Filipino royalty — check
Fake dating — check
Childhood friends to lovers — check
Filipino rep AND #ownvoices!? Yes, please!
The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman has it all in spades, so look no further and dive into the royal world of kingdoms and long-time friends in the Philippines.
There are only two reasons why Nina would come back home to Cincamarre–one, if Auntie Delia promises to stop butting into her business, two, if her father died and she was made to ascend the throne to be queen.
Unfortunately for her, it was the second thing that brought her home.
As a princess who’s sunk a yacht and been caught kissing popstars, it’s easy for her aunt, the regent, to think she’s ill prepared for the throne. But Nina doesn’t think that having to fake date Felipe, the handsome, squeaky clean Prince of Concordia was the best solution for that.
Nina’s ready to learn the ropes of her new role and make it hers, and reconnecting with Felipe only makes her want to be a better queen. But is the monarchy ready for Queen Nina?
Kingdom of Cincamarre
“From the clouds, the island nation of Cincamarre looked small, and it was. They prided themselves in their smallness, their fantastic rolling hills, and breathtaking views. There was a famous saying that any window that looked out of Cincamarre had the view of the sea with it.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 137)
“The houses in Cincamarre were built with brick or stone, painted white when appropriate. As the islands were conquered by the Spanish in the 1500s, the palace had sprawling villa feel to it, with bright magenta bougainvillea cascading down from the second floor.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 387)
It is said that Cincamarre is based on the very real and beautiful province of Batanes, Philippines! Telling from the description and pictures, it kind of does resemble Cincamarre.
I haven’t been since I was a kid, but this book made me want to go back. My cousins there said that its changed a bit since then.
Kingdom of Concordia
“Concordia had flatter, heartier lands, better suited to fields of wheat and other crops. It made both islands prime targets for both the Portuguese and the Spaniards during the age of exploration. Both countries decide to compromise and split up the twin islands, while the Portuguese held on to Concordia until 1800s when they sold the island to the Macasaet family.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 510)
Filipino culture + food
The Legend of Lanzones
Lansium Parasiticum, or Lanzones for short, are a beloved fruit in Philippines. It’s mostly grown in plantations in the province of Laguna, though the sweetest ones are often found in Camiguin Island. There’s even a huge Lanzones Festival every year in Camiguin.
Anyway, there’s a legend around the Lanzones and you can read a bit about it here.
“According to local legend, the lanzones fruits were poisonous until an angel descended from heaven and touched them. The black and brown spots on the yellow fruits were fingerprints, and was a sign of a ripe lanzones fruit. Some say it made the fruits even sweeter.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 231)
It’s tradition that following a wake and funeral, families and friends of the deceased go to out to eat afterwards. It might have something to do with a superstition that is said a ghost will follow you home if you go straight to your house after, but mostly that’s not the case. It’s just a superstition that derives from folklore.
Some believe that it’s good luck to eat if the deceased was old. It may be neither of those reasons — we just like food. We will eat our feelings if we damn well please.
Saba banana / Bananaque
Bananaque, aka banana-q or banana-cue, is pretty much how it sounds: a BBQ…but with bananas. Deep fried bananas coated in brown sugar on a stick. Yum.
Saba bananas are a hybrid fruit originating in Philippines, that is a staple in many Philippine cuisines.
Majority of Philippines’ religions are Catholic (some call it Christian) and Muslim. Novena prayer is a Catholic prayer where you recite a series of specific prayers with an intention in mind, and occurs over the course of nine days or hours. When you pray your novena, you pray with trust and faith in God that He will provide you with the right answers the right way, and in His time.
The word “novena” comes from the Latin word for “nine“, hence the nine prayers and days. There’s more to the prayer, but that’s the gist of it.
Pan de sal
A bread roll very common among Philippines or Filipino families, served before or with meals. If you ever come across a local Filipino bakery, find pan de sal and give it a try. Or you can make it yourself; there’s a bunch of recipes online that consists all the ingredients you will need.
Or if you have a sweet tooth, there’s another similar but sweet bread roll called Pan de leche. Either way, both are delicious.
Tito = uncle
Ate = sister
Palasyo = palace
Manong = older male relative
Tita = auntie
Ukay-ukay = thrift store
Beso = cheek-to-cheek kiss
Korona = crown
“My worth is not determined by reputation,” Nina finally said.
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 471)
“This [sunflower] field is my heart out on display for everyone, which isn’t at all manly, but I find that I don’t really care. So…don’t laugh.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 1044)
“Nina wanted to hold all of the flowers in her hands. They were so bright that she wondered if she could use them to fill the black hole in her heart.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 1052)
“There’s only one thing I’ve done recently that makes me as happy as this does.”
“What?” She asked him, tilting her head.
“Spending time with you,” he said.
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 1066)
“Casual sex was still very much a taboo topic in their very religious nations. . . .Sex could be fun and hot. It didn’t have to be shameful and ugly, and if you kept your wits about you, it didn’t need to be too complicated.”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 1112-1114)
“There’s a fire in you, Nina. It lights up everything you touch.”
“Including you, I suppose?”
–Carla de Guzman, The Queen’s Game (Loc 1144)
Meet Carla de Guzman
If you ask Carla what she does for a living, she will tell you that she’s not quite sure.
By day, she works a regular day job and writes for a lifestyle website. By night, she’s an author and an artist, spending her midnights at her desk and making these silly love stories. She loves to travel, coming home to her dog Kimchi and spending her weekends having dinner with her crazy family.
She’s currently on a quest to see as many Impressionist paintings as she can, and is always in search of the perfect pain au chocolat.
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