Showcase Filipino narratives abroad: Filipino books as ‘export products’

By Ibarra C. Mateo

NBDB Image

Several days ago, National Book Development Board (NBDB) Chairman Dante Francis Ang II sounded an extremely exciting business proposition for the local book publishing industry and its allied enterprises.

Ang II, who is also the president and CEO of The Manila Times Publishing Corp., challenged Filipino book writers and people who work with them such as editors, illustrators, and artists, among others, to work on the possibility of exporting Filipino books.

During a virtual event hosted by the NBDB, Ang said international events such as the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair must be viewed by Filipino book writers and publishers as avenues to promote local books as possible export products.

For decades, Filipino entertainers, maritime professionals, chefs, health and allied professionals, and athletes have shown the world that Filipinos could “conquer” the international stage. Maybe, it is time for Filipino book writers and publishers to take the center stage in international arenas such as the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“We wanted to sell rights. In other words, we wanted to have concrete economic returns for the Philippines,” Ang said. “My dream is to use these platforms, the international book fairs, as platforms to somehow change the mindset in the Philippines that books can be an export product.”

“Who better else to tell our story than Filipinos themselves,” Ang said.

By participating in international book fairs such as Frankfurt, Ang said “what we are showcasing are not only published products, but also other stakeholders in the industry: writers, editors, and artists.”

“We hope that by our participation in Frankfurt Book Fair and other international events, these people will also gain recognition. And perhaps, (seal) contracts that they would benefit from,” he said.

NBDB Image

For the 6th time, the Philippines is joining the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse), considered as “the largest and oldest trade fair for books and content”. The 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair runs Oct. 20-24.

The Philippine-NBDB physical booth and online displays features books from the 19th Avenida, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Milfores Publishing, University of the Philippines Press, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, and Komiket to name a few.

Echoing Ang’s suggestion, Charisse Aquino-Tugade, NBDB executive director, told the virtual forum that they are pushing to sell rights to Philippine-published books during the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair.

At least 100 Filipino book titles are to be showcased physically and online during the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair, Aquino-Tugade said.

House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, who delivered remarks in the virtual forum, said the Philippines must work “relentlessly” to be the featured “guest of honor’ in the 2025 Frankfurt Book Fair. She said she supports the Philippine bid to become the “guest of honor.”

In 2015, Indonesia became the first Southeast Asian country to be featured as Frankfurt Book Fair “guest of honor.”

“Guest of honor of the Frankfurt Book Fair means that we will have the biggest pavilion and we will be the center of the Frankfurt Book Fair,” Legarda said. This will immensely be beneficial to the local book industry, she said.

“Myth, Magic, and the City: Reclaiming our narrative” is the theme of the Philippine booth this year. Award-winning designer Jowee Alviar, of Team Manila, designed the booth.

“The design weaves together images from Philippine mythology and textures from ethnolinguistic designs and patterns. The effect is a series of panels, each one serving as a piece in the narrative creating a rich tapestry of Philippine culture and identity,” the NBDB said. ##

#NBDB #MythMagicAndCities #FrankfurtBookFair #Philippines #Books

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