Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The BURN Year-Ender

Wow, three blog posts in a row! One would think I didn't have a full-time job any more... oh wait, I don't. ;p Actually, these posts have been sitting in my hard drive in half-finished form for quite some time; it’s just that I realized that most of them are about publications that came out in November, and November's almost over. So: November spawned a blogger. (Those of you who got the reference, feel free to scream and throw rocks.)

ANYWAY! If you are at all interested in music -- particularly the local scene -- and you haven't grabbed a copy of the new BURN yet, then... then... I'll come up with some amusing metaphor for how wrong that is, later. The year-ender issue is out now (I love year-ender issues), and as you can see, we pulled out all the stops. On that front cover alone, we've got Nimbus9, Kat of Sino Sikat, and Julianne in the front row, and Nyko Maca, Marc Abaya, Aia of Imago, and Jay Kamikazee in the back row. Big hand of applause to Denise and Conch for pulling off the logistically nightmarish shoots (and for much else, besides)! And there's lots, lots more inside, a whole parade of fantastic musical artists who made their mark in 2007. And of course, there's our Best Albums of 2007 feature. This time around, partcipating reviewers were: Cris Ramos Jr., Denise Mallabo, Dodo Dayao, Erwin Romulo, Kristine Lim, Lester Hallig, Thor Balanon, Yvette Tan and myself. Thanks, people!

This picture was taken during the first time I interviewed Sitti, over a year ago. That’s her on the far left, with me and Yvette on the far right. (Yes, I still had hair then.) The guy in the middle is photographer and clothing designer extraordinaire Che Katigbak, who also happens to be my Kuya.

Speaking of music, check out the i section of the Manila Bulletin today (Wednesday, November 28). In this week’s installment of my column, “The King of Nothing to Do,” I have an interview with the lovely bossa nova sensation Sitti.

LUIS: If you could talk to the younger you—the one who was working her way through college, singing in hotel bars—what would you say?

I would say two things: one, all your efforts will pay off, just hang in there and work hard, and second, ironically, treasure your lounge act memories, where you are freer and there is no pressure at all from anyone. [smiles]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Imagine That

You may have seen this new magazine on the stands: it's massive, colorful and attention-grabbing, and it's called Imagine. Congratulations to Yonina Chan and company on the first issue! :)

Imagine is very visually-oriented, so in its pages you'll find spread after spread of fashion concepts and other forms of eye candy. There's lots of good stuff to read as well, of course. I'm one of the Contributing Editors, and for this first issue I wrote two short short stories ("Emily Around the World" and "Zo Invents"), as well as a short feature on award-winning comics creator Arnold Arre and his upcoming projects. An excerpt:
“I'm in the process of developing two stories,” Arnold tells us. The first is Martial Law Babies, “a coming-of-age story about a group of 30-somethings. We follow the lives of the characters, from their childhood memories to a present-day setting. It's a very personal story, and it came to me during one of those conversations with college friends over coffee. I also wanted to tackle some issues like where have our peers gone, what did they become? Why are we losing more and more talented people to first world countries? What role do we play in society? And aren't the younger generations getting better breaks in terms of work since they're adept in technology and from our perspective, more pampered? So I guess in a way another take on the title is that of us being trapped, we're under Martial Law so to speak. It's nearing completion, so hopefully we’ll get to see it in printed form sometime soon.”

The second project in the works is “another fantasy story, a different take on Filipino myths. The story is geared towards a younger audience, which I find to be a challenge since it's very new to me. In a nutshell, there is a worldwide organizing body of magic and myth holding friendly competitions for all creatures, gods, folklore beings and characters. Imagine an Olympics for the world of magic. Our delegates are a hodgepodge of troubled characters trying to band together as one team-a problematic tikbalang, a rebellious kapre, and several others being led by the team captain, a mambabarang who tends to be misguided in her decision making.”

Both projects are definitely something to look forward to -- not just for fans of local comics, but for people who appreciate stories in general.


Man, I can't believe November's almost over! Been fairly busy on the freelancing front lately. I wrote the cover story for the November issue of the recently-launched Homestyle magazine. ("Redefining the Filipino home," goes the tagline.) If you're the kind of person who loves poring over magazines like Dwell and Vogue Living, and daydreaming about interiors and unusual designs, you should check it out. Much to my relief, my architect cousin Miguel, who is a partner in an Ortigas-based firm and whose taste I trust, has expressed his approval of Homestyle. (And he's very picky about his magazines.) Here's an excerpt from the feature:
"Like his home, Mikko Sison seems fairly normal at first. When I meet him, he is wearing a smart pair of glasses, a neat white shirt, pants with a subtle checkered pattern, dark brown suede shoes and an easy smile: the overall impression is that of a friendly, casually stylish intellectual. He’s pleasant and a little upscale, just like the brick-and-concrete façade of the two-story row house he is renting in Ecology Village, Makati City. And just like its inhabitant, the house may look perfectly respectable on the outside, but it harbors strangeness within."

Yvette = Winner!

L to R: Jaime Daez of Fully Booked ("Hellooo, ladies"), the lovely and overjoyed Yvette, and some English bloke

Great big CONGRATULATIONS to Yvette for her Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards win! *mwah mwah* :D Sponsored by Neil Gaiman and Fully Booked, this is the only competition in the country that focuses on speculative fiction, and due to a number of reasons -- Gaiman's involvement, the amount of prize money -- it's become perhaps the most anticipated and strived-for writing award in the land. Gaiman himself established it when he visited the country a couple of years ago: he noted that the Philippines has "a very strong tradition of realism" in its fiction, and he wanted to encourage "Philippine unrealism."

Yvette won 2nd place in the Prose category (there's a Comics category as well) for her wonderful short story, "The Bridge." Set during the time of a certain dictatorship, it's about a little girl in a small town with psychic abilities who encounters the First Lady. During the awarding ceremony, Neil praised it effusively, calling it "very, very creepy and really nicely done."

L to R: Half of Lyle Sacris' head, wild-maned Ramon, boyishly beaming Elbert, the amazing Arnold, gorgeous genius Yvette, and myself.

The awarding was held last Sunday, November 25, just outside the giant Fully Booked branch at The Fort. It was great to see so many familiar faces and to catch up with everyone. Arnold and Cynthia, Erwin, Ramon, Quark, Charles, Elbert, Ian, everyone. Dear friends Waya and Lala -- last year's grand prize winners for the Comics category, for "The Mad, Sad, Incredible but True Adventures of Hika Girl" -- were there too, with family and support crew (Fran, Elaine, Krissy etc.). Waya and I had gone on a day trip to Subic just the Thursday before, for Neil Gaiman's lecture on the imagination and its importance. (We got to talk to him briefly afterwards; will probably write about that too, eventually.)

After the event, the winners and some stray significant others like myself had dinner with all the judges and Mr. Gaiman. A very memorable end to a very memorable day.

Waya to the right of him, Lala to the left of him: Neil Gaiman flanked by the insanely talented Gallardo sisters.

These photos were taken from Cynthia's Multiply page. Thanks to the ever-masipag Charles for all the transcripts and updates. Neil Gaiman blogged about his visit here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diablo Cody Strikes

Is it wrong for me to adore Diablo Cody before I’ve read her book or any of her scripts? A couple of interviews, plus this picture, taken from her blog, tell me no. Such admiration is in all likelihood not misplaced.

Read more about the former stripper turned book author turned hot young scriptwriter at New York mag’s Vulture, at Entertainment Weekly (“Ex-Stripper Turned A-Lister”), and at Esquire, in the -- where else? -- Women We Love section. The EW piece is particularly informative and entertaining. Lots of stuff about Juno, the movie she wrote “sitting in Target in suburban Minnesota”:
When Jason Reitman, who'd made a name for himself with 2006's Thank You for Smoking, read the script for Juno, he scrapped plans to direct his own project to work with Cody instead. ''When I think of the response to Diablo and her screenplay,'' he says, ''the only person I can equate it to in recent history is Tarantino, that kind of overwhelming excitement about a fresh new voice.'' But the movie would have imploded fast without the right actress in the title role. Enter the impressive Hard Candy actress Ellen Page, who, Cody believes, beautifully embodies her wry, tough-talking, secretly tender main character. ''It would have been really heartbreaking to meet Ellen if she was like, 'Oh, hey, wassup?' while talking on a rhinestone-encrusted cell phone,'' says Cody. ''But she's so cool, she scares the s--- out of me. She is Juno.''

Ellen Page! I loved her in Hard Candy, even if I didn’t love Hard Candy itself. And I thought she made a great Kitty Pryde too. Lots of great buzz about Juno -- I can’t wait to see it. Funny though, this is probably the first time I’ve ever seen a film’s scriptwriter get as much, if not more than, buzz than the film itself. Not that that’s a bad thing, in my book.

Oh, almost forgot to include my favorite quote from the Entertainment Weekly article on D.C. Here it is:
"I'm f---ing sick of actors!" declares Cody, stabbing the lime in her third vodka soda. "They look airbrushed in reality. I swear Jennifer Garner has to be bathing in the blood of virgins because she has the most beautiful skin that I've ever seen on a human being. The boys too! I met Brandon Routh from Superman last year. He looks like a special effect. He's too beautiful to live. And actors are all tiny people. Why is that? I'm a hulk compared to them! If you look at pictures of me with actors, I look like I ate them all."