Tag Archives: philippines

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.

Interview in The Eldon Review

4 Feb

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My interview with Elizabeth Palmer for The Eldon Review, the University of Portsmouth’s creative writing blog is now live. It’s called ‘Dangerous Segues’ and starts a little bit like this:

Elizabeth Palmer talks to Dr Tom Sykes, Deputy Course Leader for undergraduate creative writing degrees at the University of Portsmouth, about history, reportage, dangerous destinations and how we might define creative writing.

Elizabeth Palmer: Why did you decide to become a creative writing lecturer?

Tom Sykes: About ten years ago when I was working as a freelance writer, I thought I might have some useful ideas that I could pass on to others. I’d always done a lot of thinking about my own creative processes and ‘the craft’ in general. I started a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London with the expectation that I probably wouldn’t get any teaching work until I’d completed the course. But about a year into the PhD, the University of Portsmouth hired me, I think on the strength of my publication record. At that time I was living in Bristol, although I’d grown up in the Pompey area so it seemed fate was drawing me back to this part of the world.

EP: Why did you choose creative writing in particular and not English literature?

TS: My first degree was in English at the University of East Anglia. At that time, UEA was one of the few UK universities that had a creative writing programme, but now you’ll find them everywhere. As part of my studies I was able to take units in journalism and prose fiction writing, which I enjoyed and did pretty well in. Ten years later, when I was applying for PhDs, I was in two minds because I had ideas for dissertations in both creative writing and English. As it happened, I was able to sort of combine the two disciplines at Goldsmiths.

Read the rest of the piece here. 

New op-ed on Duterte in The Conversation

10 Jan

I have an op-ed entitled ‘Duterte: Philippines’ brutal president must be condemned, but the West is guilty of double standards’ in The Conversation. The comments section has become a bit heated, as comments sections tend to. (Illustration on this post by the highly talented Louis Netter).

Not since the grim Marcos era have Western commentators been so interested in the Philippines. Their focus is the country’s brutal and boorish president, Rodrigo Duterte, whose gruesome anti-drug campaign – death toll: 20,000+ so far – should be condemned by any rational, humane person.

But some of these Western critics ignore or understate the role of Western policy in helping to create the conditions that birthed “Dutertismo”. They have also simplified Duterte’s erratic policy gestures and not held the Western powers to the same moral standards they expect of his regime.

To read more click here.

Bristol Festival of Literature Appearance 22nd Oct

12 Sep

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I’ll be discussing my new travelogue of the contemporary Philippines, Realm of the Punisher, at the Bristol Festival of Literature on 22nd October. My good friend Mike Manson will be present too, riffing on his new novel Down in Demerara. Click here for tickets and further details.

New Philippines Story in Private Eye

30 Jul

If you go down the newsagent today you’ll find my latest reporting on the Philippines in Private Eye (under the pseudonym ‘Dr Grim’). The story deals with Duterte’s new war on narcopoliticians and public protests against him, and includes an interview with an activist for indigenous people’s rights who has just been put on his death list. (Picture by Louis Netter).

The Realm of the Punisher Out November

22 Jun

‘At last! A Western journalist/academic writing about the Philippines who has done proper homework and legwork, and who clearly has affection for both the country and its people.’ James Hamilton-Paterson, author of Ghosts of Manila and America’s Boy

In June 2016, Rodrigo ‘The Punisher’ Duterte won the Philippine presidential election. Infamous for his bombastic temper and un-PC wisecracks, he is waging a brutal drug war that has killed an estimated 10-20,000 people so far.

Over the last nine years, British writer Tom Sykes has travelled extensively in the Philippines to understand the Duterte phenomenon, visiting the sites of extra-judicial killings and interviewing friends and enemies of the regime. Sykes witnesses an anti-government demonstration in the capital Manila and journeys to the provincial city of Davao, where Duterte began his crusade against crime using police and civilian death squads.

The Realm of the Punisher also features encounters with slum-dwellers resisting violent eviction, an elderly former sex slave to the Japanese in the Second World War and a public artist who must work while under attack from Maoist rebels.

The past is never far away from these present-day problems and Sykes’ travels to festivals, memorials and a tomb housing an embalmed corpse reveal how key figures in Philippine history – from José Rizal to Ferdinand Marcos – have influenced current affairs.

Funny, tragic, enlightening and uncompromising – and infused with the author’s strong sense of social justice – The Realm of the Punisher is the first major travel book by a Westerner to explore Duterte’s Philippines.

(Design and image by Louis Netter).

Pre-order here.

‘Letter from Manila’ now in Private Eye magazine

22 Jul

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My story about the siege crisis in Marawi, the Philippines is in the current issue of Private Eye magazine, available only in the print edition.

Review published in Social Identities academic journal

20 Apr

My review of The Dasmariñases, Early Governors of the Spanish Philippines by the historian John Newsome Crossley is now available here.

New story on Duterte in Private Eye

15 Jun

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My ‘Letter from Manila’ about Duterte, vigilante crime fighting and spectacularly un-PC jokes is in the next edition of Private Eye, if anyone’s remotely interested.