The Pinoy for Dummies
By Michelle C. Pino
Inquirer News Service


     A SEQUEL is needed because a good thing should have a follow-through. So Bob Ong is back with his sequel to "ABNKKBSNPLAko?! (Aba, Nakakabasa na Pala Ako)." "Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino?" is a collection of Ong's kuwentong barbero from the "Bobong Pinoy" website. It is a haunting book that every Filipino should read. It takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, leaving him annoyed and exasperated, but also determined to make things a little better than they are now.

     Carrying this book around for people to see is one thing, but reading it in public is another story. Unless you want to be seen by people reading a book upside-down, I suggest you read it in your own room. But then you will have to explain to your mom why you are laughing so hard.

     Nearly everything that is humorous about Filipinos and the Philippines is portrayed in the book. It tests your "Jologs Quotient," or your knowledge of Filipino scientific terms. What is the accurate Tagalog term for electricity, aside from the Spanish-based elektrisidad? It's dagitab. My ignorance makes me feel ashamed.

     After reading half of the book, one should not take Bob Ong's silly yaks too seriously. After all, he himself calls them kuwentong barbero. They are small shoddy talks and gossips from several overheard pseudo-intellectual conversations here and there, and from the discussions in his "Bobong Pinoy" website.

     However, the concluding part of the book is no longer funny. It recounts the sometimes embarrassing behaviors of Filipinos here and abroad. I got hurt, offended and undeniably upset. And though it is embarrassing to admit that I did cry a little, well I did. Was it shame? Was it pity for my fellow Pinoys? I cannot clearly point out why, but all I know is that what the last, yet best part of the book has to say is no longer funny.

     It's no longer amusing how strangers and foreigners describe our people and our country. It's no longer amusing when a lot of educated, more privileged Pinoys describe the future of our country as discouraging, bleak and doomed to failure. It's no longer amusing how we, Filipinos, describe our people and our country. It's no longer funny!

     Cowards believe that some things should be left unsaid. But I believe every Filipino should read what Bob Ong and what most "Bobong Pinoys" have to say in this book. They are truths most of us won't even dare to whisper to fellow Filipinos without risking a heated banter. It's not enough that we know and wake up to those shameful realities. We might as well take the challenge Bob Ong left for us at the end of the book.

     So what is his answer to his very own question, bakit baliktad magbasa ng libro ang mga Pilipino? Is it because bobo ang Pinoy? Bob Ong never did actually answer this question, but he never implied that it's because we're idiots.

     It's because majority of Pinoys haven't read him yet.


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