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Let it out, ladies. Let it all out.

Whoa whoa. I was about to make an entry orienting my three-year old son on Philippine cosmology and something came up. Clicking on a link elsewhere on this page is like opening Pandora's box. The term was passe, I know, but there's a lot that can be made sense out of it. You never know it, but you're sitting on top of a volcano right now.

I was one of those people who submitted to Dean's call for spec fic pieces and got the ax. I let myself bleed upon receipt of the slip and made sure Dean knew about it. The good thing that came out was, I am now officially a writer (which I megaphoned to every soul who critiqued my work prior to Dean) and got an honorable mention on top of that.

I had full knowledge that I will be compensated with two copies of the anthology once accepted, and had planned who I will give them to. I even had a quid pro quo with a writer-friend to give one a copy if one of us turned up. Unfortunately he met the ax too. Money or any freebie was the last thing on our minds, and I am speaking for the two of us. I'm sure every soul who submitted thought of that too. We didn't consider it insulting. If we treat every opportunity such as this as Halley's Comet, we would rather take our shot at immortality than waste a very short life. We wanted to add value to our work and to the Philippine literary scene in general.

If it weren't for my fixed salary right now I'll be a poor and hungry writer. It would be hypocritical to say that I have my safety nets and money has no bearing. It has. Money is money. Call me noble, and all the bromide that you can spray rather than be the proverbial sound of the tree that fell in the forest that nobody heard. I couldn't say anything for the other writers, but this is my anthropocentricity at its finest.

In fairness to Siege he has a valid point, which seems to be the unifying kvetch of the workforce in the Philippines--just compensation. Even highly-paid managers outperform each others' whining scenes day by day. Not that several injustices that it seems to be the norm makes it right, but that's the way it is here. It doesn't take rocket science or even an MBA degree to understand it.

How just is just compensation? My European principals were quiet for three weeks because of their mandatory vacations. In a previous company my Shanghai counterpart receives thrice my salary and Americans have their two-month sabbaticals and my annual gross pay is just their monthly. Yet I still continue my day job, strive for a patent and be a good employee (when I feel like it). If I wait for the Philippine compensation system to reach first world levels I would have been in pajamas and adult diapers and not in shirts and an office cube anymore.

As far as I know Dean is also a businessman, and he will take calculated risks. Producing a spec fic antho would limit it to those who want to read spec fic, which is not a significant chunk of the Philippine population. With a budget of PhP70,000 and an assumption of PhP100 per bookprint, that would produce 700 books. Thirty would be given to the accepted participants gratis, assuming Dean and Nikki would hold off their copies. A markup of PhP30 per book (assuming Siglo: Freedom current price, hardbound at Powerbooks) would produce a paltry PhP17,100 profit, if all 670 books get sold. The assumptions are very arbitrary given the country's inflation performance.

He could have invested his capital in retail treasury bonds and receive 10.75% interest per annum which is a lot less riskier than shelling out on something which assures no guarantee. If the shelves get empty a few weeks after launch, call him lucky. If he promised to share his profits and the antho didn't sell, I'll bet my balls he'll be on the first boat to Surabaya via the Sulu backdoor.

The contribution to this country's social capital, however, is immense, whether we like it or not. I haven't seen anybody uncovering a sector of the literary scene so alive and full of potential that it sits side by side the nationalist paragon unconsciously imposed on us by Rizal's Noli and most Martial Law novels.

And if I follow Siege's argument with the quarterly Warm Bodies which do not offer any compensation at all, and Dean is pond scum to put it in a Julia Roberts line, we editors are the bacteria lower than pond scum.

Did Rizal consider just compensation for his bulky Noli that could have saved him from execution instead had he padded his back with it? And would he write tomes considered a Spanish grammarian's nightmare that will snuff his life in the first place? What about prison stuff like Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Marquis de Sade's Justine? Surely no one would buy and recompense these convicts during those times.

Time. That's the keyword there. Dean's, Danton Remoto's and other literati's endeavors, no matter the compensation are Philippine literature's watershed today and we're keeping up. We're undergoing what the authors of Kama Sutra and Alice in Wonderland experienced in the past, and I'd rather sacrifice, nay, volunteer my current work today than never be heard at all. Why wait for perceived justice? It's as frustrating as receiving fire from Prometheus for the first time when the rest of the world is already in Renaissance. Compensation or no compensation, we are too blinded by commercialism that adding value to the social capital is not in our dictionary anymore. We're too afraid to circumnavigate the earth unless we are assured that we won't fall off its edge, and a palliative that it is indeed round.

One can consider it prostituting or theoretical rape, but the argument there is its consensual nature. I chose to submit my piece and was not turned off by what Dean had to offer the instant he announced the call. In my opinion, the value-add far outweighs the compensation. Who said having a day job is like whoring when you willingly applied for it in the first place?

“Let it out, ladies. Let it all out.”

  1. Anonymous banzai cat Says:

    Damn it, you said it better than I ever could, complete with data pa! Heh. I bow to your excellent reasoning. (Will link this to my post, okay?)

  2. Anonymous banzai cat Says:

    Damn it, you said it better than I ever could, complete with data pa! Heh. I bow to your excellent reasoning. (Will link this to my post, okay?)

  3. Anonymous banzai cat Says:

    Akkk! Double post! Sorry.

  4. Anonymous Dean Says:

    Thanks ;)

  5. Anonymous mcvie Says:

    I only have two words to say: WRITE ON!