Filipino Literature: Of Teenage Angst and Childhood Stories

I do wish I could drop by and write a very long review on two books that I’ve read recently, but time has been very difficult to find these days, so I’ll keep my reviews short and straight to the point (or that’s what I’m thinking).

I’ve been cheering for Filipino Literature for most of my life. While it was thought to die an inevitable death given the very few young people appreciating it, I insisted on keeping at least one Filipino book on my reading list every month. Luckily, something magical happened in Filipino Literature. To me, it seems more alive now than it was years ago.  And so, there’s been an influx of new writers with their own take on Filipino Literature and life in general. But today, I will be presenting works of  ‘old,’  By Old I mean, by authors who have been in publication for quite some time now.

First book is Candido’s Apocalypse by Nick Joaquin. Nick Joaquin is a national artist in literature. A prolific writer whose books have been required in many of our high school classes. I picked up Candido’s Apocalypse for two reason, it was thin hence an easy read and I was curious about Nick Joaquin’s less popular work. When I read it, it was reminiscent of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye with its angsty male protagonist who saw the world as phonies. The difference lies in the paranormal elements of Joaquin’s Novella. In this story the male protagonist goes through an exercise of stripping off the fakeness to the point that he could no longer see people. First, in his eyes they lose their clothes, then their skin, their muscle, then their bones, until he could not see anything. And while he initially concludes that underneath everyone’s beautiful clothes or smiles are rotting versions of themselves, he also discovers something more. The twist to Candido Apocalypse challenges the reader’s perspective and mind.  It begs the reader to reassess his/her own thoughts on the world of ‘pretend’ and truth.

The next book is called Catch a Falling Star by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo. The author is an award winning writer and one of the local pioneers in the world of Creative Non-Fiction. Catch a Falling Star is a gem for lovers of childhood stories that brim with nostalgia, life lessons, and childhood wisdom. I fell in love with this book because it struck a chord in my own personal life. It spoke of trying to fit in, of loving school, of struggling with making friends, and relationships with cousins and aunts. At the same time, the author does not limit our stories to mere fictional memories. She punches us, makes us consider for awhile the richness of our childhood experiences and the lessons we might have missed and could only gather now that we are older. Catch a Falling Star tells the story as if it was a true memoir, wherein each chapter was an anecdote in Trissy’s life. I liked that it felt real and read as real as opposed to feeling like fiction. I suppose, it’s the style that allows me to connect with the character and inevitably fall in love with the book.

These two books are very different in their tone and writing style, but they are books that we can all relate to, having been teenagers and children ourselves. At the same time, they offer the reader wisdom and a challenge to their perspective.

POC Reading Challenge Update 25 & 26 of 25 books

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