All Things Filipinx: 5 Great Reads for February
Explore and celebrate Hawai‘i's vibrant Filipinx community with these five titles.
Here at da Shop bookstore, we don’t need a designated month to celebrate the vibrant Filipinx community here in Hawaiʻi. With the release of local superstar Bretman Rock’s memoir (available Feb. 14), we want to highlight some of our favorite books that cherish Filipinx culture, diversity and stories.
You’re That Bitch & Other Cute Lessons About Being Unapologetically Yourself
by Bretman Rock
Bretman Rock often begins his hilarious videos and reels by describing himself as “a singer, songwriter, actor, actress, athlete, activist, a scientist on the muthafucken side, the STAR of crystal of the day, a coconut connoisseur, mascara master, cereal critique, the newest MTV reality star a commercial model and the newest botanist in town”—and he now adds author to the mix.
Originally from the Philippines, Bretman’s book describes his childhood immigrating with his family to Oʻahu—along with the wonders and struggles of rocketing to fame at such a young age—all while still juggling high school, cancel culture and heartbreak. He balances wisdom and earnest storytelling with humor, charm and a genuine personality that has garnered a massive following (18.5 million followers and counting!). His joyful new memoir allows fans to peek into his life as one of the original social media stars (aka “da baddest bitch” on the internet). You’re That Bitch celebrates the social media celebrity and for Gen Z, serves as a handbook for how to be your happiest, fullest, and baddest self.
–Blake Jones, social media coordinator
SEE ALSO: 5 New Books By Hawai‘i Authors
Arsenic and Adobo
by Mia P. Manansala
Hooray for a murder mystery series with a Fililpina American protagonist—and I appreciate the cultural diversity in Manansala’s fictional town of Shady Palms! As in any good cozy mystery, much of the sleuthing is done over good food and drinks, and this one features a variety of cuisines. It makes me hungry, and it feels like home. I also love the cast of characters that includes plenty of strong females: hilariously nosy aunties, a super cool best friend, a likable and relatable protagonist, and a cute dachshund named Longganisa. Arsenic and Adobo is the first book in Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery Series, which also features Homicide and Halo Halo and Blackmail and Bibingka. (I just want more of these titles!)
–Mariko Merritt, illustrator & children’s book curator
My Heart of Rice
by Ashley C. Lanuza
Ashley C. Lanuza writes poetry that explores the growing pains of being Filipino American, what it means to know yourself. Mapping out the exploration of “belonging” in America, she shows us how we can each move into spaces of freedom for our own identities. Emerging Asian American authors like Lanuza are lovely examples of what it means to stay true to identity by forging paths away from American standards of normalcy and creating something new for ourselves.
–Alyssa Chau, bookseller
SEE ALSO: Essential Hawai‘i Books You Should Read: The Next 134
I Am a Filipino: And This is How We Cook
by Nicole Ponseca & Miguel Trinidad
Described as both a cookbook and manifesto, this book is not only beautifully formatted and hunger-inducing but also engagingly informative. Throughout the cookbook, Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad, founders of two Filipino restaurants in New York, narrate the diverse culture that makes up Filipino cuisine. I Am a Filipino includes not only mouthwatering recipes ranging from adobo to pancit to ube ice cream, but also highlights the important history and influences that colonization, trade and immigration have had on Filipino food. From traditional home cooking to street food, this book gives a fascinating insight into some of the foods I’ve been eating all my life.
–Lainey King, bookstore assistant
Cora Cooks Pancit
by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young
Cora Cooks Pancit is about a little girl named Cora who is the youngest in her family. She loves being in the kitchen when the family gets together to cook and wants so much to help out but gets tasked with only little jobs. One day, while her older siblings are away, Cora asks her mama to teach her how to make pancit. The story goes on to describe their mother-daughter time together as Cora’s mama teaches her about the ingredients that go into making pancit, the process, and their family story about her “lolo,” or grandpa, who immigrated to California. At the end, you’ll also find a glossary of Filipino words used throughout the book along with a recipe for pancit. This is truly a wonderful read about food, family and culture!
–Dimpna Figuracion, education accounts coordinator
All of these books can be ordered through da Shop, our 2020 Best of HONOLULU winner for Best Place to Find Your Next Great Read. Find more suggestions here. The Kaimukī bookseller is open for browsing Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Da Shop: Books + Curiosities, 3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460, dashophnl.com, @dashophnl