Reviews and Reactions: Zines from #Zinezoned3

I wrote about the experience in the #ZineZoned3: Iloilo Zinefest 2017 last time, and now here are my reactions to the few zines I bought during the event. I think next time I should buy as much as I can afford because from a librarians' perspective these are rare materials that would be difficult to acquire in the future. I also think that zines showcase local culture in a more personal and interesting way than traditional print media. Since they are made by the authors in any way they want, the authors and artists can freely express themselves in a genuine way without the dictates of the market or censorship.

As a librarian, we were taught that Filipiniana (books made by Filipino authors, about the Philippines, and Filipino culture in general) are rare materials and if libraries can afford them, they should be a library collection priority. It would be interesting if librarians and libraries also collect zines, which are small self-published efforts that reflect local interest and culture. I just recently discovered the blog and found that in other countries, there is a growing respect for zines and libraries there do collect them. So maybe next time, I'd promote zines to librarians and libraries I know who might be interested. Zines have so much potential and from the zines I saw in the Zinefest, there's a wide variety of zines on almost any subject and anyone can find something interesting.

So here are my reviews/reactions:

You are Beautiful: coloring zine by Maria Clarisse T. Jaro
This zine is my favorite - the poetry is simple yet meaningful, and the drawings are beautiful, and I did color some of the artworks. The short poems are accompanied by a related illustration, and they form a whole story. The first page says, "Dedicated to all the women, you are beautiful!" and I think most girls and women can relate, as we all have probably felt 'ugly' and inadequate compared to standards of beauty bombarded to us by media.

The poems are written from the point of view of someone (an older, more experienced woman perhaps, maybe a mother?) who comforts a girl suffering in the "prison" of the expectation of perfect physical beauty and how we can't reach it - and the imagery is quite powerful - women in cocoons, girls growing butterfly wings yet stay in closed bottles, but in the last illustrations we see her finally accepting herself and embracing her own unique beauty. I like that the drawings aren't that complex to color compared to the extremely complicated patterns of most adult coloring books that can take weeks to get done.

You are more than what you look
You are more than what they say
So wipe away those tiny tears
All will be okay.

Just come and take my hand. 
Can you see what I can see?
Before me is a strong woman.
She looks beautiful to me.

A page I colored 

Radical Dreamers Anthology by lordcloudx
This zine has three short stories. Blackbird is a story about three young boys and narrated by Jerry and his childhood adventures with his friends Joey and Michael. Jerry became fascinated with the Blackbird plane, a war aircraft. Once when they explored an abandoned building, he finds a toy replica of the plane, which eventually causes the three friends to fight. It's a good story about childhood memories and carefree days. The narrator tells the story as a memory, ten years after it happened. The Wonders of Glue is narrated by a woman who is taken back to past memories before television while meditating on the uses of glue.

Unrequited is a story about unrequited love as indicated by the title, and it's the story I find most striking, probably because it's sad. Anyway, since most people whether woman or man (or LGBT, or whatever), have experienced this kind of loss in one way or another, I think many can relate even if the narrator is a guy. I think its a universal experience.

This quote at the beginning quite sets the tone for the whole tale:"I knew in my heart that she has found her happiness - and this was definitely good enough for me. These were my most honest sentiments at that time. However, somewhere inside me - perhaps within the most repressed, most depraved recesses of my psyche, my emotions felt somewhat contradictory. While I felt filled with an overwhelming sense of happiness, there were also some faint feelings of envy and loss within me." 

There were three free visual novels that went with the zine, and it's my first time trying something like this on a phone. I also downloaded some stories/games like these before, but that was a long time ago. It is more entertaining than just reading a plain story since there are visuals, color, and music that accompanies the text and you won't get bored. The stories are amusing, funny, simple yet meaningful, but these are my reactions to the two visual novels I read so far (there are two others that I haven't tried yet):

Samantha and the Pieces of a Heart
Description: "As a "heartless girl," Samantha is on a quest to find the seven pieces of a heart so that she may have her own. Samantha will meet many people from all walks of life in her journey and at the end of it all, she will discover just where the heart truly exists."

This is an interactive visual novel that I really liked. It's a story that both children and adults can enjoy, about a girl named Samantha who is heartless and is on a quest to look for seven pieces of a heart. On the way, she meets other interesting characters and finds the truth about herself. She asks Siri for help and a neighbor who is a doctor suggests people where she can get pieces of her heart. She meets an angry painter in a park, two quarreling sisters, a boy who claims to be a robot due to his body parts being replaced, and a beautiful woman stuck inside a seemingly magical/creepy mansion that exists outside of time. Even if Samantha has no physical heart, we see that she has compassion for all the people she meets and tries to do what she can to help them.
Screenshot form the app
One Week of Eternity
This is about a girl who got into an accident while playing and only has one week to live. Alyssa lived with leukemia for a long time before she was healed. During the incident, she has overheard adults talking that she has only seven days to live. Though, a women tells her that she has "One week of eternity." Alyssa enjoys playing with her friends and she narrates her observations about her family who is trying to keep the truth from her. I found the story quite sad but it ended in a hopeful tone.

You can read the author's website here and download the Samantha and the Pieces of a Heart in Google Play through this link.

Short Literary Pieces by Charlyn Mateo
The author is my friend who convinced me to join ZineZoned in the first place. This contains 3 short stories in Tagalog and a poem. The stories are mainly about motherhood and the love of mothers (including non-biological mothers) of their children, and vice versa. The author is great with the Tagalog language, and though I try to write in Tagalog sometimes I still have to use Google Translate.

The story I like best is Mitera (Greek for 'mother'), and I didn't expect the twist ending. Nanay Maam is about a teacher encouraging and helping a poor student reach his potential, and Unang Sahod is about a daughter thanking her deceased mother and celebrating 'unang sahod' at the cemetery. Though my only comment is the title should have reflected the content! Overall, its a short, inspiring read and a must-read for mothers (and their kids).

You can read her other stories and novels under her Wattpad pseudonym, Seshate Matthews.

Party Animal by Alahna Sy, illustrated by Katreena Enriquez
At first I was attracted by the cover which has a sleeping white cat, which reminded me of our cat. The personal poetry was touching and I love the minimalist illustrations in their pastel colors. I liked the poems "Anxiety" and "Notes on Mourning." It also contains two poetic prose pieces. The zine has an excellent design and a simple feel, overall.

Pinoy Banana and Paper Jam: a poetry collection and portable workshop by Anna Slater and Jam Lebrilla
The 'portable workshop' in the title made me curious, and it contained poems, illustrations, and drawing and writing activities to try. The poems I like best are "The storm" and "Doing nothing."

Com[mute]: tales told in transit by Mae Sheilou L. Conserva
A collection of poetry and prose inspired by bus travels. My favorite poems are "An art exhibit and a walk," a short poem about a couple on a date, "Ode to that roadside mass grave," on the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, and "Forgetting something," which is about remembering someone you already moved on from. pa.SA.kay, mga binalaybay ni Michael Caesar Tubal, gindibuho ni Gil Montinola
This is the only zine I bought in Hiligaynon, and it made me want to read more works in our native tongue. These poems are inspired by the author's thoughts during long bus rides. The poem I like best was "Magalong" (Noisy) which has a spot-on description of the stress of commuting in jeepneys and buses. I laughed at "Para sa Tisay nga tupad ko sa bus." "Sa Pagpauli sa Dueñas" describes the various interesting scents that assault the smell in commuting, with the different people and all the things they're carrying inside buses.

Its a short and sweet read with amusing drawings - and perfectly illustrates the Pinoy experience of public transport. In jeepneys and buses we see a slice of everyday life and ordinary people, and in the waiting time between somewhere to somewhere there's a lot of memories, ideas, and insights that can run through your head and observing passengers come and go can keep you from boredom.
As for my zine, I am sending the last copy to a friend in Luzon. But a second printing is on the way since friends reserved copies. As for my next zine, I'm deciding whether to do an inspirational non-fiction zine, a poetry collection, or a novella. Or maybe all three?

Zine cover pictures from the Iloilo Zinefest Facebook page.

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  1. Thank you for the reviews of my stories. I'm always grateful for any honest feedback of my works from someone who has actually read them. A lot of people are merely consumers nowadays and really fail to see the importance of giving a little something back by communicating their thoughts to the writer.

  2. OMG. I just saw this! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE REVVIIEWWWW <3 <3 <3 SO MUCH LOVE! See you at the next ZINEZONE this year! <3 -CLARISSE

  3. Just saw this while googling myself (kahuluya! hahahaha). Thank you for the good review, Al. Hope you'll join again this year. May zinefest kita during the Mega Book Fair. 😊😊