KAGAY-ANON sociologist and educator Arnold Alamon launched two books on Saturday, August 12, at Xavier University’s Little Theater one of which is a compilation of 200 of his columns written from 2013 to 2014 for SunStar Cagayan de Oro.
In an interview, Alamon said, the compilation of his columns, called the "Nation in Our Hearts: Essays on Mindanao," is published by the University of the Philippines Press.
Ramon Guillermo, a teacher-activist and scholar on Philippine studies, said the book "recall and examine social, political, and environmental situations that have affected and continue to affect the Philippines and its people, with special focus on Mindanao."
Alamon said this book is just "more or less a reflection of me as a writer, as a person."
"This is the character of the first book – at times very personal, and yet at every turn also crazy hysterical, righteous and angry. The essays bear this range of extreme feelings and they represent the thoughts of a grown man nearing his 40s who had muttered stuff to himself for far too long," Alamon said in his column.
The second book focuses on the historical and theoretical foundations in understanding Mindanao's Indigenous Peoples.
The book, called “Wars of Extinction: Discrimination and the Lumad Struggle in Mindanao,” is a commissioned research work by the Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies.
Alamon said the hardest thing about creating the book was the field work, which took a couple of months.
"It is overtly political and thus, seeks an audience all the time wishing to herd readers towards the side of the exploited and oppressed Lumads of Mindanao," Alamon said, describing his second book.
Datu Jomorito Goaynon, a lumad leader, thanked Alamon and hopes that the book can open not just the public's eyes, but also to government leaders, whom he said, had neglected the lumad's plight.
"Kami nagmalipayon na naay libro na nagtala kung unsa ang tinuod namo na sitwasyon ug mahibal-an sa tibuok katawhan sa nasud kung unsa ang among gibuhat para mapanalipdan ang among ancestral domain, nga nagsilbing among merkado, botika, hardware, simbahan," Goaynon said.
Asked about his hopes for his two books now out to the public, Alamon said he intends to touch base with the Filipinos and fellow Mindanaoans.
"When you write, it's really your intention to touch base with a particular audience, and I think I always have that in mind that I speak to the Filipino and Mindanaon, how we can get out of quagmire that we find ourselves in," he said.
"The feeling can sometimes be angry, furious, exasperated, but always with a hope that from these feelings, these emotions, you would be able to shake people from their slumber and be bothered by them, why else would you bother putting words into sentences? What for? You always write for a reason, and that reason is to touch people's hearts and minds," he said.
Alamon said he wants his audience to see things "that they haven't seen or felt before".
"Actually, what you're doing as a writer is interpreting reality, in a way that would make it useful for people and make them use this vocabulary to see things that they haven't seen before. You write to open up a new universe for them," he said.
"And in a place like Mindanao and in a country like the Philippines, are you going to show them fantasyland, or love, or escapism? No, we have to make them see the reality so that you can try to be the cause for things to change," Alamon added.
Alamon completed his graduate and undergraduate degrees in Sociology at the University of the Philippines–Diliman where he also taught for several years.
Aside from writing for SunStar twice a week, he also teaches Sociology at the Mindanao State University–Iligan Institute of Technology.
The Nation In Our Hearts is currently available at the UP Press in Diliman, Quezon City but will soon be sold at National Book Store, Alamon said.
The Wars of Extinction can be acquired through the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region.