These recommendations from book historian and librarian Dr Vernon Totanes are sure to add to your knowledge of the nation
Get to know a national hero
Rizal Without the Overcoat
By Ambeth R Ocampo
Jose Rizal, considered the national hero of the Philippines, was more man than Superman. This book uses humor and interesting trivia to (re)introduce Rizal as a mere mortal who loved women, was stingy with money and liked to eat tuyo for breakfast.
Appreciate the cuisine
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
By Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan
Learn how to cook lumpiang Shanghai, adobo and kinilaw and get better acquainted with the origins of Philippine cuisine with this cookbook by the duo behind Purple Yam. It features stunning photographs, too.
Be one with the locals
Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball
By Rafe Bartholomew
Ever wondered why Filipinos – most of whom aren’t that tall – love basketball? Find the answer in this book, which the author tagged as his love letter to the Philippines.
Learn Tagalog — the fun way
Alamat ng Ampalaya
By Augie Rivera
The song “Bahay Kubo” enumerates the names of vegetables grown in neighborhood gardens, with one exception — ampalaya (bitter gourd). The omission inspired this children’s book. The Tagalog and English texts are sure to prove useful for those aiming to learn the local lingo.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Smile magazine.