A summer well-read

Published April 28, 2018, 4:05 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Dominic John Galeon

Whether you’re planning to spend most of your summer vacation by the beach or comfortably lounging inside your house in the comfort of an electric fan, you might want to consider bringing a good ol’ book along. We’ve put together a short list of books from local authors whose works range from serious fiction to lighthearted compilations of everyday humdrum that you might want to pack together with your sunscreen and beach clothes.


The Last Time I’ll Write About You

by Dawn Lanuza

Dubbed by some as the Filipino Lang Leav, popular Filipino young-adult and romance writer Dawn Lanuza released her first collection of poems earlier this January. The Last Time I’ll Write About You features beautiful poems about first love, a topic we could all probably relate to. Lanuza’s book lets you reminisce about your old loves while relaxing under the sun.


America is in the Heart

by Carlos Bolosan

This one’s a classic. First published in 1946, this semi-autobiographical novel from well-known Filipino-American poet, novelist, and author 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.


Ang Nawawala

by Chuckberry Pascual

Fictionist and critic Chuckberry Pascual, University of Santo Tomas (UST) Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies fellow, presents his second of short stories in Ang Nawawala. Pascual’s third book is a compilation of stories that feature small-town theft and murders, each ripe with intrigue and controversy, and even the occasional romance in between. The biggest question in your mind right now might be why the collection is called Ang Nawawala, well… you have to read it to find out just what exactly is missing.


Lait (Pa More) Chronicles

by John Jack G. Wigley

Add a little bit of hearty humor to your summer chill list with John Jack Wigley’s comic observations compiled in his latest book. A follow-up to a similar work, this installment features a similar collection of Wigley’s everyday experiences inside the classroom, with fellow commuters, and with anyone he’s shared an amusing enough experience. Bottom line is, you’ll surely get a good laugh.


Looking Back 13: Guns of the Katipunan

by Ambeth Ocampo

This is the only non-fiction work in this list, but it deserves to be here because the feelings it evokes are akin to reading the best detective story book you can find out there. The book features a short Tagalog poem written by a young lady from San Roque, Cavite in 1898 that described first-hand the war Emilio Aguinaldo waged against the Spaniards. She said the gunfire during battle resembled the terrible rumble of thunder, yet through all the noise she could distinguish the sound made by particular guns:

“palconete’t cañon Revolver, Remington ang putoc bung bung”

“Ang mauser at Riple ay pac bung pac bung”

(Palconete, cannon, Revolver and Remington go “bung-bung”

Mauser and Rifle go “pac bung pac bung”)

This simple poem, ignored by most historians focused on the great narrative, inspired popular historian and academic Ambeth Ocampo “to see into the forest and look at the trees. God, they say, is in the details,” Ocampo said, “and if it these can add color and understanding to the sepia-toned history we were forced to learn in school then the effort to dig them up and deploy them in my writing has been worthwhile.” After all, history viewed in the eyes of the little people who lived through it—and who had the chance to write about it—can be a story even more intriguing than fiction.


The Quiet Ones

by Glenn Diaz

During a regular shift at the call center, Alvin Estrada discovers a way to embezzle money from the American telecom giant for which he mans the phones. Soon a couple of friends join in, and the operation proceeds smoothly up until they quit, vowing to take the secret to their graves. A month later, a phone call at 4 in the morning tells Alvin that the police are on their way.

At once a workplace novel and a meditation on history and globalization, The Quiet Ones is a grimly humorous take on a soul-sapping, multi-billion-dollar industry. In interlocking narratives, this 2017 Palanca Grand Prize winner by Glenn Diaz explores lives rendered mute by irate callers, scripted apologies, and life’s menial violence, but which manage to talk back every now and then, just as long as the Mute button is firmly pressed.


A Waiting Room Companion

by Angelo R. Lacuesta

Celebrated fictionist and editor Sarge Lacuesta puts together a collection of essays, explorations, and profiles he has written throughout his casual career in creative non-fiction, in this book designed to be a perfect companion in the waiting room. Since summer breaks are simply waiting rooms for when you return to the daily grind of regular work, Lacuesta’s book is an ideal companion, indeed.


Dear Universe: Poems on Love, Longing, and Finding Your Place in the Cosmos

by Pierra Calasanz-Labrador

Dear Universe is the second poetry collection from Pierra Calasanz-Labrador, author of The Heartbreak Diaries and the column Fifi’s Finds in the Manila Bulletin. These poems speak to the world with the intimacy only an introvert can evoke, with lines like “a quiet voice longing to be heard.” With 50 poems on love, longing, and self-discovery, Dear Universe is like going through an introspective journey where you may discover yourself as the persona discovers her own.


All My Lonely Islands

by V.J. Campilan

One crisp March evening, Crisanta and Ferdinand arrive on the remote Batanes islands on a mission: Find Graciella, whose son, Stevan, died in a tragic accident they witnessed a decade ago. But they need to confess something to her: Stevan’s death is not all what it seems. Oppressed by a decade of painful memories, Crisanta and Ferdinand must race against time, while moving from the wild swamplands of the Sundarban forest in Bangladesh to the back alleys of Manila and to the savage cliffs of Batanes, to offer Graciella the truth that they themselves cannot bear to face. Author VJ Campilan is a business writer by day and novelist by night. She was first published in UP Diliman’s literary journal, Likhaan, for a short story she wrote called Real Dhaka.