Analysis — Bob Ong and RJ Ledesma

Gaia Mauricio
4 min readApr 20, 2021

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At a glance, the 2 works do seem to have extremely tones: tongue in cheek sarcasm and parody, paragraphs worth of build up for an unexpected punchline, and hyperbole. They both base nearly all their premises off of relatability, or at least experiences the target audience would be able to recognize in order to ‘get it.’ There isn’t any better way to make jokes less funny than explaining them, so I’m going to do just that to pick apart the structure on which these texts are built on to be effective.

Ledesma’s text recounts his personal experience going through the average Filipino marriage ceremony, proposal to wedding. The text takes place from a First Person POV, in this case the POV is that of the Groom, Ledesma. The text is divided into the different stages of the wedding process, making use of something between the Explanation of a Process or a Chronological type of structure. This theme of weddings in the context of a Filipino Groom gives more of a connective tissue between each segment of the text. It came off as somewhat of an autobiographical narrative at points considering how personal each anecdote is. Speaking of anecdotal, the snippets of events within each segment also remind me of the Frame structure.

The short stories that make up the larger story in the sequence of Ledesma’s text are all small situational narratives themselves. This is how the text lends itself to basing its premises on relatability through context more than situational humor or slapstick. The longer focus given to these segments provides much needed context of each stage, this would also serve as a sort of build up to any punchlines where all this relatable context is established only for the expectations to be turned on their head (exemplified by the very much dated-sounding cheerleader — geek line). This focus on context is what ensures the reader is able to relate or at the very least visually take in exactly what is happening, only for that sense of familiarity to be unexpectedly twisted for comedic effect. Not only does this build the relationship between the text and the reader as supposedly less alienating, it also provides for a much more personalised experience for not just the author but his readers as well.

Bob Ong’s text shares this premise of relatability, but it differs slightly in how it delivers this. The text features different autobiographical snippets; less of narrative anecdotes and more on writing down thoughts brought on or manifested during fleeting moments. It reminded me of the Collage/Mosaic structure with how it was built like an anthology of short musings. It struck me as strange, however, that I wasn’t able to pick up a culminating conclusion. There was the overarching theme of answering questions, specifically the question of what being a writer means to Bob Ong. This distinction of structure is what gives this text a more conversational tone compared to the other text. The topics addressed, on the other hand, under the general theme allowed for broader exploration with more variety in thought, especially considering it didn’t have to adhere to a certain narrative.

This exploration of topics, to the point that these musings start looking like separate dialogue or diary entries of the author instead of what we know as a narrative story or recounting, come off as more of a commentary on the various topics addressed. It lets itself tackle greater matters past the life events that incited these thoughts. It was able to connect the topics to larger scale matters, whether it be because of the pre established mentality of the author or, what I find to be more interesting, due to the author reflecting on that event and developing new conclusions and mindsets.

The 2 texts do share similarities, with their main differences showing through their delivery which manifests through their chosen structures. Ledesma’s text relying on relatability through its detailed context did help make the story easier to follow and visualize, though it did end up being more of a story being told rather than a conversation between a writer and their readers. In fact, it did strike me strange to pick up on how the text was vying for relatability and understanding (at least I think) yet I, as a girl, felt a bit more alienated than anything else. There were many instances of dated language and punchlines (whether intentional or not, I could also be nitpicking, but I think it’s worth mentioning) such as the “bride-zilla” stereotype, the play on gender roles being subverted yet still used for the sake of the subversion, etc. Bob Ong’s text managed to be engaging with how it gave a closer look into what it means to be a writer from a more concrete lens regarding societal issues instead of viewing writing as detached or unattainable ‘high art.’ His whole style of writing outright denies that with how open and conversational it was; it was quite reader-friendly. That being said, the structure of the text itself did make good use of its freeform collection type to branch out further, but at points this did come off as being a bit confusing as it could end up feeling more aimless than free flowing, like not knowing where to go, or in this case: how to read.

Considering all that, the texts were still engaging and offered me a much needed reminder of this specific type of Philippine Lit. Humor in our literature, in my experience specifically writing for the heavily commercialized film and TV industry, still ends up being dismissed as shallow slapstick, to even relying on stereotypes and dated jokes to poke fun at groups for laughs. These texts, most of their parts, served me a more nuanced structure of humor and how to tell these stories.

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Gaia Mauricio

i’m just gonna use this to keep animating gifs for my pfp pls look away