Honest Reviews

by Christine V. Lao

Deborah Sindico


__Pramis, it DA BEST!!!


Larry Biron

Shadow of What it Used to Be

__The bell tower is the oldest structure in the city. It has survived earthquakes and tsunamis, pirate raids, the Philippine-American War, the great wars of the twentieth century, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, it has lost much of its shine, being an unpaid attraction, per local legislation passed in less enlightened times. Now the local government cannot pay for its upkeep and has resorted to less savory measures to “keep it alive,” so to speak.


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PGS 2023 Q&A: Cesar Miguel Escaño

Cesar Miguel “Miggy” Escaño is a father who loves telling bedtime stories to his three sons in their home in Tacloban City, Leyte. Before moving to Tacloban, he was a reporter for BusinessWorld and a teacher at the Ateneo de Manila.

Miggy was a fellow for fiction at the 56th Silliman University National Writers Workshop in 2017 and by the next year, his story, “Little Star,” was recognized with an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards by Philippines Graphic Magazine. His story, “Amira,” was also named Honorable Mention at the 2019 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards by Philippines Graphic Magazine.

Miggy first appeared in The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories Issue I Volume 3 in 2007 with his story “Tuko” that tackled bangungot or dying from a nightmare, which afflicts mostly Asians, especially Filipinos. The tuko or gecko in the story would cry out to alert humans about the unseen and malignant entity that causes bangungot, yet the warnings were ignored. Miggy now returns to Philippine Genre Stories 2023 with the story Sayf Al’Iiman.

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Sayf Al’liman

by Cesar Miguel Escaño

Kashif’s suspicions took seed on the first day of his apprenticeship to Master Djibril, head of Datu Tarruk’s kitchens. His master used a barung, a fighting blade used by Moro tribes, instead of a kitchen knife to cut meat and vegetables.

The barung was the preferred short sword of many Moro warriors who usually carried two swords, one long and one short, into battle. The blade was shaped like an eye opened midway. According to legend, it was shaped this way because of the sword’s speed in combat. It could kill between eye blinks.  When Kashif asked his master if he should also use a similar blade in the kitchen, his master laughed.

“Oh this,” Master Djibril said, lifting the pahon made of carabao horn. He deftly flipped the blade over and pointed the curved pommel bearing a Datu’s family crest toward his apprentice. Kashif recognized the crest of House Hussin. The crest showed two kampilan arranged diagonally, forming an inverted V. The sharp edges of their blades faced each other, joining together at the tip. In the space between the handles was a message inscribed in Arabic: Siufan ‘aqwaa mean.

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PGS 2023 Q&A: Marianne Villanueva

Marianne Villanueva is the author of Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila (a Finalist for the Philippines’ National Book Award 1992), Mayor of the Roses (the inaugural publication of the Miami University Press fiction series), and The Lost Language (published in Manila by Anvil Press). She co-edited, along with poet Virginia Cerenio, the groundbreaking Filipino women’s anthology, Going Home to a Landscape.

Her work has appeared in Manila Noir, Ms. Aligned Vol. 3, Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 9, Growing Up Filipino Vols. 1 and 2, Another Kind of Paradise: Stories from the New Asia-Pacific, Witness, Fourteen Hills, New Orleans Review and elsewhere. And she had collaborated with the composer Drew Hemenger in creating a full-length opera, Marife, about the mail-order bride of Oklahoma bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols.

She currently teaches Creative Writing for UCLA Extension’s Writers Program.  She has also just completed her first novel, White Sails, Green Oceans, about a 16th century Spanish priest who is sent to an island in the central Philippines to fight demons. And has begun her second novel, Farm and Mountain, about the Japanese Occupation of Bacolod, Negros Occidental, during World War 2.

Marianne was published in Philippine Genre Stories in March 2011 with her story The Departure under the guest-editorship of Charles Tan. In 2023 she talks with us a little about her story featured for October, WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME.

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Why Didn’t You Tell Me

by Marianne Villanueva

Ana’s mother moves her head backwards and forwards. Her head is a flower, her neck a stem so fragile it can barely support this flower. There was a typhoon, Ana’s mother says. There was a blackout. I gave birth to you in the dark. The doctors had to use flashlights. It was just after midnight. She adds, almost absentmindedly, Typhoons are always given women’s names, I don’t know why.

Ana wishes there were something more to hold on to. Her mother is dying. Not this very minute, but with each passing day her memory disintegrates a little more. Disintegrates. Ana hates that word. But it is true. And every day that more of her mother’s memory moves away, or disappears, or is lost, the same happens to Ana’s personality, to her childhood. 

They’re in the collection center, aka sanitarium. No one calls them what they really are because it increases people’s anxiety/heart rate and memories get garbled. The mind and the body are interconnected, or at least that’s what the Interceptors aka healers tell us. They’ve been working at their tasks for a long time. I, we, have to believe them.

The same is happening everywhere. In time, everything will be lost. Without a past, who will they be? Memories are spores. Once scattered, they never return.

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