Side-by-Side Review: That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra/Reportage on Lovers by Nick Joaquin

“Certainty is sexy.” – Julie, That Kind of Guy

“The Filipino, indeed, makes the most imperious of husbands but the meekest of lovers” – Narrator, Reportage on Lovers

That Kind of Guy Mina V. Esguerra is a story about Julie, a woman who is a “manang“, a word used to describe Filipino women who are frank and who does not readily give up herself to relationships because she knows how brutal relationships can be and how it can turn life sour. This attitude keeps Julie from having long-term relationships until she meets Anton, a typical player-type kind of guy who has experienced a lot about relationships particularly sexual ones. Their meeting and eventual dating has both transformed them in a way that is averse to their nature. Julie is finally enjoying a long-term relationship and Anton has walked away from a lifestyle of multiple girls at a time.

While Reportage on Lovers by Nick Joaquin is a series of nonfictional short stories about lovers that made the headlines. Most of them deal with love with a happy ending (there are some that end with death) and love that is almost like a fairy tale. There are stories that are about love between foreigners; love between two different people, economically or philosophically; love between the young and the old; love mired in scandal; love drenched in infidelity; love that is doomed from the start; and love just because.

That Kind of Guy and Reportage on Lovers are two different books not only because they are set in different eras of Philippine history but also because the former is fictional while the latter are real life accounts of love stories that made the news during Nick Joaquin’s tenure as a journalist (his pen name then was Quijano de Manila). Not only that, the books are also different because of how they portray the Filipino as a lover.

In That Kind of Guy, Mina V. Esguerra portrays that the most successful of lovers are those that are open about their attraction and are certain about their own attractiveness no matter what their intentions in entering a relationship whether it be a serious one or a sexual one. On the other hand. Nick Joaquin’s Reportage on Lovers portray the Filipino lover as meek and gentle with the attraction stemming from the man’s perseverance in pursuing a lady and the lady’s devotion to a man who has given her his everything.

Maybe the difference between the two books stem from the difference of their respective eras. Nick Joaquin’s time was characterized by conservatism where women are closely guarded by their parents and, in order for men to woo them, one must have the approval of the women’ parents. However, today’s relationships, especially in the cities, are characterized by a certain degree of aloofness where a man or a woman have fewer inhibitions as compared to the past and that dating around is a common practice and that the first move is not restricted to the men anymore. Finding love is easier in today’s era of online dating, speed dating, and bar hopping as compared to before where such avenues are not available.

However, what still rings true both in the past and in the present is the concept of true love. Filipinos still respect this concept and, if a couple becomes serious with each other, the kilig moments that were not present during the period of aloofness will reappear during the course of the relationship. One will feel that the relationship is not sexual and it already hinges on something inexplicable, something that transcends carnal desire and that something is what Filipinos, in the past or in the present, call true love. Whether if you are a skeptic or a believer, love can still be found in the unlikeliest of places. More often than not, the person that you end up with forever is not the one that you are expecting.

Rating: That Kind of Guy – 3/5

Reportage on Lovers – 4/5




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