Exile On Mainstream: Thinking, Doing Filipino Culture ( a book review)

Filipino Books (Photo Credit: Artseblis.wordpress)
Filipino Books (Photo Credit: Artseblis.wordpress)
Filipino Books    (Photo Credit:    Artseblis.wordpress)
Filipino Books (Photo Credit: Artseblis.wordpress)


Couple of days ago, I was looking at the bookshelf of my brother and this book caught my attention. Michael Tan’s anthology of essays published as “Pinoy Kasi” columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (written over a decade). The author includes postscripts to emphasize that “culture is always thought through and written after the fact”.

This book immerses me outside of my comfort zone “mainstream” or the so-called”pop culture”, divided into three parts:

01 Expanding Culture guides me to rediscover my roots,  It feels like moving away from culture to the culture of everyday life, as captured by music, movies and a host of the so-called “collectibles” that are so relevant to the Filipino homes. Tan also features essays on Islamic heritage to highlight many cultural currents that converge many times to give us “culture”. Beyond the ala e and mabuhay there’s so much more to rediscover about our Islamic heritage.

02 Some Cultural Riddles brings me to the world of “cultural mysteries“. It allows me to ponder on mysteries like “How we say (or don’t say) no, in why we constantly eat and invite others to join us?” and  also “How are we able to  live comfortably with ghosts in our homes and work places?”. Decoding these mysteries allows me to be critical at the same time appreciative to our own culture.

03 Culture-Making essays teach me that culture is not just transmitted from one generation to another. It makes me wonder “How law enforcers themselves complicate our traffic, to the point where people now think laws are just merely suggestions?” and also “How noses figure so prominently in a pre-glutathione quest for ideal physical features?”.

On his personal note,Tan’s essays has a theme on cultivating our Filipino culture  to dispel neocolonialism. (It reminds me of Constantino’s anthology of essays on cultural decolonization that I used for my Dagdag paper, PS 264).

It feels like eating a tokwa without baboy. A non-mainstream book that gives me knowledge about my own culture. I have to admit it is a Hunger satisfied book!

author:  maningning


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