Jam 88.3: How are you guys doing tonight?
Kenneth Yu, Miggy Escano: We’re fine.
Jam 88.3: We are talking about the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. Why don’t you give us a backgrounder first?
Kenneth: It started last year around December. The first issue was released last December but even way before that, I was already thinking how nice it would be if we could have an avenue for Pinoy writers to share their talents in telling genre stories in the
Jam 88.3: And when you say genre stories, what exactly do you mean?
Kenneth: Right, I’m glad you asked that question. Genre is defined, genre by its definition means category, but its defined in the publishing world as stories that fall under crime, mystery, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural stories, stuff like that. These stories have not been given much attention—I felt. So I thought why not with the popularity of Harry Potter, fantasy, with the popularity of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, why not come up with an avenue for Pinoys to share the talent that they have to tell such imaginative stories and perhaps they come up with their own something tied in with the Philippines: tiyanaks or whatever. Taking it to a literary level.
Jam 88.3: Weren’t there local publications though that do come out with these kinds of stories, these kinds of material?
Kenneth: As far as I could tell, no. I mean there were few and far in between. Not enough or if ever there were, they were just too few. So why not? That’s why I came up with PGS.
Jam 88.3: How about you Miggy, as a writer, did you also feel that you needed other avenues, other ways to put your writing out there for people to appreciate?
Miggy: Every writer wants someone else to read his or her story. And that’s actually very important to a writer. A publication like Philippine Genre Stories allows your story to be read by a wider audience and not just by my friends or small group or friends.
Jam 88.3: So it all started with that idea. What put everything in motion?
Kenneth: I had the good fortune. Well my regular business is I’m a printer so I have a small commercial press, we print the usual stuff on paper: calling cards, letterheads, marketing materials, brochure, pamphlets, exciting stuff. (laughs) And so it was very easy for me to make a layout, come out with the template for the small digest as you’ve see in the samples I’ve shown you. It was with that easy step, it’s easy for me to get production. The next step was to get the word out, that there’s a new publication coming out. So I just blogged about it.
Jam 88.3: That’s right. Okay.
Kenneth: I got a blog and it’s wonderful, this modern world the youth are all connected, everybody’s connected now. So I just put it up, asked for submissions, and lo and behold, it confirmed my hunch: people submitted.
Jam 88.3: Is that how you got in touch with Miggy?
Kenneth: That’s right, everything was through the Internet, through the Web. It worked. There are people, there are Pinoys, young ones especially, telling stories that fall under genre. That pleased me so much when I got the first set of contributions. So that made me release issue one last December.
Jam 88.3: How soon after were you able to release or publish the issue?
Kenneth: The second issue?
Jam 88.3: The first one, after you blogged about it and you get all these…
Kenneth: I gave myself three, four months. So four months before December I put out the call and went into publication about a month before and then I came out in December, just in time for Christmas last year. The second issue came out about April or May. The third issue just came out with Miggy as the cover story with his horror story “Tuko” and the special PGS holiday issue is coming out before Christmas.
Jam 88.3: All right. I noticed there are a lot of horror stories. Like in the past PGS, the first one and the second one, there are more horror stories compared to the other genres featured. Why do you think that is, Miggy?
Miggy: Filipinos like to be scared and we like writing stories that scare people. And we can see that a lot of movies that are out right now deal with horror, especially with Asians with Japanese films. We Filipinos love to be scared. We love reading and watching stuff about horror.
Jam 88.3: I’m curious as to how you got started writing with horror but I think we can save that for later on. Let’s first finish the story, Kenneth?
Kenneth: The second issue came out, the first issue came out I’m glad I was able to get contributors like Dean Alfar, is THE proponent of what they call speculative fiction in the country. Speculative fiction being the umbrella term to cover sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Then I got some other contributors like Andrew Drilon, Vin Simbulan, Joseph Nacino, Alex Osias. Later on other contributors, other names started trickling in. Bit by bit I found variations. Yes, it’s true, Pinoys love to be scared for some reason. They love to stay awake at night and be scared but there is a growing fantasy writing segment in the
Jam 88.3: It’s been there, just like what you said, there’s no avenue.
Kenneth: There’s no avenue, correct. So that came out and then sci-fi is growing. There is a sci-fi convention at the end of the month and you didn’t hear about that in the past. So at the end of the month there’s this sci-fi convention at Glorietta.
Jam 88.3: Oh really, is this the first one?
Kenneth: No, it’s been going on but I’d like to think the fact that they’ve reached the fifth shows that it’s growing. It definitely is, there is definitely a sci-fi element growing. What is lacking, I’d like to point out and you might be surprised at this given the state our country is in, is that nobody writers crime, which is a genre too. Which is funny. I haven’t had any crime submissions. But nevertheless sci-fi/fantasy/horror are very much alive and that’s very encouraging.
Jam 88.3: Hmmm, I wonder why. Why do you think that is? Why are there no crime stories?
Miggy: We’re probably fed up with all the crime news.
Jam 88.3: That’s true. (laughs)
Jam 88.3: Miggy, you have the cover story for the third edition. I’m just curious by the way because every story, there’s an introduction written to that particular story. Who writes that?
Kenneth: Oh, I do since I double as editor. Maybe one day kung patok na patok if it really becomes a big hit then I can hire a professional editor but in the meantime, I have to double both as publisher and editor.
Jam 88.3: All right, of course at the end of those stories, they also provide you with what inspired them to write that particular story that’s featured in PGS.
Kenneth: It’s a twist I’ve thought of that not only will I put the background or a brief bio of the writer, I thought how nice it would be if the reader could get a glimpse into the mind of the writer as to how that story came about. So there you have it along with their photos, their blogs, their email addresses. I decided to give them some space to talk about how they wrote it.
Jam 88.3: So let’s go on to Miggy and since you are the cover story for the third issue, why don’t you tell us first about your story? Give us a teaser or a backgrounder on what you wrote about for the third PGS and what inspired you of course to come up with the story.
Miggy: My story is entitled “Tuko”. It’s a fictional story that deals with bangungot. It’s actually a medical condition that affects predominantly Filipinos.
Jam 88.3: Is it a medical condition? Because there’s a lot of debate also whether there is, isn’t it like a religious or superstitious thing?
Miggy: Well bangungot according to medicine is supposed to be sudden cardiac arrest while a person is sleeping. That’s why there’s lot of superstitions as to what causes bangungot.
Jam 88.3: If someone has taken a hold of you and you can’t move and paralyzed and you see these…
Miggy: It’s supposed to be in some regions, they believe it’s an invisible giant that sits on a person’s chest, that’s why the person is unable to breathe and that person dies. For others, they say that it’s actually caused by heat trapped in the body. It builds up so that’s why a pan of water is placed beside the bed so the heat transfers to the water. However there’s no conclusive medical evidence what really causes bangungot. It’s actually a medical mystery as of now. So I kind of speculated what if there was something. Something supernatural that causes bangungot and what causes bangungot is the lonely animal called the?
Jam 88.3: The tuko!
Miggy: The tuko, the gecko. But the tuko is not what causes the bangungot, the tuko is actually warns people about another creature that causes bangungot when it’s nearby. That’s why it makes the sound, tuko, it’s actually mimicking the sound of the victim dying of bangungot.
Jam 88.3: Okay! That’s the sound of a dying victim. So for example, a person can’t really vocalize their cry or their plea or their last call so it goes through the tuko.
Miggy: The tuko is actually like an alarm clock, a warning device, a car alarm so when something’s near, it warns people that it’s nearby. And this thing is actually invisible, it can’t be seen. That’s why the tuko has to warn us, it’s the only thing that can see it. Bangungot actually comes from the root word bangon and ungot, which means to rise and to groan. A sleeping person suddenly rises, there’s a sharp pain in his chest, he can’t breathe, and then he suddenly falls dead.
Kenneth: Don’t give too much away. Let them buy and read!
Miggy: The story is basically about that, the tuko and the bangungot. It’s actually about a young man named Jun Crisostomo. He’s assigned to a far flung city in the province. And he encounters the tuko.
Jam 88.3: And in that particular town are there a lot of cases of bangungot?
Miggy: Actually in the
Jam 88.3: 1,000 in 100,000?
Miggy: Yeah, so like one in a hundred. But those numbers include people who die mysteriously in their sleep. So it’s not conclusive because a lot of conditions are misreported as bangungot. Because when a person dies, they say, “o, binangungot” when a person is asleep. It includes those numbers. Bangungot is actually a very interesting subject because surprisingly, it only affects males, predominantly Asian males. So it’s actually something non-Western.
Kenneth: You’re safe.
Miggy: You’re safe. No problem.
Jam 88.3: Okay, good. I like this!
Miggy: It was actually first observed in the 1950s in
Jam 88.3: But why did you decide to tie it up with the tuko? I mean when you say tuko, it’s not like a good pest. It’s a pest, people view it as a pest. When they see it, it’s not exactly something that they will keep or cuddle so why decide to make the hero in your story or short story?
Miggy: The tuko is actually very misunderstood, it gets a very bad rap.
Jam 88.3: Probably because of the way it looks.
Kenneth: Miggy has pet lizards at home.
Miggy: Actually you know the lizards we have at home, what we call the butiki, they’re a type of gecko, they’re a cousin of the tuko. The tuko here is the bigger one.
Kenneth: Probably has more than one lizard at home. (laughs)
Miggy: The tuko is a very big lizard that’s very noisy and they say don’t touch it because when it touches you, it’s hard to get off. So the tuko gets a bad rap. I wanted to make it a hero because actually in other cultures, lizards are considered lucky.
Jam 88.3: Really?
Miggy: Yeah. They keep magical charms as lizard tails. Because the presence of a lizard in a house is actually good because the lizards eat mosquitoes and other insects. It’s only here in the
Jam 88.3: We do have the sound bite for the gecko call and I think you’re going to read an excerpt. For the people who aren’t exactly sure how they exactly sound, if you want to find out more about the story “Tuko”, Miggy is going to read us a part later on. Anything else you wanted to add?
Miggy: You don’t have anything to fear from the tuko, the tuko is actually very friendly. Also lizards get a bad rep. When you go to sleep, they say you shouldn’t open your mouth because they say lizards will crawl inside. That’s actually part of the inspiration for the story: what if something lizard-like crawled inside?
Jam 88.3: Right. Not a good sign. For the people who would like to contribute and send stories by the way, how do they do that?
Kenneth: You can go to the blog, philippinegenrestories.blogspot.com. And we accept contributions anytime, just send them in. There’s a link there on how to submit, just click on the submission guidelines. Anyone, we’re open to any Filipino.
Jam 88.3: Even from children?
Kenneth: There’s a certain age limit, maybe fourteen and above but we take any story by any Pinoy here or abroad. Please send them in, we’d love to give your story a voice. If we can publish it, we will.
Jam 88.3: It’s time for us to listen to Miggy read an excerpt from the cover story he had written for Philippine Genre Stories but first Miggy, I understand that this is part of a series, is that correct?
Miggy: Actually yes. The “Tuko” is actually a part of a series of stories that deal with the supernatural. I recreate traditional Filipino monsters then re-imagine them for a modern audience. So we know about the myths of bangungot so I recreated a new myth for the bangungot that involves the tuko.
Jam 88.3: All right, that clarifies it then. And you’re going to read us a part but before that let’s get to the call.
Miggy: We’re supposed to be listening to the sound of a male gecko, the mating call. That’s why the tuko is called by its name because it sounds that way. I’ll read an excerpt from my story, “Tuko”.
-omitted for Copyright reasons-
Jam 88.3: That is an excerpt from “Tuko”, cover story of The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. Thank you very much Miggy Escano. If you want to read the whole thing, you have to get a copy of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. And how do they do that Kenneth?
Kenneth: It’s available at Fully Booked, Bibliarch, Comic Quest, Books for Less, Booktopia, Mag:Net, A Different Bookstore, and The Filipinas Heritage Library at the
Miggy: Hopefully more stories to come, hopefully in PGS and other publications as well.
Jam 88.3: Someone texted, I really am a bookworm. I find your genre interesting and proudly Pinoy. Can I have a free copy of bangungot or “Tuko”? That’s coming from Jennifer of Velenzuela city.
Kenneth: Hi Jeniffer. Well we gave an extra copy to Lana so if they have a contest here, you could call in and win.
Jam 88.3: Unfortunately Jennifer we don’t have enough time tonight but I’ll see if I can give that copy out next week. Just make sure to tune in to Shelve It every Thursday 8:00 – 9:00. Again, how do they get updates on PGS?
Kenneth: Check out philippinegenrestories.blogspot.com. I’d like to thank the sponsors who helped PGS. That’s Superbowl of China, Ribisco Chocomucho, Modess, Starbucks, and PLDT MyDSL.
Jam 88.3: Thank you very much.