Hello friends and welcome to the 6th stop of the Tour the World in 30 Days: A Diverse Book Blog Tour hosted by Sammie of The Bookwyrm’s Den. Each stop features different diverse books from all around the world, and I am so excited to be a part of this tour. This is a blog tour created to support the CCPL – a small, rural library in an area with a very homogeneous population and a high poverty rate where people rarely have the means to travel or experience a different perspective. But that should not stop these people from experiencing the world, which is why this Diverse Book Drive would bring the world to their small county instead, and with the focus on MG & YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures. If you want to donate and support this book drive, I will be listing out all the donation details at the end of this post.
With that being said, I am very excited to introduce you guys to the book that I chose for this tour. Hopefully, by the end of this post, I have convinced you to pick it up. The book that I chose does not highlight a character that I could relate to, but it was set in my country and showcase bits and pieces of my culture. After reading Sammie’s post back in August, I immediately thought of this book because like her I don’t know what it’s like to see myself in a book until this certain book comes along. I could already tell that this will be a long post, so let’s get into it!
◉ The Book ◉
Patron Saints of Nothing is a coming-of-age story following a seventeen-year-old Filipino-American who wants to uncover the truth of the death of his cousin in the Philippines.
In this tale of grief, guilt, and self-discovery, Jay embarks on a journey to a country where he does not speak the language yet holds the other half of his identity. As the story progresses and Jay gets deeper and deeper into the mystery of his cousin’s death, he begins to question his confidence in the cousin that he thought he knew.
This book touches on a very heavy topic in the Philippines and I applaud the author for not only writing this book, but also making it understandable for Adults & Young Adults alike who are not familiar with this certain topic. Given that this is a heavy topic, I would like to give you guys an in-depth insight to it all.
But before I delved deeper with the main topic of the book, let me introduced to you my country and some bits and pieces of our culture that are seen in the story to help you picture it first.
◉ The Country & The Culture ◉
The Philippines or the Republic of the Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia that is divided into three island groups namely Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. There is a map outline of the Philippines in the book similar to the image that I have attached.
In addition to that, Tagalog was recognized as the country’s official language. However, there are said to be 180+ languages in the different parts of the country.
Our country’s religion is mentioned often in the book as well. Philippines is considered as one of the two Catholic countries in Asia. However, there are different religions present in the country as well although the majority of the Filipinos are Catholic. Along with our religion is the different religious practices and feasts for our patron saints. We celebrate the day of a saint’s canonization, known as a feast day, but not because we worship them like a god but because we honor their deeds and sacrifices for their faith. Each city or provinces in our country have a different patron saints. We recognized various patron saints for different things like the patron saints for animals, the poor, etc. And now we have a patron saints of nothing.😉
Furthermore, we are a country with a close family tie. Unlike people in the US or other countries, most of us only move out of our house when we get married. Others lived together with their extended family. Most of the families before are patriarchal. But in the present day, each family member has a say when comes to decision-making. However, I cannot say the same for upper-class Filipino families but most of the middle-class and lower-class families no longer practice such strict rules.
On the other hand, another thing that most people remember when they visit our country is the means of transportation. Unlike other countries that have subways or bullet trains, we have jeepneys and tricycles. Jeepneys are used not only in the city but also in provinces where the roads are not fully developed.
To be honest, there are lots of things that I wanted to mention still about my country and our culture but this will be a very long post if I will continue to ramble. Besides, I think the author has done quite a good job of giving a brief history of our country and introducing bits and pieces of our culture in the book. So I think we are good to go and time to deal with the elephant in the room.
◉ The Topic ◉
The main topic of the book is the war on drugs in the Philippines that President Duterte implemented back in 2016. It is also known as Oplan Tokhang. In the book, Jay’s cousin, Jun, was said to be killed as a part of this project. Jun was said to be a drug addict using shabu or what people in the states called as methamphetamine. However, the reason why Jay thinks that his cousin is innocent is because of the reputation of the Oplan Tokhang.
Oplan Tokhang first started as a plea to the drug dealer and user to surrender themselves and undergo rehabilitation. At first, it was a good project that aims to minimize the number of drug addicts in the country. A list of drug dealers and users has said to circulate in the police. According to the government, if the people on the list would not surrender, they would get arrested. It is still in everyone’s best interest. But then bodies start to file up. What begins as a couple of drug addicts who fight back when the police came to arrest them became thousands. What’s more alarming is the fact that these people did not really fight back but were killed and only used the story of them fighting back to cover up the horrible truth of this project. Also, most of the people that were killed are only suspected user or dealer but are really innocent. They are collateral damage as the term the book uses.
While I am reading the book, it felt like seeing two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, as a Filipino who is aware of this horrible project, the book gives us an idea as to how foreign countries view our situation. But on the other side, this serves as an eye-opener for foreign individuals who have only heard of this matter through this book.
Filipinos do not only stand in the side and watched. There is a survey mentioned in the book that most Filipinos think that this project helps improved our country for the better but I doubt that is true. I am well aware that this said survey exists, as they mentioned it in our news, but it may have been another propaganda from our government, shaping our minds and convincing us that this is good for us. Up until this day, even if the media does not mention it as often, there are still victims that would turn up dead on the news that is said to be on the watch-list of drug users. The saddest thing about this is most of the victims are from poor families. But we know the truth, and people are not blind. However, our government can be scary as they fight back head-on with the people who opposed them. Still, most people held rallies or voice out their cry for these injustices in social media to raise awareness and seek for help. A small cry for help. A small plea for justice.
This is my main reason for choosing this book. This is my small act of rebellion and my little way of remembering those who lost a loved one and are still crying for help. It is a small drop in the ocean, but I hope it will make a ripple. This book is a way to let others know what it feels like and how twisted things have become. It is raw and real. And even though it was written for Young Adult audiences, if you read between the lines you will see that this is more than just a work of fiction but something more.
◈ Donation Details ◈
There is also a wish list for all the books that will be featured on this blog tour if you wanted to donate them. Hardbacks are preferred but not required. Check them out in the following:
(If you order something from the Book Shop wishlist, please DM @srbetler on Twitter or email email@example.com, because I don’t believe that site automatically removes books from the wish list.)
You may also check out the library’s Amazon wish list if you wanted to donate other books.
Now this is one long post.😅 Sorry, I got carried away. But thank you so much for reading up until this point. Check out the next page for all the stops in this tour along with the books that they will feature. I will make sure to link all of their posts up when they are posted so you could check it out.
Always stay safe and until next time!