The “Best Seller Syndrome”

The “Best Seller Syndrome”

By Apolinario Villalobos


A very popular book store in the Philippines patronizes “best sellers”…books of foreign authors. They are prominently displayed right at the entrance of their stores. To cap their promotion effort founded on the colonial mentality of Filipinos, the establishment invites the foreign authors to come over all the way from their so-called “first world” homelands…to sign purchased books which the suckers devour with all their best literary duplicity.


Judging a book is subjective, a fact that cannot be questioned. What can be the best material for one may be trash for another. But an impression can be a very significant influencing factor. How can that fact be questioned when all it needs for a book to be grabbed at bookstores is a review made by influential people…known in their respective field, that do not necessarily show them as literary personalities. This attitude is akin to the “identified with” syndrome, too.


Some Filipinos buy popular books, especially, the hard-bound sets of encyclopedia to create an impression so they are prominently displayed in living rooms. Some friends unabashedly admit that they have not opened any volume of the set and that they are there, just for display, without of course expressing their desire to enhance the sophisticated impression that they practically try to solicit from their visitors.


When word spread about an obscure book that happened to be a favorite of a rags-to-riches business tycoon, suckers rushed to book stores to buy a copy or two, with the extra as a gift to a friend, complete with a “dedication” where the information about its being read by a famous Filipino businessman is also scribbled. I got my copy this way – from a friend who tries hard to make an impression that he is “intelligent”, just because he reads a lot. I have come across the book long before it became popular and sold for only just less than a hundred pesos, but when it got popular the tag price has soared between 300-400 pesos depending on the store selling it. I also found the book prominently displayed in offices I visited, as some kind of a coffee table book.


During one of my visits to a book store, I came across a book with a triangulized corner note about its being the fifth edition, and with sold copies running to millions. This time my sucker instinct made me buy a copy, parting with my hard-earned pesos, especially, because, as the synopsis at the outside back cover said, it was indeed a good read. In the evening when I browsed through the pages thoroughly, my blood pressure shot up because many paragraphs were enclosed with quotation marks…meaning, contents were copied with impunity though with the safety of the said literary marks and  bibliography which ate up 14 pages! I did not notice them when I bought the book because I was in a hurry, and I trusted the “best seller” come on. There went my 300 pesos! In my disgust, I burned the trash!


Si Gerry…nagpipilit mabago ang buhay sa kabila ng kakapusan

Si Gerry…nagpipilit mabago ang buhay

sa kabila ng kakapusan

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Nakita ko siyang nagkukumpuni ng payong sa ilalim ng tikatik o ambon na unti-unting namumuong ulan sa Roxas boulevard. Ako naman ay taranta sa paghabol sa nagbebenta ng trapal na pambigay sa mga vendor na wala man lang payong. Nang dumaan uli ako ay tinitiklop na niya ang payong na naayos na at naisipan kong bilhin dalhin kailangan ko rin, at para naman sa kanya ay upang magkaroon siya ng kita. Kahit halatang hindi pa siya nag-aalmusal ay tinanggihan niya ang alok ko na ibili siya ng sandwich, kaya pareho na lang kaming nagkape.


Habang nagkakape kami ay nakita ko kung paano niyang ipunin ang mga tirang sinulid at iba pang gamit na nakakalat at ipinasok sa maliit niyang bag. Hindi nawawala ang ngiti sa kanyang mukha habang nakikipag-usap sa akin kaya napanatag ang loob ko dahil nang una ko siyang makita ay medyo nabahala ako dahil sa ayos niyang may mahabang buhok na nakapungos, manipis na bigote at ilang tattoo sa nakalantad na bahagi ng kanyang katawan.


Siya ang nagsimula ng usapan tungkol kay Duterte at ang paglaban nito sa droga. Hindi siya nahiyang magtapat na minsan din siyang gumamit ng droga at kung minsan ay naaakit pa rin subalit pinipigilan niya ang kanyang sarili. May tatlo siyang anak sa Bulacan na inuuwian niya tuwing weekend upang hatiran ng pera at makakayang pasalubong. Dahil mahina ang kita sa Bulacan, sa Maynila niya naisipang maglibot upang magkumpuni ng mga payong. Ang tinutulugan niya noon ay Luneta subalit nang ipagbawal na, nakakita siya ng puwesto sa kahabaan ng Roxas boulevard kung saan siya nagsisiksik upang makaiwas sa mga gumagalang may masamang balak.


Bandang huli ay inamin din niya na kahit maliit siya ay kaya daw niyang makipagsabayan ng patayan kung kinakailangan para sa kanyang kaligtasan. Habang nagkukuwento ay hindi ko siya nakitaan ng kawalan ng pag-asa. Sanayan lang naman daw ang pagharap at pagsuong sa kahirapan. Ang sinabi niya ay kapareho ng aking pananaw na inamin ko sa kanya kaya tuwang-tuwa siyang nakipag-high five sa akin. Nagsisikap naman daw siya upang makakita ng mas maayos na trabaho, lalo pa at naging salesman na rin daw siya noon. Sa ngayon daw ay dobleng ipon ang ginagawa niya upang makabili din siya ng mga sariling gamit lalo na mga damit. Ayaw daw niyang nangangamoy kung sakaling siya ay may aaplayan.


Isinabay ko na siya sa sinakyan kong jeep papuntang Maynila dahil pupunta din daw siya sa Luneta upang bumili ng trapal na pambenta. Pandagdag daw ang ibinayad ko sa payong sa pambili niya ng trapal. Inabutan ko siya ng pera ni “Perla” na laan sa mga taong tulad niya at upang tanggapin ay sinabi kong “pampasuwerte” ito. Bumaba siya sa bukana ng Luneta papunta sa rebulto ni Lapu-lapu, ako naman ay nagpatuloy sa biyahe papuntang Divisoria. Sa ibang araw magkikit pa kami dahil marami pa raw siyang “ibubunyag” tungkol sa buhay-kalye.





I just went to visit my daughter Dre,

in Pacific Grove California.

The roads were downright Hollerific,
with scenery just like Hollerdom.
There were Hollerish folks,

like this army veteran who loves butterflies and Hillary Clinton. (You have to play, “Where’s Hillary? and look for her in the first butterfly house photo. Click to enlarge to see her clearly!)
The critters were different,
but it’s nice to know there are Hollers everywhere,
with creative folks, living in natural places, with wild animals,
that are protected.
Cheers to you from Dre’s Holler~
For more info on the PG Butterfly House check out:

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DIY: Davao City, Life is Here!


On the day of the inauguration of the 16th President of the Philippines, we decided as a family to discover the president’s own hometown and experience firsthand the so called “Duterte City” and be like a real Dabawenyo. This city which was recognized as smoke free community, awardee of best performing city police and home for top getaways, we are definitely excited to see what this community has to offer.

When to get there?

In general, any time of the year is a good time to be in Davao. If you’re into peak season, then go during the summer months (March – June) or during Davao’s special festival events. There are two main festival events: Kadayawan Festival during August and Araw ng Dabaw on March 16. Make sure to reserve early if you plan to visit by that time due to high number of tourists and expect pricey rates.

We recommend…

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The Philippines’ Triumph: Right Over Might

Color My World

– former Philippine Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro

Published on ‘The Diplomat’, 19 July 2016.

Gilberto ‘Gibo’ C. Teodoro, Jr., was the Philippines’ Secretary of National Defense from 2007-2009. Prior to that, he served as a three-term Member of Congress. He is now an independent consultant.

We have witnessed in the past decade the worrisome evolution of international conflicts accompanied by deepening acrimonious divisions, exchanges of harsh rhetoric, provocative maneuvers, and the miseducation of people about such conflicts’ true nature, origin, and potential adverse consequences.

On July 12, 2016 the world was afforded a momentous opportunity to take a new path toward the peaceful and principled settlement of international disputes. An Arbitral Tribunal convened pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rendered an Award in ‘The South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines versus The People’s Republic of China). The award reiterates the primacy of…

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