Books, barako, Baguio

Off to Baguio, again, in the next few hours. I look forward to Palaganas raisin bread, Kape Umali barako coffee — and books, lots of them. The well-ventilated Booksale branch in SM should yield a couple of good finds. The last time I was up there, I bought V. S Pritchett’s Dead Man Leading, Mary McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, and Kevin Philips’ Cousins’ Wars.

Memories, which I finished early this morning, almost in anticipation of another visit to the store it came from, is a candid look at the creative tension between the truths of memory and the nature of narrative; its “interchapters” force McCarthy, for my money one of the 20th century’s finest stylists, to ‘fess up, as it were, and reveal the truth behind the story. The real truth, mind you, is not necessarily plain, and the well-crafted story not necessarily embellished. Memories, it seems to me, is best read with Janet Malcolm’s chilling Trial of Shiela McGough.

The best place I know of for reading books about journalism and the mass media also happens to be in Baguio: our bureau chief Rolly Fernandez’s cozy office, with its hundreds of books and open-door policy. I will be (mostly) on vacation this time around; I look forward to spending time in the bureau’s library, without so much as a glance at the clock.


That’s me and Rolly, sometime last month, enjoying a cup of hazelnut coffee. The journalism books are from his own personal collection.



Filed under Readings in Media, Spiral Notebook

2 responses to “Books, barako, Baguio

  1. Rolando B. Fernandez

    Dear John,
    Big thanks for plugging the Inquirer reading room. Whenever you are in Baguio, feel free to drop by the bureau for coffee and a good read. — Rolly

  2. Arie Brand

    I read McCarthy’s book many years ago but I recently had occasion to reflect on one of its points that sticks in my mind.

    If I remember this correctly McCarthy, who turned her back on catholicism at an early age, remarked that, nevertheless, she was grateful for having had a catholic education because it brought her into contact with a bigger and more cosmopolitan world outside then fairly provincial Seattle.

    When recently I had to choose a school for our twelve year old adopted son, who was brought up in the INC, I chose Sacred Heart College here in Cebu, partly with that comment in mind.

    I am an agnostic myself.

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