The Vibal Tertulia treated the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) attendees to a rarified spectacle of music, dance, and literary discourse last Sept. 16 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. The Tertulia was hosted by the Vibal Group and the Vibal Foundation at the 44th run of Manila’s largest and longest-running book fair.
The pocket event featured distinguished authors discussing the origin stories of select books from Vibal’s extensive collection. Attendees, including media practitioners, scholars, publishers, art enthusiasts, and book lovers, were also treated to a feast for the senses—straight-from-the-book dramatization, recorded interviews, point-of-view short films, and a series of evocative songs and folk dances that collectively served as a time machine to a bygone era.
Rediscovery and renewal
John L. Silva, executive director of the Ortigas Foundation Library and UNESCO commissioner, introduced the book Philippine Colonial Photography of the Cordilleras (1860-1930) curated by historian Jonathan Best, who was also present at the affair and subsequent book signing. The book showcases over 100 photos by notable colonial photographers, and documents “a positive and beneficial attitude toward the people of the Cordilleras” by visiting anthropologists and researchers.
Dr. Jose Victor Z. Torres chronicles the Walled City of Manila in two new books, Intramuros: The Story of Old Manila and Paseos de Intramuros: A Guidebook to Manila’s Walled City. The books, considered sequels to Ciudad Murada: A Walk Through Historic Intramuros, prove that more can be learned from the past.
Dr. Javier Galvan, director of Instituto Cervantes, shared that his book, Heritage Churches of the Cagayan River Basin, stemmed from the realization that the churches in the Cagayan Valley were either unknown or unrecognized.
James Owen Saguinsin spoke of his quest to study forgotten masters, including National Artist Carlos Modesto “Botong” Francisco’s mentor Juan Senson, in Nineteenth Century Masters of Angono Art.
Dr. Lino Dizon discussed the influence of the publications of the early printing press on the propaganda movement that propelled the Philippine revolution in Imprenta Ramirez y Giraudier, A Story of Late Nineteenth-Century Philippine Intellectuality.
National Artist Resil B. Mojares and Dr. Hope Sabangan-Yu, co-editors of More Cebuano Than We Admit: Aspects of Cebuano History, Culture, and Society, spoke of overlooked local and regional history as holding vital pieces of information about the Filipino national identity.
Lolo José, An Intimate and Illustrated Portrait of José Rizal, brings the national hero off his pedestal and into the realm of family lore through anecdotes documented by his grand-niece Asunción López Bantug.
Vibal has also made Philippine cultural history more accessible to Filipinos and foreigners alike through bilingual reprints of vintage Spanish texts.
These included The Adventures of Cayo Malinao and Other Philippine Novelettes (translated from the original Spanish into English) by Guillermo Gómez Windham, the country’s first Premio Zobel awardee, and La última corrida (The Last Bullfight, now a graphic novel translated into English and Filipino) by his grand-nephew Guillermo Gómez Rivera, also a Premio Zobel awardee.
As part of the Tertulia, Vibal also launched its Collected Philippine Stories for Young Readers, a series of storybook collections exploring themes like identity, family, community, the environment, and mythology, to foster a love of reading among the youth. Dr. Eugene Evasco, award-winning creative writer, scholar, and reading advocate, introduced the 28 new collections under Chikiting Books, plus his two new anthologies, Hiwaga: Philippine Myths and Tales and Gunita: Celebrating Filipino Visionaries.
70 years of Filipiniana
Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores, President of the Book Development Association of the Philippines, congratulated Vibal on 70 years of publishing, particularly for the company’s growing list of Filipiniana titles that have been recognized by award-giving bodies.
“Today’s tertulia highlights no less than 20 titles of excellently produced content that made major contributions to Philippine society. These large-format books are not just something the company can be proud of, but it also brings much pride to the entire book industry, to see that one of our own is committed to making wonderful books about our nation,” said Atty. Pasion-Flores.
The tertulia concluded with Vibal Group CEO Kristine Mandigma thanking the speakers and acknowledging the Vibal team for their outstanding work for MIBF.
“This is a special book fair for us because we’re celebrating our 70th year in business this year,” said Mandigma, underscoring that, taking inspiration from its leadership, Vibal “continues its legacy of publishing fine Philippine books, intelligent Philippine books, for readers in the Philippines and globally.”
If you missed Vibal at MIBF, all newly released books will be available at their online shop. Visit https://shop.vibalgroup.com/ to place your order.