Manila, Philippines – The National Book Development Trust Fund (NBDTF) was established in 2009 as a response to the low production of Philippine-authored books, and the lack of incentives and grants for Filipino authors, especially those writing in the sciences and technology. 

The previous administration of NBDTF cycles featured an extended process that focused on an exclusive and centralized application. Before 2022, the NBDTF accepted manuscripts through its advisory committee, which sought the completion of promising manuscripts, even without the guarantee of publication.

The 2022 NBDTF cycle will shift to include the provision of a print-ready manuscript as the cycle’s end point. Publication becomes the promise of this new cycle, fits neatly with the agency’s goal to provide access to high-quality, locally-authored books.  

Increasing access through solutions-based programming 

In 2022, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) shifted its strategy towards design-thinking and solutions-based programming, looking to create access points for professionals involved in the book publishing industry and the educational sector and to encourage the consumption of Filipino books. This pivot prompted the reengineering of the grant-giving process to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of NBDTF as it follows the purpose of the legislation.

The 2022 NBDTF will include provisions in its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to protect its sustainable growth, and to enact a shorter and clearer process for application. The shift towards a democratized and decentralized process also necessitated partnerships with literary hubs. 

Another major shift in the administration of the trust fund is its renewed focus on publication. In the 2022 cycle, grantees and publishers enter into an agreement to jointly develop the manuscript, and to prepare it for publication. Previous cycles culminated at only the endorsement for publication of completed proposals. 

Literary hubs in select regions

Primarily a writing grant, the NBDTF hopes to support promising writers complete their manuscripts. Reaching Filipino writers is the backbone of the writing grant. Due in part to the shift towards digital technologies, the NBDB currently reports a 1,300-percent increase in registration of individual writers and creators from 165 in 2019 to 2,333 in April of 2022. This also coincides with an increase in actual ISBN registered in 2021 of 9,497 from the previous 6,666 ISBN in 2019. The total number of ISBN in 2021 of 9,497 is the highest ever ISBN recorded.

The tendency for Manila-based grantees to dominate the award is a historical trend that the 2022 NBDTF cycle hopes to address through partnerships with literary hubs. During the initial screening process, these regional hubs will be vital in identifying and connecting potential writers with the NBDB and with partner publishers. By removing this gatekeeping process from the grant administrator, the NBDB hopes to decentralize and expedite the process of grant disbursement. 

Empowering Filipino Storytellers
On May 24, 2022, the NBDB held a public consultation to present the NBDTF 2022 guidelines, and changes to the National Book Development Trust Fund IRR. The public consultation is only the first step towards a complete revamp of the manuscript grant. 

After the NBDTF Project Team meets to consolidate recommendations and feedback, a revised version of the IRR will be submitted for validation with stakeholders. The NBDB will then publish a call for submissions in the third quarter of 2022. 

For more information on the National Book Development Board’s grants, programs, and incentives, please visit: www.booksphilippines.gov.ph or contact news@nbdb.gov.ph.

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