will said, “I can still recommend another David Hontiveros short novel, Takod. I’ve read it five years ago, and found it quite okay and a fast read.”
TAKOD is one of three novellas from the PENUMBRA trilogy. i don’t know if it’s the first book off the trilogy, but it’s the first one i read–because i picked the book randomly off the pile.
it tells the story of mike lasombra, a journalist, who travels to the thriving city of mapayapa for an assignment: to interview the mayor who brought modernization to what once was a small barrio.
there is something mike is keeping from his editor though: a personal mission had him asking for this particular assignment. and he wants to make sure that before the assignment is over, he will have successfully completed his mission.
now, truth be told, i found TAKOD bordering on boring, and a bit dated. in one of my previous posts, i mentioned how i’m not a fan of letting pop culture seep into works of fiction. if you want your work to stand the test of time, choose your pop culture carefully. TAKOD has a good and a bad example of pop culture usage. but the bad one was the one that really stuck to me.
the novella is supposedly horror. it felt more like a quest-adventure for me, but that’s my opinion. the author seemed determined to make it as scary as possible though. and he sought to use pop culture in establishing that the events in TAKOD come off as horrific.
first, the good example: he invoked the halloween episodes of MAGANDANG GABI, BAYAN*. for any one who was alive (and living in the philippines) during the 90s and early 2000s, MAGANDANG GABI, BAYAN is known for its scary halloween episodes. i remember getting scared by some of them. why do i consider this a good example of pop-culture usage? because these halloween episode phenomenon continues to live on today. and whenever a local show would do something similar, children of the 90s would always remember (and share) their own memories of the MAGANDANG GABI, BAYAN halloween episodes.
the bad example: NGINIIIG!^ i guess during the time TAKOD was written, NGINIIIG! seemed it could last the test of time. it didn’t. it soon disappeared from television screens and was replaced in the minds of televiewers by the more widely seen ‘WAG KUKURAP. being a fan of all things scary, i tuned in to all NGINIIIG! episodes. not everyone did. and now, not everyone remembers NGINIIIG!. heck, before reading this novella, i had a hard time remembering the title of the show.
reading the afterword, and the blurbs, i really thought TAKOD would be, at the very least, frightening. that it would leave a trace of horror in my psyche after reading. but there’s nothing. am i already desensitized from horror? i don’t think so. watching A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET for the nth time still gives me the creeps. but then again, i’m the guy who didn’t even blink at the ‘horrors’ of RINGU (the original japanese version of THE RING). so what gives?
anyway, here’s a different perspective on TAKOD: a review from wawi navarroza art projects.
*MAGANDANG GABI, BAYAN (literal translation: good evening, nation.) was a saturday magazine-type television show that sought to expose illegal activities in the philippines. but every year, just in time for halloween, they would focus an episode on the supernatural and the unexplainable. the show was canceled in 2005.
^NGINIIIG! (literal translation: shiver!) was a weekly horror television program that ran for almost three years. the show ended in 2006. it ran alongside the more well-known ‘WAG KUKURAP (literal translation: don’t blink) for the majority of its run. when NGINIIIG! ended, one of its spirit questors jumped to the revamped ‘WAG KUKURAP.