In its sixth consecutive year, the National Book Development Board (NBDB Philippines) joins Frankfurt Book Fair 2021 from October 20 to 24, held in Frankfurt, Germany.
Frankfurt Book Fair—also known as the Frankfurter Buchmesse (FBM)—is the world’s oldest and largest trade fair for books and literary content. The fair dates as far back as the 15th century, a few years after German pioneer Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press.
With the theme “An Archipelago of Stories,” NBDB Philippines’ collection for this year’s fair aims to showcase the diversity of cultures within the country. Over a hundred Filipino titles are available for visitors, from paperback novels to illustrated books from some of the country’s top publishers. (A few issues of GRID Magazine have also made it to the event!)
“These books are a testament to Filipino talent, intelligence, and undeniable creativity, and I’m optimistic that all titles will shine bright [in this year’s fair],” says Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, who is also helping NBDB Philippines in its bid to attain FBM’s Guest of Honor title for the fair in 2025.
What to expect at Frankfurt Book Fair 2021
This year’s FBM will see a wide range of books from Filipino authors and publishers, on topics like mythology, food, and traditional and contemporary culture. Some of the featured titles include Glenn Diaz’s New York Times bestseller The Quiet Ones; White Lady, Black Christ by Charlson Ong; Remains by Daryll Delgado; and Naimas! The Food Heritage of llocus Sur by DV Savellano and Heny Sison. Filipino books at FBM also cater to readers all ages: children’s literature about values, culture, and even one about Filipina Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz are also part of the lineup.
NBDB is also selling its first non-fungible token, or NFT at the Frankfurt Book Fair. An NFT is a unique and non-interchangeable digital asset that represents ownership of real-world items—in this case, a graphic novel called The Last Moon, written by acclaimed horror writer Yvette Tan and illustrated by award-winning designer Jowee Alviar. The story is a retelling of the Visayan myth of the Bakunawa, a dragon responsible for creating earthquakes and eclipses.
“Releasing [this] at the oldest book fair in the world is another way [for us to] explore our stories with new tech to the metaverse,” says Erwin Romulo, the Philippine delegation’s co-organizer.
Alviar’s illustrations, which weave images from Philippine mythology together with Filipino ethno-linguistic designs and patterns, were also used in this year’s booth at the fair.
Taking pride in Filipino stories
Despite the richness of Filipino storytelling, the country still sees a massive import-export disparity when it comes to literature: exporting one Filipino-created book for every 24 foreign books we import. Through its participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair, NBDB hopes to bring more awareness to the quality and diversity of Filipino stories, as well as use literature to generate economic returns for the country.
“We want to use platforms [such as the Frankfurt Book Fair] to change the mindset surrounding Filipino books in the Philippines,” says NBDB Chairman Dante Ang II. “We want to show that our books can be export-quality, too.”