Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marikina Book Mini-Critique

Below is a partial reproduction of a mini-critique of the book, "The Will To Change: Marikina and Its Innovations," published by the Ateneo School of Government and the Marikina City government. The evaluation was made by Dr. Isagani Cruz, a multi-awarded English and Filipino writer and a founder of the Manila Critics Circle. The whole book is downloadable in 4 parts from the School of Government website. Click Resources then Research Papers & Publications.

Marikina, the Book
by Isagani Cruz
(The Philippine Star) August 13, 2009

Here are excerpts from my speech during the launching last month of *The Will to Change: Marikina and Its Innovations*, edited by Dennis T. Gonzalez:

Literary critics talk about a book in terms of the five elements of the reading experience, namely, how a book mirrors the reality of its subject, how it expresses what its creators want to say, how it affects its readers, how it continues the tradition of books of its kind, and how it is put together as a text.

How does the book mirror the reality of Marikina the city? Marikina is the most competitive city in the National Capital Region, one of the top three most competitive cities in the country, one of the most business-friendly cities, one of the healthiest cities, one of four model cities in
infrastructure, one of the most liveable cities, and so on. It is well on its way to attaining its dream of becoming a Little Singapore. Does the book mirror that reality? Is the book well-organized, neat, tasteful, efficient, customer-friendly or reader-friendly, just like the city? My answer is simply *yes*.

How does the book express what its publishers, editor, and writers want to say? Very simply, they wanted to say that other cities should learn from Marikina. It’s really a how-to book – how to manage a city, how to remove corruption, how to instil discipline, how to attract business, and so on. The book is designed like a manual, a do-it-yourself guide for mayors and other urban leaders. Does it express what it wants to express? My answer is simply *yes*.

How does the book affect its readers? We have to wait until the readers themselves will vote with their wallets (if they buy the book), or with their time (if they sit down to go over the whole book), or with their comments (if they communicate these to the publishers). I live in Alabang
and I’m perfectly happy there, but if I had to save money for a house all over again, I would want to settle in Marikina. So if you asked me if the book affected me the way it’s supposed to affect me, my answer would simply be *yes*.

How does the book continue the tradition of books of its kind? Ordinarily, that kind of judgment would be done by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critics Circle. *The bad news is that the editor heads the NBDB, so this book is automatically disqualified from receiving a National Book Award.*

To confirm that it compares well with books on other cities, just put it on the same bookshelf as those other books and see which book browsers will pick up. It’s safe to bet on this book. Is the book firmly in the tradition of inspirational and informational books about cities? My answer is simply *yes*.

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