Tony de Guzman was raised in the shanties. He and his family barely had a home and food to eat. Lucky for him and a real smartass that he was, he got out of the squatters when he graduated in college and scored a corporate job after. When he was no longer in his company though, he avenged himself from all the oppression he had gone through. All of this he narrated in flashbacks of specific situations that shaped his personality.
Also known as Kung Paano Ko Inayos Ang Buhok Ko Matapos Ang Mahaba-haba Ring Paglalakbay, Mondomanila is as real as real could get. It’s the mean thing, the crazy, the bad, the sad. In short, WASAK.
Mondomanila has received numerous recognitions of which I’d say the most important being the Carlos Palanca Award. As if to prove just how good this book is, it got the Palanca Award twice but for different categories. Those awards speak volumes about the kind of book that this is.
It was exploratory of life in the slums, specifically growing up in slums. It was about poverty, drug use, violence, and leaving the slums but not really.
It hurt to read such a sad novel. It was so ugly, so broken, so obscene. As a local writing, it has been relatable in all its ways. What’s more is I felt really connected with the story in a way that somewhere in many of Wilwayco’s words, I was part of it. It was as if Wilwayco put me in the story like I either caused the problem or I may have contributed to the scenario because I embody the locals; I am a face of the locals; I am them. That was how personal it has gotten for me.
Content-wise, this one was obviously compelling, what with all its subjects being serious societal concerns. It was not just gripping that way, though. It was also compelling narration-wise. It was always moving back and forth but making sure that, while this was how the story paced, there was always this continuous and growing progress until it peaked.
Part of what also made this compelling was the crazy depiction of characters, setting and situation. Wilwayco’s attention to detail was uncanny. A lot happened, and there was so much experience in the book. The writing was casual, unpretending and natural. He did not limit himself. He used lewd words to show lewdness which, I admit, got me hooked in an instant. He did not try to blanket what was ugly into nicely covered phrases. Some of the content may come off as something difficult to process, but none of it was exaggerated. The reader would know.
There was so much I got to take home in my heart from this book. My most important inference was the way it showed me just how much effect where one comes from, how one has been raised, how much of both one carries with him/her until he/she has grown old. That and the other important fact that there’s no escaping this impact which can either be a scary or good thing depending on how one’s life has been. This is the truth about human behavior. It was good reading about it for once, from an unbiased and uninhibited point.
It was an extraordinary experience immersing myself into the story and finding a solid understanding and tighter grip of my surrounding as I get out of it. It was like diving deep in my own soil, in that place people don’t enjoy talking about. Many things about the story hit home, only naturally because this is about my home.
This novel has already been adapted for film which I have yet to watch. Moreover, three other books, Rekta, Gerilya and Responde, have already been published. I’m really looking forward to reading these novels, as I can already tell by their title that a lot is going to happen again. Tony de Guzman is a very interesting character with a very interesting life. If anyone here has an idea how I can get a copy of the said writings, please let me know. :)
Are you done reading this book? What are your thoughts? I’d like to know them! Feel free to share them below!
Huge thanks to my eldest bro for telling me about this book. He told me if I really want to read something that means something, I should read this. Of course he was right!
*Huge thanks to Blink for the e-book copy!