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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

entry arrow7:12 PM | The Post-Gaiman Post

First, The Grimness

All I could remember from the flight home to Dumaguete from Manila was how suddenly annoyed I felt about the concentration of small irritations. The fact, for example, that I got a seat in the emergency exit row in the plane, and I had to make a show for the flight attendant of reading the emergency guidelines in case of any unfortunate event I had trouble imagining could happen. (I thought: I don't want to feel responsible for all these people.) The talkative passenger in seat 9D was another matter: she was shrieking upon the instance of rough landing because she didn't have her seatbelt on. (I thought: How stupid is that.) But the boarding area of the domestic airport may have triggered the whole attitude I had for the day: it was quite crowded when I got in, and when I finally commandeered a seat for me, it was unfortunate that I should be sitting in front of a woman who was yacking her head off about anything and everything. You know the type. I don't expect airports to be temples of silence (the humming noise that collects from everywhere is actually quite appealing to me), but it's quite another matter to be listening to someone talk and talk about how friendly she was, about how surprised she was about the distance of this town from that, about... It went on forever. Soon, the unfortunate stranger she was talking to stood up and left, and that was how I finally got my respite. On hindsight, it could be the effect of the indecisiveness of the weather: super-typhoon Mina was shying away at the last minute (showing her supposed menace only in terms of half-hearted showers that came in spurts), and Lando making a sabog comeback, and all around me there was a rise in the humidity that was getting to my head. You could smell the vexation in the air, and when I finally landed in Dumaguete, I could feel the day clinging to my skin. It was a heavy burden.

Then, The Sunshine

But then there was Mark waiting for me at the arrival area's exit: he was a sight of utter perfection. It was the first time today that I felt quite all right. Sigh. Which is not to say I am not happy today. I am actually. I have good reasons to be.

Yesterday, Fully Booked finally launched Expeditions, the two-volume compilation of the winning entries in last year's Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, which contains my story "A Strange Map of Time," which won First Prize together with Michael Co's angelic take in "The God Equation." Neil Gaiman himself was there to cheer everyone on, and to give a giant boost to Philippine speculative fiction -- which I think is starting to get the respect and the critical notice it deserves from the rest of the Philippine literary "firmament." I must take note that the only reason that I decided to I fly in to Manila was to meet The Man and to have dinner with him (a rare opportunity if ever there was one), even when I was not sure at all of having any winning edge in the shortlist for this year's contest. (I took a peek at the shortlist the moment I arrived in Serendra, and I felt a kick in the guts: it was a list that qualified for the meaning of the word "intimidating"). Thing is, it's never easy for anyone in the Visayas or Mindanao to travel to the Capital -- the expenses can be staggering, even for an overnight stay. Sometimes one must have the assurance that the trip is well worth the P8,000 or so one must spend to get to Manila. I also intimated in last Friday's post that the odds may be stacked against me: how can anyone win twice in a row?


With a heart bursting with disbelieving gratitude, I won Second Prize for the Prose category in the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. This for my short fantasy story "The Sugilanon of Epefania's Heartbreak," which Neil described as, well, heartbreaking, "a lovely little fable, and [I] felt it should have been illustrated." Coolness. I tied with the marvelous Yvette Natalie Tan who won for her story "The Bridge." Erin Chupeco won Third Prize for "Juan Perez's Corpse," and blogging buddy Joseph Nacino won the Grand Prize for his tantalizing "Logovore." (Definitely a must-read.) Neil called this year's roster of prose entries -- which included works from such luminaries as Michael Co (my co-winner last year), Luis Joaquin Katigbak, and Sharmaine Galve -- to "have better writers, better writing than we did in year one." There are eleven finalists this year, a considerable jump from last year.

Fellow LitCritter and great friend Andrew Drilon won Second Prize for the Comics category with "Lines and Spaces," and Heubert Khan Michael and Gerald Doraldo tied for Third Place.

(The unbelievably energetic Charles Tan has transcripts of all the speeches -- by Gaiman and Fully Booked's Jaime Daez -- in his blog. Dean Francis Alfar has pictures and a thorough recounting of what Neil said when he joined our table during dinner. Neil's schedule for the day didn't include any signing of his books and what-not, but after dinner Heubert and I successfully pounced on him for an instant autograph session, Heubert with his Sandman collection, and I with my bagfull of books from assorted Dumaguete folks -- you know who you are, be glad nga gapabaga ko ug nawong.)

It was great to meet up with old friends (and literary acquaintances) again, like Dean, Andrew, Luis, Yvette, Michael, Joseph, Mia Tijam, Vin Simbulan, Nikki Alfar, and Tals Diaz. And friends I knew only through blogs and emails, like Elbert Or, Wanggo Gallaga, Arnold and Cynthia Arre, Quark Henares, Erwin Romulo, Sharmaine, and Charles.

And I have no photos to show for any of these. The worst thing you can do when attending events such as this is to go with a digital camera with no batteries. (That said, above photo is courtesy of Dean, whose camera had batteries.)

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