THE MOST CHARMING BOOKS OF 2001
Manila, January 6, 2002 (STAR) By Alfred A. Yuson - I believe the most important publication of the year was the three-volume anthology Legal Write, also known as The Philippine Supreme Court Centenary Reader, 1901-2001, published by the Philipine Judiciary Foundation, Inc.
Volume One, for which this writer served as an editor together with Gémino H. Abad and Asuncion Albert, is Supreme Court Decisions as Literature. It showcases excerpts from decisions of the High Tribunal, selected on the basis of their beauty or strength as prose. To quote from the Introduction by Nick Joaquin, "If literature be a mirror held up to society, then our legalese offers a veritable library of Philippine classics."
Volume Two, titled Supreme Court Decisions as Philosophy, is edited by Justice Abraham F. Sarmiento, while Volume Three, Supreme Court Decisions as History, is edited by Justice Camilo D. Quiason. The last volume alone is all of 435 pages. All three volumes are huge and hardbound, classically gilt-edged, and fit into a sturdy slip case.
Justice Artemio V. Panganiban writes in his Prologue to the final volume:
"Indeed, this three-volume publication of the Supreme Court’s obra maestra during the past 100 years demonstrates that far from being ‘bores,’ not only are court judgments written in inspired and readable prose; they are also veritable sources of history, philosophy and literature.
"Truly, the excerpts contained in this trilogy capture the transformation of the Supreme Court from a passive, laid-back, generally cautious and conservative evaluator of past dramas to a proactive, interacting and courageous mover and moulder of current and future events. In both roles, it explains itself in elegant, spirited prose, which would pass for literature of the era."
Conceived and prepared by the Legal Write group led by project director Rogelio S. Pantaleon and development editor Monina Allarey Mercado, this monumental trilogy truly lays claim to being a collector’s edition.
2. Monumental too is the recently released U.P. Diksiyonaryo Filipino, by the University of the Philippines Sentro ng Wikang Filipino in cooperation with Anvil Publishing, Inc., with Virgilio S. Almario as editor-in-chief. Billed as the first intellectual dictionary in Filipino, with over 100,000 entries and running a thousand pages, in hardbound and softbound editions, it aims to expand the use of Filipino in academic pursuits. Included are numerous entries from Philippine languages other than Tagalog, as well as technical words of foreign provenance.
Prepared over the past five years by dedicated Filipinists that included a group of editors, assistant editors, researchers, and a score of language advisors and consultants, the book is seen as a transitional project that stabilizes, if temporarily, the thorny issue of Filipino orthography. Words that have long been deemed accepted in the language, say, "carbon dioxide" from English, are included and spelled as is, unless variants also exist, as in the case of "sandwich" and "sanwits." Filipinized forms, if any, are thus incorporated, subject to further changes in spelling. But borrowed words are given due credit, in their full foreign flavor.
Ten thousand copies make up its breakthrough of a first print run, and we understand that orders are fast coming in, largely from the academic community.
A couple of coffeetable books expectedly came out to commemorate and celebrate "Edsa Dos." We have to cite both as meaningful additions to our contemporary historical literature.
3. People Power 2: Lessons & Hopes, edited by Thelma Sioson San Juan (ABS-CBN Publishing). 250 pages, with full-color photography and clean, commendable design. Intro by Vergel Santos. Features thematic essays by notable columnists, including Dean Jorge Bocobo, Calixto Chikiamco, Jose Dalisay Jr., Glenda M. Gloria, Carolina G. Hernandez, Solita Monsod, Luis V. Teodoro, Ramon Villegas, Peachy Yamsuan, Jessica Zafra and Joselito Zulueta.
4. EDSA 2: A Nation in Revolt, by AsiaPix/Anvil, is billed as "a photographic journal." The brief text on "The Unmaking of a President" is by Sheila S. Coronel. Our top photo-journalists are represented in this 232-page softcover book that serves as a superb photo documentation of the spectacular events that unmade rogue leadership. See Miriam in all her finger-pointing fury. See Erap as a historic mug shot in the Epilogue, which also manages to include scenes from the May Day Mendiola revolt of the jologs.
5. Paragons: 23 CEOs on Corporate Ethics, published by the FINEX Ethics Committee, designed by Studio 5, may have been the best "business" book of the year.
6. Pinoy Pop Culture by Gilda Cordero Fernando and M.G. Chavez, published by Bench, is an eye-popping, razzle-dazzle, soul-satisfying, phenomenological documentation of what clicks for Pinoys, as much as what makes Pinoy click. Can Tita Gilda ever fail? A thousand times, "Not!"
7. Eros Pinoy: An Anthology of Contemporary Erotica in Philippine Art & Poetry, from Anvil. Excellent design by RayVi Sunico. Elegant. Sensuous.
Follow now what to our mind were the most notable poetry titles released in 2001.
8. The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus by Cirilo F. Bautista (DLSU Press). The epic product of more than 30 years of dedication to the large idea and the long line. We reviewed this book in our April 16 column.
9. A Makeshift Sun: Stories and Poems by Gémino H. Abad (U.P. Press). 35 new poems by the master poet and literary critic are supplemented by five new fiction pieces that display a range of concerns and consummate technique. Must reading, especially for the young poet seeking a workshop fellowship.
10. Karikatura at Iba Pang Kontrabanda by Teo Antonio (UST Publishing House). The ninth collection by a master poet in Filipino. A wondrous read, even if the poems are all set in itals.
11. Morpo by Allan Popa, published by Collective Axis design. An excellent follow-up to the young poet’s first collection Hunos, which we’ve reviewed in this space. Popa promises to be the best, er, most charming, of our new generation of poets in Filipino.
12. Tracks Without Giants: Verse and Remembrance by Ramil Digal Gulle (UST Publishing House). The Palanca poetry prize-winner dedicates his first solo collection to the Thomasian Writers Guild, which he headed in the early ’90s. Gulle has developed to be a very sexy poet indeed.
13. Marginal Annotations and Other Poems by Edith L. Tiempo (Giraffe Books). The latest collection by our only female National Artist for Literature. Masterful. 40 new poems, with an Intro by Ophelia A. Dimalanta.
14. About My Garden by Ernesto Superal Yee (Giraffe Books). Exquisite verse from a Dumaguete lawyer slash concert pianist slash gardener. Reviewed in our Oct. 22 column.
15. Beauty for Ashes: Remembering Maningning, edited by Mario Ignacio Miclat and Romulo P. Baquiran (Anvil). 34 poets and writers pay tribute to the memory of a wonderfully gifted child, the poet and artist Maningning Miclat. Reviewed in our Nov. 12 column.
The rest of our choices comprise a novel, a short story collection, and several non-fiction titles.
16. Ben Singkol by F. Sionil Jose, our most dedicated craftsman among our living National Artists for Literature. This novel, his latest, has been hailed by the distinguished critic Dr. Isagani Cruz as Frankie’s best thus far. And we believe him.
17. Suite Bergamasque: The Boulevard Stories by Bobby Flores-Villasis (Giraffe Books). The most outstanding collection of short fiction published this year. Reviewed in our October 22 column.
18. Dreamweavers by Ma. Elena P. Paterno et al (Bookmark, Inc.). Unarguably the best art coffeetable book of the year, on the T’nalak weaving of the T’boli.
19. Letras y Figuras: Business in Culture, Culture in Business by Jaime C. Laya (Anvil). Cogent essays collected over a span of two decades of government service as a business and cultural manager. The final essay, on the interface between culture and development, is particularly enlightening.
20. Little Lessons, Little Lectures by Leoncio P. Deriada (Seguiban Printers and Publishing House, Iloilo City). This utterly charming, little "sleeper" offers valuable lessons on correct English usage. We hope to review it in full in a future column.
21. Trial of the Century: The Impeachment of Philippine President Joseph E. Estrada by Earl K. Wilkinson, edited by Alan C. Atkins (Book of Dreams Verlag, Germany). Although printed in Singapore, this book we make an exception of, because its publisher is also based in Angeles, Pampanga. The author, who religiously attended the impeachment hearings, provides a Filipino-foreign viewpoint in documenting Erap’s downfall. Wilkinson’s familiarity with the Philippines makes him a valid expert in illustrating why corruption is so deeply rooted here. He closes with a final chapter titled "Who is to blame?" Guess who.
22. The Mad Tea Party: The Pleasures of Taste by Clinton Palanca (Black Book). Hands down, this year’s best collection of essays, as elegantly and charmingly served by a literary and culinary mad hatter.
23. Visita Iglesia Bohol: A Guide to Historic Churches by Regalado Trota Jose (NCCA). A wonderful guidebook to undoubtedly the most charming and culturally rewarding among our 7,000 islands. Superbly designed by Tina P. Colayco, edited by Ramon N. Villegas. A great read, too.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2001 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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