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In my book best of 2019

AFTER THE ANGER that burned through much of 2018 I found films released in 2019 a bit muted — strange considering how much faster, louder, more urgent events in the world have become, from climate-related disasters to the recent escalation in tensions between Trump and, well, everyone else.

It all starts with one book

ELEMENTARY STUDENTS from public schools in Manila and the Camanava areas lined up at the Main Lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Nov. 20 to each receive a children’s book titled Kwentong Karapat-Dapat. The children then went to the corners of the lobby and a buzz started filling the air as they read from the book aloud.

At book fair, Filipino myths become visual works

PHILIPPINE mythology has always been well-represented in cinema, for the lore translates well through costumes, makeup, lights, and special effects. On paper, it’s a different story.

How the rich in America blew millions on art

By James Tarney, Bloomberg Book Review Duveen Brothers and the Market for Decorative Arts, 1880-1940 By Charlotte Vignon Giles IN 1930, as the US entered the second year of the...

Before the Europeans came

LAST MARCH, the Philippine Map Collector’s Society (PHIMCOS) invited the distinguished journalist and editor Philip Bowring to give a talk to our group in Manila and launch his new book Empire of the Winds. Bowring is a professional journalist and former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and has been based in Asia for over 45 years. His book is not specifically about maps but he is an expert on historical maritime trade routes, seasonal winds, currents and the ancient sailing ships which navigated between the thousands of islands which make up Southeast Asia’s southern archipelago. These ships were built locally and were capable of sailing west as far as India and East Africa and north to Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and China. The history of navigation and trade routes is of great interest to map collectors as it goes hand-in-hand with the early development of Asian maps, navigational guides and sea charts.

Candle power

ITS unabashedly spiritual underpinnings distinguish this latest addition to the growing library of writing on Marcos’ Martial Law. The witnessing by various actors who traversed this howling wilderness in our recent history is anchored in their abiding Christian faith in God as the Lord of History, or, as the editor Melba Padilla Magay writes, “an immanent grace that is present wherever there is a struggle against forces that demean and deform human life.”

Anthology of top food essays launched

WRITING about food is an experience both universal and personal: while everyone around you may eat the same thing, everyone has a different response to it and recall of it. That’s why, most of the time, no two articles about food are ever exactly the same.

New book explains Mary’s many titles

Book A Sky Full of Stars By Joby Provido Central Book Supply, Inc. 188 pages THE influence of a Jewish girl has crossed oceans of time and space. Thousands...

Analyzing the ills of Philippine Cinema

IN EARLY February, one of the country’s most prominent film directors — Erik Matti — bemoaned the state of Philippine cinema, saying that despite the “industry being the busiest [it has been] in the past three years” only a handful of movies have achieved box office success. He called his lengthy Facebook post on Feb. 7 a “plea for help” for the government to intervene to save the industry.

Keeping reading fashionable

TO PARAPHRASE the saying, it takes a library to raise a child. For a country like the Philippines where children (14 and below) account for 35% of a population of 104 million, it will certainly require more libraries filled with more books to adequately raise the nation’s youth.

Remembering the Battle of Manila

FORT SANTIAGO was the “epicenter of evil” where “the Japanese used starvation as a weapon.” American mining engineer Frank Bacon recalled having only two bowel movements in 25 days; Chinese prisoner Ko King Hun dropped to 68 pounds from 118 in two months, to the point that he could wrap his thumb and index finger around his leg. People were starving in the city of Manila as World War II raged.

The Big Bad Wolf returns to Manila

ONCE UPON a time in Malaysia, there lived a couple named Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng who shared a dream of opening a book shop and starting a regular book fair. However, they had no money for advertising. So they enlisted the help of The Big Bad Wolf.

My 15 favorite nonfiction books of 2018

HERE are my nominees for the best nonfiction books of 2018. I haven’t read everything published this year, but I read a great deal, and these are my 15 favorites. Each reflects serious thought, research and argument. Each made me look at things in a new way. The first 14 are listed in random order (no tyranny of the alphabet). At the end is my choice for best nonfiction book of the year.

Islands of memory and imagining

IN THE bleak winter of 1989, as a graduate student living in a windswept campus on the edge of the Scottish highlands, I found in a tiny bookstore a copy of James Hamilton-Paterson’s Playing With Water, which at that time had the subtitle Alone On a Philippine Island. Just another one of those vacation travel books, I thought. But at least it’s about home. I started reading it that evening, and finished the book in the gray light of dawn, close to tears -- and grateful at having been gifted with such a wonderful and unsettling read.

Lecture and book launch

THE AUTHOR James Hamilton-Paterson will give a talk on “The Writer As Misanthropist,” followed by a conversation with Jessica Zafra, at the launch of the 30th anniversary reprint of his book Playing With Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island, published by the ADMU Press, this afternoon from 5 to 7 p.m., at the 2nd floor Art Wing of the new Arete complex (just inside Gate 3), Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.

Big Bad Wolf Book Sale coming to Davao

DAVAO CITY — Malaysian book shop BookXcess is bringing the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale to Davao, the first time in Mindanao, with about a million books to be offered at 50%-90% discount.

The Ambassador and his books

The Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr. will be leaving his post in December, but he will leave behind an indelible legacy: Books.

Going back to Prague

IT TOOK me 15 years to return to Prague, half of the lifetimes of the people I was working with. We were in the Czech Republic for eight days to film a documentary. After three nights in Prague, the film crew and I would proceed to Litomerice, Mlada Boleslav, Olomouc, Brno, Cesky Krumlov, and Ceske Budejovice. The itinerary was designed by the Czech Embassy in Manila, particularly Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, who is translating Filipino stories into Czech, including one of mine, and sponsored by the Seoul-based Czech Tourism. I mention these parties because you know what they say about the best-laid plans. It’s the unexpected, unintended developments I look forward to: I travel for the stories, the weirder, the better.

Children’s book writer fights the stigma of HIV-AIDS

ENZO, Gab, Chuchay, and Luis join a support group on social media under their online alter egos. Enzo starts a group chat and sets a date to meet with the group’s other members. At a coffee shop one day, they all get together because of something called “Pete.”

From Denmark to the Philippines

BORN to a poor family and struggled to find success as an actor, Hans Christian Andersen ventured into writing fairy tales early in the 1800s. As a storyteller, Andersen presented deep ideas and feelings with a style that appealed to a child’s perspective.

Aging Japan: Manga comics turn gray — but spirited — along...

TOKYO — Japan’s graying population is changing the character of its beloved manga comics, spawning a new genre in which the elderly aren’t pitiable oldsters but protagonists making discoveries, finding friends and sometimes even having hot sex.

Fluid: Author-actor-activist Nico Tortorella talks about freedom

By Nickky Faustine P. De Guzman, Reporter AUTHOR, activist, and actor Nico Tortorella lay down nonchalantly on one of the long sofas at the Raffles...

When Charice became Jake

HE BURST into the limelight as a little girl with a big voice, becoming an internet sensation, earning the recognition of composer David Foster and of American celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres, and singing with vocal heavyweights like Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

Author Elena Ferrante supervised screen version of My Brilliant Friend

VENICE, ITALY — The mysterious Italian writer Elena Ferrante pulled the strings behind the first screen version of her Neapolitan novels, the producers said Sunday, as it was premiered at the Venice film festival.

Crazy Rich Asians author wanted in Singapore

SINGAPORE — The author of Crazy Rich Asians, which has been adapted into a hit Hollywood movie, is wanted in his native Singapore for allegedly dodging mandatory national service, authorities said Wednesday.

Adi Alsaid is a rare bird in Young Adult fiction: he’s...

YOUNG ADULT (YA) fiction is dominated by women writers, but there are some men who have established their names in the genre, such as David Levithan and John Green, whose respective books, Every Day and The Fault in Our Stars, have been made into movies. Adi Alsaid is another young and male author who joins the gang. He likes the idea of his novels being turned into films just like the others’.

Must-read: 10 books adapted to film in 2018

IT’S ONLY halfway through 2018 but it has already been a great year for book-to-film adaptations. Here is a list of the books that...

DLSU releases book of essays on select Philippine film directors

IT WAS NOT an exhaustive book about the directors of Philippine cinema by any means, but screenwriter/director/author Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. hopes that his (and the book’s contributors) three-year labor of love would inspire other film scholars to follow suit and create many more books about Filipino filmmaking.

Going for the goal and taking risks

Malou Treñas-Del Castillo, who was then 27-years-old when she worked as a brand manager for multi-national company, came home early from work one evening due to a bad headache. She recalled receiving a phone call from a friend when she suddenly passed out leaving the other person hanging on the line. She regained consciousness unaware of what had happened.

Solid as a Rock: Vitug explains the historic maritime ruling

ON JULY 12, 2016, a 479-page verdict stated that a tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled in favor of the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. The PCA concluded that China’s claim of historic rights falling within its so-called nine-dash line had no legal basis. Two years after the victory, the Philippines has yet to completely assert its sovereignty over the territory.

Book prize drops name

NEW YORK — The name of best-selling author Laura Ingalls Wilder has been dropped from an American children’s literature award because of racist content in her books based on 19th century settler childhood in the Midwest.

The Hobbit’s five armies clash in Czech forest

DOKSY, The Czech Republic — Spears crossed, swords touched and arrows flew in a Czech forest over the weekend as hundreds of fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit reenacted a major battle.

Bill Clinton is bungling his publicity tour. But how’s the book?

FROM the book industry’s perspective, the existence of The President Is Missing makes perfect sense.

Was author Philip Roth a misogynist? His death reopens debate

NEW YORK — The death of Philip Roth has reopened a decades-old debate about the extent to which the American literary master was a...

Roth wasn’t judgmental enough for critics

By Noah Feldman, Bloomberg IT’S HARD to think of a contemporary writer who inspires more intense disagreement than Philip Roth, who died Tuesday at 85....

Book by Game of Thrones author to be made into an...

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. is set to produce an animated film based on an early book by the author of the Game of...

Mas Maganda Yung Book! fest on film adaptations kicks off

KWAGO in partnership with Film Police Reviews (FPR) is set to launch Mas maganda yung book! on March 23, 6 p.m. A monthly film...

Artist Betsy Westendorp marks her 90th birthday with a book launch

CHATTER FILLED the lobby of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila on Feb. 22. A giant diptych of Betsy Westendorp’s signature clouds greeted guests, along...

Book focuses on forming a weightloss habit

A NEW BOOK by The Sexy Chef, one of Manila’s leading healthy food delivery services, teaches readers not only to lose weight through cooking,...

A positive and respectful look at traditional Ifugao culture

By Jonathan Best Book Review Ifugao: People of the Earth Written and edited by Prof. Delfin Tolentino, Jr., Leah Enkiwe-Abayao, Analyn Salvador-Amores, and Marlon Martin Published by ArtPostAsia...

Versace family slam TV series on the designer’s murder

MILAN — The Versace family on Wednesday slammed a new television series on the murder of fashion giant Gianni Versace, saying it was based...

Arundhati Roy: the literary canary in India’s coalmine

NEW DELHI, INDIA — She may have returned to publishing fiction after a two decade hiatus, but Indian writer Arundhati Roy says she has...

‘Alphabet Series’ author Sue Grafton, 77

LOS ANGELES — Sue Grafton, the prolific author of the bestselling “Alphabet Series” mysteries featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone, has died at the age...

Serial killer film fights to be seen

IT MIGHT not have been chosen as one of the official entries of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) but Raya Martin’s Smaller...

National Book Awards names Ateneo Publisher of the Year

TWENTY-SIX books as varied as accounts on martial law, to a book of Waray poetry, a PR practitioner’s lessons on etiquette in the 21st...