In to the Manhole! (Book Review)

Image from Inquirer

I will start this review with my own snippet of a memoir. Let me phrase the title to “Wigley, Wigley, Wigley, Yeah!”

“Wigley, Wigley, Wigley, Yeah!”
(A short story on how I came across this author)

It was my third year in college as I was taking up BA Comm Arts. Every year, all Comm Arts students were tasked to lead, manage and execute the annual Faculty show of the Arts and letters college faculty of the University. Wow, talk about pressure with no choice of resistance – right? Normally, I don’t pursue being active with such events because I was always busy with my extra-curricular activities outside of school (think Owl City and concerts) however something must have pushed me to step up and join the production team.

In and out of school, I was always into ‘showbiz,’ it was no wonder that I ended up handling the talents for the whole show. The talents for the Faculty show were, well, the Faculty members. Most of the professors were from our own building and some were professors from other faculties that occasionally taught at AB (Arts and Letters Faculty). I coordinated with most of the professors and linked them up with their respective teams for their own production numbers. Then I texted this Professor named John Jack Wigley, apparently he was going to be with our team together for a ‘Madonna’ segment of the whole show. Interesting name but I have never had the chance to be under his subjects so I have no idea who he is, turns out that he is from the College of Fine Arts who teaches several subjects in AB from time to time.

When I met sir Jack Wigley, I knew that I would love him. He was very happy, funny and he donned the biggest smile in the whole faculty. He was very proactive in the production of their Madonna segment, he often gave comments and suggestions on what to do and what to improve. Among all of the teams, I was over the top excited for sir Jack and Mam Eloisa’s (Both were the stars for the Madonna segment). From what I heard, Sir Jack Wigley is a strict professor but working with him for the Faculty show really made it impossible for me to picture him being all strict. I was more involved in the show than I could get and to think I could have not done this in the first place. I was gladly spending overtime hours just to help our team deliver a spectacular show.

Lia C. for the photo!

The show was a great success, the Madonna number was spectacular and I had to say goodbye to sir Jack. That was my last personal encounter with him until I read over Facebook that sir Jack published his first creative non-fiction under the Ust Publishing House.

It was just this year that I finally got a copy for myself when I attended the MIBF 2014 for the sole purpose of purchasing sir Jack’s book and having it signed by him. I never thought I’d get to know him more through pages and stories personally narrated from the humble life of sir Jack.

The book, in its entirety, is a gift – from the author (whom we will assume that I don’t personally know just so you are convinced that I am totally being unbiased right now.) It is an open book diary of a man that is richly immersed in the diversity, in conflict and acceptance, of race, gender and poverty. Sir Jack bluntly says the central theme of the memoir in the first few pages of the book – he is gay, he is half american and half asian and he was poor. The honesty and sincerity of delivery caught me mid-air. I never took memoirs lightly because for all I know it takes a chunk of courage to share your REAL stories to the world – with no cloaks of fiction at bay. Truly, this book asserted its place.

The whole book is written in chronological order – from sir Jack’s youth to the present. It tells us a narrative of how he grew up in the Philippines – being AmerAsian, poor and gay – and the bittersweet implications of life as it is. It shares stories that I once thought were only seen in MMK’s (Maalala Mo Kaya) and considered rare in real life.

The stories were very entertaining as much as they were very personal. Every story was emotionally charged – you share the pain, you cry the tears, you laugh at the jokes and you triumph over success. No doubt that the overall tone and delivery were tastefully done. You get to have the privilege of seeing the author deliver his stories upfront, standing straight with a grin on his face knowing that underneath it all is a sincere and genuine human being who is not afraid to let the world know who he is and what he has become.

Now, the question is – would you really a memoir? Why would you want to read about somebody else’s life when you have your own set of stories yourself? I for one could easily compete with sir Jack’s story about Ondoy. But I don’t think I have the right words, the correct attitude and the perfect amount of courage to face the world and tell them who I am. For me, reading a memoir is like taking snippets of life from the author and learning from them. I truly feel privileged to have had the honor of learning from sir Jack.

The book is a gem, a treasure that needs to be shared. This book does not simple outsmart but it also outshines. A happy, easy and meaningful read. With this, it’s safe to say that I am eagerly anticipating the release of his second book out this December 2014.

Sir Wigley – 3 years after, it is my greatest pleasure to say that my hat will always be off to you.

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