Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Philippine Fantasy World

What Tolkien made popular when he published Lord of the Rings was the creation--the mythology--of an entirely different world. Ever since then, a lot of SF&F writers built cosmologies from the ground up or incorporated alien worlds into their fiction. Some worked and some fell flat. It's probably had such a huge effect that world-building is a point of contention among writers and readers, how much to reveal and how much not to reveal, to info dump vs. seeding it slowly, or whether world-building is even necessary.

Many would-be Filipino writers have tried building their own cosmology based on our history and location. The country's equivalent of the Wild West seems to be the Spanish Colonial era where we suffered under "oppression", rebelled against our Spanish enslavers, and eventually won our freedom. (Few Filipinos apparently find the political strife of our American colonization to be relatively uninteresting unless you count the Japanese occupation during World War II.) A friend had such a draft, calling his world Mahadlika, for use in his own campaign setting.

Of course what some Filipinos don't know is that we already have such an epic world, a Middle-Earth of our own, and it's been in existence for years. It's one fact that I think that has been omitted in many of Dean Alfar's interviews. I haven't known him for a long time but back when he was still famous for writing comics rather than -gasp- novels, Dean along with some of his friends were already working on the fantasy world called Hinirang. (You'll have to ask Dean who thought of the name Hinirang.) The website that housed the stories and mythology is now gone (or perhaps hidden in some server) and more than one writer contributed to this shared world. Perhaps the existence of Hinirang is not so evident because of Dean's writing style. He doesn't info dump, he doesn't start his stories with narratives of the world. Hinirang is simply the setting where some of his stories are told. In fact, if you've read some of his stories, you probably didn't notice that it was set in Hinirang but rather thought it was a generic fantastical Philippine setting. Yet it all starts to make sense if you read his stories as a whole instead of chunks. Some of his stories that take place in Hinirang include (but not limited to):

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