There were some great books from the Philippines. I have to say the so-called classics of Filipino literature mostly left me scratching my head; after reading Solo entre las sombras, I cannot understand why Claro M. Recto is considered one of the “great three” of Philippines letters. And Carlos Bulosan’s America is Not the Heart was obviously revolutionary for its time but, honestly, not a very enjoyable read. Noli Me Tangere, possibly the most well known Filipino novel of all time, was pretty good, but for my money F. Sionil José’s Dusk blew them all out of the water. If you’re going to read one book from the Philippines, this should be it (and if you’re going to read two, I would make the second one Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn’s bananas story of Marcos-era politics, assassination, and resistance).

  1. Dusk, F. Sionil José, 1984 (5 stars)
  2. The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic, Nick Joaquin, 2017 (4.5 stars)
  3. In the Country, Mia Alvar, 2015 (4.5 stars)
  4. Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn, 1990 (4 stars)
  5. Gun Dealers’ Daughter, Gina Apostel, 2010 (4 stars)
  6. America Is Not the Heart, Elaine Castillo, 2018 [this is a bonus book; the author is Filipino-American, but since it is so clearly an answer to Carlos Bulosan’s book America is in the Heart, I thought it would be interesting to include] (4 stars)
  7. State of War, Ninotchka Rosca, 1988 (4 stars)
  8. Awaiting Trespass, Linda Ty-Casper, 1985 (4 stars)
  9. Ilustrado, Miguel Syjuco, 2008 (4 stars)
  10. Philippine Short Stories 1925-1940, Leopoldo Y. Yabes, ed., 1975 [replacing The Estrella D. Alfon Anthology, Estrella Alfon, 20th c.] (4 stars)
  11. Noli Me Tangere, José Rizal, 1887 (4 stars)
  12. Smaller and Smaller Circles, F.H. Batacan, 2002 (4 stars)
  13. When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, 1994 (4 stars)
  14. The Bamboo DancersN.V.M. Gonzalez, 1959 (3.5 stars)
  15. Love and Gravity, Samantha Sotto, 2017 (3.5 stars)
  16. Florante at Laura, Francisco Balagtas, 1861 (3.5 stars)
  17. What the Hell for You Left Your Heart in San Francisco, Bienvenido N. Santos, 1987 (3.5 stars)
  18. Twisted, Jessica Zafra, 1995 (3 stars)
  19. The Undercover Tai Tai, Maya Calica, 2008 (3 stars)
  20. The Mango Bride, Marivi Soliven Blanco, 2013 (3 stars)
  21. The Last Time I Saw MotherArlene J. Chai, 1996 (3 stars)
  22. Darangen (ancient epic; 3 stars)
  23. Philippine Food and Life, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, 1992 (3 stars)
  24. America is in the HeartCarlos Bulosan, 1946 (2.5 stars)
  25. Doveglion (collected works), Jose Garcia Villa, 2008 (2.5 stars)
  26. Cuentos Filipinos, Jose Montero y Vidal (Renan Prado, trans.), 1883 (2 stars)
  27. Solo Entre Las Sombras (Shadow and Solitude), Claro M. Recto, 20th c. (2 stars)

Not Read:

  1. Hinilawod: Adventures of Humadapnon, chanted by Hugan-an and recorded by F. Landa Jocano, 2000 (ancient epic) [could not find]
  2. Ibong Adarna, anon. (15th century epic) [could only find summaries, nothing that resembled a poem]
  3. Nínay, Pedro Alejandro Paterno, 1885 [hard to find in English and apparently not very good so I skipped it]
  4. Banaag at Sikat, Lope K. Santos, 1906 [not translated]
  5. Cry Slaughter, Edilberto K. Tiempo, 1957 [read half and then abandoned]
  6. Looking Back, Ambeth R. Ocampo, 1990 [picked up from the library, decided pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me]
  7. The Mats, Francisco Arcellana, 1995
  8. Nagueños, Carlos Ojeda Aureus, 1997 [didn’t fancy it]
  9. Comfort Woman: Slave of Destiny, Maria Rosa Henson, 1999 [same]
  10. Happy Endings, Luis Joaquin M Katigbak, 2000 [same]
  11. The Mythology Class: A Graphic Novel, Arnold Arre, 2005 [could not find]
  12. Tabi Po: Book I, Mervin Malonzo, 2011 [not available in English]
  13. It’s a Mens World, Bebang Siy, 2011 [not available in English]