This post was written and shared to convince you, reader, to read the Janus Silang novels.
If you’ve read the first two, then you should already grab the third one, Si Janus Silang at Ang Pitumpu’t Pitong Pusong, released last weekend during the 38th Manila International Book Fair.
The first book of the series created and written by ADMU professor, Edgar Calabia Samar, was introduced in 2014. A good friend gave me a copy that same year and told me that this is a Pinoy version of Harry Potter. My life though underwent some radical changes; I resigned from my previous job, moved to Batangas from Cebu, and started living solo. Hence I totally forgot this novel until this year when I inventoried the books I was supposed to read a long time ago.
I personally don’t like referring Janus Silang as the Pinoy Harry Potter. The series is a universe of its own rooted from the mythologies of my nation and written in the language I speak every day. But if calling the series as the Pinoy Harry Potter would help popularize Philippine literature and ignite the interest of the youth to read, then yes, Janus Silang is the boy who lived to challenge the most ancient and darkest of evils.
Janus Silang is a character that I personally cannot relate to. He is a millennial and a rabid online gamer hooked to TALA, a homegrown version of DOTA. The first book, Si Janus Silang at Ang Tiyanak ng Tabon, opened with the deaths of several youths across the country. They all succumbed to a bewildering case of spontaneous human combustion while playing TALA. Strangely, Janus survived because of a powerful gift possessed by his bloodline.
The second book, Si Janus Silang at Ang Labanang Manananggal-Mambabarang, followed in 2015. Here, Janus leaped closer to his destiny: a Pusong, noble being gifted with the ability to travel back to the past and charged by the Bathala or gods to protect creation. The events in the second book transpired some four months since Janus first confronted the Tiyanak and the Bagani, among other mythical beings he thought only existed in comics collected by his mother and TALA, the online game that held hostage the attention a generation of gamers.
With the third book, Si Janus Silang at Ang Pitumpu’t Pitong Pusong, author Edgar Calabia Samar widens the readers’ understanding of Santinakpan or the universe. The characters shuttle through different times between two parallel worlds: Daigdig where humans as we know them dwell and Kalibutan, haven of the diwata, nuno, and their enchantments.
The author promises five books in the series and the three published so far wonderfully worked for me because of the very human elements. Janus’ addiction to online gaming didn’t mask his struggles at home, at school, with the blows of first love.
Edgar Calabia Samar doesn’t rush the stories. Instead, he compartmentalized the multi-layered plot into chapters that deepen characters and histories. By weaving history, myth, and technology, Samar created a universe that is wholly original and a story that’s mind-blowing, satisfying, and unpredictable in its evolution. And there are enough twists and creatures to scare you if you find yourself reading the books alone in the dead of the night.
The Janus Silang universe is a re-introduction to the rich albeit vanishing mythology of the Philippines. For me, the series became more interesting as it resonates with echoes of other popular fantasy creations such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Marvel’s X-Men, and of course J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.
If there’s anything troublesome about the series, it is each book’s ending that left me dying to know what happens next. Unfortunately, the fourth book won’t come out until perhaps the latter part of 2018. So I guess for now, I would just have to re-read all three in succession and start mapping out Janus’ universe and its characters.
Janus Silang may had been written for young adults but these books are without doubt for all ages. It is for me one of the best things that happened to modern Philippine literature. These days, I usually find myself spending time in the Filipiniana sections of bookstores and this interest was definitely ignited by Janus Silang.
I hope I’ve convinced you, reader, to go read and discover Janus Silang’s universe.