maligayang pagdating sa sitio catacutan by tony perez

Posted on January 31, 2011


“Hanggat hindi nawawala ang pang-aapi sa mundo, hindi rin mawawala ang mga multo.” Six ghost stories set in Cubao, Metro Manila’s go-to place for the weird and uncommon. My kind of place. Not completely my kind of book.

I’m really curious about Cubao. Having only been around the Araneta Colliseum I know I have only scratched the surface of this part of Quezon City. In the years I have been visiting Cubao I never really had time to look around: I commute, alight, and head straight to the giant National Bookstore, spending hours there, or taking up an entire afternoon and night transferring from one second-hand bookstore to another. I never left the commercial district. More recently I frequent Libreria at Cubao X, haven of extremely literates and artistic, the bohemian culture at its sprightliest within the U-shaped compound of what used to be Marikina Shoe Expo.

View latest bookish activity at Libreria here.

There is slightly decaying vibe to Cubao X; it will never be sparkling like Ayala and thank goodness for that. I love places with personality. Last year, when Anvil offered to give out copies of Tony Perez’s ghost stories set in Cubao I was the first (and only, I believe) of my book club to request them. I wanted to see a side of Cubao from the point of view of a paranormal investigator. Cubao, kung saan—at ito ay madali niyang natuklasan at natutunan—ng mga taga-ibang-planeta, ng mga engkanto, ng mga malign, at ng mga multo.

I know that the first and second books of the Catacutan Saga are fiction but I know enough of the author’s exploits to look forward to seeing many of his insights and experiences coloring the stories, which begin with two brothers arriving from the province to live in a room-for-rent in Cubao. They were greeted with a warning not to just hail any tricycle plying the street.

Now If only I could get past the first chapter….

Facebook posts:
Artseblis REALLY, REALLY SUFFERING reading through a diatribe on the ills of society masquerading as ghost stories. Will Anvil curse me if I post that and more?

5 hours ago •   • Like • Comment Dani M. and Mike B. like this.

Artseblis I would love to enjoy the magic realism; I like it when the weird is exposed in the mundane. With this book, one has to first bridge a language barrier. How to connect people to events to places to situations when I must spend an hour just trying to puzzle out how a certain singularly abstruse metaphor got to do with the plot.

4 hours ago • Like

Artseblis My reading is fragmented, an effort, not exciting. An exercise in suffering!4 hours ago • Like

Mike B. What book?

4 hours ago • Like

Artseblis Malagim ang Gabi sa Sitio Catacutan by Tony Perez. Malagim! huhu

3 hours ago • Like

Artseblis ah, wait, i changed my mind. this quote is priceless: Hanggat hindi nawawala ang pang-aapi sa mundo, hindi rin mawawala ng mga multo.

3 hours ago • Like •   1 person

Lora Lynn dL Transliteration: Unless abuse ends, the ghosts too will never disappear in this world.
Tony Perez always speaks in riddles…. and enjoys doing it to perplex mere mortals like us. T_T

3 hours ago • Like

Dani M. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Mich, that’s called extrapolation.3 hours ago • Like

The first chapter was unbelievably difficult to read. Not only was the language, the writing, problematic for me, I cannot see the point of all the editorializing. It did not succeed to set mood, character, and setting, but only gave me a headache.

Here are samples of text my eyes would just glaze over, my brain inadequate to the task of making sense of them quickly enough:

… sa kantinang Palamigan, na sumasakop sa harapang-hati ng unang palapag ng mga apartment A at B, at Cafe y Pandan… na ang sakop ay haraping-hati ng unang palapag ng Apartment C.

Dinatnan niya ang isang sirkulo at lipunan na maraming awit sa sariling wika, at ang mayaman at mahirap ay naglinang ng hilig sa mga alahas ng pilak, at ang kalalakihan ay nagpabutas ng kanilang taynga nang makasuot sila ng sari-saring hikaw.

Noong panahong iyon, ang malaking medya-klase na umangat noong huling dekada ay nagparang ginantsilyong mantel na mabilis na natastas at nagging mahabang sinulid na nagkabuhol-buhol.

When I finally reached dialogue I almost cried in relief. The dialog was easier to read, at least. Being a story-oriented person I become terribly impatient if the language gets in the way of the story. Like Lora Lynn said, the author speaks in riddles, and yes, it perplexed me because he did it too soon too much at the beginning of the book and if I was not duty-bound to read and review I would have not bothered with the book further.

I could recommend that other readers skip the first story; unfortunately, the stories are crafted in such a way that elements and characters weave in and out of each other that to miss the first chapter is to get a little lost in the following stories. The first story establishes that there is more to Cubao than just any other urban center. It is Sitio Catacutan. Familiarity is not a guaranty of safety.

To round up the stories in this collection, here are summaries of each:

Traysikel – the ghost of a tricycle driver kills his passenger for revenge.

Rooms for Rent –an old man and adopted son were separated in life; now their memories haunt the rooms

Sa Gantigos Antiques – antiques inhabited by spirits; very eerie in the parts where the objects were wailing their distress

Sinapian – a possessed woman is featured on TV; also a satire on the popularity of  spirit questors in media

Pagsapi – was the woman really possessed? A glimpse into her mind.

Akwaryum – aquarium-maker with dad-issues disappears and possibly will cause the destruction of Cubao one day

The author’s repeated references to pop culture and real places in and around Cubao, to characters who could very well be based on real people working and living there—the bookstore personnel, the TV producer, the tricycle driver—present a startling juxtaposition to the strangeness. The idea that we barely touch the surface of the world we think we know is not new but it always is intriguing. After the incredibly difficult first chapter the book did become more interesting. Keep your wits about to spot the riddles and figure them out yourself.  In all, not a great read nor a good one but not a bad one (after the first chapter).

Posted in: filipino, scary