Bob Ong’s Mac Arthur

Bob Ong's Mac Arthur


I go for books and movies that will leave me feeling good about life.  I have bought a couple of Bob Ong books months ago and has just started reading some of them thinking of all the rave reviews about Bob Ong’s literary works. 

There is nothing amusing about being poor and uneducated.  There is nothing exciting about running away from authorities just so you can save your stolen goods.  Bob Ong does not romanticize poverty in this book.  Instead, he lays everything on the table for you to see how dark and frightful it is to be young and poor. 

Four boys who can’t look far ahead in the future.  They find comfort in the company of each other made especially interesting when there’s pot around. 

One of them was forced to grow older than he is, facing responsibility that I would not have imagined for someone who is not yet done with puberty. 

The first few pages of the book showed him running as fast as he could away from the scene of the crime.  He got away from angry cries of the crowd that travelled like fire summing up the crime he had done.  In spite of that, he was able to lose them all except from the police officer who recognized his face anywhere.  He handed the glittering chain to the officer who sniffed that something was up when he caught the boy panting in one corner.  The officer then brought him to jail commanded him to poop out whatever it is that he swallowed before.  After a few hours, the boy painfully passed a couple of undigested jewelry along with his feces.

The story ends with tragedy that befell over two of the main characters.  One ended up dead and the other ended up killing a family member.  It also ends with a wake-up call to one of the four boys who has lost his way and found the right path again.

Scenes like this are read in this book.  A dark portrayal of the lives of the young in the slums.

We wouldn’t really know how hard life is until we are in the shoes of those who has no one to depend to but themselves at a time when they have nothing left and are too young to lose the little hope they had left.  Bob Ong has laid out in this little book the unimaginable hardships of a young man who has not yet learned so much and has been forced out in the world to deal with problems that could make a grown man cry. 

“I shall return” are words uttered by Mac Arthur.  In the end of the story, the boy who seem to have had every opportunity in life who he deliberately threw away, came home and was invited to seat at the dinner table.  The boy then knew that he was given another chance.  He has finally seen the good fortune that he has when his friends have lives that ended without giving them any chance to live at all.

After putting down the book, I can’t help but be more thankful of what my life has offered me.  Now I understand that the problems I have to face are nothing compared to what the young characters in the book have to endure.  Although fictional, the author must not have derived the story entirely based on his imagination.  The scary part of it is that there’s truth in what I have just read.


4 Responses to “Bob Ong’s Mac Arthur”

  1. i bought this book a few years ago.. such a tragedy. nakakaiyak at the end.

  2. meron din ako nito, pero di ko pa nababasa …:D

    • hangingbridge Says:

      very dark ang setting sis. di siya funny… pero definitely an eye opener… especially if you’re not aware kung gano kahirap ang maging mahirap talaga 😦

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