Words by Jerika Danielle Clemente
A story that starts with an old man and ends up with him literally being a baby—sounds familiar? If you know anything about the curious case of Benjamin Button then I’m here to tell you that this isn’t it.
But a similar story is Bob Ong’s Si.
When I say that it’s similar, I meant that this novel was done in reverse, or its narration was. It starts with a very old man and ends with an unborn child. And forget about thrilling or spontaneous events because this book tackles a whole life—72 years to be exact—all done in the first-person narration of an unnamed main character. (Much like the author himself who used the pseudonym Bob Ong which was actually referenced from bobong pinoy)
If you know the quote, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”, I would say that this is very true for Si. At first glance, you might not get the theme of the story by judging its cover:
“Maaari bang malaman ang iyong pangalan?”
“Kailan kita masisilayan, Victoria?”
“Sa iyong pagsilang.”
Or you might get an impression of it being a love story, and I wouldn’t say that you were wrong. But believe me when I tell you this isn’t just any ordinary love story, and this is far from an autobiography because it isn’t long or draggy and it doesn’t just let you know what happened in his life—it makes you feel.
It makes you feel all kinds of love that one experiences in a lifetime—Agape (love of God), Storge (familial love), and Eros (sexual/romantic love). It takes you from the millennium to pre-WWII, from the modern age language to the romantic era, then to a young child’s point of view.
And whether you read it from chapter 72 to 0 or the other way around, you still experience this amazing story of an old wise man looking back on his life or an unborn child about to go on an adventure of a lifetime (literally). It will either make you ask “What happened?” or “What will happen?”, and both are equally intriguing. It even features historical events such as the Edsa Revolution.
Bob Ong’s way of writing and words will bring you into this world, and once you read Si, you’ll find yourself being the unnamed main character. You’ll be living his life, feeling the way he felt, and realizing what he realized. Its story and the unnamed man’s experiences, coupled up with some of which weren’t his but that of other people in his life, will bring you into a world of simplicity, profundity, of love and of life.
It’s truly a unique book that’s sure to leave a warm, fuzzy feeling. And maybe now, you’re here reading this wondering, why should you read this book when you don’t even read Filipino novels? Or maybe you do, but you aren’t a fan of them.
But I promise you, give this book a chance, and you will never regret reading it.