09 January 2009

Manila Times column for 09 January 2009 "100 years, 100 books"

original post here.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
100 years, 100 books

The University of the Philippines celebrated its centennial year last 2008. Countless events were lined up and held. Books were also part of the celebration, courtesy of UP Press.

On December 12, 2008, UP Press awarded 100 books they published that received the special “branding” of the 100 Centennial Publications distinction. These are previously published titles that a special board deemed apt to receive such a distinction, primarily due to its contribution in a specific field of study. Thus, honored were literally 100 books from nine different categories (social science, humanities, science, fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, literary criticism and literary anthology.

It was very enjoyable to browse through the selections, as UP Press re-launched most of the titles with new book covers, of course bearing the special “UP Press Centennial Publications” imprint. Some titles were unfortunately not reprinted for several reasons, especially those that were printed decades ago. Yes, some books honored were originally published as far back as 1973.

Most of the authors (at least those who are still living) were physically present in the ceremonies. For avowed booklovers, it was a treat seeing them and mingling with them. Professor Emeritus Dr. Damiana Eugenio, for instance, received warm accolades as her famous and thorough seven-series Philippine Folk Literature series were awarded. Interestingly enough, this series, composed of thoroughly researched and compiled material on folk literature (from the epics, folktales, legends, myths, riddles and proverbs) is the most popular and sought-after titles of UP Press. I couldn’t agree more; each volume is an enjoyable read, rich in details and versions of tales from north to south of the country, and very interesting if one is into folklore of any kind. It’s for the young and old alike.

Authors whose books were included in this centennial list are all impressive and well respected in their respective fields. Examples are National Artists NVM Gonzalez, Bienvenido Lumbera, Francisco Arcellana and Rio Alma; respected historians Renato Constantino, Onofre Corpuz and Teodoro Agoncillo; award-winning dramatists Nicolas Pichay, the late Rene Villanueva and Amelia LapeƱa-Bonifacio; literary bigwigs such as fictionist/creative nonfiction writer Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, poets Ricardo de Ungria, Gemino Abad and J. Neil Garcia, fictionists Jose Dalisay Jr., Jun Cruz Reyes and Vim Nadera, among others.

Head on to UP Press bookstore at Balay Kalinaw in the Diliman campus to browse through these centennial titles. To own some is an investment worth taking, I assure you.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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