Peter Solis NeryWhat’s your first summer in Baltimore like?

I wish that I could say that it’s all fun under the sun, especially that I am retired now. But, no! I like taking on challenges, and sometimes, I give myself unnecessary challenges. Summer could have been much, much nicer for me if I just learned to relax and read a book or two, or even five! But no, silly goose me, I chose to publish five books, maybe even add a sixth, this summer. It is an enormous job, a huge responsibility, but yes, I am making good on my promise to publish at least five books for The Peter Solis Nery Foundation this year.


You are publishing five books?

It is my modest contribution to Hiligaynon literature. Already in my hands are the first proofs of Peter’s Prize Very, Very Short Stories with a flaming red cover, Love Poems in a hot pink cover, Children’s Stories and Poems in orange, and The Saddest Love Stories Ever Told in bright purple. I am currently working on the poems from the Poem-a-thon with Peter Solis Nery, which will constitute the fifth anthology, which I will also publish along with the four. These five books are collections of the best new writings in Hiligaynon edited using the new Hiligaynon orthography [with 28 letters] that I so certainly advocate. And then, there is the Ten Elegies book project, which I may or I may not release along with the five. I mean, I can always publish the Ten Elegies later in the year, but the five Hiligaynon anthologies are set to be launched in September.


So, you have planned a book launch in September?

If you still haven’t noticed, I go on an annual trip to the Philippines in August and September. In the last seven years, it was all about the Palanca Awards night on September 1, but starting last year, I have also established my own Peter’s Prize awards ceremony. This year, I want to make Peter’s Prize Night extra special by launching these books that are a product of the Peter’s Prize contests. We’re seriously looking at September 6, which is much closer to anniversary of the establishment day of The Peter Solis Nery Foundation, or if the schedules are so messed up, maybe September 13. We might have the event at the same place as last year, although I’m also thinking that this year, we can have a longer Peter Solis Nery Festival in my hometown of Dumangas, where, in addition to the awards ceremony and book launching, I can also run another Audrey Hepburn film festival, direct a live-in writing workshop, maybe do some performance art, and maybe even make another movie in the guise of a filmmaking workshop. I plan to make a longer visit to Iloilo this year.


Any interesting read for the summer so far?

I have definitely ordered from all the books that I wanted to read for the summer. But I don’t think that I’ll seriously pick up a book if I don’t have a clear schedule of a day or two to read it. I don’t like putting down books half read, and I also hate putting off some projects just because of certain books. Right now, my priorities are clear: finish the five Hiligaynon anthologies, and feel good about delivering things that I promised. After that, I can read more peacefully and seriously. I’m still intent on reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables this summer, and I have had the book for a year already. I thought that I could read it during my trip to the Philippines last year, but life happened. Anyway, the tedious editing job this summer can make me crazy so I break down the project into smaller tasks; and to relax, I indulge myself reading gossip stories of dead Hollywood celebrities. I especially like reading the dirt on the sex lives of Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Rock Hudson, Errol Flynn, and Laurence Olivier. I think gay celebrity gossip is my guilty pleasure this summer. Haha.


Any big plans for your Philippine trip in August?

The Peter’s Prize Night and the book launch are already big events, don’t you think? Haha. And as I said, I have hopes for a Peter Solis Nery Festival in Dumangas. Right now, I see myself at the Palanca Awards on September 1. As a Hall of Famer, I don’t have to win to attend the ceremony. While in Luzon, Randy and I might decide on a few days in Baguio, or Laguna. There are plans for me to conduct writing workshops in Mindanao mid-September, but we haven’t finalized the details yet. I really, really want to do another Hiligaynon movie, maybe a short, but I am still looking for materials that will blow me away. Experience tells me that there isn’t a good market for Hiligaynon films, but if the story grips me enough, I might just shell out my own money again to do it. Life is tough, but tougher still is to be Peter Solis Nery—Hiligaynon advocate, writer, editor, publisher, producer.