Author: Bob Ong
Bob Ong’s sixth book, MacArthur is unique among all the stories he did because it is dramatic in nature but still used his famous style, humor and combined it with the socio-political concept of the story.
The story revolves around the Manila slum where the main characters Noel, Cyrus, Voltron and Jim lives in.
They are different from each other but still destined to be friends sharing the same problem, poverty. Noel whose family belongs in the middle class is a typical college student who is a dropout from school due to financial problems, his family was once rich until a sudden slow of business. Cyrus, the youngest among their group, known for being a notorious snatcher that lives with his grandfather who adopted him.
Voltron who suffered the worst fate in the story and Jim the oldest who is a father and husband that cannot fulfill the needs of his family.
Their fate intertwined due to one thing, the sad reality that dealing with illegal things is the only way to survive in this generation’s society.
The writer, Bob Ong, used his unique way of writing wherein he mixed humor while exposing the socio-political condition in our country.
The story is a reflection of the struggles of the Filipino who were unfortunate and deals with poverty. It also showcases how the Filipino Youth deals with the worst problems in our society: Drugs, vices, illegal work (stealing), education, family problems and expectations, unemployment and lastly socio-economic status.
And as the book shows the life around the Manila slum, the author used explicit and vulgar words, like “abnormalities”, which means abnormal and crazy and “bogaloids”, which means stupid and some spontaneous curses were also used to really show the readers the reality of living around the squatters’ area.
One of the writer’s purpose is to present the story MacArthur as an eye-opener to every reader, it tries to imply that the best solution you think may not be the best solution at all, ironically speaking. Just like the main characters, they deal with drugs and vices to forget their problems even temporarily, the characters portrayed a vulnerable personality which become prey to exploiters who abused them just like Voltron, who worked in a gang and eventually died because of his work, and Cyrus who’s abused by the police officer, which in reality represents people who use their power for their own selfish desires.
While Jim shows how unemployment forces someone to do illegal things just to provide the needs of his family. And lastly, Noel represents the typical teenage student who experiences the pressure of his family’s expectations that leads to rebellion, he also shows how pride can badly affect his decisions that results to him destroying his own life.
These four characters reflects the hardships of the people who are uneducated, undergraduate and unemployed. This book also attacks different political issues, and to start with the book exposes the failure of our government officials on supporting every citizen’s health needs. Mang Justo is a victim of this misfortunate condition in our country, and how the government denied his right to receive the benefits that he should be receiving.
The writer is commendable for the great job he did in the story and the way it can affect one’s emotion.
We like how this book provokes emotion. The book is dramatically powerful that can touch one’s heart and it is mixed with modern style and approach in writing that made the readers hooked and connected with the story easily. This book will make you feel sad, happy, tense, sympathize upon every highlight of the scenes he created. It will make you angry and at the same time curious, reflecting and asking questions why they need to do such things?
Why does it need to end like that, and to tell you honestly we ask ourselves the same questions while reading the story.
One might grab a copy of the book to find the answers to such questions. And while looking at the cover you may wonder why is it in colors black and red, these colors simply symbolizes the true color of the society, black for all the illegal things happening in our surroundings and red for all the bloodsheds and all the destroyed lives.
The title of the book “MacArthur” is metaphorically based on General Douglas MacArthur’s famous quote, “I shall return.”
Which depicts how a troubled person should alter his personality and his ways of living so by the time he returns he is already a better version of what he was yesterday. In line with this, Mang Justo once said in the story,
“Dalawang dekada ka lang mag-aaral. Kung di mo pagtitiyagaan, anak, limang dekada ng kahirapan ang kapalit. Sobrang lugi. Kung alam lang iyon ng mga kabataan, sa pananaw ko e walang gugustuhing umiwas sa eskwela.”
He’s implying that education is the key to overcome poverty and how education can change a person’s life.
We give this story 4 stars out of 5, why you might ask, because we wish for the author to write a second book and show the aftermath of the events and the changes that will take effect within the characters of the book. But still this story sent chills and different emotions to us readers.
To end this, we would like to share our personal favorite quotation from this incredible book, MacArthur by Bob Ong,
“Mga bata pa kayo. Pag pinaniwalaan namin kayong hindi kayo naglaro ng tubig kahit na basang-basa ang mga damit ninyo, kayo ang niloloko namin. Hindi kayo ang nakakapanloko.”
About the Writers and How Do they See Themselves 10 years from Now
Mark Angelo C. Regoso, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
Ten years from now, I’m a way better version of myself than I am today. I am already a person that lives with a purpose and that is being an advocate of barrister, specifically a public lawyer. Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be a practitioner of justice, I want to stand up for those who can’t, I want to be the voice of those who couldn’t speak and I want to show that I am their strength and with them.
I want to change the conception that justice could be filtered just because of money and power.
I want to use my skills because a lot of people says that I can be a great lawyer someday. Ten years from now, I’m now enjoying the perks of earning my own money and I think that’s the time to payback my parents who been there and supported through thick and thin, I’m traveling around the Philippines enjoying the beautiful sceneries with my family and even around the world. Lastly, I think I’m already saving up money because by that time I’m starting to prepare myself to build my own family, I want to be great husband and father at the same time.
Noellee Mae S. Ruiz, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
Ten years from now, I view myself as a successful person. I am currently fulfilling the goal that I want to achieve as a Food Scientist. Me and my fellow workers are currently working on a very nutritious food, that can somehow lessen the malnutrition in our country. If we will be successful on creating this food, we would be giving out some to schools and encourage them to held feeding programs in their respective schools.
Aside from having a stable and pleasant job, I am also currently investing and saving money for the future of my own family.
Regarding my well-being, I am now closer to God and if I’m lucky enough I would be with someone that I would want to spend my life with, having God as the center of our relationship. And now I am a better version of myself, giving back to the people that supported and helped me. And as an addition to those achievements, I’ve already renovated our house and I’m now giving back to my parents. I also have my own car now and I’m planning to have my own house built already. As of now, I am enjoying travelling the islands of the Philippines with my family, next thing we know we’ll be travelling the whole world!
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