Zamboanga, its waters, and its people are the settings for UPMin Instructor Sigrid Marianne Gayangos’ first published collection of stories.
“The tropical seas, the ocean, the waters, and vast archipelagic realms become sites of the unknowable, sometimes even forbidding places that refuse to give up their stories,” wrote fellow Mindanaoan writer Kristine Ong-Muslim in the foreword to the book.
“Laut: Stories,” Gayangos’ newly published book, features 13 stories set in the author’s birthplace of Zamboanga. Now based in Dumaguete City, the author was in Davao to meet her UPMin students, and the UPMin Department of Humanities took the opportunity to hold a book launch and author’s talk.
The discussions touched on how the author began writing, her conscious choice to take inspiration from her roots, the process of revision, and the challenges that come with being a Mindanaoan writer.
“The stories contain the reality and experiences of interethnic communities. It taps into their political consciousness. It has queer and sociopolitical themes, and dives deep into the marvelous and fantastic,” said UPMin student Daryll.
According to the author each story has a different approach relating to how she understood water. “...there’s turbulence. It’s erratic, it’s unpredictable…it’s also scary—we never know what’s underneath,” she said. Despite these things, writing, she admits, has allowed her to explore the depths of water through the stories she wrote.
Despite her works being categorized under speculative fiction, Ms. Sigrid expressed how it tackles realities that seem more familiar than readers think.
“Laut: Stories” may sound marvelous or nonrealist, but she explained that these were tales she grew up with, coming from a long line of fisherfolks, and were what helped shape her stories.
During the talk, she expressed how seven of the stories were “major overhauls” of her thesis collections, while the six other stories are new.
The UP Mindanao Department of Humanities held the book launch and author’s talk for “Laut: Stories” by Instructor Sigrid Marianne Gayangos on 4 May 2023, moderated by Associate Prof. John Bengan. The book is published by UP Press and is also available online.