It's Banned Books Week this last week of September and I just remember back when I was still teaching literature in our conservative provincial town.
In my first year of teaching, right after I just graduated from a university known for activism and left-wing ideologies, there would be senior professors listening in while they unsuccessfully hide behind the walls and windows of my classroom. As I encouraged students to think critically about their gender roles, social equality, freedom of expression & religion, and introduce some age-appropriate concepts from Western philosophical views and pushed books that are on this 'Banned Book' list which have themes too big and far modern back then for our town and probably even now, I was aware of the career risks I was taking but somehow I endured.
Seven years in the academe, more than a decade ago. I wish I can go back in that classroom and do so much more ... And maybe invite those professors who hid behind the wall to my class 😁
Teacher forever 🤓
What is Banned Book Week? Why do we celebrate it.
Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books and highlights persecuted individuals. Held during the last week of September since 1982, the United States campaign "stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them"and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. ( Wikipedia)
Here's some list and check what you have read.
American Library Association List
Banned Books That Shaped America
America's Most Surprising Banned Books
And here's an article by Michael Tan in Philippine Daily Inquirer about banned books. Michael Tan article
Truth be told, I watched Les Miserables not for its Hollywood trappings, but in memory of the heroism of the great Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros of 1896. Victor Hugo's novel from which the musical, and subsequently the film, was based from was among the books that inspired Bonifacio to launch the Philippine revolution.
I didn't sob as the blonde in front of me did neither did I feel sorry for the tragedy of Eponine's unrequited love. I was focused more on the poverty of the times, and how social injustice can turn innocence into scum. I cringe at how women were punished more for indecency while men were condoned. I saw how children were unlikely victims of the abhorrent crimes, legal and social injustices. While reading the original french novel, Bonifacio probably drew similarities between the 18th century France and the 19th century Philippines that strenghtened (or inspired) his conviction to lay his life for the cause of the country.
After the movie, the song of the young rebels continues on in my head. I can just imagine the song coming out of Bonifacio's mouth.
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!
On top of joining the movie audience's collective sorrow for the death of the rebels, I felt pangs of guilt knowing that if I lived during Bonifacio's time or had lived anytime when a revolution is raging, I would have been like those characters in the movie who chose to keep their doors shut behind any radical movement.
I'm an immigrant who chose to leave its country in turmoil, what would you expect?
The Supreme Leader of the Philippine Revolution Against Western Imperialism
“It is ironic that many Filipinos learn to love the Philippines while abroad, not at home.”
― Ambeth Ocampo
, Rizal Without the Overcoat