Filipino books I want to read

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

Last Sunday, my column was about books I want to read in 2019. They were all foreign published. Today I am writing about Filipino books I plan to read next year. I have always been a bookworm since my grade school days. My target is 60 books a year inspired by articles of successful men, including Bill Gates who say that one of their secrets is being well read.

I confess that I have never read all the books on my reading list for a variety of reasons. Most often other books attract my attention. Other times I start a book; and then decide I am not interested in finishing the book. Then I also have mood swings when it comes to books. During my college days I devoured philosophy books, science fiction and fantasy books. Today, my interests are more into history, geopolitics, economics, military and business books. Filipiniana books have always been my passion until now. 

RIZAL+. Executive editor Alfred A. Yuson, published by Water Dragon  Inc., 2018

This is the first book on my list and one that I have started reading. It is a collection of 43 essays about Jose Rizal and his life. There are four reasons I was immediately attracted to this book. First, I have always been fascinated by Rizal’s life for he was a “... poet, polyglot, physician, patriot, and fated martyr.” Second, the list of essayists include some of the foremost writers in the Philippines like Leon Ma. Guerrero, Sylvia Mayuga, Alfredo Roces, Gilda Cordero Fernando, Jose Lacaba, Ambeth Ocampo, Erwin Castillo, Butch Dalisay, et al.  Third, this is a project of Krip Yuson whose work I have always admired and respected. Fourth, the pictures and illustrations are amazing.

IINSURRECTO by Gina Apostol, Soho Press 2018 

Frankly, I seldom read novels; but, this book was highly recommended by two people who are widely read in literary books and whose judgment I completely trust – my wife Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz and my son Roel Cruz. Here is one book review: “ Theories and personalities collide in this literary tour de force about the Philippines’ present and America’s past by the PEN Open Book Award winning author of Gun Dealer’s Daughter. Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker go on a road trip to Duterte’s Philippines.”

RAYS of a SETTING SUN: Recollections of World War II, by Eliseo D. Rio, published by C & E Publishing, 2016

I have a collection of books – fiction and non-fiction – set in the Philippines during the Second World War, influenced by stories of my parents who were part of the Hukbalahap movement during that period. The book “...is an eloquent, first person account of living and experiencing the turbulence of wartime Philippines...Rio captures the ugly realities – fear, horror, suffering, and death – of war and depicts as well the sheer heroism and strength of character of the Filipinos as they survive to champion the cause of freedom.” Alejandro Roces wrote: “It gives a good picture of the Philippine Military Academy at the most critical moments of its history – the outbreak of World War II, the Battle of Bataan and the guerrilla resistance in Panay. The three related events are historically important.”

LIBERALISM and the POSTCOLONY: THINKING THE STATE IN 20th CENTURY PHILIPPINES by Lisandro E. Claudio, published by NUS Press ( Singapore) and Kyoto University Press, 2017

“ Liberalism is in crisis. Once thought to be the pinnacle of political development – the end of history – it is now under siege by resurrected forms of authoritarianism and populism.” This is  the  opening sentence by the author, an associate professor at De La Salle University. Among the many reviews, I found the one by Sheila Coronel as the most compelling: “Claudio is not starry eyed about liberalism; he is well aware of its limits and contradictions. But he nonetheless argues for internationalism and gradualism as a way forward. He rejects revolutionary shortcuts. This is a timely book – illiberalism and populism are on the rise worldwide. Will liberal democracy survive the current challenges? We don’t know, but Claudio makes us better equipped to grapple with this important question.”

SHADOWS of LIGHT: Philippine Church History Under Spain : A People’s Perspective by Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB, published by Claretian Communications Foundation, 2016

Two things attracted me to this book. First is the author who is a well known educator having taught at St. Scholastica’s  College for several decades; and, its intriguing promise of writing an aspect of Philippine history from the people’s perspective. “The history of the Church in Spanish colonial Philippines is rarely written about  and often from the missionaries’ or institutional point of view...Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB joins those few but with a different approach – not from the missions’ subjects as she puts it but from a people’s perspective as her title suggests.”

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Violent Conflict and the Real Economy of Mindanaoedited by Francisco Lara and Steven Schoofs, co-published by Bughaw and International Alert, 2016

International Alert is an organization that helps people find peaceful solutions to conflict. The book includes seven case studies by different authors. The blurb says: “Informal and unregulated economic activities remain an important feature of Mindanao’s economy.... informal economy has largely been overlooked in the analysis of Mindanao’s conflict dynamics. As a result little is understood about the informal economy’s impact on armed violence, development and governance.”

Ang Maraming Ngalan ni Emilio, by Weng D. Cahiles, illustrated by Aldy C. Aguirre,  Adarna House, 2017.  

I was introduced to this book because at our balikbayan grandson Emilio’s advance 5th birthday celebration at his most favorite restaurant, Jollibee, it seemed the perfect giveaway to include in the loot bag. An interesting story to introduce the many facets and talents of Emilio Jacinto to young Filipinos who need to know more about great heroes and role models.

This is a very short list. There is an astounding number of Filipino books that are worth reading. They include all the different genre of books. I hope that when you travel on your own journey of reading books, you will include the rewarding experience of including Filipino books. Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout resume in January (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration, email [email protected].

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