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Fans line up for hours just to see him, unmindful of the discomfort such an ordeal takes. Girls swoon at the sight of him. Boys sing paeans to him. Many of them try to duplicate his magic with their own pens. This kind of reception is rarely associated with writers, but for Neil Gaiman, literary rock star that he is, Filipino fans will do anything. At the Rockwell Tent in Makati City Wednesday night, hundreds of fans queued as early as 4 in the afternoon to attend the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, where Gaiman, the man behind the popular Sandman graphic novels, was a special guest. Most, if not all, were hoping to be among the 100 lucky people who will have their Gaiman books and graphic novels signed by the celebrated British author. It was Gaiman’s third visit to the Philippines, and the audience, old and new alike, erupted into giddy screams when he finally went onstage, wearing his customary black jacket. For this particular event, Gaiman was garbed with the same jacket he wore at the Oscars.The custom-made jacket, which Gaiman modeled for the audience, featured sew-through buttons and was obviously a nod to “Coraline," the popular Gaiman book that was brought to the big screen and nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film of the Year in the 2010 Academy Awards. Poems Before the awarding, Gaiman read two of his poems: “Locks" and “Relig Odhrain." “Locks" begins with what could be Gaiman’s motto, “We owe it to each other to tell stories"; “Relig Odhrain, which is still unpublished, is inspired by a Scotland legend. Introducing the second poem, Gaiman said he is much more likely to read strange works of history and legend than fiction. Graphic/Fiction Awards The Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards is the brainchild of Gaiman and Jaime Daez, managing director of the specialty bookstore Fully Booked. The two met at a comics convention in San Diego in 2003. “He did not know me from Adam. I approached him very awkwardly... and I just blurted out 'I'm a Filipino! Can you come to Manila?'" recounted Daez in his introduction during Wednesday night’s event.
Gaiman took notice, not only because of Daez’s impromptu invitation, but also because of the e-mails he had been receiving from the Philippines asking him to come to Manila. A plan to come up with a competition for budding fantasy writers and comics illustrators was then hatched. “I talked to Jaime Daez, and we decided it was time to start a competition, and I would put out the money, and he would do all the heavy lifting," he said. The first Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards was held in 2006 with only two categories, Prose and Comics. For this year, two new categories were added: Short Film and the People’s Choice Award, which is sponsored by Pelicola.TV. Anthology Like in the past, winners in this year’s Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards were compiled in an anthology. “A lot of them were very good. It was difficult for us to choose," said internationally acclaimed Filipino comics illustrator Gerry Alanguilan, who was among the judges for the contest. Excerpts from the anthology were read by Wawi Navarozza of The Late Isabel, Gabby Alipe of Urbandub, Quark Henares of Us-2 Evil-0, and Nyko Maca. Several signed copies of the Anthology featuring this year's winning entries were sold at the end of the evening. Christelle Mariano, the grand prize winner and 2nd runner-up for the People’s Choice Awards for Prose, said that although she was hoping to win, she didn’t really think she would. She said she joined the contest because she was prodded by her friends. “Before, I didn’t really have the confidence to enter competitions. Now I know I have the chops," she said. Manuel ‘Manix’ Abrera, whose entry ‘I See’ was recently launched by Visprint Inc., was happy to have been acknowledged as the Grand Prize Winner for Comics even if he couldn't bring the bacon home, as rules specified that entries must be unpublished for the contest duration. There was no Grand Prize Winner for this year’s Short Film Category, as none of the entries garnered enough marks to make the cutoff. The Sandman’s words Gaiman displayed an impressive familiarity with the winning works, saying a few words about each. “’Cherry Clubbing’ is a monologue, the voice is really, really good, and it's really seriously nasty. It's the only story I've ever read in which, halfway through, ‘Oh I've got it, he's a pedophile.' And then I read, and no, it's so much worse than that." “’Remembrance’: It's a glorious little story about death and what we take with us when we go. Beautifully written, haunting, incredibly depressing and incredibly uplifting, a combination of these two things at once is what made this story beautiful." “’Filipina: The Supermaid’: Funny, angry, nice solid, futuristic science fiction... a lovely piece of work." “’A Kind of Flotsam’: Every now and then, you think that you've seen it all, it's really the story of a life of somebody either blessed or cursed with telepathy and she says something new, and it's really very beautiful, very very moving, and I think at the end, there's a moment at the end which for me, I just thought it's glorious that the idea that really, what unites us at the end is connection. Beautifully done, and very very much deserving." “’Love at Last Sight’: Really well-drawn, well-written way. A lovely little tale in which the way the story is told is as interesting as the story. We begin with essentially a murder mystery, and a woman who may not actually be blind but is wearing dark glasses pretending to be blind for some reason, and the revelation of that completely makes us rethink everything else that happens in the story." “’Douglas’: Very straightforward story, a meditation on what it's like to have a family member with Down's syndrome, you would think it would be depressing, and actually, the way that she told it is incredibly authentic and beautiful...using simple drawing styles to do a lot more." “’I See’: A glorious glorious work. It plays around with what comics can do and what we see initially as a little girl in the story and it spins off from there. It's glorious." - KBK, GMANews.TV
Short List for Prose Category 1. Babymakers by Laura Jermina R. Abejo 2. Leg Men by Dominique Gerald Cimafranca 3. Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu (3rd prize) 4. The Sweet Stranger by Michael A.R. Co 5. A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano (1st runner up People's Choice Award, Grand Prize) 6. Won't You Be My Friend, Mr. Faceless Creature of Evil? by Karlos de Mesa 7. The Street Child and the Dwarf by Diabelle Joy M. Pazcoguin (2nd runner up People's Choice Award) 8. Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento (Grand Winner People's Choice Award, 2nd Prize) 9. Remembrance by Dean Alfar (3nd prize) 10. Pursuit of the Litaniera by Elyrose G. Punsalan Short List for Comics Category 1. Traffick by Alarice A. Francisco (2nd runner up People's Choice Award) 2. Raisinhead: A Tale of a Modern-Day Tiyanak by Christian Oliver A. Cruz (1st runner up) 3. The Revolutionary by Kevin Justin T. Ang 4. Hunger by Jeremiah D. Faustino and Norman Jim Faustino (Grand Winner People's Choice Award) 5. Mekanix by Romir Sucaldito and Jhem Manalang 6. (Love) at Last Sight by Heubert Khan Michael (3rd prize) 7. Douglas by Genevieve Go (2nd prize) 8. I See by Manuel Abrera (would have been Grand Prize winner) Short List for Short Film Category 1. Lost and Found by Jethro Trogo and Gharawi Usman 2. Squatters in Mars by Rommel Sales (3rd prize) 3. Anak ng Tikbalang by Desiree Ann Samson (1st runner up People's Choice Award) 4. Blogog by Rommel Tolentino 5. Black Worms by Khavn dela Cruz 6. Panibugho (Jealousy) by Alvin Yapan 7. Takot Ako by Jules Dan Katanyag 8. Kumot ng Panaginip by Jedd Chris Dumaguina (Grand Winner People's Choice Award, 2nd prize) 9. Embrace by Ronnie Sapinoso (2nd runner up People's Choice Award) 10. Kulob by Camille Jensen Hirro and Liezl Ortacio
Winners in the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards