Writing is Resistance: Rebo Press to Award Esperma Book Grant and Launch Seven New Titles

Rebo Press announces the First Esperma Book Grant awarding ceremonies and book launch to be held online on June 25, 2022, via Rebo Press YouTube channel and Facebook page.

After two years since the call for submissions, the Esperma Book Grant, the annual book grant founded by Rebo Press, is set to award six authors and titles finalized from a total of 7 authors with 7 book titles who participated in the call for submissions.

Included in the roster of awardees from the English Division are Ace Bagtas for the novelette “Megan, or Podcast in Space,” Gab Angeles for the short story collection “Mother’s Daughter,” Carlou Espedillon for the short story collection “Takoyaki Boys and Other Stories,” and Joharah Galvez for the short story collection “An Endless Signal and Other Stories.”

Meanwhile, the awardees for the Filipino Division are Iza Maria Reyes for the personal essays “Minsan, Kadalasan”, Marren Araña Adan for the novelette “Pagkakatha ang nasa Gitna ng mga Alternatibong Pagtakas at Tangkang Pagbabalik”, and R.B. Abiva for the novelette “Aripuen: Isang Nobeleta”.

Meeting a common theme being works of combative literature, the titles stood out as finalists of the book grant where Maria Kristelle Jimenez, founder of Rebo Press, said that there is a greater need to champion the most promising youth writers of today as the country faces even more significant threats to the Filipinos’ democratic rights, including their rights to expression and dissent.

This is in line with Esperma Book Grant’s mission to help young writers leverage against the limitation of traditional and academic publishing by providing them a renewed platform and an opportunity to be published by an independent press in the Philippines.

The Esperma Book Grant awarding ceremonies featuring the works of young writers at a time when the country faces a massive threat to its democracy with another Marcos set to take the post as the president is a testament to the youth’s undying will and effort to fight back through writing.

Indie publishing under a Marcos regime

50 years ago, during the Martial law era, there was no way for writers, journalists, publishers, and the media to stay true to their sworn duty of being state watchdogs without risking their lives. It was a time when media ownership grew further monopolistic and concentrated in the hands of a few individuals or families connected to the Marcos family.

It was tactical. For a dictator to keep his power for a long time, there should be no press freedom. A dictator understands that the media is a vital feature of a functioning democracy—so he must kill it. Marcos Sr. knew the pivotal role of the media in manipulating the people’s consciousness, so he made sure to control their access to information and created a huge network of misinformation and disinformation peddlers to manipulate the people’s consciousness to lean towards his fascist rule and suppress revolutionary thinking.

A tradition of resistance

Marcos Sr’s tactics to manipulate the consciousness of the people did not totally work… at least at that time. At the forefront of the fight against media suppression are the youth writers who exhausted all means to deliver information despite all the attacks, as seen with the rise of Mosquito Presses by underground writers to counter the media suppression, the horrors of the Martial Law and the Marcos dictatorship, and the misinformation and disinformation propagating in the country. Little but with a stinging bite like a mosquito, this is how this alternative press can be best described.

However, 50 years later, the continued historical distortion, miseducation, and propagation of misinformation and disinformation paid off for the Marcos family as Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the dictator, is set to take the post as the next president of the Philippines…and there is a huge possibility for the horrors of the history to be repeated.

Indie publishing under another Marcos regime

At a time of an impending restoration of the Marcoses’ political power in the country, there is a greater need for the tradition of resistance among writers and publishers to live on as considerable contributors to upholding the truth, democratic rights, and welfare of the Filipinos.

Adapting lessons from mosquito presses and underground writers during the Martial Law years, mainly composed of young writers with nothing to lose but their lives for democracy, indie publishers and writers of today’s generation serve the same purpose of standing as vanguards of truth and resistance.

With this, Rebo Press continues to call for more authors to come out bearing an organized and steadfast resistance against what the people envision as upcoming dark days ahead for the country.

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