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Gruppenfoto von der Verlegerreise nach Manila

© National Book Development Board (NBDB) & Office of Senator Loren Legarda


As part of the preparations for the Philippine Guest of Honour appearance at the Frankfurt Buchmesse 2025, five German publishers accepted an invitation to take part in a publishers’ trip to Manila at the end of April. After the trip, we asked the participating publishers how their view of Philippine literature has changed. 


You decided to go on the publishers' trip to the Philippines, our Guest of Honour 2025. What is your connection to Philippine literature and how has your view changed after the trip? 


Jan Karsten – CulturBooks Verlag: 
I was very happy to be invited on the trip because I didn't really know much about the Philippine literary landscape beforehand. As a literary publishing house, we were particularly interested in the publishing houses with a literary focus, such as Ateneo(opens in a new window), University of the Philippines(opens in a new window), Milflores(opens in a new window), Anvil(opens in a new window) and Avenida(opens in a new window). Gradually, a clearer picture of the Philippine book market emerged. One challenge regards distribution – very understandable in a country with thousands of islands and a very small number of independent bookstores. For us as a publishing house, the trip achieved the goal we had set ourselves in advance. We returned with several promising literary titles, which we are now considering for publication next year. 
Overall, I found the Philippines, with its dozens of different languages, its eventful and moving past and multi-layered literary landscape to be a fascinating country. I am looking forward to what is sure to be a captivating Guest of Honour appearance in 2025.

Eva Streifeneder – Regiospectra Verlag:
Non-fiction books on Southeast Asia have always been a focus of Regiospectra Verlag. In this respect, my programme(opens in a new window) already includes a wide range of publications on the Philippines.
I flew to Manila without great expectations, without much knowledge about current developments in the literary scene or about the Philippine publishing landscape. The three-day pitching sessions with Philippine publishers were interesting. Completely unexpectedly, a great book found me: a collection of essays, after the first 20 pages of which, I was sure I wanted to publish in German translation. Whether this can be realised depends on the translation funding from the Philippines.

Josua Dantes – Dantes Verlag:
About two years ago, I first got into contact with the extremely active comics scene in the Philippines through LitProm(opens in a new window). The graphic literature known there as "Komiks" has a rich tradition dating back to the time of US colonial rule.
Due to its history and geographical location, the comic creators of the Philippines are predestined to depict economic, social and power-political conflicts from multiple perspectives and discuss visions for the future. What interests me most as a publisher is the recourse to narrative techniques of magical realism – in other words, the sudden emergence of archaic figures, motifs or forms of thought – and the subliminal presence of this narrative form in an otherwise mechanised, economised consumer society. I also consider this trait of Philippine comics to be very relevant in relation to global struggles of inequality.
Against this background, the trip to the Philippines was a great opportunity to delve deeper into the world of comics and the conditions under which they are created and to exchange ideas with my local contacts, above all Paolo Herras, the current president of Komiket(opens in a new window), the association of Filipino comic creators.

Sebastian Oehler – REPRODUKT:
I had no real connection to Philippine literature or the Philippine comic scene before. I knew that comics played a big role, but that they were mainly influenced by mainstream American genres such as adventure and superheroes. Once I was there, I got a much better picture, discovering books and meeting interesting authors. Authors like Josel Nicolas, for example, who work autobiographically and are much less influenced by the mainstream in their drawings. A great discovery! We'll be discussing some of these projects in depth over the coming days and weeks. It was a very instructive journey that opened me up to new perspectives and, amongst the differences, also allowed me to recognise the many similarities between comic scenes and artists: The struggles to get comics noticed beyond the Philippines reminded me of the challenges that Reprodukt and other players in the German comics scene have been facing for a long time.

Lena Luczak – Wagenbach Verlag: 
To be honest, I didn't have much prior knowledge of Philippine literature before the trip and was, thus, all the more curious to find out more about it. Throughout the trip, I was able to experience a steep learning curve, especially through the exchanges with all the passionate Philippine book people. The publications of Ateneo University Press (opens in a new window)were particularly interesting to me. I also learnt a lot about the special history and political situation, which I would like to delve into further. A tremendously complex, culturally rich as well as contradictory country!


About the Guest of Honour 2025 Philippines
The Philippines is Guest of Honour at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2025 and preparations are already in full swing. Together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the National Book Development Board (NBDB(opens in a new window)) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA(opens in a new window)) hosted a publishers’ trip to the Philippines in late April, in time for the 2024 iteration of the Philippine Book Festival (PBF(opens in a new window)). Five German publishers were given a better insight into the Philippine book and publishing landscape. In addition to visits to the PBF, the time in Manila also included visits to bookshops and cultural institutions as well as pitchings and meetings with local authors and publishers to draw attention to Philippine titles and promote exchange.


Links to the participating publishing houses:
CulturBooks (opens in a new window)
Regiospectra(opens in a new window) 
Dantes Verlag(opens in a new window)
Reprodukt (opens in a new window)
Wagenbach Verlag(opens in a new window)