Bob Ong is one of the most influential and best writers in the country. He creates such unique pieces that you can’t compare one of his books to another, and every piece he writes comes out as unpredictable and spontaneous as can be. He’s well known for his comedy books like “Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino”, but I’d like to shed a little more light on his underrated horror novel dubbed “Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan”.
This novel is written as journal entries by a teenager named “Galo”,who wrote it in informal Taglish, supposedly as a project for one of his professors. In it he writes down his experiences in Mama Susan’s (also his grandmother) house in the province. He normally heared footsteps or experienced weird things happening in the statue filled house. His grandmother is the leader of the religious group in their province, thus the presence of life-size statues of saints, which they regularly offer food to. He later realizes that two children – Niko and Jezel (the children of Mama Susan’s old maid) were responsible for these things. The story goes on with the three trying to uncover the mysteries that were tied to Mama Susan and her cult, and the story reaches its climax when Galo starts seeing foreign language texts written on his journal, which he claimed he did not write. The book ends with a cliffhanger – Mama Susan’s death and Galo writing his last journal entry as he notices that someone else was writing with him in a language he was not familiar with.
“Isusulat ko sa harapan bibigkasin hindi mo dumarating mabubuhay na magmuling kordero Isusulat… Me luminibus nocte exstinctis omnino videbis. Tibi soli semper adero. Nos una in aeternum coniuncti erimusaAngs umulat nitoay sa akin. Ang nagbabasa nitoay saakin. Ik a w ay pinili. N araramdam an mo ba angm a higpit nayakap sa iyonga yon ng isangka ibigan?”
Bob Ong struggled to keep the novel from the perspective of a teenager but an avid Bon Ong reader can notice that as the book nears its end, a few glimpses of Ong’s writing style is slowly becoming obvious. But overall, this novel has just the right amount of suspense, mystery, and thrill to make it a good, if not great, read all in all. With its journal entry kind of writing and easy to understand Taglish, this is the perfect book for someone who’s just beginning to read Filipino literature. The way it’s written brings the reader into a world within the novel, it’s as if the reader is the author and he/she is rereading what he/she wrote. It may seem a bit boring at first but the story picks up somewhere around the middle, and when it does, the pace just keeps getting faster and faster, until it comes to an abrupt end.