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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Closer Look at the Philippine National Hero through Ambeth Ocampo's Rizal Without the Overcoat

by Jill Christianae A. Rendon


PROLOGUE


SUMMARY:

The Philippine National Hero, Jose P. Rizal is probably one of the most talked-about personalities in the history of the Philippines, not only because of the many information about his life carved in his literary works and through many accounts of people associated with him but more so because of those not told about him, leaving people of various fields debating, questioning, speculating about this hero dubbed as enigmatic. Some people say that Rizal was an American-sponsored hero. Others, on the other hand believe that he was already considered a hero long before the Americans sponsored him as such. This is ironic because Rizal did not really like America, and some Americans. Many students take Rizal courses for granted. Some even loathe the fact that they have to study Rizal, to the point of hating Rizal himself. Some Catholic schools, however have a different reason for protesting against making Rizal courses mandatory in universities, not because of laziness, or not seeing the need to study Rizal, but simply because some of Rizal’s principles are against the Catholic faith. Thanks to the efforts of Claro M. Recto, Rizal has become a mandatory course in college. Had it not been so, I wouldn’t have known the “man” behind the dates, names, historical events I had to memorize, without essential understanding, back in high school. I wouldn’t have known why he was made the national hero or wouldn’t have discovered that there were only 12 students in his class in Ateneo – nine of which, including him graduated sobresaliente or that it is wrong to attach “Dr.” to his name since he did not have a doctorate degree.

STRENGTHS:

This part of the book is very informative and has unmasked many misconceptions about Rizal, such as the issues about people dubbing him as an American-sponsored hero; how much he had favoured Europe and Europeans over America and Americans; the bill that that made Rizal courses mandatory in universities and many others.

It was also interesting how the author made use of rhetorical devices (questioning) to stimulate the readers’ critical thinking, to make them think beyond the lines, outside the context of hero-worship, to delve into a much bolder, more realistic truths about the hero, his life and Philippine history in general.

WEAKNESSES:

It bothers me, however, thinking why Rizal’s trip to America and Rizal’s Anti-Americanism were included in the prologue. Was his being anti-America generalizing his being a hero?

It also frustrates me to not have been provided by the reason of him not trying to have a doctorate degree in Ateneo. The author just cited a couple of possibilities – lack of money, time or interest. But this is probably not the author’s fault. Perhaps, the hero never really left a clue why.

FACTS AND POSSIBILITIES

SUMMARY:

To add to the various facts about the hero are the many possibilities and hearsays people have about him. The most famous one is Rizal being still alive or that he is indeed Jesus Christ who is worthy to be worshipped and be made “God,” thus the existence of the Rizalistas. It is also being said that there was a psychic in him, having expressed prediction of his death in his letters - his death that could have been prevented had a writ for him been issued by the Singapore Supreme Court, possibly changing the course, not only of his life, but of Philippine history, of the lives of many other Filipinos and historical events affected by him being a national hero.

It is also a historical fact that Rizal attempted to establish a Filipino colony in Sabah in 1892, having felt responsible for the eviction of the Calamba people. Had he succeeded, as the author pointed out, it would be easy for us to claim the island today.

STRENGTHS:

It is interesting how the author presented information about the Rizalistas, having done so with humor but with statements that did not sound offensive. This part of the book reminded me of how sincerely wrong many Filipinos can become. This is so because I believe the belief of the Rizalistas is rather absurd and funny. I also found Rizal being a psychic amusing, probably because I am able to personally relate to this. Many times in my life have I dreamed of events that either came true or revealed meaning about my present life. Going back to Rizal, I guess other than his being a psychic is his conscious will to decide for his life. It seemed as if he planned for events to take place and followed on what he had perceived himself and his life to be. He indeed made and decided for his life.

WEAKNESSES:

I think it would have been better if the author said his own opinion about the existence of the Rizalistas, of whether he could believe they had substantial reasons of making Rizal God or not. He sounds rather neutral, not doing so.

FAMILY AND OTHERS

SUMMARY:

It is not common knowledge to Filipinos that Rizal’s mother, Teodora Alonso came from a illegitimate branch of her family, meaning her mother was the second wife of his father. Rizal did not clearly state this in his writings, even to his letter to his good friend Blumentritt. Why? Moreover, it is not known to many that Rizal and his elder brother Paciano made a pact that only one of them should get married and that Paciano prevented Rizal’s plan of marrying his sweetheart Leonora Rivera by saying, “Iniisip mo lang ang iyong sarili,” sending him off to Europe again. It is also said in this part of the book that Rizal had a friar for a relative: the father of the husband of his sister Narcisa. Not many know that Blumentritt had role in the Propaganda War, having defended the Filipinos during the American occupation. Many people, however know that it was Valentin Ventura who helped Rizal published El Filibusterismo, but not that Rizal’s body was just dumped in an unmarked grave in Paco cemetery. The author also cited the similarities of Rizal and Ho Chi Minh, a Vietnamese hero.

STRENGTHS:

It was made clear to readers many controversies about Rizal’s family, specifically about issues of illegitimacy and inter-marriage. This part of the book also gave readers information about Rizal’s brother Paciano who helped him in his studies. This brings me to a realization that behind a hero are many heroes.

WEAKNESSES:

The family tree was quite confusing. Maybe it’s just me, but the author could have drawn it to give visual readers like me a much clearer picture of the discovery in Binan (of Rizal’s family scandal)

THE EVERYDAY RIZAL

SUMMARY:

It is fascinating to know that the national hero’s favourite food is tuyo and that he is a stingy kind of person who’d rather spend on books than on food, or that he did not mind not taking a bath for months. In this part of the book is an account of Tinong, Rizal’s servant in Dapitan. He expressed how good Rizal was as a master. Rizal’s clinic was also described here, and the possibility of Rizal having tried illegal drugs was presented. The books Rizal read were being cited, making us think just how much of a wide reader he is. No wonder, he could write so well. Rizal’s friend Juan Luna’s steps to fame were also mentioned here. It is most exciting, however reading information about Rizal such as how he hated Chinese merchants because of a Chinese rival he had in Dapitan, and how they competed in selling stockings. Included here is Rizal’s suggestion of a daily school program, which would have produced tired yet cultured Filipino children.

STRENGTHS:

It was amazing how the author got hold even of small information about the hero, things like what he ate, what his servant said about him, things that make up huge part of who our national hero is. I would also like to comment not on the author but of Rizal’s ability to pay so much attention to details. I have never known a very detailed person like him. I also admire the author’s reminding the readers to keep even small things today that are potential antiques in the future.

WEAKNESSES:

It was not stated why Rizal got into a lawsuit against his Chinese merchant rival. I mean, it was stated that they competed a lot, but to the extent of filing a lawsuit? How come?

THE LEGENDARY TALENT

SUMMARY:

Rizal was a very good writer, but there are some literary works he did not finish, such as his Los Animales de Suan that could have been written in 1887 – 1888. This work of his was very much alike to George Orwell’s Animal Farm published in 1946. Coincidence?

In this book, the author stated some of Rizal’s view about Christianity, that what has been intended for the poor has started to oppress them and exalted the rich.

The author also included in this part of the book Rizal’s exposition of the Filipino food culture in his novel, the Noli, and the lusty passages from it: funny, witty and yes, lusty. Readers are also made to play detective and historian, taking them to real places described in his novels, specifically, the Noli. Discussions people make of the Noli a century after are also discussed, including many translations, some nose-bleeding, some funny, some simple enough to be understood by a seven year old. The controversies of both the Noli and the El Filibusterismo were mentioned, along with Rizal’s unfinished third novel, and his unsigned and untitled poem, Ultimo Adios, including the debate on when it was made and its translations.

STRENGTHS:

This part of the book exposed the readers to the literary side of Rizal, which I believe was a huge part of him. He literally wrote about everything. And this inspires me a lot. Had he not done so, we would be left to wonder and guess about our national hero, or he wouldn’t have been made hero at all.

WEAKNESSES:

The author stated that Rizal was exposed to Protestantism that’s why he had views different from that of the Catholics. But I would like to comment, being a protestant, that his idea that Christianity is for the poor, does not generalize the belief of Protestantism. It is only a part of it and it is more accurate to say that Christians (real ones) believe that Christianity is both for the poor and the rich. Rizal’s statement therefore tells me that though he was exposed to Protestantism, he missed the huge part and the essence of it.

LIVING WITH RIZAL

SUMMARY:

An interview between the author and one of Rizal’s good biographers, Austin Coates was made, bringing much light to many controversies and hearsays. It was also said in this part of the book that Rizal was the victim of a struggle between Spain and Spain, based on the interview made with Manuel Sarkisyanz, a historian.

STRENGTHS:

Austin Coates’ emotion in writing was very appealing. It was obvious he likes Rizal. I also liked it that in the interview, the author asked Austin Coates why, of all the personalities, he wrote about Rizal. His answer which was that simply because there wasn’t any good biography written about him was impressive because it was honest and it made me ponder upon the realities of Philippine literature.

It was admirable how the author kept to his being open during the interviews without appearing neutral.

WEAKNESSES:

The interview made with Manuel Sarkisyanz was not easy reading. There were characters not explained, such as La Loba Negra.

EPILOGUE

SUMMARY:

Rizal had a dream of convening an international congress where scholars interested in the Philippines would meet, read papers and talk shop. He even outlined his reflected view and periodization of Philippine History, showing his biases and inclinations. In this part, his last letters are discussed, and how pieces of anything related to Rizal are not allowed to rest in peace as people make such a big deal about his relics. The theft of the Noli and the El Fili was also narrated here. The rest of the topics discussed are the never-ending comparison of national heroes: Rizal vs. Bonifacio, etc.

STRENGTHS:

Rhetorical questions were very interesting: Did Rizal marry Josephine or not? Did Rizal love Josephine enough to make a retraction of religious errors? Actually, these were the questions I formulated in my mind after watching the film, Ang Bayaning Third World in this Rizal class. I didn’t know scholars have been asking them. Interesting.

WEAKNESSES:

The account of the theft of the Noli and the El Fili was cut short, leaving me asking questions as to how they were finally retrieved.

POSTCRIPT

SUMMARY:

Included in this part of the book are Rizal’s creation of comics, of him being a potential psychotherapist, having explained the psychology of kulam; of his prescription of it, his stories about him and Mariang Makiling, his assets, vital statistics, truths about his penmanship, the artist in him, getting to know him, certain mistakes the hero made in other countries that made him spend a lot of money, his love and use of the Tagalog language, his life in Paris, the account of a specific guy named Tobino who was stolen money from in Madrid, Rizal’s letters in English, about his trip along the Pasig River, his stay in the British Library, how he paid attention to how Italians designed their houses and recommended his family to do the same, about Rizal the teacher and his students, Rizal’s life in Dapitan, of him being a farmer and a businessman, the poetry he made there, the greatness behind him, how he saw children, the possibility of him being a mover of the revolution, his wide-ranging medical practice.

STRENGTHS:

This part is more in-depth about Rizal. And as I have gone far in reading, owing to the minute details that when put together create a huge part of him, the hero now becomes to me more and more interesting, not that he was perfect, but that he was imperfect, just like me and everybody else.

WEAKNESSES:

I think the arrangement of topics could be done better. Rizal in far-off Dapitan should be followed by Rizal, as a Farmer and a Businessman, being closely related to each other in context.

OUR RIZALS

SUMMARY:

It was discussed in this part of the book the following topics: the question of Rizal being against or pro revolution, his retraction from Masonry, his being a prophetic and conscious hero, the possibility of the Katipunan having framed him, a centennial Rizal did not want (this pertains to Rizal’s wishes for his grave and some other requests of him not being followed) and lastly, the morning of his death.

STRENGTHS:

The last part of the book was moving. I myself wondered how Rizal felt facing the squad that would soon put an end to his life. It was amazing that his pulse was normal. It is also interesting how he remained to be a man of principle even to the last day of his life, having requested a lot of things from the Spaniards such as not shooting him on the head.

This part is dramatic, it brings the soft side in every reader.

WEAKNESSES:

It would have been better if the author voiced out his own side of whether he thinks Rizal retracted or not and why or why not. I believe it is as important to know WHY Rizal retracted as knowing whether he really retracted or not.

RECOMMENDATION

Based on the weaknesses pointed out in this literary criticism, the author could consider the following points:

First, the inclusion of Rizal being anti-American in the prologue. I think it is better placed somewhere else. Second, it would be better if the author took side on some controversies such as the retraction issue. In many controversies, he sounded neutral. Third, the author could also provide some background information about certain characters or events mentioned, for easy reading. Fourth and the most important of all, it has just occurred to me that no book about Rizal’s spirituality has been made yet. Surely, one of the greatest controversies about him was his principles against the Catholic faith, specifically about important figures like Mary, his being exposed to Protestantism and Agnostic beliefs. Besides, religion is an important element in the retraction issue. An in-depth study of his spirituality may lead us to answers to questions like: “What was really his personal, religious belief?” “What did he think about life after death?” “Was he sure of his salvation at the last moment of his life?” “Was he madly in love with Josephine Bracken that he was willing to forget even religious beliefs he had already rejected and those he had already embraced?”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ocampo, Ambeth R. Rizal without the Overcoat. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc. 2008.

Hindu Ideals of Men and Women


by Jill Christianae Rendon


We hear people say that life is larger than things most of us are most likely to be inclined to and those that happen naturally for us, that there is a role for each person to play in some specific relation, or in some particular situation. Some call it calling; others say it’s duty. The Indians, however, call it dharma, one of the important Hindu ideals around which the lifestyle of Indian men and women revolve.

For Hindu men, ownership of one’s fate is very important. This is clearly shown by how Rama of Ramayana wholeheartedly accepted his fate of banishment by his father who favoured his brother Bharat as regent-heir over him and even despite knowing of Kaikeyi’s influence over his father’s decision. This choice of him submitting to his fate is fulfillfing his dharma as a son: to give respect and honor to his father all the time, despite falling victim to a seemingly unjust decision made by him. It was also observable that Rama did not only live according to his dharma, he also tried to help his wife, Sita live up to hers, assuring her that everything was going to be fine and that she should submit to Bharat’s authority, herself. In fact, he encouraged her to have a good relationship with him and those related to him and did not talk wicked about them or told her to seek revenge. As a son, his father’s will became his ultimate priority and as a husband, helping his wife live the right way surpassed his need for comfort. This is the same character shown by Satyavan of the story Savitri, who after rising up from the dead, badly hurt by a deadly arrow, assured her wife Savitri that he was strong again. Somehow, we could see that what is common to these men is their innate, natural tendency to try to be strong for their wives and make them feel secured.

Respect for holy things is also important to them. This is exhibited when despite of being a king, King Dushyanta of the story Shakuntala, paid honor and respect to the hermitage and even to a deer that belongs to it. This was specifically shown when not wanting to disturb the hermitage, he dismounted from his horse from a distance. He also tried to wear modest garments on entering, giving his jewel and the bow to the charioteer. It is therefore seen here that for Hindus, it is expected that every one submits to each other’s position.

The Hindu principle of dharma is likewise important to women as it is to men. For them, fulfilling their dharma is equivalent to living life, in general. Sita of Ramayana, for instance did not mind the adjustment she had to make from living in the palace to staying in the forest with husband Rama for his banishment. To her, her role as a wife, which is to follow her husband wherever he goes and to serve him and make him happy, weighs heavier than any comfort or convenience she could have. The same is true for Savitri who chose to step out of her comfort zone to serve her husband who did not have a very fortunate state. She in fact faithfully fulfilled her duties as a wife, serving not only his husband, but her husband’s parents. She also tries to fulfil her dharma as a potential mother, by trying her best to bring back her husband’s life so she could be a mother to noble children. This is the same faithfulness to a dharma that makes Shakuntala take care of her plants with so much sensitivity and faithfulness. She notices even small details about them, and waters them faithfully. It is also might be a Hindu ideal for women to check their motives and question their feelings, evaluating the appropriateness of a certain emotions.

There may be apparent, very prominent things of this life: comfort, romance, and many others many of us seek to attain. For Hindus, however, life is not about experiencing them but sometimes letting go of them to really “live life”. This is dharma. There is just more to life.

The Images of Filipino Women as Shown in Philippine Literature


by Jill Christianae Rendon


Though each woman is unique, at one point or another, one falls into some sort of a stereotype. The women in the short stories read are typical either of young girls, teenagers, career women, city girls, nurturing mothers or wives, etc.

Julia Salas is the liberated woman who does not live according to people’s standards. She says what she thinks without sugarcoating, rather with utter honesty, a touch of practicality, expressed in humor, sweet feminine shyness and demure. She is so unlike Esperanza who is the educated type and the woman on pedestal, the type who looks at people and situations according to a specific belief. When perhaps urged to express some negative opinion, her speech would be coated with euphemism, articulated with grace and elegance. Carmen, on the other hand is the typical sister, concerned of the goings on in family members’ lives, the conformist who believes in things like the standard marrying age. Soledad is the submissive wife, the kind who looks to her husband’s best interest, the type, who is not courageous enough to confront things head on, but rather expresses her emotions and deals with them secretly. Tinay is the na├»ve type of wife, one who thinks of marriage as a practical stage, something that naturally happens to every woman. Trining is the young girl, one who has a world of her own. Playing Siklot solemnly by herself, she shows her ability to enjoy doing things alone, requiring less supervision and attention. Zita is the active young girl; the type who likes to show herself off, especially to her few favorite people, practicing the art of not being noticed. Lumnay is the type of woman who is nearly perfect except for one very important thing, one who is not brave enough to initiate a radical change against a law, but rather settles abiding with the norms and the notion that life must go on no matter what. Madulimay is the woman who may not possess many desirable characters like Lumnay, but has the ability every man looks for in a woman. Maria is the woman on pedestal, the city type of lady, used to the “conveniences” the city life offers, yet does not mind flexing to the provincial life, for some sake she has firmly decided to stand for. Tinang is the nurturing mother. Though hurt by a painful past, she moves on with life, wanting to protect and give the best for her child despite of it. Senora is the typical caring mistress who gets involved in her workers’ lives, the type who hides her concern towards them with blunt expressions of her opinions, bad as they may sound. Anastasia is the typical old lady who puts playful little girls to bed by telling them scary stories. Agueda is the rebellious, adventurous girl. She has characters typical of a young lady, strongly desiring to experience romance even in a creepy, mysterious way. Ms. Mijares is the educated woman, the type who keeps standards, specifically about men, but does not mind slightly altering them for her own sake. Girl (Magnificence) is the typical active, young girl who likes to have the best of the trends; the type who may not be able to name but can smell the offense as they come. Mother (Magnificence) is the nurturing mother, who could set aside her own emotions for the sake of her children, making her the type of woman who does not act out of impulse. Aida is the woman on pedestal, the girl of every man’s dream, and every teenage boy’s first love. She is raised with good manners, trained to be tactful and accommodating. Ms. Noel is the woman on pedestal, the model teacher, the type who cares more about standing up for her beliefs than being recognized or living a life of fortune.

Each character mentioned is rather different from the other, but thousands of other women are just in the same boat as them. No woman is ever alone.

Lost in the Culture: A Character Analysis of Gentle Lena by Gertrude Stein




by Jill Christianae A. Rendon

GENTLE LENA

Lena is described in the story as a patient, gentle, sweet and a German, one who is well liked by everybody. She lives in a very tight culture, but she remains patient. We could speculate that her patience is highly cultural. She might have assumed that every scolding is done for her good and that is why she never complains about it. Because of her naivety, the other girls who watch the other children with her like to tease her for Lena was the kind who would not easily catch the queer things they are saying. She is not easily angered and their teasing only makes a gentle stir within her. Lena is also known to be the comforting type, the kind who feels obliged to comfort someone who is in distress.

Physically, Lena is brown, not dark, but light brown. Her skin is said to match well with her hazel eyes. She has too abundant straight hair, brown hair. She is flat-chested, has a straight back and forward falling shoulders as one obviously accustomed to work. She has flat, soft featured face that shows her patience, old-world ignorance. She has thick, black eyebrows that again emphasize her being a patient, working, gentle German woman.

Lena is a peaceful person in a way that she does not bother anyone. She may be bothered by the other girls a lot of times but she does not get angry. The characteristics of these girls like Mary, who is described to be good-natured, quick and intelligent highlight even more, her opposite traits – plain, flat, slow.

In the middle of the story, in the context of family, Lena is described to be not an important daughter in the family. She is always dreamy and not there. She does her routines but never beyond that. She is also described to be still and docile and could not decide for herself or want to do things her way.

She is the type who does not speculate or rationalize. When she was brought by her aunt to Bridgepoint, somehow, she senses life will be better there; then again she does not know it is her present situation she is trying to walk away from. She does not like being teased and the worse is she does not know it. The bad feeling of being teased that she does not even reflect on becomes her motivation to go to Bridgepoint, besides the fact that she simply wants to follow her aunt and “be good.” In here, we begin to see a person who is like a leaf, that simply flies off wherever the wind takes her, one who wants to please the “natural flow of things” as if she has no life of her own, as if she owes her very life to the people around her.

She is also the type who easily accepts even tragic happenings such as death, shown when she got sick on the way to Bridgepoint and was almost sure she would die right then and there. In this part of the story, she is described this way again: “Lena who was patient, sweet and quiet had no self-control, nor any active courage.”

In this part, it is already quite noticeable that the author has been stressing a lot on Gentle Lena’s being sweet, patient and gentle. It sounds positive on the onset but when it is followed by “had no self control, nor any active courage,” the statement suddenly becomes a sarcasm. It is as if, when one is to be sweet, patient and gentle, she has to compromise losing self control or any active courage.

Gentle Lena was described this way: “… but it never came to Lena’s unexpectant and unsuffering German nature do so something different from what was expected of her, just because she would like it that way better.” Through this, we now see that her characters are indeed greatly rooted in her being German. She does not simply want to follow her desires, she does what is expected of her, according to the demands of her culture. Because of this, she unconsciously chooses to forget her real feelings and just continues to do what she thinks is “right”. Till the end of the story, she never changes and this is why she is said to be a flat character. It seems like she even produced three persons like herself: her three gentle children.

MRS. HAYDON

Mrs. Haydon is described to be a hard, ambitious, well-meaning, hardworking, rich German woman. Physically, she is short and stout. She has a reddish face and hardened from its early blonde. She is the kind of person who likes interfering with relatives’ lives, but could not control her own children’s life. She could not make her son and daughters behave the way she wants to. There are times she has to force them to do something, like kissing the hands of her parents (the children’s grandparents). Her inability to discipline them can also be attributed to her being busy.

She is described to be a good and generous woman. Because of her people being of the middling class of farmers, she is wealthy and important. Many people listen to her for advice on how to do things better. In short, she is a “know-it-all,” the kind who always has something to say about everything. She would criticize people’s decisions in the past and would tell them how to do them better.


HERMAN KREDER

He is the man version of Gentle Lena. He is a gentle soul and a little fearful. He has a sullen temper and is obedient to his parents. He is also the people pleaser type who still gets scolded by people even despite his age (He is 28) and easily accepts it. He has friends. He would spend time with them but is never really joyous in doing so. By this, his life is also like Lena’s – simply getting by, not caring for enjoyment, and not getting the most out of life. He does not like girls and had no plans of getting married. This character of his as well as Lena’s can be attributed much to the way the people in their surroundings treat them, and the culture they are in. It seems after all that in a very tight culture, one’s character becomes blended with that culture, losing one’s individuality. One tends to rather go with the flow and forget about the self. Herman Kreder appears in the story as a cold husband, yet never really a bad one, one who does not have many major conflicts with his wife, but does not have a passionate love story with her either. He is the kind of “good person” who wants to do his job well. To him, it is a job to be a father, just as it was like a job to fulfill a promise to marry Lena. He becomes a good father because that is what his culture dictates.

A Psychological Perspective on the Novel: Morgan’s Passing by Anne Tyler


by Jill Christianae Rendon

Morgan’s Passing, a novel written by Anne Tyler in 1979 is a story of a middle-aged, eccentric man named Morgan Gower, married to his happy go-lucky wife named Bonny. Morgan sees events happening in his family such as his daughters’ seemingly disorderly lives and his incompatibility with his wife as a total disorder. This paper now looks at the psychology in Morgan’s eccentricity as a result of such situations, specifically his identity crisis and conjectures how he may overcome it.

The novel starts and ends with the telling of the Cinderella story. Through this, we now foresee that the story will be about many imaginings, fantasies and exploring the world of possibilities. This is the world to Morgan in the midst of his identity crisis. Morgan clearly is presented as a man who is not so sure about himself. His marriage to Bonny, to begin with, is not the typical boy-meets-girl love story. Morgan expresses this when he says he just married her for her money. Ironically, he ends up not becoming satisfied about financial matters. As a result of his being married to Bonny, he gets a job as a manager at Cullen Hardware, a hardware store owned by Bonny’s family. This is a job he is not really interested in. His house is also described, in detail, to be a real mess. His senile mother and spinterish sister live with him, in his crowded house, full of his daughter’s kids and babies, with all their problems and issues in life. At one point in the story, Morgan makes a dramatic recount of how mysterious his father’s suicide is. He basically grew up not knowing him.

The novel is strongly descriptive. Many descriptions of the surroundings describe the realities about Morgan’s life. His family life, for instance is shown through photographs.

Then there is the Gower family album with family pictures widely spaced, mostly from vacations at the beach, giving a sense not only that life was an endless vacation but also that years and generations collapsed on one another in a swiftly moving stream of time. (Williams, 1981)

As a result of these situations, Morgan seems to be merely living life outside of himself, like watching the “movie of his own life” played before his very eyes.

Morgan is not fully a part of this life; he stays on the edge. Himself a person with many interests and hobbies, most unrelated to any of the others, he lives in a house of related people with unrelated worlds. (Williams, 1981)

Morgan is too imaginative, he would wear costumes to assume roles and play pranks on people. A lady once works as a clerk at Cullen’s Hardware which Morgan imagines to be called “Pa and Ma Hardware”. In the course of his imagining, out of nowhere, he calls her, “Ma,” alarming her so much that she quits. He pretends to be a doctor when he meets the Merediths: Emily and Leon, in Emily’s pregnancy labor. We then discover later that he, in fact has been watching their family life before then, how it looks organized and orderly. He meticulously notices their neat-looking, orderly outfit (white sweaters and corduroys), and tells Bonny he wants one of his own. Bonny who thinks it is just one of his wild imaginings, does not understand the depth of Morgan’s behavior. To her, he is simply not normal.

Morgan’s disorderly life is manifested in many ways.

You could say he was a man who had gone to pieces, or maybe he'd always been in pieces; maybe he'd arrived unassembled. Various parts of him seemed poorly joined together. His lean, hairy limbs were connected by exaggerated knobs of bone; his black-bearded jaw was as clumsily hinged as a nutcracker. Parts of his life, too, lay separate from other parts. His wife knew almost none of his friends. His children had never seen where he worked; it wasn't in a safe part of town, their mother said. Last month's hobby --- the restringing of a damaged pawnshop banjo, with an eye to becoming suddenly musical at the age of forty-two --- bore no resemblance to this month's hobby, which was the writing of a science-fiction novel that would make him rich and famous. (Williams, 1981)

Morgan has to go surreal to not arrive at a point wherein, like his father, he will give up. His assuming of different personalities becomes his coping mechanism to survive the many issues he has to face in life.

Morgan’s disorderly life and eccentric ways are foiled to the lives and ways of the Merediths. The events in Emily’s life, a focused, orderly woman is juxtaposed against Morgan’s to highlight the missing elements in his life. Emily who has been married to Leon, an angry, distant husband for twelve years is a flat character: an undramatic, plain, simple puppeteer who is otherwise, timid and passive. Morgan seems to be drawn to these characteristics in her, that eventually he falls in love with her. This character of Emily’s is manifested in her pictures.

Emily’s pictures, probably underexposed and at any rate bathed in thoroughly unreal amber light, show each person alone, glowing, idealized, gazing out with trust. Emily, who always seems the same herself, absolutely steady, simple, quiet, and clear, somehow photographs others so that they exist as if in that same direct, clear-eyed vision. (Williams, 1981)

Morgan sees this and witnesses a totally opposite state of his own. He is so unlike her that he becomes attracted to her. He so embraces that part of her which could never be his. It was as if in his quest for identity, he finds himself in another person. Though not conscious about it, he feels he needs a sense of simplicity to become stable and to face himself, something he conjectures to be impossible with Bonny and his own family. Emily too has the same issue, but hers is another story. Their two distinct personalities that seemingly create a harmonious world between them: Morgan helping Emily out with things Leon would not, and Emily helping Morgan come to terms with reality, now become a strong reason for them to stay together as a family.

At the last part of the novel, Morgan confronts Bonny’s act of putting his name in the obituary. This angers Morgan that he strongly wants to confront her of her reason. He finds out that Bonny did so to declare that she has started seeing someone and that she will finally give him a divorce. The meaning of the title, “Morgan’s Passing” now begins to unravel as we begin to understand that his old life as represented by his marriage to Bonny has died, and that by living a new life with Emily, maybe, just maybe, he might just find himself; but, because the story ends with the last part of the Cinderella story, we can guess that Morgan might emerge victorious in his quest for himself, by being with Emily and through his present life and new job as a U.S. Mail postman.

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References

Williams, M. (1981). Magill’s Literary Annual. New York: Salem press, Inc.

de Usabel, Frances Esmonde. 2002. Book Review: Morgan’s Passing. 6, 746, Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=7409569&site=ehost-live

n.a. (n.d.) Morgan’s Passing. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Morgans-Passing-Anne-Tyler/dp/0449911721

n.a. (n.d.) Bookreporter: Morgan’s Passing by Anne Tyler. Retrieved from http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/0449911721.asp

Leonard, J. (1980). The New York Times: Morgan’s Passing. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1980/03/17/books/tyler-passing.html

My Year 2010

"Lord, thank you for proving to me this year that you bless me simply because I am your child and that you are a good God. It has indeed been a fabulous year with You. I love you..."
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On the onset of this year, I asked God to bless me and the following are the ways He answered:

1. I had a great summer vacation with the Sebastian family and my family in Bohol.
2. I started a lifestyle of wellness and lost 21 lbs. not because of stress, but by being healthy.
3. I established new friendships (Jessica, Chelly).
4. I saw the fruit of my personal ministry through PNU-Campus Crusade for Christ in the lives of Irene, Grace, Andrew, Tesa, Kat, Joana.
5. My brother-in-law, my brother, my sister-in-law will have a better job soon.
6. Another brother of mine is becoming serious with his studies.
7. Visiting Kuya Lando and Ate Hazel's house in Cavite and staying with the Sebastian family has been a blessing to me.
8. I have established healthy friendships with men who have expressed special interest in me.
9. I made it through my off campus life that was at first, depressing to me. I learned deep insights about my personal calling. I was also given the opportunity to do a return teaching demo twice and will do another one next year.
10. I am preparing to go somewhere where I could share the love of Christ.
11. My life in college has been great. I have seen changed lives through CCC and despite the stress, I am enjoying my studies, especially my Literature classes :)
12. By God's grace, I am graduating soon :)

Praise God! To Him be all the glory, honor and praise!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


This article is from Yahoo Health. I decided to post it because it was helpful to me. It might be helpful to you.

9 Reasons Your Body Thinks It's Hungry


A staggering 63 percent of Americans are overweight. The most common cause? We eat more food than we need—and we're all guilty of doing it: mindlessly munching on a bag of pretzels during a reality TV marathon or treating ourselves to a second helping when the first was plenty. But boredom and indulgence aside, why else are we reaching for a snack when we should feel full? Some of it can be blamed on habit, while other triggers have more to do with our body's hunger signals. Check out the list below to find out the most common overeating pitfalls and simple solutions for avoiding these traps.

1. You didn't get enough sleep last night.
Lack of rest stimulates two faux hunger triggers: energy deficiency, to which our natural reaction is to nourish our bodies, and appetite hormone confusion. "When our bodies are drained, levels of leptin—a hormone produced by our fat cells that controls our appetite—decrease, while levels of gherlin—a hormone produced by our stomach that stimulates our appetite—increase," explainsAmerican Dietetic Association spokeswoman Karen Ansel, RD. That's two hormones working against you. "Getting eight hours of sleep a night is the easiest thing you can do to prevent overeating." If you do fall short on zzz's, be sure to load up on nourishing, naturally energizing foods—such as fresh fruit, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins—throughout the day to help your body feel satisfied.

2. You're taking medication that causes hunger as a side effect.
If you felt ravenous the last time you were taking an antibiotic to tame an allergic reaction, joint inflammation, acne or a bad cold, the medicine may be to blame. "Medication that contains mild steroids, like prednisone, a corticosteroid, ramp up hunger big time," says Milton Stokes, RD, owner of One Source Nutrition, LLC. "If you've already eaten a normal-size meal, ignore the drug-inflated hunger," says Stokes. Instead, try an oral fix like chewing gum, sipping warm coffee or brushing your teeth, he suggests. If you're on long-term steroid therapy, consult a dietitian to devise an eating plan that will help you feel more satisfied throughout the treatment.

3. You're thirsty or dehydrated.
The symptoms of dehydration (sleepiness, low energy) closely mimic those of being overly hungry, which may lead you to think you need food to increase your energy level, explains Sandon. When you're thirsty, your mouth becomes dry, a symptom that eating will temporarily relieve, notes Sandon. She suggests drinking a tall glass of water or cup of herbal tea before eating and waiting for your body's hunger signals to adjust (about 10 minutes). "Doing so could save hundreds of calories."

4. It's "mealtime."
As creatures of habit, we tend to eat on autopilot. While some regularity is encouraged so that you don't become overly hungry, which could lead to bingeing, it's also important to listen to hunger signals, says Ansel. "Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself: 'Am I really hungry?' If the answer is 'no,' either eat a smaller portion or put off the meal for an hour—though no longer than that," suggests Ansel. This also applies to situations you associate with eating, like flying. "We've been conditioned to associate an airplane ride with eating," Ansel says. The solution: "Pay attention to timing," recommends Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, assistant professor of nutrition at University of Texas Southwestern. "Know how long the flight is and plan satisfying meals around it." Also, take advantage of the free (hydrating) beverages, she adds, as the enclosed space leads to hunger-causing dehydration.

5. You just worked out.
We are conditioned to feed ourselves after exercising. And, after a particularly strenuous exercise session like a spinning class or interval-training workout, we tend to feel ravenous. But that doesn't mean your body needs extra calories. "It means your body needs a specific kind of nourishment," says Marissa Lippert, RD, a nutrition consultant and dietitian in New York City. Opt for roasted chicken or other lean meats (protein will replenish your muscles) and brown rice or other whole grains (complex carbohydrates take a while to break down) to help your body recover faster and fend off hunger longer.

6. Not enough time has passed since you finished your meal.
You've just eaten lunch only to wonder: "Why am I still hungry?" Before you assume you didn't eat enough, consider that maybe you ate too quickly. "Appetite hormones need time to tell your brain you're full," explains Sandon. To prevent post-meal hunger pangs, keep these pointers in mind: Eat slowly, putting down your fork between bites; choose flavorful and satisfying foods; and include a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrates in every meal. If you're still hungry, try sucking on a mint to ward off your cravings.

7. The women around you are eating.
A joint study out of Duke University and Arizona State University found that women tend to mirror other women's eating habits. "When one overdoes it, the rest often follow along," Ansel confirms. To avoid this copycat effect, Lippert suggests taking a quick minute to reassess your own eating habits—or, if all else fails, grabbing a pal and evacuating the scene of the food. A more permanent fix? Be the one who sets a healthy example for your girlfriends to follow. Their waistlines will thank you! "Just as obesity is contagious, so are healthy habits," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet.

8. You smell or see food.
"We tend to eat with our senses more than our stomachs," says Ansel. When we smell or see food—even if it's in a photo, advertisement or TV show—our mouths water, which stimulates our appetite. Onset factors can include smelling a batch of cupcakes baking, seeing snack food laid out on the counter or watching a cooking show. The clear-cut solution: "Out of sight, out of mind." Leave the room, hide the candy jar, turn off the TV—and the craving to eat will likely subside, says Ansel.

9. You're stressed out.
"Studies show that when people recognize they're stressed, they are more likely to turn to high-fat, salty or sugary foods," says Sandon. "These foods both are comforting and feel good in the mouth," she adds. But it's not all about emotional eating. Sandon notes that your body's chemical reaction to stress could also cause hunger pangs. "Increased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and insulin may be associated with triggering appetite." Either way, appetite control boils down to decision-making. Before reaching for the ice cream tub, try quickly clearing your mind.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My First Literature Teacher


One of the things I will forever thank my mom for is how she exposed me, at a very young age, to the world of literature, or should I say, how she began to expose me to the world through literature. When my sister and I were little, she would have us rest in her arms before going to bed or during siesta time, to tell us the story of the monkey and the turtle, the rabbit and the turtle, and many other short stories.When I turned five, she would sometimes come home from running errands and surprise me with a storybook. The first one she got me was William Tell. She wouldn't just buy me books, she would read them to me. One of my favorites was Little Red Riding Hood. My mother is neither a professional teacher nor an actress, but she would read the lines with feelings (sound effects and all) that I easily transcended to many places, with different characters, learning different life lessons. One day, she bought me and my sister a volume of fairy tales that came with a tape and a book. We would read the book together while listening to the tape. Until now, the voice of Rapunzel's prince still rings in my mind: "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!"

So at a young age, I learned that heroes naturally co-exist with villains and that I should identify myself with the hero or heroine who will always pursue goodness and righteousness.

My mother does not read stories to me now that I am 25, but what my mother did to me when I was young indeed opened my mind to the big world, to different kinds of people, to unexpected events and to the knowledge that we have to be victorious in life. When I am going through something, I say to myself: "When this is over, I'll be stronger and wiser."

I am still a work in progress in terms of learning how to live life but now that literature has been a part of my life, the possibilities are endless.

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Thank you, Mama Carmen. You are the best Mom in the world! I love you...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Journey Towards Wellness

May, 2010

October, 2010



by Jill Christianae on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 11:33pm
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March, 2010 – I had friends who came over my hometown and we had many chances of going to buffets. You must understand that during this time, I just came from a high-stress environment in school where I beat deadlines for several months. My eating habits were bad. When things got very emotional and stressful, I would go to the nearest McDonald’s and order a meal with a glass of soda, extra rice or a sundae. I remember one particular instance when I ate a McDonald’s meal in just about 5 minutes. I was surprised where all the food went and what happened to my mouth, or my stomach. I went home that day unsatisfied with dinner and concluded that I was a bad eater and mindlessly wondered if I could ever change my eating habits or if such thing was for me. Going back to the vacation with friends, yes, the whole thing created a festive feeling in me that I just munched on anything that was on the table, not to mention that my mom really prepared special food for us.

April ,2010 - Several occasions passed: my uncle’s death anniversary, my aunt’s birthday, my nephew’s birthday, MY birthday, my sister’s and the next thing I knew was I was very close to being overweight. I was 131 lbs. Then I knew I had to shed it off.

I decided to do early morning walks. 5:30 AM. Thanks to the fresh air, it was a delight having to do about 6 Km walk every day. I felt good while doing it, but on my way home, I would think of the breakfast I could have at home and seriously planned it. I was exercising, yes, but I knew I was not doing well in the dieting part. I tried to eat just 1 cup of rice per meal or not eat dinner at all, but I felt hungry and deprived each day. My sister told me I should try doing the South Beach Diet. At first, I thought it is just one of those diet plans that never really work. Yet, seeing my bloated face and stomach every day, I decided to give it a shot. I searched on the South Beach Diet on the net and also prepared myself spiritually and emotionally. I prayed that God would help me become successful and help me not look at food as an “idol” or think of it as a stress-reliever. After each prayer, I would feel peace in my heart that it would go well with me. I made a list of the food and ingredients I would buy. But I decided to start doing it after the city’s fiesta on May 1 when all of us in the family have to go and visit my uncle’s house and eat a lot.

May 1, 2010 – Mom and I bought items I had in my food list for the South Beach Diet menu.

May 2, 2010 – I officially started the South Beach Diet.

May 15, 2010 – I finished South Beach Diet Phase 1 wherein I lost 6 lbs. I now weighed 126 lbs. After Phase 1, I think I started looking at food in a different way. My stomach became friends with lettuce, cucumber and broccoli, while it would send guilt signals to my brain at the sight of doughnuts, chocolates or a lot of rice. Of course, I would get tempted but I learned to be a master of my cravings and not the other way around. I also applied the principle of substitutes. Instead of ice cream, I would opt for frozen yogurt. Instead of doughnut for snack, I would munch on fruit: apple, cantaloupe, orange. Again, I kept the whole thing going by spiritual means. I would pray for my effort and each time got a confirmation that I was doing the right thing. We went to Dad’s Saisaki for lunch one time and I tell you, I had to prepare myself for it. I decided to follow the same principles. Thank God, I was able to do so. I ate less carbs, more on proteins. I ate slowly and tried to savor the taste. Yes, I had a slice of cake, ice cream and small portions of other desserts, but I decided I would not have the same in the following days. I did not have dinner that day.

May 15, 2010 – present (June 18, 2010) – I am still keeping the same principles and to date, I am 120 lbs. I don’t have a very strict food list to follow. I now eat all kinds of vegetables even those that have high glycemic index but I opt to feast on those that have low g.i.. I make sure I eat at least 2 kinds of fruit every day. My favorites are apple, banana and orange. In the morning, I try to do stomach crunches, drink water before having breakfast of oatmeal and a banana or two slices of whole wheat bread with peanut spread or cheese in between. I still eat rice, but only for lunch and try to eat just ½ cup. Whenever I get the chance, I would choose brown instead of white rice. As much as possible, I would order a complete meal. For dinner, I just eat 2 slices of whole wheat bread and a fruit. I drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Every time I feel the cravings, I drink water. Right now, I am trying to work on eating once every 3 hours because experts say it speeds up metabolism. That makes it a total of 5 meals per day. Between the 3 big meals, I try to eat small portions of low-calorie food. I now choose to walk and move around as much as I can. By doing so, I save up on jeepney and tricycle fare. I decided I would do intense workouts at the gym twice a week and have started doing so last Wednesday. I am excited to go to the gym tomorrow. My goal is 106 lbs., develop some muscles and feel and look, healthy and strong. The best thing about this health revolution is that I know this is God’s will. He is so supporting it. I realized that if I keep a discipline in my eating habits, it is easier to keep a discipline in other things, such as finances and time management. I am not only keeping myself fit, I am able to save money, conserve other energies (I travel more on foot, now) and not to mention, look and feel better.

December 10, 2010 - I am now 110 lbs. I skipped the South Beach diet Phase 2 but followed general healthy eating principles since I finished Phase 1. I still follow the same principles about healthy eating and I am enjoying it. It is not only a physical breakthrough, it is an emotional and spiritual one. I also feel more confident with how I look, not just because I look smaller but because I feel healthy from the inside out. It comes from knowing that I am no longer a slave to my appetite, and that it's the other way around. Because I can now easily divorce my emotions from my eating habits, I am able to deal with my emotions pretty easier now. My goal now is to develop a discipline in my workout routine because I want not only to look fit; I want to have a strong body.

I am also happy because I have inspired 4 people to start a lifestyle of wellness.

To God be the glory!