Why Filipinos Should Read: Filipiniana

by Bryan Meniado

It’s been a while since I last wrote for Bookbed. My last “Why Filipinos Should Read” was published two years ago! But while I may have lay low on reading, the books are there, and new ones keep coming. A real tsundoku! *laughs*

Moving on, one of the silver linings of this almost year-long quarantine is people having the time to explore old and new interests. And as for me, I grew my collection of Filipiniana titles. In fact, it is growing quite so steadfastly that I decided to open a library! I named the collection after my brainchild and baby, Bibi Mangki #thereadingmonkey.

Visit Bibi Mangki Bookbed here. The collection carries over 500+ titles, which readers can have access to anytime of day.

This is also one of the reasons I’m back. I am writing again to revive my reading track and be true to the ideals of Bibi Mangki and Bookbed. So once again, here comes Why Filipinos Should Read. For the first time, I am not featuring a particular title, but instead an entire genre and an almost esoteric reading niche that is Filipiniana, and why we should read such.

What is Filipiniana?

According to Isagani Medina*, Filipiniana refers to Philippine-related books and non-books materials, such as culture, arts, fashion, and others. The materials may be produced inside or outside the Philippines by Filipino or non-Filipino authors. Despite this definition, there are still discussions among Filipiniana collectors and enthusiasts on what really constitutes Filipiniana.

When it comes to books, some consider it as an exclusive category of publications with deemed historical, cultural, and artistic value. But some argue that it is more inclusive of the others which still fall under the category of “Philippine-related.”

In my opinion (and take note that I am no expert in Philippine studies), I am more inclined to the latter. I think that everything Filipino or Philippine-related is Filipiniana, may it be Noli Me Tangere or your favorite Wattpad story.

Relearning history by reading Filipiniana

This is a recurring theme in Why Filipinos Should Read. It always pops up because I personally love history. I love reading about the juicy and in-depth details, narratives, and thought processes of our intellectuals, national heroes, and early thinkers.

I will not get tired of saying that history goes beyond the forgettable names and dates we learned from school. By reading Filipiniana, we can rediscover history firsthand from primary and secondary sources, and not just rely on textbooks.

Now I am not saying that our school textbooks are wrong—it’s that we are missing a lot if we solely rely on them. Reading a variety of Filipiniana teaches us to interrogate our past, and to rectify our erroneous assumptions and interpretations of history, if necessary.

Giving intellectual tradition growth and glow by reading Filipiniana

Before anybody violently reacts, this is again not to say that our thought and intellectual traditions lack the rigor. It does not mean that our early thinkers, scholars, writers, and authors were not at par with their foreign counterparts.

In fact, we have a lot more of gifted storytellers, writers, and theorists in Filipino intellectual tradition than we can ever account for.

But there also lies the nuance of the Filipiniana. We cannot completely detach from or repudiate our colonial roots and influences. It is not bad to embrace such roots. It is a given reality that we have inherited so much from the western thought because we were once a Spanish and an American colony. Almost all our early thinkers were foreign-trained, or at least read on western thoughts such as Rizal, the Ilustrados, or even Bonifacio (whom many of us stereotype as war freak and hot-tempered, when history says he was quite the reader as well).

Embracing foreign tradition is not bad. We can still read and appreciate diversity in literature. But it would also be great if we develop our own and further appreciate our history, culture, and society. That would be the greatest gift of the Filipino to the Filipino, wouldn’t it be?

Strengthening honesty, humility, and empathy by reading Filipiniana

I want to share about what I’ve watched and learned from an episode of Mr. Leloy Claudio’s Basagan ng Trip series with Chiqui Agoncillo regarding how reading history can help us spot biases. Mr. Claudio, the host, used to teach history and literature at the De La Salle University, while Miss Chiqui is the first ever female summa cum laude from the prestigious UP Department of History.

In that episode, Miss Chiqui summarizes the importance of knowing and studying history into three wonderful words: honesty, humility, and empathy.

Honesty, she said, should be intrinsic in any profession or craft. Humility, on the other hand, is the ability to acknowledge and to accept that there are still universes to learn about, and that no matter how much you think you’ve learned, the reality of being sometimes wrong still remains. And as for empathy, reading people’s narratives and experiences should be able to put you in their shoes and look at things from a different light.


Reading Filipiniana nurtures our sense of belongingness. In Benedict Anderson’s words, it also extends our imagined community and makes it more inclusive, accepting, and empathetic. Through this, it paves the way in cultivating our humanity and our Filipino identity toward our ongoing project of nationhood. So going back to the titular question of Why Filipinos Should Read Filipiniana, we should read Filipiniana because we are Filipino.

*”Collection Building: Filipiniana”,  In Developing Special Library Collections, Filipiniana: Proceedings (1992) by Isagani Medina





11 responses to “Why Filipinos Should Read: Filipiniana”

  1. Tuni Balisi Avatar
    Tuni Balisi

    If you are a Filipino content-creator employed by comic book giants like Marvel, DC, Image, and Darkhorse, are your works still considered Filipiniana? I am talking about X-men, X-Factor, Wolverine, Conan, etc by Whilce Portacio, Nestor Redondo, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, et al.


    1. Bookbed Avatar

      Hi, Tuni! Thanks for reading, and for commenting this very important question. We don’t have the best answer to this, which only goes to show that this is worth adding to this Filipiniana discussion. If you can share any more thoughts on this, let us know and we can give you the space. 🙂


  2. Why Filipinos Should Read: Anthropology, and Why Young Filipinos Should Consider a Degree in Anthropology – Bookbed Avatar

    […] ng Trip” series with Leloy Claudio on YouTube is one of my favorites to binge-watch, and in my previous article, I mentioned the episode with Chiqui Agoncillo, the first female summa cum laude from the UP […]


  3. Bookbed recommends: ‘Filipino Prehistory: Rediscovering Precolonial Heritage’ by F. Landa Jocano – Bookbed Avatar

    […] a cue from the latest Why Filipinos Should Read on why we should pick up more Filipiniana and readings on Anthropology, I decided to start this year’s reading list with a book about […]


  4. Why Filipinos Should Read: Philippine Arts and Literature – Bookbed Avatar

    […] In one of the previous WFSRs, I talked about why Filipinos should read more books about the Philippines or books by Filipino authors, and my main point was that we do it because we’re Filipino. […]


  5. Why Filipinos Should Read: ‘White Lady, Black Christ’ by Charlson Ong – Bookbed Avatar

    […] So when I received a copy of the book and learned from the blurb that it’s a mystery thriller involving religion, detective stories, and anthropology, I knew right away that this would be a worthwhile break from my usual nonfiction reads. And while it may be my first Charlson Ong book, I was certain this book by a decorated Filipino storyteller was going to be mind-stimulating and knowledge-enriching… and it delivered! (Charlson Ong has received several prestigious grants and awards, including the Palanca, Free Press, and National Book awards, among others.) If you enjoy stories by international authors like James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, and Dan Brown and those by our very own Jose Dalisay Jr., F.H. Batacan, and Caroline Hau, then this book is for you too. (Related: “Why Filipinos Should Read Filipiniana”)  […]


  6. Why Filipinos Should Read: ‘Elites and Ilustrados in Philippine Culture’ by Caroline Hau  – Bookbed Avatar

    […] this current state in our nation-building. As a Filipiniana enthusiast, I’ve already shared about why we should read more Filipiniana in the previous WFSRs. But this book further fuels my interest because of how it closely and […]


  7. kimderla Avatar

    I love your Filipiniana collection! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bookbed Avatar

      Thank you for reading WFSR!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Why Filipinos Should Read: ‘Reportage on Lovers’ by Quijano de Manila  – Bookbed Avatar

    […] be a window to understand ourselves better and, hopefully, to move forward as a nation. (Related: “Why Filipinos Should Read: Filipiniana,” “Why Filipinos Should Read: Philippine Arts and […]


  9. Why Filipinos Should Read: ‘Reportage on Lovers’ by Quijano de Manila – Bookbed Avatar

    […] be a window to understand ourselves better and, hopefully, to move forward as a nation. (Related: “Why Filipinos Should Read: Filipiniana,” “Why Filipinos Should Read: Philippine Arts and […]


Anything to share? :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: