Outstanding books

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2015 - 9:00am

Here are more winners of the National Book Awards:

ALFONSO T. ONGPIN PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK ON ART (named after the pioneering gallery owner, art collector, and Rizalist): “Journey of a Thousand Shuttles: The Philippine Weave,” by Norma A. Respicio (National Commission for Culture and the Arts).

With great respect and a confident hand, Norma A. Respicio takes us through a journey of centuries, tracing the remarkable history and artistry of weaving across the archipelago.  Carefully researched and presented, “Journey of a Thousand Shuttles: The Philippine Weave” is more than a mere repository of the past – it is a glorious celebration of craft, preserving the artistic expressions of various cultural groupings, rendered on cloth.

PILIPINAS SHELL PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK IN SCIENCE (named after the corporation that also sponsors prizes for art): “Birds of Cebu and Bohol Philippines,” by Nilo Arribas Jr., Bobby Kintanar, and Raul Benjamin Puentespina (University of San Carlos Press).

“Birds of Cebu and Bohol Philippines” offers the reader the next best thing to actually seeing, watching, and photographing more than a hundred species of birds that inhabit, some only briefly or seasonally, the islands of Cebu and Bohol. Meant as a guide to those just beginning the addictive pastime of birding or watching indigenous and migratory birds, the book proves that, when it comes to beauty, nothing beats nature.

JOHN C. KAW PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK IN HISTORY (named after the son of the founder of the powder sugar manufacturer, Peotraco Food): “Sakdalistas’ Struggle for Philippine Independence, 1930-1945,” by Motoe Terami-Wada (Ateneo de Manila University Press).

Motoe Terami-Wada serves as redeemer of the repressed knowledge embodied in the Sakdalista episode which resurfaces in “Sakdalistas’ Struggle for Philippine Independence, 1930-1945.” Her search and handling of sources clear a path for readers to recognize the Sakdalista and Ganap movements’ long shared struggle for Philippine independence, and the Makapili as a possible part of a timeline linking Ricarte and even the Philippine Revolution of 1896-1899. The book handles the vast qualitative data to yield a Gestalt versatile enough to inspire revision and mobilization.

BEST BOOK OF JOURNALISM: “Vantage Point: The Sixth Estate and Other Discoveries,” by Luis V. Teodoro (University of the Philippines Press).

Agree or disagree with him, we are always treated to an informed, reasoned, and well-crafted opinion – and not “only an opinion” – when we read Luis V. Teodoro’s columns, now collected in “Vantage Point: The Sixth Estate and Other Discoveries.” At its best, journalism is not merely literature in a hurry but achieves the stature of true literature. This book and this journalist prove that.

KOMISYON SA WIKANG FILIPINO PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK IN LANGUAGE STUDIES: “Ambagan 2011:  Mga Salita Mula sa Iba’t Ibang Wika sa Filipinas,” by Michael M. Coroza and Galileo S. Zafra (University of the Philippines Press).

Malayang isiping klinika ito o talyer – na ang bawat salita ay nasusuri sa lente ng kultura at aparato ng kasaysayan – ngunit hindi igigiit ang sariling maging kahon o bodega na paglilibingan ng mga pakahulugang unti-unting naglalaho ang silbi at tamis sa hapag ng bayan. Ibinubukás nito ang sarili para balikan o kaya’y pag-isipan, at handang ayusin ang tagas ng pahiwatig o palyadong katwiran, bukod sa wari’y ibig sumabát o sumibát sa huntahan ng mga intelektuwal. Tagpuan ng mga taál na wika, ang “Ambagan” ay matibay na halimbawa kung paano itataguyod ang Filipino bilang wikang pambansa sa antas na pandaigdig.

(This critique or workshop – with every word examined through the lens of culture and history –avoids becoming a mere repository of meanings that gradually lose their usefulness and sweetness. Ready to correct wrong reasoning, it revisits and rethinks intellectual discourse. Harnessing our own languages, “Ambagan” is an excellent example of how to promote Filipino as national but international language.)

BEST DESIGN: “The Manila Synod of 1582: The Draft of Its Handbook for Confessors,” designed by Karl Fredrick M. Castro (Ateneo de Manila University Press).

Sa napakaraming aklat na napakaganda ng pagdisenyo, nangingibabaw ang “The Manila Synod of 1582” sa paggamit ng uri ng papel, sa pagpili ng angkop na tipo, sa pag-ayos ng mga pang-iskolar na datos para hindi makagugulo sa pagbasa, sa bagay na bagay na cover, at sa pagpili ng tamang laki at timbang ng aklat.

(“The Manila Synod of 1582” towers over numerous well-designed books, because of its choice of paper and typefaces, its handling of scholarly data in order to minimize disruption in reading, and the appropriateness of its cover design, its size, and its weight.)


Hindi matatawaran ang galing ng Visprint, sa pagpili ng mga aklat na makakaaliw sa mambabasa habang itinataas ang antas ng pag-unawa nito sa mga pangyayari sa ating bansa. Hindi lamang pagpili, kundi paghubog ng mga manunulat, pagpapalawak ng merkado, at pagsakay sa takbo ng sensibilidad ng taumbayan. Marami at malalim at mapangahas ang mga inilathala ng Visprint sa nakaraang taon.

(Visprint is outstanding in its choice of books that delight while educating readers on the issues facing the nation, in the care it gives to its stable of writers, in its pushing of the frontiers of the market, and in its finger on the pulse of the reading public. Visprint published quite a number of profound and daring books in 2014.)

(To be continued)

Happy new year! May 2016 bring better governance and less inequality!


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