Hanggang sa Muli – book review

Homecoming stories for the Filipino soul

Filipino and English are the official languages of the Philippines. Filipino is a de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Manila and other urban areas where the phrase Hanggang sa Muli might be heard.

In English “Until we meet again” is a collection of essays, poems and stories from the Filipino diaspora, which is a considerable one. The Philippines has a population of more than 92 million with an additional 11 million or so Filipinos living overseas. That could constitute a lot of homecomings.

Hanggang sa muliHanggang sa Muli sensitively considers the reflections of Filipinos who live away from their motherland. They yearn for the taste of home, the smell of home, the sound of home, and they wonder where is home? Am I the same person here as when I am at home?

We all move house from time to time and we are reminded that moving is right up there with such adventures as divorce and death. We arrive at an unfamiliar building, try to remember where we put the cat, and feel ourselves very savvy when we find the airing cupboard. But our neighbours still look like us and speak like us, and Tesco’s is just where you would expect it to be. Yes, we have been very brave.

Hanggang sa Muli reminds us of the anxieties and practicalities of cross-cultural moving. Filipinos have faced racism and hardships as do any migrant group, but those featured in this book are eloquent and imaginative in their discourse. We eavesdrop on conversations and memories of first impressions and unromantic reality. The writers have Filipino accents but their words are those of so many transplanted souls.

Homesickness Bequeathed (Tricia J. Capistrano) offers us the concerns of those who have children. Should one stay in one’s adoptive home and rarely return, to avoid confusing the children, or should one return often in order to acquaint the kids with their cultural roots? The author points out that the latter choice offers its own hazards, with the possibility of second-generation Filipinos being just as likely to say “I wish I was home” in either country. Could two homes become “never home”?

Hanggang sa Muli – Homecoming stories for the Filipino soul is a book by Filipinos and it will have instant appeal for all scattered Filipinos; but look beyond that exotic title and we find a book for so many of us. Well-written and poignant anecdotes, observations on mankind in general and thought-provoking scenarios that encourage “what if that was me?” pondering.

In The Laughter of my Father (Carlos Bulosan) a father gives his son these moving parting words: “Remember in America that I am your father. Don’t forget I touched you at birth.”

Hanggang sa Muli – Homecoming stories for the Filipino soul
Available at Tahanan Books. Visit here


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Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018