Goodbye Madam Miriam

Miriam Defensor Santiago died at the age of 71.  This news shook me and brought me out of my work frenzy.  I was so busy at the the office.  Trying to finish as much paper work as I can when I decided to stop for a while and check my news app on my phone.  Surprised is an understatement.  While  I am well aware of her health conditions (she had a stage 4 lung cancer) I was optimistic that she will win this battle eventually.  I am so brokenhearted right now but I don’t have the luxury of time so I just decided to write a little about this great woman and her impact on the Filipino people.  She will always be remembered as a tough talker, intellectual public servant who will not cower to anyone.  She had a long and successful career in the government and even run for president during the recent presidential election. I voted for her even if I knew she was sick and the least likely candidate to win the race.  I voted for her because I believe in her.  She is one of a kind.  She always made a senate hearing exciting and lively. She is one of the few public officials that I respect and look up to.

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The Winner Stands Alone : not a review

I just finished reading my 10th book for the year.  I know. I am going too slow with my reading challenge progress.  I’m supposed to read (and finish) at least 30 books this year and I am currently 10 books behind.   For the past week I finished two books, not bad huh?  Hopefully I can finish another book before the new term starts ( I have one more week, the joy of the trimester system).

This is not a review, I don’t even know how to make one.  This is just me trying to put down into words the things that came into my mind when I was reading the novel.  There would be  spoilers though so be warned.

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This novel is about dreams; the lengths people are willing to go to and the price they are willing to pay just to achieve that dream; only to realize that fulfilling one dream will be never be enough and they end up slaves of their own need to do more, have more and earn more.   This is not about someone going after her dream, working hard for it and lived happily ever after. This is about human nature and how greed, fame and power consumed us.

Almost 90% of the novel revolved around setting up the final stage.  One by one the characters were introduced.  They are all interesting people and you might have met them all in your life.  Their personalities vary from the simplest to one of the most powerful people in the world aka the Superclass.

The novel tells us that:

  • Everything is just a facade. The glamour, the glitter, and all the fancy things, they are just there to hide the fact that everyone is suffering, that no one is truly free and everyone is just going through the motions, hoping that it will all end soon and they can finally do what they have always wanted to do, that they can finally be free but they are just fooling themselves.  The Superclass may appear like they have everything they could ever want or need but it’s just a front.  There’s always something shiny they want to buy, a bigger mansion, the latest car.  There’s always something they have to conquer after achieving something.  They seemed to the ones everyone is envious of but they have this void inside and hoped that maybe their power, fame and wealth can fill that void.
  • Fairy tales aren’t real, there is no such thing. No one wakes up one day with opportunities knocking at their door, presenting itself on a silver platter.  The Superclass never had it easy they struggle just like us.  However, they do have talent, skills, patience, determination and the grit to survive the hardest of situations. They had once dreamed of something, followed it, worked really hard, accepted the smallest chance given to them, give so much only to receive so little. They dreamed of getting their revenge someday but only the toughest will get it.

I don’t want to end up like Igor. Not just because he killed people for Ewa but because he believed that he can put his life with Ewa on hold while he was busy securing their financial stability.  He thought that he had it all figured out. He’ll work nonstop to achieve financial security until he longer have to worry about money and obligations and he can finally enjoy his time with Ewa.  He put a very important part of his life on hold never noticing that time passed him by so swiftly and that time has changed both him and Ewa. I don’t want to put  everything on hold while I was busy pursuing my ambitions, believing that I have enough time to do all the things I really want only to realize that there is no time left, that it’s too late. I vow that I will see to it that I do at least one thing that makes me truly happy everyday even if it’s as simple as eating my favorite food or browsing books in a library or bookstore.

It’s bad enough to read about serial killers but to know the victims first before they die is worse.   You know about their background, dreams, plans, you already like them then they’re dead, how George RR Martin.

There are some parts where it feels like Coelho was over describing everything and it would sound redundant.   There are also parts where the story kept my heart racing and my eyes is simply not fast enough to satisfy my curiosity like when I was so sure Igor will strike again and I was anxious to know who will fall this time; will it be Jasmine or Gabriella? And the confrontation between the three main characters; Igor, Ewa and Hamid was nerve-wracking.  I wasn’t sure whether Igor would kill both Ewa and Hamid or just one of them so that the other would suffer the loss.

I wasn’t clear why Igor believe that “destroying worlds” will be a clear message to Ewa. Maybe simply because he is a deranged sociopath and has his own version of  a perfect society.  He actually terrified me.  He is so unhinged from reality and doesn’t notice it.  He is so well versed in the art of killing and very wealthy he can basically get away with anything.

Another thing that felt like a lose string for me was the investigation of the killings.  Both Savoy and Morris are working really hard to solve the case (not that they care about the victims or justice but for the fame they will enjoy once they succeed) but its like they were forgotten at the end of the story.  Or probably that’s how it supposed to be.  My bad, for a while I thought I was reading a whodunit novel.

Paulo Coelho is one of my most favorite authors because he effortlessly tells a story while successfully interjecting thought-provoking questions.    I just love how his story flows.