(From left) Remains by Daryll Delgado, Seven Slippers by Divine Gil Reyes and Benjor Catindig, Journey of a Thousand Shuttles: The Philippine Weave by Norma Respecio, and You Shall Be As Gods: Anting-anting and the Filipino Quest for Mystical Power by Dennis Santos Villegas are just some of the books the country will showcase at Frankfurt Book Fair 2021.

Filipinos will once again wave their flag in the international creative arena as the Philippines joins the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2021 (Frankfurt Book Fair 2021), the largest and oldest trade fair for books and content. The fair will take place from October 20 to 24.

For this sixth consecutive appearance at the fair, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) – lead agency in the research and development of the publishing value chain and book production in the Philippines – bring to Frankfurt, Germany the country’s top publishers, among them 19th Avenida, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Milfores Publishing, University of the Philippines Press, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Komiket, and many others.

“We wanted to go merely beyond showcasing Filipino literature, Filipino works and skills of the other stakeholders of the publishing industry in the Philippines. We wanted to sell rights, in other words we wanted to generate concrete economic returns for the Philippines,” NBDB Chairman Dante Francis “Klink” Ang 2nd said in a press conference.

According to Ang – who is also The Manila Times President and CEO – his dreams of utilizing international book fairs like Frankfurter Buchmesse as platforms to change the mindset in the Philippines. He wishes to prove that books can also be an export product of the country.

“Who better else to tell our story than Filipinos themselves. Of course what we are showcasing are not only published products but also other stakeholders in the industry – writers, editors, artists and we hope that by our participation in Frankfurt and other international events, these people will also gain recognition and perhaps contracts that they would benefit from,” Ang noted.

Award-winning designer Jowee Alviar of Team Manila created this year’s booth with the theme, ‘Myth, Magic, and the City: Reclaiming our Narrative.’

A broad spectrum of Philippine books including contemporary fiction, graphic novels, children’s literature, young adult literature, and non-fiction titles particularly on culture, history, and cuisine will be featured.

“Our vision is ‘An Archipelago of Stories.’ By identifying ourselves as an archipelago, we put into perspective how the Philippines should be appreciated — a community that thrives on being widely diverse. However myriad our voices together, we are a harmony of cultures by focusing on stories rather than a storyteller,” Charisse Aquino-Tugade, NBDB Executive Director 3 shared in her message.

“We have 7,641 islands with 110 regional languages and massive creative capital, rich literature and very unique Filipino story and this is what we would like to translate,” she added.

An exciting digital program from the Philippines awaits Frankfurt Book Fair 2021. The offerings range from virtual exhibitions, special presentations, to strong voices on climate stories, epic sagas, and colorful messages of inclusivity and modern twists on Philippine folklore.

The theme of this year’s Philippine booth, “Myth, Magic, and the City: Reclaiming our Narrative,” was envisioned by Tugade and designed by award-winning designer, Jowee Alviar of Team Manila.

“The design weaves together images from Philippine mythology and textures from ethnolinguistic designs and patterns. The effect is a series of panels, each one serving as a piece in the narrative creating a rich tapestry of Philippine culture and identity,” explained Tugade.

NBDB will likewise launch the world’s first in digital content at the Frankfurter Buchmesse this year.

The proceeds of sales will be used to donate print copies of “The Last Moon” to the NBDB’s “The Book Nook” project, at the storytelling and reading sites in indigenous and remote communities in the Philippines.

This year’s participation is a step in the long journey ahead for the Philippines, with its intent to bid for Guest of Honor in 2025.

It was in 2015 when Indonesia became the Guest of Honor in the prestigious event of the world of publishing – reason why the team believes that 2025 will be the time that it goes back to Southeast Asia.

“Our theme will be ‘The Imagination Peoples the Air.’ To be Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, a transnational and trans-disciplinary global event, is to consolidate attention on Philippine books,” Tugade explained.

“To bid is to let our postcolonial imagination reinhabit air and space, let our people speak back and retell our story, in our own many voices. To bid is to assert the important work that we all do in book publishing industries of the world. The imagination peoples the air, and makes all our books fly,” she added.

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, a staunch supporter of the project and having visited the Philippine pavilion at the FBF 2018 and at the FBF 2019, reiterated her support for the Philippines’ bid to be the Guest of Honor.

To recall, the country first participated in the Frankfurter Buchmesse in 1998 until 2000 but was not able to sustain it. The NBDB succeeded in participating again in 2015, although in very modest terms, and in 2016, was able to put up a professionally executed pavilion through the support of Legarda, who, as then Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, increased the budget for the Philippines’ participation.

“In this year’s participation in the Frankfurt Book Fair, we will be the revelatory power punch. All the beautiful titles that we will present at the fair will be a testament to the Filipino talent, intelligence and undeniable creativity,” Legarda said in her message during the press conference.

“I am optimistic that all of the titles will shine bright for the Philippine collective and our narratives will be heard throughout loud and clear – a strong voice that we’ll present to the world. It was way back 2015 when the Frankfurt Book Fair had a Southeast Asian country as a Guest of Honor, and here’s hoping and claiming that 2025 will be our year and will be the Philippines’ turn to stand out and shine,” she ended.