Mabuting Loob Atsuko Nambu: A Filipino Memory was published in September by Ateneo de Manila University Press in the Philippines.
The focus of the book is Atsuko Nambu, a 19-year-old Japanese female track-and-field athlete who competed in the second Asian Games in Manila 68 years ago in 1954 and also helped prevent a potential conflict between the Philippines and Japan. Nambu won four medals, including a gold medal in the signature 100-meter race. While doing this, she unwittingly managed to charm an entire hostile nation still suffering from the brutal massacre in Manila by rampaging Japanese soldiers nine years earlier in 1945. For this amazing act, Filipinos dubbed her the ‘sweetheart of the Games’ and she became an international heroine.
The fame she gained by helping to save the Games was short-lived, and by 1960, Filipinos and Japanese had largely forgotten about it. But the writer, who was also nineteen when he saw her at the Games, could not forget. So, after he came to Japan in 1969 to work, he decided to seek her out. However, the search came to an abrupt halt in 1970 when she was killed suddenly in an automobile accident. Shocked by her death, the writer gave up looking for her 38 years. In 2008, he found information that led to meeting her mother, one of her surviving children and some of her childhood friends. After his quest produced several news accounts, it also sparked a revival of her memory in Japan. Even one surprise personage recalled Nambu and what she had done.
The book recounts all the events in the form of a series of letters to Atsuko after her death. It also includes a foreword written by Atsuko’s daughter, Naomi Fujiwara.
One reviewer, Howie Severino of GMA News Online, had this to say about it.
Positively Filipino, the online magazine for Filipinos in the diaspora, published my synopsis of the book.