The Manila Review interviews Katrina Stuart Santiago


Last April, literary critic and essayist Katrina Stuart Santiago wrote a controversial polemic about patronage and cliquishness in the Philippine writing establishment. MR editors Caroline S. Hau (CSH) and Miguel Syjuco (MS) probe deeper.

CSH: Your article, “Burn After Reading” (Rogue Magazine, April 13, 2012) is critical of the “us-vs-them” cliquishness of the Philippine writing establishment. You talk about “an unspoken/unconscious/unexplained set of rules” for gaining entry into the writing community, rules that you say have nothing to do with literary merit. What are these rules?

Read on


  1. “When I was writing that essay that later won the Palanca Award, I took conscious effort to write the way creative non-fiction is written in Manila”

    They’re quite stupid really. It takes time because of the way we are brought up (our authoritarian culture) and a lot of pain but when it dawns on you, it is really very simple. Some of them are quacks. Read their scholarly works. It’s full of quackery. Yung pa-mysterious-asian kuno.

    Their strengths become canon, while their weaknesses are ignored in other writers who are gifted with them. Intellectual corruption.