Not all lovers of Filipino literature need keep wondering what happened to the National Book Awards (NBA), a collaboration between the Manila Critics Circle (MCC) and the National Book Development Board (NBDB). Has the pandemic also succeeded in eliminating it? Nothing could be further from the truth, in the same way that books last forever under all circumstances.
He could not be held as usual due to the confinement affecting not only the offices of the publishers but also that of the CDBN, the staff of the two offices essential to the award ceremony. As one can imagine, the process from the nomination with the delivery of the books to the verification of the strict requirements to the categorization of the entries for the first and second deliberations of the MCC and the judges selected at the awards ceremony n It’s not an easy process.
So it’s good news to hear that the NBA is alive and well and is currently going through deliberations for an awards ceremony in early July to cover books published in 2019 and 2020. With the more than 280 books nominated by the editors, this indicates that our authors, editors, translators, illustrators have been busy and have made productive use of the lockdown time. Since two years of publication are covered, seven titles instead of the usual five are selected for the shortlist or finalists. From this shortlist, a winner will be chosen in a final deliberation.
Books are classified into two broad categories, literary and non-literary, before being grouped into sub-categories, so that the books are carefully read and reviewed by judges who are undisputed experts in their respective fields. Among all the submitted books, one will be selected for the best design. Based on the number of publisher’s winning titles, a publisher of the year is named.
The NBA, now in its 39th year, has a proud but humble story to tell. First organized by respected writer and critic Isagani R. Cruz and a group of book lovers eager to bring deserved attention to the titles of Filipino authors, it was later recognized and recognized by society, especially universities and colleges wanting to know which are the best books to buy with their limited budgets for their libraries.
This encouraged Filipino writing and publishing, as NBA recognition became coveted. Certainly, a godsend for our authors who are never paid enough. But alas, even to this day, the titles cited are not always the best-selling titles, if the titles can even be found on the shelves of our bookstores, often a difficult hunt in itself.
As the NBA looks forward to its 40th year and beyond, it knows and is impressed by the importance of its role, especially in these confusing and confusing times, when books are banned by government authorities from libraries, when historical events that we have personally witnessed are debated, while our students are unprepared, not even for their distant productive future, but for the next level.
I write this not only as a lover of books, but concerned to impart this love and passion to young people for their lifelong learning – the ultimate goal of education, we must all remember . I remain attached to the Philippine publishing and I am in total admiration for our authors and other creatives who need to be displayed to the rest of the world. Although it was my wife Neni in her former association with the BDBC who first broached the idea of my annual NBA sponsorship for the Social Sciences category, I will continue as my humble contribution to promoting literacy and scholarship in the country.
I’m also happy that a few of my other friends continue to be so engaged with their own category award promises: John C. Kaw, Victorio C. Valledor, Peter D. Garrucho, Ramon del Rosario Jr. (for Phinma ), Miguel Tan in memory of his father, Don Pablo Tan, and of Miguel Valencia and Jesus “Chito” Francisco, the latter two who are no longer with us but who were sponsors in 2019.
This year, the Manila Circle of Critics is led by journalist and professor Ruel S. de Vera and counts among its members National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, Shirley Lua, Dean Francis Alfar, Alma Anonas Carpio and Danton Remoto.
I commend and commend BNCD President Dante Francis Ang II, who I am proud to say was my student in my De La Salle MBA Program Strategic Management class and Managing Director Charisse Aquino Tugade for continuing to support the initiative of the NBA. The Philippine book industry deserves all the support it can get.
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Our June Zoom Specials: Adult Series Session with Public Historian and Columnist Ambeth R. Ocampo on “Writing the Past, the Present, the Future” June 18, 10-11:30 a.m.
Meeting of young writers on June 25 with literary editor Alma Anonas Carpio, 2-3 p.m.
In response to inquiries, Write Things’ six-day summer workshop “Writefest” will have a second edition on June 27, 29, July 1, 4, 6, and 8 (MWF), from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. 30.
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