As the date for the first Filipino Reader Conference draws near, we continue Filipino Fridays with the penultimate ReaderCon-connected meme with this question: “Do you read Filipino literature? If yes, what are some books by Filipino authors that you can recommend to fellow readers?”
If you’re one of my few regular readers, then you already know the answer to this question. If you’re one of the random people who just happened to drop by, here’s my answer:
Yes, I do read Filipino literature. Not counting Ibong Adarna, Florante at Laura, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo–all of which were required reading for high school, I’ve read somewhere in the vicinity of a hundred Filipino stories. I haven’t finished them all (unless I finish Ilustrado sometime soon), and I didn’t enjoy nearly half of them. But the ones that I did enjoy, I enjoyed completely.
Some of the best work I’ve read, I’ve already posted about in this blog. These are the books I’m recommending for my fellow readers:
#1 Trese. A series of graphic novels that deals with Filipino folklore with a kickass heroine named Alexandra Trese. It’s an ongoing story rich with mythology, and with characters that really pop out from the pages of the book. Once you finish one book, you’re gonna want to dive in to the next series of stories as soon as you can.
#2 The Filipino Heroes League. There’s only one book so far, and according to its Facebook Fan Page, the next one won’t come out until Summer of 2012. It’s about a group of superheroes who are employed by the government; but like many things in the Philippines, they are underfunded and unsupported. Bleak? Maybe, but it’s this underdog status that drives the story forward, and makes this superheroes a lot different from what we’ve already seen/read from other publishers.
#3 Tall Story. This one was actually published abroad, but it is written by a Filipino author. What I like most about Tall Story is that it’s very fresh, and it’s proves that a Filipino can write Young Adults novels just as well as other writers–that we can write about something other than the desolation of the country, and the problems of the country, and the bleak future of the country. Tall Story is a heartwarming story about accepting differences, and getting by with your family.
#4 Naermyth. Like with Tall Story, the thing I liked most about this book was how it showed what Filipino authors are capable of. In this case, it’s a fairly believable dystopian future fiction. I had problems with the story, but its author does show a lot of promise. I think she just needs more practice.
If you’ve noticed, I steered clear from books about poverty and other problems the Philippines is facing. We already have a lot of books with that plot or that theme. The books I want to promote are the ones that show the Filipino for what they really are: creative and with initiative. We can rise above poverty-porn, we can write about something else other than what currently ails the country.
I’ve always maintained my belief that books are a great form of escape. I’m hoping that sometime soon, we’ll have books of our own that equal the imaginative worlds of The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.
So now that you know the books I’m recommending, what are the Filipino-produced books you’d like to recommend to me?