DON’T FORGET THE SOAP (AND OTHER REMINDERS FROM MY FABULOUS FILIPINA MOTHER)
Author: Marie Claire Lim Moore
Read Date: 25 November 2013
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
At the center of many good stories – inspiring, entertaining, admittedly corny – is Marie Claire Lim Moore. Ask her about the time she and her family sat down with former Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Or the time she built houses in Mexico alongside former American President Jimmy Carter. Equally engaging are her every day experiences and perspective on life. You will be interested to hear what she thinks is a relationship “deal breaker” or why Christmas should be regulated or why kids shouldn’t say, “I’m bored.”
Don’t Forget the Soap is a collection of anecdotes from different points in Claire’s life: stories from the tight-knit Filipino community in Vancouver mix with memories of her move to New York, experiences at Yale and travels as a young executive. Underlying this narrative is the story of a global citizen who does not want to forget the fundamental values that come along with the “immigrant experience” as she and her husband raise their children in the increasingly glitzy expat bubble of Singapore. Her parents continue to remain a big influence in her life and her mother’s reminders a grounding force. These stories will warm the heart and resonate with people of any culture.
I normally shy away from reading any form of memoir by someone I do not know or recognize. But it’s not them; it’s me. I have nothing against people who write memoirs, but I don’t want to be reminded of just how boring my childhood was (gasp! this will put me on Ms. Moore’s and Mrs. Lim’s hit lists, but seriously if my life were any more interesting, I would have already joined the ranks of people who have written said memoirs), of all the regrets, and of how far I’ve come compared to other people near my age (not very far at all, no.)
But I decided to lock the cynicism inside the closet for a while and join this blog tour because after reading the synopsis of the book:
- I got curious about how someone who was born abroad can have “the immigrant experience”;
- If an author can admit that some of what she wrote is corny, she sounds like someone I’d like to get to know more;
- I really wanted to know more about that titular soap;
- Regulating Christmas sounds like something I should be implementing with my nephew;
- No, really. The soap. Really.
And it was worth making this book an exception. Who knew I’d be getting something like “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, but a Filipino version, with cultural quirks and situations that I can relate with?
It was interesting to read about how what we experience here in the Philippines is very similar to the experiences of those who were born abroad to Filipino families and communities.
And it was great to read about what it’s like at the other end of the balikbayan box odyssey, considering I’ve only ever been on the receiving end. Certainly, I knew my aunts lived by similar rules like “Don’t Forget The Soap” (they also practiced Don’t Forget The Silverware and Always Bring A Ziploc To A Crab Leg Buffet), being vigilant of yearly department store sales and buying in bulk, and being able to make one packet of Swiss Miss go a long way.
More than the familiar anecdotes, though, I appreciated that Ms. Moore shared all those other invaluable insights her mother taught them. What resonated with me were:
- How Balance is important in everything and how it can save you a lot of stress.
- As a corollary to Balance, how important taking on challenges and playing to your strengths at the same time can be.
- Give back and don’t forget the people who have touched your life.
- There’s no need to wait to do what you’ve always wanted to do just because your plate seems full. Just manage your time. (Maybe easier said than done, but I guess there’s no need to wait to try to implement this either.)
- Regulate Christmas. *evil laugh*
- All the parenting tips.
I also appreciated how earnestly written this book was. And it seems that all the “Tone it down a notch” advice and efforts to un-corny-fy the stories worked, but I can still feel the author’s sincere admiration for the people she wrote about, especially her mother.
I don’t know about other readers, but personally, I deem a book based on personal stories a success when it makes me feel like the author is someone that I would like to meet in person, whether it be to get the chance to talk to them more over coffee or to perhaps give them a satisfying punch in the face (it happens). In this case, I think I’ll leave the punching to Manny Pacquiao.
If you haven’t read “Don’t Forget The Soap” yet, you can check out the following links:
To know more about MARIE CLAIRE LIM MOORE, visit her on: Twitter.
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