Friday, August 07, 2009
My current lesson in ENG1 in UPLB deals with summarizing so in the interest of performing what one preaches, here are the summaries of three stories in the fabulous collection Feast and Famine by Rosario Cruz-Lucero:
The story is about a woman who led a sheltered existence inside a house in Silay City. The woman, Anabella, had a typical macho haciendero father and a cultured yet subservient mother for parents, whose marriage got marred by insinuated adultery, husband domination and, ultimately, ended in suicide. She fell in love with an impoverished would-be dentist so it was theorized that the father prevented her from marrying someone not from her class. An alternative ending, however, put forth the possibility that Anabella, furious over her lover’s secret desire for her mermaid friend, did not wish the marriage herself. Upon her death, Anabella left behind a vast load of literary works, a product of her generations-old seclusion inside her bahay na bato.
The Oracle of the One-Eyed Coconut
The story is about an alleged witch’ single-eyed magical coconut, the blink of which would signal a catastrophe, the latest being the Mayor’s assassination. His wake was not sounded by knell, which was upon the instruction of the priest who has had a dispute with the Mayor over nine disappeared teen-agers and over the church’ diminishing congregation. The priest was a moving force in the village, bringing it to a thriving agricultural economy but eventually losing out his ward to other sects. He even had a spiritual contest as a confessor with Estrellita, the owner of the coconut. They did an ethereal tug-of-war over the power to deliver the spirit of an old man who fell from a coconut tree. An aspiring beauty queen niece of the Mayor believed that his uncle’s murder was politically instigated, and her student activism would finally motivate her into bombing the church’ façade. As a proof of the potency of the coconut’s magic, it elicited a cosmic quake when it plummeted as Estrellita rushed her way back to the funeral, causing worms for vermiculture to wreak havoc in the Kabakawan village.
The Composo of Hacienda Buyung
The story is a series of composos or ballads which attempt to give explanation to phenomena happening around West Visayan towns, in this case around Hacienda Buyung. The first composo deals with a spurned lover’s sack of jewels being guarded by the river mermaid. The next is about the nine desaparecidos who were mistaken for members of New People’s Army. The composo of the stranded whales follows a sidelight on a hunchback who served the grand old lady visionary of the manor. In the wake of political salvaging and disappearances, seven women who became desaparecidos themselves—believed to have been seduced with jewelry by the landlady’s son—were the object of another composo. Then follows the ballad of the Australian cows which could not adapt to grazing in an underdeveloped country that is the Philippines. Finally, the composos end with one about the mass graves discovered while an American treasure hunter did his excavation in the village property. The composos were interwoven and given closure by a babaylan descendant, Tiya Estrella.