DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 August) – The Philippine Book Festival on August 18 to 20 at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang opens at 8 a.m. on Friday with what organizers describe as a “mesmerizing Lalang-Banwa ritual,” where Maguindanaon master artist Faisal Monal and the Madayaw Cultural Ensemble will “grace the stage to present sacred rites from diverse ethnolinguistic groups”
In the afternoon, John Bengan, Elizabeth Serrano- Quijano and Jake Capinanes are featured in “The First Book: Davao Writers Talk About the Story of their Debut Collections” from 1 to 2 p.m., with Jhoanna Cruz as moderator. In the “Events” section of the festival’s website, this is titled “Out-of-the-box: Writing in Davao.”
On Saturday, August 19, at 4 to 5 p.m., Walid and Kyla Pangcoga will discuss the treasures of “Islamic Law Dictionary with appendices.” The forum will be moderated by the Xavier University Press, publisher of the book.
Pawikan Press and Alakmid Book authors Assad Baunto, Jennie Arado and Xana Angel Eve M. Apolinar will discuss “Writing About Mindanao on Sunday, August 20 at 5 to 6 p.m.
“It is not just a book fair, it’s a book experience! We have thousands of books for sale, international and local author meet-and-greet, exciting workshops, rare exhibitions, and the like,” said Charisse Aquino-Tugade, Executive Director of the National Book Development Foundation. The first bookfest was held at the World Trade Center Manila last June 2 to 4.
In the Davao City bookfest, organizers said the opening rites will be graced by National Artist for Literature Resil Mojares, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, Senator Loren Legarda, authors Candy Gourlay, Annette Hug, Elizabeth Joy (Serrano)-Quijano, and Ambeth Ocampo, as well as Chairman Dante Ang II, Tugade, “and surprise guests.”
Historian Ocampo is scheduled for a “Meet and Greet” at 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Day 1 of the bookfest while Mojares will talk about “Regions and the Nation” from 2:30 to 4 p.m.. on Day 2. He will be joined by writers Niles Jordan Breis (Luzon), Noel Galon De Leon (Visayas) and Jhoanna Cruz (Mindanao).
Timed during the city’s Kadayawan Festival, one of the bookfest’s publicity materials says, “Let the energy of the Kadayawan Festival amplify your experience, as we celebrate our heritage through literature and culture!”
It was expected that the bookfest will feature more Davao or Mindanao-based writers and publishers but most of the 102 book exhibitors and 57 publishers listed on the bookfest’s website are Manila-based and only a few Mindanao writers are featured in the three-day fest. Former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, author of “Walked with Presidents: An Autobiography” published by the University of Mindanao, has a booth.
The host city, Davao, and the rest of Mindanao have several publishers and writers, a number of whom are winners of the Palanca, National Book Awards, Outstanding Book Awards of the National Academy of Science and Technology, and Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Awards, among others.
30 out of 50 books published in Mindanao
In January, MindaNews, which does an annual listing of Mindanao books, noted there were at least 50 published in 2022, 19 more than the 2021 harvest. It also found most of the books were published in Mindanao.
Classified as Mindanao books are those written by Mindanawons on various topics and books on Mindanao written by Mindanawons and non-Mindanawons.
History and peacebuilding, the dominant themes in previous years, had given way to literature as can be gleaned from the 2022 titles.
The 2022 list shows that 30 out of the 50 titles were published in Mindanao – 17 in Davao City, nine in Cotabato City, two in Zamboanga City, one in Digos City and one in Iligan City.
At the 2nd Mindanao Book Festival in June 2022 here in Davao City, 59 Mindanao books published during the pandemic (2020 to 2022) were collectively launched along with two books published in late 2019.
Mindanao writers featured in the Philippine Book Festival’s panels are Bengan of Davao City, author of “Armor: Stories,” Blaan writer Quijano of Matanao in Davao del Sur, author of “Dili Mogawas ug ubang mga Sugilanon” (Can’t Go Out and Other Stories) which Bengan translated to English; while Capinanes of General Santos City is author of “How to Grieve.” Bengan, Quijano, Capinanes and Cruz, the moderator, are all members of the Davao Writers Guild which Cruz heads. Bengan, Capinanes, and Cruz are Palanca awardees.
Baunto of Marawi City is author of “My Ranaw Kitchen Lab,” Arado of Koronadal City wrote “Dako nga Yahong sang Batchoy,” while Apolinar of Sarangani is author of “Gusto Maglupad ni Bangsi.”
Arado’s “Batchoy,” illustrated by Rayah Dizon-Maniago, won the 2018 South Cotabato Children’s Story Writing Contest organized by the Cotabato Literary Journal and Manug-isa: South Cotabato Writers Association, and the 2021 Best Children’s Book at the Mindanao ASEAN Literary Festival Book Awards.
8 of 98 events
Out of 98 events (38 on Day 1, 34 on Day 2 and 26 on Day 3), listed in the “Events” section of the bookfest’s website as of 10 p.m. on August 17, only eight are Mindanao: Lawig-Banwa and the forum on Davao writers on Day 1; book launch and signing of the two-volume “Kalandrakas Stories and Storyteller – A Preliminary and Continuing Survey and Literary Mapping” from 1890 – 1945 and 1946 – 1990, edited by Palanca awardee Ricardo M. De Ungria; book signing by Datu Michael Mastura, author of “Rulers of Magindanao in Modern History 1515-1903: Continuity and Change in a Traditional Realm in the Southern Philippines,” book launch of Pangcoga’s “Islamic Law Dictionary with appendices,” book signing by Cruz, author of “Tingle: Anthology of Pinay Lesbian Writing;” and Sayaw Kadayawan courtesy of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts on Day 2.
Also on Day 2 is LUNAS-BANWA: Healing, Community, and Performance, which features the Kaliwat Performing Artists Collective and Tribute to Don Pagusara and Aida Rivera Ford.
De Ungria’s book was launched at the Ateneo de Davao University on February 27 this year.
Two other Mindanao-related events not posted on the website’s “Events” section are the forum on “Writing About Mindanao” on Sunday at 5 to 6 p.m. and Book Signing by Gutierrez Mangansakan II, author of “Archipelago of Stars” on Saturday at 2 to 3 p.m.
On Sunday, August 20, from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm, 12 poets are featured in “Tindog/Tingog: A Poetry & Spoken Word Special Event.”
“Join us for an unforgettable evening with a stellar lineup of literary luminaries,” a publicity material to entice the public to attend, states. Only two of the “literary luminaries” are from Mindanao: Ricardo De Ungria and Nina Maria Matalam-Alvarez.
The venue chosen by the organizers is quite far from the downtown area where most of the universities are located.
Three major Kadayawan events are happening during the bookfest dates: Kasikas sa Kadayawan, a variety show featuring Davao talents from 6 to 10 p.m. on August 18, Indak-Indak sa Kadayawan or street dancing competition from 2 to 8 p.m. on August 19; and Pamulak ug Hudyaka sa Kadayawan or floral float parade from 6 a.m. to 12 noon on August 20 and Konsierto Kadayawan from 6 p.m to 12 midnight on the same day. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)