You can’t silence our love (Cross-post)

[Cross-posted from]

Look, it’s 11/12/13!

I’m a sucker for dates, which I have proven through some of the posts I made in the past years (except for 11/11/11 — totally wasn’t able to blog then; I wonder why), and today is no different when I got home past midnight and started seeing tweets saying, “Hey look, it’s 11/12/13!”

So look, it’s 11/12/13!

I was thinking of something to write today on my way home last night — you know, something personal and thought provoking and maybe a little dramatic, something normal for me — and then it hit me how selfish it seems to think of that now, in the light of the recent events that happened in my country.

So none of that now. Today is a good day to start doing something. If you haven’t started yet, that is.

Last weekend, Super Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) wrecked havoc in the Philippines. I’m pretty sure everyone knows about this already, and if you haven’t heard, then here’s a little infographic from UN-OCHA to give you the facts:

We were spared in Manila, and my friends and family are all safe, too, but the typhoon hit the area of the Philippines that don’t have enough capacity to bear with this kind of storm. WAIT, SCRATCH THAT. There is NO place here that can really take that kind of typhoon and not come face to face with devastation. Not to mention that’s also the part of the country devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake a little less than a month ago. It’s just truly horrible and heartbreaking.

Today is a good day to start doing things, or to keep doing things. I’m a sucker for dates, and maybe you’re also amused with 11/12/13. If you want to do something different today, then I implore you: HELP. Every single help you can give is important and will go a long way. Donate your money, your time, your talent. This is not the time to be shy, or to think you can’t give something because everyone can give something.

It can be as easy as sending part of your salary/allowance for donation (and hey, it’s payday week this week). Or maybe even making personal sacrifices: bringing packed food to work so you won’t have to spend so much on food, or going for cheaper coffee instead of the overpriced ones for the rest of the month and giving what you saved to the groups organizing relief efforts. Or if you are going to eat out or get coffee, then dine at these places that promised to donate the proceeds for the typhoon victims.

Write about it, share information on your social media profiles.

Pray. And if you’re not the praying type, then just keep the people affected in mind for a few minutes in a day and let this be a factor in some of your decisions for the day.

Be kind, be patient, be gracious, be generous, be loving. Because we need to be this now more than ever.

We are never too poor not to give anything, or too powerless not to do anything.

Continue Reading →

Falling Together

Falling Together by Marisa de los SantosFalling Together by Marisa de los Santos
Publisher: William Morrow and Company
Number of pages:  358
My copy: trade paperback, bought from Bestsellers

What would you do if an old friend needed you, but it meant turning your new life upside down? Pen, Will, and Cat met during the first week of their first year of college and struck up a remarkable friendship, one that sustained them and shaped them for years – until it ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways. Now, six years later, Pen is the single mother of a five-year-old girl, living with her older brother in Philadelphia and trying to make peace with the sudden death of her father. Even though she feels deserted by Will and Cat, she has never stopped wanting them back in her life, so when she receives an email from a desperate-sounding Cat asking her to meet her at their upcoming college reunion, Pen goes. What happens there sends past and present colliding and sends Pen and her friends on a journey across the world, a journey that will change everything.

* * *

I’ve always dubbed March as a special month because of my birthday, and I take advantage of that by meeting up with as many people that I can, especially those that I haven’t seen in a while. It’s always the best excuse IMHO: “It’s my birthday, let’s meet up!” Of course, I often ended up treating the people to coffee, dessert or sometimes even dinner because of that fact, but I never really minded that. In the past month alone, I’ve been out almost every weekend and two to three times on week nights to meet up with my barkada (my closest friends), college roommates, thesis mates, book club friends, church community friends — old friends, new friends, people from almost all stages of my life, I took the time to meet them this month. Sometimes I end up traveling farther than I want to, staying out and losing sleep and being so exhausted that I don’t have time to read (or blog), but I think all of those times were worth it.

This is one of the reasons why I chose Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos as my birthday read. Pen, Cat and Will met in college, and have been the best of friends ever since. Their friendship was so strong that even their romantic relationships took a back seat from their friendship, making them an almost impenetrable circle. But that was the past, and it’s been six years since Pen has seen Cat and Will after they walked out of her life. She never stopped missing them, even if they had missed major milestones in her life such as the birth of her daughter, Augusta, or the death of her father. When Pen and Will receive an email from Cat asking them to meet at their college reunion, they couldn’t refuse. But when they were faced with the unexpected at the reunion, Pen and Will set off to find their missing friend all across the world in a journey that really changed everything for them.

I love Marisa de los Santos. I can’t help but swoon over the way she writes — there’s a certain beauty and elegance in her writing that just makes everything…well, fall together for me. Falling Together is a pretty slow book, one that builds up slowly and flashes back on a lot of memories to tie up the numerous strings spread out around Pen, Will and Cat. Her characters come off feeling like they are also your friends and not just friends with each other, like you’re a part of their circle. Pen is reminiscent of Cornelia in Love Walked In and Belong to Me with her observations and her small eccentricities, although I think I would choose to be with Cornelia over her because I find her more of a darling than Pen. Cat is sufficiently made into a mystery, and it made me wonder what her motivations were in doing what she did. Will is almost like Teo Sandoval in Marisa’s first two books, but also not quite. Maybe the half-Filipino aspect of Teo made him more attractive to me than Will. Sometimes it feels like these characters are a little too whimsical, or maybe a little too different, or maybe even a little too perfect sounding, but Marisa includes little quirks that make them less of those a-little-too’s.

Speaking of Filipino, one of the main reasons why I was so excited to read this book was because a part of it was set in the Philippines. Marisa de los Santos has Filipino roots and I can’t help but feel so proud about how she described the Philippines and the Filipinos in this book. Here’s an example:

Maybe it was the food or the muted light or the ceiling fan’s slow, hypnotic paddling of the air or maybe it was simply that every journey — and Pen had come to see herself as a person distinctly on a journey […] — has its land of the lotus eaters, its drowsy slowdown in momentum. There would be time to winnow out the reasons later, but as she sat in the living room of the house in which Cat’s father had grown up, surrounded by someone else’s family — Cat’s family, the one she had flown across the world to find — with a plate of food on a tray in front of her, all Pen knew was that she wanted, with her heart, to become a part of the place, to unpack her bags, hunker down, and stay. (p. 284)

And something about the food:

But there was nothing “nothing special” about it: great piled tangles of noodles rife with bits of vegetables, meat and shrimp; a concoction of eggplant, okra, green beans, squash and bitter melon called pinakbet; banana blossom salad; whole fish, crispy and gleaming with sauce; thin egg rolls called lumpia that Pen could have eaten like popcorn; and, glory of glories, down the center of its own special table, a roasted suckling pig, burnt orange, glistening, dizzyingly fragrant. Pen had a momentary qualm at seeing it whole … but once dismantled, the sublime combination of hard, crackly skin and nearly white, meltingly tender meat caused such rapture in her mouth that she gave hearty thanks to God that she was not a vegetarian. (p. 286-287)

That last paragraph made me hungry.

The second time, more prepared, she stayed long enough to understand that the coral reef off Balicasag Island packed more gorgeousness per square centimeter than any other place she had ever been. At the same time that it was exactly like something she had seen on a nature show, it was like nothing she had seen on a nature show because everything — from the imperious butterfly fish trailing their scarves to the brown undulating ribbons that Pen assumed were eels (but might not have been; it frustrated her not to know) to the neon blue coruscations, so penny-small ad quick that they might have been tricks of light — each thing, every individual scrap of embodied beauty, was palpably, unmistakably, alive.

So were Pen and Augusta, alive and in the thick of it. Pen had expected to look down and see fish, and she did, but when she looked to her side, there they were, too, suspended next to her face or flowing by in iridescent streams, and, when Will swam over to take Augusta to see an anemone clownfish and Pen dove downward, the fish were above her as well.  (p. 303)

I’m not being biased here, but that last paragraph is absolutely true. I almost squealed with delight when I found out where exactly they were heading in the Philippines because I was just there a month ago. So much beauty, and it’s just one island. :)

A word of warning, though — if you’re expecting them to head to the Philippines early on, well…they won’t. I had to adjust my expectations with that because I thought that the characters would spend a longer time in my home country but the travel happened at the last third of the book. But even so I’m not really complaining, and it’s not really a wild goose chase for their friend all across the world. When I got to the end, I felt like even if I was made to wait for the part I wanted to read the most, the timing was pretty right and I was so invested in the characters and the story that I want them to find their answers in the place I called home.

I was perfectly, perfectly charmed with this book. Again, I may be pretty biased about it because so far, I’ve loved every book that Marisa de los Santos wrote. Even if I can’t relate to it much (by that I mean nothing like that has ever really happened in my life), there’s something in her books that makes me feel that she wrote it just for me — or someone like me who craves for this kind of life fiction. For this kind of story that talks about love and friendship and family and the ties that bind, and all of those things falling together in one complicated and beautiful mess.

I’m not sure if Falling Together is for everyone, but if you’ve ever read and liked Marisa de los Santos’ other books, then you will probably like this. Just how much is another thing, but as far as I am concerned, Falling Together is the perfect birthday read. And I am definitely keeping this one on my shelf. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
The Lit Witch
USA Today

Filipino Readers Make it Social!

My blogger friends have been posting about it since last month, so this is a late post…but you know what they say: better late than never! I christened the months of August and September as “book months” because of all the bookstores that go on sale during this month. It’s changed this year but around this time, all major bookstores in the country go on sale, and all of the sales culminate with the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), where I have been known to go crazy a couple of times because of all the books on sale in one place. :)

There’s more reason to be excited for this year’s Manila International Book Fair because of this:

The 1st Filipino Reader ConferenceIt’s the first ever Filipino Reader Conference! It will be on the first day of the book fair, September 14, 1-6pm at Meeting Room 2 of SMX Mall of Asia. I know, it’s a week day, but if there was any time to use a vacation leave for work, this is a good one! I already filed my leave! :) This is the first ever gathering of Filipino readers, bigger than all those meet-ups and book club meetings that we’ve been blogging about in the past year! There will be panel discussions on different topics like blogging and book clubs, social media and bookishness, and all sorts of fun activities made especially for Filipino readers.

And did I mention some cool prizes up for grabs? :)

My blogger friends have been making a lot of noise with this event in the past few weeks, so if you haven’t heard about it…well, now you have! I’ll be the live Twitter-er for the event, so follow @PinoyReaderCon for updates! More fun stuff and information on the official website for the conference, too :)

Ten days to go until this event, friends! Are you going? If so, I hope to see you guys there! :)


Armchair BEA 2011: Hello World!

I’ve been trying to think of a good introduction for my first post for Armchair BEA 2011 for the past hour, but I honestly can’t think of any. Since I signed up for this at the spur-of-the-moment, I figure the most proper way to go through this post is to jump right in.

Oh, look, I have an intro. =D

So. Hello world! Welcome to One More Page! :)

No, this isn't my armchair for BEA. This is a couch at work. :) Photo was taken late last year, and I just remembered them recently.

I’m Tina, 25 years old, book blogging from the Philippines! In case you’re not sure where the Philippines is, it’s here:

If you see the distance between the Philippines and NYC, where Book Expo America is being held, you’d probably understand why I’m just participating in Armchair BEA. But it’s okay! I’ve always dreamed of going to New York City, and BEA just adds to the perks of wanting to visit the city. One day, one BEA, I’ll be there in the flesh. :)

I’ve been reading since I was a kid, ever since a classmate let me borrow one of her Sweet Valley Kids books. I try to read everything that seems interesting, but I’m very partial to contemporary YA, chick lit and just last year, fantasy. I like reading books with Christian characters/themes as well as Filipino-authored books (love your own, of course). Some favorite books from the top of my head: This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and Dreaming in Black and White by Laura Jensen Walker among others. I have a favorites shelf in Goodreads, if you want to check it out. :)

I’ve been blogging since 2000, but I only started book blogging in 2010. I used to write book reviews and such in my old personal blog, but some friends complained that my book reviews are taking over the personal stuff, so I moved it. I still maintain a personal blog, and you can drop by there in case you want to read about non-book related Tina things. :) I used to write some book reviews for The Philippine Online Chronicles, and now I contribute some book lists to Female Network. I also have a fiction blog, and every November I turn into a cat-herder, cheerleader, Municipal Liaison and mad novelist for National Novel Writing Month.

When I’m not reading (what do you know, that still happens!), I like to write, hang out with friends, and travel every now and then. I’m very talkative, and it shows in my blogging, if it’s not obvious. :P Oh, and blogging/being online for a long time means I am very Google-able, but if you want to reach me, you can just follow my Twitter or Tumblr, or add me on Goodreads. I don’t bite. =D

No armchairs, but the couch is just as comfy. Oh and what do you know, I actually have a proper "reading" picture!

Armchair BEAI’m very excited to be a part of Armchair BEA (even if I did sign up at the spur of the moment). I feel like this is a time when I can quit being too much of a lurker among the book blogging community and “meet” other bloggers all over the world. If you’re new here, consider this a formal introduction, and if you’re an old follower, then consider this as another “hello”. :) Be sure to visit the other Armchair BEA 2011 participants, too!

Want Books: Trash by Andy Mulligan

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

My extended weekend last week gave me a reason to surf more blogs and check out reviews, and I’m kind of surprised to see a lot of this particular book. I had this on my wishlist recently, but I didn’t feel the need to get it until I saw these reviews from Kris of Voracious YAppetite and Dwayne of Girls Without a Bookshelf.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it. Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael’s world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands. It’s a bag of clues. It’s a bag of hope. It’s a bag that will change everything.

The setting sounds suspiciously local, and it was confirmed when I found out that Andy Mulligan spent some time in Manila (and continues to spend some time here). Books like these suddenly become a must-buy for me because I want to know how accurate the portrayal is. Trash doesn’t exactly say it is set in the Phlippines, but the reviewers I linked above say the book reminds it of the dump sites here, particularly in Smokey Mountain.

I hear it’s already available in National Bookstore (the book launch was just last week, I think). I would get it…but honestly? I like the UK cover (pictured above) more. :P I’m trying to decide my immediate need to read this so I’ll get what’s available here (pictured on the right), or wait for some UK covers to arrive here or look for someone to get me the UK cover. Hm.

What do you think? Which cover is prettier? :)