I’m usually a homebody, a “I refuse to move out of the bed” kind of person on Sundays, but today was particularly different. AND FOR GOOD REASONS. A little over a week ago, I saw an invite by Bookworms United PH on Twitter—they were organizing the book launch of Randy Ribay‘s Patron Saints of Nothing here in the Philippines. Given that I had been silently geeking over Randy and his third novel, I quickly signed myself up.
And guess what. My mom decided to join me! She was happy to pay for our registration fee and a copy of the book as she wanted to see how book launches are run nowadays (she used to organize more high-profile launches when she was working in a museum in Makati during the 1990s).
So after lunch at Limbaga 77, we went to Tweedle Book Cafe, probably my haven in Quezon City when I find myself there, and finally met my tribe! So happy to hang out with Kate and Shealea, a couple of my favorite book bloggers ON THE PLANET.
We had a few comments about certain topics that have been plaguing our Twitter TLs for the last couple of days (and oh, they were many). I’d gone back to talk to my mom (who was talking to Randy’s relatives living in the Philippines) when Randy himself appeared.
Everyone looked about themselves as Randy made his way to the front, and soon enough there was a celebratory aura floating in the air. The show was about to start.
A majority of the launch was a two-way conversation with Randy: about Patron Saints, his writing process, and everything else in between. We understandably know that he dedicated the book to the “hyphenated,” individuals who have mixed cultural identities but have at least grown up in other countries. “I’d wanted it to be a story for people like me who never saw themselves in a page. We’re very underrepresented in movies, TV shows, and books.”
“When I was growing up in America, one of the questions I got all time was ‘What are you?’ I got that a lot from classmates, from adults, coaches… ‘What are you?'”
It’s definitely something I cannot fully relate to, given that I am steeped in my cultural identity as a Filipino, but I understand these frustrations. On Twitter, I meet many Fil-Ams who are open to grounding themselves in their Filipino identity while being American at the same time. It’s a messy and complicated process, and sometimes leads me to being frustrated with them—and they do get frustrated with themselves too (it’s a process of widening comfort zones), but for each side it’s definitely a learning process that that is both empowering and humbling. In Patron Saints, Fil-Am Jay Reguero comes home to the Philippines when his cousin becomes a victim of Duterte’s extra-judicial killings. Jay becomes confronted, not only with the country’s political ills, but his own identity as a “hyphenated” person… what it means to be a person born of two different places.
“It’s the kind of story I wish I had growing up. I hope it’s meaningful for people like me, growing up without that representation.”
Beyond giving representation to the Fil-Ams and other third culture kids, Randy wanted to “humanize the victims of the drug war.
“Most of the time they’re simply viewed as victims, as criminals, pushers, or whatever it is… and I try to bring in some humanity into that.”
Well, I haven’t read Patron Saints yet, but I am looking forward to it! I just need to finish my book tour books haha
The conversation went on with Randy explaining his thought process while he was writing Patron Saints, where many of the certain plots and details are from his own memories of visiting the Philippines. He also researched on both local and international sources to give more depth to the ongoing problems in the country—statistics, news articles, and everything else. He employed sensitivity readers, including his dad, to make the setting feel more authentic.
So it goes to say that he’s a responsible author. Major claps for this guy!
I could go on and on about Randy and his book—in fact, I recorded the entire conversation with him! I’ll try to upload it here if I can. The entire session was fun and enlightening. It ended with a question of who should portray Jay.
Your friendly-neighborhood Ate Myta just blurted out James Reid. Obvious #Jadine fan. But my mom said Darren Criss would be better because he’s legit Fil-Am and I was like “fine.”
After the conversation, we had a quick Q&A (where #sensitivecontent were thrown all over for thirty minutes) and a reverse charades game hosted by Bookworms United PH… where Team Ribay lost by the way *hehe*… and proceeded to the book signing. I was fangirling so much because this guy, since I did a mass following of Fil-Am authors and bloggers, had so much to say and he’s a rarity in the community. He actually cares. He makes an effort.
Man, now I’m more than excited to read Patron Saints of Nothing.
Don’t know where to get Patron Saints of Nothing?
Get it at Fully Booked (be sure to call the branch nearest you if they have copies).
Live elsewhere? Get it on Amazon.
Have you read Patron Saints of Nothing already? Did you enjoy the book? Let us know in the comments below!