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Aug 21, 2011
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In time for the four-day weekend and the celebration of all things Filipino and awesome, here are five books by Filipino authors that will make you think, laugh, relish the free time, and perhaps attract attention for laughing alone.

                                                        Or perhaps, impress a chick!

1) Tabi Po by Mervin Malonzo
This graphic novel is only available online, which means two things: 1) you don’t have to pay for anything, 2) you don't have to part with your precious PC. Described as having astonishing creatures populate its pages (think “aswang, maligno, lamang-lupa”) Tabo Po puts together religion, history, folklore, and Philippine mythology. What's more noteworthy is we'll see the aswang in a whole new different light; here, he remains as terrifying as ever, but earns the bida role.

Expect a lot of challenging the norm, reconstruction of beliefs, and lots of violence. There are Filipino and English formats for this webcomic, but Malonzo suggests that if you’re Filipino, you should read the story in Filipino. Not for the squeamish and definitely NSFW (nudity, savagery, and sexytime) aplenty, this book will give you a whole new look at characters we’ve always known but kept boxed in stereotypes.


                                                               The Tabi Po trailer

2) Geek Tragedies by Carljoe Javier
With three successful books under his belt (the two others being And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth and The Kobayashi Maru of Love), Carljoe Javier is certainly one of today’s most promising Filipino writers. This collection of short stories will give you your dose of sci-fi, fantasy, zombies, and pop culture. Every story has its own amazing cover art (drawn by Josel Nicholas and colored by Adam David), and comic book geeks will love that it pays homage to their different heroes such as The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.

Javier is an incredible storyteller, creating characters that audiences love and identify with. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first Filipino book that’s been simultaneously launched in digital and print formats, so you can read it using your Kindle/iPad or do it the old fashioned way on paper. Either way, this is geekdom that everyone will definitely enjoy.   

3) Ang Alamat ng Panget and Many Other by Apol Sta. Maria
Describing this book would be a complete waste of time, as it deals with things that could only be properly illustrated by Apol Sta. Maria’s creatures, shits (literally), and unequivocal celebration of everything ugly and true. This book isn’t really new (it was released sometime in 2009), but it deserves to be on the list because here, a piece of (actual) shit exclaims he’s natatao, numbers are in alphabetical order, and TV program Eye to Eye lives (and dies).

See how someone shoves a party favor up his own ass, how a mother enthusiastically devours termites, and how humans developed eyelids. Over and above everything, this is about Panget—the only thing that’s so goddamned true.

4) The Best of This is a Crazy Planets by Lourd de Veyra
Succeeding in both written and spoken word, a TV program, a product endorsement, and being loved by both ladies and gents, Lourd de Veyra comes out with another book about his musings on fundamental issues in today’s society. These are his essays from his This is a Crazy Planets blog on Spot.ph. Here, you’ll read about de Veyra philosophy on the government, entertainment, Rico J., public transportation, religion, questionable fashion sense involving popped collars and high-waisted pants, pornography, and the ability of Baby James to beleaguer Philippine society.

Highly entertaining and impeccably written, this book is another testament to why he’s one of the best writers in the Philippines today. Most of us first heard of him passionately exclaiming his love and hatred for baboy, and in this book, it’s obvious that he still feels the same way.

5) Dark Hours by Conchitina Cruz
This book is not new in terms of release, but this is arguably one of the best contemporary poetry books you can lay your hands on. Dark Hours is a collection of Conchitina Cruz’s prose poems that will cut you like a machete, leaving you with images that will kill you over and over again. Here, Cruz writes about the city we live in, but possibly not in the ways we’ve seen it before. She paints an excruciating picture of suffering, loss, love, and lessons that will make you learn and think, more than anything. Yes, this is seriously good stuff, and you will listen.