Without revealing what happens it was an interesting narrative style to take. I remember being told in a creative writing class one day that to switch between different persons (like from 1st to 3rd) would not work. That the technique is more confusing. I thought it worked for my particular short story but he was the teacher and the expert. But looking at the writing style of Syjuco I feel that it's okay to take liberty with the way you write. There is no one way to tell a story. You can experiment. Tell and write the story how you like and the reader will follow you. Because the reader isn't stupid and to treat them like one ... well, that's stupid.
What can I say about the book itself that isn't too revealing? First of all, I have got to Google all these people to see if they're real or not. If the events happened or not. Blending of fact and fiction was just too convincing. It was interesting to see another point of view of the Philippines. I only have the one perception of it - mine. And mine was that there is such a divide between the rich and the poor. That change doesn't seem to be happening any time soon. That there is a lot to fix and it does seem such a monumental task that it may be hopeless.
"Ilustrado" explores such perceptions as well as suggesting that for change to occur it is up to each one of us. To have hope and do anything, even a small thing, because it makes a difference.
The passages in the novel about the arrogance of the upper class were really irritating to read. That's probably what Syjuco intended. I'm not upper class at all so to read about all of these advantages and privileges of the elite is just reminds me of the gap between the have and have-nots. Moreover, this new breed of Philippine elite - the beautiful and the rich - somehow seems so much removed from the reality that is the Philippines.
- Another article with Miguel Syjuco: An Expatriate Filipino Writes of a Parallel Life.