A Filipino Redemptorist Brother’s book was named the Best Book in Spirituality and Theology at the 40th National Book Awards.
The recently concluded National Book Awards spotlighted titles across categories such as literary, non-literary, and design written in English, Filipino, and Ilocano and published in 2021, from which 29 winners emerged out of the 100 finalists.
The winners were announced on April 28, and the awarding ceremony will be held onsite on May 13, 2023.
Brother Karl M. Gaspar wrote the book "Handumanan (Remembrance): Digging for the Indigenous Wellspring," published by Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc. in 2021. The book has more than 400 pages.
He is a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (CSsR) and professor of theology at St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute, Davao, southern Philippines.
When he heard that he had won the award, Brother Gasper said he was "delighted" with the news.
"When I won the National Book Award for Social Sciences in 2013, I thought I got so lucky, and perhaps that was the only time I could win this book award. So, it is very affirming to win again in a different category—theology and spirituality," he told RVA News.
In a way, the two-year COVID-19 pandemic was a blessing as it afforded him enough time to do research and write the book, which was quite demanding as it covers history, anthropology, theology, and spirituality, he explained.
"I wrote the book at the time of the 500th anniversary of the coming of Christianity to the Philippines in the hope that we Filipinos could look back to that event in terms of its impact on our indigenous ancestors," Brother Gasper said, adding, "and to challenge the Philippine Church to be more rooted in the memory and legacy of our indigenous ancestors, whose wellspring of wisdom we have taken so much for granted."
In 1521, Christianity arrived in the Philippines when the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan's expedition stopped in the islands.
When asked why Gasper titled the book "Remembrance," he said, "We need to remember our indigenous roots if we as Filipinos can learn from the wisdom of indigenous ancestors and for our church to become more acculturated to its cultural legacy."
Brother Gasper has written over 30 works of non-fiction, seven novels, and an anthology of short stories mainly in the Cebuano-Bisaya language, usually spoken in Mindanao, southern Philippines.
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