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An Interview with Cool Dela Peņa

by Antonio Vitug May 29, 2000 Monday


Cool's Video 1

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Interviewer: You are the author of the novel The Millennium Man. Can you tell us more about the novel?

Cool: I have written the first part, ALPHA ONE, as an entry to the FDFPI Scriptwriting Competition in 1998. I have written it as a hobby since I was not doing anything at that time. So, it started as a script which I have continued into a full-blown novel. It is all a product of my personal experience. You will find a lot of parallelism on the story with my real life. Others will find it incredible but those who have similar experience will realize that it happened and it is happening.

Interviewer: Could you give us a brief outline of what are you really trying to tell your readers in the novel?

Cool: I was trying to convey my concept of The MAN, that inspite of the explosion of artificial intelligence(AI) and robotics, there are a lot of people who are still 'ordinary'. I want to present to them observable phenomena like 'la quant' and 'le quant' and what are the possible consequences of these phenomena.

Interviewer: What is your concept of people that are 'ordinary'?


Cool: People that are not yet on-line with the so much AI going on around. People that are just living their lives without maintaining this 'psychic' thing. In other words, innocent people who can only interact with others explicitly.

Interviewer: You have talked of la quant and le quant, what are these really?

Click for voice/audio

Cool: La quant and le quant refers to the sudden appearance or disappearance of people like magic right before your eyes. La quant refers to females' appearances or disappearances while le quant is for males. Locally, we refer to it as a WAG event and to others, people who are capable of doing this are called Philadelphians. For ordinary people who have not yet observe or experience it personally, these will be dismissed simply as fairy tales or fantasy.

Interviewer: Could you tell us more about the characters of the story? How did you come up with the characters?

Click for voice/audio .

Cool: The story started as a cat-and-mouse thriller and observers will find the story line similar with Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct in 1989. But definitely it's not a copy cat. The main protagonists, Lancelot and Jennifer, are from two different worlds but joined together by destiny to fight for justice. No single character occupies an exclusive black or exclusive white ground. I have presented all characters as real people. The characters are neither bad nor good but just people... real people.

Interviewer: There are rumors that your first script, The Millennium Man (Alpha One), was made into a movie and released at the back with the title KNIFE. What can you say?

Click for voice/audio .

Cool: I don't know. The first time I heard about Knife is from Nida Blanca when she won her best actress award from FAMAS thru a Jet Jeturian movie in 1999. I believe it was different from my script. If ever, they have not informed me. It is similar to persistent rumors about articles in TONIGHT or LIFE about me of which I have not seen a copy so I can't react.

Interviewer: Your script did not win in the 1998 Film Development Foundation of the Philippines scriptwriting competition, what do you think is the reason?

Click for voice/audio

Cool: I did not intend it to win the major awards actually. Otherwise, I should have written something that is meant for an award. Probably, a heavy drama with historical setting on the level of the winner which is SOLTERA. In fact, my best hope was for the script to land as a finalist only since it was too simple even for my own standard. I have written it as true-to-life as possible but the events in the story are remarkably incredible by their merits alone.

Interviewer: Your obituary appeared in your homepage, just how is that?

Click for voice/audio .

Cool: You know, since I have started my amateurish homepage, people that are hounding me, especially those who are 'on-line', doubled. I am even receiving e-mails from impostors pretending to be my acquaintances. When I enter a establishment, you can really feel people's excitement since they are 'on-line'. You see, even when I'm doing my groceries, they observe all the things I pick up from the store and things like that. And the bad thing is, they are not even discreet about it. I just want those who are hounding me to stay off my back. At least now, I am already used to it, that is why I have revived the homepage. There was a time I have rerouted it to EDSA.

Interviewer: Aside from The Millennium Man, do you have other literary works?


Cool: Yes. I am writing right now the stories The Primate Return of One Twelve, Monsieur and Mademosselle, The King and I and my autobiography which is temporary titled Dolfie. I am also developing the novels Ychtulla, La Quant, The Designer, and The Group under my other penname John Cracker none of which has been published yet. I am also writing Star Trek plots.

Interviewer: Who is your favorite novelist?

Cool: I am learning from the styles of Robert Ludlum, Sydney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Ayn Rand and Ken Folleth.

Interviewer: They say your style of writing is like Frederick Forsythe with a touch of John Carpenter, what do you think?


Cool: I am supposed to be flattered to be compared with somebody on the calibre of Forsythe and Carpenter, but the truth is I feel otherwise. The first time I have read Frederick Forsythe, I've suffered a headache after reading the first five pages. For light reading, I want a reading material that will not require me to have a dictionary or thesaurus on my side. Maybe because I am writing fantastic true-to-life like Forsythe. You see, fourth protocol is frequently being used by those who are 'on-line' and many are aware of that. Honestly, I don't think have Forsythe's brilliance. I have not read any John Carpenter novel yet but I have seen the movie version of his Village of the Damned and it is the most chilling and scariest movie I have seen to date. I sum up my literary style generally as introspective flashback.

Interviewer: What can you say about Alex Garland?


Cool: I think he has carved a name for himself and it will take time before I can be in his stature but his novel The Tesseract is a little bit ignorant of Philippine realities. Who wants to stay at Hotel Patay?

Interviewer: There are rumors that you have a twin, who was also writing. What can you say about this?

Cool: I don't know what to say. I have seen someone who exactly looks like me driving slowly by my side along Fields Avenue in Angeles last year, that's 1999, and according to my fellow staff in the school where I work as an instructor, my supposed twin has joined a similar scriptwriting competition in 1999 with a very frightening entry. I just don't know how did my fellow staff got that information. But I grew up thinking I am unique. For whatever it's worth, I haven't talked with him yet.

Interviewer: How did you come up with your pennames Cool Dela Peņa and John Cracker?


Cool: My name Cool was from KEANU's favorite phrase 'COOL DUDE'. Dela Peņa is a tribute to my high school teacher. When I was writing Ychtulla, I was eating nothing but milk and crackers most of the time I have the feeling I'm on Roman Holiday. (Laughs) My favorite is a crispy toasted Nissin Classic on strawberry jam.

Interviewer: What is Ychtulla all about?

Cool: It is a highly science-fiction novel so I am writing it under another penname. It is basically about super micro-robotics and particle accelerators... those kind of stuff.

Interviewer: Are you gay?

Cool: (Laughs) I don't discuss my sexual preferences publicly but suffice to say that I am capable of sex.

Interviewer: What will you do if you are The MAN?


Cool: My concept of The MAN is more profound than what I can accomplish in my lifetime. I believe in the allegorical statement that it takes a thousand man to a make The MAN and Jean Dixon has officially exited in February 1997.(Laughs)

Interviewer: What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

Cool: I want all my novels and stories to be published by a major publisher and come up with a 'Kon Tiki' or better still, be another William Styron and come up with a Sophie's Choice. (Laughs)

Interviewer: What is your final message to your followers?

Cool: Give me a break!


Antonio Vitug is a correspondent for Central Radio Network and a regular contributor at the Daily Observer.



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