Quarantine hobbies come in all shapes and sizes, but one that pleasantly surprised me the most was reading. Thanks to extended periods at home and the boom of reading communities online, a chronically unfulfilled new year’s resolution became a daily habit. Bookstores both big and small thrived despite lockdowns, with new ones popping up to meet rising demand. This renewed passion for books, especially among young people, is getting impossible to miss.
This is precisely why the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF)’s return to SMX Convention Center after two years of being solely online feels particularly monumental. I post about books on TikTok, and lately I’ve been getting comments about the logistics of the fair — first-time attendees were worried the lines would get too long because of how many people became readers over quarantine. They were right, I realized, and the possibility of so many new faces made me all the more excited to return.
Below are some forthcoming Filipino titles, ranging from comics to poetry, which you can buy at MIBF from September 15 to 18. Check the publisher social media pages after the fair for information on where you can buy them after the 18th.
“How to Grieve” by Jade Mark Capiñanes, Everything’s Fine
Nothing fuels a writer quite like heartbreak, whether they produce a book or viral Facebook memes. In Jade Mark Capiñanes’ case, it’s both. “How to Grieve,” which is the Palanca winner’s first book, is a short story collection written before, during, and after a breakup — and while the stories contain the humor and sardonicism many readers expect, Capiñanes clarifies in an interview that they’re more about “things like unprocessed grief, emotions we repress or fail to articulate — basically things you don’t talk about at parties but cry about after.”
“The Demo Versions” by Aldus Santos, Everything’s Fine
A few months after the release of his poetry collection “Decroux Men,” Aldus Santos is back with “The Demo Versions,” a book that is as much of a memoir as it is analysis as it is poetry. Santos, who works as a music critic, says the book contains “demos (or ‘home-studio outtakes’)” of his music reportage, from vignettes to lists to prose poetry.
“Duty Ka Ba? Komiks” by Tepai Pascual, Avenida Books
Tepai Pascual has been making waves in the Filipino comic scene for years, from co-founding the independent publishing house Meganon Comics to creating Maktan 1521, which earned nods from the National Book Awards and the Madrigal-Gonzalez Awards. The popularity of her work, however, grew exponentially with the “Duty Ka Ba?” webcomics, a long-running romantic comedy starring doctors and nurses that Pascual started during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its much-awaited print edition, said to be the first in a series, launches at MIBF with a 20% discount for healthcare workers.
“Saglit: Alaala't Muni” by Rofel Brion, Ateneo University Press
“Saglit: Alaala’t Muni” is a book of small stories. In personal essays about unassuming, everyday events, from riding the train home to going to friends’ birthdays, poet and professor Rofel Brion ruminates on the joy and pain of the ordinary.
“Pugad para sa Aking Special Child, at Iba pang Pugad” by Fanny A. Garcia, Ateneo University Press
Palanca-winning writer Fanny A. Garcia is perhaps most known for “Journeys with My Autistic Son,” a book that has been hailed as multi-genre for how it serves as a biography of Garcia’s son on the spectrum, a memoir, an incisive look into autism in the Philippines, and self-help for Garcia’s fellow caretakers. In “Pugad para sa Aking Special Child, at Iba pang Pugad,” the personal remains political, following the vein of Garcia’s previous work.
“The Reddest Rose Unfolds” by Liv Strömquist, Milflores Publishing
In a coincidence timed so perfectly it convinced me God has a sense of humor (or, perhaps more accurately, that the gears of the capitalist-patriarchy will continue turning ad infinitum), the question that “The Reddest Rose Unfolds” poses is: Why does Leonardo DiCaprio date an endless string of 20-something models? This graphic novel retraces the history of romantic love, aiming to predict if it truly has a place in a world obsessed with rationalism and ridden by consumerism.
“Our Folktales/Mga Paboritong Kuwentong-Bayan ng Asya” edited by Ruth Wan-Lau and translated by Christine Bellen-Ang, Milflores Publishing
Award-winning children’s lit writer Christine Bellen-Ang translates eight children’s stories from the Philippines, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore. This book, which includes both the English and Filipino translation, features tales of homegrown heroes perfect for kids aged 6-12.
“Kilig anthology,” Komiket
RomanceClass, a community of Filipino romance authors and readers, and Komiket, a local comic-focused non-profit organization, come together in “Kilig,” an anthology of romance comics. This pastel-colored fluff fest brought to life by over 20 Filipino creators contains 14 stories, ranging from contemporary to fantasy, happily-ever-afters guaranteed.