“I hope this current government will step up to be more supportive of recognition ceremonies that provide incentives to writers, illustrators, publishers, book designers, and others in the book industry to reach for the highest standards”
After a years-long hiatus, two national book awards have returned this year to recognize the best publications in the country, promote Philippine literature, and advance a culture of reading in the country.
I hope that this current government will step up to be more supportive of recognition ceremonies such as these, that provide incentives to writers, illustrators, publishers, book designers, and others in the book industry to reach for the highest standards.
In fact, I hope the current administration will take note of the country’s creative activities – literary, visual arts, music, film, broadcasting, and the rest – which provide so much potential in terms of global recognition and representation, revenue, and as economic drivers. More on this next time.
39th National Book Awards (NBA)
The NBA, given annually by the Manila Critics Circle (MCC) in coordination with the National Book Development Board (NBDB), is back after a pandemic hiatus.
The awarding ceremony this year will be held on July 30, and may be viewed by the public on the NBDB’s Facebook page and YouTube account from 6:00 p.m. onward.
The MCC and NBDB announced the finalists last June, and posted the list on social media. I also wrote about it for Manila Standard’s Lifestyle section last month.
To briefly recap, this year’s NBA includes titles published in 2019 and 2020. The last awards were handed out in 2019, prior to the pandemic, recognizing the books published in 2018.
There are 23 categories in the NBA. In the category Novel in English, the four finalists are Daryll Delgado for Remains, Caroline S. Hau for Tiempo Muerte, Criselda Yabes for Broken Islands, and Jessica Zafra for The Age of Umbrage.
For Novel in Filipino, only two made the cut: Rhod V. Nuncio for Omnibus at ang Misteryo ng Nawawalang Ulo, and RM Topacio-Aplaon for Topograpiya ng Lumbay: Imus Novel 6.
The NBDB, a government agency, has done its best to support the MCC’s National Book Awards for several years with grants and logistical support. However, they will support with logistics for only one more cycle and, after that, MCC is on its own to find volunteers to act as the secretariat for the awards.
The MCC is a group of writers and academics who organize the NBA on an independent, unpaid basis. In effect, they are “taking one for the team” in behalf of the Philippine literary industry because, as MCC members, their books cannot be nominated for any of the regular categories.
The current members of the MCC are National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, Dean Francis Alfar, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Dr. Isagani R. Cruz, Ruel S. De Vera, Dr. Shirley O. Lua, Dr. Michael M. Coroza, Dr. Jenny Ortuoste, and Dr. Danton Remoto.
Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards (FRCA)
The FCRA, an online popular choice awards previously conducted from 2012 to 2015, returns after a seven-year rest due to lack of volunteers to run it. It was established by independent volunteers to address the lack of a book awards given by Filipino readers.
First held alongside the Filipino ReaderCon, also organized by the same volunteers, the FRCA grew from seven to 13 categories and from 7,000 plus to over 101,000 voters.
The awards resumes again because the FRCA has been adopted by the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), a private organization. As such, the FRCA is now included in the BDAP’s programming, which will hold the award every other year, alternately with the BDAP Gintong Aklat awards.
BDAP Trustee and Readership Committee Head Honey de Peralta, who is also a Filipino ReaderCon co-founder, said: “I’m happy that BDAP has adopted the FRCA, and it seems that the former volunteer organizers are pleased as well, as it finally assures continuity of this reader-focused award.”
For the revived FRCA this year, nominations and online voting are open to the public, with the top three entering into the judging phase.
The nomination period is from July 29 to August 5, 2022 for publishers, and from August 10 to 24 for the public. Public voting will be held in September 2022, with the judging to follow and awarding in November.
Eligible for the awards are traditionally published and self-published titles published in 2015 to 2018 (first batch), and 2019 to 2021 (second batch).
The award categories are: Fiction (in English and Filipino), Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, Romance (in English and Filipino), Humor, and Young Adult, among others. Added this year are the History and Translated Work categories.
Among the FRCA’s previous winners are Beverly Wico Siy’s It’s A Mens World (2012, Essay Anthology) and Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo’s Trese 5: Midnight Tribunal (2013, Comics/Graphic Novels).
The objectives of the FRCA, the BDAP said, are the same as ever: “to develop awareness and appreciation of Filipino literature, recognize the reader’s role in creating the meaning and experience of a literary work, and give the readers a voice in the Philippine book industry.”
For updates and more information, follow the new FRCA webpage on the BDAP website, and the FRCA Facebook (Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards), Twitter (@PhReadersChoice) and Instagram (@filipinoreaderschoice) accounts.
*** FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO