4 Must-Read Indie Books by Filipina Writers
Broaden your reading list these local female-authored comic and poetry books
Contemporary literature is more accessible than ever. With the rise of independent publishing, more creators are opting for the alternative route, finding ways to produce their own materials through handmade zines and self-published books sold at affordable prices. Some writers choose to self-publish, while some prefer joining independent presses and art collectives for a more collaborative experience. Needless to say, the movement of independent publishing is continuously growing, furthering the advocacy to democratize Philippine art and literature.
As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Month this March, why not try updating your book list and add more works by Filipina writers? Here are four independently-published local books by women that you should definitely read.
Ligaw-Tingin by Gantala Press
Gantala Press is one of today’s most popular local independent presses. Founded as an feminist collective, Gantala Press is known for projects that seek to truly represent marginalized women. Ligaw-Tingin is a comic anthology that tackle the reality of lesbian relationships in the Philippines. Published in 2018 in time for celebration of Pride Month, Ligaw-Tingin featured works contributed by illustrators, comic artists and painters Michelle Bacabac, Joanne Cesario, Mich Cervantes, Betina Continuado, Nikki De Chavez, Emiliana Kampilan, Patricia Ramos and Trisha Sanijon.
Cover art of Ligaw-Tingin by Gantala Press, photo via Studio Soup Zine Library’s Facebook page
Shop Ligaw-Tingin at Kwago Book Bar in Makati, Buku-Buku Kafe in Dasmariñas and Las Piñas and other stockists of Gantala Press. For more information, e-mail Gantala Press at email@example.com.
Tonight We Slurp in Color by Andrea Tubig
Initially written as Andrea’s undergraduate thesis chapbook, it didn’t take long for Tonight We Slurp in Color to be adopted and published by Manila-based independent press Balangiga Press in 2017. Andrea called her poems “violent releases of destructive and colorful energy,” and true enough, her book makes the uncomfortable seem so enticing. With poems such as “Sid Lucero Lost His Third Nipple and Became a Poet,” “You Me, and the Condom in Between,” and “Pussy Tastes Like Sun-Dried Tomatoes,” this chapbook navigates through sex, relationships and love in a very different, transgressive way.
Cover art of Tonight We Slurp in Color by Andrea Tubig, photo via Balangiga Press’s Facebook page
Order Tonight We Slurp in Color from Balangiga Press.
There is no emergency by Conchitina Cruz
Every aspiring Filipina poet should have read Conchitina Cruz even once in their lives. The award-winning writer and literature professor has five chapbooks under her belt, with “There is no emergency” as her latest, published by the Youth & Beauty Brigade in 2015. When asked about this fifth book, Conchitina often talked about her interest in the idea of “archiving,” referring to her poems as “the outcome of rearranging phrases or sentences in alphabetical order.” In an interview with Cordite, she explained that this archive is performed by a “self” haunted by both personal and larger, socio-historical catastrophes who finds refuge in collecting “ephemera,” reflected in the poems from the chapbook.
Cover art of There is no emergency by Conchitina Cruz, photo via Studio Soup Zine Library’s Facebook page
Find There is no emergency from Studio Soup Zine Library in Quezon City or contact The Youth & Beauty Brigade for more information on how to order a copy.
Nagmamahal, Maria Clara by Marian Hukom
Nagmamahal, Maria Clara is a refreshing take on Jose Rizal’s staple character Maria Clara from the classic Noli Me Tangere. This comic series, which started as a multimedia thesis project with Marian’s thesis partner Sian Riza Malolos, revolves around Maria’s unexpected journey in the present time and how she as a conservative woman came to grips with modern, liberal femininity. In an interview with ModernFilipina.com, author-illustrator Marian explained that she “originally wanted to abolish the Maria Clara tradition, but transitioned to creating a new model that could represent both the liberal and conservative Filipina.”
Cover art of Nagmamahal, Maria Clara by Marian Hukom, photo via Nagmamahal, Maria Clara’s Facebook page
Learn more about Nagmamahal, Maria Clara by liking their Facebook page.
Have other female-authored indie book favorites? Let us know below!
Words Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
Art Isabella Canlas and Alexandra Lara