ReaderCon Filipino Friday: Week 4

Filipino Friday
Filipino Friday

I guess I’m back to regular programming. Filipino Friday on Mondays is now airing. It’s been almost a month since I started to join this weekly book meme, thanks to the Filipino Readers Make It Social: The 1st Filipino Reader Conference. I have to say that this weekly thing is fun.

So let’s get to this week’s topic:

Reading Filipino Literature

Do you read Filipino literature? If you do, tell us your favorite books by Filipino authors and name a few that you’d like to recommend to fellow readers. If you don’t read much Filipino lit, then tell us why.

The question looks simple, but the implications are serious, especially if one’s answer is no. My answer is an ashaming sometimes.

Alright, you can move on to another blog, throw tomatoes at me, and swear never to get associated with me. But what can I do? With the sheer number of good books everywhere, it’s hard not to be colonial.

And wait, my answer is not no, so do not overreact. Let me list down the smattering number of Filipino books that I read:

  • Ibong Adarna, Florante at Laura, Noli Me Tangere, and El Filibusterismo – the latter two are by our national hero Jose Rizal, and these are required high school readings, so I guess they do not really count.
  • Youngblood Series – this is a column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the biggest dailies in the country. The column features contributions from people who belong to the younger generation. Now the adjective young is arbitrary, but I feel, after reading three of the books in this series, that the letters are from senders aged 13 to 33.
  • Ladlad Series – gay literature compiled by gay lit frontrunners J. Neil Garcia and Danton Remoto. I only borrowed these series, not because I am ashamed to buy them but because I devoured them when I got my hands on them through the library and a friend. I don’t think I have read the third installment yet. Should I buy the three or not?
  • Twisted Series – Okay fine. I admit I am a fan of Jessica Zafra, but I don’t worship her as rabidly as I did before. Now, I find myself contradicting some of her points, which is a form of growth on my part, I guess. The series is now composed of 12 (?) installments. The last one is Twisted 9, but there is Twisted 8 1/2, which I borrowed from a former coworker and was borrowed by my former housemate and which she didn’t return, Twisted Travels, which I haven’t read, and Twisted Flicks, which I also haven’t read. I also haven’t read Twisted 8 because the same housemate borrowed it as well. And yes, I also borrowed it from the same coworker. And oh, let me include two other books of her that I read and borrowed, Womenagerie and Manananggal Terrorizes Manila and Other Stories.
  • ABNKKBSNPLAko?! by Bob Ong – I also borrowed this one, and I think it would be the first and last Bob Ong book that I will ever read. I think he is okay, but it just bothers me that Bob Ong is faceless. Is he even a person? Persons? He or she? Who or what is he?
  • Shadowboxing in Headphones by Lourd Ernest de Veyra – I also borrowed this from a former colleague at the university paper. It was the time when I wanted to be a poet, so yes, I had to read some poetry in order to be one. But I am too wordy to be a poet. And it’s pretentious to claim yourself a poet. I think you should let others call you a poet. And I think it’s a responsibility to be a poet. And I am digressing.
  • Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco – a recent read and something that I bought. Hurrah!

I notice that I mostly borrowed these Filipino books listed here. I should buy them, I know. I should support Filipino writers. The problem is, they are not always available. Maybe they are out of print?

I have never found a copy of de Veyra’s books of poetry. Once, I found a copy of Nerisa Guevara’s book of poems, Reaching Destination, but it was too expensive. I think it was around Php650.00. And then there’s Jim Agustin Pascual’s poetry, Php 400.00 each.

I think you have just noticed what I am hinting at. That Filipino books are expensive. Actually, I shouldn’t be pointing that out because I buy books that are of the same price range. Geez.

Okay, I’ll make it a point to buy all the Ladlad and Twisted series. I cannot do anything about Bob Ong. I think my decision is final, sorry.

And the books of poetry? de Veyra, Guevara, Agustin? I’ll pass on them. I no longer appreciate poetry as much as I did before. I’ll focus on some great Filipino novelists, like F. Sionil Jose and Nick Joaquin. And also some short story writers, like Genoveva Edroza-Matute. Does anyone remember her story Ang Kuwento Ni Mabuti? That teacher who always says, “Mabuti,” and who is waging an inner war despite the kind words that she says to her students? That is strong Filipino writing. And that one is written in Filipino.

Mabuhay, mabuhay!

Filipino Readers Make It Social: The 1st Filipino Reader Conference
Filipino Readers Make It Social: The 1st Filipino Reader Conference