Patron Saints of NothingFeatured
Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.
Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.
As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
It’s a thought-provoking masterpiece that blurs the line between fiction and reality
Reading Patron Saints of Nothing invokes a lot of emotions, especially for someone who’s socially aware of the current political situation in the Philippines. There is pain and grief in Jay’s loss of his cousin, Jun; anger from the fact that this Drug War is explicitly anti-poor and that some privileged Filipinos choose to stay with their apathy because this doesn’t affect them; and shame and disbelief from the fact that a lot of Filipinos support this constant violation of human rights.
I was able to read a manuscript of this book since Randy reached out and asked if I could be one of the sensitivity readers for Jay’s story. Even from then, I love the fact that he was able to capture the reality and elicit empathy with the book’s premise.
Of course, I was a little worried since the main character is a Filipino-American who has little knowledge of the Philippines besides their occasional visits. I was worried with how Jay would digest the reality of the problem we have, but the author addressed it in such a way that it was a learning experience for Jay. No white savior nonsense and the likes, Jay was actually willing to learn and even gets called out a couple of times. His character growth and realizations about the truth and his journey towards finding himself was a delight to see as we go along the story.
Another notable thing was how genuine the characters’ voices are. Realistic portrayals are important especially when it comes to stories that take on cultural representation. I’m really just grateful that Randy Ribay was able to show accurate Filipino representation from different aspects in the book such as politics, religion, family relationships, and even food!
However, I wanted to talk about how adults were presented in the story. It’s a classic case of “the adults are useless so the youngins better do something about it”, and I kid you not, this is the reality of the Philippine Society. We’re taught to respect our elders. We’re allowed to have an opinion but we’re not allowed to call them out when they’re wrong.
The funny thing is all these were personified in Tito Maning’s character so my hatred was just focused on one person. If you’re not from the Philippines, has read this book and you found yourself hating on Tito Maning, I just want you to know that most people have the same mindset as him. It’s pretty much infuriating.
Overall, my reading experience with Patron Saints of Nothing was purely positive. It brought a fresh perspective to a highly sensitive topic in the Philippines. It’s a thought-provoking masterpiece that blurs the line between fiction and reality and forces you to question where you stand. Besides politics, it also tackles socioeconomic inequalities, racism, and sexism. God, I’ll never shut up about this book’s importance because it’s truly an eye-opener. All the more reasons to pick this book up if you’re having second thoughts. Trust me, it’s worth your time.