Whatever happened to festive May? Cyclone, typhoon, cold-blooded murder…just some of the events in the Philippines and across the globe that happened in the supposed month of fiestas – at least in this part of the world.

The cyclone in Myanmar is bad enough, but the worse is the government’s refusal of international aid mainly due to paranoid reasons. What kind of government would put selfish interests ahead of the citizens’ welfare at a time of great crisis, when the only choice is between life and death?

Cosme is just another one of the typhoons that hit the Philippines year-round, but at May? Pagasa predicted May to be the hottest month but where’s the heat? Instead, we seem to be having a very early start to the rainy season. I don’t know if I’ve just been cooped up inside an air conditioned office most of the time, but I feel like this has been a short summer. Another topsy-turvy weather condition due to climate change?

And the worst atrocity so far – the RCBC robbery-murders. It was the headline that greeted me when I read the papers after we got back from our rained-out vacation. How could someone/some people just be so merciless? Especially towards people they know, if it was indeed an inside job as all signs seem to point. Why couldn’t they just have taken the money and run? They did their work in the most cowardly fashion – shooting the victims when they were face-down on the floor. Why is it that most of the worst crimes also reek of great cowardice? The mind of a criminal is a very interesting but stomach-turning study.

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On a lighter note (as compared to the incidents above), there has been an issue about Amado Hernandez’ novel, Mga Ibong Mandaragit. Read about it here and here. So now I was challenged to read it again. Confession time: It was assigned to us as book report back in 4th year high school. We didn’t discuss it as thoroughly as we did El Filibusterismo. Since it was towards the end of senior year already, when we had a lot of other requirements, what our class did was to divide the chapters to read and then just had a storytelling session so we could all do the book report and not fall behind on the other requirements. I don’t know if our teacher ever found out.

Anyway, now I’m starting to read the entire book. I’m only at Chapter 12, but I’m understanding and enjoying it so far. It’s been a long while since I’ve read a Tagalog novel. The last one was Carlos Bulosan’s Nasa Puso ang Amerika, a birthday gift from my cousin, who also wrote a dedication in beautiful Tagalog.

I don’t really get Connie Veneracion’s gripe about Mga Ibong Mandaragit being a difficult read. Sure, it is difficult if you read it word-by-word without taking it into context. There are a lot of deep Tagalog words never used by today’s generation, but the idea of reading is to get the story and get the point. That is not really difficult to do with the novel. In fact, I’m actually enjoying it. I may not get the exact meaning of every word, but I understand them in the context of the sentences and the paragraphs, and I have no problem with the story as a whole. I guess it also helps to visualize the characters and the events in the story instead of just reading the words.

So now I’m ending this un-merry, rainy month of May on the hopeful note of finishing this novel and greatly appreciating it. God, I love to read while it’s raining!

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