book: rosallea

"rosallea" by gilda olvidadoauthor gilda olvidado has a weird love affair with television; everything she writes gets turned into a television soap series.

i don’t think that’s going to happen with ROSALLEA.

ROSALLEA is a fantasy novel that dwells in the world of witch doctors and shamans, or in filipino term: mangkukulam. the story centers on the title character, rosallea, who discovers that she is of magical descent–and that she is being hailed as the salvation of the good witch doctors.

the main plot of the story is for good to triumph over evil. and with the title character being the “chosen one” that was the story i was expecting to read. instead, the book reads as a very long beginnings story.

i’ve never read miss gilda olvidado’s work before this. i have seen some of her works that had been turned into television soap series (because of work), but none of the scripts were actually written by her. those obviously do not count.

but if ROSALLEA is like her other works, then i don’t think i’ll be picking up another one of her books.

i’m sure there are people who would like ROSALLEA. it’s a book aimed at making you feel good about being good; it’s a black-and-white story of good versus evil; and it’s quite easy to read. but i’m just not one of those people.

my main problem with the book is how it’s written in tagalog–but it’s peppered with pop culture references and english jargons that clash horribly with the chosen setting: a province ruled by shamans. with NAERMYTH, i was able to accept that all the characters were speaking in english, because the whole book was in english. ROSALLEA can’t say the same thing. the business was written completely in tagalog (some of which are rarely used in real life), and the dialogue was a mix of deep tagalog and cannibalized english.

but the reason i can’t get behind the book is simple: i can’t relate to the main character. at all. she’s the perfect daughter, the most amazing student, and the best friend you can never have. she’s perfect. so while reading the book, you don’t feel anything for her. you know she’s going to get out of the whole thing alive, and barely hurt.

working for television, i know that most filipinos have an obsession for that perfect protagonist whose life could break the strongest man. but i don’t think that’s what you need in a book hero. especially one that’s targeted to the young adults, or the children. readers need a hero to emulate, to relate to and look up to. we don’t want a perfect hero. we want one that’s believable.

would i recommend ROSALLEA? at around 400 pesos, i would suggest that you just borrow it from someone who already has a copy. it’s not a must-buy.

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7 thoughts on “book: rosallea

  1. Tsk. Our local fictional characters really do tend to be drawn as perfect human beings, the epitome of everything that is good. I am wondering if these people who wrote this kind of heroes thinks that this is an effective formula. Like, really?? Is it the authors’ weakness cause they can’t hurt their character and protect them too much, or is it in their opinion that we Filipinos can’t handle imperfect heroes? Come.the.eff.on! The hero’s flaws are our way to identify ourselves with them. This is really disheartening. I’ll pass.

    • Haha, our local protagonists, especially the female leads, get hurt a lot. But they’re too kind, too good, too perfect to hit back. Usually. that’s why “Grazilda” started out as a hit–because the lead in that soap fights back. A lot.

      “Naermyth” and “Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan” both had good flawed heroes. As does “News of the Shaman”. And “Craving” too, I guess. “Takod” had a super man as its hero–

      But yeah, Filipino authors/writers love their perfect heroes. The ones whose will is strong even when faced with the greatest adversaries. I remember something screenwriter RJ Nuevas once said during a meeting, “Why must all our heroes choose between good and evil? Of course they’ll choose good! Why can’t we make them choose between good and good? Or between two evils?”

      Well, that’s paraphrased. And translated to English. I don’t have a photographic memory. 😀 Well, I do. It just didn’t have a memory card at the time.

  2. I wanted to read this one when you told me about the premise but now that I know you had such a lukewarm reaction to the book then maybe I’m not missing much. Also, I can’t remember the last time I read a book written in Filipino!

    • Haha, you mentioned “back in school” before. 😀

      I saw Miss Gilda today; I couldn’t bring myself to bring up her book. How do you tell someone you didn’t like their written work? :/

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