Publication: Rogue Magazine March 2009
"The Pillar" by Ely Buendia
There's a tendency to be either too critical or too lenient when a story is written by the rock star of the Philippines but my overall impression with this story is that it was fairly mundane. Ely Buendia's biggest asset is his readability and there was never a moment here wherein I was lost. In fact, this is a rather long piece for Rogue Magazine but Buendia managed to hold my attention until the end. What I didn't like however is how Buendia drops the ball around midway through the narrative. He sets up what I thought was a great metaphor for the Philippines and the condition of Filipinos such as his use of the term "brownies," but later the metaphor dissolves as we're dropped into the actual Philippines. From there, this becomes an action romp--and that's not necessarily a bad thing--but it's simply an adventure story with a blatant political slant towards the end. That's not to say this is a bad story; it's certainly better than most speculative stories written in the past three months, much less action/adventure ones, but it also lacks that element which might have made it striking or unique. For all my criticisms though, "The Pillar" is quite accessible.