The Queen and her Indian Servant

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Its movie trailer sparked my interest when I was inside a movie theater waiting for the showing of a juvenile film during  the weekend. This is the kind of movie I have wanted to watch since I’m now sick and tired of ones that are more on fantasy and cruel and bloody action. I was even more surprised to find out that it is based on a biography written by Shrabani Basu: Victoria And Abdul: The True Story Of The Queens’ Closest Confidant. So, it is another book on my list  I’m going to find  in my stomping ground. I wish to beat it to its movie showing in September. I’m  fairly sure that if the movie becomes a hit, the price of the book  will be diabolical. But, I’d be better off watching the film first .There are times that I throw my arms in dismay when the film turns out to be terrible after reading  the book .

Image result for victoria and abdul by shrabani basu

One of the reasons why it caught my attention is that its theme is about the real-life friendship between the Queen and her  Indian servant. I do love movies, music, and books that deal with friendship.

The story is about Abdul Karim who arrives from India to take part  in Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. He will be surprised to win favor with the queen herself. When their friendship deepens, the queen begins to realize a lot of things about her life. Abdul will be a teacher while the Queen , his student. 

Its initial release is scheduled in the UK on September 15, 2017.

The movie is starred by Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim, the queen’s servant.

As of yet, no information has been available when it is going to be shown in some Asian countries including the Philippines.

I may not be a movie snob but this is something new to me. So, I’m now looking forward to its showing!  🙂


Big John: The Life Story of John Gokongwei Jr. : A Book Review

big-john1 I am glad that I have  found such a simple biography   which is supposed to be for children. Somehow I can read   little information on how  John  Gokongwei Jr.  succeeded in life . I still can’t afford to buy his  officially  thick biography; its price can break both of my pockets.

John  Gokongwei Jr. is the owner of Robinsons Malls , one of the largest shopping malls and retail operators  in the Philippines.  He is called the Big John because he owns many kinds of  businesses. He is the owner of Cebu Pacific Airlines, Yes! Magazine, the popular Filipino snacks such as Chippy, Cloud 9, Curls, and even of  the beverages  like C2 Tea  and Great  Taste Coffee. In fact, he is always included  on the list of richest men in the world by Forbes Magazine , ranking behind  Henry SyLucio Tan, Enrique Razon,  and Andrew Tan, another influential business tycoons in the Philippines .*

Despite that it is not a thick children book, it somehow  tells some important timelines for  how he began as a poor child and persevered in getting along in life. Originally, he was not born  as poor as a  church mouse . He grew up in a big house with a fountain and a personal nanny as described in the story .  It   just so happened that his father  had kicked the bucket and eventually lost  his business. To pay the big debt his father had owed,  his mother had to sell the house along with the fountain.  To help his mother, at young age, he was an entrepreneur for   different kinds of products  which he could sell from Cebu, where he grew up, to Manila. And most importantly, the book tells how Gokongwei Jr. showed determination and willingness to work and save money, an attitude which   his brothers and sister adapted. In the end, his siblings and he all worked together until they had reached the acme of their prosperity. Therefore, this book was written to teach children how to be  diligent in order to become rich. ^^

John Gokongwei Jr.  is now 89 years old. He has  now  42 Robinsons  Malls branches nationwide. He is now immortal, notably for the urban legend that one of  his malls is said to have a twin anthropomorphic serpent  brought up on the ground floor of a branch somewhere in Manila. The twin is said to be fed  with a beautiful woman. Until now this legend has still been a mystery. Pooh-bah!

John Gokongwei Jr.

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

*Retrieved from :

Genghis Khan the World Conqueror Volume 1 by Sam Djang: A Book review

IMG_20130116_205327We  learned  from   World History  that Genghis Khan is known as The Scourge of God or The Destroyer of Civilization. He was an emperor   known for   killing  in cold blood  just to achieve his desire to conquer the world under his Mongol Empire.  So he went down in the history  as one of the most feared  leaders  in all ancient civilizations. In this historical-biographical book, Sam  Djang must have intended to distort the said universal fact . According to him, Genghis Khan is the greatest human conqueror in the world history.  

The problem with this  book, however,  is that it  seems to be poorly written. Sam Djang may have had a hard time putting the plethora of information about Genghis Khan he gleaned for 8 years into his own masterpiece. In fact, it is his first book he has ever written. In short, he is an amateur writer. For  instance, he may have copied out the style of the Bible, for he may have not known how to narrate Genghis Khan’s historical ancestral family tree. Why not? That part could just serve as padding. In addition, there are some repetitive parts which cringed me many times, which he may not have considered thoroughly. He mentioned the same situations  in different   parts of the chapters, so they sound to be monotonous and you might claim, “What?” Nevertheless, his effort paid off, for it won a special award in 2011 as Best Historical Fiction.Clap! Clap! Clap!

Despite some shortcomings, for me, this historical-biographical novel is informative. It gives me a lot of information about the Mongol Empire- how the Mongol conqueror was well on his way to conquering half of the world. I understood more what the  cliché goes : “Barbarians against Barbarians” is all about. Besides, I found it low-brow. I did not have difficulty understanding some words or phrases. ( It might have been his intention.) I even enjoyed some Mongolian words.

Genghis Khan

What struck me most is his deep brotherly relationship with Jamuka. I could not avert my thought from the suspicion that they may have had something deeper than that said brotherly relationship. Sam Djang is too euphemistic, cautious, and cliffhanging to describe their relationship, or I was just too quixotic to expect something  more than  this. (laughs)

Repulsed by his brutality and unsure of the credibility of this book, I revered Genghis Khan’s life stories- his philosophies in life, his political strategies, especially his religious viewpoints.

In the end, I may be convinced that Genghis Khan may be the greatest human conqueror in the world history. Also, I may be convinced that Mongol Empire is the biggest Empire in the world history. Not that I know of. I guess I still need a library of historical books. ^__^

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

Up Close: Rachel Carson by Ellen Levine: A Book Review

Rachel Carson is famous for her science nonfiction, THE SILENT SPRING. I had been aware of its immortality among the literati, notably on the list of the TIME as one of the best nonfictions of all time. In fact,I had turned my back on it many times whenever I saw it at my stomping ground. I just skimmed it since it is nonfiction,and I was borne upon the idea that it could no longer be reliable.

Had it been written in great detail or by Rachel Carson herself,for sure, I would have given 5 stars. Nevertheless, I still LIKED it a whole lot,because Rachel Carson was an amazing woman . She inspired not only people with scientific mentality, but even the laymen like me. She even caused me to regress to the “delusional personality “I tried to be- a trying -hard environmentalist. I believe that any books attempted to be written about her would be still worth reading just the like of this Ellen Levine’s.

This book reflects in the other side of Rachel Carson,mostly her dedication to her field of studies, her determination to achieve her dreams, her sisterly and daughterly love for her family,and her viewpoints about religion and science -let alone the question about her being a spinster.

What I liked about Rachel Carson,according to the book, is her “reverence for life”. She humbled herself despite her superior intelligence. She preferred to use her god -send talent in writing in informing the public about how they should have loved the nature ,how they should have been aware of the dangers of artificial chemicals,particularly the pesticides. She used the literature as the instrument to catch their interest in natural sciences. She intended not to be technical ; she put her ideas into the language of the layman. This was how she may have been revolting against the greedy capitalists in 1960’s. She was the antithesis of Harriet Beecher,the author behind the UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. Both were considered nothing in the eyes of the big time business men and politicians but they made a big difference.

In some cases, reading a biography could be apocryphal because of the credibility of the facts and information data gleaned by authors. They could pad their “masterpieces ” with a pack of “fairy tales” to pan out in the market. So could autobiographers. On the other hand, Helen Levine’s may be credible since all the information came primarily from Rachel Carson’ s documents.But what I appreciated about H. Levine is the simplicity of how she narrated Rachel Carson’s personal and professional life. Reading it was like as though I watched a documentary peppered with enough information- enough to inform a reader like me.

Had she written it in great detail combined with her writing skills , like an ambitious novel,for sure, I would have really given it 5 stars. But giving it 5 or 4 stars is neither here nor there. I care about the message of Rachel Carson,so when I go to the bookstore one of these days, I will not give a shadow of doubt about buying the SILENT SPRING more so I’ve got an idea of how she wrote it.


Rachel Carson was an ailurophile. She had a confederation of cats which became her companions in writing her notable books. The last cat that became the instrument of her writing the SILENT SPRING was Jeffie. Hahaha! Cool, Rachel. ^^

Rating: 3/ 5 stars