Independence Day 2020: 5 Books That Celebrate Philippine History and Culture
1/5 Noli Me Tangere + El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal
Under the Philippine Republic Act 1425, otherwise known as the Rizal Law, educational institutions in the country are mandated to offer courses about Jose P. Rizal. The mind behind the revolution, as so many recognise him, Rizal is immortalised through memorable works like Noli Me Tángere and El Filibusterismo. Once banned, these books served as the ideological flame that pushed for the revolution which resulted in the country's declaration of independence on 12 June 1898. Although they have a reputation for being quite academic, Noli and El Fili actually contain a lot of colourful characters and stories that even young kinds can enjoy.
Trivia: Jose Rizal, together with his good friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, founded the Association Internationale des Philippinistes (Internationational Association of Filipinologists), which was the first official organisation created for the dedicated study and celebration of Philippine culture.
2/5 Brains of the Nation by Resil Mojares
This book is a textured portraiture of early Filipino intellectuals, Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera, and Isabelo de Los Reyes and their contribution to the nation's consciousness and identity during the turn of the century. In this landmark work, Mojares, himself a scholar muses upon the role of the intelligenstia in nation-building. Here, he encourages readers to write about the Philippines through one's local context to be able to create an indigenous history and culture by and from the people.
3/5 Writing the Nation / Pag-akda ng Bansa by Bienvenido Lumbera
Lauded poet and scholar, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera's opus of works offer a rich depiction of the Filipino people. Most iconic of which is Writing the Nation, where he explores different cultural phenomena in the country that have defined its subjectivity. With poetic language in his arsenal, Lumbera explores largely academic themes through beautiful storytelling. This book is definitely a must-read for any proud Filipino.
4/5 A Habit of Shores by Gemino H. Abad
For something more creative, pick-up Gemino Abad's A Habit of Shores —a collection of Filipino Poetry in English. It explores first generation English writers after Spanish Independence. In this book, you'll find beautiful poems that depict life after war.
Trivia: The book gets its title from the lyric poem, Gabu by Carlos Angeles. Appropriated from the iconic ending line: it is the sea that pursues a habit of shores.
5/5 Philippine Studies: Have We Gone Beyond St. Louis? by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto
Published in 2008, this 800-page book brings together several essays that explore the Filipino condition. From semantic origins of our vernacular language and art criticism to lighter themes like why Filipinos love puns, comic books, the LGBT experience, theatrics, and much more—this work brings together some of the brightest minds in Philippine scholarship today. Don't miss out on monumental works like Apparently, Cubism by Patrick Flores, Performativity, the Bakla, and the Orientalizing Gaze by J.Neil Garcia, and Of Strongmen and the State by Caroline Hau—all of which have become watershed references in their respective fields.
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