Sunday, September 14, 2008

Manila International Book Fair at SMEX and a Spanish beauty!

I just came from this year's installment of the book fair at SM Exhibition Center at the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City. The book fair has been held in MegaMall, the World Trade Center, and now at the SMEX. But the SMEX is much smaller than the WTC, thus it felt a bit crowded.

The usual bookdealers were there and they cater to the academic sector. But the university presses had a good selection of works by Filipino writers. This suggests that even with the high inflation rate and the economic crunch, publishers still are upbeat. This is evidenced by the crowds that were buying books.

The National Historical Commission (NHC) booth is a history bibliophile's dream. Aside from books by Gironiere, Rizal, Del Pilar,Mabini and Sinibaldo de Mas, the NHC recently reissued Patricio Mariano's translations into Filpino of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. These early translations of Rizal's novels are in itself literary gems. In my family's library, we have the first editions of these translations from 1916. They have become fragile books and can't be handled the way we ordinarily use books. Thus I was happy to learn that the books were reissued. I bought the 2008 reprints for 610 pesos.

Mariano's translations of Rizal novels are significant for he belonged to that generation with a living memory of the Revolution (Mariano was born in Manila's Santa Cruz district, a Katipunan stronghold). True enough there were other translations into Tagalog and other Philippine languages (the latest ones to have received good reviews were by Virgilio Almario), but the translators were of later generations and have no memory of Rizal's time. Mariano captured that time and its esprit even if in translation.

Mariano's translations have Juan Luna's sketches of the characters of the Noli. Those are gems in Rizal's work which is also a gem. No other version of the Noli I know aside from Rizal's original has the sketches.

Proof that Mariano has memory of that history is his translation uses Spanish orthography! Like the inverted question marks and exclamation points. We owe a lot from Madre España!

And speaking of Spain, the Instituto Cervantes booth has a good selection of Spanish poetry by 21st century Pinoys on sale,one poem made me laugh, the one entitled "Parece el caballo". Thus a pretty raven haired Madrileña (apparently with the Instituto and in her mid-twenties, I reckon and she graduated from Universidad Complutense, Rizal's alma mater.) came to my side and was happy I appreciated the poem. I was able to dig up enough Castellano to sustain a short conversation before she switched to la lengua Tagala. I learned that she was studying Filipino language and history at UST.

The also have a selection of books by recent Spanish writers on the Philippine Revolution. These books show how Spain has reassessed that part of her history and ours.

Spain is really "mi hogar". I answered the Spanish culture quiz and I hope to win the prize offered by the Instituto. (A date with Srta Madrileña?...... Asa pa!)

Personal Geographic has tips on how to make your book fair foray more pleasant.First of all carry cash. The ATM is a light year away!

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