CONSIDER yourself lucky if your usual go-to bookstore dedicates a shelf or two to Philippine literature.
Without visiting publishing houses or waiting for annual literary fests, even new releases can be elusive, even more so books printed a few years back.
The National Book Development Board’s Pinoy Bookstore Tour went for three days, journeyed to three regions, and found six local bookstores to put an end to your book hunt.
Each of the independently run shops have an extensive Filipiniana collection, ranging from contemporary fiction to research.
1. Solidaridad Book Shop
531 Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
This bookstore has an arcade façade showcasing rows of books, handpicked by the proprietor himself, National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José. Filipino titles headline its shop window.
It has been half a century since the ancestral home was transformed into a book shop, which metamorphosed into a cultural hub—the headquarters of the Philippine center of PEN International.
Solidaridad boasts of the widest selection of Filipiniana books in the country, including José’s complete body of works. And the best thing about a Solidaridad visit? It only takes a quick trip to the shop’s third floor to have your books signed by Manong Frankie.
Pioneer Studios, 123 Pioneer St., Mandaluyong City
The Mandaluyong book shop specializes in art and puts a spotlight on its different disciplines, including cultural heritage, history, and approaches to theory and criticism—it has about 540 books, some sourced directly from artists and independent publishers.
The selections, products of research and critiques, focus on local talent, and explore the context and contributions of Philippine art to the region, with a vision to promote and advocate cultural literacy and awareness.
Its shelves contain catalogues of exhibits of National Artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera and multidisciplinary conceptual artist Gary-Ross Pastrana; Philippine contemporary art journals; rare copies of books by painter Alfonso Ossorio; even titles published in the ’70s.
3. Uno Morato
Garden Area, GYY Building, 1 Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City
A hidden space in the GYY building on Tomas Morato, it is a hybrid of food and culture, supporting books—mostly collections of poetry and short fiction—from small publishers, as well as independently produced records and art.
Uno Morato envisions itself as a venue where new writers and books can be discovered and produced. It encourages its patrons to expand the writing community by being part of it, giving space and directing attention to self-published works. It also hosts weekly talks and workshops on literature and art.
4. Pandayan Bookshop
With about 90 branches nationwide, the province-based community bookshop is known to be helpful to its customers and employees. It also sells textbooks and literary finds, which include new releases and local best sellers, at the same prices as in Manila so more people in the provinces can afford and avail of them.
5. Orchids Bookstore
Santo Rosario Street, Angeles City
The shop was established in 1983 and has been the leading bookstore in Angeles City. It sells mainly school and office supplies and has yet to carry local titles on its shelves.
6. Mt. Cloud Bookshop
Casa Vallejo Bldg., Baguio City
A must-visit in the city, the shop looks like a Gypsy’s home—a small space that swallows you into a seemingly new world. It prides itself in being a Filipiniana bookstore, with local authors dominating its walls, displayed together with copies of Shakespeare and Tolkien.
Mt. Cloud also offers three-month book subscriptions to residents in and out of Baguio, respectively worth P1,200 and P1,800. Mt. Cloud’s team chooses books in the subscriber’s preferred genre and author preferences.
You can also send postcards from here—write about your book finds and Baguio experience—and they deliver it to the local post office for you!