5/5 stars LET’S GO TRAVEL ❤
Take a quick tour of the Philippines with six hometown love stories.
Visit Jimenez, Misamis Occidental where a priest might just set you up with a man whose dimples are to die for.
Visit Silay, Negros Occidental and get on a horse alongside hunky, hazel-eyed Negrense royalty.
Visit Kalibo, Aklan and find yourself in the arms of a cute drummer boy who just happens to be your kuya’s BFF.
Visit Hagonoy, Bulacan and spend All Saint’s Day next to a distracting boy who promises to write you a song.
Visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur and meet the hot man you used to bully when he was a shy, chubby boy.
Visit Pundaquit, Zambales and find love in a bronzed fisherman whose eyes hold depths you’ll want to explore.
I’m not really great with anthologies. I always feel uprooted whenever a short story ends and disconcerted when a new one begins. But to my surprise, Promdi Heart delivers beautifully in how I find closure and a thirst to learn more about the people and the places in the stories.
The collection starts with C.P. Santi’s Only the Beginning. As a fledgling #romanceclass reader, I am so happy to discover C.P. Santi’s works because they’re just my cup of tea. And her short story about bad first impressions and the richness of a culture a small town in Mindanao has given me the itch to travel to Jimenez, Misamis Occidental. The town was painted with a rustic touch but a sincerity in its people that perfectly complements the story-telling.
Ines Bautista-Yao’s Letters to a Boy is as surprising as this whole collection is. Again, I’m a little impatient for this style of stories–the one told in letters and missives although they are really fascinating. But god, I adored every letter. I’ve been to Silay and Bacolod recently and reading about the rich Negrense culture, with its quaint and picturesque town and the kind people who yes, they almost have a circle of the socially affluent family which borderlines royalty, is just so enticing. This is the royalty trope I’ve been wanting to read. I’d read more of this, to be honest.
Drummer Boy by Chris Mariano is the the big-brother’s-bestfriend trope that everyone loves. I love it even better because it managed to show us the preps and the hows in the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan. I don’t think anyone past elementary school has not heard of this festival, and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what happens at the festival. Street dancing, maybe. But this story showed how dedicated some families are in keeping up with this tradition. Sometimes, we may feel trapped and weak against the expectations of continuing traditions, but here is a perspective of acknowledging this fact and realizing how important some obligations are. And I really liked that fresh perspective.
We can skip Jay E. Tria’s One Certain Day because I hate Son’s ill timing and I just want to hug Alice. I mean, I live in Guiguinto, which is just three towns away from Hagonoy. I can go to Alice’s house and hug the shit out of her and just glare at Son’s nearby house. I’ll even rat him out to his parents. I hated Son here. I feel so invested in this story and god, the feelings are delivered. I feel so raw after reading it. There better be a book for Son, Jay!
Georgette Gonzales’s Once Upon a Bully was very uncomfortable to read and only because of the elementary kid bullying another kid gig. It was a great read that showcased the beauty of Ilocano language and dishes that made me want to go to Vigan! It also made me want to look for long-lost elementary classmates, in case anyone aged fine. (I do have a story to tell here, but maybe for a personal post some other time.) Because of this story, I was inspired to schedule a trip to Vigan before I leave the Philippines.
Lastly, Agay Llanera’s Back to the Stars was a nice ending for the book collection. I love how the main character has transformed into a cynical Manila girl who realizes just how much she’s changed and not for the better. I really loved the full circle feel of it – from her struggles as a girl from the (promdi, in its every sense) province and coming back as a Manila Girl. You will never really get a sense of happiness when you keep on measuring yourself against the standards of society.
Leah felt ill-fitted in Manila as a promdi girl, and coming back to Pundaquit, she is haunted by this outcast status. In the short time of her visit (and the story’s length), we find Leah finding peace about her roots, her place, and where she’ll be in the future. Wency is a precious cinnamon roll, so sincere and genuine. I love him. And I love how his sincerity and patience were exactly what Leah needed.
Overall, Promdi Heart is a nicely curated anthology of stories that will make you appreciate the diversity of Philippine Cultures. I love how this collection offers a view of the Philippines that we don’t see much and still offer fresh stories that needed to be told. To be honest, I was a little wary about how this collection would turn out. I tried reading this one book set in somewhere in the Philippines and I was just horribly disappointed at how detached and cookie cutter the plot was. I was afraid that the novel characteristics of the places would be compromised for the plot and I am so happy it didn’t go that way for this collection.
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