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Recommended Reads from RAW: Modern Filipino Writing in English

Text by: Lily C. Fen

Modern Filipino Writing in English

As we celebrate Philippine Independence Day this June, RAW shares with you recommended Filipino reads that include works of fiction and non-fiction to tickle the intellect and imagination.


K. M. Levis penned Filipino fantasy fiction novels, The Girl Between Two Worlds, and its sequel, The Girl Between Light and Dark. Her works are published by Anvil Teens and make for an action-packed read, bringing you into a rich and familiar world of engkantos and the manananggal, along with other characters from Filipino folklore. The third part to her Engkantasia series of novels is also out, entitled The Search for Adarna.


Candy Gourlay walked the rice terraces with the people of Bontoc to build her third novel, Bone Talk. She brings the Filipino voice into the foreground, lending her work a poignant perspective in this turn-of-the-twentieth-century tale. Hers is a vivid look into the customs of the Cordilleras and will awaken your respect for the mountain tribes.


Lenny Bugayong’s Color of Sky: growing up Swiss with chocolate brown skin is a lilting collection of short stories told through the eyes of a Filipina born and raised in Switzerland. Hers is fiction that is honest, as Virginia Woolf might put it.



For lovers of non-fiction, try these titles from the Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Caroline S. Hau’s The Chinese Question: Ethnicity, Nation, and Region in and Beyond the Philippines explores what it means to be Chinese-Filipino, particularly as the twenty-first century begins. She covers cinematic and literary works, from the popular Mano Po films to the TV series, My Bindondo Girl, all the while looking at how Filipinos and Chinese define themselves and each other as China gains global strength. Hers is a studied view of what it means to fall between two Asian cultures, Chinese and Filipino.


Finally, Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz’s Filipino Women Writers in English: Their Story, 1905-2002, is an illuminating glimpse into the best Filipina writers in English throughout the twentieth century. Why did these women write? Zapanata-Manlapaz asks as she looks into their worlds and what shaped their words. Told in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, it is a great gateway to further reading in the realm of Filipina writing.

This month, as we examine what it means to be Filipino, find your way into your Philippine identity through these works. Happy reading!


Suggested and Associated Links (Photo Credits):

1) K. M. Levis -

5) Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz -


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