Review: Bumasa at Lumaya 2

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In celebration of the 33rd National Children’s Book Day, I received a review copy of the second edition of “Bumasa at Lumaya 2: A Sourcebook on Children’s Literature in the Philippines,” edited by Ani Rosa Almario, Neni Sta. Romana Cruz, and Ramon C. Sunico.

I encountered the first “Bumasa at Lumaya” (1994) book in college while I was doing research for my thesis, which was about the process of creating a children’s book.  The Rizal Library had a copy of the book, and while I appreciated the context it provided me of the Philippine children’s book industry, the year was 2005 and I had to rely mainly on articles I could find online for more recent  articles I could use as reference.

This second volume comes as a much needed update on the first, an essential sourcebook for students, teachers, writers, illustrators and other children’s content creators, publishers, and generally anyone who is involved or interested in Philippine children’s books.

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Ready for MIBF?

DSC_0328It’s September, and there is one event that stands out in my bookish calendar: the Manila International Book Fair, happening on Sept. 16-20 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. I’m literally counting down to opening day tomorrow (ack!) and looking forward to five days of pure bookish bliss.

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Bookish Weekend: #PLF2015 (+ giveaway!)

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I had a blast this weekend geeking out on books, author and illustrator encounters, and more at National Book Store’s Philippine Literary Festival in Raffles Makati.

I was determined to attend the LitFest this year because I missed the 2014 LitFest (which featured Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee) while I was in China. I still missed Day 1 this year (mainly because I’ve filed too many book-related leaves this year already and it’s peak season at work), so by Saturday I was raring to go — I was there bright and early, in time for the first session.

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The Year We Became Invincible

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I met Mae Coyiuto sometime last year to discuss a project, and we’ve been corresponding on that for some months now when she asked if I would be interested in reviewing  her upcoming YA novella. I knew she has been writing since she was very young, but I’ve never actually read any of her work so I told her to go ahead and send me the manuscript.

Set for release later this month (under Anvil Publishing), “The Year We Became Invincible” is about high school senior Camille Li, whose life is planned out to the last detail. She’s a ballerina who plans to major in chemistry, and go on to med school to become a doctor like her dad. But when Camille meets Ian, a “smart ass slacker” and his group of adventure-loving friends, she finds herself doing things she never would have dared to do before, and she starts to reconsider what she wants to do with her life.

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Author interview: Gina Apostol

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure to meet US-based Filipino author Gina Apostol, whose work I first encountered in the anthology “Manila Noir,” so I quickly agreed to interview her when I received the invitation some months back.

I read her two books, “The Gun Dealers’ Daughter” and “The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata,” which proved to be quite an interesting experience. I enjoy non-linear narratives (because they mess with your mind, haha constantly make you think), and while these were not easy reads (the vocabulary is intimidating!), these two books showcase some darn fine storytelling, not to mention a historiographic wonderland for both postcolonials and postmodernists.

I read “The Gun Dealers’ Daughter” first and was surprised to find it was a coming of age novel. Soledad “Sol” Soliman is a young woman trying to come to terms with a traumatic past, struggling to emerge from her dreamy haze to piece together her memories and discover what her psyche is blocking out. And while there are entirely too many novels set in Martial Law Philippines, I enjoyed the deeply personal way the novel tackles this period in history, making it Sol’s own story and telling it in a different way.

“The Revolution According to  Raymundo Mata” is a metafictional delight set in my favorite period of Philippine history, the Philippine Revolution. Raymundo Mata is a fictionalized historical character, whose journals are being translated and annotated by scholars. As Raymundo tells his story, another story is being told in the footnotes, as the translator Mimi C. Magsalin and two rival scholars Diwata Drake and Estrella Espejo begin to create meaning out of the text (and then some!). I loved the way Raymundo Mata was neatly slotted into history (as a childhood friend of Aguinaldo and a patient of Rizal), but I enjoyed the comedy happening in the footnotes even more: the petty catfight brewing between Diwata and Estrella, and the ongoing commentary on the text, reflecting the way history is never fully objective. As they get deeper into the text, more questions arise, leaving the reader to form their own opinions on this historical mystery.

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