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 JZgmh48zUaI]

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: [rating=2]

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

42 Thoughts on “Ang Mga Kaibigan Ni Mama Susan

  1. *Insert creepy baritone voice here* “Ang yakap ng isang kaibigan…

    Nice review Tina! :)

  2. Gorgonio Magalpok on January 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm said:

    Joy and I bought this book during our Philippine vacation along with a bunch of other Bob Ong’s Books. Hindi ko pa nababasa pero nakakaintriga yung review mo. Haha.

  3. Thanks for the review (and the fair warning)! I think I’ll pick this one up. I enjoy Bob Ong’s work and I like scaring myself so… XP

  4. have you seen the reviews on good reads? a lot of people doesn’t seem to like the book. then again, reading the comments on my own post about the book, it seems as if there are a equal number of people who liked it.

    i’m looking forward to more horror books of bob ong, if this one’s an indication of his strength in the genre. :)

    • Yeah, I know some people who didn’t really like this one on goodreads too. But maybe other people have a high expectations on this one and they’re the ones who really didn’t like it? It can be corny at some points, but the ending really quite freaked me out. :D

  5. After I watched the trailer, I didn’t read the review anymore. I should have been warned before watching the trailer.. hehe. Nagulat ako! ;)

    • SEEEEE. Sorry for the lack of warning before the trailer. Haha the book has the same thing printed at the back, so I couldn’t look at it when I was reading it. :D

      • Crucio-ed Mudblood on August 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm said:

        IKR? Haha. It still gives me the creeps. :| When I finished reading the book (in broad daylight, same as you), I sneaked a glance to the back cover and I slammed it down almost immediately. Darn.

  6. I almost clicked the play button for the trailer! Good thing I finished reading the review first; wouldn’t dare clicking it now! ^^. I hardly watch horror movies because once I close my eyes at night vivid images of what I’d just seen would start to play. Gah. And I believe a horror book would be worse for me, it would convey scary images more vividly than a movie ever could. That’s why I am also quite reluctant to pick up zombie related books like Feed (which you highly recommend) Although I was able to sit through Zombieland (but this is kind of a comedy, so I think this counts as an exception) :P

    • Feed is more political than scary, really. Zombie novels are more sci-fi for me than horror. :D Although I did get scared when I was watching my brother play Resident Evil when we were younger. Haha.

      This one has the scary elements of Filipino superstitions. You know those movies where the characters end up staying in a creepy house with weird images that are supposed to be holy but end up…scary? That kind of thing. Haha. I’d rather read about zombies and even vampires than read something supernatural that I could easily imagine wherever I am. Hee.

  7. Same here. I saw this at NBS the day it was released last year and was just about to pick it up because hey, it’s a Bob Ong book! But I ended up not getting it because images of my growing pile of unread books flashed in my mind.
    My officemate read it and spent the rest of the day talking about it (much to my dismay). I also didn’t know it was a horror book and I’m thankful for my officemate for the advance warning. I generally don’t like horror films and so it would be sensible for me to avoid books like it too. Although my officemate did say it’s a really funny horror story. Still, it’s horror so…

    • Yay to us non-fans of horror? It’s one of the many lessons I learned after the nth watching of those Halloween episodes of the now defunct Magandang Gabi Bayan — if I won’t be able to sleep after watching it, then I should avoid watching it altogether. Doesn’t stop me from telling scary stories every now and then, though. ^^

  8. rj camacho on February 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm said:

    hi ms. tina,, i only learned about this book last January and learned it was scary,, though im a not a fan of horror stuff, i decided to read this book since im always interested on BO’s books… then i read it last week.. i cant get sleeping in peace since most of my imagination starts at night,,, then it was just like a movie playing in my head.. especially his most creepy moments inside the house….

    creepss… hehe

  9. dang! I shouldn’t watched the trailer!! Lahat ata ng nakabasa ng libro na ito eh binasa ng umaga or tanghali. hahaha geez even Saab Magalona tweeted na nakakatakot ito. Will buy this bahala na. thanks for the review.

  10. Precious on March 21, 2011 at 5:03 am said:

    I bought this book with my boyfriend, we just picked it and bought it without any hesitations. I chose it just because of the color not thinking of its story.. i didn’t think that it would be that creepy as that. but anyways, i’m a big fan of bob ong!nice delivery..

  11. Precious on March 21, 2011 at 5:06 am said:

    I read it 11pm onwards while with my classmates while doing our thesis. I finished it at around 3am. cool experience!

  12. Grace Gonzales on April 2, 2011 at 9:26 am said:

    If you want a good sleep, don’t ever read the final pages at night.. With the description of the scenes, you can really picture out the people “kapatiran” in the book as if you’re watching a horror film.. Reallllyy creepy.. so better read it in daylight.. :))

  13. Jeff0237 on April 17, 2011 at 7:04 am said:

    Nice review, Tina. I read all of Bob Ong’s works…and I’m a fan! Wish ko lang maging movie ung mga aklat nyang McArthur, Kapitan Sino at Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan..pwede tlg eh. Kahit animation tulad ng AniMatrix.

  14. slabster on April 20, 2011 at 10:31 am said:

    just read it yesterday
    my friend warned me how creepy it is, i couldn’t read the last page
    worst, i dreamt of it last night >_>

  15. ian lugiie on April 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm said:

    Wow, your review for me is a thrilling one. Nakakagulat lang talaga dahil di ko inaasahang gagamit si uncle Bob ng horror story para patuloy na itago ang tunay na mensahe ng mga libro nya. Nakakakilabot nang mabasa ko ang “Ang mga kaibigan ni mama Susan” lalo na yung mga huling line pero ok na rin naman kasi naabot ng pangunawa ko yung mensahe. Long live to all Filipino writers who exposes the exposed problem of our motherland.

  16. tiffany on May 28, 2011 at 9:04 am said:

    mero po bang website kung saan free po kaung makabasa ng tagalog books?such as BOB ONG books??kc po wla po akong mgwa dto sa bahay nmn gsto ko lng po mg basa ng mga tagalog books kht andto na ako sa amerika nkaka miss prn po kc eh

  17. jericho tagget on June 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm said:

    ” it was a horrifying book !!!
    na fefeel ko lahat ng na fefeel ni GADO ..

    – grabe !!!
    mapapa isip ka tlga ..

    – nice book !!

  18. hello, do you have any information on where I can buy this book in the USA, it is not sold here, and I cannot find it on amazon or ebay.

    Thank you. Hopefully it is a fun read!

  19. <3 nice book. :3

    kind of creepy in the end actually. ;0

  20. miyuki keiko on June 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm said:

    ,,i really liked it..and i still have hangover bout that creepy book..coz i finished reading it this morning..right after my eyes opened..that is the first thing that i saw beside me..*it belongs to my ate na katabi ko matulog* so i decided to read it early in the morning..i spent 3hrs reading it..and ughh! when i was reading the last page that says..”huwag mong babasahin ang hindi mo naiintindihan”..i felt cold and as if there’s really someone that is hugging gosh! then i decided not to read the entire ending of it..takot ako eh..=’))

  21. Thanks for the review! I’m supposed to buy this book instantly when I first saw it but the back cover made me think twice because of the back cover. And thanks to your review and the vid, I finally knew what it was about :S Don’t like horror films/books but I’m still gonna buy it because its Bob Ong’s :D Thanks!

  22. bought this one last week and I cant say if I like or not. Medyo boring siya ng konti. Mahilig ako sa mga creepy stories and minsan hindi na ako natatakot pa magbasa/manood ng mga horror. May mga flwas din akong nakita sa story, gaya nung sa mga piece niya yung sa last part. Pag takot takot ka na ba, kaya mo pa ring magsulat sa journal mo? weird d ba? XD At dahil sa kaweirdohan ko, gusto kong iresearch yung translation nung mga latin phrase. – napadaan lang ^^

  23. allan on August 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm said:

    a friend told me not to read the last part at night, especially during 12 to 3am,,,
    its a chant to call out spirits…
    during our stay in our chapter, one of our mates read the last part of the book…
    creepy,,, we’re in a closed room in the bleeding area,,, pero biglang lumamig ang hangin…
    lalo na sa paanan..
    then one our our mates suddenly sees russel,
    yung batang nagpapakita dun sa chapter,
    sinabi nya na lang sa amin nung umaga na…

  24. Crucio-ed Mudblood on August 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm said:

    NOTE: this comment is NOT spoiler-free..

    Just finished reading this book. Argh! Maliwanag pa naman, pero kinikilabutan na ‘ko. Tengene (please pardon the swear word). Baka hindi ako makatulog mamayang gabi dahil dito. Masyado akong nasindak. Lalo na sa dulong part. Talagang na-feel kong bumilis ung heartbeat ko kasi naka-hang ako sa mga nanyayari, blow by blow. Ang vivid din ng descriptions, may CREEPY na image talang nabubuo sa isip ko habang binabasa ko ung mga yun. Ayoko naaaaaaaaaaaa!

    Takot na ‘ko dati sa mga kulto, pero mas pinatindi yun ni Bob Ong. Grabe talaga. feeling ko mato-trauma na ‘ko pagkabasa nun.

  25. Just finished it right now and I don’t know how to express my feelings right now.


  26. Hello po, great review! :D Pero, itatanong ko lang po, pwede pakipost niyo ulit yung link para sa book trailer ng ‘Ang mga kaibigan ni Mama Susan’? Kasi po, pagkiniclick ko po kasi yung video, hindi po nagpeplay eh. :| Salamat po! :D

  27. I can’t play the video..

  28. Ma-fel on October 6, 2012 at 1:45 am said:

    Shocks! This review alone made me scared to the highest level. Nakabasa na rin ako ng mga books ni Bob Ong, pero I never thought na meron na siyang Horror. Gusto ko basahin kasi naiintriga ako, pero habang nagcocomments kayo dito, naiimagine ko na siya, nagdadalawang isip naman ako. Kasi like most of you guys, pag nagbabasa ako ng scary na books, hindi talaga ako maka-move on. Siguro weeks ang itinatagal before ko ma-get over yung feeling Waaahhh!

  29. haha…. sinabi pa naman ni bob ong sa isang libro nya na ayaw niyang nagbabasa ng horror books (hindi ko na matandaan kung anong libro.. :D)… mas tumatatak daw kasi sa isip kung binabasa mo kaysa sa pinapanood. Kakabili ko lang nito. Ayoko na basahin >.<. Duwag pa naman ako

  30. alexander on November 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm said:

    grabeh!!!!!!!!!! sobraaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!! nakakapanghilakbot yung story!!!! hindi sya entertaining na horror!!!! yung horror na horror talaga!!!!! sobrah!!!

  31. Regina Joyce Manalo on September 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm said:

    This book
    nabasa ko na sya and this one give me a Massive nightmare
    yung di ako makatulog ng maayos tuwing gabi kasi nakaharap sa akin yung half open na window namin (which reminds me of yung nasa trailer na nakasilip)
    nice review po because it was so similar as what i understand in the story
    i’m a fan of Kuya Bob Ong and i’ve never thought na magaling syang magbigay ng bangungot tuwing gabi. tinakot ako nito at nagkaroon ako ng “GOLDEN RULE” na tuwing umaga ko sya babasahin 8:00 – 5 : 00 probably and i feel too what Galo (Gilberto Manansala) wants to tel to us

    this is the third BO book that i read and i read the others after to this one (siguro para makalimutan yung mga panaginip ko)

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