It’s been said many times that the Philippines has no reading culture, but I beg to differ. While reading may not be as prevalent here as in other countries, there is a huge population of Filipino readers of all ages who are interested in books, whether they buy them from a bookstore or book fair, download them as e-books, or read them online on sites such as Wattpad, Scribble Hub, and Royal Road.
It is their curiosity and hunger to learn more that I will attempt to satisfy, at least in a little way, in this new book review and literary news column. My deepest thanks go to Manila Standard publisher Rollie Estabillo for supporting this idea of mine, and to lifestyle editor Nickie Wang for his support.
The column title, “No Shelf Control,” was crowd-sourced and has the approval of the majority of my Facebook friends who I polled. It’s a nod to the intense eagerness readers have to get their hands on new books, whether or not they read them right away; just to have them there on the shelf or in your device is comforting, knowing you can access them in your own blessed time.
This column could just as well have been called “Tsundoku,” in reference to those of us who not only have full bookshelves but books piled on tables and on the floor, spilling off furniture, propping up other items, a veritable sea of paper and ink containing the thoughts and ideas of the living and the dead, all for our leisurely consumption.
I have a stellar lineup of books both fiction and non-fiction for review to share with you, among them: I Was the President’s Mistress!!, Miguel Syjuco’s new book, soon to be released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Assembling Alice, a novel by poet Mookie Katigbak Lacuesta (Penguin Books, 2022), an interesting work of biofiction; White Lady, Black Christ by Charlson Ong (Milflores Publishing, 2021); The Sovereign Trickster: Death and Laughter in the Age of Duterte by University of Washington history professor Vicente L. Rafael (Duke University Press, 2022, reprinted by Ateneo de Manila University [ADMU] Press); The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata by Gina Apostol (Soho Press, Inc., 2021) – the review copy took a long time to reach me because of the pandemic; Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala, the first in the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime, 2021); and The Horseman’s Revolt and Other Horrors by George Deoso, a collection of horror stories set in the Philippines (UST Publishing House, 2020).
Also for review are translated works by Rogelio Sicat and Rowena Festin and Sophia Flor Perez, an anthology of short stories edited by Luna Sicat-Cleto, and the latest edition of Under the Stacks by lawyer-historian Saul Q. Hofileña, Jr.
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Congratulations to the newly-installed board of trustees of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP).
Its new president, lawyer Andrea Pasion-Flores of Milflores Publishing, recently led a day-long planning to lay initiatives for a two-year term in the service of book development.
“We’re committed to work as hard as the previous board of trustees to help the industry recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic,” Pasion-Flores said.
The group’s other officers are Nida Ramirez of Avenida Books (VP for Internal), Paolo Herras of Komiket (VP for External), Jose Maria Policarpio of JTP Learning (Treasurer), and Honey de Peralta of the Representatives of Foreign Publishers in the PH (Auditor).
BDAP’s other trustees are Ani Rosa Almario (BDAP past president and trustee for Adarna House, Inc.), literature professor Dr. John Jack Wigley (trustee for the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House), Maria Karina Bolasco (ADMU Press), Jose Paolo Sibal (Central Books Supply, Inc. and Phoenix Publishing, Inc.), Flornida Ramirez (19th Avenida Publishing and Visprint Publishing), Gladys Doronila (OMF Literature), and Anna Jhorie Arciga (University of the Philippines Press).
The organization’s members are publishing houses and university presses, and among their flagship events are the Manila International Book Fair, first held in 1980 and the country’s largest and longest-running bookselling event; and the Gintong Aklat awards, meant to recognize excellence in bookmaking.
BDAP is also part of the official Philippine delegation to the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest.
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