TOP 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL and/or BESTSELLING FILIPINO WRITERS

This list was based on the popularity and number of bestselling works and whose works became influential to the lives of the Filipinos.

10. CARLO J. CAPARAS

Carlo J. Caparas is a comic strip creator, writer, director and producer who became sensational known for his created local superheroes and comic book characters that are still popular to Filipinos until now. Some of his creations turned Filipino icons such as “Panday” (a Blacksmith hero) and many others. As a producer and director, Carlo J. Caparas produced box-office movies based on comics and true-to-life stories and crimes. In 2009 he received National Artist Award granted by the President of the Philippines.

9. MARS RAVELO

Mars Ravelo is also a comic strip creator and writer who became phenomenal in the Philippines for his created superheroes such as “Darna” (a Filipino version of Wonder Woman), Dyesabel (name of the Filipino mermaid/heroine), and many others. During his time, the “Golden Age of Comics” flourished. Like Carlo J. Caparas, Mars Ravelo’s creations and writings were turned into films and became box-office hit during 1960′s to 1980′s. Ravelo was also the highest paid comic writer during his time. Until now, his creations is still influential to Philippine contemporary literature.

8. LOUIE MAR GANGCUANCO

The youngest among the list, Louie Mar Gangcuanco published his debut novel entitled “Orosa-Nakpil, Malate” at the age of 18. The novel illustrates the pink culture in the streets of Orosa and Nakpil, which is known as the haven of gay Filipino culture. The novel became an instant hit, becoming a bestseller months after it was released. His work was featured in the top-rating TV show, Sharon, in June of the same year. In August 2006, Louie Mar was awarded the Y Idol Award (Youth Idol Award) by Studio 23’s Y Speak. Later that month, the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino conferred a Sertipiko ng Pagpapahalaga for Orosa-Nakpil, Malate. His phenomenal novel is endorsed by prominent people and institutions including the multi-awarded director, Jose Javier “Joey” Reyes, Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan (former DOH secretary) and Dr. Raul Destura of the National Institutes of Health Philippines.

After one year of circulation, Orosa-Nakpil, Malate made it to the Best Sellers List released by National Book Store in April 2007. With him in the list are authors Mitch Albom of One More Day, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro of The Fifth Horseman, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Memories of My Melancholy Whores. The book landed on the Top 8 spot, overtaking international authors Steve Berry and Kiran Desai.

7. GILDA OLVIDADO

Gilda Olvidado is a popular Filipino novelist and writer, known for her extraordinary love stories. She became famous during the 1970′s with her remarkable novels “Sinasamba Kita (I Worship You)”, “Babangon ako’t Dudurugin Kita (Sweet Revenge)”. She also wrote screenplays that later turned into blockbuster such as “Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig? (Where is Love Hiding?)” who made her rise into popularity after the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences recognized it as the best story. Today, Gilda Olvidado’s fans are still counting, waiting the release for her next novel.

6. NICK JOAQUIN

Nick Joaquín was born in Paco, Manila, one of the ten children of Leocadio, a colonel under General Emilio Aguinaldo in the 1896 Revolution, and Salome Marquez, a teacher of English and Spanish. Being read poems and stories by his mother, Joaquin taught himself by reading widely at the National Library of the Philippines and the library of his father, who by that time was a successful lawyer after the revolution. This developed further his interest in writing.

At age 17, Joaquín was first published in the literary section of the Pre-World War II Tribune under writer and editor Serafín Lanot. Before publishing in the Tribune, Joaquin worked as a proofreader of the paper.

After winning a Dominican Order-sponsored nationwide essay competition for La Naval de Manila, the University of Santo Tomas awarded Joaquín an honorary Associate in Arts (A.A.) and a scholarship to St. Albert’s Convent, the Dominican monastery in Hong Kong. Upon his return to the Philippines, he joined the Philippines Free Press, starting as a proofreader. Soon, he was noticed for his poems, stories and plays, as well as his journalism under the pen name Quijano de Manila. His journalism was markedly both intellectual and provocative, an unknown genre in the Philippines at that time, raising the level of reportage in the country.

Joaquín deeply admired José Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. Joaquín paid tribute to Rizal by way of books such as The Storyteller’s New Medium – Rizal in Saga, The Complete Poems and Plays of Jose Rizal, and A Question of Heroes: Essays in Criticism on Ten Key Figures of Philippine History. He also translated the hero’s valedictory poem, in the original Spanish “Mi Ultimo Adios,” as “Land That I Love, Farewell!”

Joaquín served as a member of Motion Pictures under President Diosdado Macapagal and President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Joaquin’s first move as National Artist was to secure the release of imprisoned writer José F. Lacaba. Later, at a ceremony on Mount Makiling attended by First Lady Imelda Marcos, Joaquín delivered an invocation to Mariang Makiling, the mountain’s mythical maiden. Joaquín touched on the importance of freedom and the artist. As a result, for the remainder of the Marcos regime, Joaquín no longer received invitations to address important cultural events.

5. LUALHATI BAUTISTA

Lualhati Bautista  is one of the foremost Filipino  female novelists  in the history of contemporary Philippine Literature. Her novels include, “Dekada ’70 (Decade ’70)”, “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa? (Child, Child… How were you made?”, and “‘GAPÔ (short name for Olongapo, Philippines)”.

In addition to being a novelist, Lualhati Bautista is also a movie and television screenwriter and a short story writer. Her first screenplay was Sakada (Seasonal Sugarcane Workers), a story written in 1975 that exposed the plight of Filipino peasants. Bautista has received recognition from the Philippines’ Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa in 1987. Her award-winning screenplays include Bulaklak sa City Jail (A Flower in City Jail) (1984), Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap (If The Clouds are Parted) (1984), Sex Object  (1985). For screenplay writing, she has received recognition from the Metro Manila Film Festival (best story-best screenplay), Film Academy Awards (best story-best screenplay), Star Awards (best screenplay), FAMAS (finalist for best screenplay), and URIAN awards. Two of her short stories have also won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, Tatlong Kuwento ng Buhay ni Julian Candelabra (Three Stories in the Life of Julian Candelabra), first prize, 1982; and Buwan, Buwan, Hulugan mo Ako ng Sundang (Moon, Moon, Drop Me a Sword), third prize, 1983. Bautista also authored the television dramas Daga sa Timba ng Tubig (The Mouse in the Bucket of Water) (1975) and Isang Kabanata sa Libro ng Buhay ni Leilani Cruzaldo (A Chapter in the Book of Life of Leilani Cruzaldo) (1987). The latter won best drama story for television from the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

Bautista was honored by the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings on March 10, 2004 during the 8th Annual Lecture on Vernacular Literature by Women. In 2005, the Feminist Centennial Film Festival presented her with a recognition award for her outstanding achievement in screenplay writing. In 2006, she was recipient of the Diwata Award for best writer by the 16th International Women’s Film Festival of the UP Film Center.

She is also the only Filipino included in a book on foremost International Women Writers published in Japan, 1991.

4. F. SIONIL JOSE

F. Sionil Jose is one of the most widely-read Filipino  writers in the English language. His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism  in Filipino society. José’s works – written in English – have been translated  into 22 languages, including Korean, Indonesian, Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian and Dutch.

Jose Rizal’s life and writings profoundly influenced José’s work. The five volume Rosales Saga, in particular, employs and interrogates themes and characters from Rizal’s work.

Throughout his career, Sionil José’s writings espouse social justice and change to better the lives of average Filipino families. He is one of the most critically acclaimed Filipino authors internationally, although much underrated in his own country because of his authentic Filipino English and his anti-elite views.

In 1980, Sionil Jose received Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asia’s Nobel Prize) for Literature.

3. FRANCISCO BALAGTAS

Francisco Baltazar, known much more widely through his nom-de-plume Francisco Balagtas, was a prominent Filipino poet, and is widely considered as the Tagalog equivalent of William Shakespeare for his impact on Filipino literature. The famous epic, Florante at Laura, is regarded as his defining work.

Balagtas learned to write poetry from José de la Cruz (Huseng Sisiw), one of the most famous poets of Tondo. It was de la Cruz himself who personally challenged Balagtas to improve his writing. (source: Talambuhay ng mga Bayani, for Grade 5 textbook)

In 1835, Balagtas moved to Pandacan, where he met María Asunción Rivera, who would effectively serve as the muse for his future works. She is referenced in Florante at Laura as ‘Celia’ and ‘MAR’.

Balagtas’ affections for Celia were challenged by the influential Mariano Capule. Capule won the battle for Celia when he used his wealth to get Balagtas imprisoned under the accusation that he ordered a servant girl’s head be shaved. It was here that he wrote Florante at Laura—In fact, the events of this poem were meant to parallel his own situation.

He wrote his poems in Tagalog, during an age when Filipino writing was predominantly written in Spanish.

Balagtas published Florante at Laura upon his release in 1838. He moved to Balanga, Bataan in 1840 where he served as the assistant to the Justice of peace and later, in 1856, as the Major Lieutenant. He was also appointed as the translator of the court.

Balagtas is so greatly revered in the Philippines that the term for Filipino debate in extemporaneous verse is named for him: balagtasan.

2. BOB ONG

Bob Ong, is the pseudonym of an anonymous Filipino contemporary author known for using conversational Filipino to create humorous and reflective depictions of life as a Filipino.

A Filipino Literary critic once commented:

” Filipinos really patronize Bob Ong’s works because, while most of his books may have an element of comedy in them, this is presented in a manner that replicates Filipino culture and traditions. This is likely the reason why his first book – and those that followed it, can be considered true Pinoy classics.”

The six books he has published thus far have surpassed a quarter of a million copies. His words of wisdom were applied by some of the Filipinos to their daily lives.

1. JOSE RIZAL

For obvious reasons, he is the most influential and the most bestselling author/writer until now.

Jose Rizal was a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent, and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, “Noli me Tangere (Touch Me Not)” and El filibusterismo “The Filibuster”).  These are social commentaries on the Philippines  that formed the nucleus of literature that inspired dissent among peaceful reformists and spurred the militancy of armed revolutionaries against the Spanish colonial authorities.

His books are still cracking the bestselling list.

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