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5 Must-Reads of Philippine Literature

This is my first article written for Book Riot.

Fiction Audiobook Review: Homeland

This is one of the many book reviews I wrote for AudioFile Magazine.

Fiction Audiobook Review: Dawn

This is another book review I wrote for AudioFile Magazine.

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Producer and Director

Author: Pierra Calasanz-Labrador
Narrator: Joyce Pring
Genre: Audiobook
Publisher: Anvil Audio
Publication Year: 2018
Format: Digital Audiobook and Audio CD
Length: 0:51 minutes

Synopsis:

Dear Universe … can you hear me?

If Pierra Calasanz-Labrador’s debut poetry collection The Heartbreak Diaries was equivalent to an ugly cry, this second volume is an introspective journey, a quiet voice longing to be heard. Like stumbling upon an introvert’s secret diary, these fifty poems chronicle fervent wishes, hidden fears, and everyday acts of bravery that may sound uncannily familiar.

Whether you are searching for a soul mate, battling self-doubt, clearing out skeletons in your heart, or trying to chart your own course in an increasingly judgmental world, Dear Universe is an astute, empowering reminder that you are not alone.

Dear Universe

Author: Carlos Bulosan
Introduction: Luis H. Francia
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Anvil Classics, an Anvil Publishing imprint
Publication Year: 2017
Format: Paperback
Length: 364 pages

Synopsis:

First published in 1946, this classic semi-autobiographical novel of the well-known Filipino poet Carlos Bulosan describes the writer’s boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West of the US. Bulosan does not spare the reader any of the horrors that accompanied the migrant’s life; but his quiet, stoic voice is the most convincing witness to the terrible events he lived through.

“America came to him in a public ward in Los Angeles County Hospital while around him men died gasping for their last bit of air, and he learned that, while America could be cruel, it could also be immeasurably kind. . . . For Carlos Bulosan no lifetime could be long enough in which to explain to America that no man could destroy his faith in it again. He wanted to contribute something toward the final fulfillment of America. So he wrote this book that holds the bitterness of his own blood.” — Carlos P. Romulo in the New York Times

America Is in the Heart

Author: Culturtain Music Productions, Inc., Nick Joaquin
Introduction: Lourd de Veyra
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Publisher: Anvil Fiction, an Anvil Publishing imprint
Publication Year: 2017
Format: Paperback
Length: 368 pages

Synopsis:

This definitive volume brings together Nick Joaquin’s classic play, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, Rolando Tinio’s libretto of Ang Larawan, The Musical (which is based on the play), and the screenplay of Ang Larawan, The Movie. Includes 16 colored pages of photos of the stage musical and movie, the last interview of Tinio, a learning guide, the behind-the-scenes photos of the film-making process and more.
An indispensable guide for students and teachers. A collector’s item for theater and film fans. A book that truly captures Joaquin’s vocation, “To remember and to sing!”

Ang Larawan

Author: Nick Joaquin
Introduction: Ruel S. De Vera
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Publisher: Anvil Classics, an Anvil Publishing imprint
Publication Year: 2017
Format: Paperback
Length: 240 pages

Synopsis:

In this iconic novel from the imagination of the greatest Filipino writer in English Nick Joaquin, what lies hidden becomes uncovered by extraordinary circumstances.

Connie Escobar has always thought she had two navels. This does not sit right with her and she confides in her doctor Pepe Monson and requests that he remove one of the navels.

Her life takes a turn for the worse when she finds out her husband, Macho Escobar, was her mother’s lover. Betrayed, she flees to Hong Kong where she faces even more unsettling truths.

Sharp and wounding, The Woman Who Had Two Navels is ultimately a tale of killing your illusions, no matter how deeply set, as Connie’s hallucination of having two navels illustrates her desire to free herself from her traumatic childhood.

The Woman Who Had Two Navels

Author: Nick Joaquin
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Publisher: Anvil Classics, an Anvil Publishing imprint
Publication Year: 2017
Format: Paperback
Length: 124 pages

Synopsis:

The Summer Solstice and Other Stories is a trio of tales where religion and superstition, the mundane and the mystical, converge. It features the title story “The Summer Solstice” as well as “The Mass of St. Sylvestre” and “The Order of
Melkizedek.”

Summer Solstice

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