Bob Ong: Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan
Just finished reading Bod Ong’s newest book, or should I say master piece.. really I can’t decide. And in the tradition of Bob Ong’s work it is done in the first person narrative which to me seems to be his best and most comfortable genre.
It’s Bob Ong’s first take at horror and I must say it was very, very good. This time Bob Ong delved his hands into the horror-suspense genre and succeeded – Proving once and for all that he can write masterpieces even outside his comfort zone. And though it is more on the scary side the book still contain that funny, witty and smart-ass attitude that Bob Ong’s books always seem to have.
To add to the disturbingly gothic nature of the book, Bob Ong revealed that the book was actually based on real events. According to him parts of the book was lifted from the journal of the real Galo.
I have always loved Asian horror stories as they are very close to home and even more so when the story is done in Filipino; I guess it’s because you grew up hearing stories about these supernatural things that goes on around you. The all so familiar stories of ‘aswang’(ghouls); malign (evil spirits); ‘kapre’ (a tall, dark human-like being with the lower body of a horse); ‘barang’ (voodoo); ‘kulam’ (witchcraft); and of course the proverbial white lady are things we have come to accept as part and parcel of our culture. These are things we hear about from neighbors, older folks and sometimes even from people of our own age who have at one point or another encountered these unseen beings.
‘Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan’ leads us through the life of Gilberto Manansala (Galo), a normal teenage boy who came from a troubled family. He spent his early years living with his grandmother in the province before he was sent to live with his Uncle’s family in the city to continue his education. Galo have come to love and enjoy city life but as always when you’re living with relatives he always had to walk on tip toes around his uncle’s family. When he received word that his grandmother was gravely ill, Galo decided to return to the province for an indefinite visit. It is on this visit that strange events start to happen…
The book is set up in a narrative, first person format where the story teller takes us into the mind of the main character. We are given a look at Galo’s journal where the reader follows Galo through his day to day struggles and teenage angst…and the disturbing events that he found himself involved in during his visit to his native town. The open-ended conclusion of the book actually explodes with possibility and opens a wide avenue for the reader’s mind to explore…numerous questions came to mind as I turned the last page…was Galo able to escape? What happened to Niko? Where is Jezel? ……