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On books

A bit of toasty news in the middle of the crazy weather we’re having.

Ang INK’s 23rd annual exhibit opens on Friday, Dec 12, 4PM, at the CANVAS Gallery and Gardens. Hopefully, the storm is gone by then, and we can all see you there. Our exhibit poster is by Abi Dayacap.

All works are based on our favorite books, or stories we really like, even the ones that aren’t for kids!

Here’s a peek of my work. It’s from This Really, Really, Really Old and Influential Book haha. Surprise.

Ok, the story I picked has a special place in my heart, but I have to admit that it isn’t my super ultimate favorite story. I was supposed to do Light is Like Water, from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Strange Pilgrims. I kept reading and re-reading it, and every time I found it beautiful still, but I also found that I wasn’t in the mood? Disposition. Whatever. To draw anything about it. It’s so beautifully written and I couldn’t make my drawings work enough to match how I felt for the story.

The exhibit being about books sounds easy for someone who really likes to read, but I found it difficult to choose a book mostly because I didn’t want to illustrate any of my favorites.

A few months back I got tagged on Instagram and on Facebook to do this meme on listing ten books that have stayed with me. I figured that if these special books have really stayed with me and deeply affected me in some way, I can name them from the top of my head, no hesitations, no need to look at the book shelf. Right now I can name four, and maybe these are all that stayed. Out of all the books I have ever read in my 26 years on this earth since I was what, 5?

1. You Shall Know Our Velocity, Dave Eggers
2. White Oleander, Janet Fitch
3. Strange Pilgrims, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. and an obscure children’s book called The Day The Clocks Stopped. I had it when I was little. It’s part of the Reader’s Digest early readers series, and it’s about a town where all the clocks stop and all the people fall asleep at the same time. It’s well out of print, and I haven’t seen it in a long time, but I remember even how the illustrations look like.

That’s about it. Most are melancholic stories. Who knows when my list will change? ~Nobody~

Also, I know I raved about Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch after I read it, and I honestly really liked it, but after I read Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, I realized how whiny Theo Decker is, and maybe he is the new Holden Caulfield, who knows. It’s not that the book wasn’t good, though. This is just me comparing.

I know I say I like a lot of books. Generally, I think I’m easy to please, and I say that a lot of the books I read, across different genres, are okay. However! I realized that even though I genuinely like a lot of books, not all of them stay.

Here are some that I really like that also kind of stayed with me but not as strongly as the list above:

1. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
2. Eric, from Shaun Tan’s Tales From Outer Suburbia
3. The Principles of Uncertainty, Maira Kalman
4. Jessica Zafra’s Twisted series, which I read a lot of in highschool, and for a while I tried to “write like her” to channel my teenage whatnot, even if the actual writing only existed in my journals haha.
5. All Paul’s letters in the Bible. I even wrote a song about this in college haha! I’m not goody two-shoes but I really do like going to church, and Bible stories, and God. A lot of people find it corny, but I’m happy I can say that I do believe in God out of my own belief, and not because someone told me to.

I wish I had more Filipino favorite books. Also I wish I could read in Filipino as easily as I can read in English. It’s not that English is my first language, even. I’m just used to writing and reading in English. I didn’t grow up reading a lot of local books which is very sad if you think about it! And I know it’s a shame that up to now I don’t read enough local books, BUT I can say that I have really been trying to do so, especially these past few years, and also especially because somehow I’m part of the literature industry now, being a book illustrator.

Some of the local writers I really like are Benilda Santos and Gian Lao who write very beautiful poems, and Eliza Victoria. FH Batacan, also, for Smaller and Smaller Circles. Looking at my shelf, I see that a lot of my local books are anthologies. Twisted books, Fast Food Fiction, Daisy Nueve, Very Short Stories for Harried Readers, and even one of my latest purchases, Querida. The rest are easy Bob Ong reads and Kikomachine books.

On that note, if you have local book recos, comment away! :D

So there! I was only supposed to share with you our upcoming exhibit but here we are.

It feels indulgent to post about my favorite books while the storm is raging on and I feel a little sorry. I hope the storm clears out soon and it’ll be easier to help those in the affected provinces. I hope you guys are safe and dry wherever you’re reading this from.



  1. Fran!! I love this post! Have I asked you to join our online book club, booklat? ( I’m asking you now, you might want to post there too :)

    Anyway! I loved Jessica Zafra too when I was younger– I still have my binder filled with clippings of her column from Today, and I had an angsty phase where I tried to imitate her writing style haha.

    Local book faves: I love the following short story collections:
    Welostit by Ma. Romina Gonzalez
    Jungle Planet by Lakambini Sitoy
    Flames by Angelo Lacuesta
    The Butcher, The Baker and The Candlestick Maker by Gilda Cordero-Fernando

    I also love the Sarap and Tikim Food essays books by the late and great Doreen Fernandez

    I love the books by Gilda Cordero Fernando: The Soul Book, Philippine Food & Life and her Aswang children’s book. History of the Burgis maganda din :)

    I would like to own and read The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction too sana balang araw. :)

    Stories from Dean Francis Alfar, ok din. :) Since you like Eliza–she’s my friend! hehe :) She often blogs about local books. I love poems by Conchitina Cruz, you might like them too. :)

    We used to have the Nick Joaquin Pop Stories for Groovy Children books when I was a kid and I LOVEEEDD them. Nadonate na sya pero I miss them and I can still remember each story since I kept re-reading them haha. :)

    Sorry ang haba I just got really really excited talking about my faves hehe.


    • Yay Drea nakow no problem I like long comments haha!

      Wow thanks for the invitation to the book club! I have never been part of a book club ever! I’ll submit when I have something. :D

      Also, thank you for the recos, sana mahanap ko sila. I also like History of the Burgis, and I’ve heard about Pop Stories too but I think it’s long out of print, tama ba? What was it about?? Haha.

      And yes I really like Eliza Victoria’s work huhu. I hope she keeps writing forever haha. I’ve been wanting to get Dean Francis Alfar’s Terra Incognita book also pero kailangan ko muna bawasan ang aking reading backlog haha. I haven’t read anything by him, though. I hope it’s a good book to start with!

      Thank you Drea! Looking forward to obsessing over more books this 2015 :D


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