Rereading El Fili

After rereading the Noli a couple of months ago, I waited a while before starting on its sequel El Filibusterismo (book #80 of 2009), because I wanted to gather up the courage to read it again. Like everyone else who’s read both novels, I’ve always found El Fili more challenging than the Noli, and I wanted sufficient time to focus on the novel so I could better understand it. I ended up taking it along on a couple of trips out of town this summer.
The review is also a challenge to write — it’s not easy to comment about a book that has been read and reread by generations of Filipinos, written by a man revered as national hero for more than a century now.        

Again, to my non-Filipino readers, a bit of an explanation: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are two novels written by the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. Originally written in Spanish, and a catalyst for the change in political thinking in the 19th and 20th century Philippines, both novels are required reading for high school students in the country. It’s a bit difficult to summarize — you can read about it on Wikipedia.

As with the Noli, I read the Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin edition of El Fili (English title: Subversion) highly recommended by Flipper friend Czar (who now has his own blog!) for its rich language that tries to preserve the form and context of Rizal’s original Spanish. Now that Czar has named the two books as the common reading requirement in the FFP Diversity Challenge, I’m glad I read the books before half the year set in, but I will have to regroup my challenge entries.  

Identity change
Though as prodigiously written as the Noli, El Fili stands in contrast to the Noli as it goes deeper into the ideas that the first book touched upon, and gets darker and darker until the fiery end.    Crisostomo Ibarra, the protagonist from the Noli, returns in El Fili and sheds his preppy, pretty-boy image in favor of a new identity: the mysterious jeweler Simoun.
“The jeweler was a lean, tall, sinewy man , deeply tanned, dressed in the English fashion, and wearing a helmet of tinsin. What called attention to him was his long hair — completely white in contrast to the black beard, which was sparse, denoting mestizo origin. To avoid the light of the sun, he always wore a pair of enormous, blue tinted glasses which completely covered his eyes and part of his cheeks, giving him the aspectof a blind man or one of defective eyesight. He stood with legs apart, as if to maintain his balance, hands thrust into the pockets of his jacket.”

In El Fili Ibarra (as Simoun) returns to avenge all that he lost, driven to the brink of madness by all that he has experienced. The disguise is so conspicuous I’m surprised nobody figured him out for a fake sooner. But they figured Simoun was an American, he had strong ties with the Capitan-General and the assets to prove he was a jeweler. Nobody had reason to associate him with Ibarra, whom people thought to be dead, so he got away with it.   

I find Ibarra’s lot in life heartbreaking. A gently bred and educated son of a wealthy family and engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Ibarra had his whole life to look forward to when he returned from his studies abroad to his hometown. But alas, he inherits his father’s enemies, and he is forced into a fate he did not want.

But it is not only Ibarra who has been transformed; time has not been kind to the other characters from the Noli, either: Basilio, the young boy hunted by the guardia civil, now a young man pursuing medicine; Maria Clara, beautiful and full of life, now wasting away at the Sta. Clara convent; Kapitan Tiago, dignified and jolly, now in a permanent opium-induced stupor. Such a tragedy!

The fire of revolution
It is difficult to discuss El Fili without touching on the revolution that Simoun incited in the novel. Simoun uses his ties with the Capitan-General and the upper class to influence them to abuse their position, to commit deeds that will stir the anger of the masses. While Ibarra would have sought diplomatic means to challenge the authorities, Simoun goes all out to set off a bloodbath, a violent revolution meant to eradicate a corrupted society.

Simoun gains the support of various aggrieved parties: Cabesang Tales, decrying the injustice his family suffered at the hands of the friars; the university students, who are proposing to establish a Spanish language academy but are meeting opposition from the Dominicans; Quiroga, a Chinese merchant aspiring for an important position in society; and eventually, Basilio, initially reluctant but pushed over the edge by the death of his sweetheart Juli.   

At the biggest society event of their time — the wedding of Paulita Gomez and Juanito Pelaez, Simoun plots to wipe out the prime movers of society by planting a lamp filled with nitroglycerine in the living room, set to explode when the wick is turned up.

Simoun’s plan is foiled by Paulita’s ex-boyfriend Isagani, and he meets his death at the remote seaside home of Padre Florentino, but I imagine that to the very end, he believes it was not all in in vain, as he once told Basilio:

“Patriotism can only be a crime in the oppressor nations, because then it will be rapacity baptized with a beautiful name, but no matter how perfect humanity may become, patriotism will always be a virtue among the oppressed peoples because it will signify for all time love of justice, freedom and self-dignity… The greatness of man lies not in being ahead of his times… but in divining his wants, responding to his needs and guiding himself to march forward.”

One of the passages in the final chapter though, a piece by Padre Florentino, seems to cement Rizal’s personal stand on waiting for the right time for revolution:

“In the meantime, while the Filipino people may not have sufficient energy to proclaim, with head high and chest bared, their rights to social life, and to guarantee it with their sacrifice, with their own blood; while we see our own countrymen in private life feeling shame within themselves, to hear roaring the voice of conscience which rebels and protests, in public life keep silent, to make a chorus with him who abuses to mock the abused; while we see them enclosed in their own selfishness, praising the most iniquitous deeds with forced smiles, begging with their eyes for a portion of the booty, why give them freedom? With Spain and without doubt, because he who loves tyranny submits to it. Señor Simoun, while our people may not be prepared, while they may go to battle beguiled or forced, without a clear understanding of what they have to do, the wisest attmpts will fail and it is better that they fail, because why commit the wife to the husband if he does not sufficiently love her, if he is not ready to die for her?”

Words that come to life
Politics isn’t really something I enjoy reading, but as the novel isn’t entirely political, I found a lot of other parts to like.

I really like Rizal’s lavishly descriptive prose, as it takes you right to the heart of the scene, as if you were witnessing it before your very eyes.

For instance, this is how Rizal describes the steamship Tabo:

“Bathed by the morning sun, which makes the ripples of the river throb and the wind sing through the swaying reeds flourishing on both banks, there goes her white silhouette, waving a black plume of smoke; they say the Ship of State smokes much, too! Her whistle wails at every moment, raucous and imposing like a tyrant that seeks to rule by shouting; so much so that no one aboard understands himself. She threatens everything in her way, now seeming about to crush the salambaw, scraggy fishing contraptions which in their movements are not unlike skeletons saluting an antediluvian turtle; now running straight against the bamboo brushes or gainst the floating eating places or karihan, which, among gumamelas and already in water but still undecided on plunging in. Sometimes, following a certain bearing marked on the river with bamboo poles, the steamship moves very surely, but suddenly a shock jolts the travelers, making them lose their balance; she has struck low-lying mud which nobody suspected.”

I actually took this book along an interisland trip that involved around eight ferry rides across the country, and so this particular passage was very vivid to me. All the while I could imagine traveling down the Pasig river in the steamship Tabo, surrounded by the hustle-bustle of the ship crew and passengers.

And then there’s Simoun’s casket of jewelry:

“Simoun opened the casket and lifted the raw cotton which protected it, uncovering a compartment full of rings, lockets, crucifixes, pins, and so forth. Diamonds combined with stones of different color sparkled, stirred among golden flowers of different hues with veins of enamel, with fanciful designs and rare arabesques. 

Simoun lifted the tray and displayed another full of fantastic jewels which could have overwhelmed the imagination of seven young women on the eve of seven balls in their honor. such fantastic designs, combination of precious stones and pearls, imitating insects with bluish backs and transparent wings; the sapphire, the emerald, the ruby, the turquoise, the diamond were arranged together, to create dragonflies, butterflies, wasps, bees, scarabs, serpents, lizards, fish, flowers, clusters, and others…

Nobody had ever seen such wealth before. In that box lined with dark blue velvet, divided dinto sections, could be realized the dreams of a Thousand and One Nights, the dreams of Oriental fantasies. Diamonds as large as chickpeas were scintillating, spewing sparks of fascinating hues as if they were melting or burning perfectly in the colors of the spectrum; emeralds from Peru in all shapes and cuts; rubies from India, red like drops of blood; sapphires from Ceylon, blue and white; turquoises from Persia; Oriental mother-of-pearl; some rosy, gray and black. Those who have seen in the night a giant rocket exploding against the dark blue sky into thousands of sparks of all colors, so brilliant that the eternal stars pale beside them, can imagine the aura that compartment radiated.

This is actually one of my favorite passages in this book, even back when I first read it in high school. What a spread that must have been, and I’m not surprised all the ladies nearly swooned when Simoun brought out his wares. The casket ends up at the bottom of the sea at the end of the book, and it resurfaces in another novel written decades later, in Ang Mga Ibong Mandaragit by Amado V. Hernandez.

And sadder still
The part that affected me most in the book is that defining scene when Basilio reveals to Simoun that Maria Clara has passed away. More than revenge, Simoun is actually inciting a revolution so he can storm the gates of the cloister and rescue Maria Clara, so they can pick up where they left off and get a chance to live the life they were deprived of.

But alas, after thirteen years in the cloister, Maria Clara was taken ill and subsequently died after a few days.    Simoun is devastated by the news, and I couldn’t help crying at this part:   

“Dead!” he murmured in a voice so low it was as if a ghost were speaking, “dead! dead without having seen her, dead without knowing that I was living for hear, dead suffering…” 

And feeling that a horrible storm, a tempest of whirlwinds and thunder without a drop of rain, sobs without tears, cries without words, roaored in his breast and was going to overflow like incandescent lava long ago suppressed, he hurridly fled the room. Basilio heard him rush down the stairs with erratic steps, tumbling; he heard a silent cry, a cry that seemed to herald the coming of death, deep, unbridled, mournful…

And Basilio thinks of the fate of Ibarra and Maria Clara:

“He, young, rich, lettered, free, master of his destiny, with a brilliant future ahead of him, and she, beautiful like a dream, pure, full of faith and innocence, cradled among loves and smiles, destined for a happy life, to be adored int eh family and respected in the world, and yet, nevertheless, those two beings, full of love, of dreams and hopes; by a fatal destiny, he wandered around the world, dragged without respite by a whirlpool of blood and tears, sowing bad instead of doing good, dismantling virtue and fomenting vice, while she was dying in the mysterious shadows of the cloister where she had sought peace and may perhaps have encountered sufferings, where she had entered pure and without stain and expired like a crushed flower!”

That’s just the saddest thing ever. It makes me want to create an alternate universe for Ibarra and Maria Clara, where they can live happily ever after, but I think the power of the Noli and the El Fili, is in establishing how the forces at work in their society have affected their lives, just as historically, countless lives of Filipinos were changed by our experience as a colony.

And on an ending note…
It’s a strange feeling, to read the books that have been read by millions of Filipinos over the last century, the books that have had the power to set the wheels of Philippine history in motion. While I can’t say I carry the same fervor the first readers of the books must have had, I am gratified that the books are still alive today to serve as a link to them.

I still like Noli Me Tangere over El Filibusterismo, but I’m glad I took on the challenge of reading both books and writing a bit about them. I meant to read them for leisure, but the books have moved me more than I expected they would, and I appreciate them better now than I did back in high school.

I really love the Lacson-Locsin translations, and my next target is to upgrade my paperbacks into the nice hardcovers, hopefully at the next Manila International Book Fair.

My copy: El Filibusterismo, Lacson-Locsin translation, paperback.

My rating: 4/5 stars (out of personal preference on the themes of the novel, not on literary merit, which is obviously stellar)


No rants this time (Angels and Demons movie)


I enjoy reading Dan Brown, especially the Robert Langdon novels, because while you need to suspend your disbelief while reading the books, Brown knows how to build up a good chase.I’m also a sucker for art thrillers, and I love the interesting artsy details that are incorporated into the novels, traversing artistic hotspots such as the Louvre and Vatican City, and dissecting the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo, and Bernini. 

Other than that I love scholarly protagonists (e.g. Paul in The Historian, Sherlock Holmes) and Robert Langdon hits the mark on that aspect.

I distinctly remember the first time I read Angels and Demons: in ebook format beamed to my phone from my computer, because I was in my last semester in college and I couldn’t afford to buy brand-new books then. Angels and Demons is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, and I remember getting even more scared a couple of months later, when Pope John Paul II died and I was imagining an Angels and Demons scenario playing out. Of course, that was just in my head, and the conclave proceeded without any events that resembled the Dan Brown plot.

By the end of the year I bought a hardbound Robert Langdon omnibus at Fully Booked at 40% off, so it was less than P400. I also have fond memories of this book, as it was one of my cat Tomas’ (he died of kidney failure and cardiac arrest in November 2008) favorite perches when he was still a kitten.

Now I really didn’t like the Da Vinci Code movie, because it was so boring and I felt it copped out at the end so I didn’t have high expectations for Angels and Demons. I was out of town covering a race on opening week, so I decided to watch it as soon as I returned, never mind that everyone else I knew already saw it and I had to watch alone.

I normally have a problem with film adaptations, but I actually liked the Angels and Demons movie, which is surprising because the book is my favorite Dan Brown novel.Not that they didn’t deviate from the novel — they eliminated Maximilian Kohler, Father Silvano became Vittoria’s research partner, Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca turned into the Irish Patrick McKenna (hotness aside, I really had a hard time picturing Ewan McGregor in the role), Cardinal Baggia survived among the preferiti and became Pope (as opposed to Cardinal Strauss), and Langdon’s famous parachute escape was glaringly missing, among other things — but the pace was good and I didn’t nod off at any point in the movie like I did at Da Vinci Code. 

It’s not a movie for critical acclaim, but at least, unlike its predecessor, it stands up well enough alone that even those who haven’t read the book are able to follow the action.

I read at Dan Brown’s site that the third Langdon novel, The Lost Symbol, is coming out this September. I’ll definitely be reading that one.

My copy: Robert Langdon Omnibus, hardcover

My rating: Angels and Demons book 4/5 stars, Angels and Demons movie 3.5/5 stars

Kare Kano Marathon

I like reading manga series when I can read them from the first volume. Luckily, I was able to mooch books 1, 2, and 4 of Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda from local moocher Cizi (books # 77-79 of 2009) and I’ve got book 3 on its way from the Netherlands.
Kare Kano is a romantic comedy featuring the seemingly perfect Yukino Miyazawa and her school rival Soichiro Arima. 

Yukino is the #1 student in her high school, and is admired for her beauty, talent, and intelligence. But beneath the perfect façade, Yukino is a control freak playing a part, as she is a brat and a slob at home, studying obsessively to keep up her grades.

When she enters high school, the new student Soichiro shows up and gives her a run for her money. The perfect façade cracks, and Yukino plots to take him down and regain the attention of her peers, but she didn’t plan on falling in love with him in the process.

Yukino has more in common with Soichiro than she thinks, because Soichiro is keeping up the perfect façade to prove to himself and his adoptive parents that he did not get his birth parents’ bad genes.

As Yukino and Soichiro get to know each other and their relationship blossoms, they both learn to loosen up and be true to themselves.

Kare Kano is a he said – she said story, with chapters alternating between Yukino and Soichiro. It is one of the first series released by Tokyopop, an English-language manga publishing company that is fast becoming a favorite of mine.It has also been adapted into an anime series, although I have yet to watch it.

I like the character of Yukino, specifically because she reminds me a lot of myself back in school. Back then, I was always in the honors class, and I understand her need to keep up appearances to live up to other people’s expectations.

I also like the character of Soichiro, because I am such a sucker for overachievers and I really don’t blame Yukino for falling for him.

The chemistry between them is good, and the story gets pretty funny, especially when new characters, like the hunky Hideaki (book 2) and little Tsubasa (book 4) are introduced. There are also nice little moments like Yukino working up the courage to tell Soichiro she loves him, the first time they hold hands, the first date, the first hug, the first kiss. It’s a bit nostalgic for me, because I remember one particular person in my life, but hehe, that’s another story.

I also like the little notes in the margins left behind by Masami Tsuda, as well as the Tsuda diary section at the back of the book because it gives great insight into her creative process, and gives a better understanding of the context of some cultural nuances, like Japanese school uniforms, or references to Japanese novels.

I can’t wait to read more of this series. Hopefully they’ll turn up on BookMooch.

My copy: Books 1, 2, and 4 in paperback, local mooch

My rating: Book 1, 2, and 4: 4/5 stars

The Perks: Bookstore Privilege Cards

This week I achieved a goal I’d set for myself a couple of years ago: to acquire privilege cards to three major bookstores in the Philippines: National Book Store, Powerbooks and Fully Booked.

Having privilege cards to all three is convenient, albeit potentially hazardous to my wallet, because if I want a book from any of the three bookstores (haha, yes, I do buy brand new and full-priced books!), I won’t have to worry about not having a privilege card to one store and having to postpone buying until I get to the other store.

To those who are planning on getting privilege cards to these stores, I also want to summarize the process of acquiring one and the benefits of each card. So here’s the lowdown:

1) Powerbooks’ Powercard / Powercard Plus– The first privilege card I actually got was the Powercard, which I got in 2005, because I began to buy books with my own money when I started working and I saw it as a great investment, especially with the Harry Potter books coming out. By the time Deathly Hallows rolled around, I was able to upgrade to a Powercard Plus. I didn’t know about BookMooch yet at that time, so I bought P15,000 (around $300) worth of books in one year. Now that I have other book sources, the amount seems so obscene to me.

Here are the terms for the Powercard and Powercard Plus, from the Powerbooks website:


A loyalty card that can be used as a discount card for a minimum purchase of Php 2,000. Powercard holders earn points for every purchase, which they can later use for future visits.


An enhanced version of the existing Powercard, the Powercard Plus is a combination of a loyalty card and a discount card in one. For every purchase made, the customer is entitled to earn points and avail of a discount on valid titles.




* Outright Membership pay P100 fee or P50 fee for students (present valid ID)
* Free Membership present receipt(s), single or accumulated throughout a one year period, worth P5,000 and above.

Just present receipt(s), single or accumulated throughout a one year period, worth P15,000 and above.

Note: Purchases using Powerbooks Gift Certificates and receipts of purchases which have earned or claimed loyalty points/discount cannot be used to apply for a Powercard or Powercard Plus. All applicants must present a valid I.D.


* The Powercard or Powercard Plus must be presented upon reaching the cashier for payment to earn points and/or avail of discount.
* No card, no point-credit and/or discount. Manual entry of card number is not allowed.
* Loyalty points/discount can be claimed only during the transaction.
* Points earned and the equivalent e-purse value are instantly updated in the system every time a purchase is made.
* Purchases of Powerbooks Gift Certificates with cash or credit card will be awarded points.
* Purchases using the Powerbooks Gift Certificate, E-purse and credit memo as payment shall earn no point.
* Loyalty points apply after any discount.
* Dome food and drinks, Arts Center, All Wrapped-Up items and service fees are not valid to earn loyalty points/ avail of discounts.


* 10% discount on cash purchases, 5% discount on credit card purchases.
* Discount not valid on special orders, bargain/ sale items, X items or XP items.


* Each peso is equivalent to one point. Any centavo value will be dropped in the calculation of points.
* Points are redeemable at every thousand points. One Thousand Points is equivalent to Fifteen Pesos (1,000 points= P15.00)
* The system automatically converts earned points to the equivalent e-purse value upon reaching the redeemable value (every 1,000 points).


* It is an electronic purse where converted points are stored. This can be used to pay for purchases in any Powerbooks branch except for the purchase of Powerbooks Gift Certificates, Javaman food and drinks, All Wrapped-Up items and service fees.
* E-purse value can be used only during the validity of a card. The unused e-purse value of an expired card will be transferred to the new card upon renewal, provided the card is renewed within the month from expiry date.
* E-purse may be used to pay for renewal fee.
* The cardholder may use any e-purse amount for payment. The remaining amount can be used at another time, provided the card is still valid.
* Cardholder must present a valid ID when using E-purse for payment.


* The Powercard or Powercard Plus is valid for three (3) years.
* Expired card should be surrendered at the Customer Service for renewal. A processing fee of P100 will be charged.
* Points earned by cardholders who do not renew within one (1) month from expiry date will be forfeited.
* Any account that is dormant for a period of at least one (1) year will be cancelled and all accumulated points and e-purse value in the card will be forfeited. Cardholders may re-apply by accumulating the required amount of purchases (P15,000.00 for Powercard Plus; P5,000.00 for Powercard or pay the P100.00 application fee).


* To replace a defective card, surrender the card at the Customer Service counter of any Powerbooks branch. Defective cards issued by Powerbooks will be replaced for free.
* To replace a lost card, present valid ID at the Customer Service counter of any Powerbooks branch and pay the replacement fee of P50.00.
* Points and e-purse value of a lost card, as reflected in Powerbooksdatabase, will remain in the cardholders account until the card expires.
* Replacement of cards damaged due to the cardholders mishandling will be charged a P50.00 replacement fee.


* Loyalty points and e-purse value reflected in Powerbooks system shall be considered official and final.
* Powerbooks has the right to determine the point-value for every peso spent.
* Receipts of purchases using defective cards must be duly signed by Powerbooks authorized personnel to be considered valid for crediting points.
* Membership in the program may be revoked at any time should abuse, failure to follow the terms and conditions, or any misinterpretation prejudicial to the program take place. Those whose memberships have been revoked are ineligible to the rights and benefits of the program.
* During system maintenance, E-
purse cannot be used for payment; purchases will still earn points, and the cardholders account will be updated when system maintenance is complete.
* Powerbooks has the right to cancel, modify, or restrict the loyalty/discount program at any time. In the event that the program is cancelled, cardholders will be notified accordingly.
* Should Powercard and/or Powercard Plus be cancelled, the remaining e-purse value must be used within 90 days from the date of cancellation. Remaining points equivalent to less than P15 e-purse value shall be cancelled.
* Powerbooks failure to enforce a particular term, condition, or guideline does not constitute a continuing waiver of the terms and conditions.
* The Powercard or Powercard Plus is non-transferable. Points and E-purse value earned are solely for the cardholders consumption.
* Powercard and Powercard Plus holders are subject to these Terms and Conditions and are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions upon signing the application form.

This reminds me — I have to renew my Powercard Plus this month. Not that it’s getting much use lately, I am still sore at them for canceling the Birthday Blowout (40% off on all purchases for one day in your birthday month) for Powercard Plus holders. But ooh, they have a new design, and I don’t want to lose points on my old card (around P300).

The Pros: A point system that’s convertible to cash, easy and affordable application for the Powercard

The Cons: You need a minimum P2000 purchase for a 10% discount with the Powercard, and upgrading to a Powercard Plus is challenging (P15,000 in one year is a bit much, I think), AND no more birthday blowout (hmf!).

2) National Book Store’s Laking National Card (Laking National, loosely translated, means growing up on National Book Store, which holds true for most people in my generation) – I got this card in 2006, and I have to admit, it was because they were giving away a free bag with it, hehehe. I do regret not getting one earlier; I buy a lot of school supplies and art supplies, and National’s selection (and bargain books!) has improved immensely recently and this card has been getting a lot of mileage. I think I reached P400 until I caved and redeemed the points one day when I didn’t have any cash and I found the book on book collection.

Here are some details about the Laking National Card, from the National Book Store website:

Who Can Join

All valid Philippine residents with a valid I.D. can join the program. Children aged seven (7) years and above are also qualified to join.

How To Join

Apply at the Customer Service Counter of any National Book Store. Complete the application form and pay the P100.00 fee–or to get a FREE Card, just present receipts worth P5,000 accumulated over a 12-month period. Students can avail of the special application fee of P60.00 provided they present a valid school I.D.

While waiting for the release of your new Laking National Card you can already start earning points by collecting your receipts. They will be credited when you claim your card.

Sign-up and Renewal Bonus Points

Upon signing up and renewal of membership, members receive 1,000 bonus points.

Members who availed of free membership through accumulated receipts worth P5,000 will also get 1,000 sign-up bonus points plus a maximum 5,000 bonus points.


Great reasons to become a Laking National member!

* Members earn 1 Point for every peso purchase. Points are converted to P10.00 ePurse for every 1,000 points earned. ePurse may be used any time and at any branch, to pay for the member’s purchases.
* Sign-up bonus worth 1,000 points.
* Renewal bonus worth 1,000 points.
* Discounts on selected books and non-book items on specific occasions.
* Free gift-wrapping service on special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Graduation.
* Free email alerts on in-store promotions and events.
* Discounts and freebies from partner establishments.
* Pre-sale privilege at the annual Cut Price Book Sale.
* Free premium item for every P1,000 accumulated purchase during the program’s anniversary month (October).
* Special privilege during in-store events, i.e. free entrance ticket for one companion.
* Exclusive Quick Shop Service for a minimum purchase amount worth P1,000.

Earning Points

Members may earn points for purchases in any National Book Store branch. Purchases valid to earn points are all books and non-book products, such as magazines, gift-wrapping materials, etc., services, such as photocopying, laminating, etc.

Purchase of items on sale is also valid for points. Points will be credited after the discount.

Purchases using the Laking National Gift Certificate or e-Purse as payment shall earn no point. Purchases of National Book Store Gift Certicates with cash or credit card will be awarded points. However, purchases using the National Book Store Gift Certificate as payment shall earn no point.

Wholesale purchases with wholesale discount are not valid for earning points.

The Laking National card must be presented upon reaching the cashier for payment to earn points. No card, no points.


e-Purse may be used to pay for purchases at any National Book Store branch, except for the purchase of NBS Gift Certificates. The member may choose the e-Purse amount to be used for payment. The remaining amount can be used at another time.

Only the member is authorized to redeem his/her e-Purse. NBS reserves the right to require the member to present a valid ID upon redemption.

E-Purse value can be used only during the validity of the card. The unused e-Purse value or points of an expired card will be transferred to the new card upon renewal, provided the card is renewed within one (1) month from the expiry date.


The Laking National card is valid for three (3) years. The expired card should be surrendered at Customer Service for renewal. A processing fee of P100 will be charged.

Points earned by cardholders who do not renew within one (1) month from the expiry date will be forfeited. Any Laking National account that is dormant for a period of three (3) consecutive years will be cancelled and all accumulated points and e-Purse value in the card will be forfeited.

Card Replacements

To replace a faulty card, surrender the card at any NBS Customer Service Counter and complete the application form. Faulty cards issued by NBS will be replaced for free.

To replace a lost card, present a valid ID at any NBS Customer Service Counter and complete the application form. A processing fee of P100.00 will be charged. The card validity will also be adjusted by adding three (3) years. For example, a member lost his card on June 1, 2006 and expiration date of the card is December 1, 2007. When the member applies for a card replacement on July 1, 2006, the new card that would be issued to the member will have the expiration date moved to July 1, 2009.

Replacement of cards damaged due to the cardholder’s mishandling will also be charged a P100.00 replacement fee. The same rule regarding the expiration date stated above applies.

Points and e-Purse values in lost cards will be transferred to the new card.

Updating Member Information

Members are responsible for informing National Book Store of any changes in relevant personal information such as home address, email address, mobile phone, last name etc. Members may send the information via email at

General Conditions

* Your Laking National Smart Card is not transferable, including your points and e-Purse earned.
* The loyalty points reflected in National Book Store’s records and the member’s card shall be considered official.
* National Book Store has the right to determine the point value for every peso spent.
* Membership in the program may be revoked at any time should abuse, fraud, failure to follow the terms and conditions, or any misinterpretation prejudicial to the program take place. Those whose memberships have been revoked are ineligible to the rights and benefits of the program.
* Should the Laking National loyalty program be cancelled, the remaining e-Purse value must be used within 90 days from the date of cancellation. Remaining points equivalent to less than P10 e-Purse value shall be cancelled.
* National Book Store will forfeit any earned Laking National points of items returned.
* National Book Store’s failure to enforce a particular term, condition, or guideline does not constitute a continuing waiver of the term and condition.
* Laking National members are subject to these Terms and Conditions and are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions upon signing the Laking National application form.

The Pros: A point system that’s convertible to cash, easy and affordable application for a Laking National Card (no need to upgrade), 20% off on the selected book of the month (right now it’s Angels and Demons) and a wide range of items to rack up points on!

The Cons:

National Book Store clerks don’t always ask if you have your card and just go ahead and punch in your purchases.

3) Fully Booked’s Book Perks Card – I actually just got it this week, because for two years now I’ve been contemplating how I can accumulate P15,000 to get one or shell out P700 for it. I’ve been holding back on Fully Booked purchases because I didn’t have the card yet, but now all impediments (other than the financial one) have been removed: I finally got my Book Perks card today (thanks to a fellow booklover), and it came with a 20% discount voucher too! Sweet!

Here’s some more info on the card, from the Fully Booked website:

Enjoy the perks of a Fully Booked Discount card by getting a 10% discount for cash purchases and 5% discount for credit card purchases on selected items.

Option 1: Customers with a total purchase of P10,000 on a single receipt will be automatically included in our discount card list.

Option 2: For accumulated purchases, a customer may avail his discount after reaching P15,000 within a year.

Option 3: Or just pay P700 and enjoy your perks instantly.

Discounts not applicable on magazines, office supplies and consigned items.

Fully Booked Discount Card Terms and Conditions:

1. A customer can apply for a Fully Booked Discount Card through any of the following ways:

a. One-time single-receipt purchase worth P10,000
b. Accumulation of receipts worth P15,000
c. Purchase of discount card for P700

Applicants must present a valid ID.

2. Each cardholder shall be issued a Fully Booked Discount Card, which is valid for 2 years from the date of issuance.

3. The Fully Booked Discount Card entitles cardholders to a 10% on cash purchases and a 5% discount on credit card purchases on selected items only. The discount does not apply to magazines, office supplies, CD’s, DVD’s, consigned items and gift certificates. Furthermore, no discount applies to purchases paid with gift certificates.

4. Unless otherwise stated, the Discount Card is not valid in conjunction with other promotions and discounts, or with direct sales discounts.

5. Cardholders must present their card to avail of the discount. No card, no discount. Discounts may not be applied retroactively to any prior purchases.

6. The Fully Booked Discount Card is non-transferable and may be used only by the individual whose signature appears on the card. Fully Booked may request for proper identification with regard to Discount Card transactions.

7. The Fully Booked Discount Card is valid only for use in Fully Booked, Fully Booked Express, Sketch Books and Bibliarch stores. It is not valid for purchases made on

8. Fully Booked reserves the right to: (a) amend the Fully Booked Discount Card privileges and these terms and conditions, (b) to decline the renewal of any Fully Booked Discount Card membership without prior notice at the sole discretion of Sketch Books, Inc, and (c) cancel, modify or restrict the Discount Card program at any time, without prior notice.

9. To replace a lost card, cardholder should present a valid ID at the Customer Service counter of any Fully Booked branch and pay the replacement fee of P100.

10. Fully Booked reserves the right to withdraw, suspend or terminate any Fully Booked Discount Card membership, and refuse any re-issue or replacement of any Fully Booked Discount Cards on reasonable grounds. Reasonable grounds shall include (a) any abuse or attempted abuse of the Fully Booked Discount Card scheme, or (b) any use or attempted abuse of a Fully Booked Discount Card otherwise than in accordance with these terms and conditions, or (c) any reasonable suspicion of dishonesty on the part of the Cardholder in connection with the Fully Booked Discount Card membership scheme.

11. The Fully Booked Discount Card is the property of Sketch Books, Inc. If found please return to Fully Booked at 902 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

12. CARDHOLDER PRIVACY. By becoming a Fully Booked Discount Card cardholder, you agree to receive the Fully Booked eZine, advertising, marketing materials and other communications from Fully Booked. From time to time, Fully Booked may send you promotions and offers from carefully screened third-party marketing partners. Your personal information will not be sold or shared with aforeme
ntioned third parties.

The Pros: Ten percent discount for cash purchases, five percent for credit card purchases

The Cons: Not easy to acquire (again, P10,000 outright purchase, P15,000 in one year or P700 — this is why it took me a long time to get one!), no point accumulation system, not valid for sale periods, and only valid for two years!


Squee!!! Finally I have all three of them! I’m partial to the Laking National Card, but I’m sure my Fully Booked Card will be used a lot this year, and I will be renewing my Powercard Plus. More books for me!

Now if only there was a privilege card for Book Sale I’d be the first in line to get one…

They don’t make them like they used to

Romance novels were very big with the girls in my high school, and it was then when I read all the Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood romance novels I could get my hands on. These days, I’ve outgrown the romance novel phase, but I still read them once in a while, for that happily-ever-after fix.
Judith McNaught’s Every Breath You Take (book #77 for 2009) came out in 2005, way after I finished high school, but I didn’t get myself a copy until recently, because it was available on BookMooch.  

The book takes us back to Chicago, back where McNaught’s popular Paradise is set. William Wyatt, grandson of wealthy philanthropist goes missing, and the police suspect foul play, casting suspicion on William’s estranged half-brother, Mitchell Wyatt.

Kate Donovan meets Mitchell Wyatt on the tropical island of Anguilla, and a romantic encounter develops between them. Kate soon finds herself entangled in a web of deception and a high-profile murder, and must struggle to keep herself and her loved ones alive.

I’m not particularly keen on how Judith McNaught (and Julie Garwood) have left behind their old styles and jumped towards writing romance thrillers. I’m a romance purist, because when I read a romance novel, it’s really for the gushy, awwww-inducing sappiness of it and I don’t really appreciate how they’ve complicated it.

Every Breath You Take does have some Judith McNaught trademarks – the momentous one-liners (usually containing the title of the book), the to-die-for leading man, the spirited female, and the good dynamics between the leads, but you have to read through all the high-drama murder to get to the good parts.

There’s another Judith McNaught novel that came out fairly recently but I haven’t read yet: Someone to Watch Over Me. There’s actually a hardcover copy of it waiting in my TBR pile, but I’m not looking forward to it because it’s another romance thriller and the plot sounds more complicated than I’m willing to commit to.

Sigh. They really don’t make romance novels like they used to.

My copy: mass market paperback, local mooch, upgraded into hardcover with dust jacket, mooched from the US

My rating: 3/5 stars