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Have you ever had the experience of reading a book when a particular song comes to mind? Yes, we get you, bookworm! As we Read Filipino this August to highlight the vast, unique experiences and cultures of Filipinos, no matter where they are in the world, we also have some Original Pinoy Music (OPM) songs you can check out while browsing through the pages.
In celebration of Filipino Reads Fest, here are Pinoy book-and-song pairings we think are worth adding to your to-be-read lists and Spotify playlists.
A Song About Space by Reese Lansangan
A Song About Space by Reese Lansangan—which was also featured in NASA’s #LaunchAmerica campaign in 2020—is the ultimate pair for this thematically rich novel. Similarly to one of the lines in the song, “Swimming inside my own galaxy,” We Dream of Space’s Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas also exist in their own orbits with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher—the reason why their lives will bring them together in unexpected ways.
Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly treats readers on an unforgettable journey through this middle-grade book about family, friendship, science, and exploration.
Paninindigan by Ben&Ben
Fairest by Meredith Talusan
Both Meredith Talusan’s Fairest and Ben&Ben’s Paninindigan celebrate love: a kind of love that is celebrated and shared by all. Fairest is a coming-of-age memoir of a Filipino boy with albinism who would grow up to become a woman in America while Paninindigan is about expressing persistence in pursuing romantic love by taking inspiration from the love story of the band’s keyboardist Pat Lasaten and bassist Agnes Romea.
Be inspired by the beautifully written novel Fairest which illuminates the illusions of race, disability, and gender while listening to Ben&Ben’s hit single Paninindigan.
Bakunawa by Munimuni
The Philippine National Book Award winner fuses traditional myth and magic with contemporary action. Arnold Arre’s The Mythology Class features world-building and an adventure epic with the humor, warmth, and insight of a coming-to-age tale. If you’re into mythology and fantasy, Bakunawa by Munimuni is a must-listen for you. “Si Bakunawa kasi ay yung parang dragon sa Philippine mythology. Sinusubukan niyang kainin ang buwan, kaya daw may lunar eclipse. Yung eclipse, naging representation siya sa akin ng mga panahon na malungkot ako… [pero] may pag-asa pa rin [sa dulo]: ‘balang araw iluluwa rin ang buwan, ibabalik ang liwanag ng nakaraan,” shared Adj Jiao, vocalist and guitarist of Munimuni.
Know more about Philippine mythology with The Mythology Class while singing to Bakunwa.
Burnout by Sugarfree
The Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza
OPM icon Sugarfree’s Burnout is a lost love’s life anthem with its heartbreaking lyrics hiding beneath the song’s upbeat melody. This makes it the apt soundtrack to The Last Time I’ll Write About You — Dawn Lanuza’s debut collection of beautiful and relatable poems about first love; the perfect companion for anyone who has loved, lost, and emerged anew. Burnout and The Last Time I’ll Write About You teach us to have the courage to say what we truly feel; both promise to love beyond flaws and convenience, even if it means reaching a dead end.
Paagi by Up Dharma Down
There is no song suitable to pair with Trese other than Up Dharma Down’s Paagi, which translates to “excuse me” in English or “tabi-tabi po” in Bisaya. Why? Simply because Paagi is the theme song of the Netflix anime adaptation of Trese! Writer Budjette Tan and illustrator Kajo Baldisimo’s award-winning Filipino comic book series tells the story of Alexandra Trese, a detective who deals with crimes of supernatural origin. Netflix Philippines even released a video of Up Dharma Down performing Paagi as part of their promotion for the adaptation. Watch it here.
Hakbang by Cheats
Hakbang is performed by the seven-piece indie rock band Cheats who is known for their songs Accidents and Newspaper Girl. The song is a reflection of what a couple goes through during the pandemic, while America Is Not the Heart talks about three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they’re building in America. Even if the book’s plot isn’t centered on a pandemic, both the song and Elaine Castillo’s novel share a common theme: the struggle of transitioning to an unfamiliar circumstance. So, if you pick up this highly-acclaimed novel, don’t forget to put Cheats’ Hakbang on full blast!
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Erin Entrada Kelly
Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. A great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead.
Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers.
Get We Dream of Space (Hardcover) by Erin Entrada Kelly and other intermediate books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
Named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR, Real Simple, Lit Hub, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Public Library
An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another.
Get America Is Not the Heart: A Novel (Paperback) by Elaine Castillo and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Award-winning Filipino comic book and soon to be Netflix anime series!
When the sun sets in the city of Manila, don’t you dare make a wrong turn and end up in that dimly- lit side of the metro, where blood-sucking aswang run the most-wanted kidnapping rings, where gigantic kapre are the kingpins of crime, and magical engkantos slip through the cracks and steal your most precious possessions. When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.
Get Trese, Vol. 1: Murder On Balete Drive (Paperback) by Budjette Tan and other graphic novel books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Mia P. Manansala
Death at a beauty pageant turns Tita Rosie’s Kitchen upside down in the latest entry of this witty and humorous cozy mystery series.
Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new café after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.
Get Homicide and Halo-Halo: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, Book 2 (Paperback) by Mia P. Manansala and other crime and mystery fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
Erin Entrada Kelly
“A 10 out of 10 . . . Anyone interested in science, sibling relationships, and friendships will enjoy reading We Dream of Space.”—Time for Kids
Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. This acclaimed Newbery Honor Book is a great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead.
Get We Dream of Space (Paperback) by Erin Entrada Kelly and other intermediate books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Immerse yourself in a high-stakes fantasy adventure set in the Philippines!
The Mythology Class follows Nicole Lacson, an anthropology student at the University of the Philippines. When she is summoned to a secret meeting by the mysterious Madame Enkanta, Nicole finds herself face-to-face with living creatures from mythology and folklore that she never imagined existed in real life! Tikblangs, kapres and a range of engkantos--fantasy figures from her grandfather's bedtime stories--challenge her previously-held notions of reality.
The Mythology Class features world-building of the highest order, balancing the scope and magnitude of an adventure epic with the humor, warmth and insight of a classic coming-of-age tale.
Get The Mythology Class: Where Philippine Legends Become Reality (Paperback) by Arnold Arre and other young adult comics book online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More