The Philippines’ National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critics Circle (MCC) have declared their finalists for the country’s prestigious 40th National Book Awards and there have been some changes – the “Graphic Literature” category has been renamed “Graphic Novels and Comics” and split into two linguistic categories (English and Filipino).

Graphic Literature becomes the industry standard Graphic Novel and Comics award category

While the awards themselves have had a “graphic literature” category for some years (since at least the 28th edition in 2008/2009 ), this year’s two changes could be significant – indicative of the growing number of books and attention in the space, and the recognition of an “industry standard” – according to one observer.

Another interesting development is festival-runner Komiket Inc. is behind the publication of four of the five listed finalists: J. Philip Ignacio and Alex Niño‘s Alandal, Tori Tadiar‘s Twinkle, Twinkle, Kevin Eric Raymundo‘s Tarantadong Kalbo [tr: Scared Bald] vol 2, and RH Quilantang‘s Ang Mga Alitaptap ng Pulang Buhangin [The Red Sand Fireflies].

As noted by Komiks Reader, a blogger and critic, on Facebook:

“Two impactful changes in this year’s 40th National Book Awards given by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critics Circle:

“1) “Graphic Literature” award category was changed to the industry standard “Graphic Novel and Comics” award

“2) Separate awards will be given to komiks in English and in Filipino just like in other categories.

“Oh and by the way, Komiket, Inc. published 4 out of 5 komiks nominated for the two categories. Amazing! Congrats Komiket and of course to our esteemed komiks creators…It’s a good time to buy and read komiks!”

The National Book Awards have been running since 1982. They are comprised of literary, non-literary (usually academic), and design category groups. In the literary, graphic novels (or “graphic literature”) sit alongside poetry, novels, anthologies, literary criticism, biography/autobiography, to name a few. Over the past decade categories have increasingly been split into separate linguistic groups – with each one usually reflecting work published in English and Filipino languages. The awards were created and run by the Manila Critics Circle and since 2008 administered by the Philippines National Book Development Board, a government agency.

The finalists for this year’s awards:



Alandal, Writer: Jay Philip Ignacio; Artist: Alex Niño (Komiket, Inc.)

“Kidnapped by Iranun pirates, Sabina discovers she is the granddaughter of the Sutan of Sulu. There, she meets a mysterious warrior named Alandal.”

Twinkle, Twinkle, writer/artist: Tori Tadiar (Komiket, Inc.)

“Manila, the Golden Age. Twins Alta and Signa use their mystical ability to catch stars, hoping to sell the stardust to a mysterious patron. The twins discover that catching falling stars has a price, and costs more than what they bargained for.”

— with synopses courtesy of Google Translate

Li’l Bertong Badtrip!, Writer/Artist: Manix Abrera (Self-published)

“Join the smallest and most intense mystery of the villain in the various interactions he and his colleagues have with the mysteries of the academy, the cosmos, hell, and other cruel schemes of burning challenges of fate! Because Berto was once a child. Li’l BERTONG BADTRIP!”

Tarantadong Kalbo [tr. Scared Bald] vol .2 – Writer/Artist: Kevin Eric Raymundo (Komiket, Inc.)

Second volume of Tarantadong Kalbo which,

“…features an irreverent bald protagonist who gives razor-sharp social commentary during the pandemic-era.”

Ang Mga Alitaptap ng Pulang Buhangin [tr. The Red Sand Fireflies] – Writer/Artist: RH Quilantang (Komiket, Inc.)

“To what extent can you be responsible for promises made? This is the story of father and child Jon and Stella Mandaluyong in a world shrouded in darkness and emptiness.”


We at the Beat are endeavouring to improve our coverage of international awards and news. If there is an award (especially those not in the English language) that we might have missed – do let us know at either [email protected] or [email protected]