A coffee mug that reads, “Today I choose joy,” on a stack of paperback copies of Batangas: My Sky and Earth

Encouragement for Bong Serrano

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I’m immensely grateful for the unprecedented support and encouragement I’ve received from the early adopters and readers of the initial release of my book in digital format. Your positive feedback has been a driving force, instilling in me the confidence to continue writing and savor every moment of the process. Your presence has made my long and challenging journey both meaningful and rewarding.

A special acknowledgment goes to my editor, Lisa Fukushima, who stood by my side when there seemed to be no other voice in the room but yours, filled with unbiased input and boundless patience. Together, we accomplished something truly remarkable!

Below are the encouragements I received during preproduction, which compose the preface of the published book.

Celeste Dimaculangan

Bong Serrano’s musings in “Batangas” beautifully evoke memories for Filipinos and take them on a journey down memory lane. His narration weaves an intricate tale of his life journey in an idyllic province filled with playgrounds, corner stores, and narrow streets leading to majestic mountains and bustling creeks. As a Batangueño myself, his vivid recollections from childhood to adolescence deeply resonate with me. The book captures everything that is Batangueño and brings back memories of familiar faces, delectable meals, amusing conversations, and roguish adventures. The story also reflects the typical Filipino family, highlighting their caring and loving nature. The combination of light-hearted and passionate anecdotes in “Batangas” will renew your respect and admiration for the admirable strength of Filipinos and the resiliency of their heritage. It’s a relaxing read that plays into every emotion, and I highly recommend it as your next bedside companion.

Celeste Dimaculangan, a childhood schoolmate

Roberto David Loyola

Bong Serrano’s writing is a captivating journey that not only illuminates his personal experiences but also brings to life the rustic and familiar places of Batangas. His rich storytelling style effortlessly transports me back to “Old Town Batangas,” reacquainting me with long forgotten yet recognizable faces of our contemporaries.

Through his poignant recollections of his childhood challenges and triumphs, Bong has successfully inspired me to reflect on my own family’s struggles and victories. His writing is truly commendable and deserving of recognition.

Roberto David Loyola, a family friend

Jeanneth Irene Abjelina-Briones

The author beautifully captures the essence of childhood in his book, evoking a sense of nostalgia for the carefree days of the 1970s when kids could roam around the neighborhood and embark on wild adventures. Through his vivid writing, he portrays the genuine love, loyalty, deep affection, and sense of community that existed not just within his family but also extended to their neighbors. His recollections of his early years in Batangas are a wonderful and touching tribute to the joys of childhood.

Jeanneth Irene Abjelina-Briones, a childhood schoolmate

Susan Chrismen

Through his use of descriptive and figurative language, Bong Serrano has skillfully captured the essence of his childhood growing up in Batangas. As a sibling of the author, I am delighted to see how he has taken his photographic memory of this cherished and significant part of his life and translated it into a beautiful and engaging story. I believe that this book will resonate with readers of all ages and help them better understand and appreciate their own childhood experiences. As a teacher, I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to explore the power of memory and storytelling. Overall, I found it to be a delightful and insightful read and believe that others will as well.

Susan Chrismen, a teacher, and sister

Marlene Gutierrez

Bong Serrano’s “Batangas” is a nostalgic and immersive read that offers vivid descriptions of places and events that transport the reader to another time and place. As Bong’s former classmate, I found the book to be a refreshing trip down memory lane, evoking common memories of our childhood. Despite not being familiar with many of the locations mentioned in the book, I was intrigued by the detailed descriptions that showcased the varied vistas and topography of the province.

In addition to its descriptive power, the book also provides valuable insights into local traditions and customs, such as the meaning of the Santacruzan, which I had not known previously. The personal and colorful vignettes scattered throughout the book offer glimpses of a simpler, more innocent era that was full of wonder and new discoveries.

Overall, I am grateful to Bong for sharing his memories and experiences through this book. It serves as a valuable resource for future generations seeking to understand life before the proliferation of technology and electronic gadgets that have taken away some of the simple pleasures of childhood.

Marlene Gutierrez, a childhood schoolmate

Gina Richard

In this book, Bong Serrano captures the heart of what family, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, teachers, and the community mean to him. His stories are authentic and relatable to every generation, and the memoir is written in an easy-to-read and understandable way. The vivid descriptions of each story are genuine, and the settings and people involved are natural. Each topic is short but packed with a range of emotions and exciting memories that readers can cherish for a lifetime. Whether you’re a baby boomer or a Gen Xer, this true story will transport you back to a time when life was simpler, and relationships were more meaningful. A must-read for anyone looking to reconnect with their past!

Gina Richard, a high school contemporary

Teri Galarpe-Pastor

As a second cousin of Bong Serrano, I have always admired his writing, so I was thrilled to hear about his published memoir, “Batangas.” This book takes readers on a journey through his childhood in Batangas, a city close to my heart. Even though I did not live there, I have fond memories of summer vacations with my cousins and relatives, and reading this book felt like a trip back in time.

The vivid descriptions of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s transported me to our childhood era. I couldn’t help but chuckle reading about Tiya Dely, a radio soap drama that was popular among women at that time, reminding me of our own nanny who listened to it every afternoon. I loved reading about Bong’s adventures with his friends in the buról, chasing after salagubangs and fireflies, and climbing fruit trees to pick macopas and mangoes. The book also brought back memories of the beautiful sunsets visible from the hilltop.

Despite not being close to Bong during our childhood, this book reminded me of the times I spent with his older sisters, Majelle, Susan, Evelyn, and Cecille, during summers in Batangas or Quezon City. It also helped me understand who Ate Pining was, Bong’s mother and my aunt. Reading about her sacrifices and love for her children, particularly during their education, was touching and emotional.

Thank you, Bong, for sharing your memories in this book. It allowed me to reminisce about the beautiful, unforgettable past and learn more about our family’s history. Your writing style made it easy to understand and enjoy every story, and I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Teri Galarpe-Pastor, a Doctor of Medicine, and cousin

Leia Maminta Smith

Bong Serrano’s book “Batangas” accurately captures the essence of his hometown and the experiences that shaped him into the person he is today. His heartfelt storytelling transported me back to my own childhood, and I felt as if I was reliving those moments with him. Bong’s affection for his family and the community shines through his words, and he shares his struggles and triumphs with candor and authenticity. I especially enjoyed reading about the delicious local cuisine, which made my mouth water in anticipation. Bong’s writing style is engaging and relatable, and I eagerly await his next book.

Leia Maminta Smith, a childhood schoolmate

Karen Galarpe

When we think of Batangas, we usually conjure up images of stunning beaches, the Taal Volcano, and delicious local cuisine. But in Bong Serrano’s memoir, “Batangas,” we get to experience the place through the eyes of a young boy for whom it was a vast playground. From climbing trees in backyards to flying homemade kites and staging salagubang fights, Bong takes us on a journey through his childhood. He invites us into Ms. Zen’s preschool classroom, lets us in on Arty’s party, and introduces us to his family, who serve up delectable dishes such as embutido, balatong, and tinolang manok. Through his vivid writing, Bong shows us just how beautiful Batangas is and how much it means to him, no matter where he may be in the world. This memoir is a delightful and heartwarming read that will transport you to a simpler time and make you appreciate the beauty of Batangas even more.

Karen Galarpe, a journalist, and cousin

One way to support me as an author is to review my work. It’s no surprise that birds of a feather think alike, and their reviews help convince other readers to pick up the book. If you’ve read my book and would like to convey how you feel about your experience, I’d very much like to hear from you. Please leave a review using the contact form linked below.