Fil-Am Int’l Book Festival back in-person in San Francisco Oct. 15-16 | Inquirer

Fil-Am Int’l Book Festival back in-person in San Francisco Oct. 15-16

/ 11:43 AM September 29, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO – More than 40 authors and artists from the United States, and as far away as the Philippines, France and the United Kingdom, will come together for the 6th Filipino American International Book Festival, the largest of its kind in the country, at San Francisco Public Library’s Main Oct. 15-16.

The festival opens with a live performance from Larry the Musical, a much-anticipated musical about labor activist Larry Itliong. Keynote speakers include Gina Apostol, Newbery Award winner Erin Entrada Kelly and Meredith Talusan.

It culminates with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maria Ressa in a special pre-recorded one-on-one interview about democracy, press freedom and her upcoming book How to Stand Up to a Dictator.

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This year’s theme, “Hiraya/Emergence: Writing Towards the Future,” celebrates imagination, dreaming, the emergence of the flower and the fruit (hiraya in Tagalog).


“Having postponed the festival for a year due to COVID-19, this festival is a coming together, an emergence from the difficulties and isolation of the past 3 years, to celebrate Filipino/a/x literature and art in community. The Filipino/a/x writing community has seen phenomenal growth in the past few years. Together we move towards the next, despite the uncertainty of current times,” said Edwin Lozada, president of the Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA) and festival organizer.

Held in-person at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) every two years — the festival founded by Gemma Nemenzo and Literacy Initiatives International Foundation, Inc. (LIIF) in 2011, with PAWA taking over its organization since 2013 — uniquely brings together Fil-Am writers, both emerging and established, as well as writers from the Philippines and the global diaspora.


For the 2022 festival, the children’s program is bigger than ever and offers teen programming for the first time. Must-see panels for kidlit fans and readers include “Coming of Age on the Page: A Young Adult Author Roundtable” with Candy Gourlay, Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, and Cynthia Salaysay, and “Writing the Awkward Years: A Middle Grade Author Roundtable” with Tracy Badua, Cookie Hiponia, Erin Entrada Kelly, Sophia N. Lee, and Mae Respicio. These panels are moderated by Randy Ribay (National Book award nominee for Patron Saints of Nothing) on the mainstage.

“As San Francisco’s home to the literary arts, the Library is proud to host this stellar lineup of authors who have dreamed, imagined and written about the Filipino experience, past, present and future. Our hope is that this festival helps to cultivate even more inspiration for budding writers and artists for years to come,” said Abraham Ignacio, librarian and manager of SFPL’s Filipino American Center.

Other themes that run through several authors’ work include the personal as political in novels, Asian American and Filipino/a/x identities + ethnic studies, queer identities, language and translation, the pre-colonial and mythologies.


A Talk with Nobel Peace Prize Winner Maria Ressa. In partnership with the San Francisco Public Library and Litquake, festival attendees have a chance to hear a virtual interview live from the Philippines with investigative journalist Maria Ressa, who exposed the abuse of power, use of violence and increasing authoritarianism of the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte, and submit questions.

Youth program. Offering two days of robust youth programming for families, teachers and children of all ages. Featuring in-person programs with Newbery Award winner Erin Entrada Kelly, Candy Gourlay, Mae Respicio Korner, Sophia Lee, Isabel Roxas and 13 more author readings and book signings for ages 4-18. Come to a reading by teen poet Zoe Dorado, Alameda County’s Youth Poet Laureate. Other fun family activities include slime-making and zine making and a book giveaway (80 bundles). Additionally, high school and college students may take a free writing workshop with acclaimed journalist Meredith Talusan.

The Filipina voice. Women are strongly represented at this year’s festival. All of othe keynotes and two-thirds of the festival authors are women and/or genderqueer, writing on themes ranging from the etymology of language, love, sex, and desire, the political novel, biracial identity, Philippine mythology, family and immigrant realities.

Filipino American theater spotlight—celebrating “tongue in A mood” with SoMA Pilipina’s Bindlestiff Studio. Attend a panel with “Gossip, Sex, and the End of the World” editors Theo S. Gonzalves and A. Samson Manalo. This book, published by SoMA’s Arkipelago Books, collects the irreverent, slapstick, raunchy and critical writing of this Filipino American variety show.

Asian and Filipino/a/x America today. Academics Catherine Ceniza Choy, Alysson Tintiango-Cubales and Dr. Robyn Rodriguez are in conversation around ethnic studies, history, the rise of anti-Asian violence, politics and identity.

Philippine mythology and folklore. Aswang, anting-anting, Haliya the Bicolano moon goddess, Portland vampires…Philippine mythology is seeing phenomenal growth in pop culture at the moment. Myths/folklore figure into the work of several of our festival authors, from literary fiction to children’s books to horror to comics. Podcast host Earl Matito of Philippine Campfire Stories hosts a panel with some of these creators, who are connecting to their heritage through folklore and myth, while living in global diaspora.

Inkstorm—readings from new releases. Hear festival authors read from their new books and get books autographed. The Inkstorm writers are: Gina Apostol; Melissa Chadburn; Catherine Ceniza Choy; Mia P. Manansala; Michelle Peñaloza; Barbara Jane Reyes; Dr. Robyn Rodriguez; Erina Alejo; Joi Barrios; Bren Bataclan; Michael Caylo-Baradi; Gideon Lasco; Reine Arcache Melvin; Lysley Tenorio; Angela Narciso Torres; Meredith Talusan; Marianne Chan; Liza Gino; jxtheo; Allan Samson Manalo; Veronica Montes; Vicente Rafael;

Lara Stapleton; Kenneth Tan.

Poetry Panel — Come to a panel with contemporary poets, exploring what makes the shape of a poem — form, craft, language, and creative practice.

Filipino American History Month: Bay Area Legacies — Three of our panels speak to Filipino American histories in the Bay Area: theater, literary anthology and Filipino/a/x and ethnic studies. These remember the legacy of tongue in A mood in SOMA Pilipinas, the third edition of Liwanag and three scholars writing the histories of Filipino/a/x and Asian American studies.

The full program and lineup is available to view:

Festival authors are available for quotes / interviews on request.

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TAGS: Filipino American writers
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