Did Celestino want to return to the Philippines? Why or why not?

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Celestino Fabia is a character from Bienvenido N. Santos's short story, "Scent of Apples".

It is set in Michigan, USA. In the story, Celestino is a farmer who openly asks a question to a fellow Filipino during the latter's speaking engagement, amidst a college crowd. Introducing himself in the...

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Celestino Fabia is a character from Bienvenido N. Santos's short story, "Scent of Apples".

It is set in Michigan, USA. In the story, Celestino is a farmer who openly asks a question to a fellow Filipino during the latter's speaking engagement, amidst a college crowd. Introducing himself in the customary Filipino manner of modesty, he nevertheless asks a forward question about the women back in the Philippines. He asks if they've changed. When the speaker—a Filipino whose financial capability gives him freedom to travel to and from the Philippines—responds in amazement, “You came all that way on a night like this just to hear me talk," Celestino explains how he could not pass up such a chance, as he has "seen no Filipino for many years now."

Already, Celestino demonstrates his longing for his home country by driving all the way from his farm seeking a fellow countryman, albeit a stranger. When Celestino further shares that he "left the Philippines more than twenty years ago and (has) never been back ... Never will perhaps," he says this out of despondency and not out of an outright decision never to return. When he later invites the Filipino speaker to his home—a gesture that honors a countryman as family—he tells him of how he was exiled by his own family back in the day for a grave fault he had committed. He also describes how he and his wife, Ruth, have struggled to make ends meet in the United States following that.

This reveals the external forces that keep Celestino away from "home" (the Philippines), resulting in feelings of reluctance at the very thought of returning. This, however, goes against his real inner desire to return, as seen with the way he asks and speaks about—and pines for—anything to do with his home country. In short, one can say that: yes, Celestino wishes to return; however, no, he may not.

At this, the Filipino speaker is left to ponder,

How many times did the lonely mind take unpleasant detours away from the familiar winding lanes towards home for fear of this, the remembered hurt, the long lost youth, the grim shadows of the years; how many times indeed, only the exile knows.

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