In these and other novels, his characters underscore the seemingly endless search for Filipino identity, moral order, and social justice. In exploring the impact of urbanization, he often highlights individual integrity in the face of corruption and evil. Three Filipino women.
Three Filipino Women
Narita, of "Cadena de Amor," a story cast as a documentary study of a Filipina politician, is driven by calculated opportunism to escape her poverty-stricken past and study and sleep her way to the country's senate. Ermita, of "Obsession," is elegant and lovely, but never able to escape her career as a highly selective and, in some ways, very private prostitute. No one knew she was out there to serve out of self-interest first and foremost. The tactics, the corruption, the self-interest, — they are all present in the Philippine government we know of today.
You cannot tell the truth to people who will not accept that truth. At her wake, he gazed upon her and remembered the girl whom he had played with in the rain, and the cadena de amor blooming by her house. The flowers had wilted over time, but he knew, that once the rain began, it would bloom again.
The honesty and innocence she once had was lost to power and politics. Ermi of the novella Obsession is the most mysterious, and at first, for me, the most controversial. She was, after all, a prostitute. The narrator, Rolando Cruz, is a historian — and a pimp. Ermi was introduced to him double the price per hour with her virginity costing ten thousand pesos. Roly was surprised to see her elegance, and a little put-off by her directness. Eventually, the last one was revealed — she was Ermi Rojo — when Roly managed to save three thousand pesos to take her out for a day.
While they were in Luneta for their date, Roly felt as if Ermi should now get out of the business, given that she was already successful. I have to admit that I felt the same way Roly did, especially when he fell in love with her and found out about her dreams of putting up a restaurant of her own.
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He bought her cookbooks and stood by her side. Though he desired her, he did not dare give in, not even when they shared the same bed. It was his own way of separating himself from the many men that had been with her; his own way of showing her genuine love.
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Her restaurant soon became successful, and I sympathized with Roly when he was frustrated that she would not give up in the business of prostitution after everything he had done. As long as she could make money out of it, she said, she would continue. After Ermi fainted and they eventually had things resolved, they settled into a new relationship that crumbled in the long run. Ermi allowed him to drive her to her house, and stayed with him most nights, but she was still in business. He no longer felt the inclination to persuade her to leave.
Three Filipino Women
He accepted her for who she was, but he doubted her sincerity with him. His candor about his feelings about it and her sensitivity contributed to the breakdown of their relationship. Soon, she contacted him once again. He was finally let in her house. There, she apologized, crying as she told him she loved him, and that she was to marry Andrew Meadows — a man that Roly himself introduced to her.
She was to be a loving wife and mother in the United States. I thought of Ermi as a character as controversial. I thought of her as obscene. Prostitution in itself was. But as I read the novella, I realized how wrong I was. Rolando Cruz in Obsession writes that the revulsion we feel in seeing what was done in the privacy of our bedrooms was not a matter of morality but a matter of taste. It says a lot about our mindsets.
It says a lot for how I considered Ermi, and how Roly, did, too. Considering that Roly was a pimp, and working in advertising, catering to foreign clients and providing them information about taxes and loopholes… He has sold not just himself, not just other people, but his country, too.
I am dirt to you. But what wrong have I done, Roly? Have I ever stolen from anyone like those big people whom you know and serve?
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It is them you should hate and fight — and they are everywhere, robbing the people, self-righteous, honored in the newspapers. Malu of the novella Platinum is introduced submitting an article about faith healing to a patronizing professor. The narrator, who was there to submit an article on the economic imperatives of nationalism, wanted to get to know her more. He gave Malu the nickname Plat, for Platinum, because he felt that she thought of herself as somebody special, though she was plain. The nicknames stemmed from their many arguments.
She, after all, lived in an expensive Makati village, but rallied about various social inequities.
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View Larger Image. Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: Random House , New York. Book Condition: Fine in Fine dust jacket. Three novellas--including Obsession, Platinum, and Cadena de Amor--examine the Philippine experience through the lives of three female characters, a prostitute, a student activist, and a politician. Visit Seller's Storefront.
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