Reader Review of Love, Desire, Children, Etc.

A Book just like Dinuguan: Rich, Satisfying, and filled with Guts

by Trish Christianne Dizon

It would be an understatement to say that I am bewildered right now. At 22 years old, I am at a standstill in life. I am trying to figure out many things and, sometimes, the thoughts become too complicated so I opt to just amuse myself with media in all its forms. In my search for distractions, I stumbled upon the National Book Development Board Book Club, a government organization that aims to promote a love of books—books penned by Filipino authors, to be exact. After calling their office, I was promptly e-mailed an invitation announcing that Love, Desire, Children, Etc.: Reflections of a Young Wife by Rica Bolipata-Santos would be the next piece of work to dissect. I made sure to get myself a copy of the book right after my Saturday class at the Ateneo. I really didn’t know what to expect, but after three pages, I was irrevocably hooked.

“I am a writer of nonfiction” should be Rica’s battle cry. The book is an insightful tell-all of a talented woman who plays many roles in life: “much loved teacher,” “hard working employee,” ”loving wife and mother,” “youngest child,” and—yes—a very inspiring writer. Reading her book left me giggling and blushing at times. I distinctly remember closing the book at one point because I could not believe she recounted the first time she and her husband made love with such disconcerting honesty. But more importantly, she made me nod in agreement; she made me stop reading to think about the idea she had just presented me with; and she put down on paper thoughts that were floating without shape in my mind with eloquence and sincerity.

“A Bow to my God” is my favorite in the book. Her relationship with her mother is exactly like my relationship with my formidable and beautiful mama. Our relationships with our mothers are “strange and awkward.” On one hand, we are fascinated with and enthralled by them. But in the same breath, we also feel inadequate in their eyes. Rica’s metaphor for this lifelong bond hit the nail right on the head. In her journal, written 2-24-88, she wrote “I am like a pomelo in your hands…”

Being a mother herself now, Rica finally understands that her mother’s constant criticisms and inability to acknowledge her gifts stemmed from the painful realization that she gave birth to herself—that Rica is uncannily like her in more ways than one. Without the criticisms, Rica’s mother would have to simply accept that she was aging and her own dreams were receding. Every time my mother and I get into an altercation, I remember these lines and I find it so much easier to understand. The fights have dwindled and it is more peaceful in our house now.

(This review won the “My Favorite Book Contest” of the Philippine Star and was published in its August 31, 2008 issue.)

Posted on September 3, 2008