SI AMAPOLA SA 65 NA KABANATA (Amapola in 65 Chapters) by Ricky Lee (2011, Writers Studio & Anvil Publishing).
I attended the book launch at The Sky Dome, SM North EDSA, and had my copy autographed by Ricky Lee himself. Thanks to my kumare, Vangie Tan, for the invitation. For the first time, The Sky Dome hosted a book launch and I could say that it was successful. The venue was jammed-pack with students, film enthusiasts, writers, and Ricky Lee fans.
The book launch program started with a vampire-inspired fashion show featuring gays in costumes. Then, celebrities like film director Joel Lamangan, actress Judy Ann Santos, among others, read excerpts from the novel. Also, the band Eraserheads performed to the satisfaction of the audience.
This is Lee’s second fictional novel but a far different from his first romantic comedy, Para Kay B.
Also, this is one of the first book reviews I featured on my website.
A gay impersonator named Amapola became a manananggal with a predestined mission of saving the Philippines from destruction — a manananggal superhero. A manananggal is a human that cuts itself in half by the waist and becomes a flying vampire.
A different kind of political comedy that sets the story during the May 2010 elections. The story happened in South Triangle, Quezon City, along Tomas Morato Avenue to be exact. According to the author, it is a diverse and liberated place where everyone is accepted.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
It consists of cast of characters which only Ricky Lee can come up with:
- Lola Sepa – Amapola’s great grandmother, a manananggal during the Spanish period and has an unrequited love for Andres Bonifacio, who suddenly pops up at present from a toilet bowl, and who prophesized that a manananggal would save the country. It may seem too fantastic but it worked in the story
- Emil – a traffic cop and an avid Nora Aunor fan who owns the toilet bowl
- Homer – Amapola’s love interest
- Truman – Homer’s son
- Nanay Angie – Amapola’s adoptive mother
- Zaldy, Isaac, and Montero – Amapola’s alter egos
- Giselle – Isaac’s girlfriend
- Congressman Trono – the presidential candidate who wants to get rid of almost anything
The problems of the country are insinuated all over the book in comedy and fantasy. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata tackles love, revenge, treachery, punishment, Filipinos against Filipinos. It boils down to the tagline written on the cover: lahat tayo hati, ‘di nga lang nakakalipad ang iba (we are all divided, but not all can fly). And that dialogue coming out from Andres Bonifacio is worth reflecting about, isn’t it?
At the end of story, Amapola’s message was: hindi ako ang Itinakda. Hindi lang ako ang magliligtas sa Pilipinas. Tayo ang magliligtas sa Pilipinas. (I’m not the Prophesied One! I can’t save the Philippines alone. All of us can save this country.)
We agree with the writer’s thoughts about the current situation, yet, we have to ask ourselves what have we done for our country. Though the book doesn’t directly answer the question “Is there still hope for the Philippines?”, it reminds us of the famous dialogue from Ricky Lee’s immortal award-winning screenplay: Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso. (There’s no miracle! True miracle lies in our hearts.).
Also, Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata is written in free-flowing narrative, without the exchange of dialogues in quotation marks and the repetitive she-/he-said format. After all, Ricky Lee is good storyteller and has the right to break the rules.
And because of these reasons, I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars.