Sunday, August 09, 2015

20. Bulungan: Inside Malacanang

Book review ala Borges*: Edited by Gerald Toledo Ph. D. (Our Heritage Publications, 2015)

The three volume work contains an encyclopedic look into the whispered secrets behind the men and women in power who occupied Malacanang through the years. Written by generations of waiters, maids, janitors, barbers, and gardeners who served the presidents and their families, the book weaves anecdotes, history, and the myth of hero as president of the Philippines. From Manuel Roxas's Japanese friends,  Magsaysay's soup, the story behind Ferdinand Marcos's elevator shoes, to Gloria Arroyo's favorite brandy, the book shows how human and Filipino the presidents have been while governing a tumultuous country. The book also reveals the story behind the awarding of the shoe supply contract to Ang Tibay by the Philippine Army following the election of Manuel L. Quezon. It contains a description on what was happening in the Palace while Ninoy Aquino was about to be killed on that tragic Sunday afternoon in 1983, the work habits of Erap Estrada, and the phone calls of Gloria Arroyo. One of the most recent entries shows the details of the minute by minute discussion of Janet Napoles and President Noynoy Aquino as she negotiates the terms of her surrender together with her lawyer, Lorna Kapunan. A unique section of the book shows the newspaper headline and the annotations by the resource persons on what details were missed, slanted, twisted, and blocked before publication. Bulungan represents the subverted speech of generations of silent workers of the most powerful people in Philippine history. It's publication is an event that highlights that no secret is ever safe from the judgment of history. Carefully edited and verified by a noted scholar from Cornell University, it unmasks the truth behind the theater of state propaganda and shows that the men and women of the Philippines who were once clothed with power are only as weak as the myths they made to stay in power.

*This book review series features works that have not been written by authors who have not been born.

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