When I think of the term or name Kitty, I am reminded of Anne Frank’s diary. She always begin her diary entries with Dear Kitty and I mimicked that when I received a Hello Kitty diary one Christmas (with a tiny Hello Kitty lock and key to safeguard its secrets). Kitty Eugenio of the novel Salingkit: a 1986 Diary by Cyan Abad-Jugo reminds me of that. She is a high school student whose presence in the peaceful revolution of 1986 may be described as salingkit. Salingkit is a term my playmates and I use to refer to the youngest or smallest players in a game. They are usually siblings of the “real” players and we only allow them to play but we do not score their moves. They usually play first, “O salingket-ket muna!”
That is how I see Kitty, she began as a salingkit. And I believe the author wanted to approach the historical event that way, she wants to engage her readers in a story that will not be too lecture/information-heavy. The key is subtlety. Cyan integrates historical events in a subtle manner. As Kitty matures, her involvement and understanding of what is happening around her deepens. Her cousin, Kuya Alan, brings her to rallies to give her a broader view of what’s happening. Kitty’s father is also a desaparecido and this is one of the main conflicts in the story. This is how Kitty gets more and more involved in the revolution, in developing her views regarding the Martial Law, supporters of Cory and the Loyalists.
Of course the New Wave music, bands and lyrics helped add a unique tune to the diary approach. Plus, I also like the subtle touches on the lives of Kitty’s friends and her friendship with Bensy. It does not gush about boys or relationships the way some foreign books for the same target readers do (like Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, though I loved that series when I was young). It’s something boys and girls can enjoy, a nice introduction to historical fiction and a must for all teenagers who are having difficulty understanding what’s wrong with the Martial Law era.