The Secret of the Cave and Other Stories for Young Readers by Ed Maranan : A Book Review

IMG_20130110_035026What really made me decide to grab it  in a flash apart from the fact that I bought it  at  reduced price is its cute paperback picture. A boy ,  whole -naked  except with a “bahag” ( garment ) draped around his  waist like an underwear , typical of an indigenous  Igorot in the  Cordillera Region in the Philippines, is drawing some pictures in the cave wall   with a pair of  wood sticks as his brushes. Besides, the color  of the background  was beautifully illustrated. As a result, it is so appealing to my eyes that I was eager to absorb myself in its contents.

Ed Maranan , the author of the book, compiled his four short stories which reflect in the typical life of the Filipino.

The Secret of the Cave

The story centers around Masino and Simona. You can notice the anagram  in their names.

Masino ,   a native boy lived in the primitive time ,  was so enthusiastically eager to learn what  adults usually do.  His  parents found his ideas such as his dream to fly like birds strange. His character was like an impulsive child who had many bees in his bonnet and ants in his pants. Out of this character, he died from  his plan to climb a high mountain. A tragic part.

Simona , a young  , introvert  geek who prefers to be left to her   reading  books about  human culture and geography . She  is inspired to be an anthropologist someday. Like Masino,  her parents find her strange too because of her out-of-this-world ideas such as her being maudlin toward the nature. She becomes obsessed  about the graffiti  Masino draws  in the cave wall .

 Lolo Magno and The Sweetest Mango in the World

I never used  to be fond of  eating  yellow  mangoes ( different from Indian green mangoes) , but now I love them since my cousin brought some mangoes back to Manila from Zambales. The mangoes grown in Zambales are said to be the most delicious mangoes in the world. As far as I know, then retired Pope Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger)  once said  that he likes the mangoes from Zambales in the Philippines. In fact, the  unripe mangoes there  are already sweet . Thereafter, I have been searching its aftertaste unparalleled to the other mangoes I buy in the market.

In this story, Lolo Magno Senior gave his favorite grandson , Magno  Junior , a book as a gift rather than  his favorite toys.  He wrote the book himself which is about the accounts of his mango farms in the Philippines. Later on Magno will appreciate the  present as he grows up until he has made his own family. He will come back to the Philippines to see the  mango orchards  his grandfather built. There he found out why his  Lolo Magno ‘s mangoes are considered as the sweetest ones in the world.

The Day the Crocodiles Came

I did not enjoy it much because I have some ideas of  how the story will go in the end. I don’t like listening to legends or myths which are completely out of reality, but somehow I enjoyed it  because I remembered  my grandfather.


There is a tricky one in this book. Ed Maranan must have intended to make Neighbors as the last part because  ,similar to other heart-rending novels , readers   become emotional . Nevertheless, I appreciated the story since it had an impact upon me. Everyone  could for  sure relate  to it especially those who were born in country sides.

I liked this book for some reasons:

(a) Typical of Filipino life. Filipino custom and values  are reflected in the short stories . In The Secret of the Cave, it deals with the modern and old life  of the Filipino families. In Lolo Magno and The Sweetest Mango in the World is about being proud of our mangoes  and working  abroad. In The Day the Crocodiles Came ;of  how  life and  love among couples were being intertwined in the past. Finally, Neighbors ;of poverty experienced by a poor family causing  the pillar of the house to take the plunge in working abroad as a domestic helper- typical of a domestic helper who comes back lying in a horizontal position.

(b) Ed Maranan’s ingenuity. He used anagram to add excitement and interest in the story. For instance, the names Masino and Simona in the Secret Cave. Lolo Magno if you scrabble his name is Mango. Another thing is his namedropping  some  historical figures such as Andres, Jose, and Leonora.

( c) All the  stories are  too light  to read. It is not as hard as the other westernized books that I still have to turn over in my mind.  Besides, its English command is really typical of Filipino- English, not as native as American , but grammatically correct. In this way, I can learn how to form   correct English sentences. This is the good thing about Filipino fictions written in English and which I will not get sick and tired of.

On the other hand, when it comes to combining short stories in one book, it is important that the publisher knows how to organize each story according to its qualitative contents and elements. If the tones and concepts of the stories are  joyful,  magical , surreal, then they could  be preludes to the book. If they are a little serious , philosophical, or otherwise cliffhanging ,  then they could serve as  the climaxes to the finale , which  readers might find  so complicated to get out of. If they are tear-jerking, bitter-sweet, tragic, melodramatic, then they could be the denouements which might render readers speechless or maudlin. Perhaps the above-mentioned techniques could be done vice-versa. It depends on  of what organization the publisher thinks  marketable. In this respect, Ed Maranan’s publisher really knows his stuff.

In the context of this book, the first story’s literary atmosphere is surreal.  I was fascinated. Then, the middle parts are bittersweet, notably  the Lolo Magno and The Sweetest Mango in the World.   Finally, its finale; romantically idealistic,  but melodramatic  , with the feelings  you have  been imbued all along . This last part made me elevate the book to 3 stars.

Obviously, the  title suggests that  the book  is intended for young readers. I am now in my twenties , but I still read such genre. Did I feel reading like a child? I did, but not as much as a child does. If I were, I would just have hopped   with  joy around my room. ^_^

Anyway, I will still read YA’s at any costs.

Rating: 3/ 5  stars ( I liked it. )


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