The king of the blog humorists, Nicanor David a.k.a Batjay launched his second blook recently.For the occasion, he went straight from the airport to Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street, wearing his Spiderman shirt. There’s a long line of people clutching the yellow copies of “Mga Kwento ng Batang Kaning Lamig” and he obliges with personalized dedications, with matching cartoon drawings pa.
We asked him if he flew all the way from California for the launching, and he says not really. He foremostly wanted to see his beloved mother. Growing up, Batjay was a “batang kaning lamig” and the book’s title is driven by memories of him hanging out with his friends, highlighted by eating sessions where they would eat cold rice served by his mother, amid big steaming hot bowls of sinigang.
Anyway, Batjay’s book is so handy and funny that I don’t have it anymore. Somebody snitched it!! Here’s the full text of my article as it appeared on Manila Bulletin yesterday:
THE SECOND COMING OF BATJAY
Book authors are crossing over to the blogosphere and having their own websites, in an apparent bid to widen their reach. After all, everybody who matters is online these days. On the other hand, there are a handful of bloggers who are crossing over to the media and the publishing world, in an effort to also widen their reach and influence. No harm there, ’tis a free country.
Bloggers who’ve managed to publish their own books are few and far in between. It takes somebody like humorist Nicanor David Jr., more popularly known as Batjay, to gain acceptance from his blogging peers and people from all walks of life who aren’t necessarily connected to the internet. This is the reason why just a year after he launched his maiden book that was adapted from his blog, another publishing house was ready to take Batjay in its wings.The result is ” Mga Kwento ng Batang Kaning Lamig” launched by Fox Literary House Inc. last April 14. Fox is one of those raring, upstart publishers willing to give young writers a break and accommodate non-conventional genres. At the time we interviewed the California-based Batjay, he was the lone blogger (read: new media publisher) sharing the limelight with a few twenty-something authors who wrote a collection of erotic fiction and some chick lit.
“Mga Kwento ng Batang Kaning Lamig” was sold out in no time. Having bought myself a copy of the slim, 92-page volume of anecdotes and imaginary conversations, it’s easy to see why. Batjay’s story is about the Philippines’ OFW diaspora, told in a funny way.There are many of us who can relate, as either we have worked abroad or know of a parent, sister, uncle, neighbor and classmate who does. It’s true that the Philippine economy will simply sink without its overseas workers’ remittances, but the real story is the distinctive OFW “culture” that has developed as a result. Yes, OFW’s , when gathered together, have a mouthful of observations to make of their respective adoptive countries. Or, as Batjay attests, they simply laugh their homesickness blues away, as this example from his book (or blook) shows
AKO : I will fucks you a copy of my proposal
AMERIKANO: It’s fax. “Faaaaax!”
AKO: Sorry. I will faaax you a copy of my proposal. Three shits total.
AMERIKANO : It’s sheets. “Sheeeets!”
AKO : Packing sheet
It is really hard to translate Batjay’s Tagalog jokes because as he himself admits, Filipino humor can’t be carried over as effectively to another language. This is after all what makes us unique as a people, the very thing that unites us.
He minces no words and offers no apologies for his irreverent humor, which is no-holds-barred and is direct to the point.
“My style is one you can never use or discuss in a formal conversation. This is a kind of language that you will just hear on the streets – malutong at bastos pero down to earth at makatotohanan, walang pretense,” the blogger-turned-author says.No worries, because Batjay’s book just happens to be required reading in a creative writing class at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.Award-winning writer Jun Cruz Reyes calls it “creative non-fiction.”
After all, where else can you find witty titles like ” It’s not how you pick your nose, it’s where you put the booger that counts,” or, ” The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends.” Batjay engages readers by his musings about living and working in the US, and writing an imaginary advice column called “Dear Unkyel Batjay” where the author fires off sane (and insane) advice. The words, even though funny, turn out to be wise and philosophical on second thought.
Okay, we don’t wanna spoil the show. At only one hundred twenty pesos, Batjay’s book should be one of the wisest, most economical purchases you’re going to make this year. Read it and weep…from laughing.