Rogue withdraws Syjuco piece in copyright row


Posted at Apr 04 2013 08:01 PM | Updated as of Apr 05 2013 11:08 PM

Rogue cover

MANILA, Philippines – Reacting to negative comments on social media, Rogue magazine has decided to pull out an article by award-winning author Miguel Syjuco from its April 2013 issue.

Syjuco cried foul on Facebook early this week after seeing a blurb on the teaser cover of Rogue’s latest issue, which read: “Exclusive: New fiction by Miguel Syjuco.”

Reacting to the magazine cover featuring actress G Tongi, the author said Rogue did not ask permission to use his work.

“New fiction from Miguel Syjuco?!? A Rogue exclusive? It’s so exclusive even I didn’t know about it. They don’t have permission to run my work! Nor do I have new fiction I feel is ready to show the world,” Syjuco wrote.

“Don’t tell me Rogue’s dug up old, outdated drafts and decided to run it proudly. What kind of self-respecting magazine does that? And don’t they understand the concept of copyright? This is unacceptable; I eke out a living from writing.

“We should hold our country’s so-called top magazines to a higher standard of ethics and professionalism. How can we trust their journalism if they pull stunts like this?”

Several other Internet users expressed their views on the issue, with many saying that “there should be accountability.”

Guerrero apologizes

On its April 2013 issue, Rogue planned to publish excerpts from Syjuco’s “The Terrorists Have Already Won,” which is part of the anthology “Manila Envelope: The Best of Contemporary Philippine Novelists” published by BBDO-Guerrero chairman David Guerrero.

In a statement released to Rogue (which was sent to, Guerrero explained what happened and apologized to both Syjuco and the magazine’s team.

“On March 18, we provided Rogue with an advance copy for review purposes. Within the same day they asked for permission to feature the launch of the collection (Manila Envelope) and run an extract of around 500 words in the magazine. We agreed to this. Unfortunately in the case of Miguel’s work we were specifically restricted to usage in our own publication. We have apologized to both parties for the error and regret the problems this inadvertently caused the author and the magazine,” Guerrero said.

Rogue, for its part, said it is no longer publishing Syjuco’s piece as part of the magazine.

“It has come to our attention that the excerpt of fiction by Miguel Syjuco that we promoted in our current April 2013 issue has received controversy on social networking sites. We would like to clarify certain points and to communicate our position regarding this matter,” the statement from the magazine read.

“The piece of Mr. Syjuco entitled ‘The Terrorists Have Already Won,’ which was set to appear in Rogue, was an excerpt from an upcoming collection of fiction entitled ‘Manila Envelope: The Best of Contemporary Filipino Novelists,’ to be published in a personal capacity later this month by advertising man David Guerrero. The piece was promoted on Rogue’s cover with the line, ‘New Fiction by Miguel Syjuco,’ as it was a previously unpublished work and part of a new collection of fiction.

“We have always acted in good faith, and in light of everything that has transpired, we are no longer publishing the piece,” it added.

Syjuco asks Rogue for ‘3 things’

While he has recognized Guerrero’s apology, Syjuco was not pleased with Rogue’s statement.

Still on Facebook, the award-winning author lambasted Rogue’s editor-in-chief, Paolo Reyes, for not speaking up on the issue.

“They flagrantly violate copyright, then blame a third party. Yet still not a peep from their editor-in-chief, Paolo Reyes – who I’ve been telling for months that I have no new work to offer the magazine,” Syjuco, who currently resides in Montreal, Quebec, wrote on Wednesday.

“Where’s the accountability? Why should Rogue’s hard-working and dedicated editors and writers bear the brunt? So typical of us Filipinos. First Tito Sotto shrugs away plagiarism, and now Paolo Reyes shirks responsibility. If Vanity Fair showcased on its cover work it didn’t own, Graydon Carter surely would’ve resigned.

“Till now, I haven’t seen what Reyes wants to publish. He still hasn’t informed which of my words they’re using. The guy has had my email address for years!” he added.

In a reply to artist and tour guide Carlos Celdran on Facebook, Syjuco shared that he has asked Rogue for “three things.”

“I have contacted them. Ipe (publisher Felipe Cruz) and the rest of the editors are people I admire and respect. Rogue’s always been my favorite Philippine mag, and I aspired to write  for them.

“I’ve indeed been trying to work things out. I’ve asked for three reasonable things: an apology and clarification; payment at my freelance rate; and that the decision-maker be held accountable. Paolo Reyes has been trying to get me to write for them for a while, but I’ve been too busy finishing my current novel; I can’t help but feel he deliberately went over my head on this. Since he’s actually responsible for all this, he should bear the responsibility.

Defending Guerrero, Syjuco added: “And now poor David Guerrero’s going to be blamed, when all he wanted to do was promote his wonderful anthology of contemporary Filipino novelists, ‘Manila Envelope.’ It’s not right.”