M. A. Del Rosario, the author of the first story in PGS 2023, “CAÑAO”, is a dreamer and a storyteller. He is also a published author of short stories and graphic novels, both locally and in the U.S. He likes to make up and draw his stories. He is an advocate of reading. He tells people to go to libraries and bookshops. He lives with his family in a quiet subdivision where fireflies still exist, and where cats question the existence of men. Sometimes he talks to gods lost at sea. He still believes that magic is real. You can visit him at www.paperdrawing.com, and here he is for now generously answering some questions.
Where did the story idea for CAÑAO come from?
The story was supposed to be a part of a book project, an anthology of new myths centered around specific regions in the Philippines. For Cañao, it was the Cordilleras. Sadly, that project never came to pass. The story is about myths falling into obscurity, and about cultures drowning in this sea of modernity. It’s about traditions being forgotten, and how we must look back and remember. I have always been a firm believer that our culture would never be what it is, if not for the myths and traditions that made us who we are. And so, we must preserve it, not only through the institutions who are supposed to care for it, but through each of us as well.
What came easy to you when it came to writing this story?
Nothing, really. It’s a hard story to write. Genre stories are difficult to write, especially if there are allusions to society and culture – especially race. There are ethical and moral sensibilities that you have to take care of. I took into consideration the use of the Igorot gods and their traditions, being respectful, and researching what Cañao was all about. I would always tell myself that what is myth to us is religion to others. I do not want to be offended by criticisms about my beliefs, so I try to give others the same respect.
What was the most challenging thing you had to overcome to complete this story, and how did you deal with that?
Writer’s block, and the news, of course. I think both are connected. I get depressed when I see the sad state of things in the news, on social media. I wake up with writer’s block the next day. It’s a dilemma that I have to go through every time I write a story or draw a comic. So now, I instead block the news and social media whenever I am writing a story. It gets better soon after. I am human after all.
What are the top three writing tips you would like to share with all aspiring storytellers out there?
1. Study your craft. It took me 20 long years just to get to where I am. Life is a learning process. I will forever be a student, and I’m happy that way. It keeps me interested. I’m happy to discover new things along the way.
2. I live by the H. R. rule. HUMILITY and RESPECT. It will help you grow. You’ll learn the craft better.
3. Fail. The greatest teacher is FAILURE. Learn from your mistakes. It’ll make you wiser and stronger. The next time you take on the challenge, you’ll know what to do.
What’s the one thing not mentioned in your profile that you would like people to know about you?
That I love trees and suck at math!