top > Fellow Interview > Karina Africa Bolasco

━ Looking back on your experience as an ALFP fellow, what do you think was most valuable?

Most valuable, and I have to say irreplaceable, is the kind of interaction that happens among fellows while living and traveling together, despite its being a highly organized encounter. The detailedness & spontaneity of that which is officially and hugely labeled as cultural exchange. The ordinariness yet richness of the exchange of ideas and knowledge especially if not at a roundtable or in a session hall. The informality and temporariness of insights not officially documented but caught only by the fellows themselves moving around together as if living their usual life. More than what are declared on paper or website, these are what are truly learned and remembered.

━ Has the ALFP experience changed you in any way?

Yes, it came 14 years after I started Anvil Publishing. 1) It literally widened my circle considering that it already is multidisciplinary, elitist intellectually and artistically as I work with the best critical and creative minds in the making of books. 2) I wanted to find ways of selling our books to “our neighbors”; I found it repulsive and tragically funny that all of us in the book industry in this part of the world are only buying and selling to one another American books. It was clear to me that sustained selling of books to one another would build a real and deep understanding of each other and appreciation for our own cultures. A genuine book trade among nations in our region is imperative to building or shaping an “Asian” consciousness.
I established contacts and have slowly put in our books works of Asian writers. I hope to work more in this area but have to shift gears in consideration of new technologies affecting bookmaking & distribution.

━ What did it mean to you to participate in ALFP at that time?

The ALFP fellowship was priceless. We take pride in it being an Asian initiative. As such, it respected Asians for valuable work in their own countries, and generously offered us time, a very precious commodity no longer ours, to exchange, reflect on our situations and their impact on Asia, and perhaps even agree to collectively embark on regional small efforts toward improving the quality of living for all and making this world kinder for all. The organizers, the International House of Japan and the Japan Foundation, aware of how wisely and adroitly managing physical space can shape and determine the quality of exchange, chose the most appropriate base or quarters for the fellows, and somehow the right cities and towns to visit.**

Note: ** Taken from Acting Asian: Contradictions in a Globalizing World, Asia Leadership Fellow Program, 2004.

Assistant General Manager/
Publishing Manager,Anvil Publishing, Inc.

Karina Africa Bolasco

Ms. Bolasco has been in the book publishing business for thirty-two years —ten years at the National Bookstore and twenty-two years at Anvil, which she founded and grew into the biggest and most prestigious publishing house in the Philippines today. Anvil has been cited as Publisher of the Year nine times, and close to 132 of its titles have been given the National Book Award in different categories by the Manila Critics Circle. She was hailed as one of the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service in 1995 for her work in book publishing and literacy development. She was a former chair of the National Committee on Cultural Education of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) from 1995 to 2001 and is a current governor of the National Book Development Board (NBDB).