Falling into the Manhole:A Memoir by John Jack G. Wigley: A Book Review

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A million thanks to my fellow teacher for this book. She decided to give it away to me as a gift since she saw how my eyes popped out of their sockets in excitement upon seeing it displayed on her book shelf. It was just as well that she read it already. I hope the people I am acquainted with will do the same way. (laughs)

This was one of the local books I promised myself to buy , no matter how hard up I was, when I  stumbled upon how the galaxy  of our contemporary local writers including the writers I consider part of the Super Novas of the Philippine literature such as F. Sionil Jose, Gilda Cordero – Fernando, Jessica Hagedorn, Miguel Syjuco, Lualhati Bautista, Ricky Lee, Bob Ong, Jessica Zafra ,Felisa Batacan, Genevive L. Asenjo, Merlinda Bobis, Danton Remoto,Bebang Siy, not to mention the promising ones : Genaro R. Gojo Cruz and Edgar Calabia  Samar, the apples of my eyes, turned out to be stellar, heavenly , and dazzling. Coming to this realization, I found its price  affordable and reasonable. However, I was between the lever of a teeter-totter whether it should be on my list since I could spend 220 pesos on the other books more famous than this, which writer I had never heard of. Sorry po, Professor Wigley. It just happened that I was not aware of your literary stardom.  Doggone it!  I must have been ambivalent about what local book I should have first read. I was surrounded by books I have never read yet, let alone that I was a “pooritang” reader unable to buy astronomical books, especially the best-sellers on the market. No wonder I was exhilarated by receiving this book as a gift.

John Jack G. Wigley’s memoir Falling into the Manhole is a collection of his how’s  before he became a successful  writer and professor , as to how he took to watching movies at movie theaters and was gorgonized  by  his mother’s being  die-hard Noranian ; how he was born and lived  the dilemma of being Amerasian ; how his family and he lived as nomads  moving from one house to different houses in a year ; how he became an avid fan of Madonna who was the instrument for understanding his sexual orientation; how he fell in love with his best friend- the story that I blinked my tears away because I know what it feels like; how he became a “butterfingered”  fast-food chain crew ; how he was proud to be Lea Salonga fan who was the reason why he fell into the manhole;  how he became a theatre actor and had the good chance to stage at CCP;  how he fell in love with Meryl Streep‘s acting style;  how he had the opportunity to go to America on tour and find his  American father, the missing link; how he became a teacher who can be a blooper despite that he is supposed to be superior and infallible;  how he survived Ondoy trauma; how he became one of the best and respected  UST professors; and finally,  how he took care of his mother passionately. All of his anecdotes have inspiring lessons you should learn.

Personally speaking, the book is intended for homosexuals and for those who are inspired to be a successful professor and writer. As a member of the confederation, I experienced to be an avid fan of beauty pageants. In fact, although I didn’t live in the 1980’s, I want to blow my horn  and beat others to it that I know how Chat Silayan  represented the prestigious pageant and presented herself gorgeously. Thanks to YouTube. Like him, I would also wait for its live telecast and take notes of the petite delegates in  the  semifinals.  In fact, I could almost memorize all the yearly winners by heart. It was one of my passionate hobbies in my teen-age life.( laughs)

His memoir reminded me of children’s book writer Genaro Gojo Cruz‘s Connecting the Dots because both their memoirs bear little resemblance to how they became successful in life. Like Wigley, Genaro also persevered to get out of poverty. He  was so determined not to get dumped  by  his abject miseries in life. In fact, both writers lived in a broken family with this desire to be complete by  reminiscing of their fathers . Both of their memoirs also suggest their intellectual humility; they must never imply that  they are gifted writers. Genaro admits that he never excelled in school whereas Wigley knows his  limitation upon academic excellence.

Laying it aside with the other books on my reading table,my spirit that has been bogged down in muddy despair has been sloughed off. I have learned now  how to be a writer more,  how humanity works, and how I should  love  and be passionate about my work as a teacher.Boo-ya!

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

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Sampler by Gilda Cordero-Fernando: A Book Review

samplerGilda Cordero Fernando is awfully spectacular- ang galling-galing naman nya! I was impressed by her unique writing styles – very Filipino, original, far different from the other satirical essays I have read, full of fun, wacky ideas about our Filipino culture and customs. You could really laugh out loud because you could relate to them. SORRY na lang if you can’t. It might mean you are not FILIPINO after all, or perhaps it is a matter of generation gap. Besides, I wonder if she has a great influence on Bob Ong’s or Lourd de Veyra’s writing styles.How about Jessica Zafra’s ? Their writing styles have little resemblance. Probably, Gilda appears to be older than they are.But for me Gilda Cordero Fernando is exceptional.

Actually, the book is a compendium of her well-selected works she has written since 1960’s. It is composed of her essays, short stories, columns, speeches, and lectures. Gee, although some were written in between 1960’s and 1980’s , for I’m batang 90’s , I could be familiar with them, more so Gilda’s writing styles are very hilarious. She even made me chuckle on the bus to my work or during the office meeting. Yes, I did even read it during the office meeting out of sense of decorum. (laughs) The book is indeed absorbing.

The book is more interesting because each topic has its own photo which she must have chosen herself, including his paintings she is proud of , for she painted them auto didactically, without attending any formal schools.

Apparently, she must have first done a thorough research and had interviews with a close think-tank of hers before she formed her out-of-this –world ideas.

Envious of her writing styles, after reading it, I learned from Gilda Cordero Fernando that writers could be whatsoever they desire to be: They could be ORIG.

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

23 BOOKS IN JULY 2015

Last year, I managed to read 100 books . It was  an  astounding and fulfilling  experience I had not expected . It just so happened that I had  rude awakening  in that mid-year when I found out that Goodreads, the biggest book club site in the world , has this  challenging goal for its members including myself. You can set a reading goal as many as you can. The site monitors how many reads you have done so far which I am a little quite pressured about. However,  I realized that you don’t need to keep up with the goal. Just enjoy the book. You can  understand it more.

Since I  just created my own book blog  in March this year, it is now too late for me to share the books I  have read  for the past 4 months. So I will just share the ones I read in July, the month when  I was so   obsessed with reading more books.

Supposedly, I must read only the books on   my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads. However,  I  drew my attention to the local  books   I bought on sale. Well, that’s the way a bookworm and book lover  is.

The books are more on poems, LGBT, essays, children books, novellas, and short stories.

 

1. Human Decency by Gong Ji Young ( 3/5 stars ). One of the Korean fictions my nun student gave to me as a pasalubong ( gift ) coming from her country. I liked the story because its plot is quite enigmatic and misleading.

2. Saling Pusa by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz ( 1/ 5 stars ) I had had a hard time looking for its copy at National Book Store branches .

Not much satisfied with its story but I was glad to have read one of Genaro Cruz’s children books since I am now his  avid fan  upon reading his YA Connecting the Dots: Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay.

I  have still been  hunting his other works such as Si Tolits, Jeep ni Mang Tomas, Ang Bahaghari, Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa,Pitong AngelAng Aking PamilyaHello, Tatay!Ang Asul na KaritonMalaking Malaking BahayAng Kamisetang Dilaw. and Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting

I am now a Genaronian. (laughs)

3. Nanay Coring by Yvette Hernandez ( 2/ 5 stars ) A simple story – enough to educate children how the National Book Store reached its apogee under the indefatigable determination of Nanay Coring

4.Angkas by Aris Santos ( 3 / 5 stars ) An LGBT short story which opens narrow-minded individuals’ eyes to the real internal feelings of a gay toward a straight man.

5. Hangganan by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) Another eye-opener LGBT short story. The story is realistic that only LGBT community can understand.

6. Best Man by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) It could be my most favorite work of Aris Santos. I cringed at the story , but its concept bespeaks that there is such thing Love Triangle  between a gay and man and a woman. Enough said!

7. A Dwarf Launches a Little Ball by Cho Se-Hui ( 3/ 5 stars )  Another story  that illustrates what a really knitted Korean family looked like  when Korea was still a poor country.

8. Father Solo and other stories by Isagani R. Cruz ( 5/ 5 stars ) Thanks to Isagani . I have now the confidence to write.

9. The Soul Mate Meets its Mate by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) I did not like the story- ill-thought and slapdash. It could be a chit-lit. Nevertheless, I admired Bala’s craft of writing.

10. Ang Kwento ng Manok at ang Asong si Patty by Arch Bala ( 4/ 5 stars ) Among Bala’s works, it is the only one that astounded and proved me wrong that he has what it takes to be a good writer. Encore, Arch! I liked this kind of story. It could be your trademark.  ^_^

11. Sapatos by Arch Bala ( 2/ 5 stars ) What happened? The beginning and the middle part are almost cliff-hanging and at the same time impressively adulterated with  the  beautiful sentences. However, its ending seems like the author was at loss for   another ideas.  God willing! Sayang!

12. Hope by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) It just so happened that I am not Kapampangan. I had these stuffy feelings.

13. Bulosan by Carlos Bulosan ( 5 / 5 stars ) Another remarkable collections of Carlos Bulosan.

14. The Landlady by Road Dahl ( 1/ 5 stars ) The longer I read Road Dahl’s stories, the more I come to realize that I don’t enjoy his works much. I still have some of his other short stories, but I will still hang in there.

15. Bight, Catholic-and Gay by Danton Remoto ( 4/ 5 stars ) I admire Danton Remoto’s writing styles. He is one of the writers along with Doris Lessing, and Isagani R. Cruz who made me muster enough confidence that I CAN  write.

16. The Secret of the Cave and Other  Stories for young  readers by Ed Maranan ( 3/ 5 stars ) Light and typical of Filipino writing

17. Ladlad 3 by Danton Remoto ( 5/ 5 stars ) At last I have completed this classic LGBT literature. I hope to read its new edition.

 18. Sugar and Salt by Nichotchka Rosca ( 5/ 5 stars ) Rotska has this gall to experiment a literary work. It is a W. O.W.!

19. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White ( 3 / 5 stars ) A philosophical book that an average young reader might not have an idea of what this book is really all about.

20. Pulot Gata by Danton Remoto ( 3/ 5 stars ) Read between the lines. ^^

21. Twisted Travels by Jessica Zafra ( 3/ 5 stars) Now I understand why Jessica Zafra is an immortal writer.

22. Gaydar by Danton Remot ( 5/ 5 stars ) Danton Remoto said , “ You CAN write after all.”

23. Where the Boys Are by Richard Labonte ( 3/5 stars ) An erotica which narrow-minded , or to put it bluntly, hypocrite, readers might cringe at.

I haven’t written my reviews of the books above yet   on account of my demanding job.  I need enough time to do so.

In this August ,  I will be clearing out  my currently –reading shelf on Goodreads. The books have been collecting dust bunnies and mice.

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Merville. I miss reading a classic steeped in old English words.
  2.  A Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I want to understand Nelson Mandela’s fighting spirit again.
  3. Thinking by John Brockman . It is  mental calisthenics.
  4. Dead Air by Iain Banks. I learned that it is not a good read, but still I will give it a try.

When I am tired of their hefty contents, I might turn  to:

  1. A Man in the Dark by Paul Austere.
  2. Jungle of No Memory: A Memoir of a Japanese Soldier by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi.
  3. Spartacus by Howard Fast . Little did I realize that I am fond of reading books on ancient military.

So far I have read 2 book for the first week of August.I am now kicking to  bury myself in those  above-mentioned  books.  ^^

Happy Reading to everyone! ^_^