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National Artists grace 41st MCC-NBDB National Book Awards

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This year’s NBA is also a call for writers, publishers, and other stakeholders in the book sector and creative industries

Warmest congratulations to the winners and finalists of the 41st National Book Awards held Feb. 24 at the Areté, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.

One multi-awarded writer present described it as a “star-studded” night.

Among those whose glittering attendance illumined the event were National Artist for Literature Gémino Abad, National Artist for Music Ramon Santos, and National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee.

Also present was Dr Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, who has been nominated for the NA distinction, and is considered the country’s pioneering writer of creative non-fiction.

The highlight of the evening was the lifetime achievement award given to Dr Isagani R. Cruz, a founding member of the Manila Critics Circle.

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Educator, writer, critic, and establisher of literary organizations that have stood over time, Cruz’s achievements resound throughout the industry and constitute a worthy legacy of an illustrious career.

Among the night’s winners were Glenn Diaz, whose ‘Yñiga: A Novel’ won the Best Novel in English prize, and RM Topacio-Aplaon, whose ‘El Arbol de Alegria: Southern Quartet I’ took the Best Novel in Filipino award.

Dr Alexandra Iñigo-Chua (center, in blue) accepts her award for Best Book in Art. Beside her is National Artist for Music Dr Ramon Santos. With them are MCC’s Dean Francis Alfar, Shirley Lua, Antonio La Viña, and Jenny Ortuoste. (Photo courtesy: Dr. Sandy Chua.)

The latter was published by Isang Balangay Media Productions of Ronald Verzo, an up-and-coming young press with quite a few finalists this year, while the former was released by the Ateneo de Manila University Press now under Dr Rica Bolipata-Santos, which took the Publisher of the Year award for the sixth year in a row for having the most finalists and winners.

This NBA cycle’s winning poets were Arlene J. Yandug for ‘Coming Home to the Island: Poems’ (Xavier University Press), Miguel Paolo Celestial for ‘Sa Ika-Ilang Sirkulo ng Impyerno’ (Isang Balangay), and Adonis Durado for ‘Ang Nakayatak kay Nayatakan: Who Steps On is Stepped Upon’ (University of the Philippines [UP] Press).

Stepping up more than once to the stage was Dr Chuckberry Pascual, an associate professor of the University of Santo Tomas.

Pascual won for Best Translated Book in Filipino (Miguel Syjuco’s ‘Ilustrado’, UST Publishing House), and for Best Anthology in Filipino as co-editor along with Dr Rolando Tolentino of Plus/+ at Iba Plus, Maramihan: New Philippine Non-Fiction on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities, Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Another winner from UST was Dr Alexandra Iñigo-Chua, editor of the Best Book of Art (‘Julio Nakpil (1867-1960) Collected Works Vol. 1’, UST Publishing House, led by its Director Benedict Parfan and Deputy Director Paul A. Castillo).

Another Thomasian, Alice M. Sun-Cua, MD, won in the Best Translated Book in Hiligaynon category for her translation from Spanish to Hiligaynon of Spanish author Carmen Laforet’s novel ‘Nada.’

Sun-Cua is considered among the country’s foremost translators of works in Spanish. She took her degree in medicine at UST.

Finalists from UST were Dr John Jack Wigley, for his translation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ (Lampara Books); Dr Joyce Arriola, editor of ‘Himaya: Panitikan ng Pagbabanyuhay’ (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) in the Best Anthology in Filipino category; and Dr Joselito delos Reyes, co-editor along with Dr Rolando Tolentino and Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin of ‘The Lives of a Filipino High School Student’ (UST Press) in the Best Anthology in English category.

The NBA event, founded by the Manila Critics Circle (MCC) and administered and supported logistically and in many other ways by the National Book Development Board, annually “honors the best books written, designed, and published in the Philippines. This cycle highlights titles published in 2022,” according to the NBDB.

Dr Chuckberry Pascual and Dr Nick Deocampo, winners at the 41st National Book Awards. (Photo courtesy Dr. Chuck Pascual.)

The MCC’s members are Dean Francis Alfar, Shirley O. Lua, Michael M. Coroza, Alma-Anonas-Carpio, Antonio Gabriel La Viña, and Jenny Ortuoste.

This year’s NBA is also a call for writers, publishers, and other stakeholders in the book sector and creative industries to cooperate with and participate in the NBDB’s ongoing preparations for the country’s 2025 Guest of Honor stint at the Frankfurt Buchmesse (Bookfair), the world’s largest.

NBDB Chair Dante Ang II said of this: “More than a local readership, all of our winning books should be given a platform to be read by readers around the world. [At the Buchmesse], we will elevate the task of redefining our aspirations as Filipinos beyond our waters.”

NBDB Executive Director Charisse Aquino-Tugade spoke of the “complexity and diversity of our relatively young but fast-growing book publishing industry. This is what we bring to the Frankfurt Book Fair next year.”

Find the entire list of winners at the NBDB Facebook page.

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