traffic analysis

Saturday, November 21, 2009


My friend Arvin lent me his book "Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me" by Eros S. Atalia -- a multi-awarded writer and professor of Filipino and Filipino Journalism at UST.

The novel revolves around Intoy, a student from a State University in Manila, of a humble background and self-admittedly of less than ordinary physical attributes. He falls for Jen, a middle-class, pretty, pretty-hot-babe classmate of his. In Intoy's words, they are seemingly in an open relationship 'with all the perks' but both of them refuse to acknowledge or define their relationship as being steady. Hence, they are free to see, date, have sex with other people.

The novel is easy to read. It is written in contemporary, Filipino. Text spelling, colloquialisms, and all. The first two chapters are promising. Witty if I may even say so. After which it is a downslide from there. The punch lines fall short. The philosophical musings become corny. The formulaic paragraphs -- tired.

It got to the point I felt I was listening to some stand-up comedian doing a routine on stage. Here are a few excerpts:

"Ano na naman kaya ang problema ng babaeng ito? Tang'na, may nalalaman pang anong ideal date magpakamatay? O baka naman, makikipaghiwalay na naman sya... technically.

Kasi nga, hindi naman kami talaga. Yun nga lang, parang kami rin. Hindi kami nagsasabihan ng 'I love you' at "I love you too' sa isa't isa. Wala rin kaming mga pet name gaya ng iba na 'mahal, ma/pa, dy/my, tart, sweet, munchkins, sugar, honey, bukayo, pakombo at arnibal."

And then there's:

"'Wag kang masyadong mag-feeling na you're that special.'"

"'Alam ko, di naman ako palabok na may itlog at chicharon, o halo-halo na may dalawang scoop ng ice cream at dalawang kutsara ng ube't leche plan. Di rin ako siopao sa Ma Mon Luk na dapat may itlog na maalat sa loob.'"

"Alam kong hindi ako kakaiba. Hindi special. Wala naman talagang special sa akin. Hindi kasi ako lumaki sa ganoong doktrina.

Hindi ba't mas madalas bolahin ng teacher at retreat master ang kanilang mga estudyante sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabing, 'You're all special'.

E, kung lahat kami, special... sino pa ang hindi special? Kaya nga special, hindi pangkaraniwan. Kakaiba. Kung pare-parehas kaming special, sino pa ang special? para maging special, dapat may egg, may dalawang scoop ng ice cream, may ube't leche plan.

"'Hi! I'm Karl Vlademir Lennon J. Villalobos... special ako. Kasi sa buong mundo na may pangalan ding Karl Vlademir Lennon J. Villalobos, ako lang ang may egg sa noo at dalawang scoop ng ice cream, dalawang kutsarang ube't leche plan sa ulo at may itlog na maalat sa singit.'"

AAAARGH! And don't even get me started on his (shitty) discourse on human excrement -- for the sole purpose of shocking readers? Or nagpapa-cute lang?

I will return the book tonight to Arvin. Arvin is in his early 20s and I like his company and the conversations we've had in the past. we discuss everything and anything under the sun. He is a waiter at the bar in Malate I go to regularly. It is heartening that there are members of Arvin's generation that read novels. I am thinking of lending a few books in my collection. And maybe we shall discuss the merits and bad points of this novel...