10 Filipino Young Adult novelists you need to know and read now

At the 38th MIBF, the Teens section of Anvil Publishing showcases new and established YA authors. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Though it’s a transient period, young adulthood is an exciting time in one’s life filled with a lot of new experiences to tell. Many books have been written about young adult experiences especially in the romance section. In books—both print and digital—the Young Adult (YA) genre has attracted a wide range of readers and quite a number of novels have been made into movies and television series.

Some digital novels published in online platforms like Wattpad have been made as a series by TV5, with the country’s hottest teen stars in the cast.

Mina Esguerra, a prominent chick lit author, told InterAksyon, “I think we’ve seen it as popular for years now and with an audience that includes even those who are no longer that young. If you go to the author signings and see the reader stats online for anything related to teen fiction, you’ll see how caught up so many people are in it.”

Books by Mina Esguerra are selling fast at the Anvil Publishing booth at the Manila International Book Fair, September 13 to 17, 2017. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

She noted, “I think the books are a great way to spend your time—anything seems possible and the characters are so us, or remind us of people we knew.”

Among the novels that Esguerra has written in this genre include “My Imaginary Ex,” “Interim Goddess of Love,” and “No Strings Attached.” Currently, she spearheads #romanceclass, a community of Filipino authors writing contemporary romance.

Ani Rosa Almario secretary-general of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People also acknowledged that there has been a large following for teen romance.

“If we’re talking about YA Filipino authors in English, marami ‘yun, kasi maraming (there’s a lot because there are many) teen romance,” she told InterAksyon.

On the other hand, she also said that there is a lack of YA Filipino authors who write in Filipino. She said, “I would say that if people feel that there aren’t enough children’s books, like picture books locally authored, the situation is worse for young adult because not a lot of writers write for YA. Some of the YA writers actually migrated from children’s books.

“Yes, there is a push for it among the local publishers because we have noticed that there aren’t a lot being published. There’s some interest due to workshops on young adult writing so there is an interest in writers to try out the genre; There are a lot now compared to, say, 10 years ago, but, I would say kulang pa rin (it’s still lacking).”

Adarna House has been translating bestselling novels from other Asian countries in Filipino to provide more books for different ages.

The Adarna House booth at the 38th Manila International Book Fair features books for babies to teens. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

To address the need for more YA literrature written in Filipino, Almario said, “Speaking as a publisher, we should push for it more; to produce more for every age group so there aren’t any age gaps in literature for young people in Filipino.”

Almario and Esguerra have suggested YA authors with books that readers can start with.

Almario recommends two YA writers whose books have been published by Anvil. “We recommend our young adults, “Janus Silang” the series and for intermediate grades, we have the trilogy, “Supremo.” That’s three books each. They stand out because the characters are relatable, and they really speak about Filipino children’s experiences.”

1. Edgar Calabia Samar, “Janus Silang”

YA novelist Janus Silang’s works are on sale at the 38th Manila International Book Fair, September 13 to 17, 2017. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Samar received numerous awards including Palanca Awards, PBBY-Salanga Writer’s Prize for his children’s stories, NCCA Writer’s Prize, Gantimpalang Collantes sa Sanaysay, and the Gawad Surian sa Tula.

According to Almario, “His book, particularly, ‘Si Janus Silang at ang Labanáng Manananggal-Mambabarang’ got the 2015 National Book Award in the Novel in Filipino category and the 2016 National Children’s Book Award in the Best Reads for Kids category. He recently published the latest installment for Janus Silang—’Si Janus Silang at ang Pitumpu’t Pitong Pusong’ at the 38th MIBF.

2. Xi Zuq, “Supremo”

Supremo trilogy is on sale at the 38th Manila International Book Fair. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Xi Zuq’s Supremo won the 2016 National Children’s Book Award, in the Best Reads for Kids category. In the words of Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, chairman of the National Book Development Board, the book is engaging and will make you think about social responsibility.

On the other hand, Esguerra also shared five of her favorite YA authors.

3. Ines Bautista-Yao, “Plain Vanilla,” “Only A Kiss”
Esguerra noted, “Pick up a book by Ines and you’ll get charming characters and their complicated, loving relationships with friends and family.”

4. Agay Llanera , “Choco Chip Hips,” “Another Word for Happy”

Agay Llanera’s ‘Choco Chip Hips’ at the 38th Manila International Book Fair. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

According to Esguerra, “Agay’s books are fun, but they also hurt a little bit. She captures the challenges of growing up with grace.”

5. Clarisse David, “Keeping the Distance”
Esguerra said, “Clarisse’s books are YA with fun banter and characters who are headstrong. She also has a YA series (in English and available in various countries) set entirely in Iloilo!”

6. Kids These Days volume 1: Stories from Luna East Arts Academy
“This is an anthology so there’s more than one author to notice. Still check out the work of Ronald Lim, Anne Plaza, and Miles Tan (and the others) for a new take on the high school experience,” noted Esguerra.

7. Mae Coyiuto, “The Year We Became Invincible”

Mae Coyiuto’s ‘The Year We Became Invincible’ is on sale at the 38th Manila International Book Fair. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Esguerra noted, “Mae wrote a children’s book when she was a kid, and as a young adult wrote a stellar YA book. An achiever on and off the page.”

Meanwhile, these authors—accomplished and up-and-coming ones are also worthy reads:

8. Segundo Matias Jr., “Moymoy Lulumboy”

Segundo Matias Jr. launched the fourth book of his Moymoy Lulumboy series at the 38th Manila International Book Fair. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

A Palanca Awardee, Matias launched the fourth installment of his Moymoy Lulumboy series– Mga Dulot ng Digmaan– at the the 38th MIBF under Lampara Books. Matias is known to have published over 1,500 books for children and young adults including “Ang Makabagong Alamat,” “Mga Kuwentong Nanay,” and “Mga Kuwentong Dapat Mong Malaman.”

His “Alamat ng Duhat” won first prize the Palanca Awards for the Maikling Kwento Pambata category in 2011; while his #paperdolls won the third prize for the Sanaysay category in 2016.

9. Brigitte Bautista, “Don’t Tell My Mother”

Brigitte Bautista’s first novel, ‘Don’t Tell My Mother,’ published by Anvil. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Her first novel, “Don’t Tell My Mother,” landed on the list of Anvil’s Editor’s Picks. According to the publishing house, Bautista has been writing since she was eight years old, and is known for writing lesbian fiction and poetry.

10. Charmaine Lasar, “Toto O.”
First known as a Wattpad writer, Lasar eventually became a Palanca Awardee in 2015 for her novel “Toto O.” It won the grand prize for the Nobela category. This year, the same novel was declared as one of the finalists in the 36th National Book Awards for the Best Book of Fiction (Novel) in Filipino.