Minis: Required Reading for August

Still working through my review backlog, so I thought — let’s do a Minis post again! I don’t know if I should make this a habit, but I’m making it a sort of special case for August’s reading list so I can get them all down in one go. I’m efficient that way. (And also maybe a bit lazy. :p)

On another note: I was supposed to include the review of Noli Me Tangere in this post, but it isn’t short anymore, so I will reserve that for another post. :)

Paper Cuts by Pam PastorPaper Cuts: Dodging Deadlines, Celebrity run-ins and Other stories I told the Internet by Pam Pastor
Publisher: Anvil
Number of pages: 169
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

Paper Cuts is a collection of stories from my crazy life, what happens between deadlines.

* * *

I got this book a year ago during the book launch, not because I knew the author or I was even really remotely interested — I got this simply because I wanted to support local authors and their work. Of course, with the not-so-high interest level, I pushed this down my TBR until I finally pulled it out so I can finally read it. Paper Cuts is a collection of stories from journalist/writer Pam Pastor based on her adventures in her “crazy life”. I liked the idea, given that I’m a blogger myself, although I doubt that my life is as crazy as hers.

I enjoyed Paper Cuts for the most part, especially the ones where the author shared anecdotes about her family. There’s nothing like crazy family stories to set the tone of a non-fiction book. I also liked her crazy commuting/cab stories because I share the same things too. However…my enjoyment kind of stopped there. After some time, I just couldn’t relate much to the other parts of the book. It feels like maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I wanted to have the same adventures as she did — meet different celebrities, go around the world for her job and party when there’s time — but I’m actually quite happy with my own life. These stories were good to read, but it’s not something that I would probably gush about, unless they were my own experiences, that is. But knowing (boring) old me, I don’t think I’ll even reach as many crazy experiences like that.

It’s not a bad book, per se. The writing was very witty and again, there were several stories that made me chuckle, but I was a bit apathetic for the rest of the stories. It’s just one of those books that I am not a part of the intended audience. But you know what, maybe that’s why I haven’t heard of the author until her book came out — maybe it’s because we’re just in entirely different circles. Overall, it’s an okay book.

Rating:

Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob OngLumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob Ong
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 186
My copy: paperback, gift from KD

Mula sa kasumpa-sumpang kahirapan at kalunos-lunos na kaignorantehan sa mundong kanyang kinagisnan, namulat si Marie sa tunay na mukha ng matamis at mapapakasakit na pag-ibig.

Ngunit makakayanan niya ba ang mga hamon ng bukas?

Ano ang kanyang magiging kapalaran?

Huwag na huwag palalampasin ang mga tagpo ngayong gabi sa telesineryenobela na kumpleto sa mga pang-aapi, paghihiganti, impostor, amnesia, kasal at diary!

* * *

Bob Ong was a staple among my friends in college, because he provided us with quick and funny reads that keeps us afloat during stressful school days. I guess reading his books has become a habit that I haven’t shaken yet, that’s why I wanted to read his latest book, Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin (loose translation: Stay Away From Me). The title is a play on one old Filipino song Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin by Rodel Naval that eventually became a title of a Filipino noontime soap opera. The book is written in script format with three stories, one that plays on the cliches found in Filipino action movies, Filipino horror movies and finally, Filipino romance movies. Since this book is written for Filipinos, it’s going to be hard to explain these cliches to foreigners, so let’s kind of leave it at that. Anyway, as with every Bob Ong book, the book pokes fun at different things in the Filipino society, too, with the purpose of using humor to make the readers thing.

This book reminds me of those old gag skits I used to write for my org in school. And that’s the only charm of the book. Overall, I had the huge urge to just chuck the book and not finish it. There were some funny parts, yes, but it wasn’t the old funny thing that Bob Ong used to write. More often than not, the jokes fall flat and are just plain corny. It’s not that I didn’t get it — I just didn’t appreciate it, I guess.

So it’s either I’ve outgrown Bob Ong books, or this is just blah. Maybe a little of both? Or I guess I just kind of miss the ABNKKBSNPLAKo and Stainless Longganisa days.

Rating:

Required Reading: August

Required Reading: September

Ahoy there, look, it’s September!

Some of my book club friends received a very perky text message this morning about the fact that it’s September, and it’s almost Christmas1 and because it’s the start of one of our biggest buddy reads ever today as well. September to remember? :)

I’m just really happy that we’re onto a new month because August was kind of…interesting. Some things are a bit too personal to divulge, but in terms of reading, August has been one of those slump-y months. I read, but I was terribly slow, and I hardly made a dent with my TBR because I ended up getting more new books and reading them instead of reading the ones I already have. It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you. But first, recap of my August Required Reading list (none of which I have written reviews for yet, eep!):

  • Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob Ong (1/5) – Ugh. I shouldn’t have expected much, really.
  • Paper Cuts by Pam Pastor (2/5) – I read this and Bob Ong’s book in one weekend. Aaron had to ask me if I was torturing myself on purpose. Not that it’s bad, but it’s not my kind of book after all. More details when I sit down and review it.
  • Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal (3-4/5) – Haven’t decided on the final rating. Rating it 3 seems so low because this is like THE novel that spurred the revolution against Spain in Filipino history so my Filipino heart feels that I should rate this higher. But as a reader…it’s not really that amazing.

Interestingly, I think I read so many books by Filipino authors this month too! I’d like to think it’s because of the really awesome 2nd Filipino ReaderCon that drove me to get more local books. :) I still have several local books on my TBR shelf that I am pretty sure I’ll be able to read this year, and I’m quite excited about it. Maybe I’ll finally reach that 20 Filipino books goal!

My review backlog is still a backlog — let me work on that. :P

Now let’s move on to September!

Required Reading: September

Continue Reading →

  1. Yep, we Filipinos start counting down to Christmas this early []

Required Reading: August

You know I still owe the blog several a ton of reviews and posts? Ah, what is busy? I don’t think I am in a blogging slump, but I’ve been terribly busy with other real life stuff (some still connected to reading, but not requiring an easy site builder), and yes, sometimes I’m just too lazy to open my blog and write a review. For that, I apologize.

On another note, July reading was actually quite good, even if I was still terribly slow. I don’t think I’ll ever get out of the 4-book backlog for my Goodreads challenge, but right now, I don’t really care. Perhaps later? But anyway, I managed to finish my July books with a few days to spare!

  • Blackout by Mira Grant (5/5)
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (4/5)
  • Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti (4/5 — bordering to 5. I love this book :D)
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (4/5)

I like that most of my books were highly rated, which means I really enjoyed them all last month! :)

Required Reading: August

Now we go to August! It feels kind of weird writing this post in English because of the theme I picked for the month. August is our country’s language month, orBuwan ng Wika, and this is normally the time in the year where we are encouraged to speak in Filipino to celebrate our language. Oh, I speak in Filipino when conversing with friends, but for other forms of communication, I always switch to English because of the nature of my work.

So writing this post in English feels weird now because my theme for this month’s list are Filipino books. It’s not books written in Filipino (although there is one), but books written by Filipino authors. Love your own, right?

Yep, that’s a caricature of me behind the books. :)

  • Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob Ong. He’s one of the funny, local authors that has a huge following, and I have pretty much read almost everything he wrote. This is his latest, and I received this last Christmas and I am finally, finally going to read it. I figure it’s going to be light reading?
  • Paper Cuts by Pam Pastor. I got this in 2011, and it’s a collection of articles written by the author. Should be another light read, and I chose this on purpose because of the last book on my list.
  • Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. I added this on my Required Reading post in June last year, and I abandoned it halfway because I found it too wordy. This was a required reading in high school, but since we only read the summarized version, I wanted to read the whole version. And then like I said, I stopped reading it last year. Now our book club has chosen this as book of the month and I have no choice but to finally read it. Challenge accepted.

I’m not sure if I will read only Filipino books this month (that’s an interesting idea!), but I will try. Again, love your own, right? It’s just timely because we’ll also be having the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon: United We Read on August 18, and it’s a celebration of/for Filipino readers, so maybe reading all things Filipino will make me feel more festive.

If you’re looking for a Filipino reading challenge for this month, you can also drop by Kikay Reader’s blog and join her challenge.

What are you reading this August? Share in the comments section! :)

Ang Mga Kaibigan Ni Mama Susan

Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan by Bob Ong
(Visprint, 127 pages)

I’ve been reading Bob Ong’s books since college, ever since a friend brought her copy of his first book, A B N K K B S N P L A Ko (That reads as Aba Nakakabasa Na Pala Ako – literal translation: Wow, I Can Read Now). Bob Ong is one of the popular Filipino writers, who, until now, I am not sure if he is really one person or many contributing to one book. I’ve read almost all of his books ever since then, always looking forward to his funny words of wisdom that pokes and reflects on modern Filipino culture. I remember resorting to his books whenever I needed a pick-me-up, and since then, he’s become one of those authors that I buy even if he isn’t really a favorite. Perhaps this is an addiction?

So when I saw Bob Ong’s latest book in Fully Booked, Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan (Translation: Mama Susan’s Friends), I didn’t think twice in getting it. I wasn’t even sure what it was about — I just knew it was Bob Ong, and whatever it is, I would probably like it. Even if I did not, it’s still local fiction, so I figure it’s still a win, right?

Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan brings us back to the days of school journals. Everyone must have had a teacher who made them do a journal for school — a small notebook with a recollection of what happened for a certain period of time to be read and graded by a teacher. I don’t really know the purpose of why our teachers made us do this except maybe for my college Literature professor. That wasn’t a particularly hard assignment for me, anyway, as I’ve always been journaling on my own — it was all a matter of filtering what you write for school, you see.

I didn’t know what the book was about when I got it. It wasn’t until I got back to the office to read about the book when I finally saw this trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

The trailer is in Filipino, but you don’t really need to understand it to figure out that this book is horror, especially when you get to the last part of the trailer. That stopped me from reading the book immediately. I was never a fan of horror, and I really go out of my way to avoid anything scary. I’m not a screamer, and I’m usually calm in reading or watching or listening to scary stories but my imagination wrecks havoc in me after.

So when I decided to read the book, I told myself I need to finish it in broad daylight. And so I did. In Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan, we meet Galo, who first started writing on a journal for an assignment and ended up keeping it because he did not want to waste his notebook. He chronicles his life in Manila where he lives with his relatives who never made living with them easy for him. He gets fed up with them and leaves to go back to the province to stay with his grandmother who raised him before he left for Manila. Things changed drastically from what he remembers in the province. Instead of finding the town to be just less noisier than Manila but still with improvements from his last visit, he finds that the town went backwards and were rejecting technology (no heated mattress pads, for example). His grandmother’s house grows increasingly creepier with the presence of different statues of saints and the weekly gatherings of her grandmother’s friends in her house. As weirder things start to happen, Galo tries to escape, but finds that there may be powers stronger than he is that are keeping him from doing so.

Talk about creepy. I read this in one bright and sunny afternoon but I couldn’t shake off the creeps especially in the last pages. I think one thing that made it really scary is the fact that it is a journal, and it’s a first person account. I liked how Bob Ong’s words flowed naturally and Galo’s voice rang clear all through out. I found that it wasn’t much different from the voices of his other characters from his previous books but there’s this distinct Bob Ong feel to it that is familiar. There’s also the fun references to some of the things I grew up with as a kid.

While I enjoyed reading it because of Bob Ong, I can’t say I liked it because like I said, I don’t like horror. The story is interesting and the last pages are truly creepy, but as a whole, it’s not my book. My rating isn’t really based on how much the book lacked but really more of a genre preference. If you’re a horror fan, you’ll probably enjoy this, but if you’re a big chicken like me…skip. For your peace of mind, skip it.

To further prove my point: after I finished reading this book, I woke up in the middle of the night from my sleep needing to go to the rest room. I almost decided not to go because it would mean standing up and going there alone, and who knows what I will find when I open my bedroom door? I keep on remembering the face in the trailer and freaked out at the thought of seeing that in the dark corners of our apartment. I got up eventually because I couldn’t hold it in any longer. But I left all doors and lights open, and ran back to the bedroom right after doing my business, all the while my mind remembering the last words of the book in absolute clarity.

Hmph. Big chicken, I am.

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
1 of 20 Filipino books in 2011

My copy: Paperback, from Fully Booked

Cover: Goodreads

Other Reviews:
taking a break
Simply, Human

Kapitan Sino (Bob Ong)

Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong

Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong
Visprint, 166 pages

THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.b

Naunahan na naman ang mga pulis sa pagtugis sa mga holdaper ng isang jewelry shop. Bago noon, may iba na ring nakahuli sa isang carnaper; sumaklolo sa mga taong nasa itaas ng nasusunog na building; nagligtas sa sanggol na hinostage ng ama; tumulong para makatawid sa kalsada ang isnag matanda; tumiklo sa mga miyembro ng Akyat Bahay; sumagip sa mga mag-anak na tinagay ng tubig-baha; nag-landing ng maayos sa isang Boeing 747 na nasiraan ng engine; at nagpasabog s aisang iganteng robot. Pero sino ang taong ‘yon? Maliligtas nya ba sila Aling Baby? At ano nga ba talaga ang sabon ng mga artista?

Bob Ong is known for his funny yet thought provoking books about the life of a Filipino. I’m sure you’ve heard of him at one point, or have received a forwarded email regarding his little thoughts on life and love (ex. “Kung maghihintay ka nang lalandi sayo, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo. Dapat lumandi ka din.” Don’t wait for someone to flirt with you. Learn to flirt as well.) and I know that most people have certainly agreed with a lot of what he has written.

Kapitan Sino is Ong’s 7th book, and it takes us in an adventure in the town of Pelaez. There we find Rogelio, an ordinary man who makes a living by fixing different appliances in their shop named “Hasmin’s Sari-Sari Store” that they’ve planned to change but never got around to. He lives his life one day at at time, enjoying his little jokes with the kids who insist on buying candies at their sari-sari store turned electronic repair shop, listening to his neighbors Aling Precious and Aling Baby best each other and sing to the different songs he hears on the radio. All this changes one day when his friend Bok-Bok visits his place and they both find out Rogelio has super powers.

Kapitan Sino was born, and from there, Rogelio started saving other people’s lives, disguised in a silver costume and helmet that his blind friend and childhood love Tessa made. Pretty soon, Kapitan Sino was everywhere — on the children that play along the streets pretending to be the hero and the villains, on snacks, gums, newspaper, radio, TV. Everyone was thankful for Kapitan Sino’s heroism, and Rogelio was just happy that he was able to help. This was up until his encounter with the town’s monster, which he defeats but then fails to save someone that mattered to him.

Kapitan Sino is a lot like his previous book MacArthur, but a bit more fun. The thing I did not like about MacArthur was how depressing it was, and I didn’t want to read it afterwards. Kapitan Sino is funny in the sense that it brings in a lot of late 80′s to 90′s Filipino culture, such as snacks like Rinbee, Bazooka Bubble Gum and TV shows like Pinoy Thriller or  Batibot — things that Generation X and Y will surely understand and remember. However, Kapitan Sino is kind of sad too, because it shows us just how our nation is, reflected in the small town of Pelaez: from the corrupt government officials to the people who spend time trying to best each other with their riches, spending more time gossiping than doing something productive and even blaming other people for things that are not their fault. It’s a startlingly accurate picture, and it’s kind of sad to realize the reality of what Bob Ong has written.

But do we really need superheroes to be able to fix our situation? Do we have to have super powers to be heroes? Or can we be heroes on our own?

I’ll leave that up to you to answer.

Rating:

My copy: Paperback, Php250 (?) from Fully Booked

Cover: Visprint – Bob Ong Books
Blurb: Back of the book

Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me