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.)

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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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America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan: A Book Review

america_prevIn the midst of reading or right after you  ( Filipinos) have read it, you may conclude that Carlos Bulosan ‘s personal accounts of his childhood experiences as well as his abject misery in America appear to be OVER EXAGERRATED , or far from the reality. I thought so, for I was not aware of the real situations among OFW’s. But you may come to the deeper realization that Carlos Bulosan must have had personal reasons: This book could serve as an eye-opener not only to the Filipino immigrants but also to the others elsewhere as well.

It almost pulled at my heartstrings. Poor Allos! If his autobiographies as well as his other works had been published while he was going through the grinding poverty, teeth-gnashing cruelty and stoical discrimination in America, I might have said, “ I didn’t know.” I wish the government of the Philippines had said it herself, or so did America. However, they turned their backs on or deaf to the reality, for I guess they must have been busy preparing for the WWII.

Carlos Bulosan bears a little resemblance to Richard Wright, one of my favorite authors. Like R. Wright, Carlos Bulosan also dreamed of freedom from the unjust socio-political system. H e also dreamed of being educated by reading omnivorously since his parents bent on sending him to school. He also went through difficulties in surviving the fittest. However, unlike R. Wright who had a chance to be known among the literati, Carlos Bulosan never did. Poor Carlos! If it had not been the poverty, he could have been educated as well as gained a name in the Philippine literature. He could have become a doctor as what he wanted to be when he was still young. He would not have held onto the edge of a knife by leaving the Philippines for the “American dream.” Alas, he ended up as poor and TB-stricken.

Honestly, after having read it, I became more nationalistic and chauvinistic; I love my native land more. When I got into the deeper part of the story, I can’t deny the fact that I was furious at Americans, felt like putting the blame on them why my countrymen as well as other Asians suffered a lot, not even before but until now. Well, I can’t blame them, for they may be the avatars and archetypes of stereotypes. Their history fashioned their hegemonic attitude. After all, I thought – since I am not much well-read about the world history- that Black Americans were not the only center of cruelty and discrimination. There are such things elsewhere after all.

I remembered two things while I was reading it:

(a) My childhood. I also lived in a province. I knew how it is like to live in a remote rural place. I have experienced what Carlos Bulosan did: toiling land with a carabao, selling vegetables and fish, walking to a far distance, bar exchange, and so on.
(b) My parents. My parents both lived in their own provinces; their attitudes are provincial. Although they are not educated, they use their common sense to live with dignity, to sacrifice for our sakes. ^^

I think this book should be highly recommended not only to OFW’s, but also to students.This book should never be forgotten, for it reflects in the dark society in the past.

Rating : 5/ 5 stars