Friday, June 18, 2010

Filipino Science Fiction discussion revisited

The other day I got a comment on an old post, my attempt at literary criticism on what makes for Filipino Science Fiction.  That article generated a bit of discussion during its time -- it was part of a larger conversation involving Dean, Kyu, Bhex, and a few other folks -- but I thought the matter was long since set aside and forgotten.  Then from out of the blue, a message from someone called Paladin:

so What if your not Filipino but your story centers around Filipinos, I.E. my main characters are Filipino's does this count??? as Filipino Sci Fi ???

I wasn't sure if Paladin was spoiling for a fight, so I took the most pragmatic approach:

I'll wait for the final published product before passing judgment.

It turns out Paladin was quite a nice fellow.  American, yes, but with strong Filipino links:

hmmm well i've spent over 30 years on it i doubt i'll ever be done lol. but if your interested in seeing what i have other then what's posted on my blog let me know. the book is 95k word count over 430 pages and the graphic art is being done by rio villegas from the cebu sun times.


When i first thought of this book in 1979 they we're all american such as me, but after discovering the amazing people in the philipinees i switched my characters to a multi national cast. there are 9 books in the series, and i did imbue onto my characters characteristics and personality types i came across in each culture.

Now, I've started to move away from fantasy and science fiction, but I think the output from Paladin and Rio Villegas, Little Flower Chronicles, is still worth a look.  From what I gather, its in the vein of military SF

But the best answer to Paladin's original question, I think, comes from another commenter, Miyako:

What makes a fiction filipino?

authorship? no
character's ethnicity? no
philippine issues? no
local plot? no
filipino theme? no

An american author who has lived in the philippines for awhile can employ all of the above. His work could be either american or filipino. It all depends on the truthfulness and sensibilities depicted in his writing.

There are truthfulness and sensibilities unique to us Filipinos. We can sense it through settings/scenes, characters' interaction, dialogue, and the way the characters think. We see the filipino-ness of a literature along its margins such as the kind of soap a character uses or a bowl of soup another character sips. The way she takes a bath or the loud noise he makes when he sips his soup also scream filipino-ness.

What makes arundathi roy's work indian are the scent of marigold, the stench of the gutter, the vedic chants, the amber of safron, and other little things we don't consider important in her novel.

Filipino-ness can be read along the margins.
That said, I'm quite happy this old blog still manages to turn up friends from unexpected places. Happy to meet you, Paladin.


  1. Wow Thanks for the article, i'm very humbled.
    The main reason for my strong connection to your Country is my asawa (atawa in her dialec)is finally Buntis and we have been trying for a long time, anyways as a child there were hundreds of american heroes to grow up to admire too, this had a major impact on me growing up, at any point i didn't see a lot that my child would look up too. The major reason for the change of my characters. I spent the better part of 5 years changing them putting in filipno traits that I discovered and learned to love. At anypoint book 1 is written and currently being drawn as much as i can afford to have drawn each month. Should anyone like to read the entire book just send me an e-mail. I'm looking for critisism, I welcome it.

  2. As someone who also grew up on American and English fare, I have also had to learn to look back at my own literary heritage. Sad but true, the foreign influences have been way too strong. Now I'm reading more of Philippine and Asian literature -- I think that's the best place for me to start.

    And hey, congratulations on your impending fatherhood. Best wishes and prayers to you, your wife, and junior.

  3. Salamat.
    hope you enjoy the book i posted the entire book. its 30 years of my life, still hoping to get it to be come a graphic novel. tell me if you enjoy it.

    like i said i wanted my child to have a Filipino Hero thats my goal.

  4. Hey, that's mighty bold of you, P. Are you sure you don't want to take it through a publisher first?

    I'll have a look at it soon; just need to get work stuff out of the way.

  5. I've dabbled at getting it published, but as i'm told by basically everyone. i'm a no one in this industry why should we read your book. However as a graphic novel i have attracted a lot of attention to the book. Seems for most pictures help sell the dream. in July i'll have the hook pictures i need to sell the story as a graphic novel. and then its fish, cut bait or go home. Hopefully i'll get lucky.

    thanks for bringing some attention to the story

    Dano A.K.A Paladin