I have just finished reading Cyan Abad-Jugo’s Salingkit: a 1986 diary, a YA novel. It’s our featured storyteller’s most recently-published book and I was very excited to read it, knowing that it touches on the People Power Revolution in the Philippines, the 80s, New Wave, and self-discovery. The book cover which showcases a cassette tape also caught my eye and made me wax lyrical and nostalgic.
I enjoyed how the author, Cyan, has interwoven 15 year old Kitty’s bordering-on-the-apolitical musings; her unspoken fears and anxieties about her father, a desaparacido, who disappeared alongside rallyists and revolutionaries during a time of oppression; her tentative footing with the relatives she has to live with while her mother tries to find a life for them in the States; and her own insecurities and anxieties with her BFFs, also known as the NWC or The New Wavers’ Club. All these wrapped around a Depeche Mode soundtrack, with a smattering of Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, and the occasional New Order.
I got a little confused though with all the names of the characters, as there were quite a few of them – and with code names to boot! One has to pay close attention and keep track of the names, otherwise it’s easy to mix them all up. The change in voice could also be slightly disorienting with some of the narrative written in diary format, while the rest are told in the usual omniscient-third-person-voice – one has to keep track of this as well through the changes in the font and layout of the book. There were tangents in the story, which I would have loved to see developed further and realized. I would have wanted to learn more about Taylor’s problems with her parents, Bensy’s own struggles being a son of a military official affiliated with the Marcoses, Wanda’s story and why she is the way she is, or Kuya Alan’s activism, and Kitty’s own relationship with her mother. Yet, I could also sense that this may be deliberate in the author’s part, inviting the reader to draw their own inferences – giving them the space to navigate around the story with their own ideas.
The book is a quick read: I finished the book in half a day, as it resonated with me in so many levels. I was ten years old when the Edsa Revolution happened and a lot of the things raised in the novel were certainly all-too-familiar to me. It also shows that there are no quick fixes to a country that has been (and still continues to be) ripped apart from the inside out. And that while all these political and social turmoil are going on, a teenager’s life can very well mirror those upheavals as one struggles with one’s meandering thoughts about love and the confusion it brings forth, and life’s unresolved riddles.
Salingkit: A 1986 diary by Cyan Abad-Jugo. Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2012. Book provided by the author.