Mondo Marcos

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

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.

Several Quickies

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 Third Doctor and poor old Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, science gone amok, (again, science really should get a better grip of itself) man vs Nature, alternate realities, really ugly mutants and wonky thermodynamics.

  • The Ambassadors of Death by Terrance Dicks
The Third Doctor and poor old Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in a first contact story. Among all the myriad characters in all the books, I like the staid and proper Brigadier most of only to the Fourth Doctor, of course.

  • And The Image of the Fendahl by Terrance Dicks
Hooray, another Fourth Doctor adventure against something uncannily Lovecraftian.

  • And The Crusaders by David Whitaker
or The Crusade. The First Doctor in 12th century Palestine, The Lionheart, Saladin, and courtly intrigues. The Doctor's companion is kidnapped and made a harem girl of a cruel Moor. Good stuff.

  • Planet of Fire by Peter Grimwade
The Fifth Doctor picks up a hitchhiker on Lanzarote and, with Turlough and Kamelion, proceed to Sarn where Thurlough faces his past. With 3 companions, you just know that they're going to get rid of someone and at the end Turlough leaves and the Doctor destroys Kamelion out of mercy. Oh, and the Master is up to his usual shenanigans...but dies or at least appears to.

  • The King's Demons by Terence Dudley
The Fifth Doctor and companions in the court of King John of England. The Master against Magna Carta and a new companion: the shape changing android Kamelion.

  • And The Giant Robot by Terrance Dicks
The Fourth doctor (jelly babies, scarf, and all) perhaps my favourite of all the reincarnations in a staple sci-fi...err..staple. Giant robots and science gone amok with a dash of King Kong thrown in for good measure.

  • The Smugglers by Terrance Dicks
The First Doctor on a jaunt in 17th century Cornwall; squires, pirates, smugglers

  • The Twin Dilemma by Eric Saward
I don't like this new Doctor (the Sixth) but I must admit that his moods makes for compelling reading.

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.

Reading Experiment

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 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.