Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino (I Am A Good Filipino) by Noel Cabangon: A Book Review

Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino

How shall we teach a child about being a good Filipino?

This is the reason why Noel Cabangon intended to write this short  children’s story. He describes in the story  the things children must do to be a good Filipino. After all, the story is very simple as though you read it like a poem. So, it might occur to you that he must have imitated the style or pattern of our  national pledge  Panatang Makabayan ( Pledge of Allegiance). Nevertheless, each line is exactly  alluded to the national issues today. You might snicker at the line:

“ … hinding-hindi ko gagamitin ang pera ng bayan…”

(“…I will never spend the people’s money on  my own interest…”)

It may sound ridiculous, but you know what Cabangon is insinuating. Whatevah! Just leave  young readers  alone, how they will practice the said line on their life.

I am aware of the fact that Noel Cabangon is a  singer and composer known for his songs Kanlungan ( Shelter) and Kahit Na Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko ( Even Though My Hair is Now White ). Also, I know that he is always  present in any demonstration programs that have something to do with national movements. In fact, he composes songs which aim to survive the dying  Mother Nature . Indeed, being patriotism is naturally present in his heart. Thus, it is no wonder why he even used writing such a short story   as the instrument of his revolutionary advocacy. Why not? The only little problem is that it , for lack of a better word, has no originality . Thanks to Jomike Tejido’s  beautiful illustrations- very  Filipino.

In the end, it occurred to me why he wrote such a children’s story? Perhaps, Cabangon believes that the early age  is the best time when one is  educated  about nationalism.

I have not read  a modern children’s story yet  that deals with nationalism. But come to think of it. Cabangon has composed beautiful songs. I believe that he is able to write a story  greater  than a children’s story. There’s no telling how he may be as promising as prominent Filipino writers. ^_^

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father by Richard Rodriguez: A Book Review

richardEven though I get the points of Richard Rodriguez, this book is beyond my interest. I cannot relate to his essays on Tijuana and other buzz words unless I look them up in Wikipedia as though I read sheer historical information on Mexico’s sovereignty. Besides, I mistook the title of the book for his difficulties in coming out to his father. (The title turns out to be related to the relationship between America and Mexico.) So it took me a few days to finish it since I do not want to get into the habit of putting down a book that I find too sluggish to read.

The reason why I longed to read it then because I was impressed by his notable autobiography, THE HUNGER OF MEMORY since it deals with intellectual development of an average person.

Nevertheless, reading DAYS OF OBLIGATION has proven the fact that Richard Rodriguez, for me, is indeed genius; he has these exceptional skills in writing. I tend to befuddled by the ways he puts his ideas together as well as his perspectives on life as a non-native speaker, an immigrant in America. Also, he is such an independent critic. He even criticized the customs of the Filipino immigrants in America. No doubt he is heralded as one of the best American essayists. If I were a Mexican or World History professor, I would rate it 4 or 5 stars. In fact, I wonder if he could write a novel as impressive as Henry James’s. ^^

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok. )

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Ang Aking Photo Album (My Photo Album) by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz: A Book Review

Ang_Aking_Photo_Album_My_Photo_Album__cover.jpg_1If you  are  a Filipino born in the 1990’s, you must be very familiar with our fondness of creating photo albums. We Filipinos love taking pictures. As a matter of fact, when I was young, I was also into this hobby. I would get the negative films I borrowed from my friends developed  to put them in a photo album, decorated with beautiful designs and captions. However, this hobby is now falling out of fashion since we are in an ultramodern era when everyone  can take “selfies” and“groupies” and at the same time post them in different social media. I guess only  those maudlin  people   still tend to get into this avocation. Besides, photos can be destroyed now when they are not protected well. In our language, we call such condition “ damaged by virus”.

Like in the story, a young boy creates his  own photo album. ( It sounds like the boy is feminine, doesn’t it? But I don’t give a damn on it! )

The boy misses   both his parents a lot. Both his parents work abroad. His mother is an English teacher in China while his father an engineer in Norway. It is very rare that both of them come back to the Philippines together. To comfort himself, he creates a photo album in which he puts all the pictures taken  with him. He is proud to describe each with captions. Among them, his most favorite is the one  of which they were all taken together.

I  may not have experienced to have been left alone by my parents as what his parents do, I could feel his sadness and eagerness to meet them again. But when I was young, I would cry whenever my parents left me alone under the wings of my grandparents. I could not abide waiting for them at the end of the day. Sometimes, I would sit by the window star gazing  and wishing that they did not have to go away. Or usually I would play with my friends  somewhere in  the heart of the forest  lying near our house.  I am cocksure this is what children out there feel likewise.

This is the second  Genarro Gojo Cruz’s children’s book  I got interested  in  upon reading his Connect the Dots: Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan and aking Buhay. Then, I noticed that most of his protagonists are young boys. I thought that it may be his way of  illustrating his childhood as what he described in his former book.  If you read the former one, his mother would always leave him alone at his other relatives’ houses whenever she had to go somewhere else. I could feel his sadness then just the like of the young boy in the story above.

This book reminds me of our   two neighbor “chikitings” and of my one godson along with his other siblings . They all have the same situation that their parents are now working abroad and under the care of someone whom their parents entrusted with. Are they similar to the child in the story? I am sure that they can relate to this book. T_T

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx: A Book Review

brokeback“There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

What would be the differences had I not seen its movie adaptation yet; rather, I had read its book first, or vice versa?

Prior to the movie, I would have immersed myself in the pure, vivid prose of Annie Proulx, not having the slightest idea of the fact that the two rough-mannered cowboys living in a not-open-gay countryside will have sexual and intimate relationship. Then, at the end, I would have thrown it into the air and sworn blue murder, for the must-have-been happy ending will end up as a tragedy. In other case, since I have been aware of its homosexual immortality among the international confederation as well as seen it several times, I still found it the same. In fact, the love scenes are more febrile in my imagination although I had expected something flamer. A. Proulx spiced it up! However, the content of the book is not as detailed as in the movie. But I don’t give a damn on it. ^^

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx limns not only the highlighting love story between Ennis and Jack but also the typical rural life of cowboys in a countryside in Wyoming as well as the culturally bigoted meme of homosexuality in the said place. The story may bespeak that the homosexuality is incorruptible and incorrigible in rustic places no matter how rough culture is. ^^

So far, it is second to the A Home at the End of  the World  by Michael Cunningham  ( 5 stars ) as one of best “pink ” novels I have ever read. ^^

michael

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck: A Book Review

speck1

This best –selling book of Dr. Peck is a must –read for those loners who have niggling questions such as:
(a) Why don’t I have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?
(b) Do I need someone whom I will love, or someone who will love me?

On the other hand, this book can throw light on common problems among couples in terms of:

(a) A peaceful, stable, and long-lasting relationship
(b) Role of a woman and a man in a relationship

This book, in addition, can somehow answer the apologetic and philosophical questions about LOVE such as:

(a) Is love innate?
(b) Where does it come from?
(c) How does it develop?
(d) Is love indispensable in our lives? Could we live without love?

At the end, I concluded that we need to love and to be loved to be healthy people; and likewise, we can be good people by loving ourselves rather than by choosing to love others.

Thus, this book is peppered with soothing and enlightening advice which is a favorite reference among counselors whenever someone turns to them for advice . So here are the lines that shattered all my illusions on LIFE, notably on LOVE :

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.”

“Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

“When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourselves) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.”

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

“Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost. While this is obvious, it is something that most people to a greater or lesser degree choose to ignore. They ignore it because our route to reality is not easy. First of all, we are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make to appreciate and perceive reality, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Some stop making it by the end of adolescence. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading. By the end of middle age most people have given up the effort. They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschauung is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information. It is as if they are tired. Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”

“Another characteristic of human nature—perhaps the one that makes us most human—is our capacity to do the unnatural, to transcend and hence transform our own nature.”

“The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive. One”

“My time was my responsibility. It was up to me and me alone to decide how I wanted to use and order my time.”

“Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

“Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately it destroys rather than builds relationships, and it destroys rather than builds people.”

“Love always requires courage and involves risk.”

Note: For more quotes, you can click this site: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2747475-the-road-less-traveled-a-new-psychology-of-love-traditional-values-a

Dr. Peck focused on anatomizing LOVE. He used his experiences in supporting his propositions. However, there are instances that he should not have overlooked the holistic approach to understanding the psychological problems among his patients. I guess he knew what I meant.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

My Feet Were Not Wet.

My mother and I walked along the sea and decided to walk through the water.  We both looked  up at the sky  and  at the scorching sun on the breath-taking  horizon. We were both just quiet, calm, basking in the beauty of the ambience. I looked at my mother’s face- bright, clear, fresh, soft, and typical of a nurturing mother.

It took  a little  while before   my mother looked down at my feet. She blurted out.

“ Wait, daughter.  I will buy a pair of socks. Your feet must be wet.”

My mother   walked in a hurry off   the seashore. I looked down at my feet. To my astonishment, they were not wet at all. My mother might have been in a state of hallucination.

The sun  seemed to be at its fast pace for  the noon . Its rays started to sting in my skin. It had been a few minutes. But mother had not arrived yet. I could not catch   any glimpse of her physical presence that should have been looming over the   white sand. Then, I jumped to my feet   hearing the trumpeting roar of a ship .

“Booop!Booop! Booop!”

I looked   out across the   vastly stretched  sea. My hair stood on end. It was a gigantic ship, similar to the giant ship  in a famous  movie. Its long haul and   monumental bow   cut the indivisible sea forming tsunami wakes, running at high speed ,  looked like  bearing down upon the shore — upon me.  I was confused, speech-tied. I did not know what was going on in there. I just understood that the ship  was about to bring  me up away from the place. Its   imperious bow seemed to be a big threat, like the overcast sky , about to darken  the ground where I had been standing for minutes on end.

I stepped backward, trembling in my boots.  “ Where is mom?”, muttering under my breath , cold sweat burst into my forehead.  Worried.  Nervous.  Confused.  As if I wanted to cry.

Out of nowhere , I heard some heavy stomps coming from someone. I turned at the other side where my mom had walked .  I saw someone blurry , waving his hand. It was my brother, calling to me, seemed to have been saying something for me to hear. I waited for him until he managed to come up to where I had been wading  through like a pelican catching something eatable , beneath the saturated sand. He   slouched ; he had used up all his physical  power, gasping for air, trying to say something to me . I saw his hand giving me something. It was a pair of the socks my mom had promised.

“  Mother said that I  have to give it to you. “ .

He was still   panting for breath, trying to suck in   the air.

“She jumped to her feet  upon hearing  the  blare of the ship, so she got me to  catch upon you . She is still walking off the miles. “

My mother was too frail to walk as fast as my brother. The ship had come to a halt aground. I could not see any one up on there- just the captain himself,  in his angelic   uniform but with authoritative composure. I looked over my brother’s shoulder, hoping to catch the glimpse of my frail mother, hoping that she could make it.

“ Mother!” , whispering in platitude to someone up there in the sky.

I had no choice but to get aboard. I stood   on the main  terrace  looking out  down on  my brother . Then, I saw my mother trudging  up behind him. She was waving at me. My brother supported her. They both waved at me, standing abreast.

“Good bye, take care of yourself!” My mother tried to shout  .

I also did the same way, “ Good-bye, mother!!! Good-bye, brother!!!”, waving at them as the ship was moving off the shore. I felt the warm tears flowing down my cheeks.

The ship moved and moved and moved farther off the shore. I could see them no more. Then, I remembered what had happened.

Why were my feet not wet?

I awoke to it. Full  of beads of  cold sweat in my forehead.

Why were my feet not wet?

09/14/2015

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay: A Book Review

tallThis book is  bittersweet, hilarious, witty, and magical although some parts are sad. I laughed my head off when I read it. Besides,  I could relate to the story because it reflects in the Filipino customs and values, especially I used to be a “provinciano”. I grew out of the folk lifestyles, either in a province or in a modernized city: for examples, illiterate Filipinos speak “barok” English; we still use a plastic beaker or a mosquito net tucked under the edge of a mat; we are mad about playing basketball and we know Michael Jordan; our stereotype about people working abroad is that they may be rich ; we are still instilled in superstitions and black magic despite the fact that we are now living in a modern era, and so on. All about Filipino life!

Tall Story resembles Like A Brave Man by Nelson Carunungan, the first Filipino novel written in English  that I have ever read. The only dissimilarity between them is that the former depicts the life of the Filipinos in an old-fashioned- modern period while the latter is steeped in the life of the Filipinos after WWII.

What I liked about this book is its author, Candy Gourley, a Filipino immigrant in London, married to a foreigner. Despite being miles away from her native country, this first debut of hers shows that she is still proud to be a Filipino. So am I! ^__^

The story centers around Bernardo Carpio, the protagonist, burdened with Gigantism. He is the epitome of an “unsophisticated person in a strange world”. But all the rage for the story is the fact the Philippines is the capital of “Rock and Roll” in the world. In other words, the Philippines belongs to the Pacific Chain of Fire. On the other hand, Candy Gourley did not overlook to paint the real portrait of the dirty politics in the Philippines; for instance, the under –the-table government projects wherein the story, a sports arena has not been built completely yet. Instead, the quality of materials used are poor. Boom!

I am now taking to reading our Filipino writers’ works.^__^
Clap! Clap! Clap!

Rating : 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )