(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

The stories in this collection by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard derive from the author’s attempt to compensate for the fact that Filipino culture, for hundreds of years, was considered too primitive to be significant in the eyes of nations such as Spain, the United States, and Japan. The author’s nationalism (reinforced by nostalgia after her emigration to California) is reinforced by her placing many of the tales in Ubec—the reverse spelling of Cebu, the Philippine island of the author’s birth. The fact that invading forces so often destroyed or neglected native records provided the final impulse for Brainard to depend on her imagination for invention of details wherever history has been forced to remain silent. Her stories also show her division of allegiance between her native land and her adopted country.

An example of Brainard’s creative approach to history is found in the story “1521.” The failure of Ferdinand Magellan to complete his circumnavigation of the world is usually explained by his coming between two hostile Filipino chiefs. Yet “1521” suggests that Lapu-Lapu may have killed Magellan in revenge for the death of Lapu-Lapu’s infant son at Spanish hands. “Alba,” however, shows more tolerance when, in 1763, during the English occupation of Manila, Doña Saturnina gives birth to a fair-skinned son. The son is accepted by her husband. Similarly, in “The Black Man in the Forest” old guerrilla general Gregorio kills an...

(The entire section is 418 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Casper, Leonard. Sunsurfers Seen from Afar: Critical Essays 1991-1996. Metro Manila, Philippines: Anvil, 1996.