Honoring the best books of 2016


On its 36th year, the National Book Awards of the Philippines continues to be the highest distinction bestowed upon the créme of Philippine book publishing. It has become an annual undertaking for the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board to evaluate the previous year’s crop of books for the highest standards in content and medium. These awards recognize not only poets and wordsmiths, but also the many editors, translators, illustrators, designers, publishers, and distributors whose inconspicuous labor have delivered these books into our hands.

Thus, one cannot honor and celebrate enough these creative minds from the publishing industry. They were awarded on Dec. 2 in a formal ceremony at a storied venue, the National Museum of the Philippines. And I would like to highlight these excellent books written.

This great idea of a National Book Award in different categories was first conceptualized by writer and professor Isagani Cruz who founded the Manila Critics Circle, a significant factor in the growth of the Philippine publishing industry.  It was logical for the NBDB to establish a partnership with the MCC to ensure the continuity of the undertaking – a true service for increased literacy in the country.

Literary Division: English Category:  Cirilo F. Bautista Prize for Best Book of Short Fiction in English, “Mariposa Gang and Other Stories” by Catherine Torres, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House; novel, “The Music Child and the Mahjong Queen” by Alfred A. Yuson, Anvil Publishing Inc.; Pablo A. Tan Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in English, “Marcos Martial Law Never Again” by Raissa Robles, Filipinos for a Better Philippines;  Philippine Literary Arts Council Prize for Poetry in English, “Snail Fever: Poems of Two Decades” by Francis C. Macansantos,  The University of the Philippines Press; anthology (bilingual), “Remembering/Rethinking EDSA” by JPaul S. Manzanilla and Caroline S. Hau, Anvil Publishing Inc.; literary criticism/literary history: “Migrations and Mediations: The Emergence of Southeast Asian Diaspora Writers in Australia 1972-2007” by Jose Wendell P. Capili. The University of the Philippines Press; essays: “To the People Sitting in Darkness... and Other Footnotes of Our Pasts” by Jose Victor Torres, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House; graphic literature, “Meläg” by Bong Redila, Adarna House Inc.

Filipino Category: Gerardo P. Cabochan Prize for Best Book of Short Fiction in Filipino, “Sangkatauhan, Sangkahayupan: Mga Kuwento” by Alvin B. Yapan, Ateneo de Manila University Press; novel, “Toto O.” by Charmaine Lasar, PageJump Media; non-fiction prose, “Sulyap sa Aking Pinanggalingan” by Roque J. Ferriols, SJ, Ateneo de Manila University Press; poetry, “Banayad: Mga Tula” by Rowena P. Festin. The University of the Philippines Press; anthology, “Batang Rizal at iba pang Dula” by Christine S. Bellen, Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Waray Category for works published in 2014-16: anthology, “Susmaton: Oral Narratives of Leyte” by Merlie M. Alunan,  Ateneo de Manila University Press;  poetry, “Taburos Han Dagat by Victor N. Sugbo, The University of the Philippines Press.  

Translation, “Shri-Bishaya” by Ramon Muzones and Maria Cecilia Locsin-Nava, New Day Publishers.

Non-Literary Division: food, “Philippine Food, Cooking, and Dining Dictionary” by Edgie Polistico, Anvil Publishing Inc.; John C. Kaw Prize for Best Book in History, “Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945” by Daniel F. Doeppers, Ateneo de Manila University Press; science, “A Field Guide to Flight: Identifying Birds on Three School Grounds” by Amado C. Bajarias Jr., Ateneo de Manila University Press; Elfren S. Cruz Prize for Best Book in Social Sciences, “Out of the Shadows: Violent Conflict and the Real Economy of Mindanao” by Francisco J. Lara Jr. and Steven Schoofs,  Ateneo de Manila University Press; journalism, “Peryodismo sa Bingit: Mga Naratibong Ulat sa Panahon ng Digmaan at Krisis” by Kenneth Roland A. Guda, The University of the Philippines Press; leisure, “Pinoy Manners: A Modern Guide to Delicadeza for All Generations” by Joy Lumawig-Buensalido, Christine Jocelyn Buensalido; Victorio C. Valledor Prize for Best Book in the Professions, “Gusto Kong Maging Voice Talent: Mga Sikreto sa Likod ng Dubbing, Voice-over at Voice Acting” by Pocholo Gonzales, PSICOM Publishing Inc.; Alfonso T. Ongpin Prize for Best Book on Art: “Eiga: Cinema in the Philippines During World War II” by Nick Deocampo, Anvil Publishing Inc.; Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino – Prize for Best Book on Language Studies, “Capampangan Roots” by Papa Osmubal (Oscar Balajadia), Holy Angel University Press;  book design, “Colonial Manila, 1909-1912” by Karl Fredrick M. Castro,  Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Publisher of the Year is  Ateneo de Manila University Press for garnering the highest number of winning nominations in all categories.  Press director Karina A. Bolasco, only on her first year on the job,  received the award.

Each awardee, except for Publisher of the Year, received a cash prize and a specially designed trophy.  Some special awards bearing the names of their donors are over and above the awards received by everyone,  It is hoped that in time, more special awards become possible through various other generous donors and booklovers.

MCC members who served as judges were Virgilio S. Almario, Dean Francis Alfar,  Alma Anonas-Carpio,  Ruel S. De Vera (MCC chair), Shirley Lua,  and Jose Pablo Salud assisted by Emma Porio,  Gary Devilles, Michael Coroza, Gary Devilles, Jerry Gracio and 17 other individuals known for their expertise in the different categories.

Among the experts who collaborated with the MCC and the NBDB were Robert Alejandro, Romulo Baquiran, Rica Bolipata-Santos,  Paolo Chikiamco, Rosario Cruz Lucero, Elizabeth Lolarga, Maria F. Mangahas, Allan Popa,  Danilo M. Reyes,  Claude Tayag. 

Creative writing class for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout: December 9 (1:30pm-3pm) at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street. For registration & fee details, 0945-2273216/ writethingsph@gmail.com.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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