The Philippine Book Festival is back for its second year—and it promises to be bigger

The event aims to promote a culture of reading among Filipinos and to develop the publishing industry in the country.

It’s a great time to be a bookworm in the Philippines. Book events are happening here and there—book tours, meet-and-greet sessions, fairs—nope, we’re not complaining. And before April ends, bookworms will be even more excited at the comeback of one of the country’s biggest book festivals.

Back in its second year, the National Book Development Board Philippines (NBDB) is bringing together publishers, authors, artists, educators, and readers for the country’s “biggest traveling book festival.”

Philippine Book Festival

Taking place at the World Trade Center in Pasay from April 25 to 28, the Philippine Book Festival celebrates the richness of our country’s literature, culture, and arts. Quite unlike other book fairs, the PBF integrates education, entertainment, tourism, and shopping into one mega family-friendly event.

Going beyond books 

On top of a wide array of local titles, this year’s festival offers a diverse range of talks, workshops, and activities.

Highlights include “A Day with Gwy Saludes,” featuring an exclusive book signing with the author. Historian and bestselling author Ambeth Ocampo will lead “Ambeth Without the Overcoat,” also a book signing session. National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee will present Trip to Quiapo, while “Dahling Nick: A Tribute to National Artist Nick Joaquin” will honor the renowned writer. 

Other sessions include “Aklat Para Sa Accla: New Trends in Boys Love and Girls Love,” “Comics Can Change the World” with Patti Ramos, and “Zine-making 101,” a workshop on crafting independently produced “fanzines” led by Komiket’s Bunny Luz.

Bookworms can also look forward to the comeback of the Rare Book Collection by the National Library of the Philippines, which will feature a new selection of rare manuscripts; the Book Bar, a library of sorts filled with award-winning books; Cosplay Filipiniana, a competition allowing fans to portray their favorite Philippine literary characters; and Guhit Pambata, an exhibit of the creations of some of our best children’s book illustrators. 

This year, the PBF will launch the Tabuan Food Hall, where guests can feast in between pages.

Those who attended last year’s festival should expect the return of its four popular realms: Kid Lit, a land just for the young ones; Komiks, which puts the spotlight on Pinoy comic books; Booktopia, home to an abundance of fiction and non-fiction titles; and Aral Aklat, which is devoted to educational materials. There will be a Creators’ Lab, Main Stage, and Kids-at-Play that highlight exciting talks, activities, and workshops specific to the interests of readers and fans of those genres.

There will also be puppet shows, storytelling with surprise celebrities, and live performances scheduled throughout the four-day festival.

Graphic designers, book illustrators take center stage

The festival will also shine the spotlight on talented graphic designers and children’s book illustrators such as Marc Vincent Soriano, Liza Flores, and Beth Parrocha. 

Parrocha, a multi-awarded illustrator, designed the four vibrant realms, finding inspiration in the four major elements: water for Kid Lit; earth for Komiks; fire for Aral Aklat; and air for Booktopia. Each realm has its own color theme as well—pink, purple, yellow, and aqua—to make it easy for guests to figure out which part of the festival they’re in.

Philippine book festival calendar Beth Parrocha designer
Multi-awarded illustrator Beth Parrocha designed the festival’s four realms.

“I had fun doing all the visuals. It’s a great opportunity for any artist to be given the whole World Trade Center as a canvas for my art,”  Parrocha shared.

Reading is for all

The Philippine Book Festival is part of the NBDB’s effort to promote a culture of reading and to develop the publishing industry in the Philippines.

Similar to last year, the NBDB is working with the Department of Education (DepEd) to train more than 750 book evaluators and procurement officers to evaluate books to purchase for public school libraries and library hubs. Evaluators from all over the country will fly in to source educational books for students in their regions.

Philippine book festival media launch
Attendees during the media launch got to experience a mini version of the festival’s Book Bar. Photo by Johanna L. Añes-de la Cruz

“The Philippine Book Fair is a program that, on the one hand, is about celebrating Philippine culture, but on the other hand, encompasses our agency’s long-term plans: improve access for every Filipino reader, democratize distribution, and enable our publishers and authors to keep producing Philippine books,” said chairperson Dante Francis Ang II during his opening remarks at the festival’s media launch last April 3 in Makati. 

“The NBDB has a large role to play in not just growing the book industry but in shaping the environments that make reading possible for all sectors of the population,” he added.

Philippine book festival exec director Charisse Aquino-Tugade
NBDB executive director Charisse Aquino-Tugade delivers her closing message during the festival’s media launch last April 3 in Makati. Photo by Johanna L. Añes-de la Cruz

In her closing message, NBDB executive director Charisse Aquino-Tugade emphasized the need for the country to have more reading spaces that encourage conversation, creation, and collaboration.

Aquino-Tugade added that they call the PBF a “first-of-its-kind” event, not just because of its impressive lineup of activities but mainly because of its insistence that Philippine books and Philippine authorship are worthy of being the center of a big celebration for every Filipino.

 “Ang Philippine Book Festival ang nagsisilbing panghikayat ng NBDB sa iba pang mga organisasyon na lumahok at makiisa sa mga programang nagtutulak sa mga Filipino na magbasa dahil ang aklat ay para sa lahat.” 

The fair is open to the public from April 25 to 28, 8 am to 8 pm, with no entrance fee. For more information on the Philippine Book Festival and to register for free, visit

Associate Editor

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