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Haunting and affecting war novel is now in Filipino

Local bookstore The Bookmark, Inc. launches Pagbasag ng Katahimikan, a translation of Lourdes Montinola’s Breaking the Silence, which narrates the “most barbarous episode of the Pacific War.”
Editor and literary translator Randy Bustamante finds the war memoir worth telling because it teaches both history and creative writing.
“I used the original memoir in my creative writing classes and it occurred to me that more people—including those for whom English remains a foreign language—need to read this,” Bustamante explains.
While hundreds of history books tell stories about the Japanese’s role in our history, Breaking the Silence is one of the lesser known versions of the story. It is an account written by Far Eastern University chair emeritus Dr. Lourdes Reyes Montinola, a first-hand witness of the Japanese atrocities we heard and discussed in our classrooms, but, more importantly, it is also her story.
Montinola recalls having a hard time answering questions about the war and retelling the story felt like reliving each unfortunate event including her father’s death. At that time, some of her experiences can be described only by silence, until she found comfort in writing on her own journal.
“I’m glad that the story I wrote a few years back shows importance to today’s time, and I hope more Filipinos read and learn from it,” Montinola says. “It is by remembering the past that we can move forward.”
“My hope is that readers will find Pagbasag ng Katahimikan to have an even more visceral effect as it articulates a Filipino experience through the vocabulary, idiom, and music of the national language,”says Bustamante.
Bustamante’s previous projects for Bookmark include an English translation of Florante at Laura by Balagtas as well as a Filipino version of the Sea of Stories collection by Carla Pacis.

Pagbasag ng Katahimikan is available at bookstores nationwide.

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