Saturday, April 02, 2005

[Blog Entry] Trivia, Summer, The Email Wars, MTV Ink/Pulp FAQ


I was going to post my blog entry a few days ago but whenever I started to write, I had the feeling that whatever I wrote would pale in comparison to whatever every other Filipino is writing on their blogs: namely the condition of the late Pope John Paul II.

Maybe it’s because the Philippines is really a Catholic country. One of the longest-reigning leaders has been the Pope. Heck, even presidents only have 6 (one term in the Philippines) or 8 (two terms in the US) years. The only real competition the Pope has would probably be the Dalai Lama.

Personally, I see it as a release for the Pope. For several decades the Pope was burdened the responsibility (which is one of the weaknesses of having a single head-honcho on top) of many Catholics around the world, not just that of a single country. While he is in a noble position, it’s a role that has lots of responsibilities and duties. At least now, he’s finally free from that burden, and we can write his history since his life has ended.


On to regular rants! I guess it’s really summer now, where the temperature averages at 38 degrees Celsius. Personally, 38 degrees is probably my optimum environment. Whereas everyone else is complaining about the heat, I just feel… comfortable.

I’ve always taken hot baths since cold water freezes me to death. Just to show how alien my physiology really is, I still take hot baths during summer. And well, there’s really no ventilation in my room. I have an air conditioner but the last time I turned it on was last year, when Elbert came for a sleepover. Nope, no electric fans, the windows are closed, and yes, I have black wallpaper.

The Email Wars

Right now Gmail is staying one step ahead of Yahoo. One weakness of the former was that it was previously incompatible with some web browsers (like the Macs we use at work). Well thankfully, you don’t need to have a high-end browser with all the settings turned on to utilize Gmail (although it has less features if used that way) nowadays. Whereas Yahoo initial offered 10 MB of email space, Gmail initially offered 1 GB. How do you compete with that? Well currently, Yahoo offers 250 MB of email space, upgrading it to 1 GB in May. But Gmail just raised the stakes and if you check your Gmail inboxes, you’ll find that one has 2 GB (and that’s not an April Fool’s joke).

MTV Ink/Pulp FAQ

While it hasn’t reached the point yet where I’m being pestered on my blog, some of my friends are asking me how to land a job in either MTV Ink or Pulp. Well, here’s my FAQ:

1) Can you get me a job at MTV Ink/Pulp? No, I can’t. I’m just a lowly editorial assistant. It’s the head honchos who have the authority to accept you or not. Just send in your resume and it’ll be up to them to decide whether to take you in or not, whether you’re applying for a position at the office, a freelance writer/photographer/artist, or as an intern. For those interested to work for MTV Ink, you can email the editor-in-chief, the lovely Ms. Kristine Fonacier at mtvinkNOSPAM[at] Obviously, remove the NOSPAM (it’s just there to fool the spammers).

2) What should I submit? Honestly, I don’t know any secret technique that’ll ensure you a job at the publication. Just submit what you would normally submit to other companies or publications. That’s namely your resume and some sample work, and anything else you think might interest them. If you’re looking for a regular job, I suggest you try offering to work as an intern. You won’t get paid but you’ll learn a lot and who knows, you might get hired. That just happened to one of our interns (the lovely Liz, so you’ll be seeing more of her in the succeeding issues of Ink).

3) Are there any job openings? It depends on when you ask me this, but ultimately, it shouldn’t matter. There will be openings or there might not be openings. But submit anyway. Just because a company isn’t looking for someone doesn’t mean they won’t hire new staff members (or try out freelancers). In fact, since it’s a monthly magazine with lots of freelancers, they’re more prone to try out new writers/artists/photographers (assuming you have talent that is). And even if they don’t, at least they have something to use as reference when they need to hire someone. Submit, submit, submit. You might not necessarily get an immediate response, but who knows what might happen in the future?

If we need some talents for photo shoots or if we’re actively looking for someone to hire, I’ll post it on my blog.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

[Plug] Indie Comic Release: Marco Dimaano's K.I.A

From Angels to Assassins.

From the light-hearted adventure-romance fare of his Angel Ace comics, local Filipino comic book creator/publisher/writer-artist Marco Dimaano switches to a darker mood with his latest release, K.I.A.

Starring Kai, the tough and sexy ninja assassin with nerves of steel and a heart of gold from Angel Ace, this book is more violent, sexy and seedier than Dimaano's previous works. Taking influences from various femme fatale characters such as Aeon Flux, Danger Girl, Elektra, Le Femme Nikita and more, K.I.A. brings intrigue and action laced with manga-style fan service and dark humor in one lethal, pocket-sized package.

The infamous Agent K is fast becoming known in the underground world of espionage and international intrigue as the deadliest female martial arts assassin in the world. 'K' has no memory of her past, no friends or allies she can count on, and no fear of dying thanks to her ability to regenerate and recover from any injury. For those unfortunate to be marked as her targets, there is no escape.

Bringing this new femme fatale anti-heroine to life are some of the best names in local Filipino comic publishing, including Gerry Alanguilan (Wasted), Dean Alfar (Siglo Freedom), Nikki Alfar (Mango JAM), Jeremy Arambulo (Styx Taxi), Arnold Arre (After Eden), Honoel Ibardolaza (Seven Seas' Blade for Barter), Marvin del Mundo (Ignition Comix), Elbert Or (Cast), Jennyson Rosero (Seven Seas' No Man's Land), Michael Seludo (Atomic Monkey), Edgar Tadeo (Iron Man), Taga-Ilog (Pasig), Wilson Tortosa (Battle of the Planets) and more.

K.I.A. Vol.1 - Kai: Indomitable Assassin is a B/W, 160-page action anthology with a cover price of Php195.00. Copies will be available at Comic Quest Megamall starting Saturday, April 2, 2005 (and at all CQ branches soon afterward). Buyers will also get a free copy of Angel Ace Next, which is a prologue to the new book.

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[Blog Entry] Ways to Spend Your Weekend Salary

The newly opened branch of a A Different Bookstore in Cubao (making it the fourth franchise) has a 25% discount on your first purchase until March 31, 2005. It’s the biggest branch yet, perhaps rivaling their Eastwood branch.

Then on the weekend, you can pass by the Podium as they’re having a general sale. Remember, there are stores there like Ink and Stone for book lovers, Toy Kingdom for hobbyists, and Hobbes for board game fanatics like me.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

[Book Review] Culture and History by Nick Joaquin

One of the books that I actually bought out of my own volition rather than required reading, Culture and History is a collection of essays by the late Nick Joaquin, perhaps one of the greatest Filipino writers of the 20th century. While Joaquin was a master of the short story and novel, Culture and History shows that he was talented when it came to nonfiction as well.

More than just a history book, Culture and History gives us a different perspective on just as the title implies: culture and history. Although it’s been written down more than a decade ago, Joaquin tackles several modern issues, perhaps a tribute to his foresight and flexibility. In this book we see talk of nationalism, of what makes us a Filipino, and certain nationalistic movements which aren’t really nationalistic.

What’s courageous about Joaquin in this publication is that he plays devil’s advocate and challenges a lot of Filipino complaints when it comes to history. Because of that, there’s perhaps a pro-Spanish slant, but Joaquin justifies all of it with his explanations and discussions. Perhaps what’s even braver is that Joaquin is not afraid to point out several weaknesses of our culture, hindrances which we have overlooked all for the sake of “national pride”. There’s a lot of ideas that is discussed in the book, and the author paints us a more holistic picture of history.

Speaking of history, this book is not just an essay citing various texts. Culture and History has a history of sorts, although it’s not prevalent one we Filipinos learned during our high school and grade school years. There are accounts of the Santo Niño, accounts of a strong female religious movement during the Spanish era, and accounts of events in Asia and in the West in general. While perhaps not as “historical” as your text books, Culture and History also has some relevant historical markers in addition to showcasing Joaquin’s views on Filipino history.

The book is far from boring, but it’s not as entertaining as say, the history books of Ambeth Ocampo. Culture and History is a book for those who are more interested in understanding Filipino history (and history in general) rather than just history for the sake of knowledge. And if you think you know everything there is about Filipino culture just because you’re a Filipino, you might want to read this book. Lastly, it’s not for the faint of heart because the book will challenge several prevailing concepts which seem right, especially to our “nationalistic” Filipino hearts. But upon closer inspection, are we really being patriotic or merely deluding ourselves with illusion?

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Monday, March 28, 2005

[Essay] The Purity of Pinoy Comic Art

I’m not in a good position to talk about Pinoy comics, especially considering the fact that while I am a comic fan, I’m not a comic artist. But hey, epiphanies do not exclusively belong to artists and there are some ideas that I’m open to considering that I’m an outsider. With the advent of anime and manga’s popularity in Philippine culture, one of the unresolved debates in local comics revolves around that fact. On one side, there are those who gratuitously copy the anime and manga art style. On the other are the vanguards of Filipino comic art, claiming that the actions of the former are a betrayal of our fore bearers, and that local comic art should be nurtured rather than something we should acquire from elsewhere.

First and foremost, I think mimicry is an inevitable step in growth. I mean one of the ways we learn is by copying someone else. In this case, it’s art style. I mean what artist didn’t use tracing paper or carbon paper during their developing years? As much as I want geniuses to unleash their talent once they’re born, that’s not usually the case. The artist has to grow, has to mature, has to develop. Imitation is part of this developmental stage, growing pains if you will. Having said that, an artist shouldn’t really use that as an excuse not to grow. I mean it’s really tempting, especially for us Filipinos, to stop once we’re good at something. I’ll dare to say that once you’ve mastered someone else’s art style, it’s easy to fall prey to stop developing your own style and from then on just utilize the style that you’ve cloned to perfection. While anime and manga might be a good art style, I don’t think Filipino technique should stop there. After all, anime and manga is for Japan. We also have our own heritage, our own history, or own style of making comics. While one might say that mimicry is part of growth, the question I want to ask in response is when do we start going beyond that phase?

Of course for me, it also seems folly to exclusively follow the path of the Filipino purist. I mean one contention is that rather than seeking influences in anime and manga, a Filipino comic artist should ground his works on what was previously established, such as the art style of Mars Ravelo with works like Captain Barbel and Darna. To me while that is a valid path to developing your own art style, it’s not the only path, or rather, just because you choose a different method doesn’t make it any less “Filipino”. I mean sure, draw your influences from the Filipino past if you want. But I don’t think one should limit it to merely that era. Doing so limits one’s possibilities. I mean there’s only so much you can develop when basing something on just a few styles or techniques. And if there is some true innovation to happen, one must go beyond the existing canon.

The contention of the Pinoy comic purists is that when we borrow another culture’s art style, be it America, Japan, or Europe, the artist’s style ceases to be Filipino. Which I don’t think is true, considering that history and culture is not a static entity but rather a dynamic and adapting force. I mean take a look at manga. While we now recognize manga as being the embodiment of Japanese comic art, manga draws its influence from Western art, namely that of the early Disney animation, which is why early works of manga had characters with huge eyes. But despite that, we don’t classify manga as Western comics. The Japanese made it their own, adapted it to their own culture, despite the fact that some fundamentals were drawn from the West. Is the same not possible for the development of Filipino comic art? Obviously, I’m not saying we copy manga’s art style left and right, but rather be judicious about our pickings, and incorporate what’s useful rather than ignore it simply because it’s not Filipino, or automatically include it simply because it’s cool and Japanese.

Perhaps the other idea I want to contend is that our culture has changed from the “Golden Era of Pinoy Comics”. I mean let’s face it, anime at the very least has become part of the present-day Filipino culture. That wasn’t so two decades ago (although we could claim that we had a Voltes V culture back then) but that’s certainly the case nowadays. I mean I’m sure most Filipinos have a vague sense of what anime is, can identify anime and non-anime art, and probably has a favorite character that they idolize. My main point in all this is that anime has become a part of Filipino culture, just as guisado, kamote, and kalabasa have become a part of Filipino culture even though those products weren’t native to the country. But hey, I don’t hear Filipinos denying the cultural authenticity of guisado, kamote, and kalabasa. The same goes for anime, although when it comes to art, Filipinos have yet to transform and develop anime and manga art style into our own. But just because there’s much room for improvement doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there. To simply exclude anime and manga, claiming that it’s Japan’s thing and not our own, is perhaps being too narrow-minded. Do the artists who are influenced by anime and manga need to work on it before it becomes authentically Filipino? Yes, there’s actually much room for improvement. Right now we’re probably just taking our baby steps. But just because that’s the case doesn’t mean that Filipinos who are influenced by anime and manga are less Filipino than those who draw their influences from, say, Mars Ravelo. Art style, much like culture, is evolving.

Much like a lot of things, extremes aren’t necessarily the best solution. Beneath all the art work and art styles when it comes to Filipino comic art, while the technicalities of things are important, we mustn’t also lose focus of the vision and the spirit of what it means to be Filipino. I mean look at English, and despite the fact that it’s a Western language, we Filipinos have incorporated it into our own culture and made it our own. It shares a lot of similarities with American English, the syntax is the same, yet in a certain sense, our English is Filipino. Perhaps the same could be extended to art styles, and while at the surface it might look-alike, underneath it is something rich and vibrant in terms of local culture. But much like what I said earlier, we haven’t exactly reached that point yet, and must strive to develop our own art styles, whether we draw our influences from the past or from foreigners.

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[Book Review] Prophecy by Elizabeth Haydon

Finding its predecessor ho hum, I didn’t have high hopes for Prophecy. Still, it was an enjoyable read nonetheless and Haydon had built on something in the previous book. I was curious as to how the story would develop and whether there would be an improvement in Haydon’s writing style or storytelling.

Suffice to say, Prophecy is fairly consistent with the book that preceded it, Rhapsody. This novel is your standard fare of romance fantasy along with the tropes of an outdated genre, from love at first sight, romance, prophecy, and destiny. It’s not really my cup of tea although I’m sure there’s a market for it.

The story was mediocre. Some thing went as expected, others with a hint of surprise here and there. In the end, Haydon follows the same formula she did for Rhapsody, and there’s really not much deviation in this book. There’s more poetry at the start of the novel though. One thing in which it could have improved upon though was the inclusion of an appendix. Unlike other thick Tor novels, this novel didn’t have an appendix at the end and it would have been helpful to have had one, especially in tracking down the various characters in the story.

Despite all the cons against Haydon, she still does manage to write a compelling narrative. Description is still her strongest point, and while perhaps it’s not as excellent as say George R. R. Martin or Sean Russel, it’s still above the generic fare of fantasy that’s out in the market. Haydon’s descriptive talent is probably along the lines of other Tor-published authors like Robert Jordan and Jacqueline Carey.

While it was a good read, Prophecy isn’t really something I’m keen on. If you like formula in your reading material, then you’ll probably like Haydon. Again, the target market of this book is those who are really into the romance fantasy genre. And despite the premise of three main characters, the book is really about the stubborn heroine, Rhapsody, and the rest behave more like supporting characters. If that’s your thing, be my guest. Just don’t expect anything breathtaking or innovative in this particular fantasy series.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

[Blog Entry]Rejuvenation, Penniless, and Books


While I yearn for vacation to be longer, the past four days has actually been refreshing for me. I’ve forgotten about work, I managed to get enough rest, finish my reading goals for the month, did some writing, met up with some friends, and even got to reflect about my faith. Even my leg muscles got a chance to relax as I didn’t really do any strenuous walking or climbing. Work begins anew tomorrow, and while there’s a lot of stuff to do, I’ll be entering it with a rejuvenated mind and body.


Perhaps one of the opportunity cost of finding time to read during the past few days is not being able to go out to the places I want to go (Elbert tells me that there’s a new branch of A Different Bookstore at Cubao, for example, and they’re on sale). Of course the choice of doing the former was made easier by the fact that I’m broke and the only money I have in my wallet is P50.00 (barely $1.00) and some change. So if I’ve been calling up some people about the money they owe me, well, I’ll try to survive the upcoming week with P50.


Anyway, here’s a column regarding “fictional” books such as The Necronomicon. On a side note, my copy is lying somewhere around here…

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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (book review)

Never saw the movie, but heard the title mentioned over and over again in magazines and websites to the point that Fight Club has become a cult pop icon. When I saw a copy being sold at the local bookstore, I bought myself a copy.

Fight Club can be deceiving. It was a short novel at barely more than 200 pages and the text wasn’t overwhelming. But never confuse thickness and complexity for quality for Fight Club certainly had the latter in spades. While some readers might perceive the novel to be nihilistic and violent in nature, Fight Club is actually cathartic and gives the reader much room for interpretation. Palahniuk successfully writers a modern novel for a modern audience.

The book focuses on two characters, the narrator and the enigmatic persona known as Tyler Durden. Whereas other writers might have focused on the setting and description, Pahalniuk gives us a first-person perspective of things and the way he executes his narration through placement of words and sentences is simply amazing. Language is another of Palahniuk’s strong suits as the two main characters speak frankly and directly, two distinct characters with different perspectives and speech patterns. While Fight Club doesn’t have a huge cast, Palahniuk focuses on the central characters in the novel.

One can never get enough of the human condition and that’s essentially what this book explores. There’s a big twist in the end, but I think readers are prepared for that. Fight Club was never about fighting, but rather the realization of the human soul.

I enjoyed the read, brief as it was, but Palahniuk shows that a lot can be accomplished through simplicity and imagination. There’s a lot of things that is appealing in the book, and you don’t really have to be a fan of fiction or suspense to thoroughly enjoy this piece. It’s short, simple, and brief, so it should retain your attention long enough to get by.

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