While others sped off to the nearest beach for the long weekend, a bookish mass stayed in the city for the 2nd Philippine Literary Festival. The event wrapped up yesterday after a series of talks, book signings, exhibitions, and fits of fangirling.
More people are reading. More people, too, are writing. If this festival taught us anything, it’s that Filipiniana never just meant academic texts. Homegrown literature is budding—and not in the ways we were used to. So we’ve picked out several names and titles that stood out and hold great potential to become your future reads. Don’t read local? Start here.
#1 Team Magazine
Team fits right into your shelves like a prized novel. The antithesis to modern bookstand glossies, the quarterly, LGBT-friendly publication is telling the gay man’s story with poignancy and urgency in a matte finish.
Drag queen Manila Luzon graces their 2nd issue themed “Hard at Work,” a timely ode to the community’s transgender kin. Editor-in-chief Paolo Lorenzana and his flock of writers—composed of editors, academics, and all-around pretty men—fashion a political statement into a relatable, visual narrative that humors at the same time it compels.
#2 Adelle Victoria
It’s one thing to be patient with poetry that seems impossible to understand—believe me, I’ve spent three years doing just that—and another to sit down and listen to somebody reading the written word. Actress and fine art photographer Adelle Victoria was a revelation to people who find it easier to do the latter.
Reading her own piece “Bumibilog ang Buwan” in last Saturday’s poetry session, Adelle performs with the grace of her yearning persona, and utters every word with the clarity of an Alan Rickman audiobook. While most spoken word sessions tend to get dramatic and cliché, she and her poetry stay genuine and focused on the experiences they try to convey.
Her performance may not be printed, but head over to her site if you want some of her visual poetry.
Her first book contains a stronger and longer dose of the wit she delivers here weekly. But self-promotion aside, Bambina’s book is not just for the smut-seeking crowd. Oftentimes we have to make do with cliché chick lit that’s more about fluffy romantic pursuits. Making Love in Spanish, however, deals with the main character’s reflection on self and womanhood, alongside her steamy sex life. It’s the kind of #realtalk that we needed since, I don’t know, forever.
#4 Charlie Samuya Veric
Yale-educated and a known presence in the academe, Charlie Samuya Veric—yes, the brother of fashion designer Cherry—tries his hand in poetry with much success in Histories. His strengths lie in imagery and his articulate language, making it easier for a crowd with no lit degrees to enjoy and chew on the word’s lyrical quality.
A set of photographs taken by Daniel Roque and Bettina Flitner complement the text. Far from the intellectual discourse he begins in Anticipating Filipinas: Reading Bienvenido Lumbera as Critic, Charlie abandons the impersonal tone, and takes on an independent, critical voice that you might just relate to. Think of this as the eloquent best friend that helps you comprehend a feeling, in case you’ve been too busy wallowing in it yourself.