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Power books by, for, and about women

MARCH, WOMEN’S Month, has a lot to offer to women and women lovers. Many activities are lined up in March and one can’t seem to find time for all of them. But a launching of many books by, for and about women is something different. It is not every day that one gets to see so many such books of different genres, intents and purposes and so many women authors in one room.

Last week Anvil Publishing and Powerbooks celebrated Women’s Month by presenting the latest delectable books by, for and about women. These books should be available in most National Bookstores nationwide.

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In the literary category are “Gun Dealer’s Daughter” by prolific writer Gina Apostol, and “Angelica’s Daughters,” a “dugtungan” novel written by accomplished writers, Cecilia Brainard, Nadine Sarreal, Susan Evangelista, Erma Cuizon and Beronica Montes. Dugtungan, says the blurb by Brian Ascalon Roley, “is a genre of the Tagalog novel popular early in the 20th century, in which each writer creates a chapter and hands it off to the next, who writes another chapter without direction. The result, in this case, is an ensemble performance that contains something of the exhilaration of theatrical improv.”

Three books belong to the creative non-fiction category. “Rich Life” by journalist Joy Posadas contains essays that focus on women’s major concerns such as life-work balance, passion and fulfillment in one’s career and financial security and independence, among others. Posadas shares insights gained over the years and from what she gathered from successful individuals from varied backgrounds.

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“E.D.G.E. (Every Day Great Examples)” features Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) of past years, among them Cecile Guidote Alvarez, Soledad Aquino-Hernando, Pamela Gracia Concepcion C. Asis,  Patricia Licuanan, Lourie Victor, Sonia Roco, Victoria Garchitorena, Edna Manlapaz and Noralin Mangondato Sharief-Ador.

“Peace Warriors: On the Trail of Filpino Soldiers” by journalist Criselda Yabes is an eloquent exposition on how different sectors of society, particularly the military, attempt to forge peace between different warring groups in Mindanao. Twenty years after her “The Boys From the Barracks” which chronicled the coup attempts in the 1980s, Yabes returns to the military in Muslim Mindanao, where the struggle to find peace is taking place. She weaves a richly layered story that fuses her personal history as a Mindanaoan and as a journalist covering peace and war in the area.

In the social science category are two books that present an alternative view of history by Christine Diaz.  Written in engaging prose, “World History: New Perspectives” and “Asia: History, Civilization and Culture” highlight history’s great moments, unforgettable episodes and how they relate to current realities. A great teacher, Diaz does her (hi)storytelling with a touch of humor and suspense. The book covers give a hint of that. Diaz also wrote the critically acclaimed “The Other Philippine History Textbook.”

Three how-to books provide practical tips on how women (and men) can turn their cooking talents into profitable enterprises:  “Restaurant Management 101” by Les Roches-trained Rosanna Gonzalez and Edna Reynoso-Anton, “Food, Business Ideas and Edible Gifts” by Vicky Veloso Barrera, and “Pinoy Vegetarian Cookbook” by food writers Dolly T. Dy-Zulueta and Susanna T. Dy

And in the children’s book category are “Spinning/Paikot-ikot” by Irene A. Sarmiento and illustrated by Christian Oliver Cruz and “Bituin and the Big Flood/Si Bituin at ang Malaking Baha” by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo  (me) and illustrated by Inquirer cartoonist Jess Abrera.

“Spinning” is about a boy with autism and how children with the condition could be better understood. It shows what children with autism are capable of and how those who care for them could look beyond their handicaps.

I wrote “Bituin” after the devastating typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” struck the country in 2009. The book tells the story of how a family and a community cope and survive a natural calamity. “Bituin” is dedicated to the children who lost their lives during the typhoons and those who survived. Fine-tuned with the help of child psychologist Dr. Lourdes A. Carandang, “Bituin” contains guide questions for teachers and readers to use.

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Although not part of the book launch, “Intertwining Culture of Patriarchy, Corruption and Impunity” by  multi-awarded former regional trial court Judge Adoracion P. Cruz-Avisado of Davao City is worthy of mention. Published by Ateneo de Davao, the book is about her personal “journey in advocacy for the transformation of the justice system.” A good read for those in the legal profession and for women helping women.

In this Sunday’s Inquirer Magazine is a feature (that I wrote) on the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (Aliww),  the only one of its kind in this part of the world. Why Aliww? “Women are instinctive archivists. Careful guardians of memorabilia, assiduous note-makers and journal-writers, they are often the archivists of their families and clans. Unfortunately, much of the documentation they produce is eventually lost to the relentless claims of time, exacerbated by human neglect. The axiom ‘no documentation, no history’ applies: without such primary material, it becomes especially difficult to establish the legacies of women to various areas of Philippine life. By providing researchers access to primary sources, Aliww facilitates the writing of a national history that acknowledges the contributions of Filipino women.”

At last, not just a metaphorical “room of her own” but a real one with treasures of its own.

Send feedback to [email protected] or www.ceresdoyo.com

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