Thursday, September 29, 2016

Po-on by F. Sionil Jose: Book Review

Title: Po-on
Author: F. Sionil Jose
Series: Rosales Saga #1
Publication Details: 1984 by Solidaridad Publishing House
Genre: Historical fiction

A beautifully written story about freedom, courage and perseverance.

I bought Po-on in 2013 because the synopsis sounds interesting, but I never had the chance (and mood) to read it until last August. I rarely read Philippine historical fiction but I should've picked this one up sooner.

Po-on is set in 1880's Ilocos during the last years of Spanish occupation in the Philippines. It tells the story of Istak, a former sacristan and a farmer, who, together with his entire family and relatives, left their hometown to run away from the Spaniards.

Though the events following Istak's time as a sacristan, to his newfound life in Pangasinan and his last journey were quite intense, the book, in my opinion, is more character-driven. Po-on mainly focuses on the development of Istak's character as he, throughout his journey, lost and formed relationships, and changed views about freedom and bravery.

The book also tackles the seemingly lack of nationalism by some people, especially those living in remote areas. I liked that one of the affirmations of Po-on is that there really are people who may seem indifferent to the cause of the country. But it's not really the lack of nationalism, but more of self-preservation. And who could blame them really? Life, as it is, is already difficult to thread by without thinking of other things.

I also liked the presence of Mabini, Jacinto, del Pilar (real life heroes) and Aguinaldo (first president of the Philippines) which gave the book a realistic feel to it. The plight of the Filipinos also gave me feels, and it just made me love being a Filipino more. (Shouts: Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!)

Though Po-on has a bittersweet ending, I liked how Istak came to a realization to do his part in the fight for freedom, no matter how fruitless it may seem.


Overall, I really liked Po-on. Kudos to the author for writing a beautiful story that is not only rich in culture and character developments but also in affirming nationalism.

Istak's story is one of the stories of ordinary men, who chose to look, chose to listen to his mother country's cry. Istak may be indifferent at first, but in the end, he heard and he answered.

I can't wait to read the next book in the Rosales Saga which will follow a different character but, I believe, still fights the same cause.

The map included in the book. Oh how I love books w/ maps! :)

Francisco Sionil José was born in 1924 in Pangasinan province and attended the public school in his hometown. He attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II and in 1949, started his career in writing. Since then, his fiction has been published internationally and translated into several languages including his native Ilokano. He has been involved with the international cultural organizations, notably International P.E.N., the world association of poets, playwrights, essayists and novelists whose Philippine Center he founded in 1958.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why I Read YA

For short answers, they would be "because I can" and "why not". But since I wanted to get in depth with my reasons, I decided to dedicate a post about why I read YA literature. :)

Before anything else, what is YA or young adult literature?

In the 1960's, the Young Adult Library Services Association used the term "young adult" to represent readers aged 12 to 18 years (Strickland, A., CNN). At the time, it referred to realistic fiction set in a contemporary world and addressed issues or circumstances of interest to young readers (Cart, M. for YALSA, The Value of Young Adult Literature).

Robert Carlsen, a pioneer in the field of young adult literature (Nilsen, A.P. and Donelson, K.L., Literature for Today's Young Adults), gave a simple definition: "It is that literature which adolescents read" (Hipple, T.W. and Bartholomew, B., Review Essay, College English). The definition was later expanded to:
Young adult literature is literature wherein the protagonist is either a teenager or one who approaches problems from a teenage perspective. Such novels are generally of moderate length and told from the first person. Typically, they describe initiation into the adult world, or the surmounting of a contemporary problem forced upon the protagonist(s) by the adult world (VanderStaay, S., Young-Adult Literature: A Writer Strikes the Genre).

Over time, young adult literature has evolved. Though the given definitions still hold true today, the genre has adopted a wider age range of readers and has taken more subject matters other than contemporary realism.

Despite these changes, many are still adamant about their idea of young adult literature. Thus, I want to share with you folks why I read YA. And hopefully convince you to read them too. :)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

What Happened: August 2016

Hi folks!

Time flies so fast, eh?

I apologize for my inactivity here on the blog. Aside from my never-ending workload, my laptop also gave up on me. -_- But it's been quite a good reading month. I managed to read 4 books! Yey!

Books I Read:

Po-on (Rosales Saga #1) by F. Sionil Jose
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas (re-read)
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Half Bad by Sally Green

I still have to write my reviews, but I'll get to them soon. (Hopefully this month.) Currently, I'm reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield.

Also, I bought 3 books last month. Hihi. My justification haul post is here.

For the non-book related stuff, my friends and I were able to watch one Cinemalaya film, Pamilya Ordinaryo (very nice independent film!). I was supposed to watch Dagsin (another entry in Cinemalaya) but the weather and traffic were crazy. So yeah...


That's all folks!

I hope you'll have a lovely September!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Haul #13: Detox Edition

I was doing good in my book buying ban until the PowerBooks Power Sale. But seriously, who could pass up on a 50% off sale?! Definitely not me. :) Thus, I bought:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (hardcover): This one's on my list since its release. I'm excited to read this soon. I've read good reviews about it.

Half Wild by Sally Green (paperback): I bought the first book, Half Bad, last year also from the PowerBooks Power Sale. :)

Also, I was browsing through a secondhand bookstore, and chanced upon a hardbound copy of The Passage by Justin Cronin. I don't know the original price but I got it for only Php 130 (~$3). That's a deal folks! And besides, I already own a copy of the second book so it's perfectly fine to get the first book (in a much lower price). :)


September is Manila International Book Fair month, so expect another haul post soon! :)

That's all folks!
Have a nice day!