Friday, December 28, 2007

Discovering Love and the Filipino: A Kind of Burning by Ophelia Dimalanta

it is perhaps because
one way or the other
we keep this distance
closeness will tug as apart
in many directions
in absolute din
how we love the same
trivial pursuits and
insignificant gewgaws
spoken or inert
claw at the same straws
pore over the same jigsaws
trying to make heads or tails
you take the edges
i take the center
keeping fancy guard
loving beyond what is there
you sling at the stars
i bedeck the weeds
straining in song or
profanities towards some
fabled meeting apart
from what dreams read
and suns dismantle
we have been all the hapless
lovers in this wayward world
in almost all kinds of ways
except we never really meet
but for this kind of burning.

Love sometimes thrives more in distance, rather than in closeness--- in projections, fantasies, images produced by the mind to make up for the lack of contact. Ironically, an abundance of contact, that destroys this preconceived images, can hamper the love based on these images.

Love thrives on the fight to be close but when the two lovers have achieved this closeness, the fight can turn towards the opposite direction.

Discovering Love and The Filipino: Bonsai by Edith L. Tiempo

I post here Edith Tiempo's poem immediately followed by Linda Sue Grime's reading of it. Like I said, some selections that should have been taken up in our last few meetings should just be taken up in brief. Instead of scheduling a make up class due to the class disruptions brought about by extra curricular activities such as the HRM event (SCOR-4H5?), Outreach activities(1POL), parties, etc, it would now be our responsibility to catch up (especially those clases affected.) I post the texts, my researches, old lectures and readings. You read, assimilate and understand and prepare for the major quiz and major exam :)


All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.

All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment-
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son's note or Dad's one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.

It's utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart's control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand's size

Till seashells are broken pieces
From God's own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.

Edith L. Tiempo's poem, "Bonsai," consists of four verse paragraphs; the lines are short and unrimed. The poem dramatizes the speaker's method of controlling emotions.

First Verse Paragraph: “All that I love”
In the first verse paragraph, the speaker claims enigmatically that she folds up everything she loves and places it “in a box / Or a slit in a hollow post / Or in my shoe.” At first, the speaker’s claims seem a little silly; placing a little note that you love all folded up into a “hollow post” does not resonate, especially when in the next line she claims she might also place the item in her shoe.

Second Verse Paragraph: “All that I love?”
Interestingly, the speaker anticipates being questioned about her statement, “All that I love.” So she makes a little pretense at answering the question, resulting in a flip-flop; she says she keeps those little items that she loves in these unusual places only “for the moment.” No, not only for the moment, but “for all time.” No, not just for all time but “for the moment” and “for all time.”

Then the speaker lists a few things that represent “Something that folds and keeps easy”: “Son's note or Dad's one gaudy tie, / A roto picture of a queen, / A blue Indian shawl, even / A money bill.” These are some of the things that speaker claims she folds up and keep in a box, a hollow post, or her shoe. At this point, the reader is intrigued by such a claim. Why the emphasis on shrinking things? Why the necessity of folding a hording in small places?

Third Verse Paragraph: “It's utter sublimation”
In the third verse paragraph, the reader learns that the speaker likes to fold things up because she wants “To scale all love down / To a cupped hand's size.” She called her “folding” up of things she loves an act of “sublimation.” She has the need to purify and control her own emotions.

It is with this verse paragraph that the title, “Bonsai,” becomes clear: the speaker needs to contain her emotions in a way similar to the horticulturist who contains the tree that becomes a dwarf of itself.

Fourth Verse Paragraph: “Till seashells are broken pieces”
Those things that fold—notes, ties, shawls, money—merely represent valuable things that in turn represent the speaker’s emotions. Emotions can be wild and uncontrollable and lead one grossly astray, but if one can sublimate them, shrink them down, and control them as the gardener does the “Bonsai,” then the speaker can control her own life, and her life and love “[will become] real / Things [she] can run and / Breathless hand over /To the merest child.”

The speaker wants to be able to explain her life and love even to a very young child; thus, she folds up her life in poems and keeps them orderly, ready to “hand over.”

Looking at War and the Filipino

People in the War and Wilderness of Sweets by Gilda Cordero Fernando are stories set during World War II, but they are a far cry from the conventional war tale, which would emphasize scenes of battles, acts of heroism or cowardice and political choices.

These stories are about being at war, but they are not about fighting in it. They are about surviving in it.

Unlike the conventional war stories, People in the War and Wilderness of Sweets do not have anything to do with the combatants. There are no characters who are soldiers. The Japanese have but shadowy presence until the last part of the story, when they become simply nameless, insane butchers. The Americans do not even make an appearance. The political reasons for the war are never mentioned. The focus is on the travails of the civilian population.

The fact that the narrator is an adolescentmakes this plausible, enables the writer to concentrate on the story she wishes to tell.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How To Write a Critical Paper


Ask Four Basic Questions as You Read:
1) What is the book/story/poem/chapter about as a whole?
2) What is the author saying about the food in detail, and how is it said?
3) Is it true, in whole or in part?
4) What is the significance of the work?


Ask Four Basic Questions as You Read:
1) What is the book/story/poem/chapter about as a whole?
2) What is the author saying about travel in detail, and how is it said?
3) Is it true, in whole or in part?
4) What is the significance of the work?

The following is a general structure to follow for the body of a critical paper. Be sure to include a suitable introduction and conclusion. Adapt it to specific assignments as appropriate.

Classify the material according to kind and subject matter.
Very briefly, state what the whole of the material is about.
Define the problem or problems that the author/speaker is trying to solve.

Find the important words (terms) in the book/message and determine the author’s meaning of these terms, with precision.
Identify the most important sentences (propositions) in the material, the ones that express the judgments on which the whole book/message rests. These are the foundational affirmations and denials of the author/speaker. They must be either premises or conclusions. State them in your own words.

Construct the author’s/speaker’s arguments, beginning with any assumptions and/or self-evident propositions. An argument is the author’s/speaker’s line of reasoning aimed at demonstrating the truth or falsehood of his or her claims, that is, the coherent series of reasons, statements, or facts that support or establish a point of view. If the arguments are not explicitly expressed in the material, you will need to construct them from sequences of sentences.


General Pointers.
From this point on, you will have a chance to argue with the author/speaker and express yourself, but keep in mind the following general maxims of scholarly etiquette:

Do not say that you agree, disagree, or suspend judgment until you have adequately interpreted the work being criticized. Do not begin criticism until you are able to say, with reasonable certainty, “I understand,” i.e., I have done an adequate job with parts one and two. Complete the task of understanding before rushing in.

When you disagree, do so reasonably and not contentiously.

Demonstrate that you know the difference between knowledge and personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgments that you make.
Three conditions must be satisfied if controversy is to be well conducted:
Make an attempt at impartiality by reading/listening sympathetically.
Acknowledge any emotions that you bring to the dispute.
State your own assumptions explicitly.

Determine, wherever possible, the origins and the consequences of the author’s/speaker’s arguments.

Try to locate the origins of the author’s/speaker’s ideas in the larger picture of history. What movements, currents of thought, or other thinkers might have influenced him or her? Then carry the author’s/speaker’s ideas to their logical conclusions. To the best of your ability and given the academic background that you already possess, relate the author’s/speaker’s ideas to those of other authors with whom you are familiar.

Judge the soundness of the author’s/speaker’s arguments.
As called for, show where the author/speaker is uninformed. To support your remarks, you must be able to state the knowledge that the author/speaker lacks and show how it is relevant, i.e., how it affects the conclusions.

As called for, show where the author/speaker is misinformed, where assertions are made that are contrary to fact. This kind of defect should be pointed out only if it is relevant to the conclusions. To support your remark, you must be able to argue the truth or greater probability of a position contrary to the author’s.

As called for, show where the author/speaker is illogical, where there are fallacies in reasoning. In general fallacies are of two sorts. There is the non sequitur, which means that the conclusion simply does not follow for the reasons that are offered. Then there is the problem of inconsistency, which means that two things the author/speaker has tried to say are incompatible. To make either of these criticisms, you must be able to show the precise respect in which the author’s/speaker’s argument fails to be forcibly convincing. Be concerned with this defect only if major conclusions are affected by it.
In addition, show where the author/speaker fails to draw any conclusions that are implied by the evidence given or principles involved.
If you have not been able to show that the author/speaker is uninformed, misinformed or illogical on relevant matters, you simply cannot disagree. You must agree, at least in part, although you may suspend judgment on the whole. If you have been convinced, you should admit it. If, despite your failure to support one or more of these critical points, you still honestly feel unconvinced, perhaps you should not have said that you understood in the first place!

Engage the key idea(s) that are most provocative and alive for you. Consider how your experience is similar to or different from what you read. Identify any spiritual issues as they arose for you and your way of responding to or struggling with them. Describe which key ideas, if any, might be applied in your area of discipline.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Seminar Paper Reminders for my Political Science students

A seminar is a small group of students and teachers.

A seminar paper is a record of what you say to the group about a topic you have studied.

Preparing a seminar paper gives you practice in technical writing which will help you when you write your thesis.

The title of your seminar paper should state your topic exactly in the smallest possible number of words.

Author's Name
Put your name (family name first), your ID number, the name of your department, and the name of the university under the title.

The abstract should state the most important facts and ideas in your paper. It should be complete in itself. The abstract should state clearly:
· the problem studied,
· the method used,
· the main results,
· the main conclusions.

Do not put information in the abstract, which is not in the main text of your paper. Do not put references, figures, or tables in the abstract.

The main text of your paper should be divided into sections, each with a separate heading.

The first section should be an introduction to your topic. This section should review the background of your topic and give an outline of the contents of your paper.

You should get the information for your paper from various sources, such as books, journals, lecture notes, etc. You must write the paper yourself using this information. You must not copy text written by other authors. Instead, select only the information you need and summarize this information in your own words.

The final section of your paper should summarize your conclusions.

You must give references to all the information that you obtain from books, papers in journals, and other sources. References may be made in the main text using index numbers in brackets.

Put a list of references, numbered as in the main text, at the end of your paper. The information you give in this list must be enough for readers to find the books and papers in a library or a data base.

For a journal paper give:
1. the names of the authors,
2. the year of publication,
3. the title of the paper,
4. the title of the journal,
5. the volume number of the journal,
6. the first and last page numbers of the paper.

For a book give:
1. the author,
2. the year of publication,
3. the title, and the edition number if there is one,
4. the name of the publisher,
5. the page numbers for your reference.

For an internet reference give:
1. the author of the web page,
2. the date of the web page,
3. the title of the web page,
4. the complete URL.

Every reference in your main text must appear in the list at the end of your paper, and every reference in the list must be mentioned in your main text.
Recommended Procedure for Writing a Paper
1. Write your title first. This will define your topic clearly and focus your mind on exactly what you want the paper to contain.
2. Search the literature and select the references on which the contents of your paper will be based. Write your list of references.
3. Make a list of your section headings and subheadings. This list will define the organization of the contents of your paper. The sections and subsections will contain not only material collected from other sources but also accounts of new work you have done: -- your observations, analysis of data, and conclusions.
4. Write the sections and subsections one by one in a simple clear style. Remember that the reader does not know in advance any of the details of the work you have done, so your account must be complete and easy to understand.
5. Write the abstract last by picking out the main points in your paper.

Font: Arial Unicode MS. Size 10
Spacing: Double spaced
No less than 5 pages
Paper: short bond

You will submit the paper on January 7. Please email me the file as in line text and as attachment by January 10, 2007. The title of the seminar paper should be on the subject line followed by your name (ex. Subject: Searching the Filipino Identity in F. Sionil Jose’s The God Stealer by Luis Asistio) No late papers will be accepted. The critical paper is 50 points and will be credited to your quizzes for the PRELIM.

The God Stealer: Filipino Identity in Fiction

The story God Stealer, like F. Sionil Jose's other novels concentrates on the debilitating effect of the colonial rule in the Filipino identity formation.

The story begins with two officemates Philip Latak (an Ifugao from the Mountain Province now working in Manila) and Sam Cristie, an American on the bus to Baguio.

Philip (Ip-pig) now lives in Manila against the wishes of his immediate family, particularly his grandfather who intended to bequeth to Philip his share of the famous rice terraces. They are on their way to Baguio for one purpose: Sam wants to buy a genuine Ifugao god as souvenir and Philip was to help him find an authentic one through his local connections.

Philip is a Christian who no longer has any respect or affection for the Ifugao customs and religion.

He considers himself a city boy and has no inclination to return to mountain life. Despite this attitude, his grandfather is pleased to see him and decides to throw a big party in his honor. On the day of the party, Sam and Philip discover that no Ifugao is willing to sell his god. And as a last resort, Philip offers to steal the god of his grandfather because he feels it would be his way of showing his gratitude to Sam for giving him a rise at work. The consequences of this act are severe.

The next day, his grandfather died because he discovered that his god was stolen. He also informs Sam that Philip will no longer be going back to Manila. Curious, Sam looks for Philip and find him working in his grandfather's house. Philip poignantly explains his reasons for choosing to stay in the mountains:

"I could forgive myself for having stolen it. But the old man- he had always been wise, Sam. He knew that it was I who did it from the very start. He wanted so much to believe that it wasn't I. But he couldn't pretend - and neither can I. I killed him, Sam. I killed him because I wanted to be free from these. These cursed terraces. Because I wanted to be grateful. I killed him who loved me most.." a faltering and stifled sob.

In the dark hut, Sam noticed that Philip is now attired in G-string, the traditional costume of the Ifugao. Furthermore, Philip is busy carving another idol, a new god to replace the old one which Sam will take to America as a souvenir.

Philip's repudiation of his Ifugao heritage may be extrapolated to mean that Filipino's rejection of his own roots and its replacement with colonial values.

Philip- Philippines
Sam- American (Uncle Sam)

It is significant that Philip steals the God for Sam out of gratitude.

Thus is it the Filipino gave up his most precious symbol of his past traditions to the Americans as an expression of gratitude?

And by giving this symbol away, the Filipino murders his own roots. Again, we see Jose's thesis:

The colonial culture has been a negative force in the Philippine History and hence, the tru Filipino is the tribal Filipino, or the poor Filipino least touched by colonial culture.

Jose presents the Filipino as confused, emotionally disturbed and helpless, plagued by the fact that he repudiated his past, or that he could not do anything to help the suffering.


Symbolic of the foreigner's exploitation and imperialistic ambitions on the Filipino.

More Notes on May Day Eve

Reading Nick Joaquin’s May Day Eve brings to mind stories told us as children. But the second reading of the story, and a closer reading at that, will not only reveal Joaquin’s fine craft but his lofty ideas as well.

May Day Eve is the magic night, proper time to consult oracles, hold séances. Certain rites and runes are supposed to enable you at midnight to behold in a mirror the face of the person fated to be yours love.

The plot of the summary may be simple enough.

In one part, Joaquin intends to present the circumstances of Aqueda describing her encounter with the devil in the mirror to her young daughter. The child is keen in fact sees a similarity of his father to the description of the devil by her mother. The ambiguity of Aqueda weeping towards the end renders innumerable possibilities.

In yet another part Joaquin is more determined to show the circumstances of Don Badoy Montiya’s recollection of seeing a witch in the mirror. Teary eyed, he recalls to his grandson that he saw standing before the mirror the witch.

Som have been guilty of looking at the story as a simple tale for little children, but Joaquin aims at something grander and loftier. His attention to present a man and a woman holding on to love until the death of them is worthy of note. His intention to exhibit the hazy romance of the old world, the quiet consummation of their love, itself an elevated thought, is a result of his great imaginative power.

The sexual overtones in the story are forgivable only because Joaquin aimed at a higher purpose. He is not only brave enough to make the suggestion but he is also dignified to scale those dangerous heights in good taste.

Initially, one is propelled to feel connection especially if one has been told of age-old ritual, but it is even true that you will at once be enthralled by it at first reading. The beauty of Joaquin’s language at once moves you.

Joaquin generously employed the figures of speech.

Many a times, Joaquin chose to repeat for amplification. This he intends to produce familiarity. He writes the following lines to begin the story so as to suggest a mood of the old world.

“…looked out upon the medieval shadows of the foul street where a couple of street-lamps flickered an a last carriage was rattling away upon the cobbles, while the blind black houses muttered hush-hush, their tiled roofs looming like sinister chessboards against a wild sky with clouds, save where an evil old moon prowled about in a corner or where a murderous wind whirled, whistling and whining, smelling now of the sea and now of the summer orchards and wafting unbearable Maytime memories of an old, old love…Guardia sereno-o-o! Alas dice han dado-o-o!”

He repeats exactly the same description of the foul street towards the end of the story to encourage the reader to remember the mood and promote further transport. The story should leave an impression that last even after the story has been put away.

Also note his asyndeton, his rapid flow of words with occasional stops.

“The ball had been in their honor: and they had waltzed and polka-ed and bragged and swaggered and flirted all night and were in no mood to sleep yet-no, caramba, not on this moist tropic eve! Not on this mystic May eve! – with the night still young and so seductive that it was madness not to go out, not to go forth..”

In fact, this beautiful word arrangement even if it is quite apart from the natural flow of words did not fail the computer auto-correction. As it is being typed in my computer, the program offered no automatic grammar correction at all!
May Day Eve immediately brings transport. His choice and striking words wonderfully attracts and enthralls.

“Mirror, mirror,
show to me
her whose lover
I will be.”

Joaquin’s phrasing not only used the words most striking but breathes life into what seem to be non-living as well consequently lending the work its delicious ambiguity and double meanings.

“She bewitched me and she tortured me. He ate my heart and drank by blood.”

Some Notes on May Day Eve

The following notes from May Day Eve were gathered from different blog sources:

The catholic imagination filters anything pleasurable and beautiful and luxuriant as tempting and therefore evil. Not surprisingly, the central characters in May Day Eve were both young, good looking, at the prime of their (sexual) lives and therefore teetering on the edge of sin. Which brings us to why evil is often represented as a beautiful temptress or as an extremely attractive man always ready to seduce you, or even as a highly coveted, rare object that can give you power, prestige or wealth (think Friday the 13th, Bedazzled, etc., Decadent Chociolate, a sinful treat.)

possible central idea

eventually, husband and wife will realize that they are married to the devil and the witch

a cynical assessment of marital relations (but I hope that we all prove this wrong when our own time comes)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Readings for the 6th Week

Theme: Filipino and Tradition

May Day Eve by Nick Joaquin
The God Stealer by F. Sionil Jose

More Readings on Merlinda Bobis' Sadness Collector

From Thread: The Sadness Collector
Author: Maria Nastassja Cordero AB Political Science

The story represents the importance of the specific roles played by each of the members of a Filipino family. It is evident that a mother and a father in a Filipino family tends to have a very distant role to perform in the household. The father should be the bread-winner while the mother should stay at home taking care of the kids. In the story The Sadness Collector they have seemed to break tradition. The mother went to Paris to work and actually be the bread winner while the father, although still working, stayed at home with Rica. In the absence of the mother, the Filipino perspective that the mother is the best person who can look out for the welfare of her child/children was represented in the story seeing Rica as a confused and disturbed child because her mom is not by her side. The father was so hard to connect with Rica because of the reason that it was hard for himself to accept the fact that he had to stay with his child which is for him is not his real role. Seeing this situation, I can say that a Filipino family tends to be more patriarchal and breaking this tradition seemed to be, for the many, ruining of the family. What is also evident here in this selection is the perspective of the very big role played by the mother in the Filipino family, they keep family ties and a child without a mother by his/her side tends to grow out of the way, being an incomplete person inside.

From Thread: The Sadness Collector
Post: The Heck on "The Sadness Collector"
Author: Ivanheck Gatdula AB Political Science

At first glance "The Sadness Collector" seems to be your typical story of a Filipino family, one of which we see on movies. The mother goes to a foreign country, leaving her children behind, while taking care of a stranger's child with the intent to give a comfortable living for the family. However, what seems to be the typical story may be classified as a "daily tragedy", Merlinda Bobis depicted the corroding of what is said to be the essence of a Filipino family, "Close Knitted Family Bonds". Young girls usually steps within the shadows of their mother, but Rica not like most girls, lost the chance in her growing years. Suffering a great loss from the physical distance of the mother from Paris, to the eventual emotional distance of the father, who refuses to read her mother's letter an and answer the questions about the baby pictures. In this story it is now obvious that the effects is focused on Rica, a model of every Filipino child that never/forgot feeling of the loving touch of their mothers. In Merlinda Bobis' "poetic" short story leaves an alarming message, a child who lost the joy of being her mother's daughter, Filipino family seized of its very essence - what do we do now?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lecture: The Sadness Collector

Lecture: The Sadness Collector
A Reading of Merlinda Bobis' The Sadness Collector

And she will not stop eating, another pot, another plate, another mouthful of sadness, and she will grow bigger and bigger, and she will burst.

Notice the transition of thought in the story. No familiar marks to separate the different thoughts within the story, not even quotation marks or italics.

What is the point of view of the story? What is its focus?

The sentences are clipped and the bedtime story (or whatever story it is that Rica’s father made up) weaves in and out, leaving the readers with only enough bits and pieces to make out that the main protagonist is a troubled little girl of six. The reader must stay attentive to grasp everything that is going on.

We even see some art sketches in this story.

snippets of bedtime stories, the central conciousness of Rica, the gossips of aunties intertwined with the philosophical descriptions of the omnicient narrator cleverly brings us to an understanding of this poignant story of a disturbed little girl and her displaced family.

As soon as Rica’s mother left for Paris to work as a domestic helper, her father has since repeatedly told her the story of the Big Lady (supposedly an imaginary creature who goes to collect any traces of sadness in everyone’s kitchen) to distract or divert her loneliness.

The Big Lady "goes from house to house and eats the sadness in many houses, it just keeps on growing each day, so she can’t stop eating, and can’t stop growing too."

"…checking the plates now, lifting the lid off the rice pot, peeking into cups for sadness, both overt and unspoken."

We see the psychological effect that the madeup story and the mother’s absence had on Rica:
Since Rica was three, when her father told her about Big Lady just after mother left for Paris, she has always listened intently to all the night-noises from the kitchen. No, that sound is not the scurrying of mice – she’s actually checking the plates now, lifting the lid off the rice pot, peeking into cups for sadness, both overt and unspoken.

What about the taste of salt in the following lines?

To Rica, it always tastes really salty, like tears, even her father’s funny look each time she asks him to read her again the letters from Paris.

Perhaps, she’s licking a spoon for any trace of saltiness, searching between the prongs of a fork. Unknown to Rica, Big Lady is wise, an old hand in this business. She senses that there’s more to a mouthful of sadness than meets the tongue. A whisper of salt, even the smallest nudge to the palate, can betray a century of hidden grief. Perhaps, she understands that, for all its practice, humanity can never conceal the daily act of futility at the dinner table.

(this despite her efforts to conceal her loneliness)

The Sadness Collector AKA Big Lady became Rica’s very defense mechanism, "an ambivalent relationship, confusing, but certainly a source of comfort."

Fascination, fear and a kinship drawn from trying to save each other. Big Lady saves Rica from sadness; Rica saves Big Lady from bursting by not being sad. An ambivalent relationship, confusing, but certainly a source of comfort. And always Big Lady as object of attention. Those days when Rica drew stick-drawings of her, she made sure the big one was always adorned with pretty baubles and make-up. She even drew her with a Paris ribbon to tighten her belly. Then she added a chic hat to complete the picture.

It is at this point where we are made to wonder who was the SHE being referred to in beginning of the story (if we are to get that as Rica gets older – hence – bigger, she will not be able to contain her sadness, that she will burst.

Things change with time, children grow up, old tales become boring, and sadness will not always be contained…

Bobis prepared us for this, hence

"Unknown to Rica, Big Lady is wise, an old hand in this business. She senses that there’s more to a mouthful of sadness than meets the tongue. A whisper of salt, even the smallest nudge to the palate, can betray a century of hidden grief. Perhaps, she understands that, for all its practice, humanity can never conceal the daily act of futility at the dinner table."

* * * * *

"Nowadays, her father makes sure he comes home late each night, so he won’t have to answer questions, especially about the baby photograph. So he need not improvise further on this three-year-old tall tale."

This part reveals the seriousness in the situation of the family. We come to realize that Rica’s father is now in denial, we are made to speculate on the affairs of the mother and then we are brought back to Rica’s tight-spot.

That’s the rice pot being overturned–

Her breaths make and unmake a hillock on the sheets -

A plate shatters on the floor –

Back to a foetal curl, knees almost brushing chin –

Another plate crashes –

She screams –

The pot is hurled against the wall –

She keeps screaming as she runs out of the bedroom, down to the kitchen –

And the cutlery, glasses, cups, more plates –

Big Lady’s angry, Big Lady’s hungry, Big Lady’s turning the house upside down –

Breaking it everywhere –

Her throat is weaving sound, as if it were all what is ever knew –


Big Lady wants to break all to get to the heart of the matter, where it’s saltiest. In the vein of a plate, within the aluminium bottom of a pot, in the copper fold of a spoon, deep in the curve of a cup’s handle –

Ropes and ropes of scream –


Her cheek stings. She collapses on the floor before his feet.

"I didn’t mean to. Dios ko po, I never meant to –

"Her dazed eyes make out the broken plates, the dented pot, the shards of cups, glasses, the cutlery everywhere –

He’s hiccupping drunkenly all over her –

"I didn’t mean to, Rica, I love you, baby, I’ll never let you go."

His voice hoarse with anger and remorse.

"She came back, Papa "

"She can’t take you away from me –"

"She’s here again – "

"Just because she’s ‘legal’ now – "

"She might burst, Papa – "

"That whore - !"

His hands curl into fists on her back.

Big Lady knows, has always known. This feast will last her a lifetime, if she does not burst tonight.

What does Bobis mean by these last lines?

It seems particularly appropriate to be taking Merlinda Bobis’ short story Sadness Collector to students who sooner or later will relocate by migration (or immigration), hoping they will not be displaced in their own respective 'Diasporas'.

The theme of diaspora, dislocation and displacement resurface in different guises throughout Bobis text - from the hybridity of language and food that emerge from the melding of different cultures that occurs during the process of migration, especially in 'The Sadness Collector' in which the problems of a young girl raised by her father while her mother honours overseas contracts abroad are poignantly and, at times, brutally heightened.


Please Log in DISCUSSION BOARD in your respective ELEAP accounts to answer the quiz. You may comment on the discussion board until 12nn of December 9, Sunday.

If 'The Sadness Collector' presents poignantly the problems of a young girl raised by her father while her mother honours overseas contracts abroad, how does this story then of Merlinda Bobis represent the Filipino family in this section?