Books by independent Filipino book publishers at the Manila International Book Fair 2022

The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC), a community of independent book publishers, offers new titles and bestsellers as the collab participates in the Indie Village of the Manila International Book Fair, which runs from September 15 to 22, at SMX Convention Center.

Showcased at SMX’s Booth 248 Aisle A are the books from TIPC members/partners Atma Prema Publishing, Kasingkasing Press, Southern Voices, Isang Balangay Media Productions, Aklat Alamid, Aklat Mirasol, Pawikan Press, San Anselmo Press, Aklat Ulagad, Alubat Publishing, Librong Lira, 8Letters, TBC Publications and Gantala Press. TIPC’s MIBF 2022 theme “Books by People, For People” underscores the members’ advocacies and the diversity and wide appeal of their publications. 

Established in 2022, Atma Prema Publishing is dedicated to educating and inspiring readers through advocating personal growth, authenticity and spiritual and emotional wellbeing. This publishing arm of the Atma Prema Wellbeing Group is behind Lissa Romero de Guia’s personal debut anthology of short stories People I Have Been; and Lia Bernardo, Ph.D.’s self-help publications The Raising FrequenciesTM Journal and Love Yourself First: The Self-Love SolutionTM Primer.

Kasingkasing Press of Western Visayas publishes Filipino Literature in Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and Aklanon languages. For MIBF 2022, it is unveiling its newest releases Owamat and other stories vol. 1 and 2 (comic books) by Pasyon Komiks; Vignette of Voyages poems by Elvie Victonette B. Razon-Gonzales; A Singular, Spectacular Chore by Anna Teresa Slater, Ilongga Bicycle Diaries essays edited by Early Sol A. Gadong, and The Katipunan in Aklan (Second Edition) by John E. Barrios, Melchor F. Cichon, and Diminador Ilio.

Southern Voices, a book publisher and a printing press, has made a mark in the industry through its Filipino translations of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women; and original children’s books such as Jamin, Ang Batang Manggagawa; May Mumu sa Computer; and Nay, Tay, Itim na Ang Dagat.

Isang Balangay Media Productions (Balangay Books) uses its resources to empower local and grassroots literature and readership. By spearheading community-based workshops and book publication, it has produced literary works that not only resonate with the community but also discover new writers. For MIBF 2022, Isang Balangay Media Productions is proud to highlight RM Topacio-Aplaon’s El Arbol de la Alegria – one part of The Southern Quartet, a four-novel saga set in the Philippines’ southern regions.

Aklat Alamid is an independent publishing house of children’s and young adult books written in the various languages of the Philippines. It partners with government and private individuals, organizations and agencies in conducting activities that promote children’s literature in the different regions of the Philippines. Aklat Alamid is known for Dako Nga Yahong Sang Batchoy by Jennie Arado and Raya Dizon-Maniago; Ditoy, Isdi, Idiay, Isna by Heather Anne F. Pulido and Renz Juno Abreu; Paborito Nga Duag ni Denden by Early Sol Gadong and Gil Montinola, and its many other children’s picture books.

Aklat Mirasol Book Publishing House is a new company dedicated to creating books for children and young adults. Its series Mga Kwentong Pambata Tungkol sa Mindanao— which includes the books Nasa Arakan ang Puso by Pia Perez, and Narinig Mo Na Ba Ang Agong? by Carla Mortel Baricaua—endeavors to introduce the rich history and real life situation in Mindanaw, while its Nais Kong Magpakilala sa Iyo books, such as Ako si Dumay Gawid, Hanunuo Mangyan by Rowena P. Festin, aim to introduce different Philippine ethnic groups to young readers.

Pawikan Press focuses on books about Mindanao and Palawan, especially topics related to local culture and the natural environment as epitomized by their book Sa Yakap ng Gubat at Dagat ng Palawan: Mga Ekosanaysay by Dr. John Iremil Teodoro.

San Anselmo Publications, Inc. is the company behind the handy law guide Top 20 Changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure and Revised Rules on Evidence by Atty. Noel Oliver Punzalan+; the poetry collection 100 Pink Poems Para Kay Leni; the biography Servant Leader Leni Robredo by Prof. Ed Garcia; and the new poetry collection of National Artist Virgilio Almario entitled Mga Poon, Mga Piyon, Mga Pusong, Isang Pusong.

Aklat Ulagad, a Catanduanes-based company, takes pride in its artful custom-made books. Its releases include Allan Popa’s poetry collections: Morpo (which won the 2001 National Book Award for Poetry), Kami sa Lahat ng Masama, and Kundi Akala.

Alubat Publishing, another regional publisher, has its headquarters in San Antonio Zambales. It specializes in books on Literature and Medicine. 

Librong Lira is the publishing arm of the poets’ organization Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA); its mission is to nurture the national language through poetry and poetry readings. Four of its books, namely Agua, Sa Ilalim ng Pilik, Lungsodlungsuran and Siwang sa Pinto ng Tabernakulo, are National Book Award finalists.

Cebu-based 8Letters helps independent artists get their their works out in the bustling literary market. Among 8Letters titles are the anthology Budol by Jemson Cayetano, the sci-fi collection Pilipinas 2413 Super Societies and Other Stories, and Renato Tranquilino’s futuristic sci-fi anthology Fate of a Distant Future.

TBC Publications is an independent organization that helps Filipino authors produce and release their works through self-publishing. TBC’s assistance and expertise have paved the way for the publication of the dystopian fantasy Battlecast: Underground by Christian Kazuhiko John, the YA romance When You Came Into My Life by Mr_Teryo, the inspirational book Dear You by Missterious Dreamer, and the modern love stories I’m His Wife by JenyxViolet and Once Upon A Spirit by QueenOfActions.

Gantala Press is an independent, non-profit, volunteer-run Filipina feminist press that centers on women’s stories and issues such as China De Vera’s Palayain ang Aking Nanay about the experience of a child whose mother is a political prisoner; and Sulatan sa Panahon ng Pandemya, a collection of 48 letters of 24 Filipinas from various places (Cordillera, Marawi, USA, Australia), chroniciling how these women thrive and nurture their relationships during these difficult times.

The Indie Publishers Collab PH’s Ronald Verzo says, “TIPC publishers and writers will be present at the MIBF booth to interact with readers, librarians, teachers, lovers of the written word. Our collab has also lined up activities such as signings, launches, kids’ sessions to make the fair more memorable for everyone.”  TIPC’s presence at the MIBF is made possible through the support of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP).


Literature and Creative Writing Program of Pasinaya: CCP Open House Festival 2022

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Intertextual Division’s literature and creative writing program of the much anticipated PASINAYA: CCP Open House Festival 2022 Palabas will be held on an official online platform/s from Feb. 26-27, 2022.

The overall theme is Sana All, Lumilikha, Lumalaya.

The Indie Publishers Collab PH will lead the Kalayaan Book Fair, an online book fair that will feature local books on freedom and patriotism.

Books by 8Letters Bookstore & Publishing

  • Gotcha (An Expose on the Philippine Government) by Jarius Bondoc
  • Beyond the Bansalan Skies by Leila Rispens-Noel
  • Black by Michellan Alagao
  • Fate of a Distant Future by Renato Tranquilino

Books by Alubat and Librong Lira

  • Orosa-Nakpil, Malate by Dr. Louie Mar A. Gangcuangco
  • Ang Lunes na Mahirap Bunuin [with English Translation] by Atty. Nicolas B. Pichay

Books by Southern Voices Printing Press

  • Ka Bel by Ina Alleco R. Silverio
  • Tugmaang Matatabil by Alex Pinpin
  • A Red Rose for Andrea: Writings in Prison by Angie Ipong

Along with the book fair, the following various events will be conducted:

1.            Organized with the ADARNA HOUSE, a book-based storytelling session will be led by a young female celebrity. Featured in this premiere is the children’s book “ISANG HARDING PAPEL” written by Augie Rivera and illustrated by Rommel Joson. The book is about a girl and her mother during the martial law period.

2.            Organized with the Adarna House is the viewing session of the animation of “EDSA.” Written by Russell Molina and illustrated by Sergio Bumatay, EDSA is a counting book for children featuring icons and images from the world famous bloodless revolution that was also known as the People Power revolution.

3.            Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books Book Club will do a book discussion to be led by its founder and moderator Jayson Vega. Entitled “Paglaya Yarn?! Freedom and Dissent: A Book Talakayan of F. Sionil José’s Mass,” it is open to public via Zoom app. The actual event is on February 20 at 4pm, and it will be streamed on February 26. A unique rendition of the song Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo and the video of the Minsan Karaniwang Tao by the Filipino band The Jerks will be shown during the event.

4.            A tribute to the song writers and musicians of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), lectures by three members of the academe will be presented. The first one is Dr. Joel Costa Malabanan’s “Ang Kalamansi sa Sugat ni Ka Heber: Salamin ng Lipunan Bago at Pagkatapos ng EDSA Revolution,” Mr. Robert Umil’s “Mga Awiting ASIN, Timpladang People Power”, and Mr. Kevin Martija’s “Mga Awiting Punkista sa Panahon ng Rehimeng Marcos at Aquino.” Mr. Jesse Bartolome of Banyuhay and Ms. Zeph Lagos will also do performances in between.

Stay tuned to the Cultural Center of the Philippines Facebook page for more details.

INDIEPUBCON 2.0: A Showcase of Camaraderie Between Regional Indie Publishing Communities

This year’s INDIEPUBCON convention with the theme Publishing Philippines ended on a high note, with approximately 690 recorded registrants for the event. During the four-day convention, readers, writers, publishers, and book enthusiasts got the privilege of experiencing online and offline talks, book launches, and workshops in different regions.

Ms. Criselda Mari (INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Coordinator) with Ms. Carol Tapia of the National Book Development Board.

Last Nov. 24, The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC-PH) took center stage and led the event’s virtual opening. The program includes recounting last year’s convention, along with its achievements. After that, Ms. Carol Tapia from the National Book Development Board was called upon to discuss the perks of being a registered author and publisher. 

As this convention marked the first-ever INDIEPUBCON with on-site venues, here are the highlights for each regional convention in Ilocos Sur, NCR, Cebu, and Davao, in case you missed all the fun. 

Northern Luzon (Ilocos Sur) Convention

“The teacher is the canonizer of literature,” Junley L. Lazaga said during his talk about Ilokano book history at INDIEPUBCON 2.0’s Ilocos Sur convention last November 25th. 

The event’s second day was held at the University of Northern Philippines. Before the talks, the program commenced with a book fair featuring works from INDIEPUBCON’s Participating Publishers, Saniata Publications, Imnas & Iway Publications, GUMIL Filipinas, Gantala Press, Urijah Publications, Hoaea Publications, and Salaknib Bookshop.

Students under the BSEd English program buying books at INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Ilocos Sur Convention.

After the book fair, the afternoon session includes several talks. It featured esteemed Ilokano literature speakers Junley L. Lazaga, Neyo E. Valdez, and Mark Louie Tabunan. They delved deep into the region’s rich culture and community to discuss important points in Ilokano literary history, the conceptualization and influence of the Tagnawa System, and the opportunities for literary scholarships.

Junley L. Lazaga leading a talk at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Ilocos Sur Convention on Nov 25.

Mark Louise Tabunan speaking at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Ilocos Sur Convention on Nov 25.

Neyo E. Valdez as a speaker at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Ilocos Sur Convention on Nov 25.

Southern Mindanao (Davao) Convention

On the same day as INDIEPUBCON graced Ilocos Sur, TIPC-PH’s Southern Mindanao leg commenced at The Big House – A Heritage Home, Davao City. From 1:00 in the afternoon until 7:30 in the evening, the day was filled with discussing shared experiences about indie publishing and celebrating the region’s rich culture and language. 

INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Southern Mindanao Convention commencing its program at the Big House – A Heritage Home, Davao City.

The first batch of talks scheduled for the event was entitled Independent Publishing in Southern Mindanao. It officially kicks off with representatives from three regional indie initiatives; Neil Teves of Buhagay Journal, M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac of Aklat Alamid, and SOX Zine Fest. They each discussed the course of action indie writers and publishers could take to further promote local publications in the region. 

Neil Teves of Buhagay Journal speaking at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Davao Convention on Nov 25.

After that, the next session was headed by three exemplary women in the writing industry, Leila Rispens-Noel from 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing, Elizabeth Joy Serrano-Quijano from Davao Writers Guild, and Jennie Arado from Aklad Alamid. 

“You can’t write if you do not read,” Elizabeth Joy Serrano-Quijano recounted the famous saying while narrating how she became fond of reading at a young age. 

They exchanged views on how personal experiences shaped their advocacies and the politics of their writing. Each speaker shared the causes they actively supported and were a part of, like books written by migrant workers, Indigenous peoples, or ethnic groups.

For the last session entitled Writing the Self and Indie Publishing, Reil Benedict Obinque and Jade Mark Capiñanes from Davao Writers Guild drew attention to the intimate nature of independent publishing and how this attribute works well in sharing one’s personal narrative. 

Visayas (Cebu) Convention

As the event moved to its 3rd day on Nov 26th, INDIEPUBCON 2.0’s Director Cindy Wong announced the opening of the Cebu convention at Parkmall. The first among many panel talks scheduled for the day is the discussion about Celebrating Cebuano Writers’ Diversity with talented local writers Mitos Suson and Cindy Velasquez. 

The writers delve into the importance of promoting Cebuano literature inside and outside the region. They also pointed out the available Cebuano books in the market, the target audiences, and how to make these works more accessible nationwide.

Mitos Suson and Cindy Velasquez as speakers at INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Cebu Convention. 

In a talk about the book Eskrima, author Celestino Macachor and editor Paul Taneo took the audience on a journey on the rigorous process they have gone through in writing this work. Along with sharing personal experiences, they led everyone to discover the rich history of martial arts. 

Celestino Macachor talking about his book “Eskrima” at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Cebu Convention. 

Besides forums and talks, the Cebu convention also featured book launches for works written by Cebuano authors. This part of the event brought the spotlight to Operation Black by Chris Canonigo, The Other Side of Faith by Orlando P Carvajal, and Quarantine Wisdom and Other Absurdities by Mitos Suson. 

Orlando P Carvajal talking about his book “The Other Side of Fait” at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Cebu Convention. 

When the event reached its second half, it was time for the Cebuano Millennial Writers to take over. The four-person panel for this forum includes Millennial and Gen Z writers in Cebu, Daniel Indic, Alyssa Caballero, Lea Jane Salud, and JZ Romero. These brilliant young minds shared their insights and familiarity with writing contemporary works and how these concepts came to life through their books. 

8letters Publishing authors at the INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Cebu Convention.

Before capping the event, Ayo Gutierez of GMGA Publishing graced the INDIEPUBCON Cebu stage to lead the Publishing Workshop: INK Your Legacy.

“You have a different way of sharing a story,” she reminded the audience as she covered the stringent process of writing and publishing a book.

NCR Convention

As soon as the clock struck 10 in the morning of November 27th, the function room of Gateway Gallery started to be filled with attendees. They were warmly welcomed by opening remarks from representatives of the National Book Development Board – Philippines (NBDB) and The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC-PH). 

After that, Joti of Librong LIRA invited National Artist for Literature Virgilio “Rio Alma” Almario to the panel table to deliver the event’s keynote address. After a playful greeting, he asked which of the seated audience were writers, readers, and teachers.  He also emphasized the struggles of selling local books despite the country’s increasing population. 

“Sana may sampu sa bawat probinsya at may limampu (na publishers) sa bawat rehiyon para mas matugunan ang pangagailangang pangkultura at edukasyon ng mga taga-lalawigan,” Rio Alma exclaimed during his message about the common views of Filipino public not keen on reading. 

Virgilio “Rio Alma” Almario during his keynote address for INDIEPUBCON 2.0 NCR Convention.

The keynote address is followed by a book launch and signing with the author of Agua, Enrique S. Villasis. After the live reading of the initial parts of the book, he walked the audience through the anthology projects of Librong LIRA and their advocacy to get poetries from local authors published in print. He also discussed his process of writing Agua, the challenges of writing poetry pieces based on the theme, and the inspirations that came along with it. 

Enrique S. Villasis during the book launch and signing for his book Agua at  INDIEPUBCON 2.0 NCR Convention. 

The next talk features Renato Vibiesca, Ph.D., as he recounted the struggles and opportunities the pandemic has brought to the indie publishing community. He sympathized with the authors and publishers who had to halt their projects because of the unprecedented worldwide crisis and applauded small presses for helping one another during these trying times. 

Following the talk, the book launch for Hingang Malalim Book 1 & Book 2, published under 7 Eyes Productions, commenced. 

Renato Vibiesca, Ph.D. as a speaker at  INDIEPUBCON 2.0 NCR Convention. 

Before the event goes on a short break for lunch, a three-person roundtable discussion about Marketing Local Books During the Pandemic was formed by Emman Barrameda of Balangay Media Productions, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta of Good Intentions Publishing, and Marvin Aceron of San Anselmo. They are joined by Press Analyst and Marketing Consultant Vanessa Bicomong. 

The exchange of insights touched base on the best marketing practices they acquired during the pandemic and how to use these methods moving forward. 

Roundtable Panel for “Marketing Local Books During the Pandemic” at  INDIEPUBCON 2.0 NCR Convention. 

The last talk session tackled the topic Panitikang Pambata sa Gitna ng Pandemya at Kahirapan, which is led by UP Pampanga Professor Rowena Festin with reactors China Patria de Vera of Aklat Alamid Author Boom Lauw Journalist and editor Carla Mortel-Baricaua Publisher and author Digi-Ana L. Rayong.  

It was followed by a launch event of the children’s storybook with illustrators Ma. Victoria Esquillo and Bayani Olaguer and author Carla Mortel Baricaua. 

Wrapping Up

In celebration of the weekend full of activities, TIPC-PH announced the winners of the INDIE BOOK AWARDS 2022 on the official Facebook page on the night of Nov 27th. The successful conclusion of this year’s event was all thanks to INDIEPUBCON 2.0’s participating publishers, the National Book Development Board – Philippines, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines – Intertextual Division.

TIPC-PH would also like to extend gratitude to the venue partners, Gateway Gallery, Parkmall Cebu, University of Northern Philippines, and The Big House – A Heritage Home, for warmly accommodating these on-site events, 

INDIEPUBCON 2.0 Goes Regional: Program Announcement for NCR, Ilocos, Cebu, and Davao

In line with this year’s theme, “Publishing Philippines,” TIPC-PH officially announces the face-to-face event programs happening in NCR, Ilocos, Cebu, and Davao.

No one can deny that the passing pandemic brought the local independent publishing community closer and stronger than ever. And as the industry traverses through the modern era of readership, this renewed annual event aims to encourage regional authors and publishers to continue collaborating and creating opportunities for the betterment of the country’s literary scene. 

INDIEPUBCON 2.0 – Ilocos Sur Convention

Thanks to the joint effort of Participating Publishers in North Luzon, INDIEPUBCON 2.0 is set to happen on the 25th of November 2022 at Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. This convention will feature independent publications and presses in the region, like Saniata Publications, Imnas & Iway Publications, GUMIL Filipinas, Urijah Publications, Hoaea Publications, and Salaknib Bookshop. 

Event Date: 25 Nov 2022 (Friday)

Venue: University of Northern Philippines Auditorium, Tamag, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Event-goers can also look forward to talks led by Ilokano authors and creatives like Junley L. Lazaga, Mark Louie Tabunan, and Neyo E. Valdez. The discussion will attempt to rediscover the history of Ilokano books, the challenges of a modern writer in the region, and the future of local publishing in North Luzon. 

INDIEPUBCON 2.0 – NCR Convention

With much enthusiasm, INDIEPUBCON 2.0 joins the list of book conventions happening this year in the NCR region. The event, which is set to happen on the 27th of November 2022 at Gateway Gallery, will be spearheaded by independent publishers like San Anselmo Publications, 7 Eyes Productions, Balangay Production, Southern Voices Printing Press, Alubat Publishing, Librong LIRA, and Kwago Bookshop. 

Event Date: 27 Nov 2022 (Sunday), 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Venue: Gateway Gallery, 5F Gateway Tower, Araneta City, Quezon City, 0810

Panelists from different publications, like Emman Barrameda, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, and Marvin Aceron, will form a roundtable discussion to touch base on the modern bookselling and promotion techniques publishers and authors learned during the pandemic. Event-goers can also attend the forum led by our resource person Renato Vibiesca, Ph.D., as he discusses how the pandemic affected the state of writers in today’s industry. 

Children’s book authors and publishers are also set to talk about the challenges they faced during the ongoing pandemic crisis. This program will be led by Sophia Flor Perez of Southern Voices Printing Press with reactors Ms. China de Veyra of Aklat Alamid and Ms. Carla Mortel of Aklat Mirasol. 

INDIEPUBCON 2.0 – Cebu Convention

Cebuano authors, publishers, and book enthusiasts are encouraged to join INDIEPUBCON 2.0’s Visayas leg convention on the 26th of November 2022 at Parkmall, Cebu City. Don’t miss the chance to meet the participating publications in the region, like 8Letters Bookstore & Publishing, GMGA Publishing, and the University of San Carlos. 

Event Date: 26 Nov 2022 (Saturday), 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Venue: Parkmall, Ouano Avenue, Mandaue Reclamation Area, Cebu City, 6014

Several book launches will happen during the event, which includes Operation Black by Chris Canonigo, The Other Side of Faith by Orlando P Carvajal, and Quarantine Wisdom and Other Absurdities by Mitos Suson. 

The program will cover talks about Cebuano’s history through Eskrima with Celestino Macachor and Paul Taneo, explore the mind of The Cebuano Millennial Writer with Daniel Indic, Lea Jane Salud, and JZ Romero, and celebrate Cebuano writers’ diversity with Mitos Suson and Cindy Velasquez. 

Cebuano event-goers can also participate in the Workshop: Ink Your Legacy: Write a Book for Generations to Cherish by Ayo Gutierrez and the “Pitch Your Book” program moderated by Almar Jeon Villaber and Cindy Wong. 

INDIEPUBCON 2.0 – Davao Convention

Last but not least, the annual event will also commence on November 25th at Davao City with authors and speakers from Buhagay Journal, Aklat Alamid, SOX Zine Fest, 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing, and Davao Writers Guild. 

Event Date: 25 November 2022, 1:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Venue: The Big House – A Heritage Home, Davao City

The first forum session, “Independent Publishing in Southern Mindanao,” will be led by representatives from three indie initiatives in southern Mindanao. Key speakers Neil Teves, M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac, and authors from SOX Zine Fest will exchange thoughts on how they promote independent and alternative publishing in today’s industry.

It’ll be followed by “Writer-Advocates from Southern Mindanao,” to be spearheaded by Leila Rispens-Noel, Elizabeth Joy Serrano-Quijano, and Jennie Arado. These regional writers will share how they advocate for their language, culture, and place through writing and publishing. 

Before the event closes, the last program, “Writing the Self and Indie Publishing,” will be held with Reil Benedict Obinque and Jade Mark Capiñanes.

The success and vision of INDIEPUBCON 2.0 are made possible through the joint efforts of TIPC-PH’s Participating Publications and collaborative partnerships with the National Book Development Board of the Philippines (NBDB-PH) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). 

If you’re interested in joining TIPC-PH’s free hybrid event, fill up the registration form through this link: https://tinyurl.com/indiepubcon2022

INDIEPUBCON In Review: A Look Back At Last Year’s Event & What To Look Forward in 2022

After going virtual for the first installment of INDIEPUBCON 2021, the convention returns this year with an empowering theme, “Publishing Philippines,” and a mix of online and on-site activities from November 24th to 27th. 

TIPC-PH spearheaded this event amid pandemic uncertainties in hopes of gathering together independent and small presses to collaborate and assist each other. Thanks to the joint efforts of the National Book Development Board, media partners, and participating publishers, last year’s virtual convention concluded on a high note. 

Before we head to the next chapter of this annual event, let’s look back at the fruitful initiatives and collaborations INDIEPUBCON achieved over the past year. 

INDIEPUBCON 2021: Claiming Indie Spaces in Challenging Times

True to the theme “Claiming Indie Spaces in Challenging Times,” TIPC-PH’s first-ever virtual convention became a platform to voice unique publishing experiences and challenges amid the ongoing worldwide crisis. 

In case you missed it, here are the important event highlights that fostered modern solutions and new opportunities that the organization hopes to continue this year. 

Defining and Defending Publishers and Writers

Besides lively presentations and book promotions, last year’s virtual convention tackled what it means to be an independent publisher. Key speakers from different presses openly emphasized the challenges publishers and writers faced when presenting nonconformist books and ideas.

A special round-table lecture during the event posed crucial questions on the real history and meaning of indie publishing. The scarcity of written histories in literary book production became a huge part of this discussion. 

The publishers who headlined the lecture also stood firm that young creators need not be published under mainstream publishing houses to be called a writer. 

Discussing the Legalities of Indie Publishing

INDIEPUBCON 2021 also invited key speakers to discuss the legalities of being an independent publisher in the Philippines. The virtual talk covers all the requirements aspiring publishers must submit, like DTI Business Name Registration, a BIR 2303 Certificate of Registration, and a Business Permit. 

On top of that, the importance of ISBN in the publishing industry is highlighted during online discussions. As the applications for these legal product identifiers can be filed virtually, authors and publishers are highly encouraged to take advantage of this initiative. 

Opportunities in Physical & Digital Publishing Spaces

Through another round table discussion, last year’s panelists recount the rise of independent publishing through digital media and non-traditional publications. The speakers detailed how modern-day publishers could use these platforms to expand their book distribution and monetization roadmap. 

In this talk, publishers share the goal of melding digital and physical spaces to advance modern indie publishing communities. However, this shared vision also means small pressers must overcome challenges like the country’s poor internet connection and technical barriers to reintroducing reading to the general public. 

Book Launches at CCP’s Performatura: Pandemic Edition

Through the collaboration of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and TIPC-PH, INDIEPUBCON 2021 participating publishers took part in the 3rd day of Performatura: Pandemic Edition

This joint event featured virtual book launches, which included titles from Aklat Alamid, Southern Voices Printing Press, Alubat Publishing, Librong LIRA, Rebo Press Book Publishing, and 8Letters.

What’s New In INDIEPUBCON 2.0: Publishing Philippines?

For the second time around, a four-day hybrid event will be led by The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC-PH). In light of last year’s success in defining indie publishing and its role in today’s world, the organization now aims to continue its initiative and highlight the importance of regional book publications in expanding the local publishing scene.

Here are the new things you can look forward to when you attend INDIEPUBCON 2.0: 

On-site Book Fairs & Book Launches

For the first time since the event was organized, book fairs and book launches will be held in physical and virtual locations. Aspiring publishers, authors, and book enthusiasts nationwide are invited to come as the event is set to launch on-site activities in North Luzon, NCR, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Modern Book Marketing & Promotions

As the indie publishing industry welcomes a new generation of readers and writers, INDIEPUBCON 2.0 hopes to talk about smart book marketing and promotions. These discussions will include modern strategies that are effective for today’s book publishers and sellers. 

Activities for Huseng Batute’s birthday and Cebu LitFest

As this year’s event will coincide with Huseng Batute’s birthday and Cebu LitFest, various talks, readings, performances, and open mics are scheduled to take place. Keep an eye on TIPC-PH social media channels for further announcements about these event activities. 

Are you interested in joining the TIPC-PH’s hybrid event? You can register for free through this Google form link: https://tinyurl.com/indiepubcon2022.

TIPC-PH Opens Registration for INDIEPUBCON 2022

In collaboration with the National Book Development Board (NBDB), The Indie Publishers Collab-PH (TIPC-PH) officially jumpstarts registrations for INDIEPUBCON 2022. 

After the successful virtual event last year, the annual convention will commence in a hybrid setting with online and on-site activities from the 24th to the 27th of November 2022. The four-day event with the theme “Publishing Philippines” aims to highlight the importance of regional books in the pursuit of expanding and strengthening the country’s publishing scene. 

As INDIEPUBCON 2022 will coincide with Huseng Batute’s birthday and Cebu LitFest, event-goers may expect various talks, readings, performances, and open mics to take place during the convention. The event will also tackle topics about smart book marketing, including effective promotional strategies that are timely for modern-day publishers and sellers. 

Independent publishers, readers, and writers are highly encouraged to attend in person, as book fairs and launches will be held in North Luzon, NCR, Visayas, and Mindanao. Anyone interested in joining the TIPC-PH’s free hybrid event must fill up the registration form through this link: https://tinyurl.com/indiepubcon2022

This year’s event will be a testament to the united front formed by the indie publishing community to consistently empower regional book publications and trades. 

As the publishing industry transitions to a new generation of readers, TIPC-PH hopes to continue creating new avenues for creative expression and collaboration for publishers and writers through this convention. 

This vision of INDIEPUBCON 2022 will be made possible through the joined efforts of TIPC-PH’s Participating Publications, such as 7 Eyes Productions, 8letters Bookstore and Publishing, Aklat Alamid, Alubat Publishing, Balangay Productions, Kasingkasing Press, Librong LIRA, Southern Voices Printing Press, San Anselmo Publications, Saniata Publications, and many more. 

INDIEPUBCON 2021 Day 5: Performatura meets Indie

Despite the physical constraints of the pandemic, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, along with a group of highly talented and committed artists, showcased poetry readings, spoken word competitions, musical presentations, dance dramas, theatrical shows, and storytelling events.

This year’s Performatura (aptly subtitled the Performatura: Pandemic Edition) brought the best of our nation’s literature, history, and culture closer to a broader, more interconnected audience. The theme of the event was “Aking Adhika Makita Kang Sakdal Laya.”

For the third day of Performatura, this event is named after The Indie Publisher’s Collab – PH’s INDIEPUBCON theme (Claiming Indie Spaces in these Challenging Times). This event presents TIPC-PH publications that held book launches, including Aklat Alamid, Southern Voices Printing Press, Alubat Publishing, Librong LIRA, Rebo Press Book Publishing, and 8Letters.

Aklat Alamid

Aklat Alamid’s official poster for Performatura: Pandemic Edition.

Aklat Alamid, a publisher that focuses on bringing children’s literature to other regions, presented a read-aloud of its newly released picture books, “Dako nga Yahong sang Batchoy” (A Big Bowl of Batchoy) by Jennie Arado and Rayah Dizon-Maniago, “Ditoy, Isdi, Idiay, Isna” (Here, There, There, Here) by Heather Ann F. Pulido and Renz Juno Abreu, and “Ti Dakkel nga Armang” (Denden’s Favorite Color) by Michelle Corpuz, Rachel Espiritu, Suzy Corpuz, Rosita Aragon, Luz Miranda. The stories were read in Hiligaynon, Ilokano, and Kankanaey with subtitles in Filipino.

Southern Voices

Official Performatura poster of Southern Voices Printing Press.

Southern Voices Printing Press launched a book reading of “Mga Munting Babae,” a Filipino translation of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The speakers highlighted the importance of translating text and how it can add value and meaning to literature.

“Nararapat na malaya ang pagsasalin. Sa pamamagitan ng pagsasalin, nakikita at Kanakarasa ang isang mambabasa sa isang bagong daigdig na hindi pamilyar sa kanila.”

The readers were actress and model Ms. Mylene Dizon and former Representative Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party. Moreover, Prof. Rowena Festin, who translated the book with SVPP publisher Sophia Perez, gave a brief insight on language and translation.

Alubat Publishing

Official poster of Alubat Publishing for Performatura.

Alubat Publishing showcased excerpt readings of Dr. Louie Mar Ganguangco’s HIV novel “Orosa-Nakpil, Malate.” Selected prose from Ganguangco’s novel was read by Mai Cantillano, Winlove Mojica, Jerome Cleofas, Ryan Ram Malli, and Jazminne Peña.

Librong LIRA

Librong LIRA featured Nick Pichay’s poems from his republished poetry collection “Ang Lunes na Mahirap Bunuin.” Dr. Romulo Baquiran, Jr. and Atty. Rose King-Dominguez provides short explanations concerning their translation process on Pichay’s collection of poetry. Soc delos Reyes, Jerome Flor, and Eloisa Francia provided excerpt reading from the said book.

Rebo Press Book Publishing

Official event posters of Rebo Press Book Publishing and Vox Populi PH.

Indie publishing house Rebo Press PH featured various performances from its gallery of experienced and young authors, performance artists, and musicians. Vox Populi PH, one of its imprints, also featured readings from its breed of future writing pillars. Arguably the most interesting performance of the afternoon, Rebo not only made its set fun, but also meaningful.

Among the main events was the book launch of journalist and writer Karl de Mesa’s “Calling Out the Destruction: Collected Non-Fiction Meditations on Violence and Transcendence”, a collection of essays that will be available on Rebo Press in December 2021. Helping to make the well-rounded performance was Rica Aquino, who masterfully played the violin to Astor Piazzola’s “Etude No. 4.” Performance artist Ceej Gomera also performed the piece “Entire History.” Finally, the author played his acoustic rendition of Iron and Wine’s “Claim Your Ghost.”

In addition, educator Jan Aldous O. Virina also read a chapter off of Frank G. Rivera’s “Si Jose Rizal sa (Loob at Labas ng Kagila-gilalas na) Daigdig ni Atô.” The chapter, titled “Sa Umpisa ay Dilim at Liwanag,” explores the world of protagonist Atô, an Agta, who eventually meets with the young Jose Rizal. The historical fantasy novel is the latest work and magnum opus of Rivera’s long and fruitful career.

Rebo Press’s founder Maria Kristelle Jimenez also graced the audience with a reading from her work “Salamin: Mga Personal na Prosa.” This book is a collection of personal essays about coping with depression through writing. The reading was superimposed with a short clip directed and edited by Reynand Manaois, featuring indie actress Rizza Dulay.

Vox Populi PH

Youth digital writing publication Vox Populi PH is a neophyte in Performatura, but the group of young writers held their own. Featuring a set of essay, story, and poetry readings, Vox Populi’s contribution to the event was threaded together by a spoken word poem,  “Nag-umpisa ang Lahat sa Isang Tinig,” written and edited by founder Maria Kristelle Jimenez and performed by Rebo Press’ resident graphic artist, Gwynette Ivory Marbella.

The participants include Marius Carlos, Jr., who read an excerpt from his collection of essays, “Incarnations”; Maria Kristelle Jimenez, who read her short story “Muning” from her award-winning zine, “Anatomiya ng Pandemiya”; Annalyn Biagtan, who read a chapter from her novel “Eclipse”; Karl Patrick Wilfred Suyat who read an excerpt from his collection of political essays, “Karl, Not Marx”; Jay-ar Paloma,  who read his poem “Diglossia” from his zine “postmodern musings”; and Julienne Maui Mangawang, who read her poem “In the Garden” from her collection of poems, “Aftermath: Drawn Out.” The books that authors presented have also been exhibited at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Aidan Reuel Bernales, also performed his original spoken word piece “Your Poetry Sucks.”


8Letters’ official poster for Performatura.

8Letters launched its newest anthologies, “Takipsilim” and “Hatinggabi,” featuring Philippine mythological creatures, through storytelling. Directed by 8Letters’ founder Cindy Wong, it highlights several characters from the two anthologies featuring John Mark Calim as Elias, Paula Alagao as Victoria, Marigold Uy as Aurora, and Ernst Enriquez as Bakunawa.

Performatura: International Performance Literature Festival ran from November 22 to 24. Performers, poets, art conversations with chanters from the regions, book debates, slam poetry contests, book fairs, and interviews with prominent writers were all part of the virtual event.

Performatura and the Future of Indie

Performatura is no stranger to the world of independent publishing and writing. Maria Kristelle Jimenez, the editor-in-chief of Vox Populi PH and the founder of Rebo Press, first attended Performatura in 2018, where she was greeted warmly by Festival Director Vim Nadera and CPP’s Beverly Siy as she assisted in the exhibition of several zines by up-and-coming young writers from that period in her career as a serial indie publisher and organizer. Young creatives who wanted to learn more about the trade and eventually publish in print and digital forms were advised to “keep going” and “hold the line.”

If the success of the event was any indication, then it could be concluded that we will see an even bigger and better Performatura in the future. With the continued rise of indie writing and publishing in the country, it will only open more venues for artists and encourage the growth of like-minded organizations, producing a healthier pool of talented artists that can be featured in upcoming events. The symbiotic relationship of the CCP and the indie community only bodes well for the future, and like all performers who found the stage in a world full of niches, we show our gratitude through art.

Landscapes and Changes: Indie Publishing from Two Perspectives

Indie publishing in the Philippines still has a long way to go, and INDIEPUBCON 2021’s long roster of discussants and their individual concerns and advocacies prove that there needs to be a concerted effort to sustain the effort, so that indie publishing thrives despite the most challenging of times. To a great extent, the responsibilities of finding solutions to old problems in independent publishing falls on the shoulders of young creatives and/or publishers who chose the path of publishing, based on different principles and causes.

The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC-PH) is one of the first few attempts to solidify a common cause among independent publishers who come from different walks of life and work in unity towards a common cause. How the effort will crystallize in the coming years, will be up to people like Cindy Wong of 8Letters Publishing and Maria Kristelle Jimenez of Rebo Press Book Publishing and Vox Populi PH.    

Marketing and Publishing: Cindy Wong

Cindy Wong is the cofounder of 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing and is the INDIEPUBCON 2021 director. She co-founded 8Letters six years ago with Marigold Uy, and over the years, they published fiction and non-fiction titles and attempted to foster community among writers through retreats and workshops. They are also engaged in indie publishing services for self-publishing titles.

According to Cindy, TIPC-PH was an active effort in the part of the publishers to band together despite challenging conditions.

“When The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC-PH) was organized at the height of the pandemic lockdown in 2020, its vision was simple: to gather together active, independent, small presses that might assist each other and work together given their unique experiences of publishing in the country.

“Without the support of mainstream institutions, and functioning primarily under the radar, there was a need to bring together these publishers towards establishing a collective to work on common projects, improve the conditions of independent bookmakers, and map out the important contributions of independent cultural workers in the publishing industry,” said Cindy.

When asked about how indie publishing provides avenues for writers, she has this to say:

“The space provided by the indie publishing scene is flexible not only to the community’s needs, but also to the expression needed by the artist. We don’t look at the fan bases of the writers nor the trends.

“Of course, sales and return of investment are also important for sustainability purposes, so we try our best to market the books, sometimes by setting the trend ourselves. I can’t reiterate enough that what can be found in the indie publishing bookstores will add the flavors and elements needed in the literary world. We believe in what we put out there thus, the willingness to risk and experiment beyond the mainstream bookstores.”

Breaking the Status Quo: Maria Kristelle Jimenez

Maria Kristelle Jimenez is the founder of Rebo Press Book Publishing and is the current editor-in-chief of Vox Populi PH, a youth writing organization in the Philippines. According to her, indie publishing’s core is in resistance and breaking the status quo and challenging the powers that be.

“Indie publishing has its own humble beginnings through the tedious effort of several writers and artists to ‘break the status quo.’ Breaking the norm provides an avenue for writers who have the passion, skill, and propensity despite their minimal credentials or social capital to get the large publisher’s interest. With these efforts, indie publishing creates a breakthrough by giving a good platform for well-skilled writers or even starting writers to expand their literary portfolio and experience,” said Kristelle.

Kristelle sees hope in the expanding digital landscape, but nods at the fact that challenging conditions are still obstacles to indie publishing success, and the community is still faced with concrete challenges.

“The pandemic is a mixture of blessing and a curse for the indie publishing scene. Those who could fully adapt to the digital interface have gathered audiences commonly attached to purchasing books in large bookstores. However, since most of the books published under indie don’t reach the shelves of large bookstores in the country, events like this provide the necessary leverage to continue pushing through in releasing books.

“Unluckily, not everyone has the technological advancement or knowledge to continue working in the digital space. As a result, several indie publishers rely on physical areas (festivals, conferences, book launches, and other related events) to reach potential readers/consumers of their books. With the health guidelines restraining the possibility of social gatherings, several publications downscale their production, even shut down their once bread and butter, focusing on other sources of income,” she said.

Kristelle was also straightforward about the problems that plague the community and prevent further growth. According to Kristelle, the financial and external factors co-exist in hindering the growth of the indie scene—and the community must also address its internal challenges too.

Additionally, for the collective to thrive, the entire indie publishing community must share their time and effort. The main reason why the indie community is still in its shackles is the lack of cooperation with the community itself. Therefore, the publishers must take action that is not limited to their own benefit as this will also speed up the process of improving the overall condition of the collective.

And what of TIPC-PH and similar efforts? Kristelle is cautiously optimistic and emphasizes the need to unite and overcome challenges.

“Indie publishing and TIPC-PH still has a long way to go. While this is the start of setting its historical footmark, the collective must remain dedicated and in harmony to surpass all the challenges within and beyond their publications,” concluded Kristelle.

This year’s INDIEPUBCON is a testament to just how much work remains to be done in this budding industry. As the gyres of global capital continue to threaten small sectors in the Third World, we are perhaps at a “do or die” precipice where our actions now will determine the direction of what’s growing or what is left of independent publishing in the Philippines. Only time will tell how powerfully the combined efforts of independent publishers will send ripples into the near future.

This event is made possible by the National Book Development Board. Vox Populi PH is the official media partner for INDIEPUBCON 2021.

INDIEPUBCON2021 Day 4: The Art of Anthologizing, Indie on the Cutting Edge

Day four of INDIEPUBCON 2021, in collaboration with the National Book Development Board, saw numerous publishers and creatives share their thoughts on the process of creating anthologies and the entrance of the digital space (and the digital humanities) into the field.

With the necessary foray into digital media due to changing cultural sensibilities and market conditions, INDIEPUBCON 2021’s selection of speakers for the fourth day provided various perspectives on what it means to publish in this age. The discussions were led by Cindy Wong (8Letters), Faye Cura (Gantala Press), Rey Manlapaz Tamayo, Jr. S (7Eyes), and Joti Tabula (Librong LIRA). The fourth day of INDIEPUBCON 2021 also saw the successful run of Lipad Saranggola: Abutin ang mga Pangarap para sa Batang Mambabasa. In addition, Kristian Sendon Cordero of Savage Minds also shared his insights on the changing field and how these changes affect the effort of writing and publishing.

Lipad Saranggola: Children’s Writing as Resistance

Children’s literature and writing for children has always been a contentious area in the discipline, and literary production becomes even more challenging in a country like the Philippines. Several publishers came together on this day in INDIEPUBCON 2021 to talk about their experiences in publishing children’s literature.

The discussion kicked off with John Romeo Venturero, the Promotions & Research Head of Aklat Alamid. Romeo discussed several aspects of Aklat Alamid’s process for creating children’s literature.

”Allow me to give you a sneak peek of our experiences [in Aklat Alamid] and the processes that we go through when publishing books for children. I’m also excited to share our plans for the future. Aklat Alamid began with the objective of publishing children’s books in different languages in the Philippines. We also wanted to give representation to each region. We also want to be able to help in giving representation to the communities that use these books,” Romeo said.

Following Romeo’s foray was Noel Galon from Kasingkasing Press, who began his talk by emphasizing that their launch into independent press was a form of protest.

“The question of language is central to the founding of Kasingkasing Press. During that time establishing presses were only beginning to accept works from the regions.”

The next presentation was from Southern Voices Printing Press, who highlighted “authentic and genuine stories of people who live and walk on paths unacknowledged by popular media.” Sophia Perez from SVPP also presented Nay’Tay, Itim Po ang Dagat, which tackled the central issue of development aggression. One of the highlights toward the end of the discussion was the question of access to the intended readers – children. Noel Galon from Kasingkasing Press emphasized that even if publishers made the materials available online, there is still no guarantee that the intended readers would ever have full and ready access to them.

The Art of Anthologies

Anthologizing as Curation

According to Dr. Joti Tabula (Alubat Publishing and Librong LIRA), bringing an anthology to life can be likened to the curation process done in museums. The first process, according to Tabula, is conceptualizing the anthology.

“What does the anthology wish to say? Is it saying anything? What does the anthology wish the readers to experience? How will it succeed in allowing readers to gain the experience? An anthology is not merely a bundle of works, or a bunch of spinach tied with a rubber band,” said Dr. Tabula.

Dr. Tabula continues to describe in fine detail the various steps in selecting works to ‘open’ and ‘close’ a collection, as well as other critical-theoretical dimensions, as well as aesthetic considerations.

Coming Together in an Anthology

Cindy Wong of 8Letters began her discussion of the “Art of Anthologizing” by providing the etymology of the word before proceeding to how anthologies are eventually created and marketed. According to her discussion, anthologies are budget-friendly, provide potential readers with easy access to a wide range of literary works within a specific theme, are a flexible medium, and are ultimately easier to sell.

“Why create anthologies? First, to build creative and supportive relationships with other authors. If this is your first time as an author and you’re unsure and don’t have an audience, you can contribute to an anthology. What happens is that other authors can help market your work, you know, writing is already a solitary activity, so if you work with 19 other writers in that anthology, you’ll be able to help out each other.”

Anthologizing As a Feminist Small Press

Faye Cura of Gantala Press provided crucial and critical insights on publishing as praxis and cultural work. Faye focused on the ideological-critical dimensions of anthologizing and also provided guideposts on how to create anthologies.

“You have to be able to articulate what you want your anthology to tackle because this will guide you in the actual book production. Think of it as the main idea or position of your book. A specific or comprehensive topic would be nice, but be open to surprises, as well. Next, you have to identify the purpose of your anthology. Putting together an anthology takes time, energy and commitment, so having a clear purpose will make it easier to complete the task. Having a clear purpose will also help us manage the project in setting timelines and budgets.”

Faye continued her fruitful talk regarding other dimensions of anthologizing, and her points are accessible and usable for those who wish to create anthologies explicating and articulating various aspects of the people’s struggle.

Anthologizing as a Step-by-Step Process

Rey Manlapaz Tamayo, Jr. of 7Eyes also provided some tips on how their anthologies come to be. According to Rey, they are inspired by sociopolitical conditions and real-life events, essentially creating anthologies as a reaction to social realities.

One of the critical points of anthologizing is organizing writers to produce works and submit them on time. Calls for submissions are defined by factors like form (what type of literary work is required), topic or theme (ex. fantasy, politics, etc.) and physical parameters like word count, page count, typography and required references. Rey further encouraged writers to submit to anthologies as joining anthologies helped him when he was just starting out.

Indie on the Cutting Edge: Attempting to Fill the Gaps

Kristian Sendon Cordero joined INDIEPUBCON 2021 to answer crucial questions regarding indie publishing and how it relates to his work as an author, among other things. One of the highlights of the live Q&A was his perspective on ‘how do we know that indie publishing (in the Philippines) is on the ‘cutting edge?’’

“The history of publications and technology is expansive. Technology, publications and art are always connected. So in every era, there is a particular definition for what constitutes ‘cutting edge.’ And what is the determining factor. Usually, this is a condition brought about by other areas or aspects of technology and what is happening to society [as a whole.] So, we need segmentation for that question.

“But so far, what we can consider influential not just in the kind of works that we consume or the kind of works that we produce or even in the ways that we think and how we live, is the advent of social media (not just the internet). Social media and social media applications have changed how we view what can be considered as literature,” said Kristian.

Kristian also affirmed that there are always gaps in the interstices between the educational system and indie publishing. According to Kristian, as the Deputy Director of the Ateneo de Naga Press he often encounters people who think that his place of work is “the establishment” and Savage Minds is “pa-indie” which he both denies, as he says, both are actually just struggling at the moment. He emphasizes that the university press has a different role within the larger system of Ateneo and access to financial resources remains a huge challenge, still. Furthermore, while there are already many engagements with the educational system, there should still be more financial allocation for publishing in the foreseeable future.

This event is made possible by the National Book Development Board. Vox Populi PH is the official media partner for INDIEPUBCON 2021.

INDIEPUBCON 2021 Day 3: The Physical and Digital Publishing Spaces

The timeline of independent publishing’s history is more divergent than straightforward. Independent publishing fills a void in the larger literary landscape by providing services similar to those provided by traditional publishers, but in new and inventive ways.

Independent publishing also gained a new form with the birth of the digital space. The non-physical form allowed for a number of significant benefits, including a faster turnaround time, a more connected environment for remote writers, and, most notably, the use of various sorts of new media. These not only gave more creative freedom, but more importantly provided a much wider and invaluable platform for publishers to reach their audience and vice versa.

Truly, independent publishing has reached new heights, and with the advent of newer technology, can go even higher. For the third day of INDIEPUBCON 2021, independent writers and publishers convened to discuss the transition from indie writing to publishing, and the rise of the digital space in indie.

Creating Spaces Through Publishing

Guest speakers Edgar Samar (Palanca award-winning author of the Janus Silang books) and Katrina Olan (local bestselling indie author of Tablay) discuss how they started their publishing careers by being writers. Kat Olan shares: “My dream as a writer began at 7-8 years old. I started writing on bond paper, stationeries or prescription pads! I started writing novellas at 12-15 years old. It was a way to escape the worl. I started to become an indie writer at 14-15 with Skies Above. As you grow older, your worldview changes and it also affects your writing.”

Meanwhile, Edgar Samar also shares a similar story of how he got started in the craft. “Noong bata ako, interesado na akong magsulat talaga. Mayroon kaming sari-sari store, nagsusulat ako sa likod ng palara at notebook. My earliest access to comics is Liwayway magazine around late eighties to early nineties. It is very clear ealy on what I want to be: I want to be a writer.”

For both Kat and Egay, the idea to delve into publishing started when they both gained success and recognition for their writing. For Kat, she realized that she can be a writer when she got buzz from social media. “The story lives beyond you. It is when you hear that people start to talk about it in other circles outside of your friends and family, like twitter and IG. I’m so amazed that complete strangers would advocate for the story.”

For Egay, winning contests was the route. “Siguro swerte ako sa literary compositions. Malaki ang element ng luck so hindi siya end all and necessary sa literary path. Important breakthrough is Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog. Special sa’kin yung first novel kasi wala pa ako kinakatakutan at pinapatunayan pa kaya nagawa ko lahat ng gusto kong gawin sa nobela.”

Turning Rejection to Opportunity

Like all good stories, both Kat and Egay turned rejections and failure into opportunities. For Kat, getting rejected several times made her decide that she needs to publish on her own. “It took a lot of work to familiarize the operational side of it, since you are not privileged to have your own social media, marketing and events planner so you have to work multiple hats. I also funded every single book I sold. I realized I have the power to build my own future and I don’t have to be reliant on big publishers. Yes it will take a lot of your own time, but you have full control of everything. In the end, you need to believe in the story that you write. You make it and break it because of your own efforts.”

Egay shared his own story of self-publishing and how he did everything from scratch just to publish and also help others get published. “Around 2014, I started with my 2 former students with the idea of publishing Filipino novelists. Ang roots ko talaga ay novel as literary form so I’m interested na makatulong sa publication ng iba pa. Nakakapagod since last 2014 wala pang online sites like Shopee or Lazada. Gusto ko makatulong sa decent compensation sa lahat ng involved sa publication process. Interesado ako sa publishing hindi lang dahil sa panitikan kundi dahil gusto ko makatulong sa production and distribution ng writings ng iba. Kagaya nga ng lagi kong sinasabi, kung di man ako makakapagsulat, kaya ko naman maging masaya ng nagbabasa.”

Overall, both panelists mentioned that while going down the indie route for publishing, takes a lot of work and dedication, it is worth it if not just to give a platform and voice to those without the opportunity to read or be published.

The Physical and Digital Publishing Spaces

It is clear from the rise of digital publishing that it is here to stay. However, it does not mean that traditional physical publishing will go out of style. Both spaces are important and serve different but equally important purposes.

Ronaldo Vivo Jr. of UNGAZ Press discussed how the digital space made way for newer forms of literature especially during the pandemic. “Pandemic became a catalyst in finding new ways to publish and interact with the audience. Online is more transactional but it also mandates that creators become more creative in interacting with audiences or readers. Memes, video content, vlogging, IG live, ask me anything etc. platforms that create for free and challenge the model of traditional publishing. It democratizes publishing in general.” Furthermore, he adds that social media and online platforms help greatly with marketing the publication as a business.

“Malaki ang role ng online and social media platforms sa pagtitinda ng libro. Mas madaling naabot ang mga mambabasang nasa malayo at mga mambabasang naghahanap ng alternatiboing babasahin. Madali na ang acess sa mga librong usually wala sa bookstores.”

Kate Velez of LitArt Hub Publishing also agrees that going online makes it easier for publishers to reach an audience, and actually makes it more convenient for them to consume content. “We also have to think about the convenience and accessibility of posting online. We can just save stories, and the advantage is it serves those with short attention spans. Stories online are usually short, something you can read while you are on break at work or while commuting.”

On Digital Humanities

The transition of the digital publishing space started with the digital age and the proliferation of the internet. We can now publish words online. With the advent of digital publishing, the definition of literature became more varied. With traditional publishing, the definition of literature is only print. Now, we have podcasts, videos and audiobooks. It gives us more publishers more creativity and more freedom.

The importance of digital publishing’s contribution to the overall state of digital humanities is understated. According to Maria Kristelle Jimenez, Rebo Press founder, “We lack the resources to create physical events due to the pandemic. With the rise of technological advancements, we need to expand our digital humanities side so we can keep up with traditional publishing. While Rebo Press started as a physical firm, it slowly adapted to the needs of consumers and the need to provide literature to its readers.” This is echoed by moderator Marius Carlos Jr., who gave a more in-depth explanation of digital humanities:

“Digital humanities is a defining feature of the time. The things we consume online are also subject to this study. Digital humanities is the organic growth and systematic studies of these online. We not only look at the content and form, but also the format. It can be published anywhere and in many different forms depending sa tools na ginagamit. The common thread is it is all mediated by technology. Independent publishing creates different avenues for digital humanities.”

Vox Senior Contributor Elisha Aguinaldo also opines the same: “Digital humanities is the digitalization of traditional humanities. It is like the digitization of what we can see in a library: archives, mga journal at libro. Importante ito dahil mas mare-recognize tayo kapag sa digital tayo mag-publish. Mas madami makakabasa sa isang literary piece.” Meanwhile, According to Vox Features Editor, Micah Salonoy states that digital humanities actually helps in the free proliferation of knowledge, especially when it comes to research:

“I was under the special sciences curriculum and we needed to research. We relied a lot on journals and articles we see on the internet. We eventually got an idea where to find free journals. I am part of the first batch that graduated online because of the pandemic, so it is a big help especially since we cannot get books in the physical library.”

The demarcation of physical and digital publishing has its own advantages and disadvantages. According to Micah: “When I got to Vox, I’m no longer in physical publishing. The biggest shift and adjustment is there is a wider audience. For instance, as compared to campus journalism that can only be read in school and whose topics only revolve about the school, digital publishing is much more open to different topics and a different environment.” Vox Senior Contributor Elisha Aguinaldo also suggests the same:

“Hindi po ako ganoon ka-experienced sa physical publishing, and as compared to digital, mas matagal yung process. Now sa digital, mas mabilis. I can upload sa internet and mababasa ko siya agad. Mas madali po in a way yung digital publishing kasi mas madali siya i-revise and publish. However, may disadvantages din siya kasi kapag lagi akong nasa screen, mas nali-limit yung nakikita ko at pwede kong isulat as compared kapag lumalabas.”

Melding physical and digital spaces

Ultimately, the future of indie publishing is the coexistence of the physical and digital spaces. When asked about the possibility of this happening soon, Kristelle was not too optimistic. “We still have a  long way to go with digitalization and accessibility of text. The Filipinos are the most engaged with social media but we are also the ones with the poorest internet connection. To make readings more accessible, we need to reintroduce reading. Nagkakaroon agad ng barrier, tulad ng gatekeeping, copyrighting; nalilimitahan nito ang paglaganap ng teksto. Kailangan natin magkaroon ng mas mainam na distribution. Physical and digital humanities must combine and work together to provide opportunities for people in general.

Kristelle however championed that she has so far succeeded in creating this mixed space with founding both Rebo Press and Vox Populi PH. “Rebo Press and Vox Populi PH work together in combining the physical and digital space. Hopefully, maipasa ang model na ito sa other communities and other schools. Kaunti lang tayong manunulat, marami tayo kailangang pagsilbihang mambabasa, at kung mas mapapalawig pa natin ang espasyo, it will help us na mapabuti ang sistema at maibalik ang kultura ng pagbabasa at pag-iisip ng mga Pilipino.”

Finally, when asked about what advice she has for those in traditional physical publishing who want to delve into the world of digital publishing, Kristelle mentioned that they need to be prepared for new learning and gaining completely new skills. “Your writing will go places when you post online. But if it is not doable for you, especially with the necessity of maintaining and creating platforms like blogs, using WordPress and social media accounts, the best thing is to submit to different publications. You just need to understand that publications also have different standards. If you don’t want to compromise with this, you will need to create your own space, but you will need to shoulder it on your own.”

All in all, the key takeaways for the discussion is that digital publishing evolved from the rise of the internet and online word processing. Digital and physical publishing work together and serve different functions. Lastly, digital publishing space is here to stay, and as writers and publishers, evolving in the community means embracing these developments.

This event is made possible by the National Book Development Board. Vox Populi PH is the official media partner for INDIEPUBCON 2021.