Friday, September 17, 2010

Patrick Rosal on Luis Francia's book "History of the Philippines."

"I've just started it. It's the sort of book I wish I had when I was growing up. As a writer, I admire the project: a survey of the history of the Philippines for a popular American readership.

I've spent my whole adult life to learn through family stories and friends' family's stories about the history of the country where my parents emigrated from.

I remember, eleven years old, I was in the Metuchen library and looked up "Philippines" in the card catalog (yes, real cards!). Not one book.

Certainly, I know more about the Philippines now because of the internet, but I wonder if the technology hasn't done as much to read our history in fragments. Leaping from one discrete piece of information to another.

Francia's history, as an alternative, is a book, which is to say, it acknowledges how much we still don't understand about our history, but suggests a trajectory through the fragments.

And I think it does, so far, a good job of drawing together a lot of formerly abstruse literature to cohere the archipelago into a story (while, at the same time, affirming the literal and figurative waters that separate its peoples).

Bottom line is I'm happy to read an account that is well-researched and articulated without condescension to its subject. It is filled with facts, but the facts are imbued with the feeling (however unsayable that feeling is) of what it means to be Filipino. I'm looking forward to the rest of it."

Quoted from Mr. Rosal's facebook wall on 9/17/10

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