Si Sepa ay isang manananggal na na-in love kay Andres Bonifacio. Si Amapola ay isang baklang manananggal na destined daw para iligtas ang Pilipinas. Si Emil ay isang avid Noranian. Ilan lamang sila sa mga character ng nobelang ito, na set in Tomas Morato, sa panahon ng eleksyon noong 2010.
"Ang nagmamahal ay laging may misyon na iligtas ang minamahal nito."
- Ricky Lee
Bliss Cua Lim
"What captivates me about Amapola’s irreverent retelling of the Filipino origin legend of the first man and first woman is not only that it retrospectively reframes the established legend as a heterosexist narrative by rescripting it as the origin story of the first bakla. It is that “Legend of the Bakla” queers the very desire for origins through its casually flamboyant insistence on multitemporality. When Amapola describes Bathala, the Divine Creator as wearing a fabulous “bonggaderang headdress,” or characterizes the first unnamed queer creature as alternately mahinhin (feminine/ femme) or pa-mhin (masculine/ butch), the peppering of gay slang accomplishes a queer speaking of Bathala that reimagines swardspeak to be coeval with the origins of the world, anachronistically contemporaneous with the moment of Creation itself. The incongruously funny juxtaposition of the conventions of origin legends alongside swardspeak comes through with particular clarity in a spoken word performance of this very scene, recorded on digital video, at the novel’s book launch in November 2011.
At that star-studded, high profile book launch—a testament to Lee’s standing in the Filipino film industry as one of its most respected and prolific screenwriters— Jon Santos, a celebrity impersonator who came out publicly as married gay man in 2008, read an excerpt from the novel, “Legend of the Bakla” to a large and very receptive audience If one of the things a transmedial analysis pays attention to is the question of what “medium x [can] do that medium y cannot” (Ryan 35) and the ways in which remediation profoundly transforms precursor texts, then certainly the online video of Santos’ live spoken word performance vivifies, in ways the novel cannot, those queer codes of style, vocal delivery and bodily performance that are characteristic of swardspeak. Lee’s novel is written primarily in Filipino (the national language based largely on Tagalog in addition to other linguistic borrowings) and Taglish (a mixture of Tagalog and English), with swardspeak words and phrases sprinkled liberally throughout the text."
Caroline Sy Hau
Chinese-Filipino author, Professor
"While Lee's first novel, the bestselling Para Kay B (O Kung Paano Dinevastate ng Pag-ibig ang 4 out of 5 sa Atin), explored the intricate permutations of desire and intimacy in a series of interlinked stories, Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata paints a vivid portrait of its reluctant hero(ine) on a broader canvas in which past and present, public and private, politics and culture intersect.
Set in the Morato District in Quezon City, where rich and poor, officials and criminals meet and mingle, and home to the best bookstore in the country but also to restaurants and bars and massage parlors, the novel is fearless in marrying demotic speech--particularly swardspeak (gay lingo), with its hilarious, often ironic, mixing and appropriation of Philippine languages, English, Spanish, Japanese, and others--to ethical debate. Not since Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo has a comic novel probed so deeply the heart and viscera of politics and the imagination in the Philippines.
Si Amapola ranges widely across the Filipino landscape, offering a memorable cast of characters: indomitable, donut-chomping manananggal Sepa, taking (Andres) Bonifacio with her on a ride in the night sky; faithful Nanay Angie, who stood by her adopted child through all his/her personality and career changes; stalwart Emil, devoted fan of Superstar singer and actress Nora Aunor, surrounded by his extensive collection of memorabilia and dreaming of his idol's return from exile in America; vengeful Giselle, saddled with an abusive family and finding love in the arms of an Isaac who is present to her only intermittently and then gone forever; and self-righteous Trono, who becomes president on the basis of a campaign promise to "clean up" the country, but whose war against poverty and corruption also entails purging the country of "deviant" elements such as aswangs and homosexuals."