Third time’s the charm: Cebu Zine Fest 2018 - SunStar

Third time’s the charm: Cebu Zine Fest 2018

By Tiny Diapana


ANOTHER year, another zine fest. Fortitude is key to building any sort of community, and now that Cebu Zine Fest has reached its third run at 856 G Gallery it looks like the event has successfully managed to cultivate an impressively mettlesome zine scene.

Growing inwards, this year’s Cebu Zine Fest decided to limit its table to local artists and zinesters, putting off the impulse to send invitations to zine publications abroad.

Table for Sketchbook Challenge Cebu

While this practice of restraint might seem a bit backwards knowing that the first two years of Cebu Zine Fest brought in material from the national and international community, the focus on local material definitely helps encourage the growth of Cebuano identity.

“The zine-making community in Cebu is still at its infancy, at what many considered to be a dying medium. It’s like a baby fish struggling to swim against the current of mainstream publishing and the ephemerality of social media content,” Erik Tuban, the head of Pawn, one of the sponsors of this year’s Cebu Zine Fest, said in an interview with SunStar Weekend.

Pawn’s Erik Tuban and Bradley Tenchavez
Table for zines, chapbooks, and comics from Bathalad and Yoyoy Satiristang Bisaya

“But none of that really matters because it was never a popularity contest or quick money-making scheme in the first place. Foremost, it’s an avenue for self-expression. Although, that may come out as a statement of defeat, I see the opposite,” Tuban continued. “I see a lot of potential for Cebuano zinesters to get creative and come up with exciting stuff that will forge our own Cebuano identity (if there is a thing as such) in the global zine community, which is already on its way gathering momentum as evident in this year’s very varied and mostly art-centric releases.”

Veronika Hipolito
Artist Dylan Briones

And this year definitely featured a lot of quality releases. Artists, groups and publications that joined the event included Joseph Ingking, Jake Orwell G. Madera, Jeffrey Sisican, Alcy Salazar, Cyril Joseph Perez Villarante, Astraberry/SiameseRat, Elna Rizada, Kathryn Layno, Dylan Briones, Hablon: Hugpong Sa Mga Magsusulat Sa Sugbo, Bastinuod, Monster Pirate Crew, Weebong’s Gallery, Sketchbook Challenge Cebu, Jodie Ferrer, Faye Bergonia, Claire, Hika, Meelo Pulvera, Scan My Cangs/ Silliman Fine arts, Van Kevin S. Opura, Josua Cabrera, Pawn/Erik Tuban, Claire Villacorta, Karla Quimsing, Yoyoy Satiristang Bisaya, Mania Magazine, and Angelico John.

856 G Gallery’s Anne Amores
Speaker Claire Villacorta

Claire Villacorta, the woman behind the Manila zine Zinester and a long-time participant of the zine community in the Imperial Capital was invited to speak at this year’s Zine Fest. After giving her presentation about the history of zines in Manila, she couldn’t help but gush over the growing zine scene in Cebu.

“I thought it was amazing that there exists an art space/gallery in Mandaue that can do the fest on a yearly basis. The vibe is relaxed and the space is comfortable and there’s enough room to move about.

Guests checking out zines and other merch
Kathryn Layno at work

Airconditioning is a big plus because outdoor zine fairs tend to be hot and sweaty,” Villacorta said in an interview with Weekend.

Speaking of the amount and quality of the art and prose pieces available during the event, Villacorta noted that “Cebu zinesters have almost instantly levelled up in terms of print production without necessarily having to go through the ‘dirty’ DIY aesthetic.”

Poet Karla Quimsing holding her chapbook Isla
Cebu Zine Fest organizer Sebastian Estevez

All in all, Cebu Zine Fest 2018 was nothing short of a success. With a great assortment of material spread on its different tables, the event gathered quite a crowd back on July 14, and there was a large influx of guests moving in and out of the event throughout its entire duration.

With another year in its pocket, the inevitable question arises: What’s next for Cebu Zine Fest?

Wessui Bacareza
Zinesters from Siliman Fine Arts

Right now, Cebu Zine Fest organizer Sebastian Estavez isn’t quite sure whether or not he’d like to try experimenting on sharing digital files for next year’s event, but he says he’s more than “happy that more and more people appreciating events like this.”

The curator of 856 G Gallery also hopes that he “sees more zine makers experiment with DIY production techniques” next year, and his word of advice to those hoping to make zines of their own is to “buy a long arm stapler.”

Zinester from Hablon tending to the group’s table

Meanwhile, Tuban adds that zinesters should “keep exploring.”

“Know your tools and don’t be afraid to experiment with the medium and with your content as well,” the publisher says. “Don’t be afraid to ask, and never forget the main raison d’etre of zines and that is to foster a community of like-minded creatives and feel less alone in this cruel experiment called life. Char!”

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