Books for the 12 days of Christmas
In Christian theology, the 12 days of Christmas is the period from the birth of Christ to the coming of the Magi. It has come to be more popularly associated with the cumulative song—and an ideal catch phrase for holiday gift-giving. A perfect reason, too, to highlight the season’s notable 2017 Philippine-published titles, with the honest disclosure that I have not read them all, though they are in queue on my bedside desk. All are either National Book Award-winning or shortlisted titles. Enjoy the rich diversity!
“A Waiting Room Companion” by Sarge Lacuesta, Ateneo de Manila University Press, is a collection of well-crafted essays by the award-winning fictionist and editor.
“All My Lonely Islands” by VJ Campilan, Anvil Publishing Inc. A must-read not only because it won the 2015 Palanca for the Novel, the 2017 Madrigal-Gonzalez for the Best First Book Award, and the 2018 Gintong Aklat. An engrossing story of Crisanta and Ferdinand arriving in Batanes to locate Graciella, whose son Stevan’s tragic death they witnessed a decade ago. But a painful truth needs to emerge and a confession to be made.
“Feast with Me” by Stephanie Zubiri Crespi, Anvil Publishing Inc. Not a cookbook to be stained in the kitchen, but a wonderful lifestyle journalism read.
“Kikomachine Komix Blg. 13: Aklat Sekreto ng mga Lihim na Karunungan” by Manuel Luis “Manix” Abrera, Visprint Inc. Abrera never disappoints ardent followers of graphic literature.
“Liberalism and the Postcolony: Thinking the State in 20th-Century Philippines” by Lisandro E. Claudio, Ateneo de Manila University Press. What better come-on than its description as a companion to Resil Mojares’ “Brains of the Nation,” and that the book “slays the fathers of nationalist historiography, Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino”?
“Magandang Gabi Bayan: Nation, Journalism Discourse, and Television News in the Philippines” by Estelle Marie M. Ladrido, Ateneo de Manila University Press. An interesting in-depth exploration of news production practices in Philippine commercial and government television networks. It shows how news workers are vulnerable to numerous factors as they strive to deliver relevant news to audiences.
“Philippine Modernities: Music, Performing Arts, and Language, 1880 to 1941,” ed. Jose S. Buenconsejo, UP Press. A different approach to the study of the cultural history of modernity in the Philippines.
“Press 100 Love Letters,” edited by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo and Francesca Rendle-Short, UP Press. A collection of letters by women to women, inspired by the tradition of pressed cookies meant to convey such sentiments.
“Running with Ghosts and other Poems” by Merlie M. Alunan, Ateneo de Naga University Press. The poet writes as witness to the natural calamities in her home island of Leyte: the Ormoc flood of 1991 which claimed six members of her own family; the Guinsaugon village landslide of 2006, and Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013. The retelling is moving (They “… lost their lives in the tumult of waters that melted their bodies”) but conveys hope and triumph, as Alunan’s words ensure that these lives are not forgotten.
“The First Impulse” by Laurel Fantauzzo, Anvil Publishing. A riveting read on the mysterious murder of a young couple, Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc—described as an investigation, an elegy, and a love story.
“The Thing with Feathers: My book of Memories” by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, UST Publishing House, is more than personal history; it is also social and literary history, written in the author’s signature elegant style.
“Traditional Medicine in the Colonial Philippines, 16th to the 19th Century” by Ma. Mercedes G. Planta, UP Press. I am particularly proud of this title, as it belonged to the National Book Development Board’s first batch of author trust fund grantees. It is based on records that Spanish missionaries made of plants and herbs that our traditional medical practitioners or “herbolarios” prescribed in precolonial times, for which they themselves left no records.
Noteworthy Philippine titles hardly get the attention they deserve, and the season of good reading and gift-giving provides an apt occasion.
Neni Sta. Romana Cruz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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