The Philippines has a rich history of literary works that not only make for good reads, but have also inspired revolutions—case in point, Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.” Throughout the years, Filipino writers have made waves in the local and international literary scenes, like F.H. Batacan whose “Smaller and Smaller Circles” was turned into a film or Miguel Syjuco who won a Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel “Ilustrado,” showing just how skilled, intelligent and imaginative Filipinos can be when given pen and paper. In celebration of Buwan ng Panitikan this April, we’ve rounded up the team’s and our coworkers’ favorite local authors for you to widen your literary knowledge.
“I haven’t read a lot of local authors, but Eric Gamalinda is one of my few recommended authors. He’s a nonfiction author and I love creative nonfiction like Gamalinda’s because it sticks to facts while making readers engaged. It also gives historical references with a sort of believability that the characters aren’t beyond doing this and that. Gamalinda perfectly does that in ‘The Empire of Memory’ with the story of the Marcoses. It’s juxtaposed alongside the current events then, in the countryside, in the city and inside the insidious government.” – Christian San Jose, content creator
“Aside from being an iconic screenwriter (and his books on screenwriting are pretty awesome, too), I’ve enjoyed reading Ricky Lee’s novels because they’re written in such a way that’s conversational, entertaining and with such character, too. I suppose my favorite would be a tie between ‘Para Kay B’ and ‘Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata.’” – Pau Miranda, associate managing editor
Vincen Gregory Yu
“He’s a fictionist and a theater critic. Apart from his obvious virtuosity (and range), what I love about reading his stories, reviews and opinion pieces is his respect for the arts. That’s the most basic remark—but reading him, you get the sense that this is someone who has engaged so intimately with language and art his whole life. I like that quality in a writer because it’s like having that one smart friend who’s read everything and watched everything and can talk to you about it intelligently. I guess my favorite works of his are his reviews.” – Catherine Orda, copy editor
“I love Filipino authors because their writing becomes much more relatable if you’ve experienced the same kind of setting. Ninotchka Rosca, one of the country’s veteran writers and a leading feminist, writes with such strength and elegance. How she sets a scene is poignantly descriptive, but the whole message is revolutionary. My favorite book of hers is ‘State of War’ which I believe should be turned into a classic for Philippine Literature. Gina Apostol and Arlene J. Chai are also close runner-ups for my favorite local authors.” – Thea Torres, junior content creator
“One of my favorite local authors is Nick Joaquin, whose books I’m starting to collect recently. I’m just amazed at his body of work, both using his real name and his pseudonym Quijano de Manila. I guess my favorite work of his would be ‘A Question of Heroes’ because it presents a different side of the historical figures we used to learn and look up to from school books.” – Pau Miranda, associate managing editor
“I’m a fan of Bob Ong! Apart from his works just being a reading requirement back in high school, they were very relatable and gave me a lot of insights. They aren’t your usual short novels as it makes you appreciate our native language more, such as in ‘ABNKKBSNPLAko’” – Lia delos Reyes, junior content creator
“A local author I look up to is Jessica Zafra! I admire her writing style a lot—especially how she can write about current events and pop culture in a way that’s humorous and insightful. One of her works that stuck to me was her travel memoir, ‘Twisted Travels: Rambles in Central Europe’” – Gela Suacillo, junior content creator
Get more stories like this by subscribing to our newsletter here.
Writer: THEA TORRES