Posted by : Ruby Escalona Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Death by Garrote is the third book in the Looking Back series by Ambeth Ocampo. But not to worry, you don't need to buy Looking Back 1 and 2 before you appreciate Looking Back 3. They are all standalone books which comprise of a series of editorial articles that Ambeth Ocampo wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer which revolve around Philippine history. These articles do not necessarily just delve in the heroes of the past, but also of various foods, establishments, and so much more!

I was introduced in the Looking Back series when I was at Ambeth Ocampo's talk at the Ayala Museum last August 14th, 2010. I bought a copy of Looking Back 2 to have signed, and was instantly hooked!

What I absolutely loved about the Looking Back series is that they provide short glimpses of Philippine History without being too boring! They were written in such a way that is entertaining, informative, and fun! Unlike some of the other history books I read when I was younger [flashback of my Araling Panlipunan days back in high school where I fall asleep], this book would definitely interest you in Philippine history. I know it peaked my interest, and yes, I was also insistent on peaking my mom's interest that I kept badgering her with some questions about who was the president during her time, the food she ate, what it was like strolling through Quiapo and Sta. Cruz and how they compare to today. Okay, back to the book. I also loved that some old photos were incorporated in the book. Something that is very difficult to find now.

I learned while reading that these articles was researched thoroughly by the author, and maybe someday someone would browse through his notes and make a living out of his research [Hmm.... I may have to find those notes and trawl through them]. And yes, that particular note made me want to stand up from my seat and go directly to the Lopez Memorial Museum in Ortigas, and the dumdum in me initially did not know where it was until the wonder that is Google pointed me in the right direction. [Note: Rosie, if you are reading this, please can we go there on our historical tour this 2011?]

Oh, another noteworthy thing about the books, the title of Looking Back 2 and 3 is already an overview of the first few articles presented. In Looking Back 2, it was about Mabini's dancing [could you ever imagine, our most precious hero, dancing? Normally we just associate him with his wheelchair], and in Looking Back 3, it was all about the garrote. [Another note: Frankly, I also never knew what a garrote was. Uh.. dumdum moment again!! Thanks again to Google and this book to erase the stupid factor in me].

Can I just say - when is the next book out?? At 100 pages, it is enough to leave you hanging and wanting more. So, while there are no books out yet, you can discover some of the other Ambeth Ocampo books available in the local bookstores. 

So, overall, this is a must read book. You may not be a history buff to appreciate all the articles, but maybe after reading this, you'll get to learn more about Philippine history and look at our heroes and past differently.

Published: 2010
Available From: All local bookstores! [I checked National Bookstore & Powerbooks and they already have a copy of this. Not sure about Fully Booked but I'm sure they have this also]
Publisher: Anvil Publishing
Book was: Provided by Anvil Publishing for review. Many thanks also for Gege and Honey for offering :) 
Read it if: You want to know more about Philippine history. I know, I would!
Rating: I loved it, one of my favourite reads of the year [5/5]

One Response so far.

  1. limraul says:

    Found your review article through Ambeth Ocampo's facebook status post. Though I haven't bought any books by Mr. Ocampo, I am an avid fan and I read his Inquirer columns whenever I come across them. Just want to say, this is a compelling review of his book. Makes me want to buy it. More power.

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