Warning: Contains Spoilers
My rating: out of 5 stars
Marie Claire Lim Moore, a Filipina-Canadian-American author of Don’t Forget the Soap (And Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother) is back with her new book titled Don’t Forget the Parsley (And More from My Positively Filipino Family).
Both books talk about Claire and her family’s inspiring stories and fond memories they created together as their family embark on their own version of this journey called life.
There are plenty of reasons why I love this book. One, it is packed with life lessons. Two, it is entertaining. Three, its tone—witty and sincere—is aligned with what the book is trying to impart and that is when readers knew the stories in the book are genuine. Four, it showcases a lot of values: resilience, creativity, ingenuity, always being thankful, religious, friendly, always happy, humility, helpful, diligence, conservative, respectful (made me wonder if Claire and Justin practice pagmamano or if they’re fluent in Tagalog), accommodating, how Claire’s mom searches for a silver lining in every cloud, and most of all: love for family and friends.
Okay so there is probably a lot more but I just learned from Claire’s mom that if we spend so much time agonizing over something trying to make it perfect we’ll never be able to finish it. Lol. 🙂 Word of the wise. Obviously that part of the book is one of my favorites. I’m writing my memoir as well and I’ve rewritten it three times. By the time I was on the third version I have no idea whether I was crying due to my exasperation at my inability to finish the book or because I am still heartbroken over the people I loved and lost. So I’m thankful for that advice and I’ll try to live by that from now on because it is essential to me that I finish my books.
Anyway, I also loved the story of how Claire’s parents met and how her dad had to make up some non-existent party just so they’d get to see each other again (the next day and then the day after that). Lol. I found that part endearing although I had mixed reactions upon reading that Claire’s mom had to ask permission from her aunt in order to attend said party (In the end, Tita Lenore was given the approval but she had to go with her brother). I mean she was twenty six so a part of me was amazed while the other part was exasperated (Don’t get me wrong; in the end I do know asking for permission is a form of respect, too; and in some ways we’re merely informing our elders that we need to go someplace else).
I shouldn’t have been surprised though, that’s how it is with our culture: the elders will always be protective of their young ones. No sleepovers (my niece’s friends can come sleepover at our house but not her, never her); we have curfews even when we are over thirty; no “camping” (my nephew wanted to go “camping” but my sister-in-law Ate Thess refused. This was a huge deal because my nephew wanted to go but Ate Thess was adamant about her decision. I already lost your dad; I can’t lose you, too, she reasoned. At the time, my brother-in-law Kuya Jojo just died.
No one can argue with her after that. But I mean, for all the violent reactions you would think we were sending my nephew to Mindanao. But the “camping” in question was just an overnight stay at school with his classmates, supervised by their teachers (I think Rad was in junior or senior year, I forgot. That seemed a lifetime away now), even I did that when I was seven during star scout and my maternal grandma had her own issues (I wasn’t allowed to leave the house unless it’s for school, church, or an errand (this I understood) but my teachers were informed beforehand I wasn’t to be sent out of town for quiz contests (this one I didn’t get. Then again, my grandma lost four of her seven children including my mom so maybe that had something to do with this.)]
Don’t Forget the Parsley (And More from My Positively Filipino Family) made me ponder over some things. How much is too much for example. At which point do we loosen or let go of our protective hold over our kids?
Now that Ate Thess is dead and her kids are turning to me and my husband for our permission and advice, it’s so easy to tighten that hold and say no. The first time Rad asked us to sign a waiver for his school trip, he told us: I don’t want to ask grandma and grandpa to sign this. You know what they’ll say.
I did know. They already permitted him to go but if they had to sign something they might change their mind.
But then when I was already reading the document, I suddenly found myself feeling horrified. It was a field trip liability waiver. Meaning that we cannot hold the school liable should there be any untoward accident. I knew about this and I had known beforehand what it would say. It was a standard document signed by parents every day (but then put that way, if it’s so unimportant why make the parents sign it?) but I must admit that made me pause and think but goodness, he was just going to participate to a contest in Makati (their school is in Pasay, for goodness’ sake. It was only an hour away from there!). It was not the end of the world.
Nothing is going to happen, I told myself and I am all for broadening one’s horizon so I signed the blasted document with my eyes closed.
Needless to say I prayed hard after that. Lord, please always keep them safe.
Like me, until both his parents passed away he never got to do these things. Put that way though, I’d rather my grandparents and both Ate Thess and my brother-in-law Kuya Jojo were still alive. I wouldn’t trade a trip to a Science or a writing conference someplace else for them and I’m sure my niece and nephew both felt the same but that’s life for you.
At the same time I didn’t want to be that ridiculous paranoid person who holds the kids back from realizing their full potential, no. So we say yes every goddamned time and I was even surprised when he recently turned down a student congress event in Davao. I would have wanted him to go but at the same time I didn’t want to push. I want the kids to go out there and see the world. In fact when Rad was in his senior year I suggested to Mama that he apply for scholarships abroad for college. But if the camping didn’t go so well, you can just imagine how that suggestion was received.
Anyway, my second favorite part of the book is about the smile/happy thing, that certainly made me laugh out loud. Filipinos are inherently happy and they try to smile even in the middle of a tragedy. Case in point, years ago I was walking toward the QA department when I met an officemate in the hallway. Condolence, she said, I heard your father just passed away. Touched, I smiled at her but then she was like, Why are you smiling? Your father just died! And I was like, Oh, but I can’t say thank you in return. I lost someone therefore I can’t thank you for offering me comfort so I smiled my appreciation instead. Did that make sense?
My third favorite part is the sex education thing. Tita Lulu responded in true Filipino fashion which had me laughing out loud. She’s probably endangered species these days but yeah, any talk related to sex is considered taboo in Filipino culture. This has its pros and cons. Some Pinoys are so conservative they become nuns and priests while some end up with a dozen of kids because they have no idea there’s such a thing as birth control; worse, HIV cases is on the rise.
There’s a lot more that I like about this book such as the lesson in patience (no, you cannot write a book overnight, Jho, you need to sleep) or how Claire admitted she forgets the soap sometimes but I’m going to stop right here. Lol. I’ll leave it to the other readers to find out for themselves why this book is worth their time.
Thank you for reading this review and thank you also to Claire and her family for sharing such wonderful anecdotes.
Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂
Note: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Marie Claire Lim Moore builds on her first memoir, Don’t Forget the Soap, offering more entertaining stories about her family in this follow up. Like her first book, Don’t Forget the Parsley is a collection of anecdotes from different points in Claire’s life: stories from her second-generation immigrant childhood in Vancouver and New York City mix with recent expat experiences in Singapore and Hong Kong where she balances multiple roles as wife and mother, corporate executive and author. Her positively Filipino parents continue to have a big influence on her whether it comes to managing family and career, meeting heads of state and world leaders or simply making new friends.
From stray observations (everything is funnier at church) and midnight anxieties (if Jessica Simpson gets to go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, why shouldn’t I?) to life mantras (don’t let perfection hold you back) and litmus tests (would you serve drinks at my mother’s art show?), Claire’s warm and honest storytelling will resonate with readers and leave them smiling.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marie Claire Lim Moore is a Filipina-Canadian-American working mother and author of Don’t Forget the Soap. After spending the early part of her childhood in Vancouver, Claire moved to New York City and attended the United Nations International School. She went on to study at Yale, climb the corporate ladder at Citi and travel around the world. She met her husband, Alex, while working in Sao Paulo, Brazil and they married in Manila, Philippines shortly before moving to Singapore. Now Mom to Carlos, Isabel, and Sofia, Claire also manages the Global Client business for Citi in Asia.
Claire is regularly ranked among leaders in the Asian-American professional community and her experiences have been written about in The New York Times, USA Today, Smart Parenting, Good Housekeeping and People Asia. She enjoys juggling her thriving career and growing family, fundraising for Filipino community events and promoting work-family balance for women through her talks as well as her writing. Previous speaking engagements have been hosted by Standard Chartered Bank, The Financial Women’s Association of Singapore, and MasterCard Asia.
In 2014, Claire received the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award™ (Global FWN100™) that recognizes Filipina women who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace, having reached status for outstanding work in their respective fields, and who are recognized for their leadership, achievement and contributions to society, female mentorship and legacy. Claire is also featured in women’s empowerment expert Claudia Chan’s Remarkable Women Series along with female role models Arianna Huffington, Tory Burch and Zainab Salbi.