Anton’s Sembreak Reading and Watching List

90% of the students in my Facebook friends’ list are saying they are bored with their sembreak. Ironically, 90% of them have also been saying that they can’t wait for the sembreak since, I don’t know, July? But there’s no reason to be bored just because you can’t meet your school friends or go to the beach because there’s typhoon ‘Chaba’. In fact, now is the best time to read a good book and watch a few good movies. And if you are going to read and watch, why not choose books and films which are actually relevant?

Yes, to anyone who gives a rat’s ass about it, I present my Sembreak Reading and Movie List!


Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino – The book that spawned the Philippines’ liberation movement, no other Filipino book has so much history in it (pun intended). It was first published on an installment basis in the pages of the University of the Philippines Collegian. During the historic Diliman Commune, it was read live at the DZUP, UP’s own radio station.

And there’s a reason for all of that: it’s THE ONE book you have to read if you want to start making sense about Philippine society, all of the many social problems, and the solutions to all of them. Before reading all of the other books in my list, I recommend starting with this one.

If you choose to read this, watching the following documentaries will make digesting LRP easier: ‘Liyab ng Libong Sulo’, and ‘MKLRP Slideshow’.

Best reason to read this? It’s available FREE at this website.

Marxism for Beginners – Mexican writer Rius sought to make the very heavy but highly relevant topic of Marxism easy-to-understand to even the most ADHD-member of our generation with humorous comics and illustrations. Did he succeed? I’ll leave it to you to find out. There’s a free download available here, but for a limited time only (especially since a mainstream publishing corporation has bought the rights to the book now).

Grapes of Wrath – Despite tackling a very cliché topic (the story of an Oklahoman farming family dispossessed of their land and who fled to California in search of a better life), this 1930s novel won author John Steinbeck the highest literary honor, the Pulitzer Prize. How many anti-capitalist novels have won the Pulitzer Prize? Yes, that’s how good this novel is. Steinbeck was also banned for a long time from many places in California. That’s how many raw nerves he hit.

The Jungle – After reading this book, you’ll never look at that footlong the same way again. This 19th century novel by Upton Sinclair caused enough public outrage to force the U.S government to make a few (albeit, insufficient) reforms to their local meat industry. In some ways, it feels like it’s a distant relative of today’s drama telenovelas.

Serve the People – A collection of articles, essays, and recollections on the history of the radical student movement in the history of the University of the Philippines. Student activists who want to pick up important lessons for their activities, as well as those who are simply curious as to where the proud title ‘Iskolar ng Bayan’ came from, will do well to pick this book up. It’s available at IBON Bookstore and Popular Books (at Timog Ave. and Tomas Morato Ave. in Q.C, respectively).


Capitalism: A Love Story

The latest work of American film maker Michael Moore (the same guy who directed most of Rage Against the Machine’s music videos and got arrested for filming ‘Testify’). While at first, he seems like he is tackling a very local issue (widespread poverty in the U.S), he is actually discussing an issue which is very relevant to every last man, woman, and child in the planet today.

His other films include: Sicko, a documentary on the U.S health system and health care in general; and Fahrenheit 9/11, on the U.S invasion of Iraq.

Ang Kaaway

A documentary by progressive Filipino media group ST Exposure which explains who really is “The Enemy” of the Filipino people.

The RSA Youtube series

What do you get when the RSA (Britain’s Royal Society for the advancement of Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce) records the lectures of some of its academics, accompanies it with a video of someone writing whiteboard illustrations, and then uploads it in Youtube? You get explanations for complex issues like the explanation for the global financial crisis in easy-to-understand 10-15 minute tidbits. Some of the more relevant lectures include reforming the education system and the roots of the global economic crisis (at least, if you are a Filipino youth like me).

Sister Stella L

My favorite Filipino film. Ever. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to get a copy of this film.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

If you really don’t watch anything without any mainstream foreign actors and actresses, this is the closest you’ll ever find in Hollywood that tackles real-life economics. Of course, fans of Shia LeBeouf and Michael Douglas will find their presence a ‘plus’. It was shown in cinemas a few weeks ago, so that means your favorite Quiapo vendor has this on DVD more than a month ago.


This film triggered the Gloria Arroyo-era MTRCB’s over-the-top-sensitivity by tackling a topic ‘real close’ to the heart of our former president: enforced disappearances, hence earning an X-rating. It’s directed and script-written (is there such a word?) by two Martial Law activists: Joel Lamangan and Boni Ilagan, respectively. Unlike what you’d expect from such a political film, it actually features mainstream actors and actresses like Iza Calzado and Allen Dizon. Since I prefer that you watch this in a theater than having a pirate make a few bucks off you, just expect a nearby chapter of Anakbayan when there will be a film showing of ‘Dukot’ near you.


There! Now please stop bitching about a ‘boring sembreak’ and flooding my Facebook news feed with your surveys.

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2 Responses to Anton’s Sembreak Reading and Watching List

  1. Jigs says:

    For those who’ll watch Capitalism: A Love Story, they could also watch Sicko, also by Michael Moore. Especially for those who are in the medical field, specifically students from UP Manila.

  2. Jason says:

    You should also recommend East is Red. A 1961 Chinese (of course with Eng subtitles) dance musicale film telling the story of the Long March in China during the 1930’s. Kung gusto niyong pag-aralan ang mga revolutionary attitudes, panoorin niyo yun.

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