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Filipino American International Book Festival returns to San Francisco Pubic Library

Writing the Awkward Years: A Middle Grade Author Roundtable with Randy Ribay, Mae Respicio, Tracy Badua, and Sophia N. Lee on October 16, 2022. Photo: Dru Banerjee

Filipino literary creatives from around the world converged at San Francisco Public Library’s Main location on Oct. 15 and 16 for the sixth Filipino American International Book Festival (FAIBF). Filled with camaraderie, collaboration, and celebration, the two-day festival is the largest of its kind in the United States, bringing together both emerging and established Filipino American authors and artists from the Philippines and the global diaspora.

This year’s theme was “Hiraya/Emergence: Writing Towards the Future.” “Hiraya” is a Tagalog word for imagination, for dreaming, the emergence of the flower and the fruit. The festivities opened with a live performance from “Larry the Musical,” a much-anticipated production written by Gayle Romasanta about labor organizer Larry Itliong. The festival’s keynote speakers included Gina Apostol, Newbery Award winner Erin Entrada Kelly, and Meredith Talusan.

Founded by Gemma Nemenzo and Literacy Initiatives International Foundation, FAIBF is typically held in person at the San Francisco Public Library every two years but was postponed due to COVID-19.

“This festival is a coming together, an emergence from the difficulties and isolation of the past three years to celebrate Filipino/a/x literature and art in the community,” said Edwin Lozada, a festival organizer and President of the Philippine American Writers and Artists. “The Filipino/a/x writing community has seen phenomenal growth in the past few years. Together we move towards the next, despite the uncertainty of current times.”

Attendees were treated to several discussions and activities. This year’s festival had a children’s program that was larger than ever before and offered teen programming for the very first time. Must-see panels for kidlit fans and readers included “Coming of Age on the Page: A Young Adult Author Roundtable” with Candy Gourlay, Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, and Cynthia Salaysay, and “Writing the Awkward Years: A Middle Grade Author Roundtable” with Tracy Badua, Sophia N. Lee, and Mae Respicio. The panels were moderated by Randy Ribay, a National Book award nominee for “Patron Saints of Nothing.”

“As San Francisco’s home to the literary arts, the Library is proud to host this stellar lineup of authors who have dreamed, imagined, and written about the Filipino experience, past, present and future. Our hope is that this festival helps to cultivate even more inspiration for budding writers and artists for years to come,” said Abraham Ignacio, librarian, and manager of SFPL’s Filipino American Center.

The festival ended with Maria Ressa, a journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, in a special pre-recorded one-on-one interview about democracy, press freedom, and her upcoming book “How to Stand Up to a Dictator.”

Visit for the full list of creatives.

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