Tag Archives: philippines

Imagining Manila front cover

1 Jul

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Bloomsbury/I.B. Tauris have come up with this natty front cover for my next book, Imagining Manila, due to be published in April 2021.

What’s it about?

The city of Manila is uniquely significant to Philippine, Southeast Asian and world history. It played a key role in the rise of Western colonial mercantilism in Asia, the extinction of the Spanish Empire and the ascendancy of the USA to global imperial hegemony, amongst other events. Imagining Manila examines British and American writing on the city, situating these representations within scholarship on empire, orientalism and US, Asian and European political history. Through analysis of novels, memoirs, travelogues and journalism written about Manila by Westerners since the early eighteenth century, Tom Sykes builds a picture of Western attitudes towards the city and the wider Philippines, and the mechanics by which these came to dominate the discourse.

This study uncovers to what extent Western literary tropes and representational models have informed understandings of the Philippines, in the West and elsewhere, and the types of counter-narrative which have emerged in the Philippines in response to them.

New Philippines story in current edition of Private Eye

29 Jun

My ninth (I think) article for Private Eye is in the current edition. It’s a brief report on assassinations, media censorship and a draconian new anti-terror bill in the Covid-era Philippines. Only available in the actual papery mag (p. 20), I’m afraid, but worth buying not for my stuff so much as for coverage of topics other outlets don’t go near enough: the ‘revolving door’ between politics and business, corporate skulduggery, pubs (God ‘elp ’em now) etc.

Mention of Realm in ABS-CBN News

16 Jan

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My latest book The Realm of the Punisher was cited in this intriguing article on the Philippine news site ABS-CBN on the connections between the Marcos and Duterte families by Miguel P Reyes.

Appearance at Bristol Festival of Literature on 23rd October

18 Oct

‘Everyone has been nearly everywhere’, wrote Jan Morris. This has provided a new challenge to the travel writer: how to find a new angle on a familiar destination? The answer lies with alternative travel writing.

Two alternative travel writers discuss their very different work. They talk about what they’ve written, how they write, their influences and what they’ve learnt.

Doors open at 6.30pm.

Speakers
Over the last nine years, British writer Tom Sykes has travelled extensively in the Philippines to write Realm of the Punisher, the first major travel book by a Westerner to explore Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency of the country. Tom, to understand the Duterte phenomenon, attended crime sites, met with dissidents on government ‘death lists’ and interviewed friends and enemies of ‘The Punisher’ – as he’s known – in politics, the media, the arts and the third sector. Sykes witnesses anti-government demonstrations in the capital Manila and visits the provincial city of Davao, where Duterte began his draconian crusade against crime using police and vigilante death squads.

Mike Manson’s most recent novel Down in Demerara, (Tangent Books) features Felix Radstock, a man plucked from his humdrum job and dispatched to the forbidden rainforest of Guyana on a mysterious assignment. Set in 1999, Down in Demerara is a funny, charming and quirky tale of self-realisation through love, friendship and fear.

Book tickets here.

Walden Bello on the Rise of the Global Far Right

22 Sep

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The world renowed sociologist, environmentalist and political activist Walden Bello will be discussing the global rise of the far right in the context of the climate emergency, globalization, imperialism, dependency and world capitalism. A veteran of movements protesting the Vietnam War, the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines and the US campaign against Chile’s Salvador Allende, Prof Bello has been described as “one of the most articulate and prolific voices on the international left” who “has devoted most of his life to fighting imperialism and corporate globalization.” His latest book is Paper Dragons: China and the Next Crash (Zed Books).

Prof Bello will be hosted by the Culture and Conflict research group at the University of Portsmouth and introduced by Dr Tom Sykes, Senior Lecturer at UoP and author of The Realm of the Punisher, a ‘political travelogue’ of the contemporary Philippines.

Admission free but please book a ticket through Eventbrite here.

Realm of the Punisher Now Available as Kindle Ebook

29 Jul

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Signal have released a Kindle ebook version of The Realm of the Punisher. Here is what some of the reviewers on Amazon have said about the book so far:

‘Sykes as writer is about total experience – how does the sum total of this place – the geography, the history, the urban rural divide, the economics, the social fabric, the individuals, the politics, the eventual President – how does it all come together?’

Paul Valentine

‘Sykes is an entertaining and illuminating writer. As well as serious analysis there are laugh out loud moments. I’d recommend The Realm of the Punisher to anyone who wants to understand what is going on in the world today.’

M. S. Manson

‘Read this not knowing a thing about the Philippines, and not planning to visit. I was expecting to last a few chapters, but it’s written in such a way that it’s engaging and relevant and very readable.’

Anonymous reviewer.

You can buy it here.

Good review of Realm of the Punisher in TLS

1 Jul

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Michael Vatikiotis has reviewed Realm of the Punisher positively in the current TLS (Times Literary Supplement). It’s always reassuring when you try to do something ambitious in writing and an informed reader ‘gets it’.

The article is here behind a paywall, here are some quotes:

‘Tom Sykes’s account of his rambling road trip through the country, The Realm of the Punisher, offers a serious and at times tragic corrective. He conveys in an affectionate, unpatronizing tone the many layers of injustice that run through the Philippines, and uses interviews and site visits to try to explain the eccentric ways and popular appeal of its more muscular leaders.’

‘Sykes cuts through these contradictions with a mixture of casual English aplomb and raw socialist idealism.’

‘Sykes stumbles on one of the more fascinating ironies of the modern Philippines: the appeal of rich strongmen using guns and goons to poor people living desperate and deprived lives. ‘

Realm of the Punisher Review in The London Magazine

2 Apr

Pleased that Georgina Monk’s review of The Realm of the Punisher in The London Magazine appreciates my aim to infuse a travel narrative with reflections on nationalism, populism, imperialism, Orientalism and some other ‘isms’ as they relate to the Philippines. Read it by clicking on these words here.

Cover picture by Louis Netter.

Witnessing the World event

11 Feb

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Star & Crescent and Bookfest 2019 present: Witnessing the World: Reportage, Academic Research, Art and Fiction Based on Real Events and Real Lives

The Menuhin Room, Portsmouth Central Library

Thursday, 28 February 2019 from 19:00-21:00

A panel of experienced writers and artists who have captured real-life people, places and events in their work share all the tricks of their trade, discussing style, structure, voice, investigative ethics and research methods. The evening will include a caricature-drawing demonstration and some writing activities. The panellists will cover a wide range of topics from American fan culture to folklore in rural Oxfordshire, Donald Trump to the drug war in the Philippines, the Northern Irish Troubles to contemporary Guyana.

Featuring:
Louis Netter, reportage cartoonist
Simone Gumtau, researcher into local personal narratives
Amanda Garrie, novelist and folklore researcher
Mike Manson, novelist and historian
Lincoln Geraghty, traveller-academic and fan culture theorist
Graham Spencer, Northern Ireland peace and conflict expert
Tom Sykes, foreign correspondent and travel author

Tickets are £5 and can be purchased in any Portsmouth City Council Library or online here.

My Interview with Gene Alcantara, UK-based Filipino Activist

5 Feb

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In the current online issue of Red Pepper, poet, journalist and community activist Gene Alcantara talks to me about his resistance to Marcos and Duterte, crazed internet trolls and the politics of the Filipino diaspora. Sharp and sleek photos by Alexander Sebley.

Read it here.