21 June 2016


Teaser of the Year

Read other two-sentence teasers this week
@Books And A Beat

At the rate I'm going, I link up to MizB's meme . . . once a year. =P And my archives show that I usually do so when I'm having my annual giveaway. Well, it is a good way to promote a book in the Giveaway Pool!

This year, the Giveaway theme is Marcos Pa Rin and its focus is on the influence of president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Translated as "Still Marcos," it is most often understood as the catchphrase of loyalists and apologists; here, I use to point out that even among those who most oppose and loathe him, his legacy remains strong.

They had detailed dossiers on our politicians and their corrupt activities, who their mistresses were, even their addresses.
I assumed that their sources were the Chinese in the Philippines.

When I reached that point in erstwhile diplomat General Jose T. Almonte's memoirs, I nearly fell off my chair. I wonder what his Chinese-Filipino readers would have thought!

The context is a 1974 visit to Communist China, with which the Philippines' Marcos administration had hoped to open diplomatic relations. The Chinese government was not very impressed, however, and seemed to want to put the Philippines in its place by subjecting its representative, Almonte, to several hours of all the complaints China had against his country. It included information they could not possibly have gained without spying . . . and although espionage was simply "business as usual" those days, spies were supposed to be foreigners and not your own compatriots. Yet there was something about the Chinese in the Philippines that made it seem as if their loyalties were with their ancestors' motherland rather than their own.

Almonte does not pursue his hunch about the local Chinese in the narrative--and I suppose he didn't follow up on it in real life, either. The country had worse to worry about.

* * * * *

Fast forward forty years to the present decade . . .

A few days after I read that, I reconnected on Facebook with the great doctor who did nearly all of my reconstructive surgeries when I was a teenager and whose new private practice offers 100% pro bono corrective surgery for children with cleft lips or cleft palates. He is also ethnic Chinese, and I suppose that if the geopolitical environment were still anything like what it was during the Cold War, he'd be . . . I don't know whether to finish that sentence with "very likely to be a spy" or "very likely to be suspected of spying." Do we really know what our other selves would be like in those parallel political universes?

Then my FB feed updated itself with my doctor's latest photo upload. He is currently on vacation in Europe, and his latest adventure involved running into another group of Filipinos abroad. They all ended up at a German pub, bonding over noisy chatter, boisterous laughter, and group photos. And it occurred to me that he might not have felt such camaraderie with a group of Chinese tourists--not even those from his ancestors' home province.

* * * * *

To win your own copy of Endless Journey or any of the other books in the Giveaway Pool, use the Rafflecopter below . . .

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Image Source: Endless Journey by Jose T. Almonte, as told to Marites Danguilan Vitug


Literary Feline said...

History is so fascinating. I do not read a lot of nonfiction and am not sure this is one I would pick up to read, but what you shared is interesting. I sometimes find myself wondering who I would have been had I lived at certain times, in certain countries.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for stopping by, Literary Feline!

Believe it or not, I think there is one way to find out who you would have been, had you been born in another country. (I'm not sure about another time though.) I'm an avid language learner, and I have found that an observation others have made--that we have different personalities depending on what language we are speaking--to be true! So if I wanted to know what I would have been like if I had been born and raised in, say, Romania, then I would study the Romanian language.