Book signing for Howie’s hardcover edition at Kapusod

A Spectacular Endorsement from Howie Severino

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After asking one of the Philippines’ most famous journalists to endorse my book, I was immediately filled with doubt. Who am I to ask Howie Severino to read, let alone support, my book? He probably won’t even like it!

After all, this is a man who has been named the Philippines’ Broadcast Journalist of the Year twice and Investigative Journalist of the Year twice, and who was voted the sixth most trusted Filipino in a survey by Reader’s Digest magazine.

One day later, however, my doubts began to fade. Howie emailed me back with the words, “It’s evocative so far.” Accompanied by a smiley emoticon, these few words created an echo chamber of thoughts in my mind. Does my book truly have the power to evoke strong emotions, memories, or feelings in others?

Six more days passed with no word from Howie. I began rationalizing my self-doubt, and had pretty much decided that sharing my book’s press release without a quote from an influential figure would not be the end of the world.

Then, as I was eating my bowl of cereal on November 28, a notification on my locked phone displayed Howie’s now-familiar avatar. I read his email in stunned silence. On the second read, I let out a muffled cry of gratitude for receiving this wonderful endorsement:

This is a remarkable and engaging book on several levels. It is an affectionate memoir of the youngest in a middle-class family living an almost idyllic life in a bygone era.

In remembering granular details of growing up, the author evokes a time and place in the tradition of the best memoirs. This book is important not just to a close-knit family but to anyone interested in Batangas in the 1960s and 70s. History writ large this is not, with little commentary about politics, leaders, and the institutional forces that usually populate history books. Portraying culture through the prism of family memories is what makes this genre a unique approach to history. Colorful descriptions such as the sounds of mahjong tiles, and how the author’s grandmother had the common, and harmful, habit of smoking cigarettes with the lit end in her mouth, add vividness to the writing.

Then there’s that delightful chapter entitled “Batangan, the Local Vernacular” that unpacks the peculiar and unmistakable Tagalog of the province by comparing it to the bland, modulated Tagalog of Manila, which later evolved into coquettish colegiala Taglish. And I didn’t know Dina Bonnevie had a hand in spreading Taglish. If you’re of a certain age, references like that and learning guitar from the Jingle Chordbook will bathe you in nostalgia.

If you’re much younger than the author and I, this book will make you regret missing that era before mobile phones and social media, when kids still gathered in kitchens listening to an elder’s stories and teens looked at the same lyrics in a magazine while singing along to a live guitar.

Howie Severino, Filipino broadcast journalist, anchor, host, documentarist, and podcaster

I felt a sudden rush of adrenaline, surpassing even the thrill I felt when FriesenPress announced that my book was ready for publication. Receiving this kind of validation was like a slap on the back from an older brother, and given that the book is dedicated to my beloved late brother, it felt all the more fulfilling. Howie, being Howie, has truly captured the essence of my childhood memoir and the personal-meets-historical approach I have taken. Telling my story has been wonderfully cathartic, but knowing that it is understood and appreciated by others has filled me with joy like never before.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read and review my book, Howie!

Howie’s quote rounded off my December email pitch and press release, exceeding all expectations. Thank God for answered prayers!


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