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Six Pinoy book designers on book covers

When book covers began to be more popularly used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they served mainly functional rather than artistic purposes. Aside from protecting the inner pages, covers such as leather imprints functioned as status symbols. Book production has gone a long way, with books becoming objects of mass consumption and covers playing a major role in the selling of books.

What sort of cover would, as food writer and teacher Ige Ramos describes it, make a book “either jump off the bookshelf screaming ‘Buy me!’ or sit quietly until the right person picks it up”? Musician and visual artist Datu Arellano puts it simply: a good book cover is “striking.” But more importantly, it “draws the reader in,” says designer Karl Castro, and “entices without giving too much of the content away.”

For content is foremost. Poet Bolix shares, “I love to read and in reading I get a better sense of how to approach and do the design. I would never design a book whose content conflicts with my own views of what is morally good or correct.” Datu agrees that content should drive the book design as a whole, which “must also remain interesting even after one has read the book,” says Karl. “One should cherish the object like one would the narrative.”

What works, or whose, inspire contemporary Pinoy book designers? Aside from Ige, Karl, Bolix, and Datu, we’ve asked graphic artists R Jordan Santos and Clarissa Ines on their favorite book covers.


State of the Nation Address : A Briefer

Written by Marianne G. Bugnosen (FHL Intern)

The State of the Nation Address or SONA, began during the Commonwealth of the Philippines. According to the 1935 Constitution Article VII, Section 5, “[t]he President shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Nation, and recommend to its consideration  such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”


The Lumad of Mindanao

The indigenous cultural communities (ICC) in the Philippines are believed to make up about ten percent of the national population. Also known as cultural minorities, they had been pushed to the mountains and forests by lowlanders ever since towns and cities were built. Most of the ICC do not possess money or private property and, widely discriminated against, find it hard to integrate with mainstream society. With the destruction of the forests as well as with efforts of the lowland majority to assimilate them into Christian culture, the ICC struggle to protect their ancestral domain and cultural identity.

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