“If you don’t blow your own horn, someone will use it as a spittoon.” — Ken Blanchard
One of the things that give me a sense of accomplishment (of sorts) is this year’s output of reading Filipiniana. Going over my 2012 The Year in Books list, I have read fifteen books published locally and written by Filipino authors so far! I know it’s a measly sum in comparison with the efforts of others. The good news is the year isn’t done yet, and I can still manage to get those numbers up a notch.
This sudden and recent reawakening of interest in Filipino books I owe none other to Jose Rizal’s masterpieces in fiction: Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which I reread when the former was chosen as book of the month by Goodreads—The Filipino Group for August. From there curiosity to know more about the life of the Great Malayan spiked and the first thing that came to my mind was to quickly grab a copy and Ambeth Ocampo’s best-selling and widely read Rizal Without the Overcoat. Much as I was aware of the book way back in college, I didn’t enjoy it then as I did reading it now, since, poor lad that I was, I only borrowed it from the college library. The manner by how Ocampo demythologizes the way we see Rizal and brought him down the pedestal to be examined level with us Filipinos through his essays’ entertaining, lively discourse stirred in me a fascination to know more about Philippine history along with its obscure nooks and crannies. To my surprise, I’m gobbling up Ocampo’s books in no time.
I admit that in the past years Filipino Literature has taken a back seat when I favoured reading classics and contemporary foreign books. I’m missing my old high school self who enjoys and keeps on discovering Filipino fiction; that kid who sneaks around the library during vacant hours to read novels and short stories by some of the country’s renowned authors like Edgardo Reyes, Lualhati Bautista, Amado V. Hernandez, Rogelio Sicat, among others, even if those weren’t required reading materials assigned by the teacher in the Filipino subject (Truth be told, I even manage to wheedle money out from my parents and other relatives, particularly patronizing aunts, just so I could buy books. Fortunately, I still have these books today and in good, reading condition, too!)
This incident of rediscovering the pleasure of reading Filipino works is a refreshing experience, I think I want more.
In turn, I was inspired to set up a reading initiative tackling one, two or as much as much I can read Filipino written works, specially locally published ones, every month. A bulb lighted up inside my mind and presto, I came up with Pinoy and Proud of It!
Pinoy and Proud of It! is an expression of loving one’s own and a show support for Filipino literature. Giving it the pride of place, I’m launching it as the newest page on the blog to chart my exploration and recent progress on things concerning Filipiniana.
As part of this reading project, it is also a platform to showcase the Philippine’s national language as books written in Filipino will have a review articulated in my mother tongue, vice versa with books written in English.
With this latest reading initiative I hope Filipino Literature will have its proper share of limelight and gain more attention in the book blogging community; to give it a new face other than the boring, required readings our high school and college teachers and professor forcefully rammed down our brains.
Time and again, I’ve been witness how others complain about the state of the nation’s literature as “problematic”. I believe there’s still more to work on and develop in today’s Filipiniana to bloom to its full potential, as art is a continuing progress and struggle to perfection. Now’s the time to put a stop to the spats; on my own little way I’m going to make a difference. Yes, I’m going to blow the horn that will make them turn their heads.
I am Pinoy and proud of it!