Sunday, March 27, 2011
My Hollywood: A Tribute to Filipino Nannies
For someone who received a grant from Guggenheim and a slew of prestigious writing awards, the author, Mona Simpson, would not write anything less than a good book. I am happy to note that her book, My Hollywood, is in line with my first blog, Shaping the World One Stroller at a Time.
Claire, a composer and a new mother moves to L.A. from New York so her husband Paul can fulfill his ambition to become a successful writer for television comedy. They decide to hire Lola, a fifty-two-year-old Filipino nanny to take care of their baby, William. Lola becomes not only a caregiver to Will but a friend to Claire who is increasingly becoming unhappy with her life in Hollywood. Who wouldn't be?
It was choppy to read at first but proved to very effective in getting the author's message across. It was like watching a movie that had Claire narrating her part in American English and Lola in Filipino-nanny-English. If this was her objective, Mona Simpson nailed it.
I found it very entertaining to imagine how an American author pulled it all together, even managing to extricate the word "bokal" from oblivion when Lola described the husband of one of her friends. She even inserted a recipe for buko pie in one of the chapters.
However, if the author asked me for advice, I would have told her that because Lola comes from an educated family, she should at least be able to write grammatically correct sentences, especially with a husband who works as an executive for Hallmark greeting cards in Manila. However, this detail does not diminish the overall effect.
It is not surprising that reviews from readers ranged from the "not interesting enough" on one end to the likes of "absorbing and enlightening to read" on the other. I guess the former came from readers who likely would be more interested in dishy reality shows and the latter from those who could read between the lines, and also, who are able to identify with Claire as a sensitive mother, wife, and employer or Lola as a sensible mother, friend, and nanny.
I say it is an interesting read because of the author's honest take on what really happens inside households of rich American families, especially celebrities in Hollywood, who learn to appreciate the unshakable values, genuine care, and hard work of their Filipino nannies, so much so that they become indispensable. Like what Lola says, “My employer, she says when a baby comes home from the hospital, a Filipina should arrive with him.”
Posted by Cordi Villa at 1:34 AM