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Literary Arts in the Philippines

INTRODUCTION

The Philippines boasts of one of Asia's prolific crop of writers, past and present, due in large part to the country's struggle for independence first against Spain, and later against the Americans.

The Propaganda Movement produced literary greats like national hero Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar, among others. American literary influence saw the rise of world-renowned writers like Carlos P. Romulo, Jose Garcia Villa, N.V.M. Gonzales, Claro M. Recto, etc.

Native literature also bloomed despite the colonizers, and produced noted Tagalog poets Francisco Balagtas and Jose Corazon de Jesus, among others.

A CRITIC'S CHOICE

Contemporary literary critic Isagani Cruz, who writes a weekly column for the Philippine Star entitled "A Critic's Choice," recommended some recently-published books by Filipino authors as candidates for national book awards:

  • Letters, a book by noted fictionist Bienvenido N. Santos, published by Anvil Publishing;

  • Working Women of Manila in the 19th Century by Ma. Luisa Camagay, published by the University of the Philippines (UP) Press.

  • Pinatubo and the Politics of Lahar: Eruption and Aftermath 1991, written by Filipino scientist Kevin Rodolfo who helped save thousands of lives during the Pinatubo eruption; published by UP Press.

  • Treasures of the Philippine National Museum, by Maria Elena Paterno, and published by Bookmark. An interesting companion to an actual tour of the National Museum.

  • Breaking Out: An Eduardo Castrillo Sculptural Tour by Alfredo Roces, printed by Inyan Publishers.

PUBLISHING LANDMARKS

The book publishing in the Philippines, which averages 2,000 to 3,000 titles a year, gained a milestone in 1995 with the passage of the Book Development Act which exempted books from the value added tax and created a National Book Development Board.

Other notable developments: Computer desktop publishing software dramatically lowered printing costs; children's books publishers paid more attention to the visual aspects of a book's presentation; and historical documentation got a big boost from academe, notably Ateneo de Manila University.


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