“I’m gonna take the stone of Sisyphus. I’m gonna roll it back to you.”

Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine MythologyAlternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology by Paolo Chikiamco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In his introduction, editor Paolo Chikiamco spells out the payoff and the problems involved in putting together an anthology of remixed Filipino myths. “We are a nation of many indigenous cultures–numbering anywhere from sixty to over a hundred, depending on who you ask–with distinct oral traditions.” There are resources and strategies aimed at sussing all this out (see the appendices at the end of the book); guideposts to avenues of research in which even some Filipino scholars fear to tread. In the end though, the most meaningful way to relate to these myths (or those of any culture’s, for that matter) is through story.

Some stories were weaker than others, as can be expected, but even these had something to offer–one in particular that I thought might’ve been the weakest might have had the best writing. These stories seemed to share a similar overall flaw IMO: the focus on the inscrutability and strangeness of the supernatural characters who didn’t seem to be too bothered by it one way or the other. (An attitude that seems distinctly un-Filipino).

The anthology really picks up steam in its latter half, though. The better stories weren’t just simple retellings, but remixings and straight mash-ups of various myths, time periods, genres, and even modes of storytelling. One of my favorite pieces has an ending which cleverly hinges on the blending of Christianity and folk belief for which the Philippines is famous.

All in all, an easy 4 stars for me.

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