I believe that we are a reading and writing population; local book publishers are continually giving birth to new authors, and there are self-published gems to be found in various (and even unlikely) venues of literature. Yes, the big book stores may only have a small section for “Filipiniana” amongst thousands of featured imported books, but given the chance, our own writers can blow anyone away.
As the country celebrates its independence, we highlight a handful of authors and titles—but a sampling of the wealth of beautiful words out there—that deserve your attention.
RM Topacio-Aplaon, Lila: Ang Kulay ng Pamamaalam, UP Press
Topacio-Aplaon’s style has been described as “mala-Murakami” in this, his debut novel. Written in pure Filipino, this is an intricately woven coming-of-age story of young love, loss, and sexuality. It may be a little on the melancholic side, but it’s the kind of ache that you get from something that is captivating.
VJ Campilan, All My Lonely Islands, Anvil Publishing
This book won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature two years ago on the strength of Campilan’s sparkling prose that takes her readers on a decades-long journey from the vast vistas of Batanes to the jungles of Bangladesh.
Isa Garcia, Found: Letters on Love, Life, and God, OMF Literature Inc.
As a teacher, moving young people is almost second-nature to Garcia, and Found is a concentration of that potent inspiration she wields. She believes that everybody deserves a love letter, and this title is basically a collection of them written to young women (and even men).
Gian Lao, All the Winters of My Body, self-published
A speechwriter for former President Noynoy Aquino and a finalist in the 2013 Maningning Miclat Poetry Competition, Lao has written for various magazines and newspapers. Released just six months ago, All the Winters of My Body is his first poetry collection. (To order his book, go to gianlao.com).
Agay Llanera, Another Word for Happy, Romance Class
Llanera has already several books under her name apart from her work as a freelance writer for television and video. In Another Word for Happy she takes the YA novel on a less familiar route with a story of a young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
Rin Chupeco, The Girl from the Well, Sourcebooks Fire
Chupeco’s novels have the same flavor and feel as wonderfully crafted Asian horror films. This new title may have a jumping point from Sadako of the Ring, but the story of the avenging spirit makes for a fun and exhilarating read.
Disclaimer: This list is a mere sampling of local talents out there in the Philippine literary scene. My literature and creative writing professors, prolific book bloggers, and more rabid readers might have their own lists of young authors to counter this list. I say to them: “Come and share your literary finds with us!”