ReaderCon Filipino Friday: Week Four

Thank you ReaderCon. Now we’re on our fourth week for the meme series.

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.

I do read Filipino literature, when I find one that interests me. Mostly local myths and lore though. I can’t help it—that’s what really appeals to me! But they’re by no one in particular. I can’t remember even one author or any specific myth or lore book.

But I have a few books by Filipinos though:
1. Carlo Vergara’s Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah: bought his because of recommendation and sheer peer pressure. I think, if I gave in to OL and IRL friends, I would’ve bought Trese and other Filipino comic books too! But I’m leaving P. M. Junior’s Pugad Baboy series to my older brother. That’s his thing.
2. Bob Ong’s Ang Paboritong Libro Ni Hudas: my best friend gave it to me as a surprise belated birthday gift two years ago. I read it while lining up to be registered for the 2010 presidential elections. And this was also the reason why the people there didn’t talk to me—but that’s for another post.
3. The Best of Youngblood: back when I was still in high school, I really thought of making an article for this column. Not that I was gunning for being one of the picks for their next compilation (but that wouldn’t be so bad a goal); my article is somewhere inside a bag, along with other pieces I was contemplating to submit but never got the courage to.
4. Youngblood 2.0: a sequel but, personally, not as good as the first one.

If you don’t read much Filipino lit, tell us why.

Filipino authors write. They write well. They write enough. But I just don’t like what they write about.

Although our myths and lore are a rich source of inspiration, no one is inspired enough by them to write a book (and not just a repeat of the same story). I am not saying that someone has to write as awesome as Rick Riordan does for me to read them, but that could help. I have yet to see something that would really interest me. Unless there are works out there that I have yet to come across. If you know of one, please tell me. This goes for other genres that I like.

This is shallow but part of the reason why a book gets picked is the front cover. For covers for Filipino books, I’ve seen cheesy, blah, and injustice. Sometimes even all in one. It’s like the cover was made just so there would be a cover. I know Filipino artists could do better than what MS Paint provides.

Lastly—and please correct me if I am wrong with this one—I’ve yet to see a bookstore with a Filipino section up front, like it’s the first thing that would greet you (or be in your way) as you enter. Yes, I know that displaying the bestsellers front and center is a marketing strategy. But must they be in the far back and minus the seats and space? Isn’t where Filipino books are placed in bookstores (owned by Filipinos?) in the Philippines say something about the pride in Philippine literature and Filipino authors? If Filipino readers are supposed to be proud of having Filipino books by Filipino authors, shouldn’t Filipino bookstores do the same?


6 Comments Add yours

  1. fantaghiro23 says:

    You mention great points in your explanation for not reading much Philippine lit. I, too, would like to see Filipino books up front in a bookstore. Or, I’d just like to see our books mixed up with everyone else’s. For instance, a Filipino fiction title is not placed in the fiction section, but will always be placed under Filipiniana. Unless it’s published by an international publishing house. And that’s a sad state of affairs.

    I also agree about the covers, though indie authors seem more particular about their book covers. Perhaps that’s because they control the entire process.

    As for finding stories that are based on our myths and lore, have you tried the Philippine Speculative Fiction works and authors? Or the komiks from Visprint like Trese? Or Arnold Arre’s Mythology Class? Discovered them relatively lately myself and was pleased to find I really enjoyed them.


    1. matiserrano says:

      Wow! Thank you. I really thought I was alone on this. And that mix-up–please! Book placements in bookstores could still be improved. At least I believe that.

      That part I didn’t know about. But, now that I think about it, it does make sense. Or that’s what I perceive indie authors do.

      Nope. First time to hear about that one. I have mentioned “Trese” earlier in this entry but I forgot “Mythology Class.” How could I forget that? Anyway, thanks for reminding me of that one. I see many copies of “Trese” but not of “Mythology Class.” That or I’m not looking hard enough.


  2. Patrick says:

    Great points! I hadn’t thought about it but our local books do have tacky cover arts (if you could call that art). Add to that the cheap paper and binding. The medium is not the message blah blah… but how do they expect to grab our interest if they don’t look good at least. It’s a shame how some foreign books have such eye-catching covers but have such bland content. Guess which one still gets more sales… Exactly!

    And +1 on you and Ms. Honey’s comment on the fault of our local bookstores too. It’s only recently that I discovered that this one popular bookstore has a separate Filipiniana section. And everything Filipino, no matter what the genre is being crammed there.


    1. matiserrano says:

      That is what I know to call those: cover art. Unless I’m wrong.

      Yes to the paper and binding. I know there’s the printing cost and budget; you’ll really have to shell out a lot of money to use quality materials and a great number of authors don’t have the means to do so. So they’d have to make do with what they could afford. And that’s a tad sad.

      We’ve all been told “don’t judge a book by its cover” but making the cover look arresting could really do wonders–and not just for the book! All it takes is just a little effort.

      I know. When it dawns on you, it’s disheartening really. But it’s not like there’s nothing that bookstores couldn’t do about it. Unless they choose not to.


  3. Chachic says:

    You’ve brought up interesting points in your post! And I agree with the things that you’ve said. As for Filipino books with mythology, I recommend Tall Story by Candy Gourlay. It’s a middle grade or younger YA novel and has a bit of the Bernardo Carpio lore in it.

    Honey already recommended the Phil Spec Fic book and I haven’t read it myself but I am curious. You can also check out other Filipino Friday posts from Pao ( and Kenneth ( because they have a lot of genre fiction recommendations.


    1. matiserrano says:

      Thanks so much! “Tall Story by Candy Gourlay.” Noted. And I don’t mind younger YA. I think of it as something to pass on to my pamangkins here. And if it is a good book, who cares about the age of the reader, right? (At least I don’t.)

      Also thanks for the other links. I’ll check them out later. Again, thank you.


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