Patriotism in absurd times


Friday, June 06, 2008

Patriotism in absurd times

By Angelique Manalad, Contributor

Bob Ong’s collection of books brings tears to our eyes—tears of laughter, that is—with his own unique concoction of reality and humor, “Bakit Baligtad Magbasa Ang Mga Pilipino?” Mga Kwentong Barbero ni Bob Ong [Why does the Filipino read in reverse? Barber’s Tales from Bob Ong].

A must-read especially this coming celebration of our national freedom, the book is a collection of short stories and essays from different people about the Philippine culture.

Ong begins with a long, light and hearty “introduction” about the daily routines of a regular Filipino. Then he transports the readers to a trip back in time. He also delves into Filipino superstitions and customs, asking the questions we ourselves asked as children. Comparing the previous practices of Juan de la Cruz with the present, Ong notes how changed the Filipinos seem to be, but how somehow old problems still persist.

He entertains the readers with his comical yet casual recounts of encounters with different faces of a Pinoy. Have you met the nine types of jeepney drivers? What does the store Petal Attraction sell? What would Filipinos do if ever the September 11 attack in the US happens here? Ong introduced and given answers to this not so usual questions but you’ll find yourself knowing the answers all along after you’ve red it here.

But that’s not all that the book offers. As one turns its pages, different issues arise—serious issues that our country chronically experiences. With anecdotes and opinions, he illustrates how Juan de la Cruz sees to see himself or how he pretend to be someone else.

Facts and insightful observations give the book the authority to question some of the flaws of our national character. But with much irony, Ong also notes the things that buoy a Filipino’s pride while inciting you to ponder on what it means to be Filipino.

Delivered in Ong’s trademark satire, the book entertains while it preaches. He casually instills love for our culture, pride in our traditions and traits, no matter how queer they may seem, Ong makes you comfortable in your own skin as you laugh along with him.

Past generations had generals and novelists for heroes. The children of these strange times have a satirist to lead the way. Mabuhay Bob Ong. Mabuhay Philippines.


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