At the recently held 5th Philippine International Literary Festival and Book Industry Summit, with the theme “The Pressing Issue,” stakeholders talked publishing, book distribution, and Filipino authorship and readership, amid the backdrop of the ASEAN Integration. That the opening up of regional trade between Southeast Asian countries will likewise open up opportunities than pose threats was the consensus when industry players convened at the three-day summit organized by the National Book Development Board (NBDB).

On the first day, NBDB Chair Neni Sta. Romana Cruz opened with the State of the Book Industry Address. She cited that the country produces 6,000 titles a year, a fraction compared to Indonesia’s 12,000 or Thailand’s 13,000. But the country has no shortage of readers, with 88% of Filipinos aged 18 and above enjoying reading.The panel of reactors later offered their own perspectives on the issue. Adarna House’s Emelina Almario equates a country’s development to the number of books published. Author Paolo Chikiamco challenged why Filipino works are not classified by genre alongside international titles, but lumped into one shelf.Philippine Librarians Association’s Elizabeth Peralejo saw the need to make books more accessible, especially to public school students. Read Philippines’ Aimee Lorraine Keh-Lee reacted by asking why readers are not mentioned as often as books.

The rest of the day was spent discussing the business of book publishing, with such topics as licensing, multimedia platforms, classrooms of the future, traditional and alternative publishing models, book distribution models, error-free publishing, marketing for books, academic presses, and e-publishing trends. Among the speakers are industry practitioners from abroad: Eric Huang, Development Director at Made in Me, a digital agency in London specializing in children’s entertainment and brand development; Linda Tan Lingard, managing parter of Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency in Malaysia; Robin Hemley, director of the Writing Program at Yale-NUS College in Singapore; and Noelle de Jesus, Filipino writer and editor based in Singapore.

The second day, meanwhile, focused on the craft of content creation. Subjects ranged from a writer’s career, the author in the publishing value chain, marketing and branding for authors, title acquisition, rights selling, translation, genre writing, the editing process, graphic literature, awards and grants, development contracts, and book design. It ended with a business matching session with authors, literary agents, publishers, media, and booksellers.

The third day aimed the spotlight at the reader turned writer, with a program designed in partnership with Filipino ReaderConference, founded by readers to celebrate the culture of reading. The sessions discussed crossing over from consumer to content creator, reading programs, the need for diverse books, contemporary Filipino literature in curricula, literature as advocacy, fan fiction, and book clubs. In the afternoon was the ceremony for the 3rd Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards, one of the only nationwide literary awards that includes an element of public participation through online voting to determine the finalists.

The summit’s three days also became the venue for Aklatan 2014 – the all-Filipino book fair that seeks to create a venue for interaction and dialogue among readers, authors, and artists. This year’s Aklatan has brought together seventeen publishers, showcasing the best and latest in their catalogue.

Previous festivals have drawn a gamut of heavyweights from the literary scene: International novelists Junot Diaz (“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”), Edward P. Jones (“The Known World”), Vikas Swarup (“Q&A/Slumdog Millionaire”), Chris Abani (“Virgin of Flames”), Andy Mulligan (“Trash”); Filipino writers Gemino Abad, Resil Mojares, Alfred Yuson, Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo; Editors Ravi Mirchandani of Atlantic Books-UK and Rachel Kahan of G.P. Putnam & Sons-New York; Literary Agents Mita Kapur, Jayapriya Vasudevan, and Priya Doraswamy of Jacaranda Press-India; and other luminaries such as David Parker, Chairman of the Board of the Man Asian Literary Prize, and National Artists Virgilio Almario, Bienvenido Lumbera, and F. Sionil Jose. These dignitaries are among the many speakers who conduct more than thirty literary workshops that span the numerous issues within literature and the publishing industry.

The 5th Philippine International Literary Festival and Book Industry Summit is the centerpiece of the Philippine Book Development Month in November. It is organized by the National Book Development Board in partnership with Yabang Pinoy, Aklatan, and Filipino ReaderCon.

A very intuitive performance by Daloy Dance Group

NBDB Exec. Director Graciela Cayton delivers her welcome remarks

An insightful and funny discussion with Jun Cruz Reyes, Manix Abrera, and Eros Atalia.

The panelists for the session on “The Future of Publishing and Opportunities in the ASEAN and global markets”
(from left to right) NBDB Exec. Director Graciela Cayton, Selina Lee, Linda Lingard, Andrea Passion-Flores,
Robin Hemley, and Eric Huang.

Writer Rin Chupeco discusses “What makes diverse Filipino reader” during the 5th PILF-BIS

Launch and book signing of Eros Atalia’s Taguan-Pung at Manwal ng Pagpapatiwakal (level up)

The Pressing Issue: 5th PILF-BIS at Bayanihan Center, Pasig City

FEU Theatre Guild performs a musical play of the tale of Moymoy Lulumboy.

NBDB staff poses for a group photo at the 5th PILF-BIS