BOOK REVIEW | Being Unstoppable: Diverting, inspiring, riveting

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Hannah A. Papasin
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

We have heard of stories of family members facing strife, hunger, poverty in far-flung areas. Of a friend experiencing war in a foreign country, a country hostile to any other religion except their own, with Kalashnikov-toting dissidents ready to pull that trigger with just the wrong stare.  Or what about that old chum who lost a family member to a disease, or an aunt who battled a form of cancer?

All of us has that one friend, an acquaintance, a peer, a classmate who had an engaging story to tell.  For Lourdes Ibarra, though, her life is not just one story but a series of stories.

A stint in war-torn countries (plural).  Battling two types of cancer.  A near-death experience.  A loss of a loved one.

Ibarra is a multi-awarded humanitarian worker who has had her share of stories in 10 – get that, 10 – countries where she did her social work.   She had experienced and seen up close foreign, strange, even unusual traditions practiced in these countries – from cannibalism (!) to polygamy.  She had seen war, strife, famine, drought, insurgency.

She had, also tragically, lost a son.

“No mother should ever have that burden of burying her own child,” she said in her guest appearance for Femme Fatale (episode airing on 22 March 2021).

All of these were documented in detail in Ibarra’s book, Being Unstoppable: A Journey to Success, A Life of Service and Adventure.

The book is chockfull of details and stories of Ibarra’s life: from her start in the academe thanks to one of her “three mothers” – an aunt – to her stint in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea, to the loss of her son.

The book itself is divided into three parts: Unstoppable Growing Up, Unstoppable at Work, and Unstoppable in Life.

A large chunk of the book is the second part, Unstoppable at Work, where she narrates tales about her experience as international social worker. 

She inserts interesting details and vignettes, including a recipe for killing your husband – literally a recipe filled with fatty, greasy food that is a sure-fire way of contracting a heart disease or a stroke – to maps of the individual countries, to conversations with family members, and interesting factoids about the country she served.

All these are written in a conversational prose, not unlike a grandmother telling stories to her apos, with said apos latching on to her every word as she talks of war, of strife, of being away from her family in a strange land, of experiencing heartache for losing a loved one.

Such is the book of Lourdes Ibarra.  

It is diverting, inspiring, riveting, moving, stimulating.

It is, like the author herself, Unstoppable.

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