Finally finished my triuvirate of Filipino-based books for the year: Pacific Rims by Rafe Boogs, Ilustrado by Chuck Syjuco, and A History of the Philippines by Luis Francia. Every single on of them worth a look-see.
The first captures the Filipinos love for basketball against all odds. Ateneo’s win recently (and Alaska) is eblematic of the Philippines’ continuing passion for the sport.
The second captures the “conyo” or socialite perspective on things.
The third gives a breathtaking yet easily readable sweep of our nation’s history. Everybody should read this one, just to get an idea of what we are all about. It’s a step forward from the books we had to read in college because it is easier to consume. Even if you are not Filipino, this book will give you one of the best insights of who we are (albeit a left-leaning perspective sometimes, which all writers are guilty of).
These three books are an answer to what books are there to read about the Philippines. Well here they are. I’d probably also throw in Stanley Karnow’s In Our Image to get an American perspective on our country; James Hamilton-Paterson’s Playing with Water to see our provincial life; Alex Garland’s The Tesseract and Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon to see us described in fiction. And of course, Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo to see how it all started.
These books are also an affirmation of the maturity and recognition of our Philippine culture. It is what it is.
We now have a global superstar in Manny Pacquiao, pound for pound, the greatest fighter in the world. We have Charice Pempengco on Glee and Arnel Pineda in Journey to show-off our musical prowess. Chuck up Syjuco shows we can write. Monique Lhullier and Bea Valdes show we can do fashion. There’s that modern artist who’s name escapes me right now. Brillante Mendoza won best director at Cannes. We have Oishi and SM in China and Bench in Saudi. We have Filipinos represented in every part of the world working their asses of for the benefit of their families back home.
I don’t think we need that much recognition anymore. We’ve arrived, and now the rest of the world just has to recognize it, but we know it 🙂