Co, Mark Andrew
When Things Go Though, Ask Randy
A book review of “Nation, Self, and Citizenship”
If a person reads the book “Nation, Self, and Citizenship” by Randolf S. David, one would gain a general idea on the Philippine situation, oneself, and how oneself is situated in the nation. In addition to that, the very nature of the book, a collection of articles categorized and grouped in three main topics, makes it easy to read and easy to digest. Moreover, the author does this in a very conversational manner or sometimes in a storytelling fashion. And these are the reasons why the book succeeds in conveying to its audiences its messages and teachings. Looking it at a micro level, one can’t help but find similarities with how the articles are structured. Like in the popular children’s series Harry Potter, the book acts like a bowl of “pensive” into the memories and thoughts of Prof. David. For most of the articles, the author initially sets the tone and context by giving a quick background or history of the topic. This may come in the form of an anecdote, quote, related news, or just a plain reverie. After which he then proceeds to layout the main problem or agenda and subtopics that are necessary and/or pertinent to the matter at hand. Next, he gives a solution or a comparison (in the hope of arriving to a solution) or just pinpointing the root of the problem. He usually gives his insights and opinions on the matter in this area. After that, he closes the article with a thought, quotation, or something to ponder on; most of which would incite emotions or actions. This framework/structure appears in several articles such as “Who’s Afraid Globalization”, “Looking Back at Edsa”, “The Powerless Public”, and many more. One would notice that this follows the basic form of storytelling and follows the graph such as in Figure 1.1. With such a basic framework, the author doesn’t have to worry about losing his audience or appear to preach, which some people don’t want. This also gives him a lot of chance to inject his comments and thoughts as the article progresses to the different areas of the topic. It is also good to note that in an article, the author cites several quotations and ideas from renowned philosophers to make his arguments more credible. One would also notice a subliminal theme of hoping for a better nation. Some of the articles he wrote uses different perspectives and through different lenses. An example of this is in the article “ Dogtown: Memories of the 1904 World’s Fair” where the author emphasized how others perceived us then and now. The author also used several similar situations of other nations as comparisons. Most of which other nations have surpassed and succeeded, but some have a more somber and foreboding tone. One such example of triumph that the nation could emulate was of the Zapatistas and the Mexican government. On the other hand, an example of a more somber situation was of Mang Pandoy. In the hope of trying to rationalize and conceptualize a given situation, Prof. David gives brief histories and roots of a topic. In the example of the Moro Problem, the author uses the long history of the Moro People to bring into context what their culture has endured for them to act as such. After which, he then gives opinions and critiques on our current situation. He does not blatantly say that it should be like this or that, but he does it in a subtle way of suggestion and examples. This is a good thing since the real aim of the author is not for a specific change, but review of the situation and hopefully a dialogue ensues and a peaceful solution will be reached. This was elegantly exemplified in the article “Postmodern Bandits”; the author did not outright say that the Moros involved are bandits or outlaws, but he slowly put the audience in their shoes and showed them their situation. He then closes most articles usually by leaving an open-ended thought that...
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