I first discovered AA Patawaran’s writing in 2012 when he published Write Here Write Now, a guide like I’ve never read before. Apart from tips and tricks, Patawaran’s prose had a lyrical approach that made me want to create more content. It’s currently my favorite manual and I look through it every now and then.
Patawaran soon branched out to poetry with the launch of Hai[na]ku, a collection of poetry inspired by life’s most engrossing themes. I haven’t explored the world of poetry yet but my friend Eunice Moral called it “an inspiration, entertainment, empowerment, and without a doubt, a reflection of the soul.” Her review made me want to read it and I’ll definitely pick up a copy soon.
It seems like Patawaran is set to delve into every genre because he’s back with a new book, this time focusing on fiction. In Manila Was a Long Time Ago, he collects 16 short stories set around the world and told through the eyes of Filipino protagonists. Here, the author will take you from Manila to Quebec, Berlin, New York, Paris, Athens, Milan, Budapest, and more.
Even if the stories are set thousands of miles away, Manila looms large over the characters, with contemplations made by the Filipinos lost there. In fact, Manila seems like a character as well. The summary declares that the novel will take you on “a dizzying romp across the world,” “only to take you back where it all started: Manila, a city you either love or hate, or love and hate, but one that never leaves you indifferent.”
The collection of short stories is accompanied by illustrations by one of his closest friends, the actress and artist Love Marie Ongpauco-Escudero (popularly known as Heart Evangelista). Each story is accompanied by an illustration, which evokes a dreaminess that suits Patawaran’s style of writing: like a song, suggestive, imaginative, and inventive.
I’m still rereading the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy but I know what I’ll go for next. Both share the theme of jetset travel but I’m looking forward to seeing the world not through the eyes of ultra-rich people but through the lens of a Filipino. I know I’ll be able to relate better.
This story is in partnership with Anvil Publishing. AA Patawaran’s Manila Was a Long Time Ago is available in selected National Book Store and Powerbooks branches for P450. It is also available online on the Anvil website and the National Book Store website.