Thursday, November 24, 2016

When Did We Filipinos Collapse into Factions?

Conversing at length with a friend, we came upon an agreement. It is that we cannot be distracted from what we truly must do for our country. You know, at the end of the day, we want a fair society. We want safe streets, without fear of being killed by riding in tandem vigilante, or mugged by thieves. We want hospitals and affordable healthcare. We want trains. We want roads (decongested). We want sidewalks. We want decent jobs with decent pay.

This is why we awoke. We awoke in separate factions. Pro-Marcos. Anti-Marcos. Pro-Aquino. Anti-Aquino. Ka-DDS. Pro-Country. But when you look at the heart of the arguments, you will see that we often look back at the times when our nation was or could have been great. And at each of those moments, there were heroes who rose up and there were leaders who failed us.

I doubt that there is a Pro-Marcos brother out there who truly means to say he doesn't give a damn about human rights victims as long as he was able to enjoy the infrastructure boom and affordable cost of living. I doubt that the Anti-Aquino who polices us to remember the Mendiola Massacre means to reduce the problem to a war between two families: Aquino vs. Marcos.

What is being said is that even after everything, even after our great People Power Revolution, there are still profiteering politicians in place. We are still asking, where the hell are the trains? Why the hell is energy so expensive? Why are the fuel giants still allowed to collude? Why are there no new state hospitals being built? Why can't I afford healthcare? Why are so many Pinoys still living below the poverty line? Why are there still haciendas despite all these talks on Agrarian reform?

Some throw up their hands and sigh "Pare-pareho lang yang mga politiko." But no, they are not the same.

Ultimately we must ask: who is/are accountable for what's wrong and how do we hold them responsible? And then, after we have destroyed this longstanding impunity, we ask how do we move on from here?

With so many issues plaguing the country, we do each other a disservice by labeling ourselves or another a Dutertard or Yellowtard or whatever. These are distractions. It merely fosters a culture of forgetfulness because it adds to our inability to focus on any one thing until it reaches its full closure. #NeverForget: this humble hashtag may yet be the greatest finding of our time. It empowers us to seek out our cause, our calling. Empowers us to ACT on our cause with dogged focus, and not to digress into namecalling the opposing viewpoint like snotty children who just lost in a game of marbles. They have their own role to play. You have yours. If today we must march for justice, then we march. Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Much Ado About a Fallen Dictator

And so my days are filled with food cravings (pregnant), and also Ferdinand Marcos. Due to the recent (sudden) burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, factions have arisen even among my friends. Some are Pro-Marcos, Some Anti-, and Others just Pro-Country. I think I'm Pro-Country, but it's hard to wear labels when you don't even know what they really stand for. I do tend to see Marcos as once a great man but fallen, any achievement overshadowed by his greed.

Some friends frequently correct my stand by citing all the great things they enjoyed during Marcos' reign: infrastructure, power plants, schools, etc. But having read several books and spoken to victims during Martial Law, it's hard for me to see how "great things" can continue to be great when there were enforced disappearances and human rights violations happening at the same time. Necessary evil? I don't think so.

Here are my thoughts:
  1. A Neo-Colonial Philippines: While it’s true that Ferdinand Marcos nationalized several industries like energy, healthcare and education, the explosive growth in development of these sectors came at the cost of a ballooning international debt and an unequally-yoked alliance with the US. The US and international organizations such as the World Bank and IMF generously supported the Marcos regime with aid and loans (The Political Economy of the Philippines Under Marcos, But in receiving “aid” from the US, Marcos, in exchange, allowed the US to build strategically-located US bases in the Philippines (it was the period of the Cold War), with questionable economic returns to the Philippines. “During the early 1970s, Thailand received over $400 million in-military assistance and South Korea received over $600 million. The Philippines received only $50 million in grant aid--at a time when the Filipino Communist New People's Army had recommenced its armed insurrection against the government'” (The Key Role of U.S. Bases in the Philippines, In later post-Marcos years, the social consequences of these US bases became apparent—prostitution, fatherless Amerasian children who receive no assistance from the US and Philippine governments, spread of sexually transmitted disease would become the bane of areas like Angeles Pampanga (Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice Vol. 15 Issue 1; Sex Work in Southeast Asia: The Place of Desire in a Time of AIDS, Routledge 2000).
  2. Debt-driven Development: The Philippines nursed an external debt that rose from US$2.3 billion in 1970 to more than US$17.2 billion in 1980. While it is true the loaned money was used to build infrastructure, Marcos prioritized the interests of his cronies, who were awarded contracts without undergoing competitive bidding. They profited from what are supposed to be state projects--like the $2.3 billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Crony Capitalism denied opportunities for entrepreneurs, thus stagnating the growth of Philippine industries which could have boosted GDP (Martial Law and Its Aftermath,; Marcos years marked 'golden age' of PH economy? Under cronies Benedicto and Eduardo Cojuangco, sugar and coconuts industries became monopolies where farmers on the local level were obliged to sell only to the monopolies and at lower than world market prices. This saw the rise of mass poverty and malnutrition in rural communities (Crony Capitalism,
  3. Marcos Established/Founded State Colleges/Universities: All well and good that there were more schools, but it’s ironic that it was also the students who suffered greatly during Martial Law. Liliosa Hilao was a student activist in the Martial Law era who was abducted and killed. Another was Jan Quimpo. Yet another was Archimedes Trajano. There were also several violent dispersals of student movements, as in the famous First Quarter Storm of 1970. The Hilao and Trajano families will later be among those who will file legal cases related to human rights violations against the deposed Marcos. And they succeeded through a ruling in a court in Hawaii that requires the estate of Marcos to pay $2 billion (almost P90 billion) in damages after more than 9,000 HR victims filed a class suit against the Marcos estate in 1994. While one could argue that it’s “their fault for going against the government,” it’s thanks to their sacrifice that we can freely muse about these things in the first place. Characteristic of Marcos’ authoritarian regime is the control of media (print, TV, radio, etc) and the silencing of dissenters. So what is the use of schools that can’t teach students to think critically and speak up?
  4. Development Masquerading the Loot: Loot gained from taxes and the industries (energy, sugar, coconut, etc.) Marcos had sequestered for himself and his cronies continue to be litigated on to this day. A total of P10 billion allotted for the Human Rights Victims’ reparation was sourced from the Marcoses’ hidden and stolen wealth recovered by the government of the Philippines from their Switzerland accounts (Republic Act No. 10368).

Monday, July 4, 2016

And so... I Got Married Victor. My travel buddy and best friend and greatest fan....

We had Porky as our cake model

Just love this lil' guy

Very modelesque

One more

Great Cake Design by Streetside Bakers
Victor and I were busy planning for the past six months. It was a different kind of challenge, perhaps the first serious marriage "trial". I wanted to go small. He did, too. But we had different ideas on what "small" meant. I didn't think I needed to be in a dress. He responded with big, confused eyes. I wanted us to skip the red carpet walk. The family responded with big, confused eyes.

If it were just me making the decision, I'd have gone ahead and gotten married in a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe, had a few beers and laughs, read some poems and been done with it. But we weren't doing it just for me or for ourselves.

Milestones like these are big for the family because it's when everything becomes real (not that it wasn't real before). It's when the once-was-a-baby girl and boy are now big enough to fend for themselves. It's when the parents and godparents can trust that they can let go and still see the lives they nurtured flourish in this uncertain world.

When the contract is signed, it's a contract with everyone else invited, to guide and watch us, to help us fulfill the promises we made.

I don't know where we're headed. I just know that despite the shortcomings, the times when we couldn't understand each other, the times when we could never agree, there were more times when we just held hands, where the silence of sitting beside each other not saying anything was dangerous yet comforting at the same time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review of the Light Bringer's Kingdom

"In the Light Bringer's Kingdom, Anne Carly Abad has created a fresh and unique take on the Lucifer mythology. The diverse characters are intriguing and well-developed with plenty of action to drive the plot forward. I loved the relationship between Path and Sierra. With the help of Eli, they make appealing heroes the reader cannot help but root for. Abad's world is filled with vivid images and terrifying monsters, perfect for reading late into the night. The character of the Light Bringer creates a wonderful image of evil, and the Abomination even more so." Read the rest of Kris Moger's review here. :)

My novel is available in print and ebook formats in Amazon. Purchase it here

smile emoticon

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature 2016

It's open season for hunting those award-winning ideas! I wonder if I'll find my turkey this year? I haven't been feeling so writerly lately but who knows? There's still some time.

Posting the submission link here to remind myself and everyone else that they'd better whip out those laptops (or pens) before the deadline bites. Submission Form Here

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Wisdom of Apathy

They say "Expectation is the mother of all frustration." And so a lot of advice columns say to get rid of expectations and instead, focus on what you see and take things for what they are. But the fact of the matter is that it's in our nature to expect and be frustrated. Frustration exists for a reason. Discontent pushes people to speak up, pick up the hammer and tear down the wall that is the status quo. For instance, if we just looked at how politicians steal national funds for self-gain and say, that's just how things are, what did we expect? Sure, our emotional state would be in dead tranquility. But no, a lot of us (quietly) think, that's not how things should be. If a friend or colleague is frequently late for appointments, don't we expect an explanation or apology? We expect people to fulfill their promises, else why would we even bother with plans and agreements? A lot of human society is built around these contracts. A lot of things require us to EXPECT. And there's nothing wrong with thinking ahead or wanting more out of things as long as one actually works for that vision. So tired of hearing these sorry excuses for wisdom.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"Exchange", my poem is now available at Strange Horizons

"The imaging test declares her "Tumor"— my embryologic twin. But she is my sister, with a name she once mouthed to me in dreams."--read the rest here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Interesting Take on Cultural Appropriation

"So are Beyoncé and Coldplay bad people? No, but that's not the question. They are hugely successful musicians who may have unintentionally shed light on just how Hollywood sees India and its entertainers, which is to say not at all. Failing to meaningfully include those entertainers runs the risk of making invisible the very communities from which they're drawing their inspiration. "

-Jamilah King, article here

I posted the quote that really stuck to me the most. Instead of focusing on the nitpicky details, there could be some important benefits to hegemonic structures taking from otherwise minority cultures. Preservation, one of them.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Amazon Best Sellers Rank?

There are a lot of things I need to learn in the publishing business. I noticed several writers talking about their Amazon Best Sellers Rank, and so I checked mine for "The Light Bringer's Kingdom," saw that I was really at the bottom rungs in the "Paid in Kindle Store" category. I think I was at about #1,800,000. 

When it comes to ranking, the lower the number the higher your sales AND sales potential, according to what I've read. Page visits and people reading your preview pages add to your sales potential. I think the number of Amazon reviews your book has also helps. Sadly, I have only 1 review despite knowing a number of people who've bought my book,,, Q.Q

I can totally understand, though. I think it's quite time-consuming to review and critique written work, especially novels which need a whole lot of attention.

From the Amazon FAQs
While the Amazon Best Sellers list is a good indicator of how well a product is selling overall, it doesn't always indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items. Category and subcategory best seller lists were created to highlight an item's rank in the categories or subcategories where it really stands out.
We choose a few of the most popular subcategories in which the item has a high ranking in relation to other items in that subcategory, and showcase the item's rank on the product page. As with the main Amazon Best Sellers list, these category rankings are based on sales and are updated hourly.
Yup, apparently it changes hourly. I checked my rank again a week later. Surprised at how far I've jumped, suddenly at the hundred-thousands mark. Not sure what it means but it made me happy!

Had to read up on this. An improvement in rank doesn't necessarily mean more sales, I found. The ranking is relative to other books being sold in Amazon. So, if they are suddenly selling less, I could see an improvement in my rank despite selling the same amount of books the past few weeks. In the same way, if suddenly everyone (including me) is selling more units, my sales rank might not improve because I'll be doing just as well as everyone else.

There's a summary of the potential sales my current rank means, and it looks like I'm selling less than one book a day...NOOOOO. From makeuseof:

Amazon Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 – selling 5 to 15 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 – selling 15 to 25 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 – selling25 to 70 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 1,500 to 3,000 – selling70 to 100 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 750 to 1,500 – selling 100 to 120 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling120 to 175 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 – selling175 to 250 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 200 to 350 – selling 250 to 500 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 35 to 200 -selling500 to 2,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 20 to 35 – selling 2,000 to 3,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank of 5 to 20 – selling3,000 to 4,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling4,000+ books a day.
Anyway, it's still the royalty statement that holds the true number. I'll wait for it and compare with these sample projections.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Featured in Ares Magazine Online: Laws of Stone

When it comes to world building, a lot of alone time is needed just thinking. I can't count the number of times I've been told that my head seems to be floating in the clouds.

They're not wrong in that!

I'm certainly in a world unreachable unless otherwise written. I floated like a lost ghost in strange skies and landed in the land of Spheria.

I created Spheria when I was young. It's a planet sprawling with energy "ponds", thieving dragons and stuck-up angels.

"Laws of Stone" happens in Spheria. Have a read when you feel like leaving this earth for a moment. :)