Tuesday, September 06, 2011

ReaderCon/Filipino Friday: Reading Filipino Literature

As a countdown to our 1st ReaderCon, I'm joining the other Pinoy bloggers in doing this Filipino Friday meme. Every Friday, we're asked to share our answers on different questions, and last week's question was all about Filipino literature. Again, I'm a little late to the party.

Being a Lit major and a writer for our university's literary folio really broadened my awareness of Philippine literature outside of the stories we discussed in high school (like Maganda Pa ang Daigdig and Without Seeing the Dawn). I guess when we were younger, reading Filipino stories and novels was more an obligation than anything. But a lot changed in college. I was fortunate to have met a few of my literary idols; a number of them have even been my teachers and critics. Slowly I began reading out of genuine curiosity and no longer out of obligation.

One of my favorite Filipino books is Merlinda Bobis' Banana Heart Summer. It has such beautiful descriptions of food and living in the province and growing up and all of them together and I was just really drawn to it. It's been years since I read it (I'm pretty sure my copy's been lost in the black hole residing in my bookshelves) but as far as I remember it didn't have a real climax. But that's how I like my books: quiet slices of life, patient and poetic. And because I'm such a fan girl, there's also Yvette Tan's Waking the Dead, a rich collection of Filipino stories both weird and macabre. Another favorite of mine is a collection of short stories called Catfish arriving in little schools, which features short stories by Gina Apostol, Jaime An Lim, and Clinton Palanca.

I wish I read more Filipino books. This year, I've managed eight: FH Batacan's Smaller and Smaller Circles, Erwin Castillo's The Firewalkers, GM Coronel's Tragic Theater, chick lit books Popped, Fan Girl, and Love Your Frenemies, and Manix Abrera's Kikomachine 5. (Oo, malapit na ang 7. Huli na ako.) These are not enough. I have started reading books by Ambeth Ocampo and Alice Sarmiento but I left them in Manila. Still not enough. I read SFF short stories over at Philippine Genre Stories and I know: it is nowhere near enough. I'm hoping that I can continue discovering more Filipino books that I can enjoy, with the help of fellow bloggers and events like ReaderCon.

PS. I am hopeful that this will be the year that I finally get a copy of Vince Groyon's The Sky Over Dimas.

The ReaderCon is presented together with Vibal Publishing House, Inc, and sponsors Primetrade Asia, Flipside Digital Content, and Scholastic. It is supported by the National Book Development Board.


Celina said...

Ooh, I got Banana Heart Summer from a book swap earlier this year. I guess I should get to it then.

Thanks for all of those recommendations. I only hope that all of those books are still available in bookstores.:)

Frida Fantastic said...

Cool reads. I'm still working my way through Filipino Spec Fic Vol. 2, although my weekly indie ebook commitment takes up most of my reading time. I liked Yvette Tan's story in that one. I hope more Filipino authors jump on that ebook bandwagon, so this reader from Canada can get more of my Filipino lit fix :)

dementedchris said...

Hope you like Banana Heart Summer. It's slice-of-life, kinda like how Little Women is written. Short snippets of the main character's life are shown. Hope you find the other books! I bought Catfish a long time ago and I haven't seen copies around lately.

I'm glad you like Yvette's story (was it The Bridge that was included in SpecFic 2? I tend to forget). She's really one of my favorites!