Fil-Can titles to give and to get this holiday

Community News & Features Dec 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm

filcan-booksBy Ysh Cabana

“Don’t say Fili, sister. Say Pili. In Tagalog, pili means to choose. Pino means fine. Pilipino equals ‘fine choice.” ― Jessica Hagedorn, The Gangster of Love

“We write from life and call it literature, and literature lives because we are in it.” ― F. Sionil José, In Search of the Word: Selected Essays

Looking for gifts this season? Here’s a rundown of recently published ― from 2016 onwards ― books written by Filipinos in Canada, or Filipino-Canadians based here and elsewhere. These volumes run the gamut from children’s books to graphic memoir to anthologies and poetry. At least three were featured in The Philippine Reporter. Needless to say, the list here appeals to a wide audience.

Don’t Forget the Parsley: And More from My Positively Filipino Family, by Marie Claire Lim Moore (Promontory Press; 228 pages) If a garnish is used to augment the visual impact of a plate, the title here suggests more than embellishment. Claire Lim Moore uses the metaphor as a reminder to appreciate one’s values and roots. Her frank sharing of relatable anecdotes leaves readers amused. ★★★★☆

Stumbling Through Paradise: A Feast of Mercy for Manuel del Mundo, by Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell (Friesen Press; 510 pages) Intergenerational immigrant life spoken in volumes, this book resonates to many as it captures the ethos of chasing dreams in faraway lands only to find out how harsh it is to face realities. Given the author’s urban planning background, detailed descriptions of contrasting bucolic life in the Philippines and cosmopolitan Canada are of great merit. ★★★★★

Settle, by Theresa Muñoz (Vagabond Voices; 74 pages) Scotland-based Theresa Muñoz, 23, still visits her hometown Vancouver at least once a year. Yet she still connects to her Filipino ethnicity. In her debut poetry collection she explores issues of immigration (her mother’s from Manila) and identity, which she started questioning soon after experiencing going abroad herself . ★★★☆☆

Someone Like You, by Aileen Santos (Two Wolves Press; 210 pages) An inaugural novel that probes the struggles of women coming from different generations. The individual stories of mother and child revolve around abuse, depression and forgiveness that are heavy at times. Nevertheless, it’s a beautifully crafted story about love despite the difficulties in life. ★★★★☆

Shade, by Mia Herrera (Inanna Publications; 250 pages) A picaresque tale of a second-generation immigrant’s charmed odyssey to her folks’ native land. But Shade is really a story of stories themselves, the social meanings one attach to the color of their skins, and the system of economical contradictions shaped by a globalized world. ★★★☆☆

Kwentong Bayan: Labour of Love, by Althea Balmes and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo in Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle (Between the Lines Press; 208 pages) This collection of comics, actually part anthology-part graphic novel, draws lessons from the ups and downs of organizing in Canada from the proletarian perspective. One of the contributions depicts the contemporary stories of long-term caregivers, who are dominated by Filipinas. It tackles the bonds complicated by domestic work and blurred relationship lines. ★★★★★

Good Night Philippines, Good Night World and Sandy Beaches to Snow, Snow to Sandy Beaches, by Mila Bongco-Philipzig (Anvil Publishing; 39 pages) look at both cultural nuances from two sides of the globe: the first one is about using language and technology to show intimacies; and the other one is about the anticipation of leaving the Philppines and visiting it years after. These modern transnational books teach children lessons on diversity in colorful ways. ★★★★☆

Round Brown Blues, by Eric Tigley (Yeti Arts; 26 pages) A touching toy story of a brown cylinder that is having a hard time fitting in. It’s vividly illustrated with a clever choose-your-own-adventure feature to urge readers take courage to stand up for themselves and discuss issues of respect and inclusion. ★★★★★

Scarborough, by Catherine Hernandez (Arsenal Pulp Press; 272 pages) Named after the suburb to the east of Toronto city centre, this novel puts to the front the oft neglected lower-income racialized neighbourhood in epistolary fashion. Its a topical read, a classic in the making. Plus, it’s shortlisted for the 2017 Toronto Book Awards. ★★★★★

Chasing Red and Always Red, by Isabelle Ronin (Sourcebooks Casablanca; 400 pages) A social media phenomenon turned into print, the “duology” follows two characters caught in a romantic cliché as old as telenovela. With much kilig, the first installment has been translated into six languages. ★★★☆☆

All Violet, by Rani Rivera (Caitlin Press, 88 pages) Reading through the leafs of this journal is stimulating, and one would feel how raw the emotions are. Published posthumously, the poems speak of being in the margins, where the body is riddled with addiction, fraught with uncertainties and severed from human connections. It’s about finding life after trauma. ★★★★☆

Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries, co-edited by Robert Diaz, Marissa Largo, Fritz Pino (Northwestern University Press; 376 pages) Crossing academic with archival research, this anthology examines materials that are made and are relevant to Canada’s queer Filipino communities. ★★★★☆

Children Shouldn’t Use Knives: And Other Tales, by Shirley Camia (At Bay Press; 64 pages) from the outset, one easily finds that this is a nod to Shel Silvertein’s 1964 classic The Growing Tree. This hardbound however evokes dark yet delightful verses prefaced with excerpts from other children’s writers. The poems predicated in minimalist style are complemented by Cindy Mochizuki’s whimsical inks. ★★★★☆

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me, by Lorina Mapa (Conundrum Press; 104 pages) This illustrated biography is a triptych. As the title suggests it’s a story that range from affluent upbringing, teenage anxieties, dealing with death against a backdrop of the popular political uprising in 1980s Philippines. But forget the big names. In the end, it’s about the individual creative outlet in a popular form of literature. ★★★☆☆

It’s time for winter hibernation reading…and there’s more! Other publications to watch out for in the coming years include The Filipino Heroes of Bathurst Street, by Jennilee Austria; Lots and Loss, by Karla Lenina Comanda; Rouge, by Adrian de Leon, and The Time Between, by Patty Rivera.