The first book written by Bob Ong that led me to the portal of his idiosyncrasies is Bakit Baliktad Magbasa Ng Libro Ang Mga Pilipino? I was impressed by his ways of writing out his ideas or opinions in a conversational way. Reading it was like an editorial article full of facts but funny, intended not only for young but also for old adults . Besides, I sensed his hidden blaze of nationalism. Amused, I borrowed Macarthur from my cousin who happened to be his avid reader. After that, I was magnetized again; the theme is not that as deeply and humorously academic and journalistic as the former one. Instead, it is a simple story that young readers may never forget because it reflects the social problem with illegal drug trade in the Philippines. That story is so worth remembering. No wonder when you ask a young avid fan about which Bob Ong books his/ her favorite is. I bet my boots that it is one of them. And please, count me in. The very thought of the sachet of crystal meth floating in the pooped bowl repulses me!
I was in university when I got the opportunity to read another Bob Ong book. Another Bob Ong fan lent me some of his other works. I got the good chance of reading Stainless Longganisa . But I admit that I found it pretty boring. It is just a story of how a writer struggles with completing his book or having it published. If it is so, why did Bob Ong make it more complicated with his satirical dramas? He could have just written it in the other way around. But who am I to cast aspersion on his writing style? Walang basagan ng trip.This is his trademark.
I was disappointed more after reading his other books such as Ang Paboritong Libro ni Hudas and Kapitan Sino . They almost have the same pattern. The situation is like all Bob Ong has to do is to strike up a witty conversation with me ,with his satirical sentiments and dramas. Thereafter, I got sick and tired of Bob Ong. Nakakasawa na. I promised myself then that I would not read another Bob Ong books.
I tried to read another Bob Ong when friends of mine gave me an intriguing idea of Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan . My friends said that it is a scary one. Hmmm…Another friend tampered with my febrile imagination claiming that she could not sleep it off. After burying myself in it for the whole night, yes! My friends did not prove me wrong. I was horrified. Somehow, it scared me so witless that I would it put down when I did not want to read the next page. I did not want to picture how the scenes look like. Then, my hair stood on end when I patched all the puzzling parts together. Gee, that’s why? A typical reaction when you have come to understand everything. Who won’t forget the scene when the grandma who is supposed to be dead gets up from its bed to approach Galo, the protagonist? Who regretted reading the Latin phrases at the end of his each diary? How about the secret room in where the human –sized saints are kept ?
The story is clearly manipulating because Bob Ong intended to play our imagination. All the settings are mixed. He intended to lead us in some parts which turn out to be the linchpin of the horror. For instance, Galo also makes us read the Latin phrases he reads out of curiosity. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I still kept on reading them. But , in the end, I deeply regretted doing so. You should not read them if I were you. It is a warning. Plus, the twins, Jezel and Niko .Potek, I thought they were just ‘saling pusa’.
I was first confused with some information with which Bob Ong padded in the story. For instance, the date of the setting is in 1998. But MTB, a famous noon-time show ,was not aired in that year yet. Another thing is a high-tech computer. As far as I know, high-tech computers were unveiled in the 2000’s. There are some more that happened in the 2000’s Bob Ong played back in the 1990’s. Thus, I inferred that Bob Ong loves to scrabble all the things that happened from different generations.
My friend speculates that Bob Ong may have written it off the cuff. He may have dabbled in writing it in a corner without any specific theme on his mind. So, his publisher may have ignored it and still seen its potential to give his readers the creeps knowing that he has established a name in the market. Or she may have meant to say that the story begins with Galo’s “nega moments”; then, all of a sudden, it segues into a horror part. Thus, the book appears to be inscrutable because she is not sure what Bob Ong may want to imply in this book since all his books appear to have satirical meanings. But apparently, one of the insinuations could be that anyone can have a Cinderella life. Of course not! Galo does not have a Princess Charming.( laughs)
Somehow, there are good points in the story that caught my interest aside from the “katatakutan” moments. I liked the philosophical conversations between Mama Susan and Galo although I find them obscure and irrelevant to whatever Bob Ong wants to preach to us. Besides, if it were not Mama Susan’s revelation about Galo’s past , I would really have demoted Bob Ong to all wannabe writers (like me) by giving it one out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Fiddlesticks! I wish I read books literally.
As a matter of fact, after reading it, I don’t want to give it a try again nor flip through its pages given that I found it not that really scary . Perhaps, I just don’t want to read the Latin phrases anymore. Gee, it is the impact on me!
Warning: Please, don’t read the Latin phrases. Just skip them.
Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)