Hello! It’s time for Part 2!
Do you know that read-a-thon where Filipinos just get to scream and read books with pride? There’s just this magical moment when it was announced, and I swore the high heavens just opened up on the gloomy day and everything was just rainbow and sparkles. We love to see it.
Anyway, as many of you may already know, especially if you are up to date with the shenanigans of the Filipino bookish community on Twitter, Wikathon is a month long read-a-thon dedicated to Filipino literature hosted by Kate from Your Tita Kate, Gerald from Gerald the Bookworm, Alex from Alex on the Block, Kat from Her Bookish Side, and Julienne from Love, Julienne. It is a read-a-thon that also coincided with what we call “Buwan ng Wika” which roughly translates to “National Language Month”. So put two and two together, it’s a wonderful month that really gives off much pride and joy.
This event actually partially influenced me to get back to writing, as I would have wanted to share my thoughts on the books I read for the event. Aside from that, and truth be told, the events in the past few months have been quite bleak especially here in the Philippines. So this read-a-thon was a wonderful event to participate in, even if it’s held virtually. It’s also the activity that I anticipate after work and the weekends, which made more motivated to finish the tasks I have to do for the day (aside from binging and watching all the movies I listed in a previous post.)
What surprised me the most is that I actually read something to fill in the prompts. I have a history of being really bad at read-a-thons, mostly because the TBR I set doesn’t usually get followed. So for this particular event, I just winged it. I sought out books that might fill a certain prompt, but I did not follow any list whatsoever. I ended up reading four books (technically five, but the book in question doesn’t exactly fit a prompt) and shocking no one, generally liked most of it.
Here’s a wrap on all of the books that I have read:
Book # 1: When Cocoy Became Kikay by C. P. Santi
Cocoy’s not-so-secret dream is to one day become a gun-toting, ass-kicking secret agent. But she has another dream—and this time, even her best friends don’t have a clue—she dreams of someone.
Problem is, she finds out that Jaime Arguelles—a.k.a. the guy she’d been secretly crushing on for years—likes girls who . . . well . . . likes pink.
To Cocoy’s logical mind, there’s only one solution: it’s time to go girly. After all, how hard can it be?
With the help of her friends, Cocoy embarks on a pink-tinged journey that somehow turns her neat and orderly life upside down. But it’s all good—because in the midst of her blossoming relationship, Cocoy learns a whole lot about life, love, dreams, and friendship . . . and about the healing power of pan de sal, Chippy, and Nutella.
Prompt: The Modern Pinoy – Read a book by a Filipino author set in present-day Philippines
Composed thoughts: When Cocoy Became Kikay is a sweet and cool coming-of-age novel. I loved how it challenged the norm of gender stereotyping by giving us a female lead that discovers her feminine side. Cocoy’s self-discovery throughout the novel was a delight to read, especially with her guy friends and undeniably cool tita who served as constant supports. Overall,I can say that I would recommend it if you’re looking for a short and up-to-the-point young adult romance novella to read.
Book # 2: Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera
What does it take to come out of the closet?
Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?
In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!
Prompt: New to Me – Read a book by a Filipino author whose books you’ve never read before.
Composed thoughts: I absolutely adored Caleb, the main lead of the story. While he reminded me very much of a dear friend of mine, (Hi Miel.) I loved the dynamics explored in this novella: the friendships that are made; being reminded of the thrill of being a freshman at uni; seeing the first love and heartbreaks in his lens; and most importantly, being able to read about the self-discovery and acceptance that Caleb went through while navigating all of those experiences as a closeted gay new adult in the Philippines.
Book # 3: Hello, Universe by Erin-Entrada Kelly
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
Prompt: The Filipino Diaspora – Read a book by a diaspora Filipino author
Composed thoughts: Maybe it was the way the story was told, or maybe it was Erin Entrada Kelly’s writing style. Or… I don’t know… Virgil’s lola (because, seriously, she rocks.) and Kaori? But either way, I was really engaged with this wonderful middle grade novel. The audiobook was well-narrated and a breeze to go through, very much supported by the interactions made by the sweet and lovable characters. Seriously, Filipino middle grade is awesome.
Book # 4: Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters
There’s a first time for everything. Gatecrashing a K-Pop concert with an oppa in a business suit. Taking shelter from the storm with the girl you’ve been meaning to shake off. That kiss that blurs the line between friendship and something more. A one-night stand (or, is it?) with your best friend from across the hallway.
Dive into these 10 stories of first encounters – unapologetically queer, happy endings required, with a smattering of that signature #romanceclass kilig. Whether you’re recalling your own firsts or out there looking for one, there’s a story in here for you.
So, go on.
Turn the page.
Prompt: Filipino LGBTQIA+ – Read a book by an LGBTQIA+ Filipino author AND S2pid Love – Read a romance book by a Filipino author
Still incoherent thoughts: I… still don’t know how to unpack this book. In the word of my current favorite reactor, “Na-vertigo ako, friend.” My brain must have forgotten about the heat index level indicated for some of the stories so you can just imagine me reeling over some of the scenes. (Note to self: THIS IS WHY YOUARE SUPPOSED TO FULLY READ BLURBS YOU DUM-DUM.)
But that being said, I would have to say that my personal favorite stories from this anthology are In The Moonlight by Agay Llanera and Shipping Included by Danice Sison. But the stories that really made an impression on me are Come Full Circle by Bobbi Moran and The Other Story by H. Bentham.
And that’s it, friends. It must be said though, that I highly recommend all of these books. My composed (albeit some are just gush) thoughts are not enough to truly encompass the joy that each book has brought to me. If you can, I hope you could also show support to them by giving the work and the authors some love. And while August may have slipped away, it doesn’t mean that we can’t always have Wikathon. Our sense of nationalism towards our language can be expressed all year round. It’s just a matter of picking those books up.
How about you, dear reader? What books have you picked up for Wikathon? What are some of the books by Filipino authors have you read that you enjoyed? Will you be participating for next year?