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More National Book Awards

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz - The Philippine Star

Here are more winners of the National Book Awards for books published in 2014:

CLODUALDO DEL MUNDO SR. PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF LITERARY CRITICISM IN A PHILIPPINE LANGUAGE (named after the pioneering literary critic of the early 20th century): “Talab: Mga Sanaysay sa Wika, Panitikan, at Pagtuturo,” by Rebecca T. Añonuevo (Ateneo de Naga University Press).

Iba-iba ang tinatalakay na paksa, anyo, larang, at isyu ng “Talab: Mga Sanaysay sa Panitikan, Wika, at Pagtuturo,” pero iisa lamang ang talagang ibig tukuyin – na dapat natin laging tinatanong kung ano ang higit na makabubuti sa ating bayan. Pagsali man sa patimpalak, pagpili ng gagamiting wikang panturo, pagsuri sa mga akdang pampanitikan, o mismong pagtula – dapat malinaw sa ating isip kung ano ang tama at ano ang hindi.

(“Talab: Mga Sanaysay sa Panitikan, Wika, at Pagtuturo” tackles several topics, genres, disciplines, and issues, but has only one thesis, namely, that we should always look out for what is best for our country. Whether joining literary contests, choosing the medium of instruction, analyzing literary texts, or writing poetry, we should always distinguish between right and wrong.)

PHILIPPINE LITERARY ARTS COUNCIL PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF POETRY IN ENGLISH (named after the group founded by Gémino H. Abad, Cirilo F. Bautista, Ricardo M. de Ungria, Alfrredo Navarro Salanga, and Alfred A. Yuson): “Hidden Codex: Fictive Scriptures,” by Jose Marte A. Abueg (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House) and “Time’s Enchantment and Other Reflections,” by Marne Kilates (Ateneo de Naga Publishing House).

With “Hidden Codex: Fictive Scriptures,” Jose Marte A. Abueg leaps from Scriptural truth to Scriptural adventure, without losing the time-tested moral insights for and by which the Scriptures are based. Vastly lyrical with glints of the poetic narrative, this incomparable work of art makes each truth – the gentle charm of Scriptural persuasion, the melancholies of fear and courage, the parasitic yet tender thread of light in all of us – find its voice in the vigor of verse.

Marne Kilates brings clarity of image and lushness of metaphor to the fore with his powerful poetry in “Time’s Enchantment and Other Reflections.” The poems read not just as reflections in a mirror or the glassine surface of deep, calm water, but as transport into a world on the other side of the looking glass where the mundane turns fantastic, surreal, and breath-taking. May Kilates’ pen flow on and provide us with more reflections and enchantments.

BEST BOOK OF POETRY IN A PHILIPPINE LANGUAGE OTHER THAN HILIGAYNON / KINARAY-A: “Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan,” by E. San Juan (University of the Philippines Press).

There is poetry and there is poetry, but in the world where the soul is the reader, “Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan” calms our jagged taste of reality and transforms it into food for the spirit. What is here penned is not poetry inked in isolation but verse that can see past walls and doors, right into the very din and tumult of life. That each line sings with the ingenuity of a kundiman makes this collection at par with Pablo Neruda’s songs for nature.

BEST BOOK OF POETRY IN HILIGAYNON / KINARAY-A: “Tikum Kadlum,” by Federico Caballero and Alicia P. Magos (University of the Philippines Press).

“Tiklum Kadlum” is an excellent collaboration between researchers, translators, and highland chanters of Panay epics to retrieve epics which are the bedrock and preserver of the best in Panay culture. It contains excellent translations from archaic Kinaray-a to contemporary Kinaray-a, Filipino, and English.

BEST BOOK OF GRAPHIC LITERATURE IN ENGLISH: “Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baboy,” by Gerry Alanguilan and Arnold Arre (Meganon Comics Publishing House).

Every now and then, you see a graphic novel that breaks the mold. The collaborative work of two Filipino sequential art masters, “Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baboy” is one such work, melding an old-school komiks feel with new-school dynamism. The central idea behind “Rodski”’s phenomenal intelligence is mixed with adventure and humor, maximizing the strengths of its creators. “Rodksi Patotski” is a worthy addition to the ranks of the best modern Filipino comics works.


CLARIFICATION: Since it started in 1981, the Manila Critics Circle has had a rule that the members cannot win any National Book Awards. We cannot disallow relatives (by blood or marriage) of members of the Circle or of the National Book Development Board, however, from competing, because that would be unfair to them. Because one of this year’s finalists was the spouse of one of the judges, the concerned judge inhibited himself from the discussion for the category.

ERRATUM: In last week’s column, I missed writing the full names of the following awards:

THE CIRILO F. BAUTISTA PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF SHORT FICTION IN ENGLISH (named after the National Artist): “Wonderlust,” by Nikki Alfar (Anvil Publishing)

THE ARTLINE HIGHLIGHTERS PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF NONFICTION IN ENGLISH (donated by the corporation that produces highlighters): “Ramon Obusan, Philippine Folkdance, and Me,” by Kanami Namiki (Anvil Publishing)



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