Sister Isabel’s African Adventure with God

When my elder sister (Gaying) and Nengkoy recently had some pieces of their jewelries commissioned for cleaning and polishing, they were given some giveaways by the jewelry shop.  Nengkoy kept the photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe while my sister handed over the giveaway book to her son, my nephew Luis.  I however snatched the book from Luis telling him to let me be the one to read it first and will just hand it to him after I’m done.  Luis joked that I might develop itchiness and skin rashes while reading it because the book was written by a Catholic nun. 

The book laid on my dining table for some considerable weeks already.  Still, quiet and unmoved.  Two reasons why it took me some time to start reading it.  First, it was written by a Catholic nun and I was not ready to be preached about some Catholic dogma.  Second, it was written by a Catholic nun, therefore it’s going to be so boring.

But as soon as I decided to scan and read the initial pages of Life On A Mission by Sr. Isabel Villacarlos, I no longer stopped and dropped it until I finished the very end part. 

When asked how she survived all the challenges of her mission,

Sr. Isabel answered, “one must have a major in Faith,

a master’s in Hope and a doctorate in Love.”

Life on a Mission chronicles the adventures, quests and journeys of a Catholic nun in north western portions of Africa.  Sister Isabel can be considered one extra ordinary nun.  She learned to ride a camel, dealt with poisonous snakes, drove a truck,  fell onto a bridge while driving a car, assisted in delivering babies and battled a storm are some of the highlighted adventures of Sr. Isabel in the book.

I guess being a travel addict myself made me stick to reading this book.  But the beauty about the experience of Sr. Isabel in Africa was that she was able to reveal and uncover the presence, manifestations and attendance of God in her adventures, which for me is such a cool thing!

Life On A Mission may not be a bestseller, but it is one remarkable book that definitely deserves more!

Wala akong masabi sa adbentyurs ni sister!

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Bitter Gourd Monologues is so Me

It’s been uncounted number of years since the time I last finished reading a book written in my native language, Filipino.  This long streak of non-sense convention is finally over.  And I am glad to announce that the Filipino-language book I finished is sooo me.  Its entitled Ampalaya Monologues written by “spoken word” genius, Mark Ghosn.

Ampalaya Monologues is so me!  Ampalaya for those who don’t know is Bitter Gourd in the Filipino language or metaphorically defined as “bitter”.  There are 27 characters in the book that features varying idiosyncrasies of heartaches, heartbreaks, eccentric longing, quirky hopes, emotional struggles and of course romanticized bitterness.

This I guess would be the very first book written in Filipino that made me cry and laugh out loud at the same time.  I literally was laughing at a lot of lines and thoughts in this book for I am so bitter, I can totally relate. Here’s the top six monologues I loved and totally enjoyed!   

 

I haven’t see or talked to the writer yet Ampalaya Monologues seem to have entered into my realm.  It was as if Mark Ghosn has entered my cranium and cerebral cortex and wrote what he has seen inside.

According to some write ups, Ampalaya Monologues (like The Vagina Monologues popularized in the past in the western side of the planet) are actually staged and performed by actors in front of big audiences.  But I guess reading the book would be a totally different experience.  It was as if the character was merely talking to the reader and no one else like in a big crowd.  Thus, reading the book I guess would be more intense and can definitely hit you right at your very core.

I love every piece of the chapters/monologues yet the last part was actually the most fitting for it makes you realize that for every tear, every heartache and bitterness a reader felt and experienced in the past, such sufferings will eventually make a person fervently mature and emotionally stronger.  I believe in the ultimate message of the book and that is for bitter people like us, there is still a chance to move on and some freaking flicker of hope is awaiting for all of us. 

Ang sabi nga sa libro, mas mabuting maging bitter kesa fake!

Call Me By Your Name: A Beautiful Poetic Narrative

I guess I’m a bit hard to please when it comes to reading and finishing a book.  After reading some of the most beautiful, exhilarating and awe-inspiring books in the past, there has been three (3) books that I started reading but – due to boredom – eventually dropped and chose not to finish it.  Thus, a book will therefore be very good if I would be able to digest and finish it up to its last word.

superb!

I was actually a little afraid that I would not be able to finish a book anymore, but Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman erased that!  It was the book that stirred my hard-to-please taste.  Call Me By Your Name is not just a stirring and fascinating story, it is actually a beautiful poetic narrative about a person’s coming-of-age reflections, desires and contemplations.

I actually envy the writer Andre Aciman for he got the talent, gift and faculty in crafting delightful words and weaving beautiful thoughts together.  Aciman was so impressive, he was able to bring readers into the major character’s heart.  That is why the joy and sadness of Elio (the major character) are the reader’s joy and sadness.  Elio’s passion and pain were the reader’s passion and pain.  And I was so into it, Elio’s heartbroken was my heartbroken!  And when I finished and read the last word of this superb novel, I noticed myself grasping for some air.

I refuse to give any spoiler!  All I can say is that the book was so good, I didn’t want to finish! Now, Call Me By Your Name sits among the top ten books that I have successfully finished.

Nakakabuntong hininga!

The Association of Small Bombs: It is so good, I am pissed!

As soon as I finished reading the latest book I have just read, I texted my nephew this:

translation: I am appalled, I am annoyed, I am pissed with you! The book I borrowed from you is so good! Damn it! Hahaha!
translation:
I am appalled, I am annoyed, I am pissed with you! The book I borrowed from you is so good! Damn it! Hahaha!
powerful!
powerful!

It is because Luis, my nephew, was the one responsible why I got hold of a copy of The Association of Small Bombs written by Karan Mahajan.  Last Friday night, while we were at Nengkoy’s house, Luis bragged and showed me this book along with another novel whom he is excited to read.  He boasted that The Association of Small Bombs has been named Best Book of 2016 by Esquire, Time and Vulture.com.

Exploiting my being an elder to my nephew, I pestered Luis that I should instead be the first one to read it.  I eventually brought the book with me in my house and Luis, helpless and all, settled on reading the other novel.

And just this afternoon, like a time bomb, I could not hold on to my grief and wretchedness after reading this powerful novel.  I have to have an outlet and that is decanting these emotions through a text message.  I texted and blamed Luis on why I was feeling what I was feeling.  Hahaha!

me and my monster nephew, luis
me and one of my monster nephews, luis

This is the first book that I read this year and this book was so effective in zoning me out to a different level of sadness.  It is one of the most compelling books that I have read.  It is so captivating I finished the book in one and a half days.

The Association of Small Bombs will bring you to the dynamic insight on the effects of terrorism as well as to the unimaginable high emotions of being a victim of bombings and radicalism.  This book will make you discern that no one wins in terrorism.  And may you be the perpetrator or the target of a bombing plot, everybody ends up being a victim.

But seriously, I am so thankful to my nephew Luis for bringing into my life’s sphere this brilliant novel.  I will indeed return it to him so that he be able to understand the encompassing tragedy brought about by terrorism, extremism, radicalism or whatever synonymous word that people may associate terrifying bombings with.

Super galinng! Masoli na nga ang librong yan!

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I enjoyed it sooo much!  It is beautifully written. It’s as joyful as it is heartbreaking.  All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a book that knocked me off my ass!

captivating!
captivating!

I loved how the author painted the characters Theodore and Violet.  Their characters worked so well together.  They were so opposite yet so the same.  Their characters were presented in a beautiful interwoven style just the way I liked it. You get to see, hear and feel both of their perspectives.

You will get so invested in the characters of both Theodore and Violet.  It is a book that will make you fall in love with these two and – without giving away anything – will later reduce you to tears and will make you badly miss them.

I particularly got so captivated by the character of Finch.  I love the way he adopts a persona.  Though perceived by others as someone who is weird, he can become somebody that is either a slightly different version if not a better version of himself.  Add to that is his adoring wit.  He could be very funny and quirky yet so deep, romantic and definitely full of sense and essence.  He is such a unique character every reader I guess would be snuck up and drawn in by his passionate persona.

such beautiful words...
such beautiful words…

All The Bright Places is one of those few stories that would slowly and gently grab your heart as in like you have fallen so much deeply in love.  And yet after sometime it will crush you into emotional bits and pieces.  I was not happy with the ending but it is one ending that is a must to make this book a remarkable book.  The heartbreaking twists at the end parts of the story would make you get to love it.

Somehow, I think 5 stars aren’t enough for such a remarkable book.  I will definitely give it as many stars as those shining in the entire universe because All The Bright Places truly deserves them.

Nakaka…!

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

translated by jay rubin
translated by jay rubin

Norwegian Wood is the first Murakami novel I’ve read.  And this will certainly not be the last.

Each of the character in Norwegian Book were so distinct, so life-like and were so richly depicted.  The author has a unique way in making you feel how each character truly felt.  It has a very nostalgic feel to it yet the interactions in the book seem so real.  Murakami’s words create perfect pictures without becoming too descriptive.  And the thoughts he pulls out of the reader tend to suck the energy out for a little while.

And though the story is simple, the range of emotions the characters experience seem so complex making this book so elegant and sophisticated.  At first it seemed like a normal beautiful love story, until you reach the story’s dark spin to it.  The ending actually left me feeling like my intelligence was raped or I was mind-fucked by Murakami.

Because of Murakami’s beautiful way with imagery perhaps the best thing about Norwegian Wood is that it is open to the reader’s interpretation.  I doubt if two people after reading Norwegian Wood will settle with the same interpretation of the events that transpired and the characters’ respective motivations.

Payb stars… ay layk it…