Looking for Philippine Folk Tales?

I’m part of a  new small storytelling group in Manila.  For my piece, I want something unique, something not so familiar among kids. We probably know a lot of western children stories and a lot of Grimm’s fairy tales.  For this reason, I prefer to use a Filipino story. The problem with Filipino children stories or must I say Philippine literature in general. They are not available on the internet.  You’ll probably find a few but very limited. You have to go to libraries and book stores to find one. Luckily, I  found this book in National Book Store. It is a collection of Philippine folk tales about fruits.  It has eight stories. Some of which are  popular ones such as Why the Pina Has a Hundred Eyes, How the Lasones Became Edible, Why the Mango is Shaped Like a Hear, The Story of First Coconut Tree. 

It  astounds me that I only get to know some of these tales as an adult such as  The Story of the First Durian,  Why the Guava Wears a Crown, The Story of the First Banana Plant,  The Legend of the First Makopa Tree.  With this kind of books, there is no excuse to repeat the same stories to children. We have a lot of stories.  We just lack exposure. We, who are stoytellers, teachers, and adults can promote the richness of  Philippine children literature.  And stories feel  closer to us  if the subjects are very familiar to us such  the fruits we regularly eat such as banana, pineapple, and coconut.

This  book suits all ages but smaller kids may not pay much attention. The illustrations are colorless and the characters do no look  cute-like creatures in Cartoon Network.  It is written in a simple language. It is easy to understand, easy to memorize but it is not playful. Hence, if you are reading this  out loud in front of kids, you should be more creative in your delivery.

Philippine Children Books

If you are running out of children stories, go back to folk tales 🙂

Girls are like Magazines and Novels

Photo Source: http://www.glamour.com/

There is no debate which is better, a novel or a magazine. Both have different target readers. The two are read for different purposes in different times. A novel is read during a quiet time in bedroom. A magazine is read during heavy traffic or while waiting one’s turn in the doctor’s clinic. A magazine is meant to entertain and to update readers. A novel is also meant to entertain but not to update readers. Magazines are for people on the rush while novels are for people who take time.

This leads me to compare girls with novels and magazines. A man who chooses a girl he will date is like a man who chooses what to buy in a bookstore. The one he chooses depends on what his needs and interests are. The man who likes to buy a novel is like a man who wants to spend a long time with his girl. The man who picks a magazine wants something that is easy and requires little time for reading like a girl who does not demand much time. If he has short attention span, he will prefer to buy a magazine. If he is a conscientious reader and pays attentions to small details, he will buy a novel.

Girls are like novels and magazines. Some are easy on the eyes and easy to love while some cannot catch a man’s attention in a swift glance. He will learn to like her with additional details. And if a novel takes a lot of time, hence he will never forget. But a magazine with its thin pages, he can neglect.

Between the two, a novel is expensive while a magazine depreciates in value over time. When a man reads a novel all over again, he will always discover something new. But when a man reads a magazine again, there is obviously nothing new. There are a lot of things that can be said about a novel and he can make a book review. But a magazine, what else can he say? Maybe he can give a brief description but not as rich as he would describe how an author writes a novel.

Magazines are available everywhere. He can find them in bus stop, airport, parlor, and grocery store. But a novel is not accessible all the time. Like novels, some girls are hard to reach while magazines are always within his reach. But if a man wants to brag his taste and intellect, he will display novels in his living room.

A novel is personal and intimate. A man who enjoys reading a novel, is eager to touch a new page. He smells it, sleeps with it, protects it. When a man is done reading a magazine, he leaves the magazine to others and say, “You can have it.”

A novel is something he can pass to the next generation but a magazine serves its own generation for when the trends are gone, it is lost. Some girls are like novels worth keeping for a lifetime while some are fleeting, lovely in their own time.

Millennium

Believe it or not, it’s my first time to consciously spell the word millennium with double “l” and double “n.” Believe it or not, I finished the Millennium trilogy in a span of nineteen days. I spent nine days for the first book, one evening and one day for the second book, three days for the last book. If I read the trilogy straight, I can finish it within two weeks.

I am a slow reader. Oftentimes, I read and pause then resume reading. With Stieg Larsson’s novel, it was hard  to stop reading. I felt like I would miss a lot of events if I took a pause. My heart was pounding as I turned each page.

I read the Millennium trilogy like a mad man. I was exhausted after reading the novels  that I had to gather myself to write this post. I was sleep-deprived and eating was my least priority. Each novel contains around 700 pages.  It was not only the length that made me tired, the issues raised and the images were nerve-wracking. I suffered when Lisbeth Salander suffered. I fought with Mikael Blomkvist when she needed justice. On one occasion I was reading a novel when someone called out my name outside my window.  I screamed out loud.  I came back to my senses. The person knocking on my door was no murderer or any villainous character from the book.

Like a Last Song Syndrome,  the story flashes back on my head every now and then. I can write three more blog posts about the trilogy. My blog posts would be Lisbeth Salander and I,  The Women in Larsson’s novels, and Millennium: Movie Versus Book(But they would sound redundant)

I really want to discuss further the intricacies of the  trilogy. But I cannot do that without giving spoilers.  Hence, I  will not spill  the beans.  Let this review be superficial that cannot be sufficient enough to describe the actual experience in reading the novels  or  to commend a great storyteller.

All his books have complex plots. They have subplots in between. Within a novel, there are like two mysteries or more to unlock.  It is action-packed. For every chapter, you will discover something new or something distracting.

More than anything, it touches violence against women. On The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Larsson included some facts about women in the military and domestic violence. You can say that Larsson is a feminist. Interviews from the press stated that Lisbeth Salander is a modern day feminist. But  I will not agree that reading the Millennium series  is enjoyable  for feminists. I would love to see men who hate women get punished but I would not be happy to know a man with principles sleeps with every woman he meets.

If there’s one word to describe Larsson and his works , it is “intelligent.” We always assume that a person who can make a published novel is intelligent. But Larsson is way beyond that. He weaves a story like no other. His brain is big enough to accommodate all these interconnections between national security, espionage, government, women, and simple crimes. He can teach you how to hack, how to  make false identity and the basics of self-defense.

Aside from the mysteries, Larsson  describes  friendship and trust in odd circumstances.  You’ll probably not find romance or love in the series. But you’ll find a special kind of partnership, friendship.

In his novels, there is no black and white and evil perhaps may be permissible. Lisbeth Salander has a different moral code. You question  how you define justice. Do you let the authorities deliver justice?  Or is it more fulfilling to take the role of God and punish those who need to pay?

By the end of the book, you ponder upon the ideas behind the story. Lisbeth  Salander is a product of dysfunctional system in the society. You wonder how many  Lisbeths are there in the world who are wrongfully judged and mistreated.

Just a short preview on what it’s like reading each book

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

Let me begin by saying that it is the best book among the three though I love the three books equally. For one reason, this book can stand alone.  As what I said, it has everything: violence, sex, rape, ethics, morality and corruption. This is the time you can decide if you want to read the next book or be satisfied with this. If you don’t like the first book, I doubt if you will like the second or the third.

This is time when you change your perception of  ideal fictional heroes as you meet  investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and legally incompetent  researcher Lisbeth Salander.  I happen to like them a lot that I cannot let go of  Lisbeth and Mikael.  I have developed some close attachment in these characters. This has driven me to read the next book, The Girl who Played with Fire

The Girl who Played with Fire

This is the most unsatisfying book among the three that you are compelled to read the last book. There are so many holes to be filled yet it is the thickest among the three. I think Larsson purposely left the holes for the readers to look forward for his third book. I felt like Larsson could have used more of his lesser-known characters in this book. It has the same themes with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but this time politics is involved. Less sex but filled with violence  which was unbearable to imagine (yet  I managed to read through them). My favorite scene is how Lisbeth Salander survived in a life-threatening situation.

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s nest

This book is about conspiracy. At this point,  justice is achieved. Mikael Blomkvist becomes the hero of the book. The common complaints I hear from people who read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are: there are too many names. It’s confusing and makes you dizzy. Well, brace yourself! The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has more names and is the most confusing of all. There are so many connections that are difficult to trace. He also incorporated some real facts such as  the past Swedish prime ministers.

There are rumors that Larsson wrote the fourth book. Though the third book ended well, there can be a lot of possibilities on what can happen next to the protagonists. With a journalist as your main character, he can always be in search for exposé. With a very introvert and secretive character, there will always be excitement to see changes in her life.  I also find some of the secondary characters promising to be featured in future novels.

I arrive at the saddest moment of a reading experience. It is knowing that you  have nothing  to look forward from the author.  They say he left his fourth book unfinished and he had the intention of having ten books in Millennium series. They say his long-time partner might continue his series or some new writer has to finish. But I feel cheated if another writer  will continue his series. I believe before he started writing, he had already prophesied the fate of Millennium. No one knows about Mikael and Lisbeth more than the author.

Stieg Larsson, please come back to life. You have an unfinished business.  I wish you have lived long enough, the way your characters have lived.