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A Book Review of "nation, Self, and Citizenship"

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When Things Go Though, Ask Randy

A book review of "Nation, Self, and Citizenship"

I. Theoretical Framework

If a person reads the book "Nation, Self, and Citizenship" by Randolf S. David, one would gain a general idea on the Philippine situation, oneself, and how oneself is situated in the nation. In addition to that, the very nature of the book, a collection of articles categorized and grouped in three main topics, makes it easy to read and easy to digest. Moreover, the author does this in a very conversational manner or sometimes in a storytelling fashion. And these are the reasons why the book succeeds in conveying to its audiences its messages and teachings.

Looking it at a micro level, one can't help but find similarities with how the articles are structured. Like in the popular children's series Harry Potter, the book acts like a bowl of "pensive" into the memories and thoughts of Prof. David. For most of the articles, the author initially sets the tone and context by giving a quick background or history of the topic. This may come in the form of an anecdote, quote, related news, or just a plain reverie. After which he then proceeds to layout the main problem or agenda and subtopics that are necessary and/or pertinent to the matter at hand. Next, he gives a solution or a comparison (in the hope of arriving to a solution) or just pinpointing the root of the problem. He usually gives his insights and opinions on the matter in this area. After that, he closes the article with a thought, quotation, or something to ponder on; most of which would incite emotions or actions. This framework/structure appears in several articles such as "Who's Afraid Globalization", "Looking Back at Edsa", "The Powerless Public", and many more. One would notice that this follows the basic form of storytelling and follows the graph such as in Figure 1.1. With such a basic framework, the author doesn't have to worry about losing his audience or appear to preach, which some people don't want. This also gives him a lot of chance to inject his comments and thoughts as the article progresses to the different areas of the topic. It is also good to note that in an article, the author cites several quotations and ideas from renowned philosophers to make his arguments more credible. One would also notice a subliminal theme of hoping for a better nation. Some of the articles he wrote uses different perspectives and through different lenses. An example of this is in the article " Dogtown: Memories of the 1904 World's Fair" where the author emphasized how others perceived us then and now. The author also used several similar situations of other nations as comparisons. Most of which other nations have surpassed and succeeded, but some have a more somber and foreboding tone. One such example of triumph that the nation could emulate was of the Zapatistas and the Mexican government. On the other hand, an example of a more somber situation was of Mang Pandoy. In the hope of trying to rationalize and conceptualize a given situation, Prof. David gives brief histories and roots of a topic. In the example of the Moro Problem, the author uses the long history of the Moro People to bring into context what their culture has endured for them to act as such. After which, he then gives opinions and critiques on our current situation. He does not blatantly say that it should be like this or that, but he does it in a subtle way of suggestion and examples. This is a good thing since the real aim of the author is not for a specific change, but review of the situation and hopefully a dialogue ensues and a peaceful solution will be reached. This was elegantly exemplified in the article "Postmodern Bandits"; the author did not outright say that the Moros involved are bandits or outlaws, but he slowly put the audience in their shoes and showed them their situation. He then closes most articles usually by leaving an open-ended thought that effectively makes the audience think for themselves. One of the more poignant closings in the book was in the article "Our Children All". Here, the author closed the article with the thought that the nation have placed more effort sensationalizing the deaths of other children but forgot that the perpetrators themselves are the nation's children too.

Figure 1.1

On a superficial level, this kind of structure makes it easier for the readers to digest and absorb the articles; without having to worry about the specific details, but just having this general feeling or emotions after reading the articles. On a more intellectual level, recognizing this basic structure would provide the users easier means to deconstruct the articles and be able to analyze the root of the problem and hopefully arrive to a solution. Either way, the way the articles were structured makes it for the users, may it be for light reading or heavy analysis, to achieve their goals.

After looking at the micro level structure of the book, one can then compare it at the macro perspective of the theoretical framework/s behind the book. The author sets the scene by laying down theories on Nationhood and after that Selfhood, both of which were tackled independently. He fashioned both as such that the audience will be taken in a journey through the different aspects of nationhood and selfhood; namely, the core (Situating the Filipino Nation and The Constitution of the Self and Identity), the relationships (Affinities and Identities and Self Identity and Collective Memory), and the institutions around it (Institutions in Flux and Institutional Embodiment of the Self). There is also a recurring theme of situating both nation and self through the different settings of time and situation of the world: traditional, modern, postmodern, and globalization. For most parts, the readers would come to conclude that the author is trying to relate the nation and the self as according to the settings they operate in. The last major part of the book involves synthesizing both Nation and the Self. The first subcategory involves mainly the nation; how the people in it imagine the nation and what they hope for it. After the first category, the author tackles how the people still want to have personal autonomy in spite of being part of a nation. Lastly, the readers will find that they can indeed strike a balance between the first and second theories; and it comes in the form of Citizenship. Being a citizen has its benefits and challenges, and the author describes some of them in the last part of the book. He tends to give guidelines on how to become a good and a responsible



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