#ArtPH - FIND YOUR NEXT FAVORITE LITERARY MASTERPIECE

Deciding what to read next? 

To finish off this National Literature Month, we recommend some of the most notable and brilliant works by our National Artists for Literature. Ranging from poems, short stories, novels, and what have you, there will surely be something that would catch your eyes, if not all the books we insightfully recommend. 




THE FLOWERS OF MAY BY NATIONAL ARTIST FRANCISCO ARCELLANA

Set in 1934, this short story revolves around a father who just lost his daughter. It narrates how the grieving family, amid their shock and pain, comes to accept the death of their family member two months after the funeral. This piece won second place in the 1951 Palanca Awards. It was also featured in Our Very Own, a TV anthology of dramatic readings directed by Father James Reuter and starring National Artists Lamberto Avellana and Daisy Avellana. Arcellana was named National Artist in 1990.

THE TRACKS OF BABYLON AND OTHER POEMS BY NATIONAL ARTIST EDITH L. TIEMPO

If you are into poetry, this is the book for you. A collection of poems that exemplifies the National Artist’s genius in creating images and incorporating irony through her phenomenal usage of words. In this book, you can find poems such as “The Tracks of Babylon,” “The Return,” “Mid-Morning for Sheba,” “Lament for the Littlest Fellow,” and “St. Anthony’s Feast,” among others. Tiempo was conferred the National Artist Award in 1999. 

LIKHANG DILA, LIKHANG DIWA BY NATIONAL ARTIST BIENVENIDO LUMBERA

The anthology book contains 103 poems the National Artist wrote between 1956 and 1992. Divided into three sections, namely Paghihintay, Paroo’t Parito, and Paglingon at Pagtanaw, this poem collection depicts massive poverty, realities of urban dwelling, and the tyranny of the city’s idle upper class. 


 


A SEASON OF GRACE BY NATIONAL ARTIST N.V.M GONZALES


Set in post-war Oriental Mindoro, the novel depicts the barrio life, with farming and kaingin as central theme. From the book synopsis, the novel counters the myth of the Philippines’ lost native past and cultural weakness in the face of foreign dominance. González was proclaimed National Artist of the Philippines in 1997. 

 LEMLÚNAY: PAGUNITA SA GUNITA (2023) BY NATIONAL ARTIST VIRGILIO S. ALMARIO

Almario’s latest collection of poems, Lemlúnay: Pagunita sa Gunita (A Reminder of Memory), features 30 poems, written from 2018 to 2023, with English translation by poet Marne Kilates. The book is one of Almario’s most visual books with photographs by journalist and publication designer Roel Hoang Manipon, and design by Manipon and Mervin Concepcion Vergara, adding additional ways of seeing and interpreting. Almario was proclaimed National Artist in 2003. 


THE TRILOGY OF SAINT LAZARUS BY NATIONAL ARTIST CIRILO F. BAUTISTA

The Archipelago, Telex Moon and Sunlight on Broken Stones comprise The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus, which have been written individually but are connected by historical events. 

The first book, The Archipelago, depicts the Spanish colonization in the Philippines, while the second book, Telex Moon, laments the simultaneous growth and degradation of Manila. The trilogy continues with Sunlight on Broken Stones, chronicling Philippine history and the search of Filipino identity during the tumultuous periods. A National Artist award was conferred on Bautista in 2014.

THE WOMAN WHO HAD TWO NAVELS BY NATIONAL ARTIST NICK JOAQUIN


One of the most popular books by Nick Joaquin, next to A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. The novel follows the story of a Filipina woman who believes that she has two novels and consults a horse doctor to rectify her abnormality. Joaquin was named National Artist in 1976.


MGA IBONG MANDARAGIT BY NATIONAL ARTIST AMADO V. HERNANDEZ

This is what a telenovela should be made of – swashbuckling adventures of the protagonist, voyeuristic lives of the upper classes, and love stories among the characters, set during the last year of Japanese occupation. In its 69 chapters, one can see the author’s yearning for change in the living conditions of the Filipino people and improvements on the social psyche in Philippine society. Hernandez was one of the first Filipinos proclaimed as National Artists, in 1973, the second year the prestigious award was given. 

MAGANDA PA ANG DAIGDIG BY NATIONAL ARTIST LAZARO FRANCISCO

First serialized in Liwayway magazine in 1955, the novel is about a gardener who lost faith in the oppressive social system. After he was accused of committing robbery and homicide, he became a fugitive. With each encounter he had along the way, he returned to living a normal life. The National Award was posthumously given to Francisco in 2009. 

THE ROSALES SAGA BY NATIONAL ARTIST F. SIONIL JOSE

A series of five interconnected historical novels, namely Po-on, Tree, My Brother My Executioner, The Pretenders, and Mass. The saga traces the five generations of two families, the Samsons and the Asperri, through Spanish and American periods in Philippine history. All books are set in Rosales, Pangasinan, the hometown of the author. The National Artist award was bestowed upon Jose in 2001. 

I AM A FILIPINO BY NATIONAL ARTIST CARLOS P. ROMULO

If you need inspiration on why you should be proud to be a Filipino despite the realities of our time, read Romulo’s I Am A Filipino. Printed in The Philippines Herald in 1941, the essay touched on the “immortal seed of heroes,” exemplifying the sacrifices made by Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, Antonio Luna, and Diego Silang, among others. It also contains the pledge of the National Artist as a Filipino. He became a National Artist in 1982. 

POEMS 55 BY NATIONAL ARTIST JOSE GARCIA VILLA

Known for its revolutionary content, the collection of poems portrays a sensual kind of love and the human relationship with the Divine. The poems found here started the movement of modernism in Philippine poetry. It showcases the reversed consonance rhyme scheme that Villa was known for. He created comma poems that made full use of the punctuation mark in an innovative, poetic way. He was conferred the National Artist in 1973. 

OF COCKS AND KITES (1954) BY NATIONAL ARTIST ALEJANDRO ROCES

Originally titled Of Cocks and Men when it was first published by the Philippine Free Press, the story is about people who are predators and use questionable means to get what they want and harm their victims. This book deemed him “perhaps the country’s best writer of humor stories.” Roces was bestowed the National Artist award in 2003. 


KRISTAL NA UNIBERSO (1989) BY NATIONAL ARTIST ROLANDO S. TINIO

This collection of poems marked Tinio’s return to the Philippine poetic tradition, as mirrored in the affectionate and sentimental nature of the contents. The collection is divided into five sections: Russian sojourn, domestic poems, poems of parting and regret, love songs (including the Tagalog translation of English love songs) and original lyrics of folk songs. Tinio was awarded posthumously in 1997 as National Artist for Theater and Literature. 


BRAINS OF THE NATION: PEDRO PATERNO, T.H. PARDO DE TAVERA, ISABELO DE LOS REYES AND THE PRODUCTION OF MODERN KNOWLEDGE BY NATIONAL ARTIST RESIL B. MOJARES

Grounded on the lives and works of Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera and Isabelo de los Reyes, three of the most infamous movers in Philippine history. The book gives readers a closer look into the thoughts of these individuals. The book explores the social conditions that shaped the Filipino psyche and consciousness. Mojares was awarded the National Artist in 2018. 


MARGOSATUBIG: MARAGTAS NI SALAGUNTING BY NATIONAL ARTIST RAMON L. MUZONES

Set in a fictive Muslim state called Margosatubig, a hero-heir leads the fight to recover their kingdom after its legitimate rulers because of treachery and intrigue. Filled with fantastic scenes, romance, and epic plot, the Hiligaynon novel is considered the first Ilonggo bestseller. It first appeared as a serial novel published in Yuhum magazine in 1946. Muzones was a posthumous recipient of the National Artist award in 2018. 

IN ANOTHER LIGHT: POEMS AND ESSAYS (1978) BY GEMINO H. ABAD

Want to see a comprehensive view of the landscape of Philippine poetry and fiction in English? Grab a copy of In Another Light. The book contains 11 critical essays on Philippine poetry, analyzing it through the Chicago neo-Aristotelian method of Literary criticism. Several poems are included, such as “Islander in the Yard,” “The Moon and the Prisoner,” and “Iimpressions of a Guitarist,” among others. Abad received the National Artist award in 2022. 

 CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (EPA) contains a wide variety of information on National Artists and their works. To subscribe or get a print copy, visit the CCP EPA website (https://epa.culturalcenter.gov.ph/encylopedia) or email theccpshop@culturalcenter.gov.ph.



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