Kwento ng Pag-Ibig, Pangarap, at Pag-asa.
A simple story with a simple premise—Ethan and Maylie meet and spend one magical day together exploring the beauty of Pila, Laguna. The book, written in beautiful, yet light Tagalog, with modern colloquial words included, had me wishing for a time in my life when a stroll together with a friend in a quaint rural town was the highlight of my day. It took me back to the innocence and simplicity of youth and it helped me appreciate a language that I am not comfortable myself using when I write. So kudos to Amae Dechavez for relating this story using our national language, but making it relatable to people like me who are not used to writing or reading in that language. I learned a couple of new Tagalog words in the process too.
Back to the story, Ethan and Maylie are endearing, and their simple conversations and kulitan held my interest from start up to the finish—and yes, it made me want to read the next book just to see where their relationship would go. It also reminded me of life in the province, and how the simplest of situations could be a goldmine for feels.
Hindi madali ang buhay estudyante, hindi rin madali ang magmahal.
The story takes off from when Ethan and Maylie meet again, this time in U.P. Los Baños, where Ethan is a freshman college student and Maylie is working at the school library. While the first book was about their friendship and the blossoming of love, this book is about the flush of the first days of their relationship as boyfriend-girlfriend and the upheavals they go through when they encounter their first real big issue as a couple.
Amae continues her effortless story-telling in Tagalog and I love that I was given a tour around the UPLB campus. It made me yearn for my college days again, and although I went to another UP campus, the overall ambience of the state university still called out to me in this book.
There are already hints of more adult problems in the horizon, but this book maintains the innocence of the first one and I felt like rooting for Ethan and Maylie, young as they still are, so that their love for each other would flourish and transcend all boundaries. They still have a lot of growing up to do, and reality has a way of testing the best of relationships, but maybe they will get their “forever.” It might be interesting to know what happens after college, would they still be together? Maybe a Book 3, Amae?
I recommend reading the two books one after the other, because they just can’t be read without the other, to get the whole picture of the two main characters and their relationship. Expect to read a lot about Pila, Laguna and UP Los Baños, and about college life, family, Filipino customs and values. And yes, both books are in Tagalog, but don’t be daunted by this, if you are used to English-language stories. Both books are a good read, and reading them is just like a bike ride under the late-afternoon sun with a cool breeze blowing through your hair and the sound of your laughter trailing behind you.
As Ethan would say, “Tara, basahin niyo na!”
About the Author
Amae Dechavez was born in Quezon City, Philippines to a mother from Baguio and father from Quezon Province. She studied Child Daycare Management from Penn Foster, and currently resides, with her dog within the suburbs of Metro Manila.