There were no books in reach as I was growing up. I did not come from a family of readers. However, this reality did not hinder my complex journey with reading. Through the years, I was able to finally identify the various activities and content that bring me comfort.
Stories, Cartoons, and Films
As a toddler, I was first exposed to various television shows. It was in the mid-90s and we did not have cable then. So, I learned to enjoy different Tagalized cartoons, from Princess Sarah, Cedie: Ang Munting Prinsipe, Heidi, Daddy Long Legs, and even Doraemon. Those were only a fraction of the extensive list of TV shows I spent a lot of my mornings with. My parents were both working then and they were not familiar yet with the immense task required for parenthood. After all, I was their first child. To their surprise, I was a quiet and obedient child who would stay still once the TV was turned on. Yes, as I heard stories from my parents, they were happy that I was a child who would not cry when they were gone but instead follow the instructions they gave me. “Papa will go out for a while and pick up Mama. Oh, you watch this first.” Then lo and behold, when they got back home, I was still focused on the TV show I was watching.
With that kind of upbringing, I think it is also no surprise that I got to love stories and films. However, after having younger siblings, I needed to learn how to help my parents take care of them. So, instead of being glued to the TV screen for hours, I found ways to keep myself entertained while keeping an eye on my younger siblings. This was the period when I appreciated the weekly trip to the magazine/bookstands. I could still remember every Sunday, after hearing the mass, my father would walk us to the street corner where a small yet fascinating stall stood. I could see then the different newspapers hanging on the wires, then the thin, colorful, printed komiks for us to buy. Those short walks I had with my father opened my eyes to new adventures. The colorful komiks that we got were filled with interesting characters and lines. Even though I was still learning my letters then, I got motivated to follow the stories. However, this experience did not last long as, sadly, it was the period when many of the local komiks publishers were gradually closing for business. It was a sad experience on my end, but I had to let go of that. So, instead, I got so attached to a storybook that was gifted to us. It had classic fairytale stories, but with different details from the Disney movies that I had seen. I read about the story of Sleeping Beauty, but with the numerous fairies invited but without the bubbly fairy trio from the movie. Then the story of Aladdin and the magic lamp AND ring that had a sad (deadly) ending unlike the one from the animated classic.
Still, with very few books to help me further expand my imaginary world, I found comfort in watching numerous action movies (both local and foreign) that my father loved to watch, well until now. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Fernando Poe, Jr., and many others became my companion aside from the regular animated characters in my morning shows. From those, I slowly moved to different film genres and anime in the afternoon breaks I got after school.
If anyone will look into the different stories, characters, and series of encounters I had growing up, it may seem like a complete mess. There seemed to be little to none of the distinct genres to follow or even a helpful guide to use for the future. However, I think those experiences brought their own flavor in shaping the person I am now. I tried to consume as much as I can with the limited resources I had, yet I was able to learn about numerous worlds and dozens of storytelling styles that helped me better appreciate each material I get.
Books that Shaped Me
I cannot identify specific top 10s in my reading list as I think there are still a lot lacking in terms of my exposure to various materials available. However, I could distinctly remember those that opened my eyes further to the beauty of reading. At this point, I would like to thank my teachers in high school who required us to have regular book reports as it forced me to visit the school’s library (a small yet magical place to be in) each quarter to find a book to use. It was helpful that books were also categorized per year level so I had instant recommendations 🙂 Yes, we had a printed copy of the books assigned/recommended per year level so we were gradually being introduced to varying topics and difficulties.
The one that stuck to me the most was a non-fiction one by Adeline Yen Mah, Chinese Cinderella. This encounter was so memorable as it was the first time I got so affected by the words I am reading. That was my first time crying because of a book I was reading. With that kind of experience, I realized that there are a lot of possibilities in writing and I could share my insights with others, and perhaps help them enjoy the process in reading as well. However, this is one book that I could not seem to make myself buy to add to my collection. I am unsure why, however, perhaps it is due to me having no proper space to store my books in, as I do not have a shelf or any good space at home for them.
Anyhow, one other book that inspired me to further love literature is this first book I ever bought for myself: Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It is a Young Adult (YA) book that tells the fate of two ladies. The story is set in the future where experiments for de-aging of people take place and with the two ladies who successfully start experiencing getting younger. Yes, it sounds similar to Benjamin Button, however, as a teenager then, I did not read stories written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. That was why I got so attracted by this type of story. I even searched for other books by Haddix. 🙂
There is this distinct charm in being a university student, a year shy from the legal age, and who has little to no money to spare for any luxuries. That state led me to another book I truly liked is something I randomly picked from a secondhand store, Rest Area by Clay McLeod Chapman. It was a seemingly short read and I only got it for less than a 100 pesos. 🙂 However, the experience that came after caught me by surprise. I did like the book and its vivid descriptions of shocking scenarios that I have not been exposed to, yet. I still keep this in my collection to go back to when I am not feeling motivated to write anything at all.
For now, let me have these three books as my recommendation for this week. I am planning make this as a regular project. Will be sharing some of the books that have made an impact in my preferences as well as the ones that opened my eyes to interesting discoveries. I hope you could still read my next posts then.