of a galaxy. It is impossible not to be awestruck and humbled, whatever belief system you adhere to.
And yet there is nothing wondrous about the children being bombed to pieces in Gaza, nothing magical about the 729 people that have bled to death due to the Ebola virus. Nothing small about any of these things.
I have been writing about dualities, come to think of it; about how life, compared to the bright expanse of the Universe, could be both insignificant and immense. I couldn’t unite these two truths, and maybe I never could. Maybe that was not the point.
There was no way to prove or disprove the existence of a former me, of the tragic man in Russia who had made a deal with the Universe. Who knows. Maybe our consciousness could survive death and time, and travel through the centuries and back again. It was an interesting idea, and I’ve always been partial to interesting ideas.
On the ride home, my boyfriend got caught up in the semantics of it. “All he asked was a chance to meet his lover,” he said. “Meet, not necessarily be with. Maybe you’ve already met your true love before and –”