I buy books. And sometimes I read them. This blog is for the times when I do more than just store shelf candy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I Flipped the Pages of Nick Joaquin’s Candido’s Apocalypse

Borrowed copy:
Mass Market Paperback with Newsprint Pages
ISBN: 978-971-27-24169
Read: January 2011
83 pages


I was born in the late 60s, which means that I was too young to have truly lived the psychedelia that was the 70s. Sideburns, combos (live bands), and all those mind altering drugs. This book gives me a sneak peek at those groovy years I missed out on.

What I found most amusing was what was then considered “society.” Now, we say posh or “sosyal.” Back then, it was society for parents to name their male kids Willie, Boy, or Rene and their girls Susie, Margie, or Tess as opposed to picking saintly names from calendars.

Bobby, the name of the book's main character, was also considered a society name. Bobby Heredia is a teenager. The adults in this book seem to think that the whole teenage concept is a fairly newfangled thing. And Bobby's generation of teenagers is a generation more troubled, more complicated, more jaded.

The teenagers of the 70s were as concerned about being cool as today’s teens. To be graded uncool back then would be called “overacting” or “OA.” Like “scooters were fun, but motorcycles were overacting, especially if you dressed up for it in goggles and helmet and black leather jacket.” “Pants should be tight, but skintight pants were overacting.” Back then, it was cool to use street corner language like “diahe” and “tepok,” and it was overacting to use American idioms like “get lost” or “dig.” Also considered overacting were wearing red, drinking scotch on the rocks, dancing the twist, going to Baguio in summer, and drag-racing on Dewey. And Pompoy Morel, Bobby's enemy, exemplified all that was overacting.

Bobby hates everything that is overacting. He scorns hypocrisy, and as he starts looking for what is true and honest among all the fake people around him, he develops the ability to see beyond people’s layers, beneath their pretenses. First, he starts seeing people stripped off of their clothes, revealing all the ugly, filthy things they hide. Maybe I'm being obtuse because I don't want to spoil it for you. But what I'm saying is that he starts seeing naked people. And not in a fun way. Then, he starts seeing even deeper inside to their bare bones.

This magical ability, all that he sees, trouble him and cause him to run away from home and to act strangely and violently, especially towards Pompoy Morel. Eventually, he realizes how judgmental and self righteous he has been. He learns the lessons that help him to be more forgiving, more accepting. But I'm revealing too much now.

I found the ending and its explanation of the message a bit too spoon-fed. Though it, at least, confirms that I got the story and its message, I wish it had left more space for the readers to interpret the story differently.

Nick Joaquin is obviously a great, a gifted writer. But I'm not yet in love with him, even though I feel the pressure to be reverent of a National Artist. From what I've read so far (Woman with Two Navels, read ages ago, and this) I am intrigued to discover more.

Candido’s Apocalypse was first published in 1972 as part of Tropical Gothic, a copy of which is yellowing in my shelf. This book has convinced me to include Tropical Gothic in my 2011 TBR.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Best Read for 2010

And my favorite read for 2010 is (drummmmrrrrrrooooooollll) Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games Trilogy.

Though I said in my previous post that my choice is somewhat predictable, it actually came as a surprise to me that this emerged as my best read for the year.

First off, I am not particularly fond of the YA genre. I don't dislike it, but sometimes, YA makes me feel old, mocking me, reminding me how the young adult experience is so far removed from my current midlife status. It makes me a little sad that it seems ages since I came of age. So, I usually end up reading stories that resonate more with the soccer mom within me. Secondly, I don't like war themes. I am of the school of thought of the 1980s era philosopher Boy George who averred that war is stupid. It is.

So it is surprising that this is my choice.

I also didn't want to choose this because it was such a commercial hit, and I would have preferred to impress others with something more esoteric so I would seem deep and offbeat. But, when I looked at my list of reads, the trilogy really was the one that made the biggest impact on me.


This was my review of the trilogy, which would explain what the book made me feel. But several months after reading the books, I saw something different in my reading experience that propelled the set to my number one spot. It really goes beyond the book itself, beyond whether the book is likable or not, well written or not.

Sometime last year, I spoke at a digital publishing conference, Future of the Book. There, I shared my online book club experience, and I talked about how the usual solitary activity of reading has been transformed by digitalization into a shared reading experience, one that involved multiple media and an all-star cast of readers, one that transported the reader out of the armchair into a more social, kinetic, sensory milieu. And my experience with the trilogy perfectly illustrates that phenomenon.

The experience started with Hunger Games, the first of the series. Discussion boards were abuzz with readers' reactions to the book. It was violent. It was exciting. It was incredible. A breath-stopping page-turner. And people could not wait for the sequel. I succumbed to the social pressure, so I borrowed my niece's copy and read it. And I was suckered like everybody else. Suzanne Collins is a skilled writer who can make you flip pages furiously.

Then, our book club discussed the book. A lot of movies and comedy shows parody book club meetings as events where boring, bored, lonely housewives sit in a sea of chintz as they sip hot tea and eat soggy cucumber sandwiches. Our book club is so not like that.

The Hunger Games discussion was preceded by a paintball fight. I didn't join because I hate wearing those uniforms awash with other people's sweat, but I know that the other Flippers had tons of sweaty fun and were energized for the discussion. Flipper and book blogger Peter (rhyming) lead the discussion at R.O.X. at Bonifacio High Street. Not your usual reading group venue. The discussion was lively, and the quiz game and the prizes by Scholastic made it even more exciting.

Can you see what I mean about turning reading into a shared event?

It didn't end there. In August, Scholastic launched the last book of the series, Mockingjay, in an event that included Live Action Role Playing (LARP) games and all the usual product launch gimmicks -- themed cocktails, tattoo booths, a photo wall. Plus the not so usual -- some bloodshed. Scholastic invited Flips Flipping Pages to participate in the discussion, and I was so thrilled to see our logo co-branded in the promotional tarpaulin. And even though at that time I had not yet read Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Not content with all that, our book club also conducted an unofficial discussion on the trilogy. I forced myself to read books two and three in 2 days, so that I could participate.
A lot of people were disappointed with Mockingjay. And I definitely agree with most of their arguments about why it sucked. Like some of the haters, I also was not happy about how much time Katniss spent sleeping, hiding in closets, and being a lame prop. But, because I read the two books as if they're one, book two's exciting parts made up for book three's more lethargic segments. Plus, I particularly enjoyed the last parts of Mockingjay when the ragtag team of warriors stormed the Capitol. I thought that was packed with excitement that created stunning cinematography in the movie in my mind. Those parts compensated for the book's bad parts.

The part I remember best was when little parachutes fell from the skies; this segment left a vivid imprint in my highly charged imagination. It was also the part I hated the most because it involved the death of a character I didn't want to die.

I finished the book, breathless and emotionally drained. Because of the many negative reactions to Mockingjay, I first could not decide if I liked the book or not. But as I drove to the discussion and processed my shock, anger, and imagined loss, I decided that I really liked the read.

Flipper Jan Ruiz led the discussion by asking thought provoking questions and dazzling us with fabulous slide transitions. And even after the live discussion, she carried the discussion online, so that those who were absent could participate.

Fast forward to last weekend. I finally bought my own boxed set of the trilogy a few hours before our discussion of our Best and Worst reads of 2010. National Book Store even gave me a leather bookmark as a freebie. And I shared with the 35 or so readers present why the Hunger Games trilogy was 2010's best read. That rounds up my Hunger Games experience.

Anyway, my point for all of the above is that reading Hunger Games went beyond just reading the book. It was an experience that lasted for months and involved social interaction, a reading experience I would remember for a long time.

My last point. I only had a minute to share my best book choice, so I only focused on the book's commercial success. I said that it pleases me when authors earn rock star pay for their efforts to keep the reading industry alive and assure us that there will always be new generations of avid readers. It's true. It's utterly unfair when writers are starving and only those with movie star looks and athletic talent can rake in the millions. So, when authors break through and get richly rewarded for their dedication to their craft, I want to cheer them on.

Kudos to Scholastic for hyping this book, for competing with all the media noise dominated by soda brands and skin whitening products, and promoting books so that more people would read. Kudos to Suzanne Collins for writing with the readers in mind while still staying true to her vision for the book. And kudos to readers, whether or not they liked the Hunger Games trilogy, for preserving the wonderful art, sport, and passion that is reading.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2010's Best

One of the traditions that our book club, Flips Flipping Pages, has developed is to start the year sharing with each other our best and worst reads of the previous year.

For this bunch of book addicts, this provides yet another excuse to go out there and buy more books. "This was Blooey's/Honey's/Mich's favorite read last year; I've got to have it too."

On the other hand, knowing other people's worst reads is a good way to steer clear of the duds, no matter how cheap they're selling them in Booksale. And if we already have the duds in our possession, we can at least take those items from our towering TBRs and transfer them to our bookmooch inventory.

But then again, the group is so diverse that one person's dud could be some other person's all time favorite. Brave New World, anyone?

We will meet and discuss our best and worst this Saturday, January 22, at the best bookstore in the planet, Libreria at Cubao X. So, the past few days I've been pressuring myself to go through the list of books that I read in 2010 and make my choices.

My choice for worst book was easy. I knew that right after I read the book's last few pages.

Choosing the best was a lot tougher. Sometimes, it's a tough choice because I have to choose among top faves, books I really fell in love with. But this year, it was tough because nothing stood out and screamed 2010's finest. Don't ask me to explain why that is. It just is.

I first made a shortlist. Though I have already chosen my best read for 2010, I will only share with you my shortlist for now.

I tried not to over think my choices; I went through my list of 71 and quickly chose 10 to 12 books that I liked. I did not include re-reads, e.g. Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, which I already included in 2008's top ten. So, here they are, in order of reading chronology, my best reads for 2010.
  1. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
  2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  4. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  5. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
  6. My Life in France by Julia Child
  7. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
  8. Falling Off the Map by Pico Iyer
  9. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  10. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  11. Blu's Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
  12. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
I am not 100% confident that this is my final short list, but hey, this is not a life and death choice, and once I (if I ever do) work on the backlog of my reviews, maybe I'll discover I've missed out on one and I'll change my mind.

Can you guess my bestest read for 2010? It's actually quite predictable. As usual, I ended up choosing not the best written, not the most well loved by others, but the one that I connected to best on a personal level. I'm not keeping you in suspense because it's actually a predictable choice. But I'm giving myself a couple of days to keep it under wraps in case I change my mind.

What are your best and worst reads of 2010?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Flipped through Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones

My copy:

Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0316168815
Read: November 23, 2010
328 pages
Book S for the A to Z challenge

I read this book for last year's A to Z Challenge. There were a number of S authors on my TBR, but I chose this because I've read some pretty good things about it. Plus there's a movie that I could watch right after reading the book. Now, I think I'll wait a while before I watch that film, to give me time to forget the book and the unpleasant memory it left behind.

Forgetting the book might be hard to do, though, because I've just selected it as my worst read for 2010.

The book begins with incredible promise.

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered..."

Whoa! Wait a minute, murdered? What a hook. Wapow! An entry that hits you on the face. It makes you do a double turn. The dead narrating from the other side. How intriguing is that? Alice Sebold is genius.

And the next few chapters pull out your guts, and in my case, pry open the tear ducts. Sebold poignantly narrates the anguish of a family that first goes through the disappearance of a child -- the uncertainty, the false hope, the torture, and the blame.

And Susie Salmon, her whole life ahead of her when her murderer raped and killed her, wanders around in some spiritual limbo as she watches her family deal with everything that follows her death. Her killer remains at large, and she can't communicate with her family to help them find some kind of justice and closure.

I was completely drawn into the family drama and felt their pain as if it were real, as if it were mine. I was liking this book for how intensely sad, shocked, and angered it made me feel. I was crying in bed, lamenting evil, and mourning for life and innocence lost. Those who know me know that sometimes, getting me to cry can automatically get a book into my fave list. At any rate, Lovely Bones started remarkably well for me, and I was eager to continue.

Eventually, I stopped crying. And got hopelessly lost in the limbo that this book was.

Susie watches her family sometimes from up close, so close that her youngest brother can see her.

Sometimes she watches from Sebold's fictional heaven, one where there are levels to get through before one can finally be at peace. And I guess that's where this book starts losing steam for me. My theology of how heaven is like usually gets in the way whenever somebody tries to paint a non-biblical picture of it. I recognize literary license, but I cannot help losing that suspension of judgment and disbelief. But then, I recognize that that's my problem, not the book's. And if the writing is spellbinding enough, then I get over myself and allow myself to get back into the story. In this case, the spell was broken, and the writing failed to get me back.

The remarkable beginning is followed by a middle that gets heavily involved in the minutiae of their lives, with Susie observing in the sidelines, feeling cheated of the life she should have had. I know that there could be something beautiful in the ordinary, but this one just proved tiresome. And I found myself bearing with the middle part, hoping the ending would be better.

The ending is what really made this my worst book of the year. Forgive me for all the spoilers that are about to follow.

In the end, the murderer never ever faced justice; he did not suffer, nor paid restitution in any way. He just died because an icicle hit his head. Susie's father, Jack, did not get any closure, and on top of that, had to deal with the loss of a wife. His wife Abigail, discombobulated by the loss of Susie, for whom she sacrificed her career, ran away to find herself, only to end up as a waitress in a winery. They never even had a proper divorce, and Sebold just left the fate of their relationship hanging. The youngest brother, Buck, just ate a lot and became a mother-hating fat boy. Lindsey, the middle sister who lived in the shadow of her sister's life and death, lived a lackluster, under-achieving life; her happy ending was marrying her boyfriend right after they got out of college. If there's any consolation, it's Susie's alcoholic grandmother Lynn, who, at least, found peace and a positive life change.

Many years after her death, Susie had the chance to occupy the body of a girl named Ruth for a few hours. You would think that this would be her chance to reveal her killer's name; they were so close to a pit that contained evidence the police can use to find and accuse her killer. You would think she would use that opportunity to bring her family, especially her father, some peace and closure, say something to make her broken family feel better and move on. But no, she uses that precious time to have sex with her crush. Because of all the things that she missed out on due to her unfairly abbreviated life, it's really sex that she felt the most regret for? Really! And she uses another woman's body to make that happen. Really! To hell with her father, whose life will forever be empty. Never mind the other past and future victims of her killer. Never mind that she violated Ruth's body without her permission. She just wants to have sex because at 14, she didn't get the chance to do it. Can you see now why I think this is my worst read for 2010?

Now, you see, I was not hoping for a happy ending. But the back blurb did promise a tale filled with "hope, humor, suspense, even joy." Let's assume for a moment that I was not naive enough to believe that blurb, but I think it's fair to expect some kind of resolution at the end, for at least the major characters to find some meaning through their pain, for the pain of reading through this book to be worth it. Is that too much to ask? I don't mind sad endings, but I expect the author to do some tying up of loose ends. To me, it seems that Alice Sebold built up a fantastic framework for a fantastic story but in the end, she left a messy pile of not-so-lovely bones.

And that's why this is my worst read or 2010.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Flipped through 71 books in 2010

Before Shelfari, I had a collection of maybe 200-400 books. Mostly shelf candy. I would read whenever I felt like it, which was not all that frequent. On a good year, I would complete no more than 10 books. And I would scan an almost equal number of picture books on design, fashion, and domestic divaesque pursuits.

It was in 2007 when my friend, Sana, invited me to www.shelfari.com. It looked like an interesting site, a Facebook for book geeks, and it gave me a solution to my book inventory problem.

Through shelfari, I became part of a book club that changed my reading patterns dramatically.

Now, my shelves are bursting with close to two thousand books. I'm not boasting. I am groaning. And my husband is frowning because our living quarters look like a bookstore warehouse with books spilling out of the shelves onto precious walking space. Books sitting on his futon taking up his TV-watching space. Towers of books that threaten our safety.

So I have tried my best to do justice to the collection by forcing myself to read more and more books every year. I start the year with a plan, a target number of books to read, and it should be a target higher than the previous year's. So far, having a plan is working.

Here's a chart that shows the progression of my reading.
I am fuzzy about the years 2007 and 2008 because I was not purposely documenting my reading back then, but I think these are fairly accurate estimates.

As for 2010, I targeted to read 70 books, and I thought that I achieved that close to midnight of December 31. It turned out that I miscounted, and I actually read 71 books! Yey, me!

Now, I have to admit that the list includes a number of really, really, really short books with more pictures than text, but they are books nonetheless.

So, this is my quantity report for reading 2010.

In summary,

I read a total of 16,077 pages, not counting the pages of books I have only read partially. That's a summary of 226 pages per book.

Of the 71 books I read:
53 are fiction
18 are non-fiction
12 are children's books
8 are graphic novels or comic books or picture books
14 are Philippine publications
33 are novels
3 are short story anthologies
5 are biographies
3 are travel books
There is 1 business book,
1 self-help book,
and 1 poetry collection.

And the 71 books' titles and authors are:
  1. Pugad Baboy XX 20th Edition by Pol Medina
  2. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
  3. How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  4. The Game by A.S. Byatt
  5. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (reread)
  6. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  7. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (reread)
  8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  9. The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories by Roald Dahl
  10. The Gathering by Anne Enright
  11. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  12. Mantissa by John Fowles
  13. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  14. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
  15. The Darwin Awards by Wendy Northcutt
  16. My Life in France by Julia Child
  17. Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle
  18. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  19. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
  20. Falling Off the Map by Pico Iyer
  21. Kubori Strips for the Soul by Michael David
  22. Best Things in Life, A Second Collection of Comic Strips from Kuborikikiam.com by Michael David
  23. Postsecret by Frank Warren
  24. The Pretenders by F. Sionil Jose
  25. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  26. Hallmark Creative and Thoughtful Gift Giving by Leah Ingram
  27. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Leguin
  28. What Now? by Ann Patchett
  29. While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
  30. Fables, The Deluxe Edition by Bill Willingham
  31. The Mystic Masseur by VS Naipaul
  32. You Can Reach the Top by Zig Ziglar
  33. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe
  34. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  35. A Good Year by Peter Mayle
  36. Boys' Toys Bikes by Hulton Getty
  37. Wine 101 by Gerald C. Hammon
  38. Fifty Days by Sarah Quigley
  39. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  40. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  41. Alamat ng Paniki by Segundo Matias
  42. Fetch by Becky Bravo, illustrated by Blooey Singson
  43. Pied Piper
  44. Ang Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang- Anting Anting, retold by Christine Bellen
  45. Alamat ng Buwaya by Segundo Matias
  46. Tell Me About Beatrix Potter by John Malam
  47. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  48. 4000 Years of Christmas by Earl W. Count and Alice Lawson Count
  49. Flight to the Stars and other Stories by Samantha Mae Coyiuto
  50. Billy Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson
  51. Successful Time Management byPatrick Forsyth
  52. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  53. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  54. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  55. The Many Moods of Plantation Bay
  56. Picture Palace by Paul Theroux
  57. Journey to Ellis Island by Carol Biernan
  58. The Music School by John Updike
  59. Slaughter House-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  60. Love, Ten Poems by Pablo Neruda Pablo Neruda
  61. The Fat Woman's Joke by Fay Weldon
  62. My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
  63. Twas the Night Before Christmas on IPad. by Clement Clarke Moore
  64. A Loyal Character Dancer by Qiu Xialong
  65. Blu's Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
  66. Teo's Trash Can by Grace D. Chong
  67. Big Eyes, Small Eyes by Grace D. Chong
  68. The Magic of Apo Mayor, 31 pages Grace D. Chong
  69. Half and Half by Grace D. Chong
  70. Nana by Emile Zola Emile Zola
  71. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
When I look at the mix, what I think I should read more of in 2011 are books on business, personal finance, writing, and creativity. I also should read more classics and more books to help me grow in my Christian faith.

I have achieved my target of reading 70 books.

Unfortunately, I don't think it was a year of quality books. Though I have enjoyed reading 2010's books, not one particular title leaps at me now as my automatic choice for my best read for the year. I have a few more days to agonize and choose.

I do know, already, what my worst read is. It's number 54.

In 2011, I will read 80 books. So help me, God.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Flipped through Jose F. Lacaba's Showbiz Lengua, Chika & Chismax about Chuvachuchu

My copy:
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9789712724046
Complimentary copy from Anvil Manila
Read: January 2, 2011
141 pages
Book 1 for the 80-book challenge

Have you ever been in a salon where the staff seem to speak a language from another planet? A language that sounds vaguely familiar but with a lot of strange words that rhyme with eklavu and trubalu? A bewildering language peppered with names like Winnie Santos, Luz Valdez, Julie Yap Daza, and Purita Kalaw Ledesma? Have you ever scratched your head in total confusion as you watched a showbiz reporter mouth words that sound neither Tagalog nor English?

This book might just be the reference to help you decipher the jargon. And Jose Lacaba can be the professor to help you understand what the chuva they're talking about.

Poet, journalist, screenwriter, translator, and editorial consultant Jose F. Lacaba writes the column, Showbiz Lengua, for the showbiz chismax magazine, Yes!

I usually buy the magazine when the cover promises me a peek at some celebrity's home and/or closet. And when I do, I make sure I read Lacaba's column. But because I am not a loyal subscriber, I do not get to read as much as I would want to. So this book, which is a compilation of his posts, gives me a chance to catch up on what I've missed.

I daresay that his column is a league above other showbiz-oriented columns that dwell mostly with the minutiae of the sex lives, love lives, and other lives of showbiz personalities. Such columns provide me fodder for drinking party small talk, but leaves me hungry for meaty discussions on socially relevant topics. Lacaba's column, on the other hand, attempts to educate its readers about language; showbiz language that is.

Lacaba informs against the backdrop of the latest chismax to contextualize his language lessons. He highlights a current showbiz event or scandal, and picks up words and phrases that are part of the showbiz lexicon. He quotes celebrities who have used those words and phrases in a sentence.

Consulting a wide variety of sources that include Google, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, urbandictionary.com, Webster's Word Histories, the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino, Lynne Truss, Lourd de Veyra, among others, this language maven (defined by William Safire as a self-proclaimed expert) digs up the etymology and discovers the colloquial use of words like chuva (filler slang word that can mean etcetera), jologs (baduy; the opposite of coño), and krung-krung (affectionate nickname for Koreana). I'm very familiar with the first two words, but before reading this book, I have never heard of krung-krung.

Learning new words is one of my passions, and this book satisfies by adding the following to my vocabulary:
spongklong - worse than jologs
iskongkrang – variant of spongklong
torotot – the husband of an adulterous woman
kaposh – opposite of posh
butata – zero, zilch, nada
sulsotant – a combination of the word sulsol (to instigate or incite) and consultant
plangak - derivative of plangana, plangush; it means: exactly!, correct, korek, korak,

This book also elucidates the difference between acronyms (abbreviations that can be pronounced as words) and initials (an abbreviation read by its individual letters). AIDS is an acronym, and HIV is an initial. And BURMA is an acronym that means, Between Us, Remember Me Always. MANILA, you will discover, is not just a city, but is a greeting that means, May All Nights Inspire Love Always. And I’m pretty sure your life would be so much better now that you know that PASIG stands for Please Always Say I’m Gorgeous.

If I may, I’d like to add to Lacaba’s research. On page 66, he discusses the term ala verde (free for all), and in the process of dissecting the term, he touches on the meaning of steak a la pobre, which he defines as “steak cooked in the style of the poor.” I dare to venture a deeper analysis. My guess is that Steak ala Pobre is the bastardized form of the French Steak Au Poivre, which is "a classic French steak dish with a creamy peppercorn sauce." The Steak ala Pobre I know of is also smothered with peppercorns. It's a delicious dish, but had it retained its name as steak au poivre, it would probably be not as popular for rich and pobre diners alike. A hungry carnivorous wouldn't want to bother with French pronunciations. But that's just my theory. I have "no lexicographic proof."

Though he seems to have done due research, Lacaba offers the same disclaimer in this book: "My assertions here are based purely on chika, chismak, and chukchak."



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