THE 36TH National Book Awards were a celebration not only of authors but also of readers, as winning authors emphasized passion for reading as determinant of their writing success.

“Reading not only gives us information, but also the sharing of information that could benefit both the reader and the writer,” said Jose Victor Torres, a history teacher and AB Journalism and Graduate School alumnus of the University.

Torres received the Best Book of Historical Essays for “To the People Sitting in Darkness…and Other Footnotes of Our Past,” published by the UST Publishing House (USTPH).

Torres noted that good writing presupposed wide reading.

“Young writers have all the access to technology and all the information through that technology,” he said. “The only thing they have to do is read it right, read widely, and of course learn how to discern what is good to read.”

It was Torres’ second time to win the the NBA. He first won in 2006 for Best Travel Book, for his “Ciudad Murada: A Walk Through Historic Intramuros,” published by the Intramuros Administration and Vibal Publishing House, Inc.

Torres was a former senior historical researcher at the Intramuros Administration.

Jose Wendell Capili, also a Journalism alumnus of UST, won Best Literary Criticism for “Migrations and Mediations: The Emergence of Southeast Asian Diaspora Writers in Australia, 1972-2007,” published by the University of the Philippines (UP) Press.

In his winning book, Capili, a former Varsitarian staff member, discusses the works of Philippine and other Southeast Asian writers in Australia and how they “translated” their “Australian” experiences to a broader worldview.

“Write not so much because you want to win awards,” he said. “But more than winning awards, you write because you have something interesting to say, and writing is a beautiful, critical, and creative experience.”

Joy Lumawig-Buensalido, who taught public relations in UST, won Best Book for Leisure for “Pinoy Manners: A Modern Guide to Delicadeza for All Generations,” published by Christine Jocelyn Buensalido.

Buensalido, the mother of UST Architecture alumnus and board topnotcher Jason Buensalido, told the Varsitarian that she wished to revive a sense of “delicadeza” (sensitivity or respect for others’ feelings) among Filipinos, which according to her is now dying.

“I was observing in the course of my work that a lot of people have already forgotten that people need to be respected and you know, shown kindness,” she said.

Buensalido, a public relations specialist, told aspiring writers to show originality in communications.

“Always be alert and remember how to communicate message in your own unique way,” she said.

“Mariposa Gang and Other Stories,” a title under USTPH, was named Best Short Fiction in English. It was written by UP alumna Catherine Torres. Most of the stories deal with the struggles of Filipino overseas workers.

Ruel De Vera, a member of the National Book Development Board (NBDB), which organizes the NBA with the Manila Critics Circle, pointed out the innate inclination of Filipinos in reading books.

“Filipinos love books,” he said. “Since childhood, growing up, books are not only a symbol of being intellectual but also a symbol of being open to the world.”

De Vera challenged young writers to write books worthy of the NBA.

“All of you just need to write and publish to share all that you have with the world,” he said. “And we’ll be ready and waiting to read these books.” he added.

This year’s NBA were held at the National Museum of the Fine Arts of the Philippines last Dec. 2.


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