A new year, a new book | Inquirer Opinion
The Learning curve

A new year, a new book

No better way to start a year than with an array of books to pick from. Read and be proud of Philippine titles such as these. (Starred titles are among the 2019 National Book Awards.)

“Direk: Essays on Filipino Filmmakers,” edited by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. and Shirley O. Lua, De La Salle University Publishing House, 2018. An anthology that serves as an introduction to select Filipino filmmakers. Why the title? Because the word “direk” has gained currency as a term of endearment, a recognition of the critical role of the person who literally calls the shots.


“Good Dog” by Mabek Kawsek, Anvil, 2019. The title is the father’s term of endearment for an obedient daughter and a caring wife to her own husband. But she goes beyond the good dog image. This is interesting because of its focus on and revelations about Tsinoy lives.

*”Kikomachine Komix Blg. 14: Alaala ng Kinabukasan” by Manix Abrera, Visprint Inc., 2018. Despite the small font of this collection of comic strips—Abrera is amazed that even seniors like me manage to read the book—one finds one’s self chuckling over the wit that the master comics artist displays in his depiction of classroom scenes with terror professors, characters one encounters in jeepney rides, and


everyday encounters. You will also end up saying, as he does, “rak en rol” after every episode.

“Metro Manila: My City, My Home” by Nathaniel von Einsiedel, edited by Lilia CG. Casanova and Luchi T. Rosales, Alliance for Safe, Sustainable and Resilient Environments Inc. (ASSURE), 2019. The author, an architect and urban planner, was with the Metro Manila Commission and was regional director for the Asia-Pacific of the United Nations Urban Management Program. Here he shares his “experiences, frustrations, dreams and hopes for a better Metro Manila.” A dream we all have.

“Philippine Social Realists” by Amadís Ma. Guerrero, Erehwon Artworld Corporation, 2019. This coffee-table book is rightfully dedicated to art critic Alice Guillermo who is acknowledged to have significantly advanced the art genre. The artists featured in the book are Alvarado, De la Cruz, Delotavo, Doloricon, Endaya, Fernandez, Flores, Habulan, Tence Ruiz, Santos.

“Reflections in Poetry” by Clenia Dimanche, photography by Mandy Navasero, 2019. This is a chronicle of the author’s challenging journey from depression over the deaths of her husband, a son and a daughter over a three-year period. The exercise of putting thoughts on paper was a healing one that should inspire others coping with similar losses.

“Teaching Beginning Literacy” by Felicitas E. Pado, Ph.D., Anvil Education, 2019. Pado documents what she considers a very effective approach to teaching beginning literacy. Called the Four-Pronged Approach, it has four major components for teaching beginning reading. All components must be present: genuine love for reading, critical thinking, grammar and oral language development, transfer stage. In light of the dismal results of Filipino students in the Programme for International Student Assessment, this book becomes especially significant.

“Twisted Travels: Rambles in Central Europe” by Jessica Zafra, Visprint Inc., 2018. Not your regular predictable travel book that carries “must-see” and “must-do” lists, but one that describes the author’s concept of real travel. So, hanging around neighborhoods, sitting in cafés and aimless walks are musts. “When the stray cats in the area start to recognize me, I consider my trip a success.”

“Voyager and other Fictions: The Collected Stories of Jose Dalisay,” with an introduction by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Anvil, 2019. A useful collection not only for literature students. As Dalisay wrote, “… only fiction—not even journalism—has the power to draw us out of ourselves, out of the present, into that chill place where Honesty resides.” Consider this a companion book to the title that follows.


“Why Words Matter: Why We Read and Why We Write” by Butch Dalisay, illustrated by Marcel Antonio, Canvas, 2019. A beautifully illustrated book that contains Dalisay’s reflections on reading, writing, language, literature and the power of words. “Words are all that some of us—especially those whom we call writers—will leave behind.”

* “56” by Bob Ong, Visprint Inc., 2018. The many fans of Bob Ong may continue to wonder about the author’s identity, especially since his books are always so contemporary and so humorous. His anonymity certainly adds to his mystique—an effective marketing ploy. Many students reluctant to read in Filipino turn out to be interested readers.


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

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TAGS: 2019 National Book Awards, Lilia CG. Casanova, Luchi T. Rosales
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