The Loved and the Lost

, by Janine M.

Puppy love. Many have experienced that first flush in their cheeks, that tingling sensation, that different beat in their chests... Ah! The beauty of love at its most innocent! Or maybe not...

F. Sionil Jose is the author of the well-acclaimed Rosales saga (which I have yet to buy and read). I love anthologies and this collection of his short stories is a gem! I really want to read his novels in the future. Puppy Love and Thirteen Short Stories portrays love and its different facets (a love that is..., the love for...) and the loss of innocence. Humor is laid on thin and a certain heaviness is present in most, if not all of the stories. These are very thought-provoking and realistic (except maybe for one) that I often found myself questioning the reasons for the characters' behavior, why they have different notions about justice (who deserves it, who should give it, how they would get it, will they ever get it), and if hope isn't very far from anyone who would choose to keep it alive.

Puppy Love, the first in the collection, is about a man haunted by his first love who was separated from him by the war during the Japanese occupation. The story gives a nod to Wuthering Heights (a classic novel that makes my nose bleed so much I can't get past the second chapter). Remembering your first love  is indeed bittersweet.

The Female Principle is about a man and four women and how each has led to his ruin. Females! Are we really that bad? I think highly of Filipinas and I really hope that not all are as pathetic, selfish, self-righteous, and manipulative as the female characters.

The Letters is about how the sense of belongingness differs from one person to another. There are those who yearn the peace and quiet in the country and those who fit best in the upbeat and ambitious city life. Especially if a certain someone was "left behind".

The Other Forest tells us the story of how love is separated by our ambitions and our notions of what our purpose in life really is. How one can set aside love for a greater purpose, in this case a calling from God.

Waltz in my opinion, is the most heartbreaking story about a taboo topic. Does falling in love with your first cousin really count as incest? For years the characters do not act on it, do not talk about it, but know that it's there right in between. A tempting apple to take a bite of, and with a dance and a kiss they did. The woman is a bride in waiting and the reader is left to his/her own conclusions. Will they accept their fate or will an "incestous" infidelity ensue? We could only wish to know.

I'm not sure if the stories under Endings are really endings of F. Sionil Jose's other short stories. I found it hard to understand the last three, so please bear with my interpretation. Twilight is about how our dedication to our "craft" can't be passed on to the next generation who we are expecting to continue the "legacy" (in this case an old woman passing on her rice cake business to her granddaughter who actually detests it). The Wind's Mill is about a boy who is afraid of a lot of things and is often teased for it (the ending is either about adoption by a foreigner [American?] or an American visitor during the American occupation or Commonwealth period [Forgive me, I lack understanding]). No Escape is about a brother who died due to I don't know what because even the two sisters have no idea either (I bet their mother did since she's the one who's always out. All I could derive from it is it's a time of war). The Machine is about the advent of agricultural technology and I don't know why one family says they "won't be needed" anymore (maybe they are workers in a hacienda? they're definitely not carabaos).

A Walk With My Grandson I believe is the author's personal experience involving his walk with his grandson to get ice cream. Awwww... Generation gap is presented in a lighthearted tone, and we see how different yesterday and today are yet still similar in some ways.

Dream Videos is about a professor who is unfaithful and impotent (a perfect excuse to be an infidel?) who finds excitement and fulfillment in imagination and dreams, and living life to the extreme.

Knowledge is to put it simply about a bitch who used her influence on a simple, poor college guy to help her with her paperworks. Years later, he is the employee, she is the employer. Just as he thought the gap that wealth and power brought was bridged by "friendship", "a sense of gratitude" and that the new boss would "respect his ideas and regard him as an intellectual", the  bitch dismissed his thoughts. The bitch thought very low of the Filipinos who "do not think". Let's stand up people! Raise the quality of what we watch/listen to/read. Less of showbiz chismis, more of political awareness and social concern. At the end, I was mad that the man was scared of what the bitch could do (like fire him). Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. How preciously one values it like gold or silver, and how lightly one regards it (knowledge is nothing without power? I thought knowledge is power?).

Walking on Fire is a fantasy and is quite freaky. History of a land owned by the Cobello clan.

Children's Stories for Adults is quite enjoyable. Dalipawen (a woman's undying love for an ambitious man. The Height of Martyrdom naman ha!) made me cry a lot! The Molave and the Orchid is also good. It's about the young giving perspective to the proud old. The orchid teaches love and humility to the molave. In the end they were still together! (table and flower in a vase)

Read the book. 'Nuff said.

 Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


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