Friday, December 31, 2010

book review: "Selyo: Philippine History in Postage Stamps" by Reynaldo G. Alejandro, et al

SELYO: Philippine History in Postage Stamps
Reynaldo G. Alejandro, Rosa M. Vallejo, Arminda V. Santiago

I love history, and I read history books for pleasure, so when Anvil Publishing, Inc. gave my book club, Flips Flipping Pages, the opportunity to sample their books for free in return for a review, I decided to take the opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes. One would think my default choice would have been any work by Ambeth Ocampo, but when I saw "Selyo" on the publisher's online inventory, I could not resist it (although I did also get Ocampo's "Makamisa"). Not only did the book purport to be about history, it would have pictures too.

"Selyo", as its subtitle states, is about "Philippine History in Postage Stamps". It is a celebration of nationalistic stamps from 1854, the first Philippine and Asian adhesive postage stamp, to 1998, in honor of the centennial not only of Philippine Independence, but of the Philippine Postal System as well.

The book is divided into 4 main chapters - Famous Filipinos, Historical Events, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, and Philippine Centennial - and shows the reader an enlarged image of each stamp along with a smaller image of the stamp in its actual size, with a description of the person or event commemorated. Although of course it would be impossible to include all the people & events in Philippine history that have ever been commemorated on stamp, the authors do a good job in presenting what they had. Not only would philatelists appreciate it, but history buffs like me as well.

Do you know who Ambrosio Bautista is? He was the author of the Declaration of Philippine Independence in 1898, commemorated in a 1981 stamp. Did you know that Filipino women earned the right to vote after a plebiscite in 1937, as commemorated in a stamp 50 years later? These are just a couple of historical nuggets, glossed over in books and classes if discussed at all, that can be discovered throughout the book.

My only gripe with the book is the lack of organization in the first chapter. A stamp with a 16th century sultan is placed next to a 20th century war general next to a 19th century revolutionary. I wish the heroes were arranged in chronological order to maintain the history aspect of the book.

For the insatiably curious, the book also opens further avenues of reading. Who decides who or what to commemorate on a stamp? Who does the art? Who decides the value put on each stamp?

Sadly, with the advent of mobile phones and text messaging and email and chat, the art of letter writing is dying, and with it, stamps and stamp collecting. Stamps are used to commemorate the past, but they may be well on their way to becoming things of the past themselves.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

2010 Reading Targets

My 2010 Resolution: Buy & mooch less, read more.

My 2010 Goal: Read at least 1 book a month. [same as last year]

My 2010 Hope-to-Read List [in no particular order]
01. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon
02. "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett
03. "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini
04. "Something Rotten" by Jasper Fforde
05. "First Among Sequels" by Jasper Fforde
06. "Labyrinth" by Kate Mosse
07. "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky
08. "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson
09. "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins
10. "Noli Me Tangere" by Jose Rizal, translated by Soledad Lacson-Locsin
11. "El Filibusterismo" by Jose Rizal, translated by Soledad Lacson-Locsin
12. "The Fire" by Katherine Neville
13. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
14. "The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

2009 Reads

In 2009, I...

read 56 books,
bought 104 books,
spending a total of Php6700+ on books,
mooched 60 books,
and was gifted with 9 books.

[An average of
4-5 books read per month
8-9 books bought per month,
spending Php560+ on books per month,
and 5 books mooched per month]

I read 1 book for every 3 books I acquired.
Most read genre was mystery.
Most read author was Terry Pratchett.

My 2009 Reads:


01. "The Ghost and the Femme Fatale" by Alice Kimberly

02. "Watchmen" by Alan Moore
03. "Only the Ring Finger Knows" by Satoru Kannagi
04. "The Travels of Babar" by Jean de Brunhoff
05. "The Dream Factory Starring Anna & Henry" by Bjorn Sortland

06. "Jingo" by Terry Pratchett
07. "The Final Solution" by Michael Chabon
08. "Full Dark House" by Christopher Fowler
09. "Made in America" by Bill Bryson
10. "Kingdom Come" by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
11. "Para Kay B" by Ricky Lee

12. "Intramuros" edited by Nick Joaquin
13. "Manila, My Manila" by Nick Joaquin
14. "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

15. "The Water Room" by Christopher Fowler
16. "Moving Pictures" by Terry Pratchett
17. "Humboldt's Cosmos" by Gerard Helferich

18. "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster
19. "The Nine Tailors" by Dorothy L. Sayers
20. "The Cater Street Hangman" by Anne Perry
21. "Death in the Devil's Acre" by Anne Perry
22. "The Face of a Stranger" by Anne Perry
23. "A Dangerous Mourning" by Anne Perry
24. "The Golem's Eye" by Jonathan Stroud

25. "Ptolemy's Gate" by Jonathan Stroud
26. "The Code Book" by Simon Singh
27. "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis
28. "The Great Fire" by Jim Murphy
29. "Bluegate Fields" by Anne Perry
30. "The People of the Abyss" by Jack London
31. "The Ghost and the Dead Deb" by Alice Kimberly

32. "Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel
33. "Decaffeinated Corpse" by Cleo Coyle
34. "The List of 7" by Mark Frost
35. "Monstrous Regiment" by Terry Pratchett

36. "The Lost Continent" by Bill Bryson
37. "The 6 Messiahs" by Mark Frost
38. "Eric" by Terry Pratchett
39. "Somewhere in Time" by Richard Matheson

40. "Carpe Jugulum" by Terry Pratchett
41. "Borrower of the Night" by Elizabeth Peters
42. "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey
43. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
44. "The Lives of Christopher Chant" by Diana Wynne Jones
45. "Weighed in the Balance" by Anne Perry
46. "The Club Dumas" by Arturo Perez-Reverte
47. "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

48. "Special Assignments" by Boris Akunin
49. "Ten Second Staircase" by Christopher Fowler
50. "Terry Pratchett's Hogfather: The Illustrated Screenplay" by Vadim Jean, mucked about with by Terry Pratchett
51. "Wintersmith" by Terry Pratchett
52. "House of Many Ways" by Diana Wynne Jones
53. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss
54. "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon ~ reread
55. "Rizal Without the Overcoat" by Ambeth R. Ocampo
56. "The Big Over Easy" by Jasper Fforde

I hope to do better next year. :)