A WORLD OF PRETENDERS
By Kevin Stoda, Puerta Princesa, Philippines
I was staying in Ermita township this past month when I came across the Solidaridad Bookstore. As I have wanted to familiarize myself with Filipino culture and literature, I went in and browsed the shelves. I noticed a vast number works on the shelves by one F. Sionil Jose, born in 1924 in a small Pangasinan town. (I had traveled to Pangasinan on my honeymoon just this past year.) After perusing several of the Jose novels and non-fiction writings, I asked the attendant which of the many works would be the most exemplary, especially in understanding Filipino culture and history in our present day. I was persuaded to purchase the 4th book in the 5-part Rosales Saga.
This fourth book was entitled, THE PRETENDERS and was originally published the year of my birth, 1962.
An editor's synapses of the novel proclaimed the work to be the story of one Antonio Samson, who is one of "many Filipinos who find themselves lost and betrayed with nowhere to run. But Antonio . . . is not just an Ilocano [northern region of Pangasinan on the Isle of Luzon] looking for his roots; he is also the modern Filipino who fails to act in a society bereft of decency and justice. This novel, "[now 5 decades old], continues to be read because of its contemproaneity and the insights it focuses on the dilemmas of social change. It is also the author's most translated novel."
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