10 books by Filipino female authors to read this Women’s Month

These books give readers insights not only into the female psyche but also into the human condition.   

March is International Women’s Month. For this year’s celebrations, the Philippine Commission on Women is inspired by the theme “WE,” which stands for “Women” and “Everyone,” highlighting the collective responsibility for gender equality. 

It is also guided by the subtheme, “Lipunang Patas sa Bagong Pilipinas; Kakayahan ng Kababaihan, Patutunayan!” which calls for a society where women are given equitable opportunities, unencumbered by gender biases and discriminatory stereotypes. 

To help you celebrate International Women’s Month (regardless of your gender), we’ve rounded up 10 books written by some of today’s most talented Filipino female writers. 

These books give readers insights not only into the female psyche but also on the human condition, whether through personal narratives or fantastical short stories, a swoon-worthy romance or a mind-bending whodunit.   

1. There Are No Falling Stars in China by Marga Ortigas

One of my favorite reads from last year, this collection of essays by seasoned international journalist Marga Ortigas is both poignant and inspiring. Each chapter explores a different assignment location, giving you a window into different cultures through Marga’s objective yet compassionate eyes.

Marga’s engaging prose transports you to the dusty streets of Baghdad to a rowdy K-Pop concert, the turquoise waters of Sulu and the enchanting steppes of Mongolia. 

Read if you want to have a better understanding and appreciation of the world—that despite the death, destruction, and decay, there always is beauty, love, and kindness. 

The book is available at Fully Booked branches nationwide. You can also order a copy on Amazon

2. Some People Need Killing by Patricia Evangelista

Another favorite read from 2023, the book is a “meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war.” Spanning six years, Evangelista documented the killings carried out by police and vigilantes in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs in chilling detail. 

Some People Need Killing received widespread acclaim. The book made it to the year-end lists of esteemed international publications, including Time magazine’s 10 Best Non-fiction Books of 2023, The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2023, and The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2023.

Most recently Some People Need Killing was named one of the finalists for the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Read if you want to have a better understanding of one of the Philippines’ bleakest episodes in recent memory. 

Some People Need Killing is available at Fully Booked branches nationwide and online.

3. Assembling Alice by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta

The book takes place before and after the Battle of Manila and follows a Japanese spy and an American soldier who have one thing in common: they both fall in love with the same Filipino woman—Alice Feria.

Feria, a pianist who would later become one of the first women journalists in the Philippines, finds herself in the middle of these two men’s affections, both of whom would prove to be instrumental to her survival during the Japanese occupation and the liberation of Manila.

Assembling Alice is award-winning poet and writer Katigbak-Lacuesta’s portrait of a remarkable woman—who happens to be her great-grandmother—and the extraordinary times she lived in.

Read if you need some reflecting on what it means to be Filipino.

Assembling Alice is available at Fully Booked branches and online

4. The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon

The Negrense author‘s debut novel landed on the New York Times Best Seller list—in what might be a first for a PH-based writer—and the Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of 2023.

Hurricane Wars is a fantasy romance trilogy set in a Southeast Asia–inspired world battered by storms (sounds familiar, right?) where two enemies-turned-lovers must decide: Should they join hands or be each other’s ruin?

Photo from Thea Guanzon’s Instagram account

Read if you are looking for a romance set in a fantasy yet familiar landscape. 

The Hurricane Wars is available at Fully Booked branches nationwide and online. It is also available at National Book Store.

5. Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors by Gail Villanueva

The third and latest novel from children’s book author Villanueva, it is the first installment of an action-packed, middle-grade fantasy duology steeped in Tagalog myth. 

A vicious wakwak attacks the titular character’s neighborhood and kidnaps her mom. Much to Lulu’s surprise, she discovers the creatures and deities of Tagalog myth are real and that two additional worlds exist outside our own. 

And an even bigger surprise—Lulu is the only one who can stop the evil spirit who’s determined to rule the three realms at all costs. 

Read if you’re looking for a fun and action-packed story brimming with creatures from Philippine mythology.

Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors is available at National Book Store branches nationwide and online.

6. Murder and Mamon by Mia P. Manansala

The fourth installment in Manansala’s well-loved Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery, the story takes us back to Shady Palms where a grisly murder (gasp!) ruins the grand opening of Lila Macapagal’s aunties’ new laundromat. 

Next to the lifeless body is a chilling message painted on the floor—for whom is the message? Who killed Ninang April’s niece?

Photo from Mia Manansala’s website

Manansala, a Chicago-based Filipino-American writer, won an Agatha Award for Best First Novel for her first book Arsenic and Adobo. Named after Agatha Christie, the awards are for the cozy mystery subgenre. 

Most recently, Murder and Mamon received a nomination for a Barry Award, a crime literary prize awarded annually since 1997.

Read if you’re looking for a mystery that’s cozy in the truest sense of the word—her books are best read on a couch and with a mug of hot chocolate. 

Murder and Mamon is available at Fully Booked branches nationwide and online.

7. Wild Song by Candy Gourlay

The story follows Igorots who are trafficked from their mountain villages to 1904 America so they can entertain white people with their dances and rituals in a “human zoo.” Sadly, this is not a make-believe world.

The story is based on true events that happened at the Saint Louis World’s Fair, with Igorot Village being one of its most popular attractions. The exhibit claimed that whites were superior and the US needed to make the Philippines a colony because of the locals’ uncivilized ways.

In Wild Song, Gourlay turns the tables around with the young protagonist Luki, a Bontok woman, going to America not because she was trafficked, but as an act of rebellion.

Gourlay is a former journalist who is now an acclaimed young adult (YA) author in the UK. On Feb. 14, she announced that Wild Song made it to the longlist for the Carnegie Medal for Writing.

Read if you’re looking for a thrilling young adult novel with Filipino characters and themes.  

Wild Song is available at National Book Store branches nationwide and online

8. The Kindness of Birds by Merlinda Bobis

This is the writer’s 12th book and is a collection of 14 interconnected short stories that weaves Australia and the Philippines together. It’s an homage to kindness across cultures and species at a time of death and destruction.

There are always birds in Bobis’ stories, who act as companions, guardians, and even bearers of messages from the universe. 

The book is a Canberra Critics’ Circle winner and was shortlisted for the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in 2022. 

Read if you need a little reminder that kindness could help you survive in this harsh and brutal world. 

The Kindness of Birds is available on Anvil’s website

9. Love on the Second Read, Mica de Leon

A workplace romance between two editors set against an unlikely backdrop—the local book publishing scene.

Emma is one tough book editor/cat lady. She knows romance, but love? Never mind. Enter sci-fi and fantasy editor Kip Alegre, who quotes JRR Tolkien for breakfast and knows heartbreak like the back of his hand.

What began as a friendly literary smackdown grows into something deeper—the deal was to edit a book, not their lives.

De Leon is a writer of “swoony” romance comedy novels and speculative fiction and fantasy novels. She has won the Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature in 2019 and 2022.

Read for a much needed dose of kilig—the nerdy kind. 

Love on the Second Read is available at Fully Booked branches and online.

10. Room 216 by Migs Bravo Dutt 

The book follows four strong female characters, all university roommates, and their complex experiences. After graduation, Sandy, Tintin, Serene, and Issa take on separate journeys which see them building their own lives in different parts of the world. 

Over the years, they chase their dreams—some end in triumph, while others in unbearable loss.

Dutt is a writer and researcher who has published work in several countries, including one in The Washington Post. She has contributed prose and poetry to anthologies and journals and has been featured in literary interviews and programs in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. She is also the author of the novel The Rosales House.

Read if you need some inspiration from empowered female characters. 

Room 216 is available at Fully Booked branches nationwide and online.

Associate Editor

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