What did Celestino Fabia ask him during the open forum?

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Bienvenido N. Santos was born in 1911 in Manila, Philippines. He began publishing his short stories in English in the 1930s. In 1976, Santos finally became a U.S. citizen. In 1979, he published Scent of Apples , the only book of Santos’s short stories published in the United States. This...

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Bienvenido N. Santos was born in 1911 in Manila, Philippines. He began publishing his short stories in English in the 1930s. In 1976, Santos finally became a U.S. citizen. In 1979, he published Scent of Apples, the only book of Santos’s short stories published in the United States. This allowed millions of readers to have greater access to his works.

One issue in the story occurred when Santos was speaking at an open forum for a speaking engagement in Kalamazoo, MI. He was asked a question about Filipino women back in his home country. The man, Celestino Fabia, asked, in incorrect English, how the Filipino women of today were different from the stereotype he was familiar with. Celestino Fabia, an expat Filipino and farmer who traveled a far distance just to hear Santos speak, was eager to receive an insightful reply from Santos. Santos did not want to tell a lie or say anything that would seem insincere.

The question triggered a tense moment. Santos told the audience that they had kept the traditional values of being God-fearing, faithful, modest and nice. His reply satisfied Fabia and the tension subsided. Santos felt that everything that happened in the open forum after that question and reply seemed anti-climactic.

After the speaking engagement ended, Mr. Fabia told Santos about his farm and his family. Fabia invited him over to his house, an invitation which Santos accepted. The next day, Mr. Fabia picked Santos up and took him to the farm, where he learned about Fabia’s life in the Philippines. Afterwards, Fabia took him back to the hotel. They shook hands and said goodbye to each other.
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