26 July 2016


Option #43: Marcos Martial Law: Never Again (Student Edition) by Raissa Robles
(Scroll down for the Rafflecopter or see the Giveaways page for more details)

Filipinos woke up to find a country where the streets were quiet, patrolled by armed soldiers. Crime had vanished, squabbling corrupt politicians had been carted off or had fled, and the scurrilous press had been silenced.

Only the newspaper run by a Marcos crony was available, and there were no radio or TV broadcasts, except for one station that repeatedly transmitted Marcos's declaration of Martial Law . . . in between almost non-stop airing of American cartoons.

Marcos claimed that what he had in mind was a government-led "Revolution from the Center" to counter the Communists. His centerpiece programme--to create a New Society that would close the wide economic gap between the rich and the poor because "what good is democracy if it is not for the poor?" He claimed the New Society had the interests, objectives, and needs of the poorest of the working people take precedence over those of the rest" . . .

SURPRISE!!! =D We have one more book for the Philippine Literature Giveaway Pool! This is the first year that a seventh book gets to make it, and what a deserving seventh book it is.

Marcos Martial Law was actually supposed to be Option #38, because I wanted some strong, well-researched non-fiction to ground me after dream-state wanderings of Option #37: Empire of Memory by Eric Gamalinda. But I was a few pages in when I realised it was too big to bring in so early in the giveaway. Instead, I decided, I would let it have the last word. And it begins with an answer to my biggest question about Option #42: Reportage on the Marcoses by Quijano de Manila: how did the 1970s affect Nick Joaquin's earlier rosy view of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos?

24 July 2016


Eurovision Song Contest Country Smackdown, Round 4!
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, the Interval, Round 3A, and Round 3B)

Well, this rules out any future for me as an ESC bookie. =P I would never have predicted which two countries would be slugging it out in the Final. But more fun for me, aye? LOL! Greece's wildcard win in Round 3B also means that only songs from the second thirty years of Eurovision will be competing this week, so Monaco, which dropped out long before the ESC's thirty-year anniversary, will not be representing the Francophones again this round. (Yes, yes, I know they tried to come back in the early 2000s, but those entries never made it past the semis.) Anyway, I have a feeling that Luxembourg won't mind one more chance to show us what it had.

Greece vs. Luxembourg

Hellas are here with another song from their most successful decade ever, the early 2000s. And few things are more Greek than a song like ΩΠΑ! Giorgios Alkaois wanted this Top 10 finisher to encourage his fellow Greeks, who were then enduring the worst of Europe's economic crisis, to should stop dwelling on the past and to start over in the present. On the Eurovision stage, it became a spirited message for the whole continent. Up against it is Luxembourg's last big hurrah, from the late 1980s, featuring the Belgian chanteuse Lara Fabian, whose first language was Italiano. The yearning ballad Croire is all about the things you can believe in if you see life avec les yeux de coeur (with the eyes of the heart). Although it did not win the contest that year, it became an international hit that made hundreds of thousands of music-loving believers all over Europe. Which musical message do you think should dominate the smackdown?

And of course, because this is a Shredded Cheddar smackdown, another country we haven't even heard from until today could still take the crown home for itself. I hope you're ready for the final wild card . . .

21 July 2016


Pancit Malabon from Amber
(Pan-SIT Ma-la-BON)

Last Saturday, my German class had a little party to mark the end of our course. We all brought different kinds of food, ranging from "generic Americanised" to "European inspired;" and right in the middle, insisting on grabbing all the attention, was the Filipino offering.

19 July 2016


Teaser Two and Top Ten(ner)

It's a two-meme day because I'm feeling friendly! Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Books And A Beat, while Top Ten Tuesday, with the perfect topic for me this week, is from The Broke and the Bookish.

You may remember that the main reason I don't do Teaser Tuesday as often as I could is that I like waiting for a book with a cover that matches the rule of MizB's meme: two sentences only. Since coming up with that, most of my Teaser Tuesday posts have been for books with a pair of legs on the cover. But today's teaser comes courtesy of a different part of the anatomy--the sort that doesn't normally come in twos!

17 July 2016


Eurovision Song Contest Country Smackdown, Round 3B!
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, the Interval, and Round 3A)

It takes a whole set of good songs to make a great show, and if there were one obvious winner from the outset, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to watch. On the other hand, it's usually the case that some songs are clear front-runners--and then the fun becomes predicting how they will rank relative to each other. Sometimes guessing correctly that a song will place fourth can be as satisfying as correctly predicting it will take home the crown!

But had I been among the original audiences of the following Eurovision songs, I would have bet that they'd place significantly higher than they did. Here are two more runners-up that I wish had won instead.

Round 3B
The "L'Amour . . ." Four

14 July 2016


Option #42: Reportage on the Marcoses by Quijano de Manila
(Scroll down for the Rafflecopter or see the Giveaways page for more details)

". . . We tell them: Two thousand years ago our forefathers could make this beautiful pot which we cannot do now. And that has led to a different set of values. Before, in the houses of the rich, all they wanted were clocks of gold, that sort of thing. That was true of the country at one time, but not now. Now the pottery is more valued . . . Now they tell themselves that this chair was from their great-grandfather, and suddenly, that chair is so great. Before, that chair was ready for the garbage can."

And as Filipinos acquire a feeling of pride for what is theirs, for what they are, they will become more eager to surround themselves with order and cleanliness, to walk in beauty, to live, move and have their being in a just society. Culture and art and a taste for the beautiful must all lead to goodness.

"As the president said, the government is like building a house. And he told me he would build the structure, I was to take care of the refinements, the trimmings, the details . . ."

-- Imelda Marcos, quoted in "Art in the Palace", August 1968

It's time capsule time again! And boy, do I have Marcos Pa Rin time capsule for you!!!

Nick Joaquin, writing as Quijano de Manila, penned several lengthy articles on the presidential couple Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, all based on extensive interviews with them. And if you knew nothing about the Marcoses except what he said about them and let them say about themselves, you'd probably conclude they were the best President and First Lady the Philippines had ever had. In fairness to our reporter, he also knew nothing about the Marcoses except what was available to him in the 1960s. And his special gift was magical realism, not investigative journalism. Of course they'd appeal to him. Especially Imelda. =P

The catch for us is that these articles from the 60s were compiled and published as a book in 1981. But if the decade in between had affected his views in some way, we get no hint of it. Like his crime beat features in Option 24: Reportage on Crime, these pieces were republished without comment--nothing to put them in any new context. And it's actually refreshing.

10 July 2016


Eurovision Song Contest Country Smackdown, Round 3A
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2 and the Interval)

This tournament bracket may pit country against country, but it does so song by song. Just like the Eurovision Song Contest itself! What I loved about becoming a Eurovision fan is the mini education I've been getting just by appreciating the music. There is the lovely language aspect, of course, when the songs are in German, Italian, and French; but the cultural and historical frames around the entries can be just as fascinating.

When you have over twenty songs competing for your hearts, your votes, and a single crown, well, there are going to be some really good ones that you fall in love with but won't see win. And if you are a real Eurovision fan, you'll spend the rest of your life loudly refusing to get over it. (It's the principle of the thing.) I'm going to do a bit of that now, but more politely, with a Final Four of runners-up that I personally love more than the songs that beat them.

Round 3A
The "L'Amour . . ." Four