Three Men, One Woman: One Nation, Three Stories

It has been a while since I read Ermita by F. Sionil Jose. When a bookish friend demanded a review for this goodread, I was pressured at two situations: (1) How can I convince my co-members from the TFG to vote this as the book-of-the-month for Buwan ng Wika thematic read; and (2) How can I convince my other co-members from the PRPB to read the same.

Yes, I am a member of two book clubs. If this is compared to Ermi Rojo, she is a product of two nationalities.

A daughter of a Japanese soldier who raped a Filipina socialite, she used her situation of being an outcast  – from a student of an elite school to being a prostitute in Camarin; for using this as her weapon to have revenge on men, and for being used as a byproduct of a rotten society.

For a rotten society is composed of bleak political situation, fake economic progress, and false promises sworn to men.

One of the book buddies say in our sessions that if other works of F. Sionil Jose (i.e. Poon) is the novel for the patriotic spirit, Ermita: A Filipino Novel is the book for the heart. And it is. It doesn’t only limit to the life of Ermi as a Filipino and as a prostitute, but also how she deals with life as a woman – and so her interactions with men, particularly the loves of her life.

I cannot discuss the patriotic side of the novel for the story spanned from the Japanese occupation to the Marcos’ times. What I can share are her episodes with three men – with Mac, with Rolando Cruz, and with John Collier.

For me, Interactions with Mac is the most vulnerable since this is the first man she interacted with. Mac is the son of those housekeepers in the Rojo household, ergo, became her childhood friend. Grew in hardship, he envied Ermi for having the opportunity to study in an elite school, while he has to toil just to be able to study and graduate and help his own family. Mac fell in love with Ermi during teenage years. But he feels entrapped by fate – knowing that Ermi is a prostitute, and motivated by hate and revenge. Adding personal ego into the equation, Mac drifted away, and said his goodbyes, taking the hard road of earning success in the other side of the world.

(Side note: an incomplete review, since I have to read the novel again to fully note the other two male characters.)


Sakaling Hindi Makarating: Entry 2

Some side-notes: I wish to have lots of entries being sent to different friends, rather than concentrating on one. That way, you get a variety of letters in a specific moment in time. If you want one, I can send you. Kindly message me your address, together with your ZIP code. 


Dear Joseph, 

Kapag naiisip ko na palagi kang busy, naiisip ko ang tambak mong labahin; ang mga uniform na hindi pa napa-plantsa, at ang pagkain mong hindi sapat kasi hindi mo hilig ang gulay (or ako lang ang may akala nito?)

Sana palagi kang maayos, pakatandaan na ang pera naibabalik, pero ang oras, hindi. Kapag may sakit ang isang tao, parang hinihigop nito ang oras mo na dapat ginagamit sa ibang bagay - tulad ng paglalaba. 

Worried ako. O siguro, medyo guilty. 

Kasi naiisip ko kanina sa bus kung deserving ba sa tulad ko ang isang linggong bakasyon, or baka... 

Tumatakas ako sa bagwis ng buhay...?

At kung busy ka palagi at nauubusan ng pagkakataon para sa isang mahabang kwentuhan, paano na ang kakarampot na oras para pagsaluhan?

How do you build connections from fragmented conversations, Joseph? Do we write long letters like this one? Sa akin, okay lang. Mahilig talaga ako magsulat! Ikaw kaya, hilig mo ba ang pagsusulat? Or baka, tulad ng Messenger memas mo -- pure one-line endnotes lang? 

It's actually a wonder how do you make time to connect. Siguro kailangan nasa sa iyo na mismo ang hugot ng pasensya at disiplina. Sana maisama mo ako sa listahan. Na bigyan ng mahabang pasensya sa mga pinagsasabi ko rito.

Mag-iingat ka palagi, pogi. Aasahan ko na sumama ka sa amin sa Vietnam nina Ric & Michael. Ay siya, balik labahan na! Hehe.

See you, 

(wrote in a bunk bed, Mori Hostel, Singapore)

Sakaling Hindi Makarating: Entry 1

I started the entry only after sending this post from Singapore! It's actually a gift from a barista friend who just came from Kuala Lumpur for holiday, but the photo's too pretty not to share halfway across the globe.

Speaking of, I forgot the message I put there, but I remember that there is a hashtag in the postcard:


OH MY GOSH. Hahahahaha

Sakaling Hindi Makarating?

I was actually in touch with a long distance friend but I was afraid that all my posts will not be able to reach him, or if it does, perhaps a significant event on the post already died, or the time it arrived came too late.

Which is why I come to this entry.

I want to save all my mementos before I send them over to that person. I want to keep track, like all those memories that I want to remember.

You can never tell, but maybe he can make ways to return the favor. He might write me, too. Or at least, send me a postcard.

I remember Em and Dex in David Nicholl's One Day, where they exchange notes. I guess this is where my interest in post-crossing started.

If you want to read along the entries, have a look. Maybe I can add a label to the blogsite. Happy reading! #IfItNeverArrived