Book review: Bebang Siy’s “It’s Raining Mens”
by Ronald Lim
Three years ago, Bebang Siy blew the doors wide open and let the public take a glimpse into her life with her collection of essays, It’s A Mens World. At turns funny, poignant, and nostalgic of a Manila now slowly disappearing and changing into something else entirely, It’s A Mens World quickly developed a following and even snagged awards and nominations along the way.
Now Siy returns with It’s Raining Mens (I feel like there should be a Hallelujah in there somewhere), a collection of her work that now extends beyond the personal essay. Sprinkled throughout the book are short stories, movie treatments, a radio play, and emails and letter between Bebang and her best friend, Alvin. Will readers end up being spoiled for choice with this new collection, or would they rather seek shelter from this unusual downpour?
It mostly hinges on how much you liked this book’s predecessor. While both books still tackle the travails of the Filipino woman, the two look at it from very different angles. It’s A Mens World was Bebang looking at her life and flashing bits of it at her readers, It’s Raining Mens has Bebang looking out instead; she’s no longer talking about the Filipino Everywoman, now she’s talking about every woman.
When it’s good, it’s really good. The short story Birhen, about the relationship that blossoms between a karaoke bar’s guest relations officer – basically an escort – and one of her clients, is a great read, filled with sharp, pointed jabs at the male ego. It reads like Colette’s Green Wheat, with the woman holding the sexual power and wielding it however she wishes. It’s not a funny story, but it is fascinating. The short story Rabbit Love is also a great read, and very much in the vein of the personal essays of Siy’s previous book. The other works of fiction in the book, on the other hand, achieve varying measures of success.
This outward look also works in varying ways for the personal essays in It’s Raining Mens. Horror is a short and sharp jab aimed squarely at the public school system, and one that mothers may find themselves nodding their heads to. Sizzling Sisid is for anyone who’s ever thought about where our taxes go, and Thing To Do might as well be a template for single mothers looking for a way to introduce a new love to their children.
But the real treat is looking at these essays as a whole. Put together, it charts a journey of personal growth for Bebang, one that follows her from single motherhood to the discovery of a new love. It’s a narrative that was missing from It’s A Mens World, and one that makes It’s Raining Mens all the richer. It’s a really intimate view into Bebang’s life, and readers are lucky enough to be privy to it.
All in all, It’s Raining Mens is a worthy follow-up to It’s A Mens World. It may not have the mass appeal that the first book had, but it’s equally as rewarding. Go ahead and get yourself wet.
Ni-repost dito nang may permiso mula kay G. Lim. Narito ang orihinal na link:
Malaking-malaki po ang utang na loob ko sa 'yo, Ronald, alam mo 'yan! Isa ka sa mga unang nagbigay ng pagkakataon sa It's A Mens World. Maraming salamat. Wala ang sequel kung hindi dahil sa iyong napakainit na pagsuporta.
Dios mabalos, kapatid.