Monday, August 20, 2012

Banana Heart Summer: A Review (imported from my Multiply page)

(Since Multiply's closing, it would be ashamed if I won't keep the good ones that I wrote way back my undergrad years. So, this was the one of the best [and one of the few] reviews I posted on multiply [which is also one of the top hits when I search my one name on Google #vain]. Hopia like it! :D )

 

“Perhaps like falling in love, eating is passion wearing a semblance of decorousness, when delicacy is out of reach because the palate had just been ambushed into helplessness.”

Food is the thing that the Filipinos must be proud of. As some foreigners say about the Philippines is that the food tastes great. Filipino food, although some are from the colonizers, are truly delicious. In fact, a Filipino can never live without it. As a website say, “To the Filipinos, food is important as it is an integral part of local art and culture as well as communal existence2.” For food, Merlinda Bobis somewhat approached the Filipinos her story in the language of food and love; hence she wrote Banana Heart Summer.

Banana Heart Summer is the first book I’ve ever read that talks about food. 49 different foods with different tastes were synthesized in her book. My fellow readers reacted this way, “Ayoko kong ituloy ang pagbabasa… Nakakagutom (I don’t want to continue my reading… It makes me go hungry).” As for me, it is really very tempting and mouth-watering. It is as if it is a food for the thought, for the soul, and for the body, too.

This book talks about Nenita a.k.a. Nining. She is a young domestic helper of SeƱorita VV (Violeta Valenzuela). Nenita tells us all the things she experienced, as if her life is the life of the neighborhood which many things happen. It is from the Anastasio Guerrero a.k.a Calcium Man’s adventures with Nenita in selling of his ware to Agualita, the stillborn youngest sibling, being played and loved by her siblings. The neighborhood was situated between a church and a volcano, in which this is situated in Bicol.

Bicol, as we all know, was famous of its Bicol Express. As a tool, food was made to be a symbol of Nenita’s story of her and her neighborhood. For example, the eloping of Tiya Viring, a sari-sari store owner, and Juanito Guwapito, the son of Tiya Maring which is the mortal opponent of Tiya Viring in the business, makes Tiya Maring fuming and raging. As Nenita told the story, she said that Bicolanas are hot in bed. So the writer relates it to Bicol Express so that the story will be a lot easier to understand.

In relation to food as symbolism, food is also the center of the story. The idol of Nentita, which is Nana Dora, was making snacks for everyone in the neighborhood. Even Mrs. Alano is making her cooking as a refuge for her unfaithful husband. Also, Nenita is also the cook of the family in which she is always commended by the Valenzuelas.

Food, as used in the novel, also was used for stating love. In the chapter entitled Biko, a just right sweetness, Nenita expresses his emotion on Ralph McKenna, the American friend of Dr. Valenzuela, as she saw him for the first time. She served biko in him and the American commended her, as well as she liked the American.

Another thing in food is that it is the tool for the story to get its denouement, or the conclusion of the story. The goal of Nenita was to make her mother love her. As for it, Nenita worked as a domestic helper to make her mother, her unemployed father and her five siblings to eat rice instead of rice gruel and so that to prevent esophagus lengthening. But at the end, she might not have achieved her goal on being a domestic helper, but she has gotten her mother’s love for her and made her happy. As the novel stated:

“You’ll be good, won’t you. Nning?” She kept her eyes closed, as if she had looked at me enough. “They’ll be good to you there, very good… to my firstborn.” Then she stretched out an arm to be washed.3

In a nutshell, why is the book entitled Banana Heart Summer? It only talks about the barrio, before and after an eruption happened. Maybe let us look at the heart of the village, on its food and its people. Nana Dora who is making snacks, the Chings whch are the richest and the most meticulous when it comes to food, Boy Hapon with his garden and the chickens, and many others. Food is the heart of the matter, and so is the center of the story. For all Filipinos, food is the part of life; and so love, too is a part of it. Let us relate it to Nana Dora’s story about Juan who has got the drop of the banana heart at midnight which made the man a man with no hunger. And in the long run, the drop is the love of Nining’s mother. Maybe, the writer wanted to tell us that love is like eating. Eating has different tastes, and so as love. We cannot live without food; and it is also the thing the writer points out about love. The author opens it with love and food, and ends it with satisfaction on love and food. And her readers are satisfied with love, and food.

References:
Chapter 41: Escabeche: sweet and sour; p. 209 ¶3 sentence 1. Banana Hesrt Summer

Filipino Food. Food. 2004. Marimari,com. 28 Oct 2006. . <>http://www.marimari.com/cONteNt/philippines/food/main.html>

Chapter 49: Pinuso: becoming a heart; p. 251 ¶10. Banana Hesrt Summer

Friday, June 15, 2012

So angry, maybe?

"Okay, Joey is grumpy again!" This is always the statement of people around the department when I get pissed at something. I am known to have very pissed off moments at work (or maybe I should say school).  If ever I would ask for an anger management seminar, I would just get an advise from Dr. Bruce Banner. Whether it would be my character to be impulsive to anger, I have always have reasons.

I would just allude to a certain person which is an epitome of not getting angry at all. He is always presented as a lonely guy with a halo on top. But these images does not reflect who he was but a God turned to man who has had human emotions. Of course, it is Jesus. I suddenly remembered him being angry for those who "make [his] Father's house a marketplace. (John 2:16)" Of course, Jesus here did not sin because He knew He is doing the write thing. He exemplified intolerance to transgressions the people around the temple did to God.

On a personal note, there are reasons for becoming angry, but what are the things that we should be angry? (Maybe I listed the things that I am angry to, but I believe God can be angry because of these)
  1. Wrongdoings. Of course, who loves people who do things wrongly? Everything should be always follow instructions because it is beneficial for us to do that. So, if a person is angry about this, the person must accept it and apologize. The hard thing about people is that they can't afford to apologize because they think they are doing it correctly, without being open-minded and looking if they have faults. Of course, wrongdoing is also called as a sin, and God really hates sin.
  2. Mediocrity. Who wanted someone who just do things just for the sake of doing it. Just aiming for a passing score in an exam pisses me off because they are not trying to do something better to prove to themselves worthy. My students asking me what is the passing grade usually is just contented on passing alone. Before, giving sacrifices to the Lord is hard work,which needs excellence to do it since it should pass qualifications. However, marketplaces near temples made it easier for them to get what they wanted, just to give sacrifices to the Lord. Is this the best offering God would get, a lamb which was just bought outside?
  3. Disrespect. My college professor once mentioned to my classmate, "Disrespect should be left at home." Whether where you look at it, disrespecting makes blood vessels constrict. Sometimes, a respect of a person to a person is compromised by students nowadays because they are spoiled to do that. Courtesy is very vital because it gives reverence to people, most importantly, the older ones. It is just the same as obedience to parents (Ephesians 6:1-2). If this thing is tolerated, this would produce disorder and chaos (common on the last days).  
Despite of this, there is one solution to these thing which is written on Galatians 6:1, "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted." We should be mad at him/her, but we should have the spirit of gentleness. Confrontations must be done with love for that person and help him to avoid that action ever. 


With this light that we have seen, it is better not to make people angry. Instead, let us do things in a correct, excellent, and an orderly manner. When we get angry, try to correct him with love. If someone gets mad at us, it is not too late to apologize. Therefore, we should develop love towards each other producing a better world ahead of us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THROUGH THE FURNACE

Today, what I have discussed in class is all about fire. This thing plays a very important role in our lives especially in history. Fire is considered a necessity before incandescent and fluorescent bulbs have been developed. Also, fire is used also for cooking until now, although induction and electric stoves had been developed.

Before, fire seemed to be important before people realized that it's the cause of everything. People do now know is that fire is a part of a combustion process in which it generates greenhouse gases which are carbon dioxide, water vapor and the toxic carbon monoxide. It is quite sad that fire had been less likely used today, it also became a part of a disaster similar to a storm. Bushfires in temperate regions are prevalent every summer, which suggests that firestorm occurs every summer.

So much for that.

Fire is important. Fire will be our last resort in order for us to have light in the darkness. However, fire is also a symbol of suffering. This had been a long-time symbol of hell because of Biblical truths. However, God also used fire as a symbol of trials and hardships in life, which is a mere paradox for us.

In my own experience just on the past term, I have students who really liked me. I do not know what is the reason for liking me. I also do not know if they have hidden agendas behind all of these flattery. As for me, I'm just doing my job; but for them, they revered to me too much that I sometimes go flatter, but I need to hold ground.

The term had passed and there comes another professor. In their experiment, they eventually realized something: they have a hard time to be with that person. What they do is to resort everything to me. They said they missed me.

As I and that professor had a conversation, I missed to tackle about a certain lab technique in which I admitted to him. But the thing is, it is not the technique that was the topic at all, but was the flattery that they are doing towards the professor.

Flattery is a scheme that works on people with soft hearts. But sometimes, flattery is a resort to lesser loads and burdens to make the person carry on his life lightly. Don't they realize that as they grow older, the heavier the burdens are, the easier for them to pass out?

Being in college is like going through a modern pizza oven. In order to be edible, palatable, and to be desirable, the pizza needs to be cooked. If the pizza is raw as it goes through the oven, it would be undesirable, easy to stale, and more likely to be thrown away. And most of the time, it's not only in college, but in our everyday life.

If someone wants to be a doctor someday, would he just try to seduce his professor in order to pass him? Would he just pay him a certain amount, or threatens the life of the professor in order to get something he wanted? I think to become a doctor, you need to pass through the flames of trials and hardships. God said in His word that everything must be passed through the flames in order to produce pure gold.

In relation to my life, I was then a teacher's pet when I was in elementary, and even when high school came. But there was a time that what they do to me is to discriminate me. I tried to please everybody, but it turned out otherwise. That was my high school. Painful, and worth not to be remembered.

But when I started college, I'd realized that I should be thankful about what I have experienced. Because of that, I became strong to face more challenges in life. I become more courageous to make lasting relationships. I become a person committed to do excellence.

The apostle Paul had said this, " God did not give trials that we cannot handle." (1 Corinthians 10:13). If somebody is inside a trial, if someone says that he is suffers from all of the challenges that had happened in his life, he must say he's blessed. It's because God wants us to be the best. Passing through the flames makes us stronger, purer, and better. What we just need to have is hope, faith and love.

And another one: "I can do this with Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13). What we can do right now is to do everything to Him, no matter what the situations, circumstances, and happenings right now. Let's keep on believing.

So help me God.