Makinang Makina by Genaro Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

When I see an antique sewing machine, the only idea  that reminds me of is late great-grandmother,  Lilang Tisay .She used to be our neighbor when  we still lived  in a countryside. Every afternoon, I  would  always visit her in their palatial leaning-to watching her sew some cloth.(I didn’t know what  she was doing then. She may have  made some rags.) But I was mesmerized  by her adeptness at  operating that noisy machine. I even wondered whether she could be impaled with the needle or not  if she didn’t focus on it.As a matter of fact, that machine became more historical  when she made me a doll out of the cloth leavings  because my mother could not bring herself to buy me one. That was the first doll I had ever played,  unaware of my sexual orientation. I tend to smile to myself whenever I remember this. I wonder  how I lost that doll and whether her  family still keeps that machine.

Recently,  Genaro Gojo Cruz, the author of this book, won PBBY-Salanga Prize for this Filipino children story, Makinang Makina ( Brilliant Machine). The story is about a boy  who enjoys watching his mother sew with the sewing machine she has inherited from her mother’s  mother. He tends to be transfixed  by its antiquity . He also enjoys helping his mother by catching up with the thread spool  rolling off the floor  and sucking its edge to pass it through the eye of the needle. He  is even riveted on riding the machine’s floor like a horse. He is  sooo cute. 🙂

The most touching part of the story is when he asks his mother if he can be like her because he thinks of that  sewing is supposed to be for women’s job. His mother explains that a man who sews clothes is a sastre in Filipino. He can be! Sewing  does not bear on your sexuality.

The funny thing  is that  I had negative stereotype about the boy.While  reading it, I mistook him for  belonging to the confederation, an archaic expression used in the Philippines referring to homosexuals. In other words, I thought he was bakla ( gay) because he seems to be malamya ( clumsy)  in Genaro’s descriptions. In the Philippines, when  a boy is observed to be in that behavior , he is judged or predicted to be a queer  at his later age. So, usually, his father’s kumpare  advises  his father that he should be straightened up to prevent that homosexual tendency. Poo-bah! A form of ignorance some parents are still shrouded in.  But I was all wrong. I may have just been subjective. Hahaha  In the context of child psychology, he is at the stage of  exploring the world he finds magical. I bear witness to that 🙂

It’s now my 11th Genaro Gojo Cruz ‘s  children story  books. As usual, I am like a  rabid wolf , hot on Gojo Cruz’s heels. Hahaha I have been after :

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw
  13. May Pamilya na ring Mag-aaruga sa Akin
  14. Ang Sulatan
  15. Mga Laruang Papel
  16. May Sampung Pulang Langgam

So far,  I ‘m  glad to have  read his :

  1. Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay ( YA)
  2. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  3. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  4. Ang Aking Photo Album
  5. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  6. Bunsoy
  7. Saling Pusa
  8. Anluwagi
  9. Tolits

I am not sure if the book is now available in book stores. I just happened to see this on the author’s FB post. I  was excited  then to search in the internet if it has free PDF. Fortunately, it does, but nothing beats  buying the book as one of your Genaro Gojo Cruz collections, and I will. 🙂

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






Tolits by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

tolitsI am a poor book detective, but I have a mission: to read all Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am afflicted by his “childhood-drama effect” after reading his YA, Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay. However, I  do not buy his children’s books; I just have my own copy of his YA. As you know, I scrimp on books I want to treasure for the posterity since I dream of building my very own private library as big as half of my house. Besides, I regret spending 75 pesos because I can spend this amount on two or three books at Book Sale, the famous second-hand book store in the Philippines. I will just  get a book if I can no longer resist myself from it, a best-seller  hyped up by my friends on Goodreads.

Although Gojo Cruz is now one of my favorite children’s books writers, I still put him into a pigeonhole, on the list of the books I want to hoard and display in my library someday. So, what I am trying to rationalize  is that I drop into National Book Store branches   to check upon   some of his works and read them privately. (One time, I was even caught by a clerk burying myself in a book I held for  more than 30 minutes, so I was blocked by the guard at the exit area  to check my bag for SOP. Come on, guard, I was not born yesterday. SOP stands  for Security Operation Procedure. What an acronym! ) Luckily,  I have read seven of them  at different NBS branches such as:

  1. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  2. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  3. Ang Aking Photo Album
  4. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  5. Bunsoy
  6. Saling Pusa
  7. Anluwagi

Why do I appear so addicted to  reading Genaro Gojo Cruz’s  children’s  books?  You can understand me if you start reading his  first YA I mentioned above.  I noticed that   same reaction from another fan on Goodreads. In his YA, Genaro told  a story about  a boy, himself , who cried  deep inside for the poverty and being “incomplete”  in his life. So, through reading his children’s books, you can penetrate the depth of the story as if they have been drawn from deep experiences. You may not burst into tears , but you can feel  the burning  sensation  smarting in the deepest part of your heart that  you cannot even  pour it out. It just moves there around  without cease until they appease for goods.

The   only problem is his books are always out of stock. They may be best-sellers. If so, I am happy for Mr. Gojo Cruz.  His books are indeed worth reading. Thus, I have a hard time finding his other books. I drop into from one book store to another since there are three malls adjacent to another near  our place. Gee, you may now find  me idiosyncratic. Yes, I am a walking dead -bookworm zombie moving from one mall to another clockwise. I have no compunction for this. 🙂

After a fairly long time, tadaaa!!! I  have found one of his books, TOLITS. I found it at another NBS branch nearer our place where I had never thought of  dropping by , for  I do not like its ambiance.

Little did I  know that TOLITS is a match stick. I thought that it was a character of a young boy because we moniker   someone like that here in the Philippines. Besides, I have understood that  a young boy is also called TOLITS because he is scrawny. So, the story turns out to be about a scrawny   young boy match stick who is curious about why his parents and other relatives try to hide him underneath them once the window is opened by   big fingers.

The story is a little bit disturbing. Perhaps, I detached myself from the reality, or I am   more used to reading Gojo Cruz’s   books which reflect in the real mirror of life and  permeate  through my heart.  Besides, I have still been confounded   at how I can relate his story to other situation and even squeeze its  moral lesson out of me. Nevertheless, Gojo Cruz has proved his skills in being a   children’s raconteur  in this story once again. A match, full of sticks,  is enough to materialize his   imagination. Besides, I liked the fact that reading it did not give me any clues of what the story is all about.   As usual, his common trademark   at the end of the story is a tear-jerker although it is not that as emotionally penetrating as his Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay.  .

It is now my 8th Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am now  more  driven to hunt his other books. I am going to gallivant like  a madman  at another  National Book Store outlets if the need arises. So, my next missions are:

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw

 And his  newest  ones: Pwede Na Ba Akong Mag-alaga ng Kuting?  which was published last year and Gaano Ba Kalayo ang Paaralan? which he launched last Saturday at SM North EDSA. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend  his launching and book signing  because it was too late when I found it out on his Facebook status. Besides, my copy of his YA was not with me.

I admit that after reading TOLITS, I have now this desire to buy all Gojo Cruz’s books I have read already. I should not just  read them. I want to share them with my younger sister and young nephews and nieces and keep them for the posterity. (sighs) I wish I did not have to   scrimp and save for  books that make my mouth water whenever I see and touch them at NBS.

Book Title: TOLITS:  

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

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.)

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. )

Genaro R. Gojo Cruz’s New Children Book

Photo from: Genaro Gojo Cruz’s Facebook account

Genaro R. Gojo Cruz , famous for his best-selling Connecting the Dots: Kung Paano ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay, announced on his official Facebook that he will be publishing his new children book, Pwede  Na Po Ba Akong Mag-alaga ng Kuting? in September .  I cannot wait  for it since I have been an avid fan of Genaro. As a matter of fact,  the illustrator of  his said book is the former matinee idol , Hero Angeles.

Although I haven’t read the book yet, we can for sure relate to the story   because it might have something to do with children’s desire to take care of a  kitten- typical of us when we were still young, but as a rule, our parents would be the miscreants for our innocent drama . They always complain that cats could be allergic to us as well as another mouth to feed.  Besides, I would love the story for sure since I am an ailurophile or cat lover.

I have read   some of Genaro’s children books  . I still have been looking for the others, but sometimes they are out of stock. Probably, they must be best-sellers. At this time, I won’t miss the opportunity .

If you  want to read his children books although you are no longer a child, I recommend you read his Connecting the Dots first as I always advise my friends on blog. You can understand why he wrote the stories. But if you want to buy them for your children or  young nephews or nieces, go for it! The books are suitable for the young modern generation.

Here are the books by Genaro Gojo Cruz:

  1. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba ( 4/ 5 stars )
  2. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas: Mang Tomas and His Jeep
  3. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  4. Pitong Angel
  5. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay( 4/ 5 stars )
  6. Tolits
  7. Anluwagi( 2/ 5 stars )
  8. Ang Bahaghari
  9. Saling Pusa ( 1 / 5 stars )
  10. Ang Aking Photo Album (3/ 5 stars )
  11. Noong Nakaraang Taon ( 2/ 5 stars )
  12. Ang Asul na Kariton
  13. Malaking Malaking Bahay
  14. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw
  15. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  16. Ang Lumang Parador ni  ni Lola ( 3/ 5 stars )
  17. Bunsoy ( 1/ 5 stars )

Enjoy reading, buddies!

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 :

Bunsoy by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz: A Book Review

Bunsoy_cover.jpg_2Literally, “ bunsoy” in Filipino means the youngest child or sibling in a family. But the word is also used as a moniker in cuddling the youngest or when a family, particularly parents, pampers him/her. So sometimes, the youngest is said to be the spoiled brat. (But I completely disagree about this stereotype. Every child is special. ^^ )

The story is about a father who seems to be talking to his “bunsoy” in his arms as though he sings him a lullaby. He sweetly tells him that he be kind and patient while growing up, for his parents eke out a living for him.

The story is typical of a father who works abroad expressing his nostalgia for his baby on Facebook.

I felt how the father deeply loves his “bunsoy”. However, I can’t relate to the story. May be I am too old to read such a children book, or I am not the youngest child in the family. Nevertheless, I know how it feels to being lovingly caressed by parents.

Genaro Gojo Gruz is also the youngest child among the siblings. As far as I remember, he once experienced to be the object of his father’s affection despite the fact that his father was consummate indifferent to him.

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok. )