NOTE: November is National Reading Month here in the Philippines; and in order to commemorate this great and enjoyable pastime, I've decided to showcase book reviews, and other related items, this whole month. We'll return to my regular hodge podge of post-able topics after. So sit back, relax, and let the reviews begin! J
One of the best things about attending the yearly Manila International Book Fair is the presence of all the local publishing houses in the country in one convenient venue. I have to admit, it is most probably the only time I get to buy books from local authors since I'm much more exposed to foreign writers for most of the year (shameful, I know).
However, between the Madir and I, it's usually her who purchases from local authors more frequently than me. And it was during the recently concluded MIBF that she was able to obtain a copy of Ms. Pacita Pestano-Jacinto's Living with the Enemy: A Diary of the Japanese Occupation.
|Living with the Enemy: A Diary of the Japanese Occupation by Pacita Pestano-Jacinto|
Published in 1999, Living with the Enemy: A Diary of the Japanese Occupation details Ms. Pacita Pestano-Jacinto's memories of WWII in the Philippines, chronicling her life as a young wife (then) and that of her family during those troubling times. Reminiscent of the famous Diary of Anne Frank, the book talks about the lives of ordinary Filipinos during the occupation.
The novel, in itself, is interesting in a sense that it chronicles everyday life and not just the major events of the war (as reality is supposed to be.) The pain and anxiety of waiting for news of a loved one is there, as with the pleasure of enjoying the simplest things people once took forgranted before the war started (like favorite foods and even stockings).
I do find it unusual that a lot of the historical fiction and non-fiction novels, short stories and essays I've read from local publishers are penned by the elite and moneyed class. Take The Manila We Knew, a collection of stories and essays from authors whose families are mostly of the old rich. It was a book I highly anticipated reading, but in the end decided to pass as it seemed story after story continuously dropped names of famous personalities of their times and of how they knew them or were related to them. I guess I was not the intended audience.
In Living with the Enemy, although there was the lack of name dropping, it is still a novel based on the view point of a well-to-do person who, in my opinion, also mourned the change in her lifestyle (to a certain extent) aside from loss of the basics (NOTE: I do hope to read a book from a local author about the life of a more ordinary Filipino. Any suggestions, please?). The pain and anxiety, though, is still the same. The hopes and dreams similar.
In a way, I believe this book will, for future generations, serve as a reminder of those dark times and of how Filipinos tried to live their lives as best as possible. J