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THE LEARNING CURVE

Books for year-round reading

04:05 AM December 21, 2019

Too many books, too little time, so the saying goes. This is especially true with the wide variety of Philippine titles in English and in Filipino to choose from for holiday reading. These are just 12 books from a tall pile on my desk, waiting to be completely read. (Starred titles are among the 2019 National Book Awards.)

* “The Betrayed: A Novel,” by Reine Arcache Melvin, Bughaw/Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2018. Winner of the Palanca and the Madrigal-Gonzalez First Novel Awards, it opens with, “In their exile they knew that nothing could last, yet the family tried to feel at home in the new country… To prop up their lives, they fabricated rituals…”

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“Broken Islands,” by Criselda Yabes, Bughaw/Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2019. This is Yabes’ latest novel, following the celebrated “Below the Crying Mountain” which won the UP Centennial Literary Award in 2008 and was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2010. Set in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” it is about the lives of two women, Luna and Alba. It is cited for its melding of journalism and literary craftsmanship.

* “Digmaan at Kapayapaan,” by Lamberto E. Antonio, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, 2018. This Filipino translation of Tolstoy’s monumental work “War and Peace” is one of 10 world languages the work has been translated to. Those who have loved reading the novel speak of how much more powerful it is in Filipino.

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“Dusking, Dawning,” by Lualhati Milan Abreu, translated from Filipino by Bonifacio P. Ilagan, The University of the Philippines Press, 2018. Selected as the lone winner of the Gawad Likhaan: UP Centennial Literary Award for Best Creative Essay, this is the autobiography of a woman warrior whose life is closely linked with the history of liberation struggles in the country.

* “Honor: The Legacy of Jose Abad Santos,” by Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo, National Historical Commission of the Philippines and Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation, 2019. This biography pays tribute to the highest government official executed by the Japanese, yet who remains unknown today.

“I Am Jake,” by Jake Zyrus, Anvil Publishing Inc., 2018. The extraordinary personal account of the author’s transformation from the celebrity Charice Pempengco to Jake Zyrus. A true rebirth that triumphed over many challenges. “This is not the end. This is just Chapter One of my new life.”

* “Interpreting Rizal,” by Caroline S. Hau, Bughaw/Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2018. Two essays make up the book: “Did Padre Damaso Rape Pia Alba?” and “Daydreaming about Rizal and Tetcho,” both meant to lead us to rethink Rizal in new ways and the continuing relevance of his writings.

* “Muni: Paglalayag sa Pamimilosopiyang Filipino,” by Jovito V. Cariño, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2018. An engaging and very readable book on philosophy in Filipino, described as an evaluation of Philippine social realities.

* “Rock Solid: How the Philippines Won Its Maritime Case against China,” by Marites Dañguilan Vitug, Bughaw/Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2018. In vintage Dañguilan Vitug fashion, this is a well-researched book on the legal success of the Philippines’ territorial claim over China’s in an arbitration tribunal in The Hague.

“Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture,” by Doreen G. Fernandez, Anvil Publishing Inc., 2020. A revised and updated edition of a title readers have been awaiting. In Doreen’s own graceful prose, “Writing about food… is an act of understanding, an extension of experience. If one can savor the word, then one can swallow the world.”

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“To Love Another Day: The Memoirs of Cory Aquino,” by Rapa Lopa, The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, 2019. These are based on video interviews of President Cory meant to help her in writing her autobiography, a project that remained unfinished when she passed away in 2009. This is Cory herself speaking on the years 1972-1986.

* “Voices on the Waters: Conversations with Five Mindanao Writers,” edited by Ricardo M. de Ungria, Bughaw/Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2018. This is an important book as it focuses on important authors from Mindanao we do not know of. There are interviews with Anthony L. Tan, Mehol K. Sadain, Said K. Sadain Jr., Lina Sagaral Reyes, Kristine Ong Muslim and other representative writings.

(To be continued)

* * *

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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