Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rogue is One


All aboard the Rogue yacht! Photo taken last March, on a sunset cruise celebrating the special Philippine Cinema issue. L to R: Yvette, me, Lissa Romero and Kidlat de Guia. In the background is Juan Caguicla, holding on to his hat.

Has it been a year already?

So my copy of the July 2008 issue of Rogue arrived on my doorstep yesterday -- it marks the magazine's first-year anniversary. (Anne Curtis is the cover feature -- photography by Mark Nicdao, styling by Millet Arzaga, words by Nick Azarcon. Great job, Nick!) There are many very good reasons to grab a copy of this issue, but I'll focus on two: first and foremost, of course, is the new story by Yvette Tan, Seek Ye Whore. It's twisted, funny, sexy, and deeply disturbing. (Here's a quote out of context: "It was oddly exhilarating, making love to a half-formed body.")

Second is the "24-page recap of Rogue's past 12 months" -- Yvette and I have been involved, in one way or another, with almost every issue since the magazine came out, whether we wrote cover features or short essays or just made suggestions, and it was great fun for me to page through the retrospective and remember all that stuff. (Am particularly happy with the Sanya Smith interview I did, Yvette's account of her encounter with Neil Gaiman, and of course the fiction we wrote.) Reading through all the accolades just made me prouder to have worked on the magazine. Of course, it's fun to page through the feature whether you were ever a contributor or not; the pictures alone will make you swoon, and the little behind-the-scenes bits make for great reading. If you don't have a complete run of the first year already, be warned; you will feel the need to fill in the gaps of your collection.

Sadly, this anniversary issue is also the last for Features Editor Erwin Romulo. Erwin has decided to move on and do other things, and it's safe to say the magazine will never be the same again. It's impossible to overstate his importance to Rogue: whether it was absorbing and thought-provoking subject matter, beautiful and controversial photo shoots, or an array of expertly chosen -- if occasionally surprising -- contributors, from writers to photographers to visual artists, Erwin brought that edge that other magazines can only dream about. Personally, I credit him with breaking the years-long slump I had been mired in, regarding my fiction. "Tell the Sky" (from the December 2007 issue) was the first story I had written in a long time that I was happy with, and without Erwin's initial inspiration and constant encouragement -- plus of course Yvonne Quisumbing-Romulo's artwork, and the Rogue bosses' approval -- it would never have seen the light of day. (Yvette had a similar experience with "Seek Ye Whore" -- it was Erwin's persistence that compelled her to speed up her already-swift writing process.)

Erwin has a way of not only choosing the perfect people for a certain feature, but also getting the best work out of them. Whether he accomplishes this through undisclosed telepathic powers, the unspoken threat of bodily harm, or simply the assurance that whatever his contributors come up with will be presented in a way that they can be proud of, it's hard to say -- but whatever his methods, they were instrumental in shaping the first year of one of the best damn magazines in the country today.

(If it sounds like I'm sucking up to him, it's because I am. Because if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that I'd like to keep working with Erwin, and collaborating with the other creative individuals in his army.)

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