Philippines brings ‘an archipelago of stories,’ first NFT graphic story to Frankfurt Book Fair 2021

Published October 13, 2021, 3:11 PM

by John Legaspi

‘We need to work now to be Guest of Honor country in 2025’

Philippine literature meets the world again as the National Book Development Board (NBDB) presents local writers and authors and their works at the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) 2021.

Held annually in Frankfurt, Germany, FBF is known for being the world’s largest international trade fair for the book publishing industry. It is where publishers, authors, literary agents, media professionals, illustrators, and book and trade associations from all over the globe negotiate their publishing and licensing rights. And the Philippines being part of the fair again is a great step to putting local literature on the international platform.

“Our presence in the Frankfurt Book Fair is a good opportunity for the Philippines not only to promote our publishing industry in the global arena but also to showcase the world-class talents of our Filipino writers and the gems of Filipino literature, espousing our rich culture and traditions,” says House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda.

Loren Legarda at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Championing Filipino titles

For its sixth consecutive appearance at the fair, the NBDB bring to Frankfurt the country’s top publishers, among them 19th Avenida, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Milfores Publishing, University of the Philippines Press, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Komiket, and many others.

Among the featured books are “Remains” by Daryll Delgado, “Dead Balagtas” by Emiliana Kampilan, “Seven Slippers” by Divine Gil Reyes and Benjor Catindig, “Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tabon” by Edgar Calabia Samar, “Journey of a Thousand Shuttles: The Philippine Weave” by Norma A. Respecio, “Naimas! The Food Heritage of Ilocos Sur” by Deogracias Victor Savellano and Heny Sison, “Mga Batang Poz” by Segundo Matias, Jr., “You Shall Be As Gods: Anting-anting and the Filipino Quest for Mystical Power” by Dennis Santos Villegas, and “Sigma: Climate Fiction Anthology from the Philippines” edited by Paolo Enrico Melendez and Kristine Ong Muslim and published by Polytechnic University of the Philippines Press. These books tell uniquely Filipino stories depicting the country’s “indigenous and Southeast Asian roots, influences of the West, and the clear, undeniable voice of the young and the contemporary.”

Through an exciting digital program, the NBDB shines the spotlight on some of the best Filipino creatives and their works. The offerings range from virtual exhibitions and special presentations to strong voices on climate stories, epic sagas, colorful messages of inclusivity, and modern twists on Philippine folklore. It will likewise announce the world’s first in digital content which the Philippines is launching at FBM this year.

The country is also proud to announce the drop of a “non-fungible token” graphic story at this year’s fair. Dubbed as “The Last Moon,” the graphic story is a collaboration between fictionist and the Manila Bulletin’s Agriculture magazine editor Yvette U. Tan and design studio Team Manila and is described as “a retelling of an ancient Ilonggo myth about the Bakunawa, a dragon said to be responsible for earthquakes and eclipses.”

The proceeds of sales will be used to donate print copies of “The Last Moon” to the NBDBs “The Book Nook” project, storytelling and reading sites in indigenous and remote communities in the Philippines.

Weaving stories through design

With the theme “Myth, Magic, and the City: Reclaiming our Narrative” for the Philippines’ booth, NBDB executive director Charisse Aquino-Tugade with award-winning designer Jowee Alviar of Team Manila came up with a design that weaves together images from Philippine mythology and textures from ethnolinguistic designs and patterns. The effect is a series of panels, each one serving as a piece in the narrative creating a rich tapestry of Philippine culture and identity.

The design of the Philippines’ booth at the fair

Bid for Guest of Honor in 2025

“We need to sustain this presence and aim to be the Guest of Honor (GOH) country at the FBF 2025, the earliest year available with no designated GOH yet,” Legarda stressed.

She explained that being a GOH country of the FBF would be a major feat and would greatly benefit the local book publishing industry as the country would be the highlight of the fair. GOH status allows the country to showcase different facets of its culture and arts.

“We need to work now to be GOH country in 2025. We need to be visible and make our presence stronger and felt,” she said. “We did it in the Venice Biennale, where we achieved many feats, from returning in the Art Biennale in 2015 after a 51-year absence, to participating for the first time in the Architecture Biennale, to securing a space for our national pavilion in the Arsenale, the historic exhibition space of the Venice Biennale art platform. This year, our exhibit proudly bagged the Special Mention as National Participation. We will do the same for the Frankfurt Book Fair, not only to improve every year’s participation but to be the Guest of Honor country.”

Currently, the only ASEAN country that has become GOH is Indonesia, during the FBF 2015.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2021 will run from Oct. 20 to 24, 2021.

 
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