THE UST Publishing House was again hailed “Publisher of the Year,” while two of its books were named among the most outstanding Philippine books of 2010 at the 30th National Book Awards held at the National Museum last Nov 12.

This year’s “Publisher of the Year” award is the UST Publishing House’s third; the earlier ones were in 2003 and 2004.

The novel “Blue Angel, White Shadow” by Charlson Ong and the collection of essays “Sagad sa Bato, Hospital Diary at iba pang sanaysay” by Romulo Baquiran Jr. won in the fiction and nonfiction categories, respectively.

“One of the things that our literature is lacking is the genre that would bring a lot of younger people to Philippine literature, fiction—mystery, thriller, even sci-fi,” Ong said. “I see some students with that potential, so I hope there will be a lot more of that.”

Ong said it took two years to finish his mystery novel about Chinatown.

Baquiran, on the other hand, said his book “is a brush of mortality.”

He said he meant the book to be a serious one but decided to make it funny instead.

“It’s a reserve psychology thing,” he said. “If you write things in a light way, people will get interested.”

Baquiran said it took him three months to finish his collection of essays.

“Kahit kalokohan yung pinagsusulat ko, pinagbigyan niyo ako,” he said in his speech after receiving the award. "Kung dati sagad sa hirap, ngayon ay sagad sa sarap.”

Other finalists from the UST Publishing House include “Gitnang Uring Fantasya at Material na Kahirapan sa Neoliberalismo: Politikal na Kritisismo ng Kulturang Popular” by Rolando Tolentino (literary criticism/literary history), “Imagination’s Way: Essays Critical and Personal” by Gemino Abad (literary criticism/literary history), and “Everyday Things” by Fidelito Cortes (poetry).

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Books and breeding

John Jack Wigley, assistant professor and officer-in-charge of the UST Publishing House, received the Publisher of the Year award for the University.

“This is recognition for UST because we are celebrating our 400th year,” he said, adding that the publication will launch the “400 Books” project in January 2012.

“Sana next year, kami pa rin,” he quipped in his speech.

Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, director of the UST Publishing House, said she hoped authors would send their manuscripts first to UST before other publishers.

“The goal was to make UST Publishing House the publisher of choice both of creative writers and scholars,” she said.

The event also featured the recital of seven-year-old music prodigy Andrei Ave, who studies piano, theory, and composition at the Conservatory of Music while being a second grade student at O.B. Montessori Center.

The National Book Development Board and Manila Critics Circle, in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, bestows the National Book Awards to the best books written, designed, and published in the Philippines in the previous year.

The National Book Awards also gives special awards to outstanding publishers or publishing projects and citations for outstanding achievement in special categories.

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