Friday, February 27, 2015

Filipino Fridays: "You Speak English Really Well!"

Oh, I've had this said to me and -- sad to say -- my initial snarky reaction was: "Well, thanks. So do you!" Thank God I always held back on the rude second sentence.

The Long Preamble

Backing up -- I'm Filipino, don't look like anyone that might conceivable pass hisself offa sum kinda Caucasian American. But I grew up in the Philippines, reasonably well off, and so grew up as part of a group that would be considered privileged in his home country. A home country where English is considered one of the national languages, and where -- when I was going up -- speaking good English was considered a mark of education, in much the same way that speaking Spanish, and at least one other European language was considered a mark of education and prestige in the era of my grandparents.

So, when I was in the 'States, encountering a compliment like the above rubbed me the wrong way. Misplaced pride, I suppose. I mean, it's a compliment -- and one I've also gotten in other countries since: Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia. So why didn't I take offense there?

Many possible reasons that I'm still exploring, but I suppose one is -- I bought into the whole American Dream. Not the white picket fences and suburban bliss, but the one that promises a meritocracy -- you can become anything you want, if you work hard enough. Skin color, ethnic background, economic background don't matter. Bought into it with a steady diet of a strongly American-influenced educational system and imported TV shows (Science Fiction, Crime, and Comedy).

Now, as a published writer, I have a different reaction to these types of compliments: "Thank you so much!"

Because, as someone occasionally lumped into the Person of Color grouping -- as opposed to the "Oh, Alex -- I'm sorry about this, but what nationality are you again?", which I always took as a compliment (yes, I may have complicated identity issues like many people) -- writing in English sometimes triggers an unwanted reaction. You really don't get as much slack as a (perceived) American or British writer -- artistic license with spelling or made-up slang (it's a Fantasy / Futuristic / Modern subculture genre) and get slapped for 'wrong grammar' or 'wrong vocabulary usage' when it's 100% intentional!

Looking back on my adolescent self, I wish I'd taken the compliments more in the spirit that they'd been given: genuine recognition and perhaps even admiration. These days, those things don't seem to be as in vogue as they should be.

This Series

All that is a segue into this: I'm going to be restarting Fridays with a series of posts that will focus on bringing the Filipino element into gaming. Not always a Philippine setting, sometimes just a character or two into a game system, or recognizing a mention in new or old RPG material.


Of course, you may wonder what my Appendix N might be, given my nationality. I tell you this: it started, like many of my generation, with much of the same books as yours. Except harder to find, because they were of low importance to the local bookstores. ("My God, a complete collection of the works of Moorcock? Which branch of National Bookstore? Too far! Buy it for me, pare! I'll pay you back!")

And like some of my generation (and the younger generation), we've started writing our own body of Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror and Speculative Fiction. Here are a few covers & links for those of the eBook persuasion:

[ Full Disclosure: some of my short stories appear in some of these volumes ]

The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010 
Kindle Store (

This is a good starter, a collection of what the original editors of the Philippine Speculative Fiction series considered the best of the collected stories from 2005 to 2010.

A reprint of my story, The Death & Rebirth of Nathaniel Alan Sempio, appears in this volume -- my filipinized homage to the pulp novels of my youth, and a look at a possible two-fisted alternate future of my country.

Stories from this series have been included in the Honorable Mentions list from The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror edited by Ellen Datlow and Kelly Link & Gavin Grant.

"[I] have been impressed with the quality of the fiction and the scope of it -- quiet, personal stories of the fantastic, real science fiction, tales based on traditional Philippine folklore and mythology, structurally experimental pieces, and humorous commentaries on life in the 21st century." - World Fantasy Award-winning author Jeffrey Ford.

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 1
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 2
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 3
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 4
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 5
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 6
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 7
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 8
Kindle Store (
Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 9
Kindle Store (

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