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National Book awardees

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz - The Philippine Star

Continuing the list of winners of the National Book Awards:

BEST BOOK OF GRAPHIC LITERATURE IN FILIPINO: “Tabi Po” (Volume 1), by Mervin Malozo (Visprint).

Paano nga ba magmahal ang isang halimaw? Ito ang tanong sa puso ng napakagandang “Tabi Po” (Volume 1). Nagpapakilala sa mga mambabasang Pilipino ang manunulat at dibuhistang si Mervin Malonzo. Sadyang napakaganda ng kanyang mga pahina tungkol sa isang aswang na kakaiba. Tunay na nagpakitang-gilas siya; walang kamukha o katunog ang kanyang gawa dito sa “Tabi Po” (Volume 1), at hihintayin natin ang kanyang susunod na mga obrang pang-komiks.

(How does a monster love? This is the question at the heart of “Tabi Po” [Volume 1]. Mervin Malonzo is introduced to the Filipino reader as a writer and illustrator. His take on the aswang is innovative. He has truly amazed us; there is nothing like what he has done in “Tabi Po” [Volume 1], and we await his next graphic masterpieces.)


With its deliberate omission of the written word, “14” reaches new heights of narrative storytelling, creating delicious spaces for the reader to fully inhabit. Manix Abrera’s silent comics is anything but quiet – in its explorations of human themes in a mysterious supernatural setting, we find ourselves as enraptured as the dense crowd of strange listening creatures is. It is there, in the perfect silence, that we provide the words.

BEST TRANSLATED BOOK: “Manila Synod of 1582: The Draft of its Handbook for Confessors,” translated by Paul A. Dumol (Ateneo de Manila University Press).

Mahalagang ambag sa lárang ng mga araling ukol sa Filipinas ang “The Synod of 1582: The Draft of its Handbook for Confessors.” Marami itong nililinaw tungkol sa mga unang taon ng kolonyalismong Español sa ating bayan at hinggil sa mga batayang patakaran at hakbang para sa mabisàng pagpapalaganap at pagpapatanggap ng pananampalataya sa buong kapuluan. Bukod sa husay ng wika ng salin, katangi-tangi ang pagkakaroon ng aklat ng talâ sa pagsasalin na maituturing na mahusay na ambag sa literatura ng mga araling ukol sa pagsasalin sa Filipinas.

(“The Synod of 1582: The Draft of its Handbook for Confessors” is an important contribution to Philippine Studies. It clarifies several issues about the first years of Spanish colonization of our country, such as the policies and steps taken to effectively propagate and popularize the [Catholic] faith in the whole archipelago. Aside from its excellent use of language, the book, because of its notes on the translation, contributes significantly to translation theory in the Philippines.)

BEST BOOK ON FOOD: “Country Cooking,” by Michaela Fenix (Anvil Publishing).

“Country Cooking” brings the reader into the gustatory world of the deliciously rustic and the divinely foodie in one lovely book that transports the reader in the way a cookbook should. Michaela Fenix’s sharp wit and elegant turns of phrase bring the culinary arcana of the countryside into the city with such aplomb. Fenix has proven, yet again, how recipes and the stories that come with them can be as interesting as the best reportage and literary romps.

THE ELFREN S. CRUZ PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES (named after the former Presidential Management Staff Secretary): “Rido:  Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao” (expanded edition), edited by Wilfredo Magno Torres III (Ateneo de Manila University Press).

Wilfredo Magno Torres III and his fellow contributors highlight in “Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao,” their well-made compilation of essays, a lesser known yet equally relevant and prevalent issue that affects not only Mindanao but also the whole of the Philippines. Their scientific and stylistic rigor is coupled by their deep grounding on the historical, sociopolitical, and cultural dynamics in Mindanao, resulting in a much relatable piece of research. They thus demonstrate their heavy and sincere interest not only in social scientific research but also, and more importantly, to the pressing issues in the country, how relatively unknown or unspoken they may be.

THE VICTORIO C. VALLEDOR PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK ON THE PROFESSIONS (named after the President and CEO of Lockton Companies): “The Adventures of a PR Girl,” by Bettina Rodriguez-Olmedo (Anvil Publishing).

With elements of personal perspective blended with accessible instruction, “The Adventures of a PR Girl” deftly breaks down and rebuilds the reputation of Public Relations. The inside story is Bettina Rodriguez-Olmedo’s very own, spanning years of struggle and growth and success, and peppered with a glittering cavalcade of personalities that touched her life. Through this act of remembrance, the author has created a gift for young professionals – a book that inspires, delights, and challenges.

BEST BOOK OF LEISURE: “Buti Pa Ang Roma, May Bagong Papa,” by Noreen Capili (Anvil Publishing).

Retelling the modern experience of the Filipino woman has always been a challenge, but Noreen Capili has proven quite proficient at it. From her first book, “Parang Kayo, Pero Hindi” to “Buti Pa ang Roma, May Bagong Papa,” her third book, the TV and screenwriter has retold her own experiences with honest humor and winning vigor. This book showcases Capili in her prime as humorist and storyteller.      (To be continued)

A Blessed Christmas to everyone! May Christmas Day inspire us to meditate on how we can bring true peace to our conflict-ridden planet.

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