LIST: 4 Must-Read Books About Philippine History by Filipino authors

Philippine History Books
Read these historical fiction and non-fiction novels from Filipino writers that explore the rich and tumultuous past of the Philippines. Book covers from Goodreads.

Here are four books written by Filipino authors to help you understand and learn more about Philippine history, for as it is said – we can only move forward if we remember our past.

The Philippines is a country with a long and rich history owing to its diverse ethnic heritage, foreign rule and influences, the Filipino diaspora, and journey to nationhood.

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One way to learn more about the contemporary Philippines is by reading the works of notable Filipino writers who can offer valuable and much-needed insights into the nation’s past.

As Filipinos, it’s more important than ever to learn about facts and key events in our nation’s history so that we can gain a deeper understanding of the present and avoid repeating mistakes from the past.

The list below includes historical fiction and non-fiction novels from Filipino writers who are revisiting periods of war and dictatorship in the country, including the Spanish colonial period, the Philippine-American War, and the Martial Law era.

Here are four must-read historical novels from Filipino writers:

Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage: The First Quarter Storm & Related Events by Jose F. Lacaba is a compilation of on-the-spot reports on the protest movement of the Sixties and Seventies by Lacaba, a Filipino poet, journalist, and screenwriter.

The following is the book’s synopsis from Goodreads:

A compilation of on-the-spot reports on the First Quarter Storm first published in the Philippine Free Press and the Asia-Philippines Leader, Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage is a useful manual for mass media students and practitioners working in the so-called New Journalism or literary journalism. “Of our journalists, one of the most able in the new style is Jose F. Lacaba. As TV and newsreel do, he puts you right on the scene… [H]e communicates the emotion, even the meaning of what’s happening without having to spell it out.” – Quijano de Manila

WHERE TO BUY: Get it from Anvil Publishing at this link – Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage- Rev. ed. – Anvil Publishing, Inc.

Dekada ’70 (Ang Orihinal at Kumpletong Edisyon) by Lualhati Bautista is an award-winning book that follows a family caught in the middle of the tumultuous decade of the 1970s when Martial Law was declared in the Philippines by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The following is the book’s synopsis from Goodreads:

“Definitely a political novel. More than the individual story of a mother watching her sons grow and plunge into real life, Dekada ’70 is an indictment of martial law, and here, Lualhati minces no worlds.” – Female Forum, November 21, 1983.”

WHERE TO BUY: Get it from Anvil Publishing at this link – Dekada 70 – 2nd ed. – Anvil Publishing, Inc.

Insurrecto: A Novel by Gina Apostol is a story about two women, American filmmaker Chiara Brasi and her Filipina translator Magsalin, traveling in present-day Philippines to work on a script about the Balangiga massacre during the Philippine-American war.

Looking at the events from two different cultures and from opposing sides; Magsalin and Chiara end up providing readers with two different points of view – the perspective of a Filipino school teacher and from the lens of an American photographer.

“Insurrecto” is the fourth novel by Gina Apostol, who previously won a PEN/Open Book Award and a Philippine National Book Award. Apostol also recently launched “Insurrecto” in London during her masterclass workshop for Southeast Asian writers for SULAT at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

WHERE TO BUY: Get it from Anvil Publishing at this link – Insurrecto (Paperback)

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by Jose Rizal is a Filipino classic novel that is required reading in Philippine schools. Written by Filipino hero Jose Rizal, the 19th-century novel depicting societal cancer has been translated into multiple languages since its publication.

Various musicals and operas like CCP’s “Noli Me Tangere, The Opera” have been based on the Filipino polyglot’s debut novel.

The following is the book’s synopsis from Goodreads:

“In more than a century since its appearance, José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere has become widely known as the great novel of the Philippines. A passionate love story set against the ugly political backdrop of repression, torture, and murder, “The Noli,” as it is called in the Philippines, was the first major artistic manifestation of Asian resistance to European colonialism, and Rizal became a guiding conscience—and martyr—for the revolution that would subsequently rise up in the Spanish province.”

WHERE TO BUY: Get it from Anvil Publishing at this link – Noli Me Tangere, Touch Me Not (Paperback)
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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.