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POSTPONED for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Book Awards ceremony returned for its 39th year, holding its awarding ceremony online on July 30. The National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critics Circle (MCC) awarded 27 winners in 25 categories.
There were 110 finalists in this year’s edition, all of which were published in 2019 and 2020. Two winners each were named for the categories Best Book for Drama and Best Book for Poetry in English. The Ateneo de Manila University Press was named the Publisher of the Year with a total of eight winning titles.
Despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, NBDB Executive Director Charisse Aquino-Tugade noted improvements in book publishing over the last two years.
In her opening speech, Ms. Aquino-Tugade noted “there was an unprecedented increase in ISBN applications, over P30 million grants and domestic incentives received by creators, the setup of book nook sites (which are safe and inclusive reading spaces all over the country), numbering 52 in 2021 and 40 more this year, dozens of Filipino titles brought to the global stage via international book fairs, and the continuous literary production of independent publishers and creators.”
“While some people might say that awards are really just secondary to what is truly important — which is the book — I believe, like many of you, that the prestige and attention that they bring to creative work amounts to something greater,” Ms. Aquino-Tugade said. “They encourage wider readership and spotlight what are otherwise overlooked voices, which then encourages sales and helps our booksellers and publishers, which in turn encourages wider authorship.”
The Book Nook project, which began in 2021, aims to distribute Filipino authored books (including titles written in local languages) in reading centers in indigenous and remote areas from Ifugao to Tawi-Tawi. The nooks are located in public spaces, such as public parks and markets, where designated storytellers also teach children to read.A hundred nooks are targeted to be set up by 2023.
“By increasing access points for books across the country through our programs such as the Book Nook, and by expanding the market for publishers through our participation in international fairs, the NBDB is set to leverage the power of our number — our archipelago of stories, from the islands of Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, and our global diaspora that knows no boundaries,” NBDB Chairman Dante Francis Ang II said in his message.
THIS YEAR’S JUDGESThis year’s panel of judges from the Manila Critics Circle were: National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, Ruel S. De Vera, Dean Francis Alfar, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Michael M. Coroza, and Shirley O. Lua.
The permanent judges for Literary Division are Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz for English, and Jun Cruz Reyes for Filipino. The category judges for the Literary Division are: Charlson Ong for Fiction, Romulo P. Bacquiran, Jr. for Nonfiction Prose, Jose Wendell Capili for Essay, Merlie M. Alunan for Anthology, Christian Vallez (Juan Ekis) for Drama, Ferdinand M. Lopez for Literary Criticism and Literary History, Marra Lanot for Poetry, Carl Joe Javier for Graphic Literature, and Marne Kilates for Translation.
Analyn Salvador Amores served as the permanent judge for the Non-Literary Division. The category judges for the Non-literary Division are:Ma. Elizabeth “Mariles” L. Gustilo for Art, Antonio Gabriel La Viña for Professions, Maria F. Mangahas for Social Sciences, Ma. Bernadette Abrera for History, Marites Dañguilan Vitug for Journalism, Joanna Manalastas Calasanz for Humor, Sports, and Lifestyle, Michaela Fenix Makabenta for Food, Ma. Yodel M. Pe for Design, and Eric R. Punzalan for Science.
The winning authors receive a certificate, a cash prize, and trophy, while the winning publishers receive a winner’s certificate.
Below is the full list of winners:
LITERARYBest Novel in English — Tiempo Muerto: A Novel by Caroline S. Hau (Ateneo University Press)
Best Novel in Filipino —Topograpiya ng Lumbay: Imus Novel 6 by RM Topacio-Aplaon (University of the Philippines Press)
Best Book of Short Fiction in English —Voyager and Other Fictions: The Collected Stories of Jose Dalisay by Jose Dalisay, Jr. (Anvil Publishing Inc.)
Best Book Short Fiction in Filipino —The Next Great Tagalog Novel at Iba Pang Kuwento by Allan N. Derain (University of the Philippines Press)
Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in English —Biyaheng Pinoy: A Mindanao Travelogue by Edilberto N. Alegre (Ateneo University Press)
Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in Filipino —Balager by Emmanuel T. Barrameda (Balangay Productions)
Best Book of Essays in English — The Philippines Is Not a Small Country by Gideon Lasco (Ateneo de Manila University Press)
Best Anthology in English —Mindanao Harvest 4 edited by Jaime An Lim, Christine F. Godinez-Ortega, Ricardo M. De Ungria (Far Eastern University Publications)
Best Book of Drama —Salvador/Javier at Iba Pang Dula by Lito Casaje (University of the Philippines Press) and Two Women as Specters of History: Lakambini and Indigo Child by Rody Vera (Ateneo de Manila University Press)
Best Book of Literary Criticism in English — Sensing Manila by Gary C. Devilles (Ateneo de Manila University Press)
Best Book of Literary History in English —Songs Sprung from Native Soils: More Conversations with Eight Mindanao Writers edited by Ricardo M. De Ungria (Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan Press)
Best Book of Literary Criticism in Filipino —Faustino Aguilar: Kapangyarihan, Kamalayan, Kasaysayan by Epifanio San Juan Jr. (UST Publishing House)
Best Book of Poetry in English —When Bridges Are Down, Mountains Too Far: New Poems by Gemino H. Abad (University of the Philippines Press) and We Shall Write Love Poems Again by Dinah Roma (UST Publishing House)
Best Book of Poetry in Filipino —Ruta: Mga Bago at Piling Tula by Benilda S. Santos (Ateneo de Naga University Press)
Best Graphic Literature —Tarantadong Kalbo Volume 1 by Kevin Eric Raymundo (Komiket)
Best Translated Book — The World is Still Beautiful by Lazaro Francisco, translated by Mona Highley (Ateneo de Manila University Press)
NON-LITERARYBest Book on Art —Philippine Cinema, 1897-2020 by Gaspar A. Vibal and Dennis S. Villegas; edited by Teddy O. Co (Vibal Group)
Best Book on Professions —Cool Minds, Brave Hearts: The People of the Philippine Central Bank by Roel R. Landingin (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)
Best Book in the Social Sciences — Rethinking Filipino Millennials: Alternative Perspectives on a Misunderstood Generation edited by Jayeel Cornelio(UST Publishing House)
Best Book on History —Clothing the Colony: Nineteenth-Century Philippine Sartorial Culture, 1820-1896 by Stephanie Coo (Ateneo University Press)
Best Book in Journalism —Press Freedom Under Siege: Reportage that Challenged the Marcos Dictatorship by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo (University of the Philippines Press)
Best Book on Humor, Sports, and Lifestyle —Walk Manila by Lorelei D.C. de Viana (Far Eastern University)
Best Book on Food —Lasa ng Republika Dila at Bandila: Ang Paghahanap sa Pambansang Panlasa ng Filipinas by Ige Ramos (Anvil Publishing)
Best Book in Science — The Zanjeras of Ilocos: Cooperative Irrigation Societies of the Philippines by Jose A. Rivera (Ateneo University Press)
Best Book Design —A Watercolor Journeyby Claude Tayag and design by Miguel Mari (Holy Angel University)
— Michelle Anne P. Soliman