Twice Blessed is a comic parable. It shares with Ninotchka Rosca’s more dramatic State of War (1988) a lasting concern for “a nation struggling to be born.” Its method is less confrontational than Rosca’s earlier work, but it goes beyond mockery of President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos who, on the novel’s publication date, were already in exile in Hawaii. The basic satire exposes a phenomenon in Filipino culture larger than the behavior of a single ruling couple: instincts of the wealthy to preserve their power through arranged marriages. This hoarding of power, Rosca has long argued as a journalist, is the source not only of vast class differences but also of elitist willingness to collaborate with foreign enemies in order to survive. Through comic irony and despite the novel’s farcical features, Rosca suggests that the greed responsible for putting dynastic wealth before the welfare of the people eventually can be self-destructive.
The sibling rule of Katerina and Hector Basbas in a tropical Pacific country is reminiscent of what several commentators have called the “conjugal dictatorship” of the Marcoses. Katerina’s attempts to forget her humble beginnings resemble Imelda’s well-publicized delusions of grandeur, and the collapse of a heavy crane on the roof of the inaugural structure seems inspired by the fatal collapse of the Manila International Film Festival building in 1983 because of haste in...
(The entire section is 590 words.)