IT WAS a big night for Karina Bolasco at the recent National Book Awards held at the Metropolitan Theatre of Manila on Saturday, May 14. Not only did seven titles of the Ateneo De Manila University Press, which she heads, bring home eight awards but it was once again named the Publisher of the Year.
But her winning streak did not end there. Surprising her at the end of the awarding ceremony, Manila Critics Circle Chairman Dean Alfaro announced that there was one more trophy to be given out that was not listed on the program: the Lifetime Achievement Award for Ms. Bolasco.
“I didn’t know!” said the visibly surprised director of the Ateneo Press. “Otherwise, I would have brought my daughters! I didn’t know that you were giving me this award. Thank you very much! I am blown away. I am so inspired, as well, by our young publishers who are coming up and doing so many interesting things and are beginning correctly because they are starting in their regions and are publishing in their mother-tongues or their own languages. If I had been part of having been able to contribute to the ecosystem that raised them, then I am very much gratified.”
Neni Sta. Romana Cruz, former chairman of the National Book Development Board, wrote the citation which read: “One cannot talk of Philippine publishing today without mentioning Karina Africa Bolasco, consummate publisher who has not only won countless Publisher of the Year awards for Anvil in her early years in the industry and more recently, also for the Ateneo De Manila University Press, a university press she has transformed into a lively, relevant, and productive press with titles that appeal not only to the academe but the general public as well. It is certainly a track record that is hard to beat.”
She added Ms. Bolasco had the gift of seeing a potential book in other people’s stories and would encourage people to write them.
While it was Ms. Bolasco’s big night, the evening truly belonged to the Ateneo Press. It brought home its sixth Publisher of the Year award. This year’s harvest included the Alfonso T. Ongpin Prize for Best Book on Art and Best Book Design for Endangered Splendor: Manila’s Architectural Heritage, 1517-1960 by Fernando Zialcita and Erik Akpendonu and designed by Ali Figueroa and Erik Akpedonu; Best Book in Philosophy for Repentance and Rebirth at the End of the Life as We Know It by Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez; Elfren S. Cruz Prize for Best Book in the Social Sciences for The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed by Robin Broad and Jonathan Cavanagh; Philippine Literary Arts Council Prize for Best Book of Poetry in English for College Boy: Poems by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta; Best Book on Media Studies for Hindi Nangyari Dahil Wala sa Social Media: Interograsyon ng Kulturang New Media sa Pilipinas by Rolando B. Tolentino, Vladimeir B. Gonzales, and Laurence Marvin S. Castillo; Best Book of Literary Criticism/Cultural Studies in English for Campaigns of Knowledge: US Pedagogies of Colonialism and Occupation in the Philippines and Japan by Malini Johar Schueller; and Best Novel in Filipino for Aswanglaut by Allan N. Derain.
“Ideas and stories. Stories and ideas. Stories of ideas. Ideas for stories. These are our currency as writers, editors, bookmakers — actually, all artists for that matter — and how lucky we are. At the university press, we strive to tell the stories of ideas — how they begin, are nuanced, layered and expanded, and take many other directions. Ideas to understand ourselves — the world from the seafloor to the highest heavens and everything in between, and even beyond. Ideas run machines or redirect the wheel. Everything is run by ideas. And stories coming from our collective imagination, don’t we love them, and how so powerfully and creatively we tell them?” said Ms. Bolasco upon accepting the Publisher of the Year award.
The evening was an emotional one for several of the writers. Priscilla S. Macansantos, winner of the Pablo A. Tan Prize for Best Book of Non-Fiction Prose in English for Departures: Essays was tearful in accepting the trophy.
“This is my first book, and I am not very young anymore,” she said and was loudly applauded for her candor. “I am not young blood but I am warm-blooded! By the way, I wear many hats. I am a mathematician. I am a former university administrator. But I love writing!”
Prescillano N. Bermudez, winner of the Best Novel in Ilocano for Dagiti Pundador (The Founders), also expressed his gratitude for being recognized despite being in his “sunset years.” His novel was written 43 years ago and he is grateful that Saniata Press took a chance on a very old story.
Patrick Everard, who won Best Novel in English for Snakes in the Grass talked about feeling naked and vulnerable during the writing process and being able to harness this self-doubt to become a better writer. His speech was read by Sajid Rada Pena.
While attempting to making light of it, Best Book of Non-Fiction Prose in Filipino winner John Iremil Teodoro for Sa Yakap ng Gubat at Dagat ng Palawan: Mga Ekosanaysay spoke about rushing to have the book published because of the threats from Palawan officials.
“It is time for us to remind them how beautiful Palawan was nung hindi pa nila na plunder. So hindi sila nagwagi. At nagwagi ang libro ko, so maraming salamat!” Mr. Teodoro said. (“It is time for us to remind them how beautiful Palawan was when they had still not plundered it. So they did not win. And my book won, so thank you!”)
Indeed, it echoed Ms. Bolasco’s call for truth-telling in the industry that she truly loves.
“Books, I hope will not be the last bastion for truth and truth-telling,” she said. “But if they are, and will be, let us stay vigilant and strong and constant. Finally, I want, actually, to quote Joel Salud’s recent Twitter: ‘Speaking truth to power can only be effective by speaking truth with power.’ And if I may add, with certainty and an openness to explore the ways it will best reach out.”
Best Novel in English: Snakes in the Grass by Patrick Everard, University of the Philippines Press
Best Novel in Filipino: Aswanglaut by Allan N. Derain, Ateneo de Manila University Press
National Artist Cirilo F. Bautista Prize for Best Book of Short Fiction in English: Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House
Gerardo P. Cabochan Prize for Best Book of Short Fiction in Filipino: Ang Itim na Orkidyas ng Isla Boracay: Mga Kuwento by Genevieve L. Asenjo, University of the Philippines Press
Pablo A. Tan Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in English: Departures: Essays by Priscilla S Macansantos, University of the Philippines Press
Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in Filipino: Sa Yakap ng Gubat at Dagat ng Palawan: Mga Ekosanaysay by John Iremil Teodoro, Pawikan Press
Best Anthology: Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis by Padmapani L. Perez, Rehana Rossouw, Alexandra Walter, and Renato Redentor Constantino, Millflores Publishing, Inc. and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC)
Best Book of Literary Criticism/Cultural Studies in English: Campaigns of Knowledge: US Pedagogies of Colonialism and Occupation in the Philippines and Japan by Malini Johar Schueller, Ateneo de Manila University Press
Best Book of Literary Criticism/Cultural Studies in Filipino: Musika ng Pananakop: Panahon ng Hapon sa Filipinas, 1942-1945 by Raul Casantusan Navarro, University of the Philippines Press
Best Book on Media Studies: Hindi Nangyari Dahil Wala sa Social Media: Interogasyon ng Kulturang New Media sa Pilipinas by Rolando Tolentino, Vladimeir B. Gonzales, and Laurence Marvin S. Castillo, Ateneo de Manila University Press
Philippine Literary Arts Council Prize for Best Book of Poetry in English: Tangere by Rodrigo V. dela Peña, Jr., University of the Philippines Press and College Boy: Poems by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, Ateneo de Manila University Press
Victorio C. Valledor Prize for Best Book of Poetry in Filipino: Pasakalye by Lean Borlongan, self-published; and Tuwing Nag-Iisa sa Mapa ng Buntong-hininga by Paolo Miguel G. Tiausas, University of the Philippines Press
Best Graphic Novel in English: Alandal, written by Philip Ignacio, illustrated by Alex Niño, Komiket Inc.
Best Graphic Novel in Filipino: Ang Mga Alitaptap ng Pulang Buhangin by RH Quilantang, Komiket Inc.
Best Translated Book: Mga Himutok sa Palikuran at iba pang kuwento by Eka Kurniawan, translated by Amado Anthony G. Mendoza III, Savage Mind: Arts, Books, Cinema
Best Novel in Ilocano: Dagiti Pundador (The Founders) by Prescillano N. Bermudez, Saniata Publications
Best Anthology in Ilocano: Panaglantip (Union) by Dionisio Soliven Bulong and Eden Cachola-Bulong, Saniata Publications
Best Book of Poetry in Ilocano: Baribari (Pardon Me) by Roy Vadil Aragon, Saniata Publications and Anglem (Incense) by Danile L. Nesperos, Saniata Publications
Alfonso T. Ongpin Prize for Best Book on Art: Endangered Splendor: Manila’s Architectural Heritage, 1571-1960 by Fernando Zialcita and Erik Akpedonu, Ateneo de Manila University Press
Elfren S. Cruz Prize for Best Book in the Social Sciences: The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed by Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, Ateneo de Manila University Press
John C. Kaw Prize for Best Book on History: Pugot: Head taking, Ritual Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice in the Philippines by Narciso C. Tan, Vibal Foundation Inc.
Best Book on Humor, Sports, And Lifestyle: The Business of Banking: Structure and Profitability; Risks and Controls by Deogracias N. Vistan, Anvil Publishing
Best Book on Food: Appetite for Freedom: The Recipes of Maria Y. Orosa, with Essays on Her Life and Work by Helena Orosa del Rosario, Ige Ramos Design Studio
Best Book in Spirituality and Theology: Handumanan (Remembrance): Digging for the Indigenous Wellspring by Karl M. Gaspar, CSSR, Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc.
Best Book in Philosophy: Repentance and Rebirth at the End of Life as We Know It by Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez, Ateneo de Manila University Press
Best Book Design: Endangered Splendor: Manila’s Architectural Heritage, 1571-1960, design by Ali Figueroa and Erik Akpedonu, Ateneo de Manila University Press