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4 Filipino Authors to Read on Your Trip to Manila

July 10, 2017
Top Filipino Authors

Whether you’re in the Metro for a few days, or just passing through en route to one of the archipelago's myriad islands, we’ve compiled a shortlist of our four favourite Filipino reads to get you in the mood for your trip. Get booking...


Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
The New York Times Book Review loved this novel and so will you. Handsome young buck Miguel Syjuco bagged the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize for his debut Ilustrado, which charts 150 years of Philippine history, starting with the body of an esteemed writer being pulled from the Hudson river. His young protege is unconvinced by the coroner’s verdict of suicide and sets about scrutinising the writer's life, poetry, stories and the mystery of a missing manuscript, a work which had promised to expose the corruption of the Philippines’ ruling dynasties. From murder mystery to dramatic family saga, Ilustrado is an amusing, gripping and exuberant novel that has finally turned the world’s eyes Philippine-wards.

Buy here amazon.com

Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa
In this nation of die-hard foodies, it would be remiss not to mention the rich and diverse heritage of Filipino cuisine (especially now it’s having a moment stateside, with the likes of Vogue singing its praises). Filipina chef, epicure and NYC-transplant Amy Besa bagged the Jane Grigson Award for this fascinating tome, tracing the history of her country’s food, from the Pinoy family kitchen to waves of flavour coming from China, Spain, and the Americas. Traditional cooking techniques, stories and memories of other Filipino chefs are interspersed with more than 100 recipes for you to try at home, from zingy ‘adobo’ seasoning to sublime ‘lechon’ suckling pig, plus other ancient dishes that are fast disappearing. Dig in!

Buy here amazon.com

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by José Rizal
No surprises that the daddy of Filipino literature was responsible for the daddy of Filipino oeuvres, fondly referred to locally as ‘The Noli’. An anti-colonial activist and ultimately a martyr for the cause, José Rizal (1861-1896) is hailed as a national hero even today. Originally written in Spanish, the torrid love story of Juan Ibarra and María Clara is poignantly contrasted by a backdrop of repression, torture, and murder. The first important artistic manifestation of Asian resistance to European colonialism, this definitive masterpiece is part of the school curriculum, and rightly so – an absolute must for understanding how the Philippines came to be what it is today.

Buy here amazon.com / see also the sequel El Filibusterismo

The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin
In the year that would have been his 100th, there’s no better time to discover this Pinoy icon’s most celebrated collection of stories. Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín (1917-2004), commonly known as Nick Joaquin, is widely regarded as one of the greats for tackling thorny postcolonial issues, folklore, and Catholicism via magical realism – long before it was made popular by Latin American authors. Yet he remains little read outside his homeland. This Penguin Classic features some of his most intriguing tales, from canonical yarn A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, to his ‘signature’ post-War saga May Day Eve, about the tumultuous Montiya family.

Buy here amazon.com

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