booktalk – The Song of Achilles

Where do I even begin? The Song of Achilles is a seriously painful and depressing retelling of The Iliad by Homer, the Greek author in the olden times. Madeline Miller mainly focuses on the tragic relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, warriors in the famous Trojan War. Told in Patroclus’ point of view, we see and feel every single moment between him and Achilles that makes this book just so memorable. Homer would certainly be proud of Madeline Miller for bringing his story justice. 

We start when Patroclus was a young prince, about eleven. After committing an accidental murder, he was exiled from his kingdom by his own father, to go and live in the land of Phthia, ruled by the legendary mortal king Peleus. You may have heard of King Peleus— he was the king whose wife, given by the gods themselves, was the cruel sea-nymph goddess, Thetis. Their child was the prophesied greatest Greek and best warrior of his generation— the Prince Achilles. At first, Patroclus started out as just another fostered exile in the castle, but accidentally, and maybe even fatefully, became Achilles’ closest friend and designated life companion. But companionship eventually turned into something more for both of them.

When Achilles was twelve, King Peleus sent him to train with the legendary trainer of heroes, the centaur Chiron. Motivated by love for his friend, Patroclus immediately followed and was soon taken in by Chiron, despite the constant protests of Thetis. For years, Chiron did his best to prepare both boys for the real world, teaching them the art of fighting, survival, and medicine. Although their training hadn’t ended yet, Achilles and Patroclus were called by King Menelaus of Sparta to get his wife, the legendary Helen of Troy, back from the clutches of the Trojan Prince, Paris. Honor and prophecy-bound, Achilles submitted to their cause, despite his mother’s desperate attempts to hide him from Odysseus and his men. 

Ten years in a war is sure to change a lot in a person, Achilles was no exception. He was restless. He wanted to fight and claim the glory and fame the Greek gods had promised him when he was born. Unfortunately for him, being greedy and impatient had a grave consequence. The cruel three Fates demanded a painful sacrifice from him. But was he ready to pay it? 

In the end, Achilles did get his fame, but only after a tragic loss. Achilles wasn’t sure if it was worth it, but at least he has Patroclus by his side.

The ending of this book emotionally broke me, I swear. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe properly. The end was so heart-achingly beautiful and poetic, it hurt me on so many different levels. The Song of Achilles, for me, is the best possible way to retell a classic and beloved Greek myth that almost everyone knows. Madeline Miller expresses the feelings way better than the movie, Troy, (Yes, the one starring Brad Pitt). In closure, I highly recommend this book if you want something that makes you rethink a lot of things and look at life differently. But you have been warned. There’s a 99.99% chance you’re going to end up breaking down after the last chapters. Don’t worry though, you’re not alone if you cried so hard, your family thinks you lost a boyfriend. The book is most appropriate for teens age 17 and above, so if you happen to be seventeen,or have your seventeenth birthday coming out, maybe you should call up those aunts and uncles that sent your Christmas gift a little late, ask them to add this onto your gift requests. 

Happy Sunday everyone!


Taylor Guitars transitions ownership to its employees

Taylor Guitars has announced its transition to 100% employee ownership through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”).

“We have delighted in giving people the joy of music and hope to do so for generations to come,” Bob Taylor, co-founder and President of Taylor Guitars, said in a media statement.

“Becoming 100% ESOP allows us to ensure our independence for the long-term future and continue to realize our vision for the company as an innovative guitar manufacturer,” he added.

Davao Region Mindanao

Sunrise Boulevard

Sunrise Boulevard in Baganga, Davao Oriental is so called because it faces the east. The locals credit the mangroves for saving them from the fury of typhoon Pablo in 2012, but what used to be a lush coastal forest is now filled with whitewashed tree trunks with gnarled branches that seem to stretch up in prayer to the sky. It is still beautiful in its own stark way, and many people still frequent the place to wade in the warm waters under the sparse shade provided by the trees.

Coffee Davao Region

A coffee adventure in Balutakay

What do you do when you’re almost out of coffee beans and you don’t want to settle for the pre-roasted store-bought kind?

You make a trip to the foot of Mount Apo and get it yourself.


Congress urged to act on bill decriminalizing libel

DAVAO CITY — Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Monday called on Congress to start deliberating on pending bills calling for the decriminalization of libel and making it a civil case.

Zarate made the call on the same day Rappler CEO and executive director Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. were convicted by a Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) over cyberlibel charges.

“Our current libel laws are draconian and repressive. We should not criminalize an act of expressing an opinion, a right guaranteed by the Constitution,” he said.

COVID-19 Davao City

Contact tracing is PH’s ‘weakest link’ but mobile phones can help

Researchers at the University of the Philippines (UP) are pushing for the use of digital mobile technology to help fix what they call “the weakest link” in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic: contact tracing efforts.

“We continue to reiterate the need for an efficient and effective contract tracing system to track those who could have been exposed to the infective individual,” the researchers said in their latest forecast report released on May 8, 2020.

COVID-19 Davao City

UP researchers push further ECQ extension

With Davaoeños looking forward to the scheduled lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) at 11:59 p.m. on May 15, it might be a good idea to — in the words of Mayor Sara Duterte — manage our expectations.

COVID-19 Davao City Davao Region

Davao City could see 190 cases, 30 deaths by May 15: UP researchers

Researchers at the University of the Philippines (UP) are forecasting that Davao City will have a total of 190 positive cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths by the time the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) ends on May 15, 2020.

In its Forecast Report No. 5 dated April 29, 2020, the researchers said while the daily transmissions in Davao City had been reduced on the second week of April, there was a slight resurgence in the succeeding weeks.


ECQ ‘Cluster Games’ brings out the best in Davaoeños

Trust Davaoeños to take a dire situation and turn it into a chance to show their talent in a friendly competition that highlights the importance of staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No sooner had the city government divided the city into six clusters in order to limit the movement of people (and thus prevent the spread of coronavirus) than a “cluster war” began — and soon evolved into a “cluster game” with a seriously large prize.


Tech in the time of coronavirus

One day in elementary school a classmate of mine brought a small handheld gadget to class that got us all agog. I no longer remember what it was but it was made of metal and had rotating wheels that he would manipulate to add and subtract numbers. Naturally we all wanted to try it, but the commotion the little thing made caught the attention of our teacher as she walked in. She approached our classmate, asked what the object was, and when she heard the answer she promptly confiscated it and sent the poor boy to the principal’s office. She then launched into a lecture on how we must not rely on a gadget like that and instead make sure we knew how to do our math in our head.