detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Saturday, July 26, 2003

: . Customer reviews you won't find in Amazon World:

Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal

    this novel enchance my thoughts being a filipino. as we all know, Jose Rizal was our national hero in the Philippines, but his novel contains alot of significant deatils which entails a mysterious meaning behind all of his characters. the main purpose of his writings was to establish contact with his fellowmen that the spaniards are colonizing our land, which we could defend ourselves by having equal rights, but they continued to be superior. no wonder, the people, revolt. which s the good thing here. his novel captures alot of good and bad things in their time, presenting history itself and the abuses made by those...friars.
    this novel is so perfectly made by jose rizal.

    The Thomasites are rolling in their graves. Seeing that must be... enchancing.

    To understand the Philipina peoples. This book gives a solid insight to the people. Jose' Rizal wrote a very good book in suport of what 'He' saw as problems in his country. For a novel to be good today after several hundered years of age, is saying a lot for a people & Jose'. I highly recomend this book for any one who is studying or married to a 'Philipina', as they call them selves. And I, not being much of a book reader. I would even recomend it, even if you just want a good book to read.

    That's Philippinese to you! But thank you, I've never read anything from the future. Maybe I could meet you and the "Philipina" you're either married to or are "studying" several hundred years from now. I wonder what names I'll call you then?

America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan
    Those looking for an uplifting read need to look elsewhere; Bulosan's "America..." reads like a laundry list of suffering and hopelessness. Bulosan writes powerfully, compellingly and beatifully, but he would have been better off sticking to his own story instead of trying to create a composite.
    With tragedy so frequently present nowadays, it doesn't seem hard to believe that Bulosan's protagonist would experience so much tragedy (extreme poverty, deaths, heartbreak in every sense of the word, a severely debilitating disease, etc., etc.). A closer reading reveals that he has indeed created a composite, mashing the numerous hard-luck stories of the Filipino migrant workers of that time into a single person's life. It is difficult to believe, but if you can get beyond that fact, "America..." proves a depressing read with important historical weight, chronicling the ups and mostly downs of the Filipino migrant, with a progression from childhood to the life's winding down phase.
    I lent this book to my grandfather, who lived at approximately the same time, and could very well have been in the provincial areas, practicing the customs Bulosan described. It was extremely disappointing but enlightening to have him give the book a thumbs down based on accuracy. Many descriptions of the hardships of not only Bulosan but those around him, particularly in the Philippines, were much too tragic for my grandfather to take, although he had suffered plenty in his childhood.
    Often in writing stories, reality is much more interesting than fiction; by trying to unrealistically include everyone's experiences as one individual's trial does create an unbelievable tale, that will be even more difficult for those unaccustomed to the goings-on and atmosphere of a third-world country.
    Bulosan's work is important as it is one of the select pieces of Filipino-American literature that has made the rounds in universities and literary circles, and that it covers an often forgotten group and struggle in American history. However, his attempt to create an all-encompassing experience within a single character is his downfall. A read recommended with a grain of salt.

    Your attempt to use your own life to gauge the veracity of Bulosan's personal narrative may just be your downfall. Also, if your grandfather -- who may or may not have lived "in the provincial areas" -- thinks that too much tragedy makes portrayals of Filipino experiences unrealistic then he and I must have been born in different countries.

Cave and Shadows by Nick Joaquin
    Joaquin's "Cave and Shadows" is an excellent compliment to Ian Johnston's "Bad Seed" and "The Life and Music of Nick Cave" by Maximillian Dax. Like those other two books, Cave and Shadows traces Cave from his beginnings as an unruly child through his stint with The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party right on through to his career as the Baddest Seed. This book, while not as interesting to me as "Bad Seed", narrows its focus in an interesting way: it closely examines Cave's darker tendencies and musical themes, as well as chronicling his tastes in "darker" art--both his own and the works of others. If you're a Nick Cave junkie like I am, you will want this book as part of your collection. I only give it three stars because it wasn't as long as I wished and because it didn't say a little more about Bargeld and Harvey.

    Looks like you've read more of Nick Joaquin's work than most Filipinos have, even Nick Joaquin himself!

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