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 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.

INDIEPUBCON 2021 Day 2: The Rise and Future of Indie Publishing

Independent publishing was born out of a need to veer away from traditional publishing. Common advantages of independent publishing include lower capital, stronger relationships with authors, editors, and other personnel in the publishing process, and most importantly, the ability to control the quality and advocacy related to the material being published.

However, despite these advantages, independent publishing (and especially self-publishing) has its share of challenges. Getting a book published can take its toll on new authors. Traditional self-publishing, typically a laborious and expensive undertaking, includes processes like typesetting, layouts, obtaining an ISBN number, and most importantly, registering copyrights. The lack of legal and operational know-how is a common detriment for aspiring independent authors and publishers, but fortunately has not been a big enough obstacle to stop its proliferation.

For Day 2 of INDIEPUBCON 2021, independent authors and publishers from diverse backgrounds and regions in the country convened to talk about the legal process of publishing, the current state of indie, and the future of publishing. Kath Eustaquio-Derla of PaperKat Books discussed the rewarding process of self-publishing, focusing on its legalities.

Indie 101: From Registration to Publishing

Kath Eustaquio-Derla of PaperKat Books, with her depth of experience in their own family business, discussed the importance of legal know-how when planning to publish. She opined: “These are the things that you should know to avoid legal problems in the future. But if you want to consult a legal lawyer, feel free to do so. This process is based on my experience from my own business.” Derla heads the publishing arm of PaperKat books and StoryFactory, which covers books to film/TV adaptations.

Derla stressed the importance of taking advantage of the now more refined and streamlined registration process. “Now everything is done online. Before, everything was done manually.” She discussed how to register as a sole-proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. She also discussed the necessary requirements before completing the registration for NBDB (website linked here), as well as what needs to be properly declared in the forms. She also clarified the common misconception that publishers need to print their own books. “Printing is different from publishing. You can be a publisher without your own printing press. For example, we started out as a publisher with no printing equipment.”

In summary, an aspiring publisher needs to acquire a DTI Business Name Registration, a BIR 2303 Certificate of Registration ( for publishing and printing activities), and a Business Permit (Mayor’s Permit).

Another critical component of publishing is applying for an ISBN. As Derla mentions, “ISBN is a serious matter. As a publisher, we need to protect the works of our authors. Whenever we launch a book, our authors have the confidence to face anyone because we followed proper documentation.” Derla again applauded the ease of applying for ISBNs now that it can be done online (via this link), and shared how their company was invited as part of the beta program for this initiative.

Derla also discussed the importance of Cataloging in Publication (CIP). A service offered for free by NLP, its purpose is to produce standardized bibliographic descriptions for forthcoming Philippine publications. She also discussed the advantages of opting for legal deposits for books, as this will help spread the footprint of books, which is especially beneficial for independent writers from smaller publications.

In closing, Derla reminded everyone that following the legalities of being a publisher is only half the battle, as success will ultimately boil down to marketing and skills. “Self-publishing is a business. Carry yourself as a brand. You are your own brand and you are your own business as a self-publishing author.”

The Current and Future State of Indie

The rise of indie in the Philippines has always been centered around the concept of community. In this special roundtable, How Indie Are You?, the panelists discuss the rise of indie publishing and its current trajectory. Attending the roundtable discussion are MJ Cagumbay Tumamac (Xi Zuq) of Aklat Alamid, Sarge Lacuesta of Good Intentions, Pia Perez of Southern Voices, Noel G. de Leon of Kasingkasing Press, Cindy Wong-Cortez of 8Letters, Christian De Jesus of UNGAZ PRESS, and Ronald Verzo of Balangay Books.

The Rise

The panelists generally agree that the purpose of independent publishing is to build a bridge between the mainstream and the local communities. As Noel de Leon of Kasingkasing press noted: “Indie is rooted sa community. Nagtatrabaho tayo sa loob ng komunidad na alam nating nangangailangan. Madalas nanggagaling sa sariling bulsa ng manunulat at publisher ang paglilimbag ng libro. Ang pinakamahalaga ay dapat sila ay may kawsa..nagtutulong-tulong lahat dahil sa isang paniniwala na madalas ay galing sa marginalized sector ng lipunan.”

Sarge Lacuesta of Good Intentions added that he got into indie because wanted to publish what he wanted to read. “Gusto kong ilabas kung ano ang gusto kong basahin. Gusto kong ibalik ang authorism or yung voice ng creator sa publishing. Tama ang time now to take advantage of new ways of building a platform, distribution and monetization.”

This new “platform” pertains not only to new digital forms of media but also to independent publications that publish books that are not seen in traditional publications because of their perceived “lack of potential to sell,” as well as publishing books to a specific audience. As Noel Verzo of Balangay Books puts it, “The [m]ode of distribution is different [for independent publishers). Independent publishers publish works that are not usally seen in traditional publishers.”

The panelists also discussed the many advantages of independent publishing that simply cannot be replicated when working with traditional publication houses. Pia Perez of Southern Voices opined: “Indie publishers have special relationships with authors. Hindi nila tinitingnan na produkto ang author…ang mahalaga sa indie publisher ay kakaiba ang boses ng author na kailangan bigyan ng puwang. Hindi mahalaga kung magiging mabenta, ang mahalaga ay gustong-gusto namin [ang akda].” Furthermore, Verzo adds:

“Nagsimula kami na ang konspeto ng libro ay ikaw na magulang o guro ay tuturuan namin kung paano magsulat. Ang pagsusulat ng libro ay hindi dapat idinidikta ng mga malalaking institusyon. Hindi kailangang maghintay upang makapagsulat ng librong dapat mabasa.”

The role of independent publishing in creating a space for marginalized communities is something that the panelists also discussed extensively. Noel de Leon talked about how, through his indie efforts, they managed to bring books to far-flung places with no concept of a bookstore. “It impacts the landscapes in the publishing community. Ang workshops ay dinadala sa mga lugar na walang access sa workshop. We have book fairs, zines at chapbook initiatives sa communities. It creates avenues and opportunities for them.”

In addition, MJ Tumamac of Aklat Alamid shared that allowing marginalized communities to publish independently entails cultural preservation, as their cultural works are not usually recognized by mainstream publishers. “Kinikilala natin kung paano lumilikha ng sining ang mga marginalized communities na hindi nire-recognize ng mainstream.” Christian de Jesus of UNGAZ PRESS also shares the same opinion

“Mabibigyan ng recognition or platform ang mga manunulat at kwento ng mga community. Alternatibong plataporma upang maibahagi ang kanilang mga danas gamit ang panulat. Suportahan ang skills ng mga batang gustong magsulat sa kanilang community.”

What’s in store for Indie?

The panelists agreed that indie is here to stay, and the fact that indie publishers survived and even proliferated throughout the pandemic means that there is a market and purpose for the cause. Pia Perez compared the landscape of publishing in general to boats traversing the sea:

“Kung ang publishing ay isang dagat at ang pandemya ay isang tsunami, ang mga indie publishers ay maliliit na bangka na mabilis umiwas sa epekto nito. Ang indie publishers ang sinasabi niya ay hindi na pwede ang same old; kailangan natin mag-chart ng bagong pamamaraan at maghanap ng mga hindi tradisyonal na mambabasa, na naghahanap din ng bagong mensahe.”

The panelists also mentioned the importance of banding together as smaller, indie publishers, as it helps facilitate free exchange of best practices and ideas that help them survive as businesses. Cindy Wong of 8Letters shared the advantages of having a group like TIPC as well as holding INDIEPUBCON 2021 as an event for indie writers and publishers:

“Nagkakaroon ng fresh ideas sa weekly meetings at nalalaman ng ibang miyembro. Nagkakaroon ng connections sa National Library, NBDB at pagsali sa book fairs atbp. Ang plano sa hinaharap ay mas “makabenta” ang maliliit na publishing company ng libro para mas maging sustainable tayo sa pandemic. Naging mas madali para sa miyembro dahil may napagtatanungan, koneksyon at ideya kung paano payayabungin ang independent publishing.” Furthermore, Ronald Verzo adds:

“Ang idea kaya binuo ang INDIEPUBCON 2021 ay para makipag-tulungan sa isa’t-isa. Tayo ang pinaka-vulnerable mawala agad. Mas makakatulong ito sa atin if we exchange ideas and help each other out. Nagsasama-sama rin tayo dahil alam natin na kailangan nandito tayo; meron tayo sense of purpose, hindi lang basta makapag-limbag ng libro.”

Finally, the panelists advised aspiring indie publishers about what they need to know before getting into the business. Noel de Leon mentioned that while indie publishers can survive independently, real progress will only come with help from policy changes and the government.

“Huwag tayong matakot i-assert ang ating karapatan. Hangga’t walang malinaw na polisiya na po-protekta satin bilang maliliit na publishers, patuloy lang na maguusap-usap tayo, kaya’t kailangan natin i-assert and ating karaptan sa gobyerno.”

Cindy Wong also mentions the importance of understanding that indie publishing is also a business and cannot just focus on advocacy. “Always put community at the center when you are supporting an indie publishing business. Importante pa din na mapag-aralan at maging sustainable, may paraan para hindi maging “struggling artist,” pag-aralan at mag-explore ng ibang platforms. Posible na kumita tayo na we cut off the middle person.”

In closing, Ronald Verzo stressed that the goal of independent publishing is to ultimately make a difference in the community. “Alamin kung bakit may pangangailangan. Alamin kung paano matutugunan kasi ito ang bagay na lagi mong babalik-balikan. Pagyamanin ang mga tao na kasama mo, katulad ng paglilimbag sa printing press sa iyong komunidad. Maghanap ng tao who shares the same vision.”

“Respetuhin ang manunulat at mambabasang Pilipino.”

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

INDIEPUBCON2021 Day 1: Defining and Defending Publishers and Writers

The first day of the first-ever INDIEPUBCON kicked off Friday afternoon, thanks to the combined efforts of The Independent Publishers Collab-PH (TIPC-PH) and the National Book Development Board. INDIEPUBCON 2021 is a five-day event featuring many discussions about writing and publishing that are not readily available to the public.

NBDB’s Executive Director, Charisse Aquino-Tugade, graced the opening program, inviting creatives (illustrators, authors, editors, and publishers alike) to register at the NBDB for free, to avail of grants and other special benefits.

Against Militarism, Sailing Toward Freedom 

The first part of the program featured lively presentations from independent publishers and timely promotions of titles worth reading from the indie publishing scene. Balangay Media Productions (presented by Ronald Verzo) emphasized the need to create a new balangay that is “not just a symbol, nor a memory,” and that “[we wager] with this balangay, that we know our seas and coasts better,” and by sailing freely, we regain our independence. TIPC-PH also released a statement on the ban on subversive books in some state university libraries, stating that the needless, militaristic mindset that affects the world of books and ideas should be firmly opposed. 

Keynote Speech: Nida Ramirez of Avenida Publishing 

This year’s keynote speaker is Nida Ramirez of Avenida Publishing, who gave a thorough unpacking of what it means to be a publisher. The richness of her life experiences in publishing genuinely set the theme of what’s to come at INDIEPUBCON. She began her speech by saying that what she wanted to share was not an ideal or inspirational story containing a definite success roadmap, as she didn’t plan to become a publisher (in the beginning).

“[Publishing] came about as the answer to a need–specifically of my boss, who asked me what we could do so that our printing presses will always have something to do, mainly because our work was (kind of) seasonal. This was in 2000. At that time, I was already a huge fan of the Bobong Pinoy website. Bob Ong told me that he wanted to put out books. What my boss really wanted was a magazine that we could produce monthly or weekly. His peg was Reader’s Digest. I cannot handle that kind of headache.

“So, I said, okay this is just right, we can try one book and if we got good results from this one, we can try another one. If it fails, well, the losses won’t be substantial, either. Personally, it was a win-win solution, because at the same time, I would be able to work with my idol. And the rest, as they say, is history,” said Nida.

A Special Message from VP Leni Robredo 

Vice President Leni Robredo sent a special message to this year’s INDIEPUBCON. VP Robredo’s message focused on the essential connections between creative work, publishing, and uplifting the marginalized. She commended the organizers for persevering through challenging times and taking the initiative to organize this year’s event specifically for independent publishers.

“As you launch your conference, you are probably thinking–how can we assure the support needed by indie publishers, especially in the time of the pandemic? How can we further enrich our advocacies in publishing? Many fear what tomorrow brings, and as we give life to these experiences: anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, we can bring what’s in the heart outward–to our kapwa.

“We become conscious that we are not alone in our experiences. Our language and writings express what it means to have a bayan. And in our grief and exaltations, we bring the threads of what makes us Filipinos ever brighter. 

“We are all connected. Thus, my clarion call is to continue mirroring the Filipino experience in every book that we publish. The entire spectrum of how we live/feel, from suffering to victory, from disappointment to hope–in these ways, our sense of nation-ness deepens even more.

“In the face of the pandemic, as we continue to strengthen and enrich our languages, let us also share knowledge and wisdom that will help raise our communities. Let us continue deepening our relations with one another. Widen the net of compassion. Make the voices of the marginalized ever louder and clearer, especially our katutubo, so that many more can hear them,” said VP Robredo.

Warm Welcome Messages from V. Almario & E. Abueg 

This year’s INDIEPUBCON received special messages from National Artist Virgilio Almario and renowned foundation of Filipino literature, Efren Abueg. Virgilio Almario said that he personally believes that independent publishers in the Philippines had a special place in the scheme of things. He continued his message by saying that the publishing scene should not be monopolized by the big publishers, and the indie publishers are there to help create new markets for never-before-seen books.

Efren Abueg left a heart-warming message to independent publishers and readers alike, saying that he was astounded that such an event was possible in the middle of the pandemic. He also shared a bit of his history with independent publishing, saying that in his time, he was not able to carry out certain research efforts and writing, believing that no publisher will ever take interest in such works.

“I have the deepest respect for your commitment in advancing Filipino literature, which up to now suffers from scarcity of translation even in ASEAN languages, and there is even less presence in renowned, global languages.

“Let me share with you my earliest experiences as an editor who wanted to have his collection of works published. It was difficult, to say the least, to engage with individual writers, and it was even harder to find a publisher who would be willing to risk it for my earliest efforts to get published. I was a student then, in 1959 who was “challenged” to publish my first anthology,” said Abueg.

The Jun Cruz Reyes Roundtable 

Day one of INDIEPUBCON 2021 also saw the successful meeting of minds in the Jun Cruz Reyes Roundtable, Pagbali sa Utos ng Hari: Malayang Paglalathala bilang Dayalogo Kontra-Gahum. The roundtable was moderated by Rebo Press Book Publishing’s founder and Vox Populi PH’s editor-in-chief, Maria Kristelle Jimenez and was headlined by Jun Cruz Reyes, Allan Derain, Natalya Patolot and Ronaldo Vivo, Jr. Marius Carlos, Jr. from Vox Populi PH presented excerpts from the seminal Utos ng Hari in a special read-aloud session. The event was streamed live via Streamyard on TIPC-PH’s Facebook page

Jun Cruz Reyes highlighted that Utos ng Hari was not anti-teacher, but was rather anti-anti-freedom of expression and anti-Marcos teachers, as the teachers that he referred to in the story were Marcos supporters who stifled students, erased votes and forced students to sing Bagong Lipunan.

Jun Cruz Reyes began the roundtable with a special lecture, where he highlighted several crucial points about writing and publishing in the Philippines. His first point was about “anti-establishment writers who joined all the contests and all the awards” and “anti-establishment writers who want to sell a lot of books, and in the end, become sell-outs.”

Excerpts from the lecture follow:

“Are we happy when a book has been printed 1000 times, which takes twenty years to sell? Are we really happy [with these figures], as we have a voting population of 54 million? We can’t have writers without publishers. 

“These two are connected. And there can never be writers if there are no readers. We seem to be forgetting something important in the discussion how will the writer earn from writing? When you publish a book, the printer, the binder and all of these people make money–the only one who doesn’t clearly earn is the writer.

“There are large and ready markets–what is to be done? Do we become cooperatives? Do we bind together as associations like publishers’ associations? Then there’s the NBDB. I don’t know if it’s just missed or forgotten, but independent publishers give a huge help to the effort, when you combine these [independent publishers]. I think there should be an effort to establish a healthy relationship between the writer, reader and publisher,” said Reyes.

One of the critical questions in the roundtable was “what is the history and meaning of indie publishing?” Allan Derain, author of Aswanglaut and representative of the Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP), provided insights on the scarcity of written histories on literary production.

“First of all–do we want to talk about history in its most technical sense, or do we want to talk about history by way of looking at it as recorded narratives? We can look at history as a narrative that wasn’t just told to another person/people but a narrative that was written down. If someone would ask me about history, top of my head, there would be Bienvenido Lumbera, then there is also a sustained work by Resil Mojares, then Soledad Reyes. Then there’s one that I know of, a book historian, who watches over the history of books in the Philippines, Mae Jurilla.

“Unfortunately, I think no one is really writing about the history of publishing and all the things related to literary production. We don’t have a history of indie [publishing] because we don’t have a history of publishing [in a general sense].

Natalya Patolot, a young writer from the Ateneo De Manila University enriched the roundtable with her question on legitimacy as a young writer–should young writers first be published by “reputable publishing houses, preferably academic ones” and aspire for at least one award to be considered writers? Jun Cruz Reyes has a pointed response: “there is no wrong [way] of writing. Write and write. The critic comes last–you do not write for the category [of the critic].”

Ronaldo Vivo, Jr. of Ungaz Press shared his insights on what it meant to be a writer in this day and age.

“There is no board exam for writers. A dancer, if he wants to dance, can dance without an audience–and he is called a dancer after. In my perspective, I think a writer is similar. If you can write, even if you don’t have any validation from the authorities [that we know of], you are a writer. It’s that simple,” sad Vivo.

When asked about how he’s carrying out the work of presenting alternative works to the classroom, Allan Derain said that he engages students in dialogue so that they may think of other works that may serve as an alternative to his syllabus.

“I am fortunate to be in an institution that is somewhat open to these things. Our course is a survey of literature [its entire history]. I always make it a point to open their minds to the concept of canon and our course becomes reflexive in this sense, as there are many types of canon. So when they’re done with my syllabus, our final project would be–what alternative syllabus can you offer?”

The roundtable continued for almost two hours, extending to many other dimensions of independent publishing and writing in the Global South. 

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 1: Nida Ramirez’s Message

INDIEPUBCON 2021 is a five-day event featuring many discussions about writing and publishing that are not readily available to the public. This year’s keynote speaker is Nida Ramirez of Avenida Publishing, who gave a thorough unpacking of what it means to be a publisher.

The richness of her life experiences in publishing genuinely set the theme of what’s to come at INDIEPUBCON. Below is the transcript of her 11-minute speech during the first day of the INDIEPUBCON 2021.

Magandang araw ng Biyernes po sa inyong lahat. Isang napakalaking karangalan para sa akin na magbigay ng keynote speech para sa pagbubukas ng INDIEPUBCON 2021. Uunahin ko na ang isang masigabong pagbati sa mga organizers at sa mga kasaping indie publishers. Nakakabilib at talagang very inspiring ang mga nagagawa at magagawa pa ng TIPC, The Indie Publishers Collab Philippines. Napakagandang patunay ito na malayo ang nararating kapag nagbubuklod at nagkakaisa. 

First time ko pong magdeliver ng speech, tapos keynote pa. Kaya nagpatulong ako kay Ronald Verzo ng Balangay kung ano ba dapat ang mga sasabihin ko. Ikuwento ko raw ang pagsisimula ko sa publishing, para magsilbing guide at inspirasyon sa mga kasaping independent publishers ng TIPC.

Sa totoo ay laging naiilang akong ikuwento ang pagsisimula ko sa publishing. Hindi naman kasi ito kuwento ng “pangarap na natupad”, o successful business story na may “ideal roadmap”, o yung mga tipong pang-business seminar. 

Una na kasi, hindi ko naman talagang pinlano na maging publisher. Dala lang lahat ng pangangailangan. Ito ang naisip kong isa sa mga pwedeng solusyon sa tanong ng boss ko dati kung ano ang pwedeng gawin para tuloy-tuloy ang takbo ng mga makina ng imprenta, lalo pa at may pagka-seasonal ang mga trabaho namin. This was in 2000. That time, fan na fan naman ako ng Bobongpinoy website, at sinabi ni Bob Ong na gusto niyang maglabas ng libro. Ang talagang gustong ipagawa sa akin ng boss ko ay magazine na monthly, or weekly. Ang peg niya ay Reader’s Digest. Naku, di ko keri ang ganung kalaking sakit ng ulo! Kaya sabi ko sa kanila, tamang-tama na “sumubok” muna kami sa isang libro. At kapag ok ang naging resulta nito, gumawa ulit ng pangalawa; kung hindi naman ok, at least, di rin ganun kalaki ang magiging talo. Personally, win-win solution ito para sa akin, dahil at the same time, makakatrabaho ko ang idol ko. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Pangalawa (dahil may una kanina), hindi rin kasi ako ang tipo ng tao na mahilig magplano ng future niya. I either live the day, kapag ok ang mundo; or try to get through the day, kapag di gaanong matino. I deal with things as they come. I enjoy discovering things along the way, making mistakes, and learning from them. Hindi ko rin pangarap maging mayaman, maging Jack Ma, or magkaroon ng Fortune 100 company.

So gets niyo na kung bakit hindi ideal na pang-speech ang mga kuwento ng pagsisimula ko. Kumabaga sa manuscript proposal, hindi ito “marketable”, hindi “relatable” o “inspiring” man lang ang kuwento.

At dahil diyan, I will just share what I think are the principles or life lessons that worked for me in my publishing journey. Kapag may mga desisyong kailangang gawin o komplikadong problemang dapat ayusin, ang mga gabay na ito ang binabalikan ko. Hindi man sila exact solution, lagi at laging nakatutulong sila para gawing mas malinaw ang daan na dapat piliin.

Una na ang: there is no single way of doing something. 

Bilang independent publisher, we tend to follow the “standard” set by our predecessors or the big publishers. At walang masama doon. May mga practices na subok nang epektibo. But at the same time, may mga sistema ding patuloy na nagbabago depende sa takbo ng mundo. Dapat bang nasa kilalang bookstores ka para maging legitimate author o publisher ka? Dapat bang nasa bestseller list ka nila para maging “made” ka? Dapat bang consignment ka lang palagi sa mga tindahan at maghintay na bayaran ka sa naibenta nila matapos ang tatlo, anim, o walong buwang paghihintay?

Iba na ang panahon ngayon. At ang mga pagbabago ay lalo pang pinaigting ng pinagdadaanan nating pandemya. The pre-covid world is ancient, ika nga. Sa kabila ng maraming pagdurusang dala ang pandemya, marami din itong binuksang opportunities para sa mga publishers gaya natin. Bahagi ng opportunities na ito ay ang pagbibigay sa atin ng lakas to stand on our own, makapagbenta directly sa mga mambabasa, at akuin ang mas malaking kita sa mga libro dahil dito. We are now our own bookstores. The better news is, alam na rin ito ng mga mambabasa. At matapos man ang pandemya, ang sistemang ito ay hindi na mawawala. Tandaan lang na  patuloy tayong makiramdam, maging bukas at wag matakot sa mga pagbabago.

In terms of the types of books we publish, applicable din ito. Wag tayong basta magpakulong sa nakasanayan nang standards sa pag-uri ng mga kuwento. Unang-una sa pamantayan namin dati sa Visprint para sa mga tatanggaping kuwento ay kung nag-enjoy ba kaming basahin itong kuwento tungkol sa mga Pilipino. Regardless of genre, category, o format. May mga nagsabing kakaiba daw ang mga librong inilabas namin. Pero wala naman akong nakikitang kakaiba sa desisyong piliin ang mga librong gugustuhin ding basahin ng ibang tao. Tsaka na lang namin pinroblema kung saang category ba sasakto ang mga libro.

We are in the creative business. Let us be creative and innovative in finding our ways to succeed, in solving our problems, and in our business journey.

Another business principle I hold on to is to always engage in a “mutually beneficial transaction and relationship”. 

Sa totoo, una ko itong nakita sa print costing letter na pinadadala ng Visprint sa mga kliyente nito para sa printing press: “We look forward to a mutually beneficial business relationship with you.” ‘Yan ang closing statement sa lahat ng sulat na ipinadadala. Tila ba pagpapaalala sa magkabilang panig na anuman ang maging transaksyon nila, dapat na pareho silang makinabang. Dapat na may bigayan, walang lamangan. Kapag may mga dapat pagdesisyunan, hindi lang ang pansariling kapakanan ang titingnan. Siguruhing ang tagumpay mo ay hindi ikapapahamak ng kabila. And through the years, the partners we have had the most successful businesses with are those who have been considerate of our situation, and those who we have extended considerations to. Dahil kapag bukas sa pagbibigayan ang dalawang partido, hindi lang kayo magkaramay sa paglutas ng problema, magkasalo din kayo sa tagumpay.

Ngayon sa Avenida, kailangan na naming magpaimprenta ng aming mga libro, di gaya dati sa Visprint na in-house ang printing. Isa ito sa mga bagong proseso na kailangan kong gawin sa pagsasarili ng publishing house. Nakakapanibago, at nakakanerbyos sa umpisa, ang kawalan ng malaking control sa production ng libro.  May ilang imprenta kaming sinubukan, at sa ngayon ay mayroon na rin kaming suki. Hindi sila ang pinakamalaki o may pangalan, pero sila ang nakakuha ng aming tiwala dahil ramdam mo ang concern nila na mapagbuti ang kalidad ng libro. Excited sila kapag may gusto akong bagong subukan o gawin sa libro. Mas madali kasi para sa karamihan na sabihin lang na, “Di namin ginagawa yan” kaysa samahan kami sa paghahanap ng paraan.

Pinaka-applicable ang prinsipyong ito sa mga authors at komikeros na nakakatrabaho namin. Kung wala sila, wala kaming librong gagawin at pagkakakitaan. Walang negosyo. Mahalaga na may tiwala sila sa amin, hindi lang sa kakayahang mabuo at maibenta ang libro nila, kundi ang tiwala na pinapahalagahan namin sila, at kinikilala ang laki ng role, at the same time, ng responsibility nila, sa ugnayang ito. That way, we both exert our best in every book that we publish.

Sakop din nito ang pakikipagtransakyon sa iba’t ibang suppliers, designers, editors at ahensya. Hangga’t kakayanin, we try to give them what is due. Lagi nating ine-aim na maging global ang standard ng mga trabaho natin. Kaakibat ng pagtataas na ito ng kalidad ng ating produkto, kailangang itaas din natin ang respeto at pagkilala sa talent ng mga creative workers natin sa pamamagitan ng pagbabayad ng tama at on time sa kanila.

Kapag ramdam ng lahat ang kahalagahan nila, at ang lahat ay nakikinabang, mas marami tayong mapapagtagumpayan.

At ang pinakahuling pinaniniwalaan kong gabay ay “ok lang magtanong at humingi ng tulong.”

We were made to believe that everyone else with the same business as ours is a competitor. That by asking and seeking help, we become inferior. That helping other publishers will make them better than we are. Or that we’ll lose sales by doing so. Fake news po yan.  It is ok to seek help and to give help. 

Hindi lang iilang beses na may mga sistemang naituwid at naiayos sa ating industriya dahil may isang nagtanong o nagkuwestiyon ng kalakaran. Taxes, government procedure, o malakihang event man. One question will lead to discovering that it is actually a shared concern by most, if not all.  At dahil doon ay nagkaroon ng pagkakaisang tugunan ito at ayusin. Mayroon at mayroong makikinig, sasagot, at tutulong.

Kaya nga ganun na lang ang tiwala ko sa kakayahan ng TIPC na palaguin ang mga independent publishers na kasapi nito. At higit pa rito, sigurado akong dahil sa pagbubuklod na ito, marami kayong mabubuksang mga bagong paraan at kakayahan, mga lumang sistemang maitatama o maiaayon sa pagbabago ng panahon, at maituturo sa mga matagal na at matanda na sa industriya ng publishing. Kayo ang bagong dugong dadaloy at lalong magpapanagana sa mga aklat ng Pilipino. Humayo kayo.

Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.

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

Vox Populi PH Joins CCP’s PPE: Performatura Pandemic Edition 2021

Authors from Vox Populi PH will be reading excerpts from their works in this year’s Performatura Performance Literature Festival. This year’s international PPE: Performatura Pandemic Edition will happen on November 22-24, 2021, from ten o’clock in the morning to ten in the evening. Interested individuals and groups will have access to many much-awaited performances, including Vox Populi PH authors.

This year’s international festival is led by the Festival Director Vim Nadera and Beverly Siy of the CCP Intertextual Division.

Despite the physical constraints of the pandemic, the Cultural Center of the Philippines remains fully committed to bringing the best of our nation’s literature, history, and culture closer to Filipinos. Therefore, Performatura Pandemic Edition will be showcasing poetry readings, spoken word competitions, musical presentations, dance dramas, theatrical shows, and storytelling events. This year’s theme is “Aking Adhika Makita Kang Sakdal Laya.”

Vox Populi PH final event poster featuring the publication’s suite of young authors.

Vox Populi PH, a youth writing organization with digital and print publication and broadcast arms, has weathered various storms brought by the pandemic and remains firmly committed to bringing the best youth writing in the Philippines to more readers.

Aligned with the organization’s overall aim of nurturing young writers to better function in a landscape that is less than ideal and welcoming to free expression, Vox Populi PH authors shall be holding readings of various works. This year’s participants are Aidan Reuel Bernales (spoken word poetry), Marius Carlos, Jr. (essay reading), Maria Kristelle Jimenez (story reading), Jay-ar Paloma (poetry reading), Annalyn Biagtan (story reading), Julienne Maui Mangawang (poetry reading), and Karl Patrick Wilfred Suyat (essay reading). “Nag-umpisa ang Lahat sa Isang Tinig” will be performed by Rebo Press’ resident graphic artist, Gwynette Ivory Marbella. The books that authors will be reading have also been exhibited at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

Performatura is by no means a stranger to the independent writing and publishing scene. According to the editor-in-chief of Vox Populi PH and Rebo Press founder, Maria Kristelle Jimenez, she first attended Performatura in 2018, where she was welcomed with open arms by Festival Director Vim Nadera and CPP’s Beverly Siy as she helped exhibit several zines by up-and-coming youth writers from that era in her career as a serial indie publisher and organizer. She was told to “keep going” and “hold the line” for young creatives who wanted to learn the craft further and eventually publish in various formats in both print and digital.

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