In my book

I love reading people’s responses to quizzes and memes but usually don’t have the patience to answer one myself. Which may be why it took me quite awhile to go through this particular quiz. Anyway, here goes:

1. What books sparked your interest in reading? Meaning, what books first took reading from being a forced activity to being an enjoyable pastime for you?
There weren’t many books around in our house when I was young so I picked up a high school literature textbook left by a previous tenant. It was written entirely in Filipino and featured samplings of different writings including myths, legends, love stories and fables. It started my interest in the written word and the short story form, as well as an appreciation of my native language.

2. Which three books have most changed your life (in a practical, tangible way)?

  • Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus, because it taught me that getting to the top should not come at the expense of others and losing oneself in its pursuit.
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, taught me to value friendship and the importance of trying to maintain a child-like appreciation of the world around me.
  • See answer to question 1.

3. Which three books (outside of the Bible) have most shaped your thoughts on God?
I’m not a religious person and must admit that this is a topic I don’t read up on.

4. Which book(s), if any, have you intentionally read more than once?
The Belgariad series by David Eddings (my introduction to fantasy), Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories (Vol. 1 & 2) by Arthur Conan Doyle, Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe and The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy Emmuska.

5. Which three books would you recommend to a brand new Christian?
See answer to question 3.

6. Which three books do you plan to have your kids read? (Or – “Which three books were most exciting to read to your kids/for your kids to read?” – for those of you who already have children)

  • Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus
  • A selection of Filipino myths and legends
  • The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett

7. Books that stand out -(i.e. Ones we’ve REALLY enjoyed as family read-alouds: )
Hmm… we don’t have family read-alouds but some books that stood out were:

  • I am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  • Forever Today by Deborah Wearing

8. A book that made you cry
Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. The story of the extraordinary courage, love and sacrifices these women gave touched me. Besides, having a traditional Chinese mum and the difficulties that presents also struck a chord.

9. A book that scared you
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Being a fan of horror fiction, it’s perhaps ironic that I would choose a non-fiction book for this. However, the industrial way of growing food in our time terrifies me. The utter disregard for the laws of nature, a heavy reliance on fossil fuels and our preference for being blissfully unaware of where our food came from, where it lived, what it ate and how it got to our plate scares me. One could argue that the facts from the book were only based on America’s food culture but I believe that the problem is a global phenomenon.

10. A book that made you laugh
Truckers (1st book of The Bromeliad trilogy) by Terry Pratchett is a book about a race of small people called nomes living in a department store and a group of outsiders who has infiltrated their small world. With the department store’s imminent closing, the nomes living inside the store must venture Outside. Yes, everyone must heed the wishes of Arnold Bros. (est 1905), revered by all and whose wishes are written in the department store’s signs. And if the signs say “Final Sale: Everything must Go”, then the nomes must see if there really is an Outside and perhaps make a new life out there.

11. A book that disgusted you
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I read this book because everyone seem to be raving about it but I found it cheesy, clichéd and not very interesting.

12. A book you loved in elementary/primary school
The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn G. Keene. I remember a friend’s older sister were renting them out and I made sure I had enough money to rent a new one each week.

13. A book you loved in middle school (yrs 5, 6, 7, 8 )
P.S. I Love You, Sweet Dreams #1 by Barbara Conklin. The Sweet Dreams series was very popular with my friends at that time and it was easy to get access to them. I think I’ve read almost every Sweet Dreams book I could get my hands on during that time but this one left a lasting impression.

14. A book you loved in high school
The Shining by Stephen King was the first horror book I’ve read and remains a favourite.

15. A book you loved in college
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy Emmuska. Set against the backdrop of the French revolution, it has swashbuckling action, a lovable hero (and heroine) and romance! What’s not to like?

16. Any more favorites?

  • Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King
  • Needful Things by Stephen King
  • The Terminal Experiment by Robert Sawyer
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

17. What are you currently reading?

  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

18. What’s your family reading?
My parents aren’t much into reading and as for Geejay, please see his responses to these same set of questions a few posts back.

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Published in: on August 19, 2006 at 9:07 pm  Comments (3)  

What Books?

I’ve read in the blog Girl About Town about this set of questions regarding books. I decided to give it a go here.

1. What books sparked your interest in reading? Meaning, what books first took reading from being a forced activity to being an enjoyable pastime for you?

It depends. My interest in reading novels started after I read The Magician Apprentice (first book of four Riftwar Saga series) by Raymond Feist. This was the first novel I really tried to read from start to finish on my own. It was hard going for the first few chapters but then it took hold of me. I just wanted to sit down in a corner and read the book through. After this, I started to read a lot of novels and other forms of written fiction.

However, I was interested in reading non-fiction books before I started to gain interest in fiction books. This was all due to reading Dungeons and Dragons rule books and supplementary guide books. Since I was the Dungeon Master (game storyteller), I had to read up on lots of non-fiction books to get ideas for our games. Yeah, I’m a geek.

2. Which three books have most changed your life (in a practical, tangible way)?

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Unearthed Arcana. It was the first ever book I had of the Dungeons and Dragons game. I didn’t understand the rules then and I had no idea what the tables and charts in the book meant. But the description of the character classes and the magical world it describes fascinated me a lot. This started me with the whole game and ultimately, my keen interest for history, religion, mythology, storytelling and writing.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. As a child, I had this ambition of becoming an astrophysicist complete with the white lab coat. I was always curious about science and Dr Hawking’s book was able to explain to me a lot of things about the universe.

Creative Writing: Forms and Techniques by Lavonne Mueller, Jerry D. Reynolds. I had this book a long time ago and I don’t have it with me here in Australia. I bought it when I was in college and it gave me the inspiration to be more of a writer than as an artist.

3. Which three books (outside of the Bible) have most shaped your thoughts on God?

I had a pretty strong faith in God when I was growing up, having been taught in a Catholic school and university, living in a country that believes strongly in God. My thoughts on God were formed during those Religion classes I used to take in school. So, the textbooks we had in those classes should count here. But let’s say we exclude those and go to the books that rocked my faith…

Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. Of all the things that could have started to cause me to doubt my faith back in college, it was this book. The way the vampire Lestat seemed to contest God’s existence made me doubt His existence as well. It wasn’t a surprise to me when I found out that Anne Rice was an atheist, in those days at least.

Teach Yourself Christianity by John Young. This small non-fiction book basically introduces Christianity to the reader. And to those who are already Christians, it is a quick “refresher course” of what it is we believe in and why. Growing up, I had these questions as to why we Christians believe in things we do. I found a lot of those questions answered by this book.

Cracking Da Vinci’s Code by James L. Garlow and Peter Jones. It is not only a book that countered Dan Brown’s anti-Christian assertions in The DaVinci Code but also provides additional teachings about Christian beliefs.

4. Which book(s), if any, have you intentionally read more than once?

Timeline by Michael Crichton. I’m a real sucker for time-travel stories. Although I heard people didn’t like this book much, it had two things I like: a story about medieval Europe and a story about the science of time travel. What’s not to like? I’ve read this book three times. That’s a lot since I usually only read a book once.

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Every time a new book comes out, I couldn’t help but re-read the older books before I read the new one. It was because of this ritual that I got a major spoiler on the sixth book. While reading the older books, someone (you know who you are) told me who died in book six and who killed him. Arrgggh!

5. Which three books would you recommend to a brand new Christian?

Teach Yourself Christianity by John Young. Described above.
Cracking Da Vinci’s Code by James L. Garlow and Peter Jones. Described above.
There are more books that I think would be suitable for new Christians, however, I have them all back in the Philippines and I can’t remember any of the titles.

6. Which three books do you plan to have your kids read? (Or – “Which three books were most exciting to read to your kids/for your kids to read?” – for those of you who already have children)

The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett. A very funny story about a small alien race called Nomes trapped on Earth. That’s three books right there. But, if we only count a series as one, here are two others.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. A book about the value of friendship.

The Harry Potter series. Of course!

If I was the one doing the reading, I might also read them the Belgariad series by David Eddings.

7. Books that stand out -(i.e. Ones we’ve REALLY enjoyed as family read-alouds: )

We don’t really do family read-alouds. Books that stand-out are books that make me think about the possibilities. Those are typically non-fiction books or science fiction books such as:
– The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan
– A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
– Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer
– Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J Sawyer

8. A book that made you cry

I’m not much for reading sob stories (sob movies, yes. sob novels, no.). But one of the saddest moments I’ve experience while reading was probably while I was reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.

9. A book that scared you

The Shining by Stephen King. From all of Stephen King’s books that I’ve read, this one scared me because of my long-time fear of haunted houses.

10. A book that made you laugh

Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming by Robert Zelazny and Robert Sheckley. It’s a very funny book about the turn of the millennium (year 1000 AD) and the forces of good and evil vying for the chance to reshape the world. It was the first book that made me laugh out loud.

11. A book that disgusted you

Even though I’ve read a lot of Stephen King books (including a short story of his about this guy stuck in an island who had to amputate his own body just so he has something to eat), I can’t say I’ve read a book that actually disgusted me.

12. A book you loved in elementary/primary school

Sad to say, I’m not much of a reader back in those days. I do read but mostly my dad’s collection of comic books.

13. A book you loved in middle school (yrs 5, 6, 7, 8 )

See answer 12.

14. A book you loved in high school

See answer 12. Although, at this time, our literature teachers were trying to get us to read more by giving us homework where we have to read a book and give a summary for it at the end of the week. Sad to say but I sort of cheated in that I just read the summary on the book itself and just paraphrased that in my homework.

15. A book you loved in college

This was when I only really started reading. If I had to pick one, it was a compilation book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that a friend of mine lent me (which I can’t remember ever returning). From then on, I was a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and have read his other many adventures.

16. Any more favorites?

Apart from those already listed elsewhere in my answers, here are some more:
– Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (I guess you should count the rest of the Vampire Chronicles series up to Memnoch the Devil)
– I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (oooh more vampires)
– Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
– Prey by Michael Crichton (I don’t know why people didn’t like this too much)
– Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein (I specially like the part where in this original version, the lead characters are actually Filipinos and not Latin Americans that speak in an American accent like in the movie)
– The Genesis Code by John Case (mixes genetics and religious themes. What’s not to like?)

17. What are you currently reading?

A very old hard-bound tome about the history of Melbourne. I’m currently researching the way of life of 19th century Melbourne for a story I’m writing. And if I’m not reading that, I’m reading some of my art books to get inspiration for the comics I’m drawing. I really have got to free up some more of my time to get back to reading Humans (the Neanderthal Parallax book 2) by Robert Sawyer and my newly bought book The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking.

18. What’s your family reading?

My mum and brother aren’t much into reading. My dad, on the other hand, reads a lot of Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum. Back in the old days, at least. And as for Raquel, my wife, well, you’ll just have to read her answers to these same questions (to be posted later).

Published in: on August 17, 2006 at 7:42 pm  Comments (2)  

I got the book!

Although I’m a self-confessed horror fiction fan, I concede that reading terrifying stories for a sustained period of time could be tiresome, even boring and depressing. I have to space them out over a long period of time, something I could get to later when I need my dose of horror again.

So what do I read in the intervening time? I try to read anything that piques my interest and not be limited to certain genres. At the very least, I would try a highly rated book in a particular genre and see if I like it. Currently I’m reading Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik, a neuro-surgeon. In this book, she talks about the different aspects of her job – how she got into it, the emotional side of medicine, the intricacies of the brain and how little we still know about it and even lawsuits. I’m still halfway through it but I’m enjoying it so far.

Another thing I’m into is detective fiction, specifically Sherlock Holmes. The first Holmes story I read was The Adventure of Three Garridebs, which was included in my grade school literature book. I liked it so much, I’ve re-read it a dozen times. It wasn’t until I met Geejay that I found out there are more stories about Holmes out there. I saw him with his nose buried into a thick paperback, Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories. When I saw the cover of the book, I nearly snatched the book from him. I didn’t of course, as I didn’t know him well then. But you can bet that I hurried to a local bookstore to find the same book. Imagine my delight when I saw that there were 2 volumes of them! Needless to say, I bought both books and had a terrific time reading more about my favourite detective.

I later discovered that several writers have written stories based on the characters Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has created. Heaps of new tales have been now been printed which features Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Professor Moriarty and Irene Adler which Conan Doyle have no hand in creating. The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a copy of which I bought in a book shop in Canberra, boasts of new Holmes tales written by Edward D Hoch, Stephen King, John Lutz and other authors. The compilation was a good one, but it never reached the quality of Conan Doyle’s creations.

A couple of weeks ago while I was looking for new stories to read, I found out that Conan Doyle’s son, Adrian (with John Dickson Carr), had tried his hand at creating new mysteries for Holmes to solve. It was an old book and although it has been re-printed lately, it’s only available in online bookstores such as Emporium Books. Not sure if I wanted to shell out nearly $20 for the book (including shipping), I started to look in second-hand bookstores around the CBD without success.

Then I remembered Penny Syber’s book shop along Chapel Street, which has a big collection of old books. Last weekend, we went there and I headed straight for the crime fiction section and there, waiting for me, is a copy of the book! Sure, it has creases on its cover and the pages are yellowed with age but so what, I could still read what’s printed. It was selling for a mere $5 (except one could argue we spent money on the petrol and parking too going there from Werribee but hey, we made an afternoon of walking along Chapel Street and browsing the other shops too).

So, have I read the book yet? Nope, it’s now nestled in our bookshelf, waiting for me to finish with brain book I’m currently finishing. I’m already excited though, imagine, 12 new adventures with Holmes! I sure hope they’re all good stories and worth the trouble and the wait.

Published in: on July 27, 2006 at 7:41 am  Leave a Comment  

The horror of it all

I’m a horror fiction fan, there I said it. I remember telling one friend that I like reading scary books and he had this disappointed look on his face. He looked like he wanted to ask why I would bother reading such rubbish but thought better of it. He’s into non-fiction books and classic literature. I guess he felt I’m wasting my time with those pulp fiction stuff and should get into loftier subjects.

I discovered the genre when I went to a friend’s house to watch a video with a group of friends. I got bored with whatever it was were watching and my eyes wandered to the bookshelf just beside the television. My friend’s brother had this whole shelf of Stephen King books and I picked up the one titled The Shining. I read it while my friends endured the movie and I borrowed the book after I realised I wouldn’t be able to finish it then and there. From then on, I was hooked. I’ve read most of Stephen King’s works and enjoyed most of his earlier works. Among my favourites are The Shining, Bag of Bones, Skeleton Crew, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Everything’s Eventual, Four Past Midnight, The Dark Half and Needful Things. Other works of his that I’ve watched but haven’t read (but would still recommend) are Misery, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Carrie, Thinner, The Langoliers, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.

Yes, I guess you could say I’ve been a Stephen King fan since that fateful day when I got my hands on The Shining. However, I still find Edgar Allan Poe‘s stories chilling particularly The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado and the unforgettable The Tell-Tale Heart. Then there’s also Ray Bradbury with his Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man and I Sing the Body Electric to keep me busy during my university years. More recently, I’ve also enjoyed I am Legend by Richard Matheson. On the other hand, I found Dean Koontz’ kind of horror lacking and has avoided his books after plowing through a couple of them.

Lately, I’ve been haunting the bookstores to find new authors to read and realised that there is truth in what some horror writers (and readers) say, the genre is marginalised. It’s easy to walk into a bookstore and find the Science Fiction or Crime section, in fact there are just rows and rows of shelves dedicated to these sort of books. Horror fiction, on the other hand, is lumped up with general fiction or only has very limited shelf space devoted to it. Either way, the choices are dismally small. The only book shop I’ve seen that has a respectable selection of horror fiction is Borders at Jam Factory.

Even the libraries follow the same pattern, thus making the hope of browsing through shelves to discover a new author who specialises in horror a remote possibility. Sure, some of the books have stickers indicating the genre they belong to but not all of them do.

What’s a horror fiction fan to do? Right now, I’ve been trawling at Amazon.com’s horror fiction category, taking note of the author’s name then going to the shops to try and find the book. Failing that, I’d search for the author’s works from my library’s online catalogue and putting in a request for it. There is some good news though if the work is no longer protected by copyright laws and are available online. Horror Masters, Project Gutenberg and East of the Web have proven to be a treasure trove of short stories that should keep me busy for quite a long time. Now, if only I could find the time to read them.

Published in: on July 20, 2006 at 9:40 pm  Comments (3)  

Fold, fold, tuck!

I’ve found a great way to re-use the product catalogues walkers regularly jam into our mailbox and it’s enjoyable too! Check out the photo of my beginner foldings of 2 octagonal boxes, a lazy susan, 2 square boxes, a triangular box, a heart coaster and a swan napkin. Yup, I’ve started doing some origami while watching TV and listening to Gj practice his guitar-playing skills.

Aside from some basic paper foldings I did when I was a wee kid, I haven’t done any paper folding until about a week ago. After realising that creating wooden boxes on my own would require serious skill in doing accurate measurements, cutting and handling possibly dangerous machinery, I picked up a book from the library about making memory boxes for scrapbook enthusiasts. This book features several interesting projects but I thought it might be a good idea to start with something even simpler, something that would get my unartistic hands used to doing something craft-y with a minimal outlay of cash. And what better material than the ubiquitous paper?

Curious if there’s such a thing as an “origami box”, I entered it as a search criteria in Amazon. To my surprise, the search yielded quite a long list with Tomoko Fuse’s Fabulous Origami Boxes topping the list. Borrowing the book from the public library and trying out the first few projects, I found them challenging but enjoyable (even when I had to enlist hubby’s help in figuring out the more advanced folds). By the fifth project, I know I was hooked and I absolutely had to get a copy of this book (not as easy as I originally thought as I had to visit 3 Borders, a Dymocks store in the CBD and two Angus Robertson branches before finally finding it at Borders Highpoint).

I also bought Tomoko Fuse’s Quick & Easy Origami Boxes and Andrew Stoker’s Fantastic Folds. I browsed the online catalogues of the two public libraries I frequent as well and borrowed every book they have in practical origami. So far, I’m only interested in projects that have practical uses like table napkins, chopsticks rests, a multitude of containers, but most specially boxes. Maybe part of the attraction of this kind of paper folding is that I could use the finished projects around the house. In fact, I’ve already used several of my earlier paper boxes as containers for vegetable peelings and food scraps, making clean ups around the kitchen easier.

So if you have an abundance of paper around the house, you might want to try your hand at this hobby. If you’re interested in boxes, Tomoko Fuse is the undisputed expert (as I’ve learned from some origami sites around the web). The other books shown in the photo are also quite good although not all of them focus on origami.

Published in: on March 15, 2006 at 10:50 pm  Comments (2)  

Manila is Not in Indonesia

There’s a new men’s magazine in town from the makers of FHM. The name’s Zoo Weekly and their first issue came out today — for free! Yep. A girl dressed like she works at Hooters was handing them out at the Flinders Street station earlier today.

So, what’s the magazine like? Well, it’s kinda like another FHM really. Only, weekly. And lots of pictures of nearly naked women. And, yeah, the requisite articles and pictures on cars, jets, sports, gross topics and some geeky topics.

Well, on this issue, it also had something on the Bali Nine and their sentencing. It basically detailed the life of Australian Chris Parnell who was jailed for 20 years in Bali and how it was such a horrific ordeal that he wished he got the death sentence instead.

I thought the article was quite an unpleasant but surprisingly interesting revelation. It made me think about how scary it could be in prison, specially in a third world.

I then looked at the photos that accompanied the article. Then there’s one where it looked like a bunch of smiling Filipinos crammed together in jail. Now, that was weird. It must be some kind of mistake, I thought. The article was about the Indonesian prison of Bali.

I had to take a closer look then I read the caption: “Manila City jail: five times over its capacity”.

No wonder they looked like Filipinos. Heck, they were! Oh, I’m sure it’s very cramped in the Manila City Jail but there was nothing in the article about Manila at all, apart from the picture.

I only take issue because people reading the article might think that the Manila City Jail is in Bali, Indonesia when in fact it is not. Either the magazine accidentally used the photo thinking it’s actually in Indonesia or they intentionally wanted to pass it off as a photo of inmates in a Bali jail.

I just thought it was weird.

Published in: on February 14, 2006 at 9:35 pm  Comments (2)  

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

One of the things I hate about being away from the Philippines is that there is no easy way to get products I like that are exclusively sold there. When Raquel was still in the Philippines, I would ask her to buy me stuff and send it over to Australia via post. But ever since she moved here, I could only rely on my parents or my brother to do the buying and sending for me.

Sad to say, they are not that reliable when it comes to that. I would call them, text them and email them a list of items I’d like for them to buy and send over. They would acknowledge the request but it would soon be forgotten. Over the years, I’ve come to expect that my requests would eventually be forgotten. It’s a downer, really.

Just the other day, I read Bambi Harper’s Sense and Sensibility column on the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s website titled The ‘Ilustrado’ as Filipino where she talked about a new book written by Australian-based Filipino author Alfredo Roces.

The book is titled “Adios Patria Adorada: the Filipino as Ilustrado, the Ilustrado as Filipino” and was described by Harper in her column as follows:

“… whether the Ilustrados sincerely wanted independence for the good of the country or they wanted it so that they could take over the colonizer’s role. Did they collaborate first with the Spaniards, then with the Americans, then the Japanese and finally with the powers-that-be to fulfill this ambition? And is this the reason the country is in the mess it’s in now?”

I’ve always been intrigued by Philippine history and have bought several books on the subject and brought them with me to Australia. So after reading the column, I knew I wanted to own and read Roces’s book. But the only way to do that is to have somebody from the Philippines buy it for me and post it to me. Uh-oh, I thought. Given my family’s track record, I had to find another way to get my hands on this book.

So, I looked on the Internet if it was available to order online. It wasn’t, as far as I know. The websites for bookstores in the Philippines do not list the book as being available. The book’s publisher, DLSU Press, didn’t respond to my email regarding the availability and distribution of the book.

I told Raquel about the problem and she suggested that we ask her father to buy the book instead. I have really nothing to lose at that point. We texted her father the book details yesterday. Today, he went off to Manila to look for the book.

According to Harper, there were only 500 copies of the book! What were the publishers thinking?!

“De La Salle Press officials claim that they generally sell only 500 copies of their publications. Considering their student body, this is a rather depressing figure. But even worse is the thought that so few would have a chance to understand the Ilustrado and his real contribution to this country.”

Given that there were limited copies of the book, we doubt that it would be available in the regular book outlets so Raquel told her father to try going to La Salle on Taft Avenue, Manila first. When he got there, the security guard at the gate stopped him from entering the campus. The guard called somebody from the DLSU Press to talk to Raquel’s dad. Thankfully, Raquel’s dad was able to get a copy of the book from the DLSU Press staff for 420 Pesos.

Now, I have a copy of the book. Well, actually, Raquel’s father has the book but he texted us that he would send it via post soon. I couldn’t believe how quickly Raquel’s dad got the book for us. I really appreciate it! It now makes me think about the next time. Would I ask my brother to buy me something? Or do I just nicely ask Raquel’s father again instead?

Published in: on February 10, 2006 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Harry Potter, the Half-Blood Prince and Me

Warning: If you haven’t read or finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I suggest you stop reading this post now as it may contain spoilers.

At last, I finished reading the latest installment of the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. No more fear of spoilers from other people. Unfrotunately though, thanks to the spoiler I’ve read in my brother’s blog, the latest book’s ending wasn’t much of a surprise for me.

Even before I started reading the book, I was already aware that Rowling intended for one of the main characters to die in Harry Potter’s latest outing. That’s okay, I thought, because I didn’t know who it was going to be. But after my brother’s spoiler, I couldn’t even think of anybody else who might be killed except the person he named. Near the end, it could’ve been anybody still, but since I know who’s going to die, I only half-heartedly hoped that somebody else dies. In the end, I didn’t feel too sad for that character’s death because I was sort of prepared for it. Stupid spoiler.

Anyway, enough whinging about the spoilers. I certainly can’t wait for the last book. And when it does come out, I promise to be one of the first people to read it. Then maybe I could be the one dishing out the spoilers.

Published in: on September 19, 2005 at 11:14 pm  Comments (2)  

Ruined Day Because of a Spoiler!

I turned my PC on early today, even before I left for work, because I had to copy an Excel spreadsheet from my PC that contained a list of houses we will inspect in Werribee on Saturday. I figured, since the PC was already on, I’d check my email anyway. I got an email from Friendster telling me that my brother had recently updated his blog: Blog ang Mundo.

Always keen on knowing what’s going on with him and the family back in the Philippines, I went to his blog only to have my day ruined. He knew I was reading a certain book. He knew I wasn’t finished. He knew I was reading his blog. And what do I see? A bloody spoiler for the same book revealing the identity of a secret character and who freaking died!

There was no spoiler warning. It was like three sentences long. Even if there was a warning, I wouldn’t have been able to avoid the spoiler as I read fairly fast and would’ve read the spoiler at almost the same time I’ve read the warning. To make matters worse, he even started with a sentence that calls attention to those people still reading or haven’t read the book before writing the spoiler. Also, some words in the short paragraph were in bold typeface making sure you don’t miss the spoiler.

It’s kind of like this:

To all of you who haven’t seen Sixth Sense yet. Bruce Willis’s character is actually a ghost! He’s dead already!

And no, his spoiler wasn’t actually about the Sixth Sense movie.

Anyway, after reading that post, I became very furious. I hadn’t felt anger like that in a long time. I wanted to punch something (and I did: the walls)! I kept shouting out expletives! I was frustrated and aggravated! My brother was fortunate he was in the Philippines and I’m in Australia or I would’ve punched him in the shoulders repeatedly.

All my effort in trying to avoid spoilers for the book by skipping on my other friends’ blog posts concerning the same topic was all useless in the end. It was like trying to get shot in a war torn neighborhood and I ended getting shot deliberately by my own brother. Nice. I think that’s what aggravated me more: the idea that my own brother dished out the spoiler when he knew for a fact that I didn’t want spoilers of any sort, more so about the book I was reading.

I imparted on to him my profound displeasure by leaving a short comment on his spoiler post that basically says: “If this isn’t a joke, you’re a bloody idiot!” But that didn’t lessen my anger, so I sent him two SMS text messages that basically said the same thing except longer. I also recommended that he remove the stupid post as soon as possible. To his credit, he did so immediately.

When I got to work to check on the post again, it was already gone. It was replaced by a sort of apology that wasn’t really much of an apology since he was still being cocky about it by quoting the secret words to activate and deactivate the Marauder’s Map from the Harry Potter series: “I solemnly sware, that I am up to no good.” and “Mischeif Managed!” Because I thought the apology was not sincere didn’t help quell my still lingering anger.

With that, I wrote a long and heated retort. I said that whether it was a joke or not, it wasn’t funny either way. I told him that I wander over to his blog to read what was going on with him and instead I get a stupid spoiler. I also told him that courtesy dictates that he shouldn’t have given out a spoiler and ruin a book for everybody else that may be kind enough to read his blog. I actually said more than that and in a stronger language.I vented my anger into that comment so much that I was afraid that I might have overdid it.

Well, he removed my comment. I thought it was for the best as I really meant that rant of a comment to be for his eyes only anyway. He posted a second apology as a comment to his original one. The second one was slightly more sincere than the original. Either way, I forgave him. The rant-comment I wrote must’ve helped vent out my rage, and I really couldn’t be angry with that oaf for too long anyway. I guess, it’s also because I like my brother more than any silly book.

In the end, my morning was still ruined as well as my complete enjoyment for the book I’m reading. However, I feel like I’m somewhat over it now that I have had the chance to rant about it here and on my brother’s blog. We’re okay now. I’ll just put this extremely annoying incident behind me — just as long as he doesn’t do it again.

Published in: on September 1, 2005 at 11:53 am  Comments (4)  

Ang Lumang Aklat

Although Raquel is supposed to be only a quarter Filipino (Ilocano), she’s more versed in Tagalog than I am. Often, if I hear a Tagalog word I’m not familiar with, I ask her and she translates the word for me into English. Pathetic, isn’t it?

When I was growing up, my parents taught me to speak in English more than Tagalog. I was also exposed to a lot of American children TV shows like Sesame Street and the Electric Company. Whereas with Raquel, she didn’t watch a lot of TV when she was growing up but she had these old Tagalog text books left behind by the owner of the house her family lived in.

She told me that it was the kind of Tagalog that’s not used colloquially anymore. Anyway, she claims she learnt most of the real obscure Tagalog words (by today’s standards at least) she knows from those books. I envied that she knew all these Tagalog words that I never even knew about — and I was supposed to be the Tagalog (person).

One time a few years ago while Raquel and I were having dinner with my family, my Mom mentioned in a sentence a Tagalog word I wasn’t at all familiar with (can’t remember what word it was now). It was like the first time I’ve heard of it. I guess Raquel noticed my glazy-eyed look and provided the English translation of the word. Ping! A light bulb turned on in my head.

“What? You didn’t know what ______ meant?” My Mom asked me incredulously.

“What do you mean, ‘What?'” I retorted. “You never taught me that word.” And I certainly didn’t remember being taught that word in school neither. If I didn’t learn it from school or from my parents, how was I supposed to know the word? Ah, well. It wasn’t a big deal but I felt silly not knowing words in my native tongue.

It was because of similar experiences that I became more motivated to acquaint myself with my native language. Sadly, when I tried looking in Philippine bookstores for books similar to those Raquel had, I was disappointed not to find anything.

And today, I did find such a book. Of all places, I didn’t expect to find it in a second-hand bookshop here in Melbourne, Australia. In case you’re interested, I bought it at City Basement Books along Elizabeth Street.


The book is titled “Ang BATANG MAGALANG at iba pang mga KUWENTO” (The RESPECTFUL CHILD and other [more?] STORIES) and written by Antonia Villanueva, Genoveva Edrosa and Antonio Mariano. I’m not sure what year it was published but it was copyrighted 1951. It’s a pretty old book.

It was in the Reference section of the book shop along with Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia language learning books. I immediately grabbed it and showed it to Raquel. She agreed that the language used in the book was similar in era to those she’d read in her youth. I was excited! And to make things even better, it’s only four dollars! Yes!

It has in the book 58 stories all written in 1950s Tagalog with each story followed by a study guide questionaire (Mga Tulong sa Pag-aaral) and glossary (Talasalitaan). Giving it a quick read, only now did I found out the meaning of the following words: tarangkahan (gate), magparikit (to build a fire), dapog (hearth) and ikinikiwang-kiwang (moving about) to name a few.

Pretty nerdy stuff, some of you would probably think. But that’s me. I always like learning more about languages, specially my own. I can’t wait to read more of it so I bought it. Four dollars? I think the book should be worth way more than that but I’m not really complaining. I’m just glad I found it.

Published in: on July 28, 2005 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment