Troubador When Turtles Come Home

Released: 28/06/2019

ISBN: 9781789018684

eISBN: 9781838599034

Format: Paperback/eBook

Review this Book

When Turtles Come Home

A Memoir on Life in the Philippines


When Victoria Hoffarth was at graduate school in the U.S., her lecturer, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, once told her class, “There are so many varied places in the world. It is incumbent upon us to search for one where we most fit.” Thus, despite having been born and brought up in the Philippines, Victoria never felt at home there. And so, she became a cultural refugee, searching for where she most fitted.

Her engaging and intimate narrative remembers back to the early 50s, when her little town was still recovering from the destruction caused by World War II, through thirty years of discontented wanderings to America and back, then onwards to the UK, Germany, and Canada. Victoria delves into Philippine culture, what is unique to their society and what can be learned by the wider world. Likewise, she suggests what Filipinos can learn from the wider world.  She further questions what it is to be Filipino, and if she can call herself that? Are you no more than where you are born and raised? A liberal globalist, two other issues uppermost to her are her being a woman in a setting where feminism is frowned upon, and her beliefs as an “a-la-carte” Roman Catholic, given the mindset of a deeply conservative and traditional society.

Much more than a memoir, this is the story of finding yourself and learning to look beyond what you know to find home - even if that is where you first began.


The Manila Times

The Philippine Daily Inquirer

That's Books

This is a beautiful memoir. It was hard to put down. I loved that it was about an anthropologist as I am interested in anthropology. I loved reading this memoir.

by Rose

When turtles comes home is a memoir. Victoria recounts her life, from childhood to present, discussing the state of Philippines in these times, Germany and other countries that she has lived in during her lifetime.

Overall, I liked this memoir. Parts of the story were very interesting, especially when she was talking about her own experience. I learned a lot about the countries that she travelled to, getting new perspectives from the side of someone who lived in those places, addressing themes of politics, immigration, health care and more. She also provided a lot of information about the history of the place and her own family. I felt at times though that the memoir was more of a collection of essays, lacking continuity sometimes. That sometimes interfered with my experience of the book.

As someone who has moved countries, I would recommend this book to those who travel and have an interest in Philippines. One of my friends is from there and it was good to know more about her culture. I am thankful to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for making the complimentary copy of the book available to me in exchange for an honest review.

by Kriti

Clear-eyed and heartfelt, Victoria Hoffarth’s When Turtles Come Home chronicles the experiences of a Filipina, from her childhood in a small town in Central Philippines, to life in Manila and New York for studies, and then to other places in Europe and in the Americas in the pursuit of her career. Her reminiscences are snap shots of her struggle to find answers to numerous questions on identity, history, gender, faith and the nature of “home.” Inquisitive and rebellious, Hoffarth traces her journey that spans a lifetime of confronting life in all its mystery and pain.

The book should be of interest to those who wish to have a glimpse of Philippine culture in its complexity, as traditional values clash with western ideals. Moreover, the memoir provides a riveting narrative of how a woman of immense courage has defined herself on her own terms in this globalized world.

by DR SOLEDAD REYES: Professor Emeritus, Ateneo de Manila University

'Turtles carry their homes on their backs, travelling thousands of miles each year. But eventually, guided by the magnetic fields of the earth, they are programmed to return to the place of their birth'.

When Turtles Come Home is a memoir, a social commentary and a legacy of words. Hoffarth is an' ordinary' person who has searched for a sense of belonging all her life. Born in the Phillipines but never feeling she belonged, she travelled to such places as Germany, New York, Paris, London, learning about herself and the world as she did so. In 2004 she eventually found her way back to the place of her birth, culturally enriched and living with a sense of peace that was hitherto lacking.

Her memoir is split into three parts. Part One contains stories of her childhood and her travels. Part Two examines the Philippine Cultural Values and Norms, and Part Three looks at Choices and Identity.

She also examines what it means to be happy, and in the final chapter looks at the current state of world affairs and where the world is heading, with hope springing from the younger generation and the social and political movements including #MeToo.

A fascinating account of life in the Philippines, but it is more than a memoir, it's a political and social commentary on what makes us human, and what it takes to find our place in the world.

by Lou

Victoria Hoffarth has the advantage of having experienced Philippine culture both as in insider and as an outsider. She is a Filipina who was born and raised in the Philippines and knows its rural life and family values. She also spent many years abroad and returned to her country with the eye of a foreigner that can perceived details that an insider would not be aware of. Aside from being extremely well written and easy to read, this book offers fascinating insights into cultural values, business ethics, Philippine collectivism, religion and identity.

by Nikki

When Turtles Come Home is more than just a collection of Victoria Hoffarth’s memories of her home country the Philippines and other countries including Germany, USA, France and England, where she has lived and worked for many years. The author has a sense of history coupled with an analytical mind and the ability to let us see what she has seen. With a combination of textbook formality and personal thoughts and feelings, this very interesting book becomes a very enjoyable read. Readers will empathize with her self-doubts on religion, on her abilities, on her determination to rise above the 2nd class citizenship conferred on women and, on intra and inter-family relationships. The German aged care system is shown-up in its rigid and unfeeling regulation just as the informalities of the Philippines can be seen to accept elements of corruption and the English, as many a foreigner knows, can exude apathy, coldness and indifference.
This book helps to tell the truth of how life does not always conform to our hopes and dreams. It looks at life trying to understand it and, to find the courage to name it. It is highly recommended.
W. Buchanan
Perth, Australia.

by W. Buchanan

An intimate look at life in the Philippines of family culture politics.A very interesting look at a world I knew nothing about.

by Abby

I love memoirs, especially ones that teach me about different cultures and countries. It was a really enjoyable book and I loved the parts about the Philippines having lived there for some years.
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