Wednesday, June 30, 2010


After scrimping on meals and shit for a couple of months I finally scavenged enough to put a downpayment on my new axe. The boys at the office were pleased as well. Courtesy of a vox metal portable practice fx we plugged her into a set of PC stereo speakers and let her rip. The EMG actives glowed even with just that.

Now to think of a name for the hungry, satanic bitch. It's a toss up between the bride of Dracula, Lucifer's girlfriend or Howard's sexy, sword-swinging she-barbarian.

Behold Schecter's Hellraiser Solo 6 in black cherry. Ain't she a bloodthirsty beaut?

Monday, June 28, 2010


Here's the second part of my interview with The POC Pinoy Pop's Pao Chikiamco. You can read the whole thing here.

Here's a pix of the first book Damaged People (Tales of the Gothic-Punk), still available at bookstores.

Excerpts from the interview with Atty Chikiamco are below.

This is the second part of our interview with Karl De Mesa (Trust Your Black Shirt), editor (of Playboy Philippines, and several anthologies), journalist and horror writer. He recently co-edited the horror anthology Demons of the New Year from Estranghero Press (reviewed here and here), and has a collection of novellas entitled book "News of the Shaman" coming from Visprint Enterprises. He is a part of several bands: a post rock group (Biscochong Halimaw), a stoner metal group (Ninja Empire), and a post beat duo (Gonzo Army). In this portion of the interview, De Mesa speaks about his definition of horror, and the state of the genre in the Philippines, as well as tips for young writers.

What's your personal definition for your type of "horror"? It seems to be, in its own way, just as broad as fantasy or science fiction.
Exactly. For me, I've outgrown the "Creature Fights" sort of horror. What I'm going for with my horror is a cross between gothic punk and transgressive literature, the type where characters might reach enlightenment through a  haymaker, or when their legs are cut off at the knee. It's very Sith.

Is it right to say, then, that horror for you is not a shock and gore thing?
Right, it's about confronting taboos, coming face to face with the unarticulated, the places we simply do not want to tread, because of who we believe we are. Take a look at Japanese horror, as one good example: there's this one movie called "Audition" where a woman is slicing up a man using piano wire. 

Would you say that it's easier for a visual medium such as film to evoke that sort of disturbing emotion in its horror?
Yes, it is easier, but at the same time, I don't think that film can stimulate the other senses--aside from vision and hearing-- in the same way that fiction can. Good fiction can make you smell something, touch it, taste it…  Only good prose can do that.

What about comics? You did one for Demons of the New Year.
Comics are great, especially if a writer finds an artist like Gani (Gani Simpliciano, who drew De Mesa's The Magdalene Fist: Search for the First Edition) who can execute the images in the story. Gani even slices himself up sometimes to get the red "just right"… so yes, I'm trying to avoid having too much of that color in our future collaborations! 

When you're dealing with taboos, with that kind of transgression, you take the reader far beyond their comfort zones. How do you ground them?
You ground them with characters who are real people, with sympathetic concerns and motivations. This is something Philip K. Dick was great at. Even monstrous creatures can have drives that people will understand: hunger, for example, is something we're all familiar with--I used that for my were-dog story in "Tales of Enchantment and Fantasy". Other creatures can be motivated by a need for control, say a Tikbalang in a crime family. The characters can be inhuman, but their motivations can still be human. They may have special needs, but that's still a motivation that can be sympathetic.
I think this is one of the powers of horror: defamiliarization. That can also work to make the central form of a metaphor stronger.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I talked to Atty. Pao Chikiamco, who runs the POC's Pinoy Pop channel and the Rocket Kapre website, a while back and here's that interview. Dang, ganda ng graphics. Mukha ko lang panira hehe. Salamat, Pao!

Excerpts are below.

Karl R. De Mesa (personal blog: Trust Your Black Shirt) is one of the more radical and vocal writers in the Philippine horror scene, a writer who draws from a childhood grounded in urban reality to come up with tales of supernatural horror. His new book "News of the Shaman" from Visprint Enterprises, a collection of novellas, will be out in major bookstores this month. He is also the newly minted Executive Editor of Playboy Philippines, and part of several bands: Biscochong Halimaw, Ninja Empire, and Gonzo Army. He also co-edited Demons of the New Year (which we reviewed here and here) We spoke to him not long ago about his childhood, his beliefs, and his writing process. This is the first part of our interview.

Pinoy Pop: I gather you're a believer in the supernatural? I gather at much from your introduction to Demons of the New Year.
De Mesa: You mean creatures and the like? I used to be very… mixed up, let's put it that way. I mentioned this once in an essay in Likhaan: My parents used to be NPA urban agents. So we used to move around a lot, every three months at the most, sooner if we were spotted by surveillance. It was very tough for a child in that environment to make any friends, so my outlet was a lot of action figures--marami akong G.I. Joe dati, at mga Voltron, Voltes V, Matchbox--and when I got old enough I started gravitating towards the occult. I'd experienced a lot of strange events by then--I'd get sick all of a sudden, or I'd natter on to my parents about the dark man I'd seen in the trees. The first venture I made into organized occult material was a Pranic Healing course, basic energy healing. From there I went on to Tai Chi, meditation, enchanting… I also did research on my own on topics like witchcraft. I joined up with a lot of f*cked up kids who studied a lot of demonology, and I remember when they'd try to summon something there would be this smell, like sulfur or sh*t, and I felt we'd actually brought something over… a few days later, our neighbor seemed to be possessed. 

Were there any repercussions to any of this?
I think we did a lot of harm in those days. One of my later teachers said my aura was black, like I'd done a lot of bad things in the past. But, yes, sometimes these things--say, wishing ill luck on an ex-girlfriend--they come back to you. That's just basic karma.

I take it that not everything you've done counts as "bad stuff"…
After college, before I went into journalism, I supported myself by reading fortunes. I had a knack for divination, as it turns out.

Did you tell your customers the truth?
Not all the time. It was hard. Women would come in and ask questions about their boyfriends and husbands and ask me when the cheating would stop… and while you can see some stuff clearly, others you can't, but they don't want to hear that. Sometimes you make it up as you go along: "avoid donuts" "your lucky number is 72", things like that. It entertained them.

Read the whole of PART 1 here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Fidelis Angela Tan's review of Demons of the New Year (Part 2) is now uploaded at Metakritiko. Check it out!

Here's an excerpt.

I've already begun my review (see part 1) of Demons of the New Year (for mature audiences only; NSFW), the entirely free, entirely online horror anthology from Estranghero Press edited by Karl De Mesa and Joey Nacino. As mentioned, the anthology presents a variety of takes on the concept of "demons", and here are my takes on the remaining nine stories. Spoiler warning still applies, so go check the stories out first.

Eliza Victoria
Salot brings us to the birthing place of horror stories – the “probinsya.” A good portion of the story involves the main character – a girl from the province about to go to the city for college - going over the horror stories she’s heard from friends and family. These stories are strange little blurbs about sighting apparitions and hearing voices in the night – the kind of stories we’ve all heard before, from maybe a family member or friend, and which more often than not take place outside the safeties of big cities.

The main character gripes over these stories – they’re part of an absurd, backwards culture she’s ready to ditch. But just as she’s about to leave all those old superstitions behind, the old superstitions (in typical horror story fashion) come to her. This is when the story takes a sharp turn for the unexpected – the salot, the supposed bringers of plague and ill fortune, are not quite what she’s always been told they were, and the way she treats them is far from how other people have.
Salot is a sweet read, and the suggestion that the things that go bump in the night might have much more to them than the probinsya-type horror stories suggest, is in itself enough to make it worth reading.

The Different Degrees of Night
Don Jaucian
The Different Degrees of Night is a thickly narrated, sensual read. It transports the reader to a mysterious city where shadows run deep and cold and things like comfort or beauty are hard to come by and difficult to keep.

There are two demons here – one is a strange shape-shifting creature which the main character encounters at various points in his life. There’s little that is revealed about this creature, except that it always brings wide-scale disaster and that it seems to be following the main character around – even appearing (possibly) as an attractive human being.

The other demon is the city itself, where the dregs of society seem to gather to die. As the story says, “Every shadow in the city has a name. In every corner, every alley and every murky divehole of this city lives these forsaken beings, whose only meaning of existence rests in their ability to resuscitate the city’s flatlining vitality. It’s not a complicated equation. They live, fend off for their lives and the city takes back whatever’s left of them, if they’re lucky enough not to kill themselves.”

This is a story less about the ‘scary’, and more about the feeling of slow decay – something the reader gets to feel every step of the way.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The shaman is here. The ceremony begins now. NEWS of the SHAMAN, released under Visprint Enterprises, will  be available in all major bookstores next week. Hope you can check it out, biblio-ghouls : ) 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The hexing side of The Craft, according to Mang Edol, is divided into three major techniques: barang, gaway and paktol. Over at POC's Buhay Pinoy channel scribbler Dennis Villegas went to Siquijor and sought out the arguably most popular and powerful sorceror on the island.

This is pretty decent, efficiently verite reportage, if not of the new journ/gonzo caliber. All in all an illuminating read. His complete interview can be read here.

Here's some excerpts.

Witchcraft and sorcery are alive and well here on the island of Siquijor,Philippines. This mystical island is considered the navel of sorcery and magic in the Philippines---in this place, I found that it was never a question of whether these sorcerers exist or not, but rather if their powers are truly effective or not.
In particular, I was constantly hearing about this powerful sorcerer who lives in one of the remote villages of Siquijor, whose name is invariably mentioned by residents whenever sorcery is being discussed -- Mr. Alberto "Manong Edol" Baroro.
I decided to meet Manong Edol and perhaps interview him and photograph his work, if he permits it. Incidentally, my habal-habal driver, Johnson, frequently transported clients to Manong Edol’s house. When I told Johnson my intention to meet Manong Edol, he arranged a late afternoon meeting between me and the Siquijor sorcerer.
It was a rainy late afternoon last April 1 when I met Manong Edol. He lives in the little uphill village of Cang-Atuyom, on the slopes of the mystical Mount Bandilaan in the town of San Antonio, Siquijor. Mount Bandilaan is the highest point and dead center of Siquijor island.
The house where Manong Edol lived was accessible only through a narrow dirt path from the unasphalted main road. The path was an alternating upward and downward slope that, when it rained like it did that day, became very slippery. After several minutes of rough climbing and descending, we finally spotted the house of Manong Edol, a structure made of wood and concrete, surrounded by huge trees.
In front of Manong Edol’s house was a garden planted with various kinds of shrubs and herbs. I noticed that the house was isolated. The nearest neighbor was one we passed by earlier, some two kilometers away.


Fidelis Angela Tan has done an excellent review of DEMONS OF THE NEW YEAR over at The POC's Pinoy Pop channel. You can read the complete text here. You can still check out the DNY antho here. Salamat ng marami! 

Below is an excerpt from Tan's review.

Demons of the New Year (for mature audiences only), the entirely free, entirely online horror anthology fromEstranghero Press edited by Karl De Mesa and Joey Nacino is worth perusing just to get a taste of a different kind of horror. These are not the kind of stories where you take a bunch of “good people” (pure-hearted, or at least innocent people), pit them against the forces of darkness (the “demons”) and then count on the light of day to save them in the end.
Instead, the anthology (which features short stories, a comic and a hypertext fiction piece) comes with a variety of perspectives on ‘demons’, tackling the idea in a multitude of twisted, sometimes subversive ways. We’re familiar enough with the faces of the demonic – we know them as ghosts, or aswangs, or those creatures that crawl out of Biblical Hell. But the stories show demons don’t just belong to the night – they’re hiding behind religious icons, or at desks in multi-national corporations, or in karaoke bars, or in the walls of old buildings, or old cities. More importantly, they aren’t the kind of demons one can exorcise with prayers and good intentions.