In the Philippines, August marks the annual celebration of Buwan ng Wika or Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa. For four weeks, we not only celebrate the Filipino language, but also all the other languages in the country—Bisaya, Ilokano, Kapampangan, Bikol, and 183 more.
But did you know that aside from celebrating Buwan ng Wika, we are also celebrating Buwan Ng Mga Akdang Pinoy this month? The event is an annual campaign started by Filipino-author Edgar Calabia Samar to promote all Filipino works and encourage everyone to read and share Filipino books for the whole month of August. (Read: 5 Patriotic Movies You Need To Watch )
To celebrate Buwan ng mga Akdang Pinoy, My Pope lists our five recommended Filipino books to help keep you inspired while in this n-month long quarantine.
Dekada ’70 by Lualhati Bautista
We cannot make a list of classic Filipino books without mentioning Dekada ’70 by Lualhati Bautista. The novel tells the story of Amanda Bartolome and her family as they experience the horrors of Martial Law under the totalitarian Ferdinand Marcos.
This timeless classic will surely give you a glimpse at how difficult it was to live during the Martial Law era. Get the book here.
Ano Ngayon, Ricky? by Rosario de Guzman Lingat
Ano Ngayon, Ricky? may be set in the 1970s Philippines, but the social issues and themes being tackled in this novel are still relevant today. The book touches on the themes of corruption in the government and the shameless impunity being enjoyed by politicos and oligarchs in Philippine society. (LIST: The Government Officials Who Resigned From Their Posts This Year)
Ano Ngayon, Ricky? is part of the twin novel written by Rosario de Guzman Lingat. The novel was published together with Kung Wala Na Ang Tag-araw which tells the story of a man and his quest of finding passionate love in the turbulence of the prewar and postwar Philippines. Get the book here.
Banana Heart Summer by Merlinda Bobis
When Merlinda Bobis’ Banana Heart Summer was first published, it was described as “a tale of food, family and longing,” for its amazing metaphors on food and life.
The novel follows the heartwarming story of 12-year-old Nenita who is living in poverty in a small village in the Philippines. Her story unfolds as she attempts to achieve her dream of being a cook. Get the book here.
Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan
This classic Filipino book by F.H. Batacan is the first Filipino crime detective story set in the Philippines. The novel revolves around two Jesuit priests, Gus Saenz and Jerome Lucero, as they try to solve the murders in Manila‘s slum areas. (WATCH: Meet the architect who dedicated his career to helping the urban poor)
Smaller and Smaller Circles won the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for English Novel in 1999. It was adapted into a film in 2017 and won Best Adapted Screenplay for FAMAS Awards in 2018. Get the book here.
The Woman Who Had Two Navels by Nick Joaquin
This list wouldn’t be complete without The Woman Who Had Two Navels. This Nick Joaquin classic is a multi-voiced novel that is divided into five chapters: Paco, Macho, La Vidal, The Chinese Moon, and Doctor Monson. It follows the story of a rich and confused Filipina who goes to Hong Kong to find herself and run away from her troubled life in the Philippines. Get the book here.