2015: The Reading List

Making this year’s reading list was a bit tough, if only because our reading lives somehow mirror our real lives. So many things have happened this year that, once again, hitting the books became necessary to cope up with the mad plot lines of the real world.

This year yielded around 83 books, and choosing ten of the best of them this year is to somewhat do an injustice to a lot of them. Of special note is the 80-volume Penguin Little Black Classics, which should make for an amazing gift this season for any book lover (although a lot of them are things a book lover probably already read). Plus, it’s a really beautiful thing to look at.

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So without further ado, here are the ten best things I’ve read this year.

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A Window I Used To Know

12107535_927995627294920_674304417_nThe place where Halal Guys BGC will be in used to be my favorite window in Bonifacio High Street.

Fully Booked’s shelves always had bestsellers, with a few unique finds here and there. Come October, they brought out the fake cobwebs and plaster skulls and the origami bats, and the window was filled with horror fiction novels. Come December, the window was dressed in tinsel and Christmas trimmings, with the year’s best novels on display.

Every now and then, that window announced a sale on books: on those days, I would leave the store with as many books as I can carry. And before I leave, the display facing away from the window offers me more choices: perhaps things I’ve ignored, or things that I’ve always wanted but never really found in the back shelves of Fiction A-Z.

It’s a window that beckoned me to fill my own shelves. But now, that window’s gone.

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Mapulang Bahid

Note: So apparently, my last blog entry, The Crimson Stain, went “viral.” Now that idea, if you know me well enough, is sort of ironic (given how much I don’t like the word, and I’m really timid IRL). But it kinda warms the cold, cold heart to know that a lively discussion was fostered, and for the most part the discussion was quite civil. And quite a lot of you agreed with me.

And quite a lot of you requested for the thing to be translated (or written) in Filipino.

Now I’m not a particularly good translator (unless you talk about lyrics, although if you follow me on Instagram you probably have an idea how I prefer to translate things), and my command of Filipino is quite wonky at best, but I’ll try to take a crack at translating the blog entry myself.

And thanks so much, everyone. Many thanks, in particular, to Raissa Robles for pointing a lot of important details out to me (details that, regrettably, I missed out on. My apologies.).

Here it is. Pardon the imperfections.

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The Crimson Stain

That’s not a scarlet terno that Imee Marcos is wearing. Rather, it stands for the mountains where Macliing Dulag was killed. His blood ran down the slopes of the Cordillera in much the same way he wanted the Chico River to flow. To his dying breath—and years thereafter—Dulag fought against the hydroelectric power that threatened the survival of his people, in the hands of a dictator named Ferdinand Marcos.

That’s not Imee Marcos gracefully crossing her well-formed, tanned legs. Emmanuel Lacaba’s legs were found in the same way, tied and chained, as his corpse was dragged to an unmarked grave. In 1976, Lacaba was captured with a pregnant 18-year-old comrade in the underground, and was shot with a .45 caliber bullet not once, but twice. His crime was to write literature in opposition to a dictator named Ferdinand Marcos.

That’s not a tasteful bodice that highlights Imee Marcos’s ample curves. That bodice conceals how forces of the constabulary killed Edgar Jopson in 1982. He was found alive in Davao, but was still executed. It took nine bullets to murder Edjop: chest wounds, arm wounds, leg wounds. This son of a grocer became another statistic in a very long list of human rights abuses in the 70s and 80s, and personally earned the ire of a dictator named Ferdinand Marcos.

Those are not the features of Imee Marcos, carefully airbrushed. Those were the walls put up along the routes whenever any foreign dignitary or visitor passed by to visit Malacañang Palace. Entire edifices were built around the Philippines to celebrate and commemorate the “New Society,” all the while those displaced are kept hidden from view. For one cannot be seen poor and starving when guests come by to entertain—and be entertained by—a dictator named Imelda Marcos.

*****

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