The Philippines: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Philippines guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Playing with WaterPlaying with Water – Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island is James Hamilton-Paterson’s simply brilliant account of the time he spent on an islet near Marinduque. In addition to containing excellent descriptions of the underwater world, Hamilton-Paterson’s book sheds light on virtually all aspects of Philippine culture – barangay (villages) politics, dynamite fishing, child prostitution, rural superstitions, you name it. This book should whet your appetite for a spell on one of the Philippine’s many Robinson Crusoe islands.

Invented EdenInvented Eden: the Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday, by Robin Hemley, analyses the so-called Tasaday controversy. In 1972 National Geographic did a feature on a Stone Age tribe discovered in Mindanao. Later it was discovered that the ‘Tasaday’ were T’boli tribespeople in on a hoax. Or were they? Recent evidence suggests the hoax claim was the real hoax! In shedding light on the controversy, Hemley reveals much about Filipino culture, society and (recent) history.

Eye of the FishEye of the Fish is an interesting collection of essays by Manila-born, New York-raised journalist Luis H Fracia. The book mixes accounts of his youth in the Philippines and subsequent trips back to the country as an adult, and is an interesting meditation on the Filipino identity. This book is a good introduction to the various issues facing the Philippines and its people today.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.