filipino literature

Wounded Little Gods by Eliza Victoria

29413691Title: Wounded Little Gods

Author: Eliza Victoria

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Regina was born and raised in the small town of Heridos, where gods and spirits walked the earth.

Until they didn’t.

Ten years ago, the whole town produced a bad harvest – rice grains as black as soot – and the people of the town moved on, away from the soil and the farms, believing the gods and spirits have abandoned them.

It is ten years later, on a Friday before a long weekend, and Regina ends her shift at an office in Makati. She walks home with a new colleague named Diana. Diana, following a strange and disturbing conversation with Regina, does not appear at the office on Monday, and the day after that.

And the day after that.

On Thursday, Regina opens her bag and finds a folded piece of paper filled with Diana’s handwriting.

On the page are two names and a strange map that will send Regina home.

Wounded Little Gods is one of those books you can easily read in one sitting. Not simply because it’s short, but because it draws you in and invites you on quite an interesting ride.

The story revolves around Regina, a young woman who has a strange conversation with her new colleague, Diana. Shortly after their odd encounter, Diana disappears, leaving behind a strange map that takes Regina back to her hometown of Heridos. She unearths a mystery filled with strange rumors and whispers about human experiments held in a medical facility no one seems to know about.

There isn’t much I can say about this book without giving the plot away, but I have to say I really, really liked the strange combination of medical experiments and spirits/gods that are both parts of the plot. How interesting to see how human experiments–often a product of people who act like gods–somehow intertwine with the very same spirits/gods that people believe in and imagine themselves to be.

This is a delightful book that gives us appearances of the old Filipino gods, throws in a little bit of horrifying Philippine history, and combines both elements to create a delicious story that mixes both fantasy and history together quite well.

I’d have given this a higher rating but I was confused for quite a while because I had initially though the book was about a curse on Heridos, based on the book’s summary. Instead, I found myself on a wild goose chase involving experiments and spirits, and it took me a while to adjust and realize that the book wasn’t really about the town at all, but more about gods and humans and how we all make mistakes–and how sometimes, those mistakes take away the most precious things from us. (Which was quite delightful really, but I was confused for most of the book before it dawned on me–I’m slow lol)

 

 

 

 

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

1431558Title: Smaller and Smaller Circles

Author: F.H. Batacan

Genre: Mystery, Crime, Suspense, Filipino Literature

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Smaller and Smaller Circles is unique in the Philippine literary scene – a Pinoy detective novel, both fast-paced and intelligent, with a Jesuit priest who also happens to be a forensic anthropologist as the sleuth. When it won the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for the English Novel in 1999, it proved that fiction can be both popular and literary.

F.H. Batacan has a degree in Broadcast Communication and a master’s degree in Art Studies, both from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She has worked as a policy researcher, broadcast journalist, web designer, and musician, and is currently a journalist based in Singapore. She previously won a prize for her short story “Door 59” in the 1997 Palanca awards, and her work has appeared in local magazines, as well as in the online literary magazine Web del Sol.

Smaller and Smaller Circles is one of those rare one-of-a-kind books that you discover by some lucky stroke of fate and treasure for a lifetime.

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Mini-review spree: Shine, Trese, The False Prince, and Zombies vs. Unicorns

I’ve already read 5 books so far this year and I’m feeling slightly panicky because  something tells me that if I don’t blog about them soon, my lazy ass is gonna just shrug it off and I’ll ignore them forever…and I don’t really want that to happen. Lol.

So to counter my laziness, I figured I’ll do mini-reviews for each book I’ve devoured so far because I figured that if I attempt to blog about them one by one, they might end up as drafts that never see the light of day. (Ugh, I’m sorry I’m so lazy T_T)

These books deserve recognition. Plus, they’re part of my reading challenges. Yes, challenges with an “s” because I am a masochist who wasn’t content with just one challenge. Guess who’s going to be crying at the end of the year as she struggles to complete them all. XD

The first challenge is the one I posted here, and the second one is a personal goal I decided on not so long ago: read 20 books by Filipino authors this year. I really, definitely need (and want) to be more aware and discover the gems of my own country’s literature.

Anyway, TL;DR: here are the reviews (which are short and probably don’t make much sense because I scribbled them down during lunch, hah)!

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Alternative Alamat Edited by Paolo Chikiamco

Alternative AlamatTitle: Alternative Alamat

Author: Edited by Paolo Chikiamco

Genre: Filipino Literature, Mythology, Fantasy, Retellings, Anthology

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

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 of, and develop a hunger for, those venerable tales.

Alternative Alamat features interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”), a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita. This expanded print edition also includes a short comic from Andrew Drilon, and a new story from Eliza Victoria, set in the same universe as “Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.”

“Sometimes, I feel like there’s a tendency–even amongst Filipinos–to view the Philippines as a footnote on the world stage. Yet’s there’s so much that is unique and beautiful in Philippine culture, if only we would take the time to learn it.”

This pretty much sums up my opinion about this book and Philippine culture in general. I grew up learning about and loving Greek mythology, but know so very little about my own. I could tell you who the Greek gods and goddesses are, what they represent, yet if you asked me about Philippine folklore, I’d only be able to tell you the little I know about Maria Makiling and supernatural beings like the kapre, tikbalang, etc.

Alternative Alamat is a collection of short stories that put a twist to Philippine myths. I’m afraid I can’t identify the twists in some stories, but that’s given me motivation to research and learn more about our folklore. It seems so very diverse and filled with many interesting deities, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them.

I don’t have a favorite story in this collection, they were all equally wondrous and enthralling to me. Stories about gods I’ve never heard of before, a different take on the Maria Makiling I’ve learned about, a supernatural twist on Lapu-Lapu’s triumph against Magellan…how could I ever choose?

To be honest, this book makes me weep over the lack of cultural knowledge so many of us have. It makes me sad to think about our very own alphabet, the alibata, that hardly anyone knows about, and all the things we lost when we were colonized by the Spaniards. But this book also gives me hope, because perhaps, as more and more people read it, we’ll be just a little bit more aware and just a little bit more curious about our own culture, and eventually try to learn more and love our own.

Dwellers by Eliza Victoria

DwellersTitle: Dwellers

Author: Eliza Victoria

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Filipino Literature

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Rule No. 1: You don’t kill the body you inhabit.
Rule No. 2: You should never again mention your previous name.
Rule No. 3: You don’t ever talk about your previous life. Ever.

Two young men with the power to take over another body inhabit the bodies and lives of brothers Jonah and Louis. The takeover leads to a car crash, injuring Jonah’s legs and forcing them to stay in the brothers’ house for the time being.

The street is quiet. The neighbors aren’t nosy. Everything is okay.

They are safe, for now.

Until they find a dead body in the basement.

If anything, this book is a sign I definitely need to read more Filipino literature. In fact, it’s the reason why I’ve begun stalking NBS branches at every mall I get to visit. Which were several this month, because it’s the holiday season and I’ve had to run errands and hunt down exchange gifts. Lol.

I’m a horrible person but I’ve always thought of most contemporary Filipino books as subpar to their international counterparts. This is probably because I’ve been ignorant about the hidden gems I don’t really see in bookstores, because usually all I ever see displayed prominently are books about love, humor, love and humor combined…you get the idea. (Are Pinoys so obsessed/problematic about love that this is all that is ever written about? lol)

Dwellers was an eye-opener because it is NOT about love at all. It’s actually a thriller and it is all the right kinds of creepy and mysterious. I wanted to shout, “Where have books like these been hiding all my life??” I had no idea there was such a deliciously creepy tale hiding in the shelves of NBS all this time.

It hooks you right at the start, when you are introduced to two people who tell of switching bodies and a car accident and mention rules about inhabiting a body. What. And as the mystery unfolds, you find that you just can’t put the damn book down because you need to know what is happening. What are they doing. What is that damn body in the basement that was mentioned in the book’s summary doing there?

I was up the whole night reading this, fighting the urge to throw it away when things started to become scary. Because I’m a wimp like that. Haha. But it was such a fun and surprising read, and I’m really glad because I’ve now got a thirst to find more books by Filipino authors. Yay!

Dwellers is the reason for this:

pinoy tbr list

crappy picture is crappy but look at all those pinoy authors! \o/

My wallet is complaining but my inner bookworm is super duper happy! Here’s hoping I find more of the books on my pinoy-lit shelf. Hehe.

Si by Bob Ong

Si by Bob OngTitle: Si

Author: Bob Ong

Genre: Filipino Literature, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Rating: 3.5 stars

From Goodreads:

“Maari bang malaman ang iyong pangalan?”

“Victoria”

“Kailan kita masisilayan, Victoria?”

“Sa iyong pagsilang”

Mabenta sakin noong kabataan ko (lol!) si Bob Ong. Natutuwa ako sa mga kwento nya eh, lahat ng libro nya inabangan ko at binili ko nung may pera na ako pambili ng libro. Ung mga libro nya na mga nobela, di ko na masyado nagustuhan ung iba. Na-trauma ata ako kay Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan. Wahahaha. Pero nung nakita ko ung librong to sa NBS, naisip ko mag-try ulit magbasa ng kwento ni Bob Ong.

Actually itong Si, binili ko dahil sa mababaw na rason – gustong gusto ko ung cover. Paboritong kulay ko kasi. Napaka-misteryoso pa ng summary sa likod. Hahaha. Pero nung nagsimula ako magbasa, medyo naguluhan ako. At nakornihan ako. Kasi lalaki ung bida, di ko ma-imagine na magsasalita ng napaka..flowery(?) tungkol sa pag-ibig ang mga lalaki. Pero sabagay, iba ang henerasyon nya. Baka ganun talaga sila dati. Hehe.

Nung tumagal naman natuwa na ako sa mga pangyayari sa Si. Kakaiba ang twist nya, although mahahalata mo na rin naman sa simula kung ano ung nangyayari. Siguro umabot sa kalagitnaan ng libro bago ako medyo nadala sa kwento. At di na ako nakokornihan sa pananalita ng bida. Mahirap ata magkwento ng mga nabasa ko dito, baka may spoiler akong masabi ng hindi sinasadya. Haha.

Ang naisip ko nung natapos ko itong libro…minsan makikita mo ang isang tao na napakasaya sa buhay. Maiinggit ka sa kanya kasi mapapaisip ka ano ginawa nya para maging ganun. Pero di mo lang alam, maaaaring napakarami nya na rin napagdaanan na hirap sa buhay – mawalan ng magulang, o anak, o kung ano pa man – ngunit nakarating sya sa punto na naging masaya pa rin sya. Hindi sa lahat ng oras masaya ang tao. Hindi rin sa lahat ng oras ay bigo sya. Ang mahalaga siguro, i-enjoy mo na lang ang buhay mo na walang regrets.

Naging cheesy na ata mga sinasabi ko. Basta masaya naman ang Si. Ako lang siguro may problema kasi madali ako makornihan sa mga kwentong pag-ibig lately. Hahahahaha. Although hindi sya kwento lamang ng pag-ibig, kundi kwento ng buhay ng isang tao. 😀