My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Of course I picked up Dead Balagtas because of the hype.
My verdict: it is a trope I have read before.
Geography and the changes brought by natural phenomena affect and define our identity. Babaylans are historical figures and it’s not surprising to find her or him in the opening pages of the novel. The use of folklore and legend to frame the role of women and to foreshadow conflicting views on gender roles and expectations is deliberate done. I have seen and read these ideas and concepts before. The graphic novel did not open up wonders nor rekindled memories, either painful or precious.
I did not find Emiliana Kampilan’s agenda new nor fresh, especially her gimmick of wearing a bayong with a smiley. I wonder if she has ever done comprehensive research on the history of the Makapili, the founders of this group and its leaders who, according to historians, have all but impeccable integrity. To dedicate the book to the nation while looking at her photo wearing a bayong to hide her face sends the wrong message, at least, to me.
One good thing I can say about Dead Balagtas is its timely message on relationships. Love wins. It’s about time readers, young and old like me, get to read and see more LGBT represented in Philippine literature.
View all my reviews