Posts Tagged ‘beverly siy’

pop goes the world: breasts, blankets, and bebang

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  20 October 2011, Thursday

Breasts, Blankets, and Bebang

The Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Southeast Asia. The disease is said to be the third leading cause of mortality and morbidity among Filipino women, and this is due in part to the reluctance of afflicted women to seek medical help until the cancer is well-advanced.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month worldwide. Until a few years back, all I knew about it was that it was all about pink, my favorite color, and isn’t that ribbon logo cute? Until I battled a breast cancer scare myself, I paid no heed to the call for each woman to be aware of her breast health via self and professional breast exams.

Then, during an annual office health checkup that I was dragged to, kicking and screaming, doctors found a lump in my right breast. After viewing the results of painful mammograms and tickly ultrasound exams, my oncologist decided to excise the entire mass in a simple out-patient operation that took only half an hour. To work off my anxiety, after the procedure I walked to the office from the hospital and still put in an afternoon’s work. The biopsy showed the lump was non-malignant. The inch-and-a-half long red scar on my chest is a sobering reminder to take the threat of breast cancer seriously.

My experience made my officemates aware of their own breast health, becoming vigilant with exams and annual mammograms. Last year, one of them was found to have a lump also, but hers was malignant. She fought back and beat the disease. Her success was largely due to early detection.

ICanServe Foundation advocates early breast cancer detection through community-based screening programs, says media/information committee member Carla Paras-Sison, herself a breast cancer survivor. “In cooperation with LGUs, we train barangay health workers [to perform] clinical breast examinations…[we also hold] high-impact information campaigns…produce commercials and organize educational forums” to “spread hope and dispel fear.”

They are at the Power Plant Mall basement every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this month to spread awareness by disseminating information material and raise funds by selling items, proceeds of which benefit the ICanServe Foundation. Visit to learn about their mission, activities, and events.

Icanserve photos taken 15 October 2011 at Power Plant Mall.

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Along with enhancing their awareness of medical issues, Filipina women can also open up to the idea of exploring their sexuality in a healthy, positive way.  Sexuality is, after all, related to human well-being. Why not attend a workshop and develop your sensual side?

Gaze, the creative brainchild of writers April Yap and Camille de la Rosa, will be holding an Erotic Writing Workshop on November 12 “as a way to celebrate love, longing, and lust.”

Poet and teacher Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, known for her sensuous rhymes and ritual dances, will be presiding over the whole-day workshop at Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. She has chosen the title “Blanket Day” for the event. Participants are asked to bring a blanket and object belonging to their beloved.

The workshop fee is P2,500 and includes drinks, meals, and a certificate. Only 15 slots are available; register on or before November 7. For details, contact Gaze at (0926)725-5208 or send email to

I’m attending the workshop and though it’s three weeks away, I’m already dithering over which blanket to bring – for certain it’ll be one of the many lap quilts I’ve made – and which “beloved object” – his shirt? my necklace made from his guitar strings? his broad-nib fountain pen? What does Prof. Guevara have in mind for participants to do with these things? I’m excited. “Love, longing, and lust”? They’re always a part of the human condition. Writing, as well as any other method, will help put you in touch with these emotions and perhaps make sense of them and your relationship with the beloved.

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If you love to laugh and cry and laugh again while reading a book, you must read Bebang Siy’s It’s a Mens World. Recently published by Anvil, I first spotted the book at the Manila Book Fair and was intrigued by the title. Was it a typo error? A deliberate naming ploy to attract buyers?

The mystery is solved in the first chapter. No spoilers here, I’d rather you read it for yourself for maximum impact, but this book is full of clever tricks that hook the reader, set her up, and deliver bang-up punchlines that will result in laughter, tears, or both.

Masterfully written in Filipino, it’s a memoir of a Filipino-Chinese girl growing up in a broken home. Though beset by financial disadvantages and adversity, her spirit is not quelled; instead, she fights back with humor, and emerges from the ring wiser and wackier.

Bebang (Beverly) Siy is a creative writing graduate of the University of the Philippines. She was a working student and a single mother to her son EJ, yet still managed to finish cum laude and serve as the UP Writers’ Club vice-president. She works for the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (the country’s reprographic rights organization for authors and publishers). Her poetry and short stories in different genres – romance, horror, erotic – have been published in various anthologies.

It’s a Mens World is available at all major bookstores, and will be followed by an “ala Margie Holmes” book where Bebang presents “advice but in a wacky way”. And what better way to receive advice?

Have your copies of It’s a Mens World autographed at Bebang’s talk on humor writing on October 21 at the Conspiracy Garden Café, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. The event, organized by the Freelance Writers of the Philippines, starts at 6pm. The P100 entrance fee gets you a free beer and a raffle ticket. *** 

Pink ribbon image here. Bebang Siy book cover and author photos from the author’s Facebook page.

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pop goes the world: books now and ever after

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  25 August 2011, Thursday

Books Now and Ever After

The major problem faced by creative writers in the Philippines today is that few people buy books by Filipino authors, and this lack of financial renumeration is a disincentive for the creation of literature.

Creative writers struggle because there is a tiny niche market for their work, and this market is dominated by the few established writers who create high-quality output and have managed to make names for themselves over many years of hard work. Writers just starting out looking for publishers? Good luck with that. Lucky breaks are frequently prayed for, but not always bestowed by the publishing gods, who have their bottom line to consider.

The lack of financial incentives for creative writers is a major deterrent to the development of works in the literary field. Why write a short story that may never see the daylight of publication in the very few literary magazines on the market, when you can write a showbiz column for an online website and earn enough to at least feed yourself and your cat?

Journalism provides a decent living for many creative writers, but sometimes it’s not what they would really be doing. What puts food on the table does not necessarily feed the soul. Writing creative works nowadays is seen as self-indulgent, because there is no assurance that the work will be published, or even paid for. In the need to be exposed, many writers often contribute their work gratis for anthologies. In order to survive, creative writers need a day job, and write their creative works on their off-time.

Authors whose works have grabbed the fancy of the reading Filipino public, like the top-selling and mysterious Bob Ong (said to actually be several writers), may make the best of the situation, reaping royalties such as they are. Still, it is debatable if he makes enough from his books to quit his day job.

While creative writers dream of being able to do nothing but write, it’ll remain a dream until present conditions change.

Why are local readers not reading – and buying – the works of Filipino writers?

In publishing, the biggest earners are the textbook publishers with government contracts.

Also doing well are men’s magazine publishers – FHM, Maxim. Literary works, however, are of a different character, and its readers are fewer compared to, shall we say, FHM readers. While readers of creative works may also read FHM, it does not follow that all FHM readers will enjoy reading literary works. Sex sells better than lit. (Perhaps creative writers should write more erotica?)

Because there is a small market for literature, there are few publishers who are still in business – Anvil, among the private companies, and the universities – UP Press, UST Press, Ateneo Press, and De La Salle University Press. Fox Books, founded in 2007 with such lofty dreams for the literary world, went out of business in less than two years, unable to gain a solid financial footing, although it had published interesting works by humor writer Jay David, Layeta Bucoy, Beverly Siy, Sarah Grutas, and other young writers.

It has been said that the Philippines does not have a reading culture comparable to that of the Japanese or the American. We are a still an oral, story-telling culture. The media we enjoy extend the story-telling function to a mass audience. What is the visual stimulation of TV but the modern-day equivalent of sitting around a rocking chair listening to Lola Basyang?

In print, komiks such as “Wakasan” used to be more popular and were the preferred channels for narratives that could be enjoyed by the masses. But komiks were killed by the increase of printing costs, poor pay for writers and artists, and the onslaught of alternative forms of entertainment brought by cable TV and the Internet.

Lack of education and unfamiliarity with the language is another barrier for the Philippines developing a reading culture. If one cannot understand English well, why buy books written by Filipino writers in English? If one cannot read, why buy books at all, even those written in Tagalog and the other Filipino languages?

A related problem is the cost of books. TV is ‘free’, another reason for its popularity. Buying a book can take a sizable chunk from a student’s allowance or from an average householder’s budget. With the majority of the population belonging to the C-D-E socio-demographic, they are potentially the largest market for any sort of product. In the case of books, the cost should be brought down for them to be more affordable and their purchase considered in lieu of other forms of entertainment; however, given that the present prices of books are already as rock-bottom as they can be brought, this is a major issue that will be a stumbling-block for the creative book industry until it is resolved.

A major constraint for the development of a healthy market for creative works is the lack of support or the inadequate support from both the government and private sectors. When an alarming number of the nation’s population lives below the poverty line, when gas prices have shot to the sky, when the world is struggling from the fallout of a major financial depression, less attention and funding are given to art, which many in the mainstream see as a non-essential indulgence or luxury, compared to, say, food.

Government agencies such as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts would be expected to be the rallying point for a development-focused national literature program, and for setting the foundation for Filipino literature appreciation in elementary and high school. Yet without enough funding, such plans cannot be implemented. The state universities, University of the Philippines to name one, have always tried their best in that regard, but again finances are a stumbling block for the expansion of their programs, such as the annual UP National Writers Workshop.

In the private sector, one would also expect that bookstores would be more pro-active in promoting creative works by Filipino writers; however, it will be noticed that they do not give prime display space to local works. Filipino works are lumped under one shelf category, “Filipiniana”, instead of each work being placed where they belong by genre: horror, young adult, etc. along with works of foreign authors, which are given more importance because they sell better.

There is also a lack of marketing opportunities, and writers themselves have to find their own ways to sell their works. Carljoe Javier sold his Kobayashi Maru of Love from his backpack; Axel Pinpin went the indie-publishing route for his Tulang Matatabil and did his own distribution efforts.

Multi-sectoral support is essential to the development of a better climate for the publication and reception of Filipino creative works; how to gain this support is a matter for discussion and planning.

Because people don’t read, they don’t buy, so publishers don’t publish, so writers don’t write. But the lack of buyers does not mean that writers cannot write, or should not write; it just means that they might not earn anything for their efforts.

But there’s always one story that’s the exception to the rule. First-time novelist Samantha Sotto is the talk of the blogosphere with the recent publication of her Before Ever After by Random House’s Crown Publishers imprint. She is the first Filipina they have published.

The novel was born this way: Samantha, who had to take her preschool son to Ateneo in the mornings, would wait for him at the Starbucks on Katipunan across the Loyola campus. Having read Audrey Nifenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife and being dissatisfied with the ending, she set out to weave her own love story, pecking out the tale of Shelley and the charismatic Max Gallus over a year’s time, with much of that spent on research.

Upon finishing the manuscript, she bought a copy of The Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published and followed its advice, going online to search for an agent and finding Stephanie Kip Rostan, whose confidence in the worth of the tale led to her finding a publisher without much trouble.

The book is set mostly in Europe, which Samantha explored as a teenager. Its protagonists are non-Filipino; only one Pinay makes an appearance, when the action sends some of the main characters to Boracay. Overall, it is a good read. Generally I don’t like chick lit or the romance genres, but I loved this one in spite of myself. It’s well-written and  -plotted, complex enough to make it interesting without being difficult to follow, and the ending is enigmatic. It made me and my 13-year old daughter Erika, who devoured the novel in one sitting, sit up one night hotly debating “What really happened to Shelley and Max?”

Before Ever After is available in paperback at National Bookstore and online as an e-book at for $11.99, where it’s in the top ten bestsellers in its category.

It’s proof that even with the glut of content available, tales written with a magic touch will float to the surface and command attention; and that Filipino creative writers who despair of getting published here might try doing what Samantha did and get published abroad, and that way gain a larger audience and the proper renumeration. ***

FHM cover here.  Kobayashi Maru image here. 

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fox books: palalim ng palalim

Following the lead of other publishing trailblazers, Fox Books reveals its own take on the horror genre with Palalim ng Palalim, Padilim ng Padilim at Iba Pang Kuwento ng Dilim.

But unlike the badly-written, ungrammatical, and obviously made-up stories touted as “true-to-life” that you’ve had to suffer through for lack of anything better to read, Fox Books delivers a collection that is light-years higher in literary quality.

Pieces by Wennie Fajilan, Beverly Siy, Mar Anthony de la Cruz, Rita de la Cruz, and Haidee Pineda reflect storytelling genius, brought to life by the grotesque illustrations of Josel Nicolas (which nearly did not see print due to their shock factor).

If you want to enjoy not just good but terrific stories and writing, showcasing some of the country’s most imaginative literary talents, then this book will be a valuable addition to your collection of Filipino fiction.

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bucoy, sto domingo, siy: tres amores

Another of Fox Books’ pioneer offerings, Tres Amores is a 3-in1 book of romance in the city, written from three different feminine points-of-view – that of a high school student, a college student, and a working girl.

Accurately reflecting the angst and emotion of young love in a Filipino setting, the stories will touch a chord of recognition in all those who have ridden the roller-coaster of heartbreak and happiness.

With interesting illustrations by Kristian Teves, “isang ordinaryong college student ng Far Eastern University…isang tunay na loverboy”, this book is a must-add to your collection of contemporary Filipino stories.

About the authors:

Si Layeta Bucoy ay nagtapos ng AB Communication Arts sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Los Baños noong 1996 at ang kanyang MFA in Creative Writing sa De La Salle University noong 2003. Nagkamit siya ng gantimpala mula sa Palanca noong 1998 at 2007. Ang kanyang mga dula ay naitanghal na ng PETA, ng Cultural Center of the Philippines, at ng Saison Theater Program sa Tokyo, Japan. Kasalukuyan siyang nagtuturo ng Humanidades sa UP Los Baños.

Si Ardee Sto Domingo ay nagtapos ng BS Electronics and Communications Engineering sa Technological University of the Philippines noong 2003. Mahilig magbasa at magsulat, kasalukuyan siyang head writer ng sikat na soap opera na mapapanood sa GMA.

Si Beverly Siy ay nagtapos ng BA Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino (cum laude) sa UP Diliman. Naging fellow na si Bebang sa UP at UST National Writers’ Workshops at naging aktibong bahagi ng pamunuan ng UP Writers’ Club at LIRA…noong Hulyo 2006, inilabas ang kanyang maikling kuwento bilang bahagi ng Hilakbot I, Loyola High, at City Lights, mga aklat na pang-adolescent. Sa Setyembre, lalabas na ang kanyang nobelang Mingaw.

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fox books: defining the new filipino literature

Fox Literary House, which publishes fiction in Filipino, was built with a leap of faith late last year by businessman Ramon Balatbat. A newcomer to the field of publishing, he also put up Newstar Publishing House, a textbook publishing enterprise, to provide quality educational material for young children.

With cum laude University of the Philippines Creative Writing graduate Sarah Grutas at the editorial helm of Fox Literary (also known as “Fox Books”), its initial five offerings are well-chosen from manuscripts written by talented authors. The formal launch of the company and its books, held last April 14 at Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street, promises a new dimension in Filipino literature, providing a venue for fiction writers to have their creative efforts presented to the reading public in a graphically exciting format.

I joined Fox Books as the sales manager last January, but was lured back to the world of horseracing. Still, during my two-months’ stay at Fox, I got to know Sarah and Fox Books’ graphics designer, writer Adam David. These young people are bright, brash, and bold, rising stars in the firmament of Filipino literature, and Fox Books is certain rise to great heights with these two to pilot it.

Fox novels are available at Fully Booked, National Bookstore, and other fine outlets. Check out the ad and press release below, illustrated by Adam, written by Sarah:

New Filipino Literature Rises

Fox Literary House Inc., an aggressive publishing company involved in quality and creative literary works, launched its first line of books last Monday, April 14 2008, 4 p.m. at Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street, Global City.

The book launch featured the works of mostly young writers and artists: Mykel Andrada, Kendrick Bautista, Layeta Bucoy, Sarah Bulalacao, J Luis Camacho, Adam David, Nicanor David, Jr., Mar Anthony de la Cruz, Rita de la Cruz, UZ Eliserio, Wennie Fajilan, Geraldine Flores, Vlad Gonzales, Anna Ishikawa, Josel Nicolas, Beverly Siy, Ardee Sto. Domingo, Kristian Teves, and Haidee Pineda.

All books: Dagta: Antolohiya ng Erotika, Mga Kwento ng Batang Kaning-Lamig, Palalim Nang Palalim Padilim Nang Padilim, Where Your Dreams Come True, and Tres Amores are now available at bookstores near you.

Contact Fox Literary House at (632)740.4532 or send email to: foxliteraryhouse(AT)

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