Ricco Villanueva Siasoco knows a good lede when he writes one: “Viva wants her boobs back”. So starts the first story in this debut collection.
In a welcome development for new voices and regional literature, Penguin Southeast Asia began publishing in Singapore in May. Among its first titles are two collections of short stories, The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew, and Cursed and Other Stories by Noelle Q De Jesus.
The Foley Artist: Stories is the much-awaited debut by Ricco Villanueva Siasoco—an incisive, probing work for fans and readers of the Filipino America brought vividly to life in the fiction of Elaine Castillo and Mia Alvar.
Asians, in general, need little convincing that the United States is, if not an empire per se, at least imperial. The title of How to Hide an Empire might therefore be seen as an attempt at irony.
Little-known outside the Philippines, and if this recital is anything to go by, undeservedly so, kundiman is a form of traditional Filipino love song that was developed into art song in the early 20th century, in particular by Filipino composers Francisco Santiago (1889-1947) and Nicanor Abelardo (1893-1934).
“I think we are stuck in someone else’s movie,” says co-protagonist Chiara Brasi early on in Insurrecto, telegraphing the framing device for Gina Apostol’s new novel. Chiara, filmmaker, daughter of an artsy filmmaker, daughter of an heiress, golden-haired devotee of Hermès bags and sunglasses, has come to the Philippines to research a movie. She needs help, and finds Magsalin, a returned-expat Filipina writer and teacher.
“I saw my first dead body on November 9, 2013. He was five. He was lying in the rubble of a demolished church that had entombed eight of its faithful in Tacloban City, the ville-martyr of this impoverished region in the Philippines where a violent typhoon had hit only a day before.”