Friday, September 29, 2006

Speculative Ficton Vol. 2 TOC

Just in case you're one of the rare people who visits my blog more often than Dean's

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.2 (December 2006)
Table of Contents

Alexander Osias - GUNSADDLED



Apol Lejano-Massebieau - JUST ANOTHER GHOST STORY

Jonathan Siason - RE-GENESIS

Joseph Nacino - FIRST CONTACT

Joshua Limso - FEASTING

Kate Aton-Osias - SNIPPETS

Madeline Rae Ong - CLUTTER





Rochita Loenen-Ruiz - BOREALIS

Russel Stanley Geronimo - THE SIGN OF THE CROSS



Dean Francis Alfar - SIX FROM DOWNTOWN

Krip Yuson - LOREM IPSUM

Honorable Mention
Which means cross your fingers, because Dean did manage to sneak in two honorable mentions in last year's collection.

Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon's The Head
JB Lazarte's White Light
M. Arguelles Angue's Mad Tea Party
Jessi Albano's Witch
Eric Melendez's The Small Miracle of the Liberation of La Escuridad
Dino Galindez's Down Time
Sean Uy's The Scent of Rust

30 Hours and Counting

I'm one of those people currently contemplating camping out at the office. Of course times like these, I remember how surreal the Philippines can be. The opposite side of our street is filled with homes with their lights turned on. Ours is still as dark as the stone age. And the rumor's that we won't have electricity until three days later. One day down, two more to go. It's so bad that my boss has been hotel-hopping, and he finds out that all of them are fully booked.

21-Hour Blackout and Counting

Filipinos are used to power failures. In the 80's, amidst coups and an unused nuclear powerplant, power failures were a way of life. It would occur at least once a day, anywhere from an hour to four. Suffice to say, over the next two decades, we were prepared whenever there was such an occurence. Rechargable lamps and old generators were put to use, remnants of the famous EDSA decade. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone could have prepared for this.

For the foreigners who are wondering why suddenly everyone in the Philippines stopped blogging, it's because of the blackout we're currently experiencing. I'm typing this thanks to the building's generators, but I don't know how that it'll last. Much like power outages, Filipinos are used to typhoons. When it was announced last Wednesday that there was one coming here the next day, we didn't imagine it'll be at hurricane or Twister-type proportions. Or perhaps it would be fairer to say that it was the worst typhoon that hit Metro Manila.

Trees came crashing down, blocking various streets and highways. Most of the billboards were ripped, landing on unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians. Construction sites were a mess. Power lines were down. And there's an extremely strong, strong wind that the guards below our building had to hold the door in order for people to come in or get out.

My personal experience was that after finding a path that lead to our village that wasn't blocked by obstruction (something along the lines of giant trees), we waded through a flooded area, only to emerge out of it with a flat tire (thankfully we didn't need to ask the question "how many Ateneans does it take to fix a flat tire"). Then one of the gate leading to our village was barred by a huge fallen tree so we had to find another route, praying that the lamp posts wouldn't fall on us (because some were indeed on the ground).

And then home was a dark place. Candles and rechearble lamps were everywhere, but after more than 12 hours has passed and still no sign of electricity, well, there's only so much you can do sleeping, praying, and eating.

Oh, and Globe mobile phone lines are down. Here at the office the signal's okay but everywhere else there's little or no signal at all.

The weather's fine now, and there's little rain, if any, but the damage has been done.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Powerbooks Warehouse Sale

Powerbooks is having a Warehouse Sale from September 29 to October 1, 2006. Head to the Powerbooks Warehouse and get set to enjoy great discounts on your favorite books. Get 30% discount on all regular items and get as much as 70% off on selected titles!

A surprise awaits you on this pre-Christmas sale you should not miss!

See you there!

The Powerbooks Warehouse
#25 Brixton street, Kapitolyo Subdivision
Pasig City
Tel no.: 490-1158

Adventures in the Dream Trade by Neil Gaiman

When I first saw Adventures in the Dream Trade, I was genuinely surprised because I never knew it existed. I found it in a specialty bookstore, and was going for a relatively high selling price. Still, thinking that it was a rare Neil Gaiman book, I shelled out the cash for it and I did find out it really was a rare Neil Gaiman book due to its small print-run. And anyone who's read it will know why.

Adventures in the Dream Trade collects various introductions and essays by Gaiman, a few poems, songs, really short fiction (the equivalent tern would be fast-food fiction), and several months worth of blog entries tackling the publiation of American Gods. Why do I mention this? Because it shows you who should buy this book. Adventures in the Dream Trade doesn't really have a huge, encompassing story for most people to read, and the snippets of fiction that it has, as good as it is, isn't worth the price I paid for. There are two kinds of people who should read it, much less buy it. First are those die-hard Gaiman fans, who must know everything about him and read everything he writes. It'll be a cheaper investment to buy this book rather than purchase, say, every comic or book he's written an introduction for. The seconnd type of person who could wade through the thing would be people genuinely interested in the book publishing process. Gaiman's blog entries provide an insightful look at the industry, post-submission of the manuscript for American Gods. We find out the nitty-gritty of editing, translating, reviewing, and touring. Oh, and Gaiman really loves Sushi a lot.

The first part, which is perhaps the second chunkiest part of the book, contains lots of introductions and essays by Gaiman. Going through the first half of them can be tiring, because most of them can be summed up as 90% (or 99%) of comics is trash, and guess what percentage this one belongs to? Of course you might be tempted to get the comics/books yourselves after reading the intro, but that's your perogative. It gets better in the second half as it's more insight into Gaiman and the kind of fiction he likes rather than blatant plugging of a title.

The poetry part is a short segment and it's simple. It's not really long. Then we come to the songs he wrote for the Flash Girls, except he's no Weis & Hickman, so we don't really know the tune or beat the song is sung to. But you're a die-hard Gaiman fan, so you won't mind.

Then the real meat of the book are his blog entries, minus the pictures he posted on the website. Now penny-pinchers might argue why pay for something that's on the web and free? Because reading in print is different and it's easier to have them there all ready to read, instead of waiting for your browser to load each and every page. And as I mentioned above, it's insightful for those who want to know about the publishing industry, or Gaiman in general.

The last part contains a few, rare, short stories. They've been published before, but good luck looking for those original publications. And they're three pages long at most, so don't hold your breath. Still, Gaiman's writing is still good working with such conditions.

Obviously, the book rules out mass-market consumption because of the subject it tackles (then again, there were a few thousand Neil Gaiman fans bothered to show up during his visit here, so reprinting it for the Philippines might not be a bad idea). Still, would-be-writers planning to start a career as a novelist might want to pick up the book, as well as the rabid Gaiman fanatic.

Another iPod Contest

Seriously, Fully Booked should have come up with a better slogan.


We're giving away a brand new iPod Video!

For every P1000 single receipt purchase at Fully Booked and Mobile 1, you get a chance to win an iPod Video 60GB!!!

*Promo runs from September 22, to October 31, 2006.
*Valid only in Fully Booked and Mobile 1 Rockwell Power Plant Mall.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Word for the Day: Melancholy

Every so often, I'd feel bouts of depression that threaten to drag me down. It's the feeling of loneliness, that you're unwanted, and that you're going nowhere in life. The past few days is one of those times. While others might channel this into writing, I simply feel lethargic. What's the point in writing? What's the point in doing anything?

It'll pass eventually but in the meantime, I'll gorge on brainless activities.

Photograph Doppelgangers

Right now, part of my job entails labeling photographs, giving proper credit to where it's due. However, it's not as easy as it sounds. As one of our photographers told me, he and a bunch of other photographers are huddled in the same area, so their photographers all look alike except for a couple of subtle differences. The angles are similar, which makes sense when photographers are given limited mobility.


Take at least one genre book or short story, and merge it with another name. Then describe the plot of your new creation. Limit your description to fifty words, and submit no more than six entries. Remember to include your name and address. If you make me laugh, you win a prize.

Example: Foundation and Empire Strikes Back from Foundation and Empire and The Empire Strikes Back

Hari Selden goes to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi and become powerful enough to defeat the Mule. Unfortunately for Hari, the Mule is his father.

Send entries to carol a-t cybrid d-o-t net; entries must be received before November 15, 2006. First prizes is a signed limited edition copy of Majestrum by Matthew Hughes; second prize are advanced copies of three forthcoming novels; any runners-up receive a one-year subscription to F&SF.

From The Slush God Speaketh

The Quest for Wisdom

For me, the hallmark of mankind isn't so much our intelligence, or our ability to wield tools, or our civilization, but rather our ability to learn. Of course learning is not a skill that's exclusive to humans (even animals can learn), but without it all our past accomplishments (as well as our failures) become irrelevant. Perhaps on a subconscious level, we're all aware of this. That's why most societies respect their elders, not just out gratitude for all they've accomplished, but because of the wisdom they are reputed to possess. Of course the assumption there is that with age comes experience, and with experience wisdom. But that's not always necessarily true.

I'll first tackle experience. From a theoretical point of view, it seems that age equals experience. After all, you have longer years to live compared to a child, hence you should have more experience than one. However, is that really the case?. For one thing, life isn't unfair as much as it is unequal. We're born into different backgrounds, equipped with different talents and flaws, each leading us into an easier or more difficult life. The other factor is free will. While we can experience the richness of life, we don't necessarily choose to do so. It might be because we're afraid to leave our comfort zone, or we have other priorities, or simply something else is holding us back. Take for example a child born into war and poverty, and a man who's lived a posh and comfortable lifestyle. The latter will never experience the rigors and trials of the former, and he won't really be tempted to venture forth from where he is, unless he suddenly feels bored or empty. That's not to say that the former will always have more experiences than the latter, but by default, the poverty-stricken child was raised in adversity, while the comfortable man has to search for further experiences (and honestly, how many people are truly tempted to look for problems?). That's also not to say that the latter doesn't have anything to teach the former. Everyone has something to teach, it's just that the experiences each of them faces is different, and some are more sedentary than others.

The second assumption of course is that with experience comes wisdom. But anyone who's attended school knows that as much as our teachers try to teach us, we don't necessarily absorb everything they tell us. The same goes for experience. While there are always new lessons to be learned with each encounter, we don't necessarily learn them, or even realize them in the first place. Using the same example from the previous paragraph, the war-torn child might have more experiences, but he might not learn from what's being thrown at him. The comfortable man might end up being more wiser, especially if he maximizes his current environment. Just because you're given more doesn't necessarily mean you do more. In the end, it's what you do with what you're given. And quite frankly, not everyone takes the opportunity to learn. It might be due to pride, ignorance, or selfishness, but when we're presented with the chance for growth or truth, we shirk away from it, or even ignore it. In the end, it’s not a question of how much you’ve experienced, but rather how much you’ve learned from your experiences.

If we could channel age into experience, and experience into wisdom, that'd be great. But that's not always true. Perhaps the comforting fact about all of this is that we don't necessarily need age to have a lot of experiences, and just because we don't have a lot of experiences doesn't mean we can't be wise. It's about wanting to be taught, discerning what there is to be learned, accepting the lessons there is to be found, and making the most out of it. An old adage is that knowledge isn't wisdom. And that is very true. I think the last step is an important part as well. Because we can be the most knowledgeable person in the world yet if we don't do anything with it, we're about as effective as a fool. Knowledge lies in the theoretical, while wisdom is the actuality of it. If we don't act on what we know, then there's really no point in knowing if we're just going to act in the same way. It doesn't mean our accumulated lore should be translated into physical works, but it could be something as simple as appreciating your family, friends, and country. Even in the very act of appreciation, there is a change within the human spirit that other people can see.

There's also a misconception about where we can obtain knowledge. A lot of people prize formal education too much, perhaps to the point that it becomes unhealthy. Many fail to value the importance of informal education, of experiencing life in other ways. I'm a product of formal education myself, but if my life revolved solely on it, then I wouldn't be the person who I am now. School, after all, is a simple albeit difficult life. Your teachers tell you what needs to be done, and you know what needs to be accomplished. The only problem you face in school is how to go about finishing those tasks. However, that's only one facet of life. More often than not, the problems we face isn't getting to our destination, but discovering what our actual destination is. And formal education does little to remedy that. Moreover, while I value what my teachers taught me, I valued even more what my classmates, what my environment was teaching me. Society, especially societies of children and young adults, can be quite an awful place. And perhaps what's special about that kind of society is that it's natural, we don't hold back and there are little pretensions of civility: we act without restraint. And while there is much good that arises from that, there is also much wrongness. As a child, we're blunt, for example. We speak what we think. And sometimes, our selfishness rises to the surface, and no one else is as important as ourselves. There's a lesson to be learned from all of that, a lesson that is often tinged with nostalgia. Formal education might teach us how to accumulate knowledge, but it’s the environment surrounding it that teaches us how to be human, for good or for ill. We might not remember what’s been taught in the classroom, but we definitely remember our experiences, our emotions, our friends from that part of our life. Perhaps what most people yearn for when they think of their childhood isn’t so much the lessons itself, but the environment formal education gave us.

And if there’s any reason why we should understand and value our ability to learn, it’s because it shapes our beliefs. Everyone values virtues, although the hierarchy might vary between each individual. Some even have different definitions of virtues, and one can engage in an endless debate on matters of love, truth, and justice for example. It’s people’s ability to learn that shape these ideologies, these belief of ours. I think first and foremost, people want to find a truth, a universal law that governs their lives. As much as we know the world is complicated, we want to simplify things to the point of oversimplification. We cling to certain ideas as if they were the only truth. In some shows I watch, villains are usually portrayed as believing in the ideology of survival of the fittest or that the strong rules over the weak. One might think those are extreme examples, but they’re actually a reality. Hitler, for example, believed in the ideology of utilitarianism. One of the reasons he condemned the Jews was because he found them useless, at least from the perspective of his country. Yet this utilitarianism belief is still prevalent, albeit not a powerful political force as it used to be. Every time we exhibit prejudice, that’s being manifested to a certain extent: the way certain people look down on retarded babies, the way some people condemn homosexuals because they can’t procreate, or simply the believers of an opposing religion because they don’t fit into their cosmological concept. I mean just the other day, I found an American blogger who wanted to kill all Muslims because of some extremists who were perpetuating acts of terrorism. These are the result of oversimplifying things and looking for a general rule to govern our lives. It doesn’t even have to be a political ideology, it could be a religious one, or even propaganda such as good always wins (as if who was "good" could be identified, or that "evil" will never win a battle). Of course these beliefs of ours, whether they are truly applicable or not, result from our own experiences and our ability to learn. Most people usually base their decision on what they decide is true. Centuries ago, people believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. When presented with a different theory, even when proof was showed, they were skill skeptical. I’m not interested in who’s right or who’s wrong, but rather their motivations for choosing which one to believe. In that era, it was easier to believe that the Earth was the center because everyone else encouraged it, including an influential force, the church. Sometimes, we refuse to embrace other ideas because we already have a pre-existing one. It’s like an empty slot that once we find something to fill it with, we refuse everything else. Another problem with oversimplification is that we tend to polarized ideas. As Bush would say, it’s either you’re with us or you’re against us. And perhaps the problem with that kind of mentality is that it leaves little room for further growth. We can’t learn new ideas if we’re not open to them. And perhaps what’s debilitating is that we attempt to destroy those other sources of learning.

Our mistake isn’t so much in believing various truths, but in believing there is only one and final truth. A lot of people take offense at other ideas because pride gets in their way. They think an attack on their ideology is an attack on themselves. What they forget is that we’re human, and we keep on learning everyday. So what if what we learned wasn’t true? We can always adapt, always change. If we trip, we can pick ourselves up again and try once more. That’s the beauty of learning: we have other opportunities and we learn from our past experiences. However, some people simply don’t see it that way. That’s why people look for scapegoats. Once they’ve pinned the blame on someone or something, they stop looking for alternatives. Once one possibility is discovered, they stop looking for others. Because honestly speaking, to do so is more difficult. We shirk away from further learning because sometimes, it’s really the harder path. And as much as humans prize learning, they want simplicity and easiness when it comes to life. Can I blame them? I sympathize with them because we all yearn for the same things but in the end, learning is a choice, and we have no one else to blame if we refuse to see the lessons being taught.

What I find peculiar is how people fight for ignorance. People usually rally under the banner of terms like innocence or childhood. It’s what happens when parents don’t want their children to see the news, or complain that the schools are exposing their children to the real world, or even in terms of certain forms of censorship. It’s not that these types of people don’t know the truth, it’s that they fear that the truth they think they know will cripple their children. Unfortunately, they fail to realize that the world around them is really the world in reality. Children, for example, might not experience violence in television, but they will eventually experience it, most likely from school (whether it come from themselves or from other children). That’s not to say the full brunt of reality should be forced upon the children, but rather we shouldn’t stifle the learning experience. And in the end, children are still people, and they possess free will. No matter how much we try to raise them right, they will still make mistakes. And sometimes, no matter how much we screw up, they will still turn out for the best. We’re not the only source they learn from. We can be thankful for that.

No Photos Allowed!

While the Anime@Arki film showings have come and gone, the gang usually reunites every year (we diminish with each passing year), usually when someone from Japan arrives. The last time we met up was in Greenbelt 3, and since most of them were architects, the conversation drifted to buildings, and how you couldn't take pictures of buildings in corporate Makati. At least not without a permit and paying a fee. However, you could take pictures of people, so if you do a guerilla shot of buildings there, bring a friend.

The Fort, however, is much more stricter. You can't shoot photographs at all, and I think the fee is P15,000. One of our photographers once shot a runner getting ready to sprint, with the sky as his background. Sorry, you're still paying that P15,000 permit.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Photokina 2006

During my senior year in college, I actually found lots of free time and decided to sit-in in a class for one whole semester, doing everything from homework to quizzes (except perhaps the final exam). It was the book publishing class being taught by Ramon Sunico, a writer cum book publisher cum book designer cum photographer. Anyway, one of the things he mentioned was that during November of every year, camera prices drop because that's the time when the new models come in and so the older models are sold at cheaper price (here's a hint to those deliberating on buying an iPod here in the Philippines: wait! As soon as the new models come in, those phased-out iPods are going to sell cheap. The new iPod Nanos have already arrived, in fact.).

Anyway, the big camera event of this year is Photokina 2006 and starts today. You can read the reports at Photokina 2006 Report to be up-to-date on the latest cameras you'll never be able to afford... at least until next year's Photokina.

D&D Fan Film Musings

I was watching some of the D&D fan films (alas, there are still some broken links) and a recurring theme seems to be to exoticness of females in D&D. There have been a couple of videos that deal with the awkwardness of male gamers when confronted with the opposite sex (to be fair, it's not the hobby's fault... the blame can be placed on the shoulders of the guys, because even if we were handsome, charming men, we'd still be awkward when confronted with a beautiful girl). Although, of course, there are a few that's quite entertaining, in the non-condescending-kind-of-way.

Of course another gaming archetype I wish they'd throw into the mix is the couple/fiance/married gamers. It's been my experience that in certain gaming groups, there'll always be a couple there, whether it's simply boyfriend/girlfriend, fiances, or even a married pair. They're still active when it comes to RPG games, and there are a couple of awkward moments at the gaming table when all the bachelors there turn green with envy. But they're part of the gaming experience nonetheless. It's not that girl D&D gamers are rare, but it's all too frequent that they're usually attached to someone else at that point.

Fabric Warehouse

I was with one of our magazine's stylists during the weekend, tagging along as I am wont to do. Eventually, we landed in an actual fabric warehouse where they sell the material in bulk, priced by the kilo. Of course if you're looking for a specific fabric, well, you'll have to do it the way bibliophiles scrounge for their books: you do it one lane at a time. However, for those of you who might be interested in such pursuits (i.e. cosplayers), you might want to visit the place.

Warehouse #4 Tantuco Complex
No. 100 Conception Street
Brgy. Buting, Pasig City, Philippines
Tel. No. 641-2764

Counter Culture

I think most people have these counter-culture tendencies. You know, habits or hobbies that you have that you think sets you apart from most people (i.e. the masses). It's the rebellious spirit in you that yearns to be unique and make you stand out. It could the lone Mac (or Linux) user amidst a PC crowd. A guy who refuses to play MMORPGs even if he's interested in them. There are even anime fans who are like this, who become disgruntled and drop a show they like just because it gets syndicated or dubbed on local television.

For me, it's the whole Friendster and Instant Messenger thing. The former, because I already have too much blogs to handle so you know, that's one less load I have to worry about. And the Instant Messenger thing, because these days, I really don't have the time. Not that I never used Instant Messenger, I had one back in the days of ICQ. Of course back then, I was still chatting in chat rooms, and I don't get to do that either these days. I mean if you really wanna take the time to talk to me, there are other ways, from sending me a text message, leaving a comment, or plain old email (since when did email become old?). And if you're wondering what my email is, here's a hint: It starts with a letter c, and ends with satan. You can take your pick of Yahoo or Google.

More Plugging

Internet acquaintance (actually more of an Elbert acquaintance, if there is every such a term) Chris Costello will be having his photo exhibit on September 30, 2006 at Store for All Seasons, in 605 Shaw Blvd. Hmmm, what else should I say about him aside from that he's talented (since I can't draw, so that automatically makes everyone else talented when compared to me)? He loves comics!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Read or Die Convention 2007

As a child, I was already a reader, although not with material most people would expect. I didn't read books, I read magazines--

Oh wait, I'm supposed to be plugging something else. Visit RodCon 2007 and find out more details on the bibliophile convention next year. All proceeds will go to UNICEF and AHON, at least those that the organizers don't get to pocket (Just kidding! The organizers, well, most of them are nice... just beware of the few; they bite!). Hopefully the event will be as beautiful as the website so sign up now (it's being held at a classy, posh hotel, so you can impress the socialites in your cicle).

Anita Blake Comic

Newsarama has a partial transcript of Laurell K. Hamilton's Podcast regarding Marvel's new comic adaptation of her popular series.

RSS for Dummies

Here's a link on How to Explain RSS the Oprah Way

From Tech Digest


At certain times, I'm one of those people who want to forestall making decisions. Sometimes, it's because the more time you spend on it, the more you know about the situation. At other times, it's simply because I don't know which decision to make. That's not to say that there will always be right decisions, merely options for you to choose from. What's painful for some people is the fact that when you finally make that decision, other avenues of opportunity are closed. We're not necessarily afraid of the consequences of our actions, but afraid of the possibilities and potential that are no longer there. A bachelor, for example, might fear commitment not because he doesn't enjoy the company of the person he is courting, but rather he is afraid of all the other people he won't be able to propose to but might meet in the future.

Friday, September 22, 2006

160 Megapixel Camera

Boy is that a huge camera. But it can shoot photos up to 160 Megapixels, and promises a 6 x 17 cm image. Unfortunately, it has a price tag that would even discourage the professional photographers here.

From Engadget

1 GB USB Flash Drive Bracelet

Finally, a flash drive that's portable, fashionable, and 1 GB to boot.

From Engadget

Politics and Religion

Every so often, I’d hear a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger mention that the Church (The Catholic Church) shouldn’t meddle in politics, and cite the separation of state and religion in our constitution. To me, it sounds like the same complaint of an employee frustrated at office politics. As much as we don’t want it, it’s still there. Part of the reason is perhaps their expectation of the church’s role. They want religion to be simply just that—religion and not politics. However, what a lot of people fail to realize that religion, for better or for worse, is really a political force, albeit under a different name.

Honestly speaking, while the various religions in the world claims it has good intentions, it does not erase the fact that they are political entities. In an extreme view is Marx, who claimed that religion is the opium of the masses. I won’t go that far, but it is true that religion have certain ideologies, and they do govern people in one way or another through these ideologies. It could be something as a holiday. While a holiday might not seem big to most people, holidays are still days when citizens do not work and stop being productive in society (in terms of being utilitarian, of course, as citizens become productive in other ways too). And sometimes, the religion of a nation wields so much influence that the holiday is enforced by the government as well.

One merely needs to look at history to find further proof. Islam and Christianity have commanded kings and rulers, dictated policies and gained concessions, and last of all, declared wars. People might say I’m merely focusing on these two religions, but the thing with other religions is that they aren’t as popular to wield much influence, or in the case of Buddhism, their doctrine doesn’t encourage them to meddle in the affairs of others (salvation is from within, not from without). Buddhism actually wields much political power, it simply doesn’t choose to exert it. It can suggest actions to its conclave, but it can never command, at least if they want to remain faithful to their beliefs. Now most people’s reaction might be why can’t those two other popular religions be like Buddhism? That they shouldn’t meddle in the affairs of the world? The honest-to-good-answer is that they can’t. Because they’d be hypocrites if they were (although some would claim they’re already hypocrites, most don’t intend to be so).

Christianity, for example, has this pro-active stance of salvation. It means converting the non-believers, preaching (their) God’s word, and more importantly, acting in a way good Christians should act. And while some people would argue that the worst atrocities stem from the best intentions, good intentions are the stepping stones of a virtuous life. And for better or for worse, Christianity isn’t an isolationist religion. In order to be a good Christian, one needs to be aware of other people’s needs, to be aware of what’s happening with your neighbor, to be aware of what’s happening in the world around you. As my pastor would say, there is no undercover Christian. Unfortunately for some people, this also means meddling in the government’s affairs. Because how else can you affect the world around you? One simply can’t stand in one place and expert the world to change. If you want religion to stop meddling in government affairs, don’t change government law, change church doctrine.

That’s not to say I’m condemning or supporting church participation in government. I’m merely here to show the state of things. It’ll help people understand their religion’s actions, and their motivations for doing so (and why you can’t easily dissuade them). That’s also not to say that a church-state would be an abhorrent thing. Speculative fiction writers like Frank Herbert (Dune) and Isaac Asimov (Foundation) have postulated religion-state universes. In a way, such a system is much more inefficient: crimes are heresy as well, so whereas your family won’t turn you in if you committed a crime, they will when you commit sacrilege. And in a church-state, there really is no distinction between the two. For another, there’s less schizophrenia on what actions one should take. There won’t be situations where the government says one thing and your religion says another thing (because honestly, some people do factor in religion when making decisions). On the other hand, paranoiacs and conspiracy-theorists will have a field day as political power is all lumped in one source. And a church-state is just as prone to corruption and deceit as any other political institution.

I think what many people fail to realize is that political power does not reside solely on the government. There are also other sources of political power: its citizens (otherwise the EDSA Revolution wouldn’t be as successful, or the fact that we bothered with EDSA 2 and 3), the media (as a dictator, Marcos had wisdom in silencing the media), the aristocracy, the merchants (or in this case, the wealthy businessmen and entrepreneurs), other state leaders, and of course, the church.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mind of a Writer

Writers, I think, need to have general knowledge, or rather know where to look for the answers (it's called "research") because they write about life, and there's simply too much knowledge about life for one person to know everything about. Perhaps it's why some people call us crazy (now me, they simply call me a stalker, but that's because I'm not talented at writing).

Take for example the AOL search leak more than a month ago. Someone was searching the Internet "how to kill your wife". Most people would assume it's a murderer. I'm thinking it might be a doctor (or would-be doctor) figuring out how to operate in an autopsy. Or better yet, a writer figuring out how to make his/her next story believable. Because as a writer, short of committing the actual deed (not recommendable, and in my case, I have to look for a wife first, something which is probably harder to do than killing someone), how else will you know how to commmit a believable murder?

Of course when I think about it, a writer's Internet habits (if they do research on the net) will peg them as deviants of society, people to be pitied and avoided. Right now I'm thinking of a story that involves a foreigner purchasing a mail-order bride from the Philippines, only to discover she's a manananggal. I can just imagine my parents shocked to find out why I'm googling "mail-order brides" on the 'net. I don't have to use everything that I've researched, but you never know what gem of information you might find.

Well, it's either that or someone is really trying to murder his wife (and I'm trying to find a mail-order bride, because heartbreak would be less painful that way). What kind of a sick mind do you have?

It's Not The Road Less Traveled

Conventional wisdom would dictate that the nemesis of light would be darkness. Reality, however, is anything but rational. More often than not, light comes into conflict with other sources of light. Anything that does not belong to the same wavelength, same color, has a chance to interfere with our vision. Yellow collides with white, orange with blue. Unfortunately, the same metaphor applies to life.

People seldom make black-and-white choices. People in poverty, for example, don't have a rags or riches option, and they only happened to pick the former. More often than not, we usually receive two seemingly lucrative offers: two jobs that are high paying, one involves your interests, the other promising a life of promotion and growth. We're blinded by both offers, because they both appear good. Sometimes, they really are as good as it seems, and giving up one is merely an opportunity cost to attain the other. Sometimes, however, what we think we want is not really what we desire. Some professions seem perfect for example, and it's only when we actually experience them that the reallity hits us. Unlike cars, we can't test drive jobs before delving into them (well, it's call "internship"). By the time we're there, it's either resign or stick with it.

Religion is another topic that seems appropriate. Most, if not all, religions promise salvation. However, you have to choose one religion, and just one. If light were to be equated with salvation, there are several groups out there promising the same thing. Which one is true, which one is real and which are fake? No one will obviously admit that theirs is the faulty religion. And in the end, who knows? They might be all correct. It's merely the choosing that becomes problematic.

Love is also one subject matter that involves choices. I'm not just talking about romance, but love in general. Several people are vying for our affection: friends, family, significant others, and ourselves (it's surprising how many people forget the last part). It could be in terms of time, effort, or money. Obviously, we only have so much to go around. Each one sparkles for a different reason. Family, for example, might appear like a diamond, constant and enduring. Your significant other, on the other hand, might seem like a ruby, attractive and sparkling. But the question is who should we prioritize? Juggling all our loved ones is a difficult choice, and sometimes, there is no optimum choice, merely a choice.

It's faulty reasoning to believe that everything will appear polarized and clear. Sometimes, the problem begins at discerning which is good and which is bad. Most of the time, however, opportunities and experiences will appear like light, blinding us to everything else. When faced with options, it's what some people would call "a good problem". It's good because you actually have options, both of which seem benefical to you. It's a problem because you're always losing out on something else and decision-making can be such a pain.

It would seem as if life would be better off if someone was guiding us all the way, as if we only had one destiny, or if we could only fall in love with just one person, or that there was only one career for us. That's not how life goes, however, and that's the burden that free will and freedom exacts from us. Still, I'd rather live life choosing, rather than living it in ignorance.

Christmas Gift

In my last year of college, I had been spending time with the Comic Quest gang, the membership of which changes over time. I was fortunate to be invited to their annual Christmas party, and one of the gifts was a sketch from Andrew Drilon, who had just gotten his work published in the Comic Collective's (a non-accredited organization in Ateneo) comic anthology.

Of course I still wasn't employed back then, and I didn't know I would be working with Pulp in the future. Prophetic? (It's faint but the shirt says "Slipknot".) Ask Andrew. He's the tarot card reader.

Torn Letter

I've mentioned that my life's like a soap opera, right? Back in first year college, I had a crush on this girl (and she still is) but unfortunately, when she found out my feelings (not that I admitted it to her, of course), she started avoiding me. So I wrote her an apology letter (I don't think you can apologize for having feelings for someone, but anyway...) and asked one of her blockmates to hand it to her. Unfortunately, it was torn to pieces.

Me being the stalker that I was, a friend had class in the same room as she was in, albeit one timeslot later. I asked him if he found several strips of paper scattered on the floor, and if he could pick them up. So here it is, a reconstruction of my memories way back in 2000.

Oh Memory, How Deceptive You Are

I met up last Monday with a friend I haven't seen in four or five years. Before that, the only time I met her in real life was on her debut (imagine meeting a person for the first time was on her debut!). All our interactions aside from that were limited to short talks in chatrooms, and the ocassional text message (back in the day when I was sending text messages to every *cute* girl I knew every night). During our conversation, she probably said it best why we're still friends: "You remind me of my childhood."

I will be the first one to admit that yes, as much as I want to claim that I'm familiar with people, that's simply not true. My friend, along with probably half the people who I've linked online (whether via this blog or in livejournal), are people who are a total mystery to me. In a way, that makes the meager interactions we have more meaningful. Because there wasn't much to begin with. Unlike being with someone you're familiar (sometimes too familiar) with, you haven't gotten to the point where they annoy you because of their quirks, or their opinions clashes with yours. In a way, it's easy to love a stranger, because you don't really have negative memories of them. Instead, we exaggerate and modify our few experiences with them: a simple comment (a "good luck" for example) might be interpreted as a full-blown support for his/her current crisis. And perhaps the best part is that strangers can't hurt you (well, they can, especially those armed with pointy things, but not the emotional side of us). There's simply not enough emotional investment. For those who have an inflated friend's list in livejournal (such as me), ask yourself, if one of those people suddenly disappeared, would you notice? Obviously, some people, the ones we're close with (or they simply don't post), we'll miss. But when you have over a hundred friends, there's bound to be someone there that you know little about, aside from their name, their work, and that they make the occasional positive comments at what you write (yes, I'm guilty of this).

And then we have memory. Sometimes, we simply like people because of the memories we associate with them. Just take a look at last year's presidency. Candidate Fernando Po Jr. (FPJ) seemed to be well-loved by a lot of people. Sure, he was an actor, but the clincher was he played the hero in a lot of memorable movies such as Panday (which, I might add, was based on Filipino comics). And people usually associated him with that. When people voted for him, they voted for their hero in Panday. I don't think they voted him because of who he really was, FPJ as a person instead of FPJ the myth. Did we really know what FPJ was like, when he wasn't acting? What he said to greet his friends, what his mannerisms were, what his favorite food was? I'm sure his friends would, but I'm not one of them, and surely I'm not the only one.

That's not to say memories of people are wrong, or that it should be frowned upon. In the end, humans, more than they can say that they're rational beings, or that they have a soul, or that they're up in the food chain pyramid, is the fact that we're made up of memories. Our memories shape who we are, be they factual memories or fabrications of our minds. One merely needs to have a conversation with the friends and family of an amnesiac, both old and new. They'll tell you that the person has changed, that he/she isn't what they used to remember (you can also imagine what the amnesic is thinking... he doesn't remember these people!). Our relationships with people, those we love and hate, are built from memories. It is the foundation of our civilization. It's why we treasure history, because it makes us remember. It's why we have science, religion, and language. And on a more personal-level, it's how we relate with other people: our personal memories of them.

It’s true when they say that people will live on in people’s memories long after they’re deceased. People, in the end, are like books. They really act in a unique way, yet people have lots of interpretations of them. A man could easily be a villain, a hero, a politician, a father, a piteous believer, a nomad. These interpretations are all true, depending on which perspective you’re looking from. And the thing with memories is that we constantly play it out in our minds much like a cassette tape in the early 80’s. Sometimes, it even comes unbidden from our subconscious, either as a hallucination or a dream. And in the end, some personal demons are just in fact confrontations with our memories.

I go back to my meeting my friend. I really love to know more about her, so that I’m more than just a memory of her childhood. If we admitted the truth of our relationship, we’re merely strangers, acquaintances who’ve given each other their wholehearted support. It’s easy to give support to someone you barely know, after all, in the same way it’s also easy to hate a stranger based on their actions (look at current US president George Bush for example; a lot of people hate him, including me, but I can’t really admit that I know the person). It’s also easy to love someone who hasn’t done you any wrong, not because they had the opportunity to do so, but because there’s really been little opportunity. That’s not to say that our friendship is fictional. Sometimes, these false beliefs are the building blocks of genuine friendship. It’s like love at first sight: it could be the start of something permanent. But as it is, we’re only in love with the memory, not the person involved.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Birthday Wishes

Thanks for all the greetings. I'm an attention-whore, so the greetings are the best presents in the world. =) And if you forgot, well, that's okay. You can make it up to me by letting me treat you out one of these days, hehehe.

Of course one of my birthday wishes ever since 2000 was that I'd get to spend time with my crush on the week of my birthday. It's been six years and it hasn't happened yet. Well, I guess there's always next year. I'll just have to console myself with her text message.

Sometimes Your Best Is Not Enough

In this result-driven world, it’s a sad reality: your best will not always be enough. You could get fired from your job, lose a competition, fail an exam, or simply not cut it. Did you give it your best? Yes. But those who think that simply giving your best is sufficient to succeed will be shocked.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t pursue every endeavor with the best of our capabilities. Sometimes, the line separating success from failure can be quite narrow. If you succeed without giving it all you have, then well and good. But what if you failed and you didn’t give it your best? Can you live with the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens in your life? A man who fails but gives it his best has nothing to regret. A man who fails but has much more to offer will be trapped.

In anime, there are a lot of protagonists who give it all they have, yet still lose in a fight. At that point, there are two options open to them. One is to pursue a different career, a different passion, perhaps something else where they can utilize their God-given talents. That’s not necessarily a failure in itself, merely a realization that you’re better suited for something else. There’s a theory after all that says human beings are most happy when their skills and talents are put to good use. The other option is to persist. So what if you didn’t succeed this time? There’s always tomorrow, and the day after that. You try and try until you get it right. In anime shows like Dragonball Z or Yu Yu Hakusho, the heroes simply don’t give up, they do something about it. They train themselves so that they get better. If your best right now is not enough to succeed, then maybe your best tomorrow will be. If not on day one, then on day two. If not on day two, then on day three and so on.

As a child, I loved to draw but I never had any talent in it. I’ve met some artists, and while some are indeed blessed with talent, others will claim that they aren’t talented, but merely practiced and worked hard. For someone as untalented in drawing as me, it might sound unbelievable, and it’s not like I didn’t try. However, the truth of the matter is, my heart wasn’t really into drawing. Did I like it? Yes. But did my life revolve around it? No. Now writing, on the other hand, is another matter. Again, much like drawing, I also didn’t have any real talent in it. I’m no writing prodigy. My highest grades in high school were in CLE (Christian Life Education) and sometimes in Math and Science (although these will also be the very subjects that I failed). I wasn’t really writing as a kid. In fact, the only time I truly began to write was during high school, and I was horrible. Even to this day, I have no talent in writing. You could ask my Creative Writing classmates or my professors. I was adequate enough, but my writing never really stood out. At least not at the start. I did everything to get better, despite what detractors might say. I wrote, rewrote, edited, proofread, attended workshops, even prayed. While gifted people are out there, not everyone are as blessed with such talents. Sometimes, you have to create your talent, hone it, and develop it yourself.

This isn’t a success story. Sometimes, my best is not enough. It’s not good enough to be read by my friends, it’s not good enough to win an award, not good enough to be included in an anthology, not good enough to be accepted by a publisher. But what happens next is your choice. Sometimes, you decide you’ve had enough, and it’s time to move on. At other times, you don’t give up. You simply don’t give it your best shot, you try and develop at getting better, so that your best today is better than your best yesterday.

And perhaps, in the end, it’s not about results, despite what the world might tell you. It’s a story of man versus himself. At the end of the day, it’s yourself you have to live with. One can take pride in triumphing easily, but the best-savored victories are usually those won with difficulty. Sometimes, it’s not even about winning, but testing yourself, at seeing how far you can push yourself to the limits. Your best might not be enough, but it’s what happens after that that the real test begins. Or our best may never be enough (such as a doctor trying to stave off death), but it’s all we can humanly give. The one thing I can be sure of is that if I don’t give it my best, then I might regret it in the future.

Meeting Charles in Real Life

For those who've ever wondered what I'm like in real life, here are three things to bear in mind:

1) 100 IQ points dumber.
2) 50% less wittier.
3) 100% less talkative.

Old Poems

I was going through some old stuff (since I seldom throw things away, except when they're wet and dusty and overtaking book space) and I found some old poems of mine from 2001. It's really a pain to read them because they're awful, and makes you wonder what I was thinking back then (no, I know exactly what I was thinking back then). At the risk of further humiliation, here's some of them. They're supposed to be Shakespearean sonnets, but apparently, I have no ear for iambs (or trochets for that matter). You'd think I'd write these sonnets for my crush, but no, these poems have dedications to them, and it ain't my crush. Apparently I wrote this for some friends of mine in college.

Vision of An Angel (In retrospect, that's an awful title.)

In your presence I stare at disbelief,
Not knowing mortals could perceive such grace.
Handsome yet humble features bring relief,
To any who sees your beautiful face.

Rare it is to behold such innocence,
That even the most proud learn to be meek.
Your flight fills my soul with a pestilence,
Incurable for it is you I seek.

I am fortunate to have caught a glimpse,
For artists could never do you justice.
Disbelief would be a timeless eclipse,
Filling my heart with nothing but malice.

As you unfurl your wings to say goodbye,
I save up my tears for the day I die.


With a variety of concoctions,
I do not know which I should consume next.
Each stirs my insatiable emotions,
Every bite surpassing what I expect.

Should I choose one that is soft and tender,
Or one coated with chewy nuts and glace?
My whetted appetite makes me wonder,
If I could eat it all, leaving no trace.

But I am confident in what I choose,
For it will be nonetheless chocolate.
In picking one I have nothing to lose,
Saving the others for a future date.

Its disappearance gives me much to fear,
How fortunate I am to have it here.

Comfort Zone

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages. One of them is receiving gifts. While I actually enjoy quality time, giving gifts is one of the ways I express my love. And over the years, there's something comforting for me when I give a gift and the other person receives it. It's like being invited to a meal by your enemy, or the opposing army waving a white flag: it's a good sign. And in my relationships with people, that's usually my comfort zone.

Of course over the years that I've been giving gifts, there have been successes (the person smiles) and failures (returning the gift to me or worse, leaving it in a public place for someone else to pick up). Each person reacts uniquely, although some do follow patterns. Some will receive it graciously, others hesitantly at first. Others will turn down the offer, and there are also several ways to turn down gifts. Strangely enough, the way they accept or turn down my gifts (which isn't bad, mind you) gives me insight into their character. It doesn't give me a vision of the totality of a person, but it does give me insight into who they are, and what kind of behavior I can expect from them. A friend, for example, accepts the small gifts, but when I give her big gifts, she politely declines (unless there's an "occassion"). I keep on trying until she gives me a final no, which is said in a strict and blatant manner compared to the usually sweet demeanor she exudes. What does that tell me? That acceptance has a limit, and I've reached it. Most of the time though, she really is a sweet and supportive person. But she obviously values money and does feel ashamed to be receiving expensive gifts for no reason at all; she wants to be independent and not indebted. That's but one example though. Every person has a unique way of accepting or rejecting gifts, and strangely enough, it's one of the ways I see into a person's character.

SF&F Quote

Here's a quote from one of my favorite fantasy books which I only got back recently:

"Wisdom never learned silence, and it is most annoying when least wanted." - Sybel, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip

Oh, and here's something which I read a month back:

"It is an old truth that men and women sometimes miss what they hate as much as what they love." - The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

More Memory!

My mobile phone, both of them, are already inflated with phone numbers. Some, obviously, are friends. Most of it, however, are work-related. And the list only expands with every year. You'd think I'd start deleting phone numbers, but somehow, I can't quite manage to make myself remove the contact numbers of the likes of former PNP Chief Edgar Aglipay, or cult siren Barbie Almalbis, and the managers/handlers of a lot of other celebrities, although God knows I'll never actually call them in the immediate future.

Love Isn’t Happiness

Here I was, ready to sleep, but my muse is a harsh mistress.

Or rather love isn’t simply about happiness. Love involves a lot of emotions, including the unpleasant ones: pain, sorrow, worry. I think there’s a misconception about love, that it’s always supposed to be pleasurable. Make no mistake, love can be pleasurable at times, but it isn’t Epicureanism either. And perhaps it is this misconception that leads to the dissolution of relationships, whether it’s something as simple as friendship, something as deep as romance, or something tighter and closer, such as the marriage between husband and wife.

Love is one of the most romanticized subjects, and perhaps it is what fuels this belief that love is always something positive. Make no mistake, love is a virtue, but like most virtues, it is hard to attain, and much more difficult to retain. People will cite Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as the ultimate symbol of love, yet we often forget (or conveniently overlook) that it ended in a tragedy. When people say they’re in love, they usually get this giddy feeling, this sense of optimism, this hope that there’s something better in life and that they’ve finally tasted it. This is what we usually associate with love, this boyhood (or girlhood as the case may be) crush we develop, this attraction we have towards the opposite sex. I will not discount that feeling, for emotion is also part of love. But that is merely the beginning, the tip of the iceberg as they say.

Love, in the long run, is a commitment. It doesn’t even have to be a conscious commitment. Take friendship for example. I love my friends, although I don’t spend my waking moments thinking about it. Yet when the ask for help, I’m there. The same goes for family. It’s not something I’ve planned out beforehand, it’s something I simply do. And when they’re gone, I miss them. Of course that’s not necessarily the way with romance, but the commitment is there nonetheless. It’s a commitment to talk to the other person regularly, or to see them off, or to be concerned about them. Now this case is more deliberate, although our motivations for doing so can be called into question.

Sometimes, we break off the commitment. Because it gets harder, more difficult. The girl we were in love with might seem less attractive, or less energetic, or less empathic. Perhaps it’s a realization, either discovering more about the other person, or simply experiencing an epiphany about ourselves. We might give up on the relationship and do everything to get out of it. However, most of the time, what happens is we begin to have doubts. Doubts whether we’re truly in love, or doubts whether the other person loves us. This may manifest itself in several forms, from over-protectiveness to jealousy to pettiness. That’s part of love as well, although not necessarily the positive aspects of it. And then there’s the eventual break-up. Sometimes, there wasn’t even a relationship to begin with but simply a one-sided love affair. In either case, it hurts. That’s what being in love means: giving the other person the ability to hurt you. If we didn’t care about them so much, if they were simply strangers, then we wouldn’t be experiencing all this pain in the first place. Or you can imagine a fight between two best friends: the rift is large, and the sense of betrayal is nearly incapacitating. Why? Because we loved that person. It would have been okay if it was our enemy, but being hurt by someone we love is infinitely more lethal.

But that is not the love I am talking about, as true as it is. The love I am talking about is waiting in the rain for two hours just so you can have a chat with your girlfriend for fifteen minutes. It’s about driving her home despite the fact that you’ve had a long and difficult day, and you’re extremely tired. It’s about checking up on her every single day, even if it’s just to say hello, or to greet her good night. Eventually, the giddiness will disappear, and it all seems like a chore. But you do it nonetheless. That’s love.

Or perhaps you’re the girl and you have this problem. You see your boyfriend and he’s happy. You think that you shouldn’t tell him the bad news since it doesn’t concern him and it will only dampen his mood. But he asks anyway. If you pretend that there’s nothing wrong, there’s love there, but there’s also dishonesty. If you tell him what’s wrong, yes, it will dampen his mood. But he wants to know anyway, because you’re part of his life now. It doesn’t matter if your experiences are horrible, or painful. He wants to share it with you, to experience it with you. He’ll be there with you, whether it’s the good times or bad. And some people miss that point. Love isn’t simply about sharing the good parts. It’s about sharing, period. I mean if my friend got into an accident, I’d like to know what happened to him, right? Would it be a hassle for me to visit him or her in the hospital? Yes, it would but I’d like to be there for him or her. That’s what friendship is all about. That’s what being in a relationship is about. That’s what love is about.

The problem with being afraid to share your sorrows, your suffering, is that it erodes trust. For me, love is built on two foundations: trust and communication. I say trust first for without it, there can be no communication. I say communication for that’s what connects us. Communication isn’t simply about saying words, but it can take a lot of forms. Some people communicate by action. Others by affection. Some by physical contact. And eventually, communication deepens enough that it forms roots and transforms into love. It’s so easy to forget that love is about communication, but it’s true. Why do people fear long-distance relationships? Because it’s more difficult to communicate. Why do we get jealous of other men and women? Because we feel that we’re not communicating enough with our loved one, and that someone else is better at it. Love is dialogue, although not necessarily our conception of what dialogue should be. And good dialogue is about truth: it’s about sharing the good with the bad. If you show only one side of it, where’s the trust?

Love makes me happy. But loves makes me sad as well. There’s a misconception that when you’re in love, you’ll only end up with either one. Anyone who’s been in a genuine relationship will know that it’s both. Sometimes, it happens in cycles: there are good times, and there are bad times. Sometimes, it happens all at once: you’re sad because there are problems, but you’re happy you have someone to share it with. That’s the paradox about love. Yet our basest instincts will tell us either to avoid it, because it’s painful, or to embrace it, because it’s pleasurable. That’s what’s difficult about being human: because love doesn’t rely on instinct alone. We don’t know how to reconcile something we should fear and at the same time something we should welcome. I can easily imagine my brain trying to make sense out of all these contradicting instructions. But that’s where human will, human freedom comes in. We make a choice, whether to truly love or not. And the decision is never easy.

If you’re still following your instincts, you’ll ask is it all worth it. But love isn’t really something we measure, something we weigh in pound for pound. Love is about sharing your life with someone, forming ties with them (and it’s not necessarily about romance). Sometimes it’ll cost you more than you receive. But if you’re still keeping score, then you’ve totally missed the point.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

D&D Fan Films

You can check out some Dungeons & Dragons Fan Films but visit quickly for they won't be there forever.

On a side note, I can't seem to play the videos on my computer, so I end up looking for them at YouTube.

100th Post

Wow, it's barely been two weeks and I'm on my 100th post in this new blog. Either it's only now that I've sobered up (depriving myself of DotA does that), or maybe it's because I've been intoxicated by something else.

Another Anecdote

I met up with a friend yesterday whom I haven't seen five years.

Friend: You've changed! You don't look like Shinji anymore.

Me: Yeah, I know. I now look like Harry Potter. (Unfortunately, I will never be as handsome as Ryan Agoncillio dressing up as Harry Potter.)

The Things We Do for Love

In every relationship, in every act of love, there is something we give up. Economists will call it opportunity cost. I simply call it the gift of giving.

Me being a generous person (it's all I have you know, it's not like I'm handsome, or intelligent, or charming, or talented), I've deliberated on the subject in the past. And the conclusion that I've come upon is that when you give, it should be done out of love. Because honestly, if you're looking for compensation, it'll never really be enough. Thoughts like "if I give this to her, will I get a kiss?" or "if I do this for her, will I score some points?" will, in the end, be counter-productive. As I said before, it'll never be enough, and what happens when you don't get what you want, take the gift back? (Which is also why I don't believe in returning of gifts during a break-up; I know it reminds you of painful memories, or that it cost a lot, but it is a gift after all and not a pre-nup.)

And perhaps the important thing to observe before you give are your intentions. Are you sincere about it? If so, then go ahead. I've given gifts to people who in the present loathe me. And while I'm tempted to think on what I could have spent my time and/or money on something else, I simply don't. Because I know my intentions at the time were in the right place, and I'd do it again if I could turn back time. It's part of living with no regrets. Give out of love, not because of what you could get.

St. Paul (yes, yes, you devout Catholics and Christians can footnote that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and God) said it best in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

I don't care if you're a Christian or not, a believer or not, a good person or not. There is, at the very least, wisdom in those words if you take the time to process them. It's not even about being a good Christian, but about being a good human being, and doing what's best for you. If every act of "love" is something we sought something in return, then I doubt if you'll ever find happiness (as if "love" was equal to "happiness").

Tech Updates

Looking at my recent posts, if I posted more individual tech posts, it'll make reading this blog unwieldly (as if it wasn't already). Anyway, here are your tech updates for the first half of the week:

The iPod Nano + Wallet from Gizmodo - Well, it saves up on pocket space.

Slide vs Stairs - Well, corporate life would certainly be a lot less boring...

Plastic Batteries from Gizmodo - Anything to save the environment. I'm also sure it'll be made fashionable somehow.

Google Uses its Powers for Good from Gizmodo - Al Gore actuallly runs Google behind the scenes.

Submarine Yacht from Gizmodo - You might as well go all the way if you're going seafaring.

X Torrent Beta from The Unofficial Apple Weblog - Another torrent program for Mac users. You do know you're just using it because it's shiny.

Artificial Gills from Tech Digest - Hello Waterworld!

Prized Possessions

One of the things that I recceived a few months ago was a signed copy of Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford. I immediately read it when I got it, and I'm looking forward to more of his books.

Sixteen (Fifteen) Floors Up

Here's a virtual tour of the office stairwell.

Obviously, we start with the ground floor.

Three flights up, the fourth floor is home to the building's parking lot. Also the foulest floor because of all the engine smoke.

The 7th floor is where everyone eventually drops by. It's where the administration is located, as well as the cafeteria.

The twelfth floor is special to me (aside from the semi-dim lighting) because it seems as if getting to the fourteenth floor is faster.

Did I skip a floor? Well, I haven't found the thirteenth floor yet, so...

And this is where I get off.

Ice Blends

Coffee places aren't the optimum social areas for me. For one thing, I don't drink coffee. For another, I'm allergic to chocolate. Three, it's expensive. At this point, the choices I'm given when ordering are very, very limited.

A friend asked me to meet her yesterday at Coffee Bean. Ordering something that's neither chocolate nor coffee was difficult to find. I saw their Ice Blends, specifically the flavor Honey Dew. I only have one thing to say:

"While it's probably healthier, it tastes like something from Zagu, at quadruple the price."

How to Comment

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's a reason why it's a beta.

If you have a blogger account and want to comment, well, the trick is don't sign up. Blogger Beta hasn't worked out the bugs yet. Instead, do the following:

1) Click "Comment"

2) Under "Choose an Identity", select "Other"

3) Fill in the fields and your comment (don't forget the Word Verification)

4) Click "Publish Your Comment"

Introductions - Who Needs Them?

After reading a dozen introductions in one sitting (see rare book find), I don't see the point of introductions. Or rather why it has to be in the first few pages. Most of the people who write introductions are either trying to sell the book or explain it (sometimes both). If it's the former, it's like an essay-length blurb. And honestly, by the time you're reading the introduction, you've already bought the book. If you're trying to explain the book, wouldn't it be better if it was placed at the end, once people are done reading the novel?

Of course one could hypothesize that we're borrowing the book from a library, hence the importance of an introduction. We're making a what-if scenario that people will borrow a book based on a well-written introduction. But can you honestly tell me that's the case? Have we borrowed or read a book because of the introduction? I've heard of people reading a book because their teacher ordered them to do so, or because their friends told them it was a good read, or because they read a raving review. I've never heard of "it had such a great introduction that I'll read it!"

Okay, so maybe the introduction is part of the marketing strategy. It's another way to sneak another popular person into the book when you ask them to write an introduction. But if that's the case, people are buying it based on who's writing the introduction, not because of the introduction itself. The person in question could write a one-line blurb and the book company can say it's an introduction. I don't think people will really notice (yes, I'm exagerrating). The way I see it, wouldn't it be better if introductions were way more accessible, say at the back cover of the book instead of the first few inside pages? That way, people will immediately spot it, and reading it will actually have an effect on influencing whether the reader will buy it or not. Maybe I'm just a product of my culture wherein brand-new books are shrink-wrapped.

But honestly, when we browse books, I don't think we really settle on the introduction. We might look at the table of contents, the prologue, and some even the epilogue. I don't think I've lingered around the introduction section, especially considering the introduction is the one part of a book that could change with reprints and different editions. But apparently it's important enough that book publishers look for someone to write the introduction, and that someone isn't just anybody. I guess someone has to write 'em.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Classics of Fantasy

Back in 2002, Wizards of the Coast had a series of articles on "the classics of fantasy", naming a lot of obscure and not-so-obscure writers, including those pre-Tolkien and post-Tolkien. I've taken the liberty of compiling the links here. Sadly, the series has been discontinued.

The Well at the World's End by William Morris

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip

A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay

Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber

Silverlock by John Myers Myers

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin

The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs

The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson

Watership Down by Richrd Adams

Book of the 3 Dragons by Kenneth Morris

Clark Ashton Smith

The Books of Wonder by Lord Dunsany

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs

Independent Fiction Writer's Guidelines

Wizards of the Coast (they produce Magic: The Gathering, D&D, and the evil Pokemon) are looking for writers. Yes, this is for fiction. No, do not submit to them your idea for the next Robo Rally board game. More details can be found here.

Stupid Things

Occassionally, I have an urge to do stupid things, such as walking all the way from Intramuros to the CCP complex. And when I actually do them, I console myself with the fact that life would be less interesting if I didn't.

More Anecdotes from Life in General

Me: Yours was the first and only debut I attended.

Friend: I'm flattered. Why, are you still anti-social?

Me: Errr, no. It's not the first and only debut by choice. No one else ever invited me...


Elbert: Maybe you can upload your mp3s to my Mac.

Me: Errr, I have no English music here. Except for the "no one lives forever" song from Highlander. And a Franz Ferdinand song because it was the ending theme for a certain anime.

Elbert: Never mind.

Beyond Anime

This one is much more recent, which I wrote in March of last year. Some of you might have even spotted this in one of my livejournal entries. Anyway, it was supposed to be a feature for my second, defunct anime fanzine Fanime, but I put it on hold indefinitely, until last year of course. It's a good example of how anime fans in general aren't these elitist snobs, but that anime culture can be socially relevant as well.

In any subculture hobby, the masses will often have a different perspective of things. In the past, for example, anime fans have been thought of as geeks or adults who are still fascinated with cartoons. In the present, anime has perhaps been passively accepted as part of the norm, a product of the current generation.

Reach Out Otaku (ROO), an organization comprised of anime fans, is a good example that beneath all the glitz and the glamour, that anime enthusiasts can be socially responsible and still participate in their hobby. Formed in July 17, 2001, ROO began by visiting street children in Kanlungan, Erma and held some workshops for them. A year and a half later, it would also tie up with the Musmos organization based in Ateneo and would hold “Krismusmos”, a Christmas party for the street children in Katipunan. I interviewed them back in 2002, a few months after their successful Christmas party, but several months before they would host Krismusmos.

Gem, founder of ROO, was initially inspired by watching some street kids play Dragonball Z. “Parang they were imitating the anime character. So why not help, street kids sila eh. Kahit street kids sila, na-aapreciate nila yung anime. So at least natutulungan ko sila.” (“They were like imitating the anime character. So why not help since they are street kids. Even though they are street children, they apprecite anime. At least this way, we are able to help them.”) But it would only be after an anime convention that Gem would make formal plans for the organization. “Basically the idea started after Cosplay Manila. So parang, napag-isip ako, for the December party iyon, at since maraming kids nag-enenjoy seeing people cosplaying their favorite anime characters in costume, why not incorporate it with charity work? Since ‘yun nga, maraming pa lang tao na involved sa outreach programs, para at least magamit natin yung interest in anime, our hobby, as a medium to help other people. So bali iyon yung pinaka idea ko kung bakit na setup yung Reach Out Otaku.” (“Basically the idea started after Cosplay Manila. It got me thinking that for the December party, since a lot of kids were enjoying seeing people cosplaying their favorite anime characters, why not incorporate it with charity work? Apparently, a lot of people were involved in outreach programs and this way, we could at least utilize interest in anime, our hobby, as a medium to help other people. That was the fundamental idea behind setting up Reach Out Otaku.”)

This was far from a solo project though. Gem would depend on Vinnie to choose and coordinate for their venue in Kanlungan considering he had contacts with NGOs. “Ako naman since I’ve been doing that kind of volunteer work before and I have the experience, and then joining up with this group is a good thing to do for me also para maging enlightened din in a way. And to help others din, to guide other people din.” (“For me it was natural since I’ve been doing this kind of volunteer work before and I have the experience, and then joining up with this group is a good thing to do for me to becoming enlightened in a way. And to help and guide other people as well.”)

The activities of ROO wasn’t a one-shot event and Vinnie shares with us his plans back in 2002. “Since nagstart na kami sa Kanlungan para magkaroon ng activity volunteer-type with them, which is naenjoy naming before so we decided ituloy na naming, magkaroon kami ng series of visits na makakatulong din sa kanila for their learning kasi most of the kids there are not going to school for now, kaya ganun. Like recently, some of the available na members ng Reach Out, nagtambak sila ng workshops on fixing, illustrations, animation by using anime as a medium para gawin iyon. And then so far, nafullfil yung expectation na the kids grew interest sa mga recent na visits naming. They’re looking forward to the next visits na magkaroon kami ng activity ulit.” (“Since we started in the Kanlungan area so that we could have a volunteer-type activity with them, we decided to push through with the series of visits since we’re having fun and it aids in their learning considering most of the kids are not going to school. Recently, some of the available members of Reach Out held a bunch of workshops on fixing, illustrations and animation, using anime as a medium to perform just that. And so far, our expectations were fulfilled since the interest of kids grew with our recent visits. They’re looking forward to the next visits, hoping for other activities.)

Despite its popularity, ROO didn’t always start out that way. It began with a small mailing list comprised of cosplayers who then branched out and sought additional members from other anime-related mailing lists. It boasted not only anime fans, but people who are just plainly interested in outreach projects. Even winners of previous cosplay competitions participated in ROO. Not that everything was picture perfect. Coordination proved to be a big hurdle since most of the members were students and had difficulty finding a common time. Finances were another probem but Joy, Gem’s successor after she left for the US, shares this anecdote with us. “The December 15 party, that was one of the craziest and funniest thing to have happened. It was so interesting. We weren’t going to be excited but a lot of things happened, most of them we didn’t expect. And sometimes, we were worried, some of us were crying over the lack of sponsors, the lack of materials and then when the day came, we had too much food on our hands, we had too much food on our hands. And then you realize, oh, we were able to get pala so much stuff. I guess it was really cool because we didn’t expect them to happen. We were medyo discouraged to go on na and it’s already like something happened out of the blue. People started helping each other out, they volunteered themselves, like we had a lot of nonmembers with us and said kami na ang bahala rito. It was very interesting, very different.” (“The December 15 party… And then you realize, oh, we were apparently able to get so much stuff. I guess it was really cool because we didn’t expect them to happen. We were a bit discouraged to go on and it’s like something happened out of the blue. People started helping each other out, they volunteered themselves, and we had a lot of nonmembers with us and said we’re take care of this. It was very interesting, very different.”)

Gem shares with us the goals of ROO: “Our goal is to open the eyes of the people that there’s more to the world than anime. If we can use anime as a medium of helping other people out, of reaching out to the world, so that’s why we’re a bunch of otakus, we rave over the latest anime, we rave over Yue. (laughs) Or some bishonen. But basically we’re still human, we’re still ready to help people out. One of our main goals is to open the eyes of the people into helping each other.” Joy adds to that by saying “Kasi people have this thing na parang they think na, those anime people, wala naman silang ginagawa. They spend all their money, wasting their money on cartoons, and comic books and stuff like that. I guess connected with Ate Gem, we’re out to change that. Sure, we like all the cartoons, the comic books but our lives does not begin and end with them. We want to help other people also. And out to show that we’re otakus with hearts.” (“Because people have this thing, thinking that those anime people, they don’t do anything…”)

Not that outreach doesn’t have its own rewards. “Like when we were like, at the December 15 party, all these children were enjoying themselves. Seeing all the people that we got to help us out that they were enjoying themselves also. It’s really very encouraging because you kinda feel na there are people who are still into this sort of thing, who are still into helping other people,” Gem shares. “After the December party, there was these nonmembers, cosplayers during the EB, they approached me. Ate Gem, sabi nila, naalala ko yung pangalan ng partner ko. Sabi ko buti ka pa, naalala mo yung pangalan niya. Honestly, sa dami nila, I don’t even remember their names, yung mga volunteers, but they remember the names ng partners nila. Yung mga kids na partners nila.” (“After the December party, there was these nonmembers, cosplayers during the EB, they approached me. Ate Gem, they say, we remember the names of our partners. I reply good for you because I don’t remember their names. Honestly, with all their numbers, I don’t even remember their names, but the volunteers, they remember the names of their partners. The kids are their partners.”)

Perhaps one of the basic questions that must be asked from a social organization is whether they’re succeeding in helping their intended audience. “Well sa reaction ng mga bata, I think so. Not in a really big scale pero in the little things, makikita mo rin ang satisfaction nila. Sa workshop naming, makikita mo yung satisfaction nila by showing their talent and actually being recognized. Doon yung nakakatouch, I think, kasi most of these kids were victims of abuse so in their own little ways na-heheal. Wow, may kaya pala akong gawin!” (“Well based on the reactions of the children, I think so. Not in areally big scale but in the little things, you can see their satisfaction. In our workshops, you can see their satisfaction in showing their talent and actually being recognized. That’s what touches me the most, I think, because most of these kids were victims of abuse so in their own little way, they are healed. Wow, there’s actually something that I can do!”)

While ROO never made it to the newspapers, never made it to the limelights, each of its members know that they helped change someone’s life. I think that’s what reaching out is really about: it’s not about the rewards, either financial or social, but more of realizing that there’s something one can do to help those around us. And while anime fans will still probably be perceived as something unproductive by society, ROO will be an example of how any hobby, not just anime, can be made into something socially productive. In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people say, but rather what you believe in.

The ABCs of Anime

I wrote this for my feature-writing class in college. It was supposed to be a mammoth feature on anime, and the target audience wasn't really anime fans but the masses. The length might intimidate casual readers, but it's modular so you don't have to read all of it at once. Written in 2003.

You might have come upon the word anime from word of mouth, seen it on TV, read it from a magazine, or passed by it in a toy store, but it in either case, you probably have a vague idea of what it is. Of course ask a person to name an anime they know and each one would give you a different answer: Ghost Fighter, Sailormoon, Pokemon, Gundam, Voltes V, Beyblade... The list goes on. Ask them to define it and you’ll probably get as many answers as well. One then can’t help but ask, what really is anime and what makes anime anime? Those more ambitious might even ponder, why is it popular here in the Philippines?


In any evolving language, not only do words suddenly develop but different meanings arise as well. Look at any old English dictionary and you won’t find the term anime. However, newer dictionaries like the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary has it in one of its entries and defines the word as a style of animation marked by colorful art, futuristic settings, and violence [Jap. < ANIMATION].

While that definition may serve for some, that is hardly the context the word anime is used. Not all anime are violent, a lot don’t have futuristic settings, and certainly some don’t even have colorful art. However, the dictionary does cite Japan as the source of the word and has its roots in animation.

Upon consulting a Japanese-English dictionary, anime is listed as the shorter version of the word “animation” and defined as an animated cartoon. Working with that framework, anime encompasses a lot of shows and includes productions from the West as well as the East. And strictly speaking, in Japan, movies from Disney and cartoons like Powerpuff Girls are indeed called anime.

Still, that isn’t how the word is used, whether on the Internet or in our local setting. Why do we call shows like Voltes V and Sailormoon as anime but not cartoons like Popeye or Flintstones? Perhaps a better working definition for anime is that when most people use it, it is to refer to animation produced by the Japanese, or Japanimation as it is sometimes called.

Why then do we not just modify the definition in the various dictionaries and claim it as a style of animation marked by colorful art, futuristic settings, and violence by Japanese? Or perhaps a Japanese animated cartoon?

For one thing, there is a certain stigma when we use the word cartoon, at least in the Western context. Our concept of cartoons is usually associated with slapstick comedy and shows made just for kids. While anime does have shows like that, it also has other shows that have mature content and certainly not suitable for children. The opposite extreme is to label it as animation that is purely futuristic or violent. The former characteristic describes the science-fiction genre and while some anime possess science-fiction elements, not all of them do so. The latter characteristic arises from the fact that one of the more popular anime imported in the West were bloody and full of gore like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. To a culture that is used to equating animation as tame and for the juvenile, certainly the violent aspects of anime is etched in their consciousness. But that description doesn’t do justice as well since there are anime that lacks violence and even aimed at toddlers.

Clearing the Misconception

The contradictory elements of anime might be confusing to some. How can animation not be for kids? Or if we consider it as adult cartoons, how come children watch it?

Anime is a medium, not a genre. A genre is limited by its theme and when people talk about cartoons, it’s usually in reference to the genre of animation that deals with entertaining kids. A medium, on the other hand, is just a means to convey a message. TV, radio, and film are examples of mediums and they aren’t stuck to one genre. TV might have several shows, each belonging to different genres: TV Patrol is nonfiction, Days of Our Lives is soap opera, Will and Grace is sitcom, and Smallville is action/drama. Similarly, anime is a medium that is capable of having shows that appeal to various genres.

I can’t blame you if your concept of anime is merely a cartoon geared towards kids. After all, that’s what most networks are cashing in on, just like the association of primetime TV with soap operas (at least here in the Philippines). But just because that’s the case does not mean it would always be limited to that. In fact, children-oriented anime are merely a slice of the bigger pie in Japan. With over 30+ anime airing every week, not all of them are aimed at kids. There are anime productions targeting high school students, the working class, and even married couples.


Japanese Comics

How did Japanese comics come into the picture, you might ask. Well, comics (or manga in Japanese), have been quite influential to the development of anime. Before animation was conceived, there were drawings, and these drawings eventually evolved into comics.

Even before anime was born, Japanese comics already possessed some of the distinct art styles evident in anime. The “father of manga”, Osamu Tezuka, was quite influenced by Disney cartoons and so his characters usually retained the big-eye motif. His illustrations would then later influence his generation and the generation after that so that by the time anime evolved into an industry, a lot of anime characters had big eyes.

Another vital contribution of comics to the anime scene is that a lot of anime have been adapted from comics. One of the first animated theatrical features produced, Alakazam the Great (1960), was adapted from Osamu Tezuka’s work. Tezuka would even later set up his own animation studio and start developing anime productions of his own. It’s also not surprising that a lot of today’s popular anime have been based on equally-successful comic titles, but the reverse is also true as famous anime are being adapted into comics as well.

Japan and its Animation History

Japan didn’t always have a successful animation industry. For all its current advancements, it owes a lot to American and European animators. In 1917, Japanese film hobbyists made an attempt to make an animated strip lasting from one to five minutes. At first, these cartoons were imitations of their Western counterparts like Felix the Cat but later on, they would shift to Oriental folk tales and adaptations from comic strips found in newspapers.

Anime’s identity wasn’t founded until after World War 2. By then, it was obvious that the Japanese had to adapt to the Western studio system, especially when you consider the fact that Japan was just recovering from the second World War. Their first such animation studio was named Toei Animation Co. and while it made a short cartoon, Doodling Kitty, in 1957, the first anime was Toei’s Panda and the Magic Serpent, a theatrical feature in 1958.

Future productions would follow the same pattern, producing theatrical features based on folk tales. It wasn’t until 1963 that Astro Boy hit Japanese TV sets. Whereas previous productions involved cinema, Astro Boy was made for TV and was based on the popular comic title of Osamu Tezuka. Soon, Japanese studios would not only develop anime tailored for the big screen but for TV as well.

Tezuka himself would help pioneer the image of animation as not “just-for-kids”. In 1969, he released the theatrical feature A Thousand and One Nights which retained the erotic flavor of Arabian Nights. Other genres of anime would later branch out such as adaptations of Western classics (Heidi of the Alps, Anne of Green Gables), sports, magical girls, and super robots.

In 1984, anime would move from the movie theater and the TV set to home video. Original Anime Video (OAV or sometimes interchanged with OVA) was created and this type of anime was released only via video sales. Since it wasn’t broadcast on television or film, it had more lenient standards and censors. Moreover, production qualities of OAVs tended to be better than anime on TV, but not as good as theatrical features.

How Anime Became Popular

Obviously, anime is popular in Japan. However, through some strange phenomenon, it managed to become popular around the world, although doing so did take years.

One of the first anime to hit the US was Astro Boy. Believe it or not, it was through chance that it was brought to Western shores. An NBC representative in Japan saw the show and bought (cheaply) the rights to it, not understanding a single word of Japanese or even the concept of the show. Through the help of producers and writers, it was adapted for US consumption and was quite successful. Soon, the US started importing other anime like Gigantor, Battle of the Planets/G-Force, Speed Racer, and Kimba the White Lion/Leo the Lion.

Europe, on the other hand, has been importing anime like Grandizer from Japan in the 1970s despite censorship. Even though some anime got cancelled because of the violence, they were popular enough that people kept on clamoring for it. Japanese adaptation of Western classics like Heidi of the Alps also got imported, helping induce demand for anime.

It would also seem natural for Asian countries to acquire animation from Japan, given the nation’s close proximity and the fact that Japan subcontracts its animation work to countries like Korea, China, and the Philippines. It is so popular in Asia that anime characters like Doraemon have become pop icons and similar shows have been translated into several languages.

The rise of globalization and the Internet solidified the hold of anime around the globe. Whereas anime fans previously had to acquire nth generation VHS copies of the shows they wanted, with the rise of the Internet, it was easier for fans to meet other fans across the world and swap anime. Fan clubs and groups became more accessible through online bulletin boards, mailing lists, and chat rooms. People could get the latest updates from Japan or get translations without being at the mercy of the TV network.

Globalization also helped increase awareness about anime. Whereas anime was previously dubbed in the vernacular, some fans produced subtitled copies of their favorite anime, the rights to airing it not being bought by their local network. People didn’t need to wait for anime to come out on TV – they could just watch in on tape, with subtitles. And since people were hearing it in Japanese dialogue, an interest in the language and the culture was sparked (and finding out these kinds of information became easier with the presence of the Internet).

Right now, one doesn’t even need video tapes to watch anime. People could download it from the Internet and watch it on their computers. What is even more surprising is that a few days after airing in Japan, anime is already being circulated around the world.

Eastern Animation vs. Western Animation

Since anime has traveled around the world, including the countries that originally influenced it, how different is this Eastern animation style compared to the West?

The first noticeable thing is the treatment of the medium. In Japan, anime is a means to convey a message to various age groups and classes as well as containing various genres. While there are anime geared at tykes and toddlers, there is also anime that appeals to teenagers, businessmen, housewives, and even the perverted. Western animation, however, more often than not, has children as a target audience. Of course this is slowly changing as animation for people other than kids are slowly developing but in the previous decades, cartoons were equated with children.

The second difference is animation. To experts, it is clear that anime lacks the smoothness and fluidity of Western animation productions like Disney. One reason for that is because Japanese productions don’t have high budgets compared to their Western counterparts. Anime characters usually have limited movement and static poses. However, Japanese animators make up for that using techniques found in cinema and stylized poses inherent in their culture. For example, a focus of Disney is the “illusion of life”, the dynamic movement of characters that fit their proportions. Anime, on the other hand, might focus on exaggeration like the transformation of a character into a child version of himself when he is throwing a tantrum.

Third, because the two styles of animation focus on different things, this has an affect on the way the productions are dubbed. In anime, all the animation is done first and when that is accomplished, voice-overs follow. Western productions, on the other hand, usually record the voice-overs first then animate it afterward. A look at behind-the-scenes of any Western animation production shows you that animators try to match the expressions and characteristics of their voice actors and actresses, and succeed in doing so. For example, the dragon in the movie Dragonheart was patterned after Sean Connery’s facial expressions. Similar methods are being done in popular animated theatrical features like those of Disney. Such techniques, while impressive, are simply not done by Japanese animators because of budget and time constraints.

That’s not to say anime is better than Western animation or vice versa. Fluidity of motion or themes present in the animation are merely characteristics of animation and not the defining measure of a work’s worth. It is when all the factors are combined that quality animation can be measured. Both anime and Western animation have their own strengths and uniqueness. One isn’t better than the other, but rather different and distinct.

Blurred Lines

For all the distinction between anime and Western animation, sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart.

For one thing, animation companies subcontract to other animation companies. Thus it isn’t uncommon for Western companies to have Japanese animate their cartoons. Shows like Spiderman, G.I. Joe, and Thundercats have either been animated in Japan or by Japanese animators yet these are Western cartoons.

Further blurring this line is the show Transformers. Originally a Japanese toy line by Takara, Americans were impressed by it that they commissioned a Japanese animation studio to produce for them an animation series with the US audience in mind. Yet when the show was finally finished, it wasn’t only aired in the US but in Japan as well.

As I said before, Japanese also subcontract to other nearby countries. Korea is a country that receives such jobs and right now, they are producing their own animation. Could Korean animation be classified as anime or should it be treated as a separate animation style?


Anime in the Philippines

The Philippines experienced waves of anime in the past few years. Filipinos were watching it on TV, buying the various merchandise available, and even attending anime conventions by the droves. Would it then be right to say that Filipinos only got exposed to anime in the past few years? Or that it is just a fad like tamagotchi, shawarma, brick games, and zagu?

I beg to differ. Anime has always been part of Filipino pop culture, even as far as nearly two decades ago. American-translated anime like Astro Boy, Speed Racer, Gigantor, and Voltron has been available to us way way back and there are fans of those series even until today. And Western influence aside, Filipinos have watched anime when they were kids. You might remember Cedi, Candy Candy, Heidi of the Alps, Anne of Green Gables, Dog of Flanders, and other animated classics that had a literary and Western feel although in actuality, those cartoons are actually anime.

That being the case, why is it only recently that people are clamoring for anime and not two decades ago?

While I am saying that anime has been present in Filipino culture in the past, it is only now that there is a conscious awareness and appreciation of it. Whereas two decades ago we’ve just been passively accepting what’s on television, lately, there’s an active interest in anime fandom. For example, character names used to be translated in an arbitrary manner. Now, fans demand that the “Japanese flavor” be retained by preserving their Japanese names. Some anime fans don’t even want to watch dubbed anime but would rather view them with subtitles, either on the cable network AXN or through swapping video copies with acquaintances.

Success of Anime

In other for something to be successful, there must first be an awareness of it. That has already been established but for those still in doubt, here are other examples that prove anime is successful in the Philippines.

In the previous decade, anime was relegated to the early morning and afternoon timeslots. There are even barely any ads by the network to let viewers know they are showing these kinds of show. However, as of late, anime has reached mass consciousness. If anime weren’t so lucrative, it wouldn’t have been placed on TV’s primetime slots nor would it have been advertised. Stations like ABS-CBN and GMA have anime on their regular programming, and the latter used to air anime in place of its regular soap operas. Various newspapers and magazines also contain articles on anime as well as its sibling, manga. Should I also dare mention the numerous websites, fan fiction, and mailing lists circulating around the Internet?

Anime has also been used to increase sales. Gundams, plastic model kits that you assemble to form robots, have always been available in the Philippines for quite some time. In fact, it’s been a tradition that every Christmas, department stores and toy chains like Toy Kingdom go on sale and cut prices of Gundams in half in order to sell their old stock. However, in December 1999, that didn’t happen. Why? Gundam Wing, an anime, was being aired on GMA 7. Children and hobbyists alike were clamoring for Gundam merchandise, including the model kits. Ever since then, prices of Gundams have been escalating and the half-price sales were never to be seen again.

Third, anime is being used as propaganda. Hobbies like Tamiya’s mini-4WD (toy cars that go around a track) and Beyblade (hi-tech game of tops) weren’t popular in the Philippines. At least until their respective anime started seeing the light of day here in the Philippines. Let’s & Go made its debut in 2000 and is a show that had its protagonists using Tamiya mini-4WD. Not soon after, there was a sudden demand for such toys and mini-4WD tournaments were visibly held regularly. Retailers started selling Tamiya products when in the past, it was only the hobby shop Lil’s that carried it. At least as long as the anime was being aired. Beyblade followed suit and not so long ago, Beyblades were being sold in malls.

Why is Anime Successful?

I’m sure a lot of people would be interested in knowing as to why anime became so popular. Wouldn’t every businessman be interested in the formula for success?

I don’t think there is one definitive answer to this question. However, I can enumerate the various factors contributing to its fame.

First, it has been with us for quite some time. The best example of this is Voltes V. Many Filipinos were fans of it and when it was banned during martial law, that only added fuel to the fire. Flash forward several years later when fans of the show are now working and supporting their own families. When Voltes V began airing again, longtime fans felt nostalgia and people of the current generation were all awed by the stories their fathers and uncles told them of Voltes V.

Second reason is that anime is a medium hence having diverse genres. Anime is a term general enough that it can cater to a lot of people and not limit itself with a certain spectrum. The only prerequisites anime has is that the show in itself is animated and these animated shows have various stories to tell, appealing to the old and the young, boys and girls, romantic or masochistic.

Third, there is something to reinforce the liking of anime. With various toys, videos, soundtracks, games, and posters available out there, one can easily rekindle the passion one has for anime. And there are a number of shops that specifically cater to the anime community, selling nothing but anime-related products.

Fourth, globalization has helped spread awareness about anime. With websites and mailing lists available, people can easily find information about anime or meet up with fellow fans. What was once difficult to acquire is now as simple as clicking a button. It can’t get any easier than that.

Fifth is its aesthetic appeal. I mean I’m sure there’s at least one anime character you find cute, whether it’s Pikachu, Hello Kitty, or Sailormoon. And the variant art style lends something to this country already saturated with Western culture and icons.

Last but not least is that it’s widely available. I mean lately, one only needs to turn on the TV set at a particular time and we can immediately watch anime. Even mobile phones are not exempted from this as anime ring tones and logos are only a text message away. Then there’s the Internet, the radio, various people who sell videos, etc.


It cannot be questioned that anime has had a big effect in the Philippines. Its phenomenon is as mysterious as its meaning. And while we may not yet fully understand what anime really is, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy or appreciate what it has to offer.