Tag Archives: Rodrigo Duterte

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.

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.

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.