UST Publishing House marks its 430th year with SINAG Festival events

To celebrate the 430th year since the founding of La Imprenta de los Dominicanos de Manila, now known in its current form as the UST Publishing House (USTPH), Asia’s oldest university press embarked on Sinag Festival, a multi-event book launching of its 2019-2023 titles.

Spanning from June to September, 2023, Sinag Festival takes the place of the USTPH Grand Book Launch, the annual presentation of USTPH titles. Since its 2019 titles had not been celebrated in-person since the pandemic, the festival was also intended to reconnect authors to their audiences in physical venues. Sinag derives its name from the Sun of St. Thomas Aquinas at the center of the UST logo.

Sinag kicked off with a group book signing at the Booktopia Stage of the Philippine Book Festival on June 3 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City, in partnership with the Book Development Association of the Philippines and the National Book Development Board (NBDB). The three-day Philippine Book Festival held from June 2 to 4 was also the USTPH’s first book fair participation since 2019.

The main program of the Sinag Festival, dubbed “Sinag sa Diliman” took place on July 3 as part of the CMC (College of Mass Communication) Week, at the CMC Auditorium, University of the Philippines-Diliman. USTPH Director Ma. Ailil B. Alvarez presented the ceremonial first copies to USTPH authors Ricky Lee, National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts; Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (UST CCWLS); Ma. Alexandria I. Chua, Director of the UST Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanities; Dean Francis Alfar, chair of the Manila Critics Circle; Nikki Alfar, fictionist and editor; Rolando Tolentino, former dean of the UP CMC; Louie Jon A. Sanchez, UP CMC faculty; Chuckberry J. Pascual, UST CCWLS Resident Fellow; Dr. Alice Sun-Cua, a medical practitioner at San Juan de Dios Hospital; King Llanza, a finalist for New York’s Gaudy Boy Poetry Prize; U Eliserio of the UP Filipino department; and John Iremil Teodoro, Director of the DLSU Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCWC). Also present in the event were CMC Dean Fernando Paragas, Alwynn Aguirre, chair of UP Broadcast Communication, and Anthony John Balisi, NBDB director.

Held in partnership with the Bienvenido N. Santo Creative Writing Center, “Sinag at De La Salle University” was a whole day of book events at Henry Sy, Sr. Hall, De La Salle University on July 14, starting with a book signing by playwright Jose Victor Torres, a Thomasian alumnus and DLSU history faculty. This was followed by a tandem book launch between USTPH and Penguin Southeast Asia for Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin, author and co-editor of four USTPH titles, and John Toledo, a faculty of the UST literature department. The day culminated with the Sinag Poetry Stage, with poetry readings by Paul Alcoseba Castillo, Raphael Atienza Coronel, Adrian Crisostomo Ho, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, King Llanza, Dinah Roma, John Iremil Teodoro, and a virtual participation by Baguio-based poet and journalist Babeth Lolarga. CCWLS Resident Fellow Dr. Jenny Ortuoste served as program host. 

Philosophy, religion and theology titles took center stage at “Sinag at the Aquinas Conference” in coordination with the UST Institute of Religion and the UST Center for Theology, Religious Studies and Ethics (CTRSE) on July 19 at the George Ty Hall, Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, OP Building in UST, featuring titles by UST Vice Rector for Research and Innovation Rev. Fr. Jannel Abogado, O.P., Prof. Jove Jim Aguas, Rev. Fr. Edgardo Alaurin, O.P., Assoc. Prof. Milagros C. Arrevillaga, Prof. Alfredo Co, Rev. Fr. Fausto Gomez, O.P., Assoc. Prof. Roland Theuas DS. Pada, and Prof. Joel Sagut, Director of the UST CTRSE.

On August 18, a book launching by National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario was held at the Quezon City Circle, co-sponsored by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.

The next event in the festival calendar is “Sinag: UST Authors Series Redux” which will feature books by the resident fellows of the UST CCWLS previously launched virtually between 2020 and 2022. It is planned for August 23, 2023 with the venue to be announced.

The Sinag Festival will close with more book signings and launchings on September 14-17 at the Manila International Book Fair, SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

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