Pinoy Literary Collection on NFT Debuts in Germany

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Have we reached the NFT peak yet, now that Heart Evangelista has gone from hand painting to Hermes bags to NFT minting with crypto-evangelist Luis Buenaventura (for context, his first NFTs are part of a set? which was sold at Christie’s NYC for 393 ETH or $ 1,267,320)?

The NFT space is exciting and confusing, revolutionary and capitalist at the same time. It’s still such a new world that many of us try to navigate our way, struggling to understand abstract concepts like the metaverse and blockchain and wondering why memes and GIFs are suddenly seen as art. precious.

The tikbalang is a major character in the tale that Yvette Tan weaves for “The Last Moon”. Work by Jowee Alviar

Don’t forget that over ten years ago everyone thought Facebook was a force for good, and look where that got us. As with any technology, it’s just a tool that we define by how we use it. Right now, NFTs are delivering on the promise of democratizing art and infusing value into previously undervalued digital art. Pretty much any digital artist from any corner of the world can sell their 8-bit rendering of a zombie cockroach to a wealthy Silicon Valley tech collector, and one day it can end up in a house catalog. fancy auction house, a stronghold of the traditional art world.

In short: an NFT or non-fungible token basically refers to a single, non-interchangeable digital asset. A peso is the same as another peso, and a Dogecoin is a Dogecoin. They are fungible. Something non-fungible or non-interchangeable would be my cat, and if you were trying to secretly replace your cat with mine, I think I could tell. Now if I post a photo of my cat online, anyone can right click and upload a copy or take a screenshot and pretend that photo is theirs.

The Last Moon Blanket
One of the seven covers in the collection of stories, The Last Moon. Work by Jowee Alviar

Blockchain is the technology that makes NFTs possible – if I put my cat photo on the blockchain, it will be forever recorded for anyone to see that this particular photo is the absolute original and belongs to me. It’s easier to understand when you think in terms of securing documents and contracts on the blockchain. Birth and marriage certificates, land titles, anything that serves as an official transaction will benefit from being permanently deposited on the blockchain, which is digitally traceable and verifiable.

Because it is a new technology, the NFT space invites a lot of experimentation and innovation. We don’t know what it can be, we don’t know what it will be. We know it’s cool (yes, another Facebook reference). Here is the Philippines, the first country to launch an NFT book at the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse in German, or FBM) where the National Book Development Board has just held a booth for the sixth consecutive year. The FBM is the oldest and largest book fair in the world. It’s a place where once a year people from all over the world come together to promote literary works, meet their favorite authors, and buy international rights and licenses. Although officially in its 73rd year, the history of the book fair dates back to when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, right there in Frankfurt.

This year, the FBM was held as a hybrid event, with on-site exhibition space complemented by an online program. NBDB’s booth featured around 100 titles from Filipino writers and creators, the selection anchored on “diversity, innovation and community”, with a particular focus on LGBTQ works, climate fiction and pop mythology. The stand therefore stood out with kaleidoscopic murals swirling with Filipino iconography. Using the theme “Myth, Magic and Cities” as a prompt, Creative Director Jowee Alviar of Team Manila took inspiration from the treasure chest of Filipino cultural diversity, layering designs from indigenous weaving traditions with icons and popular figures from the pre-colonial period. Filipino mythology.

The last moon
Using the theme “Myth, Magic and Cities” as a prompt, Creative Director Jowee Alviar of Team Manila was inspired by the treasure chest of Filipino cultural diversity.

“To say that we have so many stories to tell would be an understatement. The Filipino experience is distinctive and diverse, with over 110 ethnolinguistic groups, each with their own epics and myths, ”said Charisse Aquino-Tugade, CEO of BNCD. “We shared our story with the world through the Frankfurter Buchmesse and the very first Philippine NFT graphic literature launch. The NFT drop is one of many collaborations they will pursue that intersect with publishing, design, culture and tourism to help make our mark in the global literary landscape.

“The Last Moon” is the story written by horror writer Yvette Tan, whose famous short story Waking the Dead is about to be reissued. Taking off from the menacing figure of the man-horse caught in the Manila team we know as the tikbalang, his text weaves together different elements of the mural, reimagining the Visayan myth of the Bakunawa. In legend, the giant dragon swallows six of earth’s original seven moons, but was ultimately thwarted when humanity reunited to prevent it from permanently hiding the world in darkness.

“I thought it was relevant for our time,” says Yvette. “So I conceived The Last Moon not as a story of the myth, but as a continuation of history. In his story, the dragon reappears in the 21st century, with the intention of eventually consuming that last moon. This time a little girl and a young Tikbalang warrior must find a way to prevent the final and total eclipse.

Erwin Romulo, who NBDB chose as the creative director of the book fair, suggested that instead of just creating a microsite, “The Last Moon” be turned into an NFT, with the added value of a unique cover. It would be an experiment with a new internet publishing model, which like NFT art bypasses traditional access control. Team Manila, who also started making forays into the NFT space, reworked the visuals to fit Yvette’s story, designing seven different covers.

Filipino stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair
The Filipino booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair showcases the graphic works of Jowee Alviar of Team Manila. Photo by Charisse Aquino Tugade

There is a larger goal in selling the story as an NFT book other than being a first, and that is to raise funds to translate and print copies of the book, which will be donated to the Book Nook Project of NBDB. Book Nooks are shared libraries set up around indigenous communities and remote areas of the Philippines, where there is little access to print, especially in their own languages.

The idea of ​​scarcity may be important to the visual arts world, but it doesn’t really work for writers, who usually seek the widest possible readership. Limiting the story to a few collectors would seem antithetical, and so 100 Last Moon coins were incorporated downward. Team Manila has dropped or delivered 100 free tokens to members of its network and people who signed up with their wallet details. Each Last Moon coin gives the owner access to a PDF copy of the story with a common cover. Those who collect six coins, whether through sale, barter, or donation, can use them to purchase one of the book’s seven rare editions, each with a unique cover. The ultra-rare or legendary edition is accompanied by a fresco of the seven covers. The entire Last Moon collection was deposited on October 25 on OpenSea, an NFT marketplace, and was created on Pologyon, a network that uses a Proof-of Stake blockchain, making it greener and less expensive. .

Seeing the possibilities of much more, Erwin decided to form a group dedicated to continuing the project beyond the book fair, and anointed the Bathala Beasts Project.

Yvette tan
Yvette Tan spoke of stories inspired by Jowee Alviar’s artwork. Photo from Tan’s Facebook page.

“Like many things in the tech space, the NFT project ‘The Last Moon’ began to expand beyond its original idea,” said Danella Yujuico-Yaptinchay, creative director of the collaboration that emerged from this. business. “We were excited that this was the first time Filipino mythology would be depicted in the Metaverse and we ran with it! Since it comes with an unlocked copy of the book, the airdrop of 100 pieces of the last moon is meant to get people to embrace history and grow the Bathala Beasts community organically, with our base on Discord.

This first foray into the NFT edition is now imbued with a grander vision. Often what makes NFT collecting special are the communities that form around them. Collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club give owners access to an exclusive online club, while many others contribute their profits to ocean conservation and charities that support women and children. Whether the impact is online or in real life, many NFTs continue to generate utility as well as monetary value. You don’t buy an NFT just to fold it up as a PFP (profile photo), although you can. For the team behind “The Last Moon”, we hope the story acts as an opening portal to our mythological realms, inviting other creators and storytellers to continue building on this shared world.


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