Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living on Her Own Terms

Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living on Her Own TermsAstigirl: A Grown Girl Living On Her Own Terms by Tweet Sering
Publisher: Flipside Publishing
Number of pages: 156
My copy: ebook, review copy from publisher. Thank you! :)

Far from the grownup she thought she would be, Tweet Sering, 30-plus and tormented by a raging discontent with stale notions of how one must live, strips herself of the trappings of adulthood—no job, no savings, no insurance, and not even a credit card—and resolves to begin growing up again.

In this memoir that is by turns sharply funny, intelligent, outspoken, but also pained and bewildered, Tweet shows her readers how being astray can turn into being astig (tough). Her essays remind us of long, late-night chats with our favorite friend, so that the substance of the go-for-broke account of her journey is not muddled by easy sentiment, but shines with a desire to cheer us on into our own journeys of being a tough girl. An Astigirl.

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When the new year rolled around, I was more than ready to start a new book, eager to start filling my 2012 shelf. However, it felt like the books I was starting weren’t really making the cut. I couldn’t really get into it. It may have been just some kind of New Year blues or something — I don’t know. I received Astigirl as a review copy from Flipside on the first day of work and was all set to read it later in the month. Until decided to take a peek at it after work…and I could not put it down.

Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living On Her Own Terms is Tweet Sering’s account of how she turned into her own kind of tough girl. Tweet talks about a range of things: from a fan letter to Angelina Jolie, to a family discussion on whether Manny Pacquiao’s politics, to how she let go of her finances, to how she decided to drop everything to follow her dream. She talks about serious things about a man she loves and her art, and how she was asked to write her grandmother’s biography to seemingly not-so-serious things such as how she wants to strangle Bella and kick Edward as she read New Moon. With a warm, personal tone akin to a friend sharing her experiences to another, Tweet Sering makes her readers feel that if she can do it, then we can, too.

Ah. That almost slump I had was instantly gone after I read the first entry in this book. Astigirl is the perfect book to read for the new year. It’s got all this freshness and honesty that no other fiction book can offer. I thought it would be all about the kind of toughness that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate or relate to, but I was wrong. Think of this as sort of a Filipino version of Eat Pray Love, but less of the annoying over-privileged “I have money to travel all over the world” feel. In fact, Tweet talked about how she didn’t really feel a strong attachment to money, something I know I had to learn.

I was kind of glad I read this on my Kindle because it makes it easy to highlight quotes. Believe me, when I got to the middle, I realized I was highlighting almost every other page. Maybe it was because of the new year, or maybe it was because Tweet Sering talks about things that every young Filipino woman is thinking but is too confused or too afraid to set out for: to do something meaningful. I would share with you my favorite quotes but they’re too many of them, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself. :)

Being nonfiction meant not everyone will agree with this, but it also means that it can be read again and deliver a different message altogether. Astigirl is a great book to start the year with, and I think it would also make the perfect gift for girlfriends and girl friends. I don’t necessarily agree with everything and I thought some of the entries were a bit long, but I really enjoyed the book and I would definitely browse through it again.

So, if you’re a Filipino woman in your 20’s or 30’s and if you’re feeling a little beat from life or you need a little inspiration, get Astigirl by Tweet Sering. It will do you a lot of good, and hopefully, it will also give you that push you need to go after what you need to do to be your own Astigirl.

Rating:

Buy a copy: Flipreads | Amazon

Alternative Alamat

Alternative Alamat

Alternative Alamat by Various Authors, edited by Paolo Chikiamco
Publisher: Rocket Kapre and Flipside
Number of pages:  174
My copy: ebook review copy from the editor

Philippine mythology is full of images that ignite the imagination: gods of calamity and baldness, of cosmic time and lost things; the many-layered Skyworld, and weapons that fight their own battles; a ship that is pulled to paradise by a chain, and a giant crab that controls the tides… yet too few of these tales are known and read today. “Alternative Alamat” gathers stories, by contemporary authors of Philippine fantasy, which make innovative use of elements of Philippine mythology. None of these stories are straight re-tellings of the old tales: they build on those stories, or question underlying assumptions; use ancient names as catalysts, or play within the spaces where the myths are silent. What you will find in common in these eleven stories is a love for the myths, epics, and legends which reflect us, contain us, call to us–and it is our hope that, in reading our stories, you may catch a glimpse, and develop a hunger, for those venerable tales.

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When I was a kid, I had fond memories of reading about different Filipino legends for school. These legends were really made to teach a lesson to us kids to be nice, respectful and hardworking, really, and not just tall tales for bedtime stories. Most notable was the legend of the pineapple, which tells of a girl who felt lazy to look for what her mother was asking her to find and her exasperated mom wishes for her to have many eyes so she can find it and poof, she turns into a pineapple. I cannot remember, though, of a story talking about other Filipino legends, myths and epics other than the usual kiddie stories, save for Maria Makiling (the fairy that lives in Mount Makiling, one of the well-known mountains in the Philippines) and the Biag ni Lam-Ang (The Life of Lam-Ang), which I had to know because my mom is from Ilocos. So I was one of the people who knew almost nothing about Philippine Mythology that jumped at the idea of reading Alternative Alamat, a collection of stories from Filipino writers edited by Paolo Chikiamco (writer of High Society). Since I vowed to read and review more local fiction ever since I started this blog, I know I can’t miss this one.

The thing I like about anthologies is that it doesn’t require as much commitment as a full length novel does. You can read one story, stop and go back to the collection after some time without feeling lost. But the thing is, I never really wanted to stop reading Alternative Alamat because I keep getting surprised by the stories it contained. There were times when I thought that I wouldn’t like the story I was reading after a few paragraphs, and then I end up really liking it in the end because of some kind of twist. I think there’s something for everyone in each story in this collection. Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St. (Eliza Victoria) reminded me of those stories I read in our literary folio in college, with its YA-ish, magic realism charm. Harinuo’s Love Song (Rochita Leonen-Ruiz) and Keeper of My Sky (Timothy James Dimacali) with their lyrical prose, were haunting and sad tales of a love that shouldn’t have been and couldn’t be. There were stories that gave different perspectives on some of the Filipino goddesses all bearing the same first name Maria but all with different personalities: Conquering Makiling (Monique Francisco) for Maria Makiling, Beneath the Acacia (Celestine Trinidad) for Maria Sinukuan, and The Sorceress Queen (Raissa Rivera Falgui) for Maria Malindig. There were stories from legends that seemed like a stranger at first but then turns into something more familiar: Offerings to Aman Sinaya (Andre Tupaz) deals with how we have turned from the old fishing ways to the newer ones that destroy the oceans; Balat, Buwan, Ngalan (David Hontiveros) seemed like meta fiction of sorts since it mentions a book of local legends that was published and launched. Then there were the fun things, like alternate histories, that picks on the two times that the Filipinos fought back from the Spanish conquerors: The Alipin’s Tale (Raymond G. Falgui) and A Door Opens: The Beginning of the Fall of the Ispancialo-in-Hinirang (Dean Alfar). And if you have ever read any of the Trese comics, then you’re in for a treat here because The Last Full Show (Budjette Tan) is a story that shows a side of Alexandra Trese not shown in the comics. It’s hard to pick favorites among the stories because they each had something different to like about it — the writing, the treatment of the myth, the characters, the twists. There are also illustrations in the book too (done by cover artist, Mervin Malonzo), that are also based on Philippine myths and perfectly complements the content. It’s really a treasure trove of the things that make the Filipino culture so rich and colorful, and I’m pretty sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Alternative Alamat also contains a few appendices about notable Filipino deities, interviews with experts on the field, tips on researching Philippine myths and a glossary of terms. While it may seem that these things were included in the book for foreign readers, I think it’s also for Filipinos like me who know almost nothing about Philippine mythology. I think this makes Alternative Alamat more accessible to readers, regardless if you’re a Filipino or you’ve lived in the country for a while or you’re just a curious reader who’s interested in the title even if you have no idea where in the world the Philippines is.

Is there anything I don’t like about this? Well, I just wish that it was a little bit longer. I truly felt sad when I read that the anthology was closing with Dean Alfar’s story. But having this book out in the wild now doesn’t mean it has to stop there, right? After all, there is always an option for a second volume. ;) And also, a print version would be nice. So I can gift this to friends who refuse to get an e-reader. :D But other than that, there’s nothing else I would nitpick on. I think all the things I wrote up there sufficiently says how much I loved Alternative Alamat. I’ve never felt more prouder to be a Filipino when I was reading this. Somehow, I felt that this book and the stories in this collection were mine — mine because I am a Filipino and the stories found inside is a part of my heritage. :)

So if you’re one of the people who received an e-reader for Christmas, or you’ve had one for a while and you’re looking for something really new to read for the new year, then imagine me pushing, no, shoving this ebook to you. If you’re going to get one new ebook before this year ends or if you’re going to buy a new one as the 2012 comes in, make it Alternative Alamat. You won’t regret it, I promise. :)

Rating:

Book page: Alternative Alamat at Rocket Kapre
Buy a copy:
Flipreads | Amazon | iTunes

Other reviews:
The Girl Who Read
Bookish Little Me

High Society (+ Giveaway!)

High Society by Paolo Chikiamco and Hannah Buena

High Society by Paolo Chikiamco and Hannah Buena
Publisher: Flipside Digital and Rocket Kapre
My copy: ebook from Kindle store, and signed print edition, bought from Komikon

Take your first step into a world of automata, magic, and alternative history! The year is 1764, and, for the first time in nearly two centuries, the Spanish forces have been repelled from the great walled city of Manila. While the Spaniards are quick to lay the blame at the feet of the invading British and their clockwork machines, the secret to the success of the Filipinos may lie closer to home, with an ally that is both ancient and new, mythical and mechanical. “High Society” is a stand-alone steampunk comic book in the “Wooden War” series.

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I’m really all for supporting local authors and content, so when Honey told me that they will be releasing Paolo Chikiamco and Hannah Buena’s High Society under their publishing company, I bought it without blinking. Local content for the win, plus I really enjoyed Kataastaasan, so I was excited to read more about this alternate steampunk world.

Thing is, High Society is really the same as the Kataastaasan I read a year back…but also a little bit different. High Society is a stand-alone comic set in Cebu City circa 1770, and tells an alternate history of the Philippines’ struggle for independence from Spain. Here we meet someone called “The Carpenter” telling our main character Rita about the location of a treasure that they need to recover. Rita goes undercover in a party with the Spanish colonizers to retrieve the treasure. Now you’d think Rita is just your normal undercover agent and all, but then she’s also not. I won’t reveal what the twist is, but I remember I was pleasantly surprised when I found out about it on my first read. Even if I knew about it now and it kind of lessened the surprise, I really liked how it was illustrated and revealed this time, and I think it’s the part of the story that hooks the reader the most.

I think the improvement on this one compared to the ARC I read was how Rita was given a more human aspect. There’s a hint of romance in the story that made me smile, and it made me want to know more. This version also had a little more background on how Rita came to be as well as why their mission was important. I’m not a big judge on artwork, but I liked how it had that dark and authentic Philippines in Spanish era vibe.

So yeah, I liked this one on the second round as much as I liked it during the first. Too bad it’s a stand alone, but I kind of have high hopes with what they mean with the “Wooden War” series. More please? :) High Society is a creative take in Philippine history, and anyone who’s a history buff, or at least interested in alternate histories and steampunk should pick this up.

High Society is available from the Amazon Kindle store, iTunes store and in the Flipreads Digital Store. If you’re from the Philippines and you prefer a hard copy, drop by the Flipside booth at the annual Komikon this Saturday, November 19, where they will be selling limited physical copies of the comic. You can get it signed, too! :)

And because I really, really want you guys to read this, I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy of High Society to one lucky commenter. This is open to everyone — just leave a comment on this entry and I will pick one winner by Friday, November 18, 2011. If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry — there are free Kindle apps for practically every gadget out there. :)

Rating:

My copy: Kindle edition

Other reviews:
Planet Markus
Flipgeeks