Mondo Marcos: mga panulat sa Batas Militar at ng mga Marcos babies edited by Frank Cimatu and Rolando B. Tolentino
Gorramn me but I don't know where to start. I'm hardly a Marcos baby, I was 5 during the People Power Revolution (or maybe I am) and was too busy reading Pinocchio and the Little Red Hen to notice much. I suppose I can be considered a post-Marcos Baby(...a Cory Baby? that doesn't sound right, or relevant right now) I do remember playing in the street and when several truck loads of soldiers went by (they were supposed to be suppressing rebel activities in the katian near our town) and my young sister and me shouting out "People Power, People Power!" and waving the Laban sign at them with our hands before being rather rudely snatched and hidden away from the street by our relatives.
Living during that time is difficult to imagine now and it's not a subject you can just easily broach with the random acquaintance, therefore I am not going to attempt to review this book in that light. I can't. I didn't exactly lived through it.
Divied up between Short Story, Essay, and Poems these are all written about, and by people who lived through, the Marcos Regime. Of all the various bits, I enjoyed all but a few of the poems which I found rather incomprehensible, my fault really as I couldn't relate.
Right at the start, the short story "Kulto ni Santiago" by K.S. Cordero one is jolted out of any preconception of what the book is about. I think that having that as the first offering shows uncommonly good taste (I can not believed I just wrote that...something you'll understand after reading the story) in that people who approach the book loaded with preconceptions are quickly disabused.
The short stories are quite good; poignant, highly visual, charged emotionally, nostalgic but it's really the essays that should really pull one in, these are actual accounts (well, recounts) of what people went through in that most interesting of times. These are individuals, people who fought, or merely strove to survive. If nothing else than for their sake one must read this book.
So, highly recommended? Absolutely. A must read? Extremely so. Will you enjoy it? Depends on which side of the fence you're at, but (I think and surely do hope that) even the most rabid Marcos Loyalist will find it hard not to sympathize with the people in these stories.
Reportage of Crime by Quijano de Manila (Nick Joaquin) sub-titled Thirteen Horror Happenings That Hit the Headlines (did it really? I don't have the book right now but gorramn those are a lot of capital letters) is my 3rd Anvil-book-from-Anvil. (yeah I'm dubbing these books from Anvil as Anvil-book-from-Anvil)
Generally I find it a bit iffy to review anthologies due to the simple fact that sometimes the parts just don't live up to the whole...or vice-versa. It's no different here...the being-iffy part not the living-up-to-the-whole/parts part.
RoC shows much more than the title expresses, it's more than crime, more than just Horror Happenings, more even than just simple reportage. This book is a slice of us, of contemporary Filipino life and culture in the 60's. It's our flawed mishmash of catholic religion/Traditions and pre/post hispanic superstitions, our eagerness for social climbing and our shun of those who fall. We have our tribal mentality our "provincialness" and our single minded eagerness for the new and the "modern". It's our love for the lore of the past and our disdain for (and failure to) maintaining a sense of our own history. We have the youthful open mindedness and liberalness against our adherence to the male dominated traditional version of "family". It's our habit of clawing people down and yet standing by them no matter what.
It's a very good read, hardly putdownable, it's a perfect blend of light-treatment-of-heavy-material and heavy-treatment-of-light-material.
What we have are vine-leaf-sized (alright, I know most of them are vastly more than vine-leaf-sized but I hadn't the heart to put down cabbage-leaf-sized instead) stories culled from the sensational headlines of the decade, embellished by the unique and singular skill of the author into something permanently relevant historically and culturally.
Ahh, the revered art of "reviewcastrinating", easy to do but difficult to master. Here's me doing a fair go at it. In no particular order except chronologically:
World Without End by Ken Follet.
Imminently enjoyable. I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, and this sequel sustains that enjoyment. There hasn't been a book yet wherein I dearly wanted to get a hold of the characters and just slap them silly for their choices...this makes me want to do just that. Extremely enjoyable but absolutely infuriating.
Doctor Who: (oh and if you're wondering...I reviewed these from the bottom up)
- Inferno by Terrance Dicks
- The Ambassadors of Death by Terrance Dicks
- And The Image of the Fendahl by Terrance Dicks
- And The Crusaders by David Whitaker
- Planet of Fire by Peter Grimwade
- The King's Demons by Terence Dudley
- And The Giant Robot by Terrance Dicks
- The Smugglers by Terrance Dicks
- The Twin Dilemma by Eric Saward
The World Swappers by John Brunner
It's a John Brunner, mate, it's good and you should read it. A (hostile) first contact scenario, supermen as only science fiction can make them, a solution to it all with all the hallmarks of science and logic behind it.
Folklore in America edited by T.P. Coffin and H. Cohen
Profit: "As a result, America has been and is now producing a mass of sub-literary, popular material that masquerades as a product of oral tradition, even though the people who can't, don't, or won't read know little of it or care less."
The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson
Dated and it shows but compelling nonetheless. The subject matter (not to say that the Author's skill has nothing to do about it) lends itself very well to thoughtful, image rich, and just plain beautiful lines. The Author's craft shows in how well, and easy to pick up she presents the material.
The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective by Carl Sagan
A must read, it may be dated but a mystery is still a mystery and nothing can be more mysterious than those in the outer darkness. It is in a word; Fascinating. the final 3 parts of the book: Starfolk is nothing short of good literature. We are Starfolk, the children of stars and although you might have heard it said and explained before, I dare say that you won't find a more eloquent and inspiring treatment of it than Mr. Sagan's.
It is now the end of February, for the past month I have been conducting an experiment on meself.
Premise: I am more than capable of existing without reading science fiction
Procedure: Limit my reading to anything not science fiction
Conclusion: Failure to thrive.
That's right, objective observation reveals that I get to a right foul mood without my esef. Now that may be fun on occasion (especially directed against certain individuals of my acquaintance) but nastiness like the one I've been generating may just eventually get me tarred and feathered ( good thing said individuals have no clue where to procure a suitable amount of said pyrolytic wood product for derisive decorating purposes)
Result: I'm going back to esef.
It's my niche and I fully intend to entrench myself in it...no matter how many bad science fiction books there are.
That being said, I'm not going to attempt to read only science fiction...that route leads to madness, and I should know.
Another book from ANVIL was Street-Bound: Manila on Foot by Josefina Manahan.
This was a not so random pick. I love to walk. My resume' includes; walking from Monumento to Blumentritt, a sweaty hike from SM North to UP Diliman, several forays from Blumentritt to Recto, leisurely strolls from Blumentritt to Rizal Park(yeah, no prize as to guessing where I live).
The book is well written, and following the author in and around Manila is easy. The narration is pretty straight forward; "turn right at", "now walk straight ahead to", "you should now be at"and the locations are easy to locate in the cute maps included (they look like the maps I scribbled when I began walking in Manila). The recounting of anecdotal reminiscence and the mention of particularly memorable ( to the author) people adds a certain folksy charm to the book.
I had heard that the book was outdated. I did not expect it to be painfully so. In some places the Manila described is so far removed from the Manila now that the author may well be speaking of Manila under the Spanish. In some cases following the author's narration along the major streets of present Manila left me with a distinct sense of "this couldn't be it". Partly, I think the fault lies in the author, at times she was brilliant...she captured a fleeting glimpse...a mood, a sense of places with deep historical significance for people who should have recognized that sense of history. Which just serves to create an expectation that those places may still be there...hidden away.
Sadly, politicians, businessmen, developers (and perhaps to a certain extent...certainly we too) just don't give a damn.
I just know that what little is left of the Manila 10 years ago may be gone 10 years from now. In that case, if you're like me you'd be thinking "I should try and see all of what's left". And so the book accomplishes exactly what the author set out to do...inspire people to walk in and around Manila.
Labels: book review
Banana Heart Summer a novel by Merlinda Bobis is not just good...it's your-lola's-adobo-when-you-don't-expect-it-but-you-kind'a-really-needed-a-pick-me-up good. I'd like to really thank Honey P. for this unexpected 253-page delight and to think, I just randomly picked it up from a pile of free ANVIL books offered during a book meet. Thanks Honey P. and ANVIL.
I don't know if the book is autobiographical but it certainly is a coming-of-age book, but anyway...
The book is a slice in (of?...from?) the life of a Bicolana girl, Nenita and the peculiar goings-on of a (not-so?) typical backwoods barrio during the, I guess mid or late 1960s. Page after delectable page we see life unfold for Nenita and her family, their friends, and neighbors. In every chapter Nenita sees the people around her, their lives, hopes, and dreams. She equates them or draws parallels to them with the wholesome and earthy food of the Filipino countryside, in most she even gives the recipe and instructions on how to prepare them. The truly great thing is that all this fits, the talk about food does not detract or distract from the commonplace quirkiness that is typical (I assure you) of a quiet small town in the probinsya. In and around this is a solid, provoking story of this probinsyana and how she did good and took care of her family.
For me, this book has everything, kumpletos recados 'ika nga, there's just enough tragedy, comedy, wry introspection, cultural observation, intrigue, folksy wisdom, etc. to provoke that sweet sense of nostalgia for something tip-of-the-tongue familiar and very much Filipino.
Labels: book review