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Read: Eating Fire and Drinking Water

It is an ambitious effort to put the subject of politics, religion, rebellion, family issues and the supernatural all in one story.  But Arlene Chai does it nevertheless.

This book talks about a society’s struggle for political revolution.  A time where its citizens choose to act rather than sit in front of their TV sets and moan.

Though already based in Australia, there is  a certain "Pinoy-ness" in Arlene Chai  that one can never take away.  Her protagonist Clara Perez is, like in every other telenovela we  know, an orphan of separated parents whose relationship have been torn apart by their opposing social status (rich guy vs poor girl).  Her mother, alone and desolate, left her in a convent run by sisters who will eventually lead her to discover her true identity.

Though I have to say that the way it was woven into the story is so subtle that you do not really notice the commonness of it. 

The story is also filled with intriguing characters which serve as a characterization of our society’s familiar social figures.  I liked the way she uses interesting names to assist our imaginations in recognizing a real life counterpart for her characters – Luis Bayani, Charlie the Chinaman, El Presidente, etc.

This book made me rethink our need to actively involve ourselves in nation building. Not to be an idealistic, suicidal rebel-activist like Luis Bayani (afterall, we do have jobs) but to just be an ordinary decent citizen who pays the correct tax, observes traffic rules, votes wisely and listens to the news.

Today’s call is about active participation and shared involvement   Do not sell your vote so your overextended family can feast for a day, use it so your family can have access to a transparent and honorable government. 

All good intentions require a certain amount of sacrifice. Yes, it is easier to just cross the dangerous street than use the overpass.  But is the saved effort worth our lives? 

There is no shortcut in achieving a better life.  But you can start by reading this book.  Maybe you just need to be inspired.


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