Metro Manila’s zine culture in 10 quick points

They are now becoming more and more popular.

Short for magazines, ‘zines have been part of our independent literary culture since the 1980s. What makes them different and special from all those glossies sold at bookstores? These ‘zines are all painstakingly handmade and usually come in limited copies.

At Art Fair Philippines last February, for example, Jun Sabayton sold his Bayaw zine (PHP60), which featured a selection of his Instagram images. And then there was artist Dina Gadia, who put out a limited-edition ‘zine as a support/take-home for her “At Odds with the Visual” art exhibit. It was filled with doodles — indeed, Dina’s art — making it an instant collector’s item.

There are hundreds of Jun Sabaytons and Dina Gadias out there, but this is a close-knit and underground community with a long tradition.

We can’t — and aren’t — claiming this is all there is to the scene, but allow us to show you the tip of the Taal, so to speak, and point you to the direction of joyfully discovering another new title and owning a carefully pieced-together, hard-to-find, and limited edition reading product. Long live analog!


1. Herald-X started it all.

Ask ‘zine scenesters and they’ll agree that “Herald-X,” a black-and-red tabloid style punk ‘zine established by alias-named authors in the early ‘80s pioneered the ‘zine scene in the country. It contained what current terminology would call “aggregated content” from foreign punk ‘zines.

2. ZineCon 2001 carried it to the oughties.

Avid ‘zine makers and readers Paolo Jose Cruz and Claire Villacorta curated ZineCon, an exhibit of zines, at Surrounded by Water Artspace in Ortigas —‘memba that? It featured a few ‘zines already making the rounds then: Jawbreaker for the kickass Pinay, Halo-Halo for Pinoy pop culture, Martial Law Babies, just to name a few. The aim was to show that there is an audience “for their work with some paper, a Xerox copier, and a buttload of creativity,” says Cruz.

3. Uno Morato is the new home of the scene.

Uno Morato, an independent bookstore along Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City, carries over 50 local ‘zine titles on its shelves. “We are one of the few bookstores that accommodate and display zines prominently on our shelves,” says one of its proprietors Carljoe Javier. It’s easy to notice that, in this place, there’s a title for just about everyone: Reyna Delos Reyes and Mikey Jimenez’s Love, Meth, Cheers for Breaking Bad fans. Marcushiro Nada’s Ang Alamat ng Chismis, for the all the uzis other there, just to name a few. Uno Morato is located at the Garden Area of GYY Building, 1 Tomas Morato Ave, Quezon City. Tue-Sun 3pm to 12am.

4. Start attending zine events.

According to Cruz, going to events is one of the best ways to uncover a new title. The just concluded Fotosemana festival carried a slew of ‘zines, while the upcoming Metro Manila International Book Fair sounds like a promising affair. But the best and most consistent event on our radar? “Better Living Through Xeroxography” aka “BLTX”. It’s a five-year-old tradition initiated by Adam David. From Ilyong’s at Project 4, Quezon City, BLTX now happens at Uno Morato every July and November, with satellite events happening in places as faraway as Davao and Baguio.

5. Start reading: Em Zine published by Moar Books Indie Press

Pioneers of the scene, like Cruz, is heralding Wina Puangco’s literature-cored Em Zine as the future of Pinoy Zine publishing. “She’s figured out how to scale things up in terms of production, while still retaining the kind of indie sensibilities I associate with zine-making.” Cruz added that the quality of editing is “top notch,” going side-by-side with the content. Em Zine, for PHP70 each.

7. Love Photography? There’s a zine for that!

Launched earlier in 2015, MONO is a 5×5 photo zine that already has two issues out. It’s made by 29-year-old Erin Noir and each issue contains no less than 30 photographs that have been taken with 35mm cameras and traditional black and white films. It’s a zine dedicated to pictures — you will find no words or captions here. MONO is and ongoing personal series that compiles the Noir’s “nomadic whereabouts, the things I see and the people around me.” She does everything with her own hands and money — including stapling! — but clarifies that MONO is a product of both analog and digital. She scribbles ideas in her notebook first before placing drafts in her laptop. Mono sells for PHP150 here.

8. How does a collaborate public journal sound? Read: ZigZag Animals

The poetry that high school BFFs Hannah Puyat and Diana Aviado began writing in high school turned out to be an ideal starting point of the quarterly, ZigZag Animals. Later on, the duo asked visual artist Mara Herrera to come on board, and she’s been curating the ephemerally feminine art associated with the title. “The thing that we always believed in Zigzag Animals is that when you collaborate with your friends, it elevates your art and your friendship because you’re working on something,” said Puyat. Wondering where they got the name? It’s taken from the winding roads in Puyat’s hometown of Baguio. ZigZag Animals sells for PHP50 per issue from the zine’s official Facebook page.

9. Are you street art fan? Check out: Mabuhigh Daze

Quezon City-based graffiti artist Nuno made a colorful name for himself by painting it all over Metro Manila walls. Nuno goes around the country to capture images to tell bigger stories, which he publishes in “Mabuhigh Daze.” It’s almost like his travel diary, with a collection of photos he gathered from the streets. Just like his graffiti, Nuno decorates the downtrodden images of the streets with new perspectives. Mabuhigh Daze sells for PHP150 in THE store in Cubao Expo, Quezon City

10. Can’t publish on your own? Look up: Future Zines

Nante Santamaria’s independent press, Future Zines, is a quarterly publication that intends to help underground and outsider artists. How? By publishing their work for them. Launched in July 2014, Future Zines does it by volumes of five. “It’s one artist per booklet, and we release all of them in one go,” shares Santamaria. Each booklet is signed and numbered so you know you’re getting a collector’s edition. The first volume, which featured three photographers (Cru Camara, James Go, and Czar Kristoff) and two illustrators (Karayom and Justine Basa) have all sold out. Volume 2 is already underway.

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