Batangas: My Sky and Earth will be available for purchase on the bookstore shortly.
Batangas: My Sky and Earth
An Intimate Recollection and Reflection of My Childhood in the Philippines
When Bong Serrano learned that his older brother, Boying, had cancer, the notes he had jotted down about his childhood took on new meaning. Memories of his time with his family in the Philippines came rushing back. At the center of those memories were the precious moments he’d spent with his Kuya. Faced with his brother’s impending death, Bong asked himself: “What if one day I lose my memories? Who will remember us?” Thus began Bong’s yearslong journey of immortalizing not only his childhood but also his country’s history and traditions. Bong grew up in the southern province of Batangas, on Luzon Island. Batangas: My Sky and Earth is a celebration of that childhood. This memoir takes you into a world made rich by the intricate descriptions of life in the Philippines in the 1970s and ’80s, where the family unit is close, and many households are multigenerational. From family dynamics to church duties to delicious food and the inevitable annual typhoons, Bong invites you to experience his culture from the inside. Throughout this memoir, Bong honors his childhood home and country and the memory of his beloved brother. The choice to interweave Tagalog throughout this book’s pages helps to steep the story in Filipino culture further. A whole village raised this boy, and as Bong looks back on his childhood, the lessons he learned come to the foreground: clarity, forgiveness, tradition, and love.
“The instructions read, ‘Dump the monkeys onto the table. Pick up one monkey by the arm. Hook another arm through a second monkey’s arm. Continue making a chain. Your turn is over when you drop a monkey.’ Most of my childhood at the house on Arce Subdivision had been like that, constantly linking monkeys together and anticipating something going wrong.” —The author’s reflection on his Barrel of Monkeys “Bong Serrano’s musings in ‘Batangas’ beautifully evoke memories for Filipinos and take them on a journey down memory lane. His narration weaves an intricate tale of his life journey in an idyllic province filled with playgrounds, corner stores, and narrow streets leading to majestic mountains and bustling creeks. As a Batangueño myself, his vivid recollections from childhood to adolescence deeply resonate with me.” —Celeste Dimaculangan, a childhood schoolmate “Bong Serrano’s writing is a captivating journey that not only illuminates his personal experiences but also brings to life the rustic and familiar places of Batangas. His rich storytelling style effortlessly transports me back to ‘Old Town Batangas,’ reacquainting me with long forgotten yet recognizable faces of our contemporaries.” —Roberto David Loyola, a family friend
Bong Serrano describes himself as a Batangueño, someone who grew up in Batangas, in the Philippines. This, his first book, was a labor of love that he hopes will inspire readers to immerse themselves in a bygone Filipino life and take them back to their childhood memories, wherever they may come from. Though Bong has lived in Canada for many years, he regularly returns to Batangas to visit family and friends, maintaining those connections he holds dear. In his free time, Bong loves sharing stories, listening to music, taking long walks along the seawall, cooking adobo, and watching Asian dramas. He lives in Vancouver with his life partner of thirty years. Connect with Bong on his website at bongserrano.com.
- Bong Serrano
- Lisa Fukushima