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Mid-Twentieth Century Philippines (Issue No. 13)

BPSS is back. No, it wasn’t triskadekaphobia that made this issue not appear for a while but something else. However, let’s not dwell on that but go right into what’s in this issue.

Here we have two short stories related to World War II. One happens just before the war begins, the other after it ends. One was written recently, the other more than half a century ago. Both stories were written by people who went through the war, and both are only peripherally about the war.

Vicente Rivera, Jr’s “All Over the World” is set in Intramuros, which was a place livable before WWII, turned slum area after the war, and is now livable again. A lonely man befriends a precocious young girl who loves to read books. The advent of the war separates them, as it did many many others from their own friends and relatives. It has a haunting quality that I find bittersweet.

Hugh Aaron’s “Under the Mango Tree” happens after the war, in Pampanga, just as the Philippines was getting ready for independence. There is the usual exhilaration among people that comes after a dark period in their history, but hints of renewed social conflict is already in the air. For one brief moment Filipinos can dream of a new nation that accommodated all classes of people. Alas, we know now that it was not to happen. It is within this setting that the characters strive to find who their real selves are.

After three years, a more mature Karen Pioquinto is back with a new poem. She is one of the many joys that makes an editor’s work fun.

 

DURING the last couple of years, several developments came about in traditional outlets for Philippine literature. First, Philippine Graphic announced it would close its literary section. That left the disturbing prospect that one magazine, Philippines Free Press, would have a monopoly and exert an undue influence on Philippine literary style. The gods didn’t let it happen, though, because strangely enough, Philippine Graphic continued to publish literary works long after most writers thought it no longer had a literary section. Whether it was intermittently or continuously, I don’t know. (Remember, I see very few copies of Philippine magazines.) However, I am sure they did because they featured one of my short stories—in two parts at that—in the latter part of 2002, long after the announcement. Philippine Graphic eventually closed its literary section, however.

Fortunately, Manila Times opened a literary section in its Sunday magazine even before Philippine Graphic closed its section. I was lucky to have one of my stories featured there right after it opened. One of BPSS’s contributors sent me a copy of that particular issue.

Well, guess what? Philippine Graphic’s literary section is back in business with Nick Joaquin back at the helm. I can confirm this because they used another of my short stories—in two parts again—a couple of months ago. It seems that habits and tradition are hard to get rid of.

That’s the way it is with BPSS, too. Enjoy!

H.O. Santos, Editor

 

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