Books in/about Philippines
April 17, 2012 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend some non-fiction books about Philippines, and fiction set in Philippines.

I want to gift a set of books to a colleague who is moving to Manila in a couple of months. I'm looking for non-fiction about economy or politics in Philippines and fiction set in Philippines. Books have to be in English.
posted by vidur to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Part of John Sayles' A Moment in the Sun deals with the Philippine War of Independence.
posted by Bromius at 1:41 PM on April 17, 2012

Parts of 'Cryptonomicon' are set in the Philippines.
posted by bq at 1:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

The bulk of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon deals with a plot unfolding in the Philippines in both the early 2000s and WW2 simultaneously.
posted by Oktober at 1:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ilustrado: A Novel by Miguel Syjuco
posted by canoehead at 1:54 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed When The Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe, about a family in World War II right at the end of the Japanese invasion. They tell stories about before the war too. I learned a lot about Filipino culture.
posted by ad4pt at 2:01 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines:
The Washington Post, February 24, 1985 IN WHICH WAR was the term "Gook" invented? When did American soldiers conduct their first body count and pioneer the use of the "water cure" to persuade Asian guerrillas to betray their comrades? After which battle did a young rifleman write home to the folks in Kingston, New York, "I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger"? Modern as it all sounds, the answer is not Vietnam, or even Korea or World War II.

The American conquest of the Philippines barely rates a mention in school history books, usually as a cryptic footnote to the short war which President William McKinley and publisher William Randolph Hearst waged on Spain in 1898 for the independence of Cuba and the circulation of Hearst's newspapers. Yet 126,458 Americans fought in the Philippines between 1898 and 1902, of whom 4,234 died, while 16,000 Filipinos died in battle and another 200,000 in "reconcentration camp." There were in addition massacres of civilians in reprisal for guerrilla attacks and similar sideshows all too familiar in subsequent Asian wars.

The story of how, and why America liberated the Philippines from Spain and then took the islands back from their inhabitants two weeks later is a complicated one, already well told in one of the classics of American historiography, Leon Wolff's Little Brown Brother, published in 1960. But the writing of history is never finished, and David Haward Bain has managed another fine book on the subject, not disagreeing with Wolff's conclusions, but making them fresh and vivid for a generation which has seen yet another Asian war.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:22 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: Seconding Ilustrado--it is excellent and also contains many references to other Filipino literature. I haven't gotten around to following up those leads yet, so nothing else I've read personally, but maybe:

Jose Rizal - Touch Me Not
Wilfrido D. Nolledo - But for the Lovers
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters is a pretty significant novel about life in Manila under the Marcos regime.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:51 PM on April 17, 2012

Not exactly the Philippines, but Christopher Moore's Island of the Sequined Love Nun is set in Micronesia.

And it's probably the only book that'll be recommended here that features a talking fruit bat.
posted by MrVisible at 3:33 PM on April 17, 2012

There was a chapter about the Philippines in Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.
posted by richyoung at 4:20 PM on April 17, 2012

Echoing the suggestion for Dogeaters, which is pretty great.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:00 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all, the recommendations look great! I'll be able to create a gift packet out of these. Do keep the suggestions coming though, for other interested folks.
posted by vidur at 7:12 PM on April 17, 2012

If you can find anything by F. Sionel Leon, get it. Po-on is particularly recommended.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:31 AM on April 18, 2012

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