07 November 2015

Guillermo Tell

Guillermo Tell = Wilhelm Tell by Friedrich von Schiller, translated from German to Filipino by José Rizal (National Historical Commission of the Philippines, 2013)

Can a Swiss (European) national epic about a revolution inspire another revolution halfway round the world? Maybe it could. But it should be translated first.

Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) supplied the prefatory lines to José Rizal's (1861-1896) Spanish novel of revolution Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). They are taken from the parody poem "Shakespeare's Ghost". The German original of the extract from the poem appeared on the left; the Spanish translation was on the right.

Qué? ¿No podría un César presentarse
En vuestras tablas? no más un Aquiles,
Un Orestes ó Andrómaca mostrarse?

Quía! Si no vemos más que concejiles,
Curas, alféreces y secretarios,
De husares comandantes y alguaciles.

Mas, di, ¿qué pueden estos perdularios
hacer de grande? Pueden tales ratas
Dar lugar á hechos extraordinarios?


"What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles appear on your stage now?
Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?"
"No! There is naught to be seen there but parsons, and syndics of commerce,
Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse."
"But, my good friend, pray tell me, what can such people e'er meet with
That can be truly called great?—what that is great can they do?"

["Shakespeare's Ghost", tr. John Bowring]

Rizal translated Schiller's final play on 1886, a year before Noli Me Tangere was published in Berlin. Hence, it came to be that the first great Philippine novel was written in Spanish, printed abroad, and partly influenced by a Swiss dramatist. Rizal was a polymath of languages. From German, he translated Wilhelm Tell into Tagalog. The recent version printed by the National Historical Commission modernized Rizal's Tagalog into contemporary Filipino.

The translation was published in the Philippines posthumously, in 1907 and 1908, almost a decade after Rizal was executed by Spanish authorities for sedition. Schiller's revolutionary thinking influenced Rizal's thought and the writing of his twin magnum opus, Noli Me Tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo (Subversion).

Like Schiller, Rizal depicted a nation in chaos and under the grip of terror from imperialistic and militaristic powers of the state. The empire and its cohorts were terrorizing the land, seeking to control the populace and enrich themselves by land grabbing and stealing other people's properties. The people were incensed by the endless malevolence and abuse of authorities, by their lack of freedom, the unjust social conditions. From apathy, they were awakened toward resistance, toward social organization, and toward the use of force. Blood accompanied their revolt.

Rizal learned from Schiller how to dramatize the fight for freedom, for independence, and self-determination. Revolution against prevailing authorities was ever justified if their representatives ("parsons, and syndics of commerce,/Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse") use their power perversely to thwart natural and divine laws, the laws that protect human rights and basic good. In the most famous and very effective scene of the play, Guillermo Tell was told by one of the emperor's men to shoot with an arrow the apple placed on top of his own son. Who could blame Tell, who at first seemed reluctant to join the brewing revolution against the empire, if after a first-hand taste of an unjust attempt to kill his own child (by his own hands!), he decided to stamp out the enemy?

Throughout history, subjugated peoples reached saturation points, enabling them to unite and band together and to act decisively against totalitarian rulers who eventually suffered the fate of their folly. Accompanying such wars and revolutions was the emergence of nationalism and a new world order. The resistance in Schiller's drama came from people of all classes, from the working classes (fishers, shepherds, hunters, farmers) to the bourgeoisie (rich landowners, barons, heirs). In Rizal's time and in his fiction, the rebels were a mix of the workers and commons with the landed class and the ilustrados (educated elite); in Noli: the disinherited Elias and the disenfranchised Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, the novel's idealistic protagonist who will later metamorphosed into the vengeful figure of Simoun due to the abuses he suffered from Spanish clerics and authorities.

It was possible Rizal borrowed lines and ideas on radicalism from Schiller in a climactic encounter in Noli where Elias had a conversation with Ibarra. This scene was a turning point for the novel for this is when Ibarra had an epiphany, the "eye-opening" scene where he admitted his previous error in sympathizing with the authorities. Ibarra's lament might as well be a synopsis of Tell's revolutionary awakening.

"May katwiran ka, Elias, ngunit nililikha ang tao ng mga pagkakataon. Bulag ako noon, masama ang loob. Ano ba ang malay ko? Ngayon, tinanggal ng kasawian ang aking piring, natuto ako dahil sa pag-iisa't pagdurusa sa aking piitan. Ngayon, nakikita ko ang nakahihindik na kanser na ngumangatngat sa lipunang ito, nakasakmal sa lahat ng laman, at nangangailangan ng marahas na pagbusbos. Binuksan nila ang aking mata. Ipinakita nila ang sugat at pinilit akong maging kriminal! At kung gayon nga ang ibig nila, magiging filibustero ako. Subalit isang totoong filibustero. Tatawagan ko ang lahat ng sawi, ang lahat ng nakadadama na may pusong tumitibok sa loob ng dibdib, iyongmga nagsugo sa inyo na lapitan ako. Hindi, hinding-hindi ako magiging kriminal kailanman; kabaligtaran ng kriminal ang lumaban alang-alang sa kaniyang bayan! Sa loob ng tatlong siglo, nag-abot tayo ng kamay sa kanila, humingi sa kanila ng pag-ibig, at umasam na tawagin nilang kapatid. Ano ang kanilang itinugon? Sa pamamagitan ng mga alipusta at paglibak, ipinagkait maging ang katangian ng pagiging tao natin. Walang Diyos, walang pag-asa, at walang sangkatauhan! Walang natitira kundi ang katwiran ng lakas!"

Saklot ng damdamin si Ibarra, nanginginig ang buong katawan.

[Noli Me Tangere, tr. Virgilio S. Almario]


“You’re right, Elias, but man is a creature of circumstances! Then I was blind, annoyed—what did I know? Now misfortune has torn the bandage from my eyes; the solitude and misery of my prison have taught me; now I see the horrible cancer which feeds upon this society, which clutches its flesh, and which demands a violent rooting out. They have opened my eyes, they have made me see the sore, and they force me to be a criminal! Since they wish it, I will be a filibuster, a real filibuster, I mean. I will call together all the unfortunates, all who feel a heart beat in their breasts, all those who were sending you to me. No, I will not be a criminal, never is he such who fights for his native land, but quite the reverse! We, during three centuries, have extended them our hands, we have asked love of them, we have yearned to call them brothers, and how do they answer us? With insults and jests, denying us even the chance character of human beings. There is no God, there is no hope, there is no humanity; there is nothing but the right of might!” Ibarra was nervous, his whole body trembled.

[The Social Cancer (1912), tr. Charles Derbyshire, emphases are mine]

The debate on the use of violence to fight for what is right is at the center of Schiller's drama. In Schiller, the image of a blindfolded man suddenly seeing very clearly was present in the (trembling) words of Rudenz, an erring nephew of a baron who formerly sympathized with an abusive judge from Austria.

Binayaan ko ang aking bayan, ang mga kamag-anak ay tinalikdan, lahat ng taling katutubo yaring pagkatao ay iniwan, nang mapakapit sa inyo, sa kapaniwalaan kong ginagawa ang kagaling-galingan at pinagtitibay ang lakas ng emperador --- Ang piring ay nahulog sa aking mga mata --- nangingilabot akong tumutunghay sa malalim na banging aking nilusong --- inyong iniligaw ang malaya kong pag-iisip, dinumihan ang dalisay kong puso --- Mabuti ang aking nasa, at walang malay na iyo'y nagpapanganyaya sa aking bayan.

[Guillermo Tell, tr. José Rizal, my emphasis]


My people I forsook—renounced my kindred—
Broke all the ties of nature, that I might
Attach myself to you. I madly thought
That I should best advance the general weal
By adding sinews to the Emperor's power.
The scales have fallen from mine eyes—I see
The fearful precipice on which I stand.
You've led my youthful judgment far astray,—
Deceived my honest heart. With best intent,
I had well-nigh achiev'd my country's ruin.

[Act III, Scene III, Wilhelm Tell, tr. Theodore Martin, my emphasis]

The trajectory of the apple (and the arrow) follows the Newtonian laws of physics, but to deny laws governing "the chance character of human beings" is to tempt fate and to test the patience of man. "Papanain sa ibabaw ng ulo ng anak! Kailan ma'y walang nakitang katulad na utos sa isang ama!", exclaimed a fisherman who learned of the scene with Tell and his son.

Paano ang hindi pagngalit ng buong poot at dahas ng sansinukob at hindi pagtutol sa gayong gawa! Oh! hindi ko nga pagtatakhan kung ang mga bato ay magsiyuko sa dagat; kung yaong mga nakatayong yelo na hindi naagnas buhat pa nang ang lupa ay lalangin ay magsitunaw at bumuhos ngayon, kung magputukan ang mga bundok, kung ang matatandang bangin ay magsagupaan, at isang pangalawang paggunaw ay lumamon sa buong tirahan ng tao at sa lahat ng may buhay.

[tr. Rizal]


To level at the head of his own child!
Never had father such command before.
And shall not Nature, rising in wild wrath,
Revolt against the deed? I should not marvel,
Though to the lake these rocks should bow their heads,
Though yonder pinnacles, yon towers of ice,
That, since creation's dawn, have known no thaw,
Should, from their lofty summits, melt away,—
Though yonder mountains, yon primeval cliffs,
Should topple down, and a new deluge whelm
Beneath its waves all living men's abodes!

[Act IV, Scene I, tr. Martin]

The act was not only against divine law (ungodly), but also against logic (unreasonable); not only against human nature (inhuman), but against nature itself (unnatural): "And shall not Nature, rising in wild wrath, / Revolt against the deed?" This was to overturn all sacred beliefs and to run counter against natural instincts. This was universal stuff and felt by many. The personal (interest) seems to be a major force to reckon with when it comes to the political (matters).

Tell is somehow one of the composites, a template, for the filibuster character of Simoun Ibarra in Rizal's El Filibusterismo. In Translation and Revolution (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2009), Ramon Guillermo's book-length study of Rizal's translation of Schiller's play, Guillermo dissected Rizal's several word choices and exposed the nuances in the translator's grasp of the necessity for bloody revolution to quell slavery and to protect life, property, and family. I discovered reading Guillermo's book how the "modernized" version of Rizal's Guillermo Tell produced by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines may actually have done violence to the work by unduly renovating Rizal's Tagalog and paraphrasing too much his (old) Tagalog expressions which to me were still relatively understandable. An example was the famous passage quoted by Ramon Guillermo.

Hindi nga! nagwawakas din ang karahasan, kapag ang naaapi ay walang makitang tulong dito sa lupa, at ang kanyang tinitiis na pasan ay hindi na makayanan, ay itinitingala ang loob sa langit, at tinatawagan ang walang hanggang katuwiran ng Diyos, yaong katuwirang walang pagkabago na gaya ng mga bituin, at doon humihingi ng lakas. Sa gayo'y nagbabalik ang matandang panahon na ang mga tao'y nag-aaway at nagpapatayan, at ang patalim ang huling kinakapitan kailan ma't naubos na ang ibang paraan sa pagkakasundo. Ang ating mga mahal na yaman ay dapat ipagtanggol sa mga manglulupig; dapat nating ipaglaban ang ating lupa, alang-alang sa ating asawa't mga anak.

[modern Filipino version by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), based on Rizal's translation]


Hindi nga; natatapus din ang karahasan.
Kapag ang nagigipit ay ualang makitang tulong,
kapag ang bigat ng pasa'i lumabis ...
kukunin nga niyang masaya sa langit at ipananaog sa lupa
and di matingkalang katuirang nahahayag doon
sa itass di nababago at di nasisira,
paris din ng mga bituin ...
nagbabalik ang matandang lagay ng lupa,
kapag sa tao humahadlang ang kapua tao ...
at sa huling gamot, kapag ang lahat na'y aayaw bumisa,
ang patalim ay ibinibigay sa kaniya ...
ang ating mga ari ay dapat nating
ipagtanggol sa karahasan.—Ating ipaglaban ang ating lupa,
ipaglalaban ang mga asawa at ang mga anak.

[tr. Rizal, quoted by Ramon Guillermo, from May Gaua Caming Natapus Dini: Si Rizal at ang Wikang Tagalog (2002) by Nilo S. Ocampo]


Yes! there's a limit to the despot's power!
When the oppress'd for justice looks in vain,
When his sore burden may no more be borne,
With fearless heart he makes appeal to Heaven,
And thence brings down his everlasting rights,
Which there abide, inalienably his,
And indestructible as are the stars.
Nature's primaeval state returns again,
Where man stands hostile to his fellow man;
And if all other means shall fail his need,
One last resource remains—his own good sword.
Our dearest treasures call to us for aid,
Against the oppressor's violence; we stand
For country, home, for wives, for children here!

[tr. Martin]

The most obvious tinkering done by NHCP was to transform the poetry lines into prose format. The "modern" paraphrasing, furthermore, was arguably different in tone and content from Rizal's original version. It's a translation of a translation. I'm no longer sure if I'm actually reading Rizal's version!

Ramon Guillermo's study of Guillermo Tell provided a lot of background information and context into Rizal's creative process, his theory of translation, nationalism (c. 1890) and ideological background of the work. He used computer-aided discourse analysis, quite technical and academic and stiff in many parts but the insights he extracted were fascinating, based on the few pages I read and browsed.

Going back to the original question posed at the start of this post, it appears that Rizal was inspired enough by the revolutionary ideas of Wilhelm Tell to create his own revolution in his novels. Novels which inspired the outbreak of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against three centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines. Novels that "survive" and "live on".*

I read this for Week 1 (Friedrich Schiller Week) of German Literature Month V, generously hosted once again by Caroline (of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat) and Lizzy (of Lizzy's Literary Life).

* In his concluding chapter to Translation and Revolution, Guillermo introduced the idea of translation as a lifeline.

At the beginning of Wilhelm Tell, Konrad Baumgarten is being pursued by soldiers for killing Count Wolfenschießen who had made indecent advances on his wife. He arrives running at the bank of the raging river and pleads with the reluctant boatman to bring him across the river to safety. Baumgarten exclaims:

Ihr rettet mich vom Tode! Setzt mich über! (V. 68)

Save me from sure death! Bring me across!

It can be observed here that the German verbs for "taking across" and "translating" has the same form: "übersetzen" (though the verb "übersetzen" which means "translation" is, strictly speaking, not separable into "über-" and "setzen"). This pure coincidence creates the possibility for playing on two possible meanings of "übersetzen." It could therefore be read as either as "Save me! Bring me across!" or as "Save me! Translate me!" Walter Benjamin's (1985) much cited philosophy of translation, in fact, looked upon translation as the means by which a literary work succeeds in "living on" (Fortleben), or "surviving" (Überleben). The translated work achieves this not by remaining simply as it was but by being transformed and renewed in translation. If Baumgarten's life was saved by Tell who had the courage to bring him across the raging river, the text of Wilhelm Tell could in turn be made to "live on" by being translated across other languages and cultures. Jose Rizal's Wilhelm Tell translation can therefore be considered as one example of this "living on", though it is actually one translation, which almost never made it across.


04 November 2015

Si Janus Sílang at ang Labanáng Manananggal-Mambabarang

Si Janus Sílang at ang Labanáng Manananggal-Mambabarang (Janus Sílang and the Battle Between the Armies of Manananggal and Mambabarang) by Edgar Calabia Samar (Adarna House, 2015)

Compulsive reading ang bagong yugto ng pakikipagsapalaran ni Janus. May bagong mundong tinatatag si Edgar Calabia Samar gamit ang mga lumang materyales ng kababalaghan at engkanto. Bagamat mahahalintulad ang ilang karakter at eksena sa mga popular na pelikulang banyaga, may sariling pambayang punto de bista ang pagkakalahad ng istorya. Updated na ang mito ng pinagmulan ng mundo. At ang labanán ay nakatuon hindi lang sa tagisan ng lantay na kapangyarihan kundi sa mental na pakikipaglaban ni Janus sa sarili nyang mga agam-agam bilang isang kabataang naharap sa mga matinding pagsubok sa buhay.

Ito ang ikalawang aklat pa lamang sa serye ng Janus Sílang na mukhang papantayan ang dami ng tomo ng Harry Potter. Isang taon na naman kaya ang gugugulin sa paghihintay ng kasagutan at closure sa cliffhanger sa dulo ng istorya. Sinu-sino ba itong 77 púsong na ito na nakabida sa pamagat ng ikatlong libro? Ano ang kinalaman nito sa 88 na pinakamabagsik na pamamaraan ng bárang (kasama na ang epektibong panlaban sa mga ito) na pinapaksa ng librong binubuklat-buklat ni Janus sa aklatan?

Next level na ang istorya. Umaarangkada na ang numerolohiya na itinampok din ni Sir Egay sa nobelang Sa Kasunod ng 909. Ngayon ay naurirat na ang siyam na mundo na kinapal ng Siyam na Bathala ng Santinakpan. Parang Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog lang ang peg. Tutal namamayagpag pa rin dito ang batang halimaw na Tiyanak at may Atisan blues pa rin kaya hindi madaling mawaglit ang alaala ng Walong Diwata. Ang mga nobela ni Sir Egay, maging ang serye na ito, ay may continuity, parte ng iisang mundo, ng iisang haraya. Pawang mga pambata o pangkabataan (young adult) ang puntiryang audience dahil na rin nakasentro ang mga misteryosong eksena sa bidang bata o tinedyer. May pang-akit sa awtor ang ganitong kabataang karakter at tema. Sabi nga sa Eight Muses of the Fall, na salin sa Ingles ng Walong Diwata.

Before all this began, I kept telling myself that I didn't want to talk to the adults, especially to the elders, because they already had their stories. They're whole. Beginnings, endings, and everything in between. On the other hand, the children, their stories are still fresh. Raw. No editing, no thought of revisions. Continuity; what a strange, foreign concept. No need for endings. You only need to figure out how to begin those stories. And when it's begun, it's a wellspring from where all other fresh, raw stories burst—raw, fresh stories that could only come from them, no one else.


"I don't want to talk to adults anymore," I said while I wove in and out of the waves, close to the shore. I remembered the afternoons when I'd pay a visit to the elders of Atisan, just to get a story, something I could put in the novel I could never seem to begin writing. "The problem with grownups, elders especially." I went on, "is that they already have stories. They already know what to say. They're whole. They're not raw, they're not as fresh as the children's. I like the truth in stories that don't have to abide by some formula, that don't have to snuggly [sic] fit into some structure. I like the truth when it's in something that's yet to be whole."

Dahil sa ganitong prinsipyo ng spontaneity ng pambatang kuwento, hindi mo alam kung saan ka dadalhin ng istorya. Kung kaya't ang timpla ng rekado ng mga kababalaghan ay may pang-akit din sa mga matatanda na tulad ko (36 anyos). Ang pagtatagpi-tagpi ng mga pangyayari ay orihinal sa pagkakaroon ng sariling salamangka at lohika bagamat kakikitaan nga ng impluwensiya ng popular na akdang banyaga. Technopathic mapping. Hello, Professor X. Ang Santuwaryo Castillo na mala-Azkhaban.

May sariling kodigo (batas) na sinusunod ang mundo (at kalibutan) ni Janus Sílang. May sariling kapit sa hindi pa naitakdang kinabukasan. Ang nagsisimulang trahedya ng Manto. Ang angkan ng Esturas na mukhang may malaking papel sa susunod na mga kabanata.

Kagaya ng Tiyanak, nananatiling maigting ang panghalina ng Manananggal sa panulat ni Sir Egay. "Halos isang buhay" na gumagabay sa likod nya ang Manananggal. Isang inspirasyon, isang musa. Bahagi pa rin ng siklo o continuity ang mga nilalang na ito. Ito ang binalik-balikan nyang ehemplo at basehan (batis) ng kanyang pagbabanghay.

Kailangan niya ng nilalang na makalilipad tulad ng mga banog, pero kailangan niya ng taling hihila rito pabalik sa lupa upang matiyak na kontrolado niya ito't mananatiling mag-uulat sa kaniya. Kaya't isang sumpa ang pagkahati ng katawan ng manananggal. Isa itong pangako ng lagi't laging pagbabalik, ng lagi't laging pag-uwi....

Ito ang eternal return o eternal homecoming ng pagnonobela. At ito ay pumapaimbulog sa ika-21 dantaon. Naka-adapt na sa teknolohiya ang mga engkanto at barang. Nababasa na ng electromagnetic waves ang brain imprints ng mga espesyal na nilalang (púsong at bagáni). Marahil ang mairereklamo ko na lang ay ang pagiging convenient ng mahika para bigyan ng paliwanag ang mga mahirap intindihing konsepto. Halimbawa ay ang paggamit ng masamang engkanto (evil) bilang isang paliwanag sa climate change, mga digmaan, mga delubyo na mahirap ipaliwanag dahil sa magnitude nito. Ang Yolanda bilang stage ng pananalasa ng Tiyanak. Ang pagsakay sa ganitong mga kalamidad, sa pamamagitan animo ng 'magic of convenience' ay bumubura sa lohika at siyensiya na hindi dapat tuluyang iwaglit sa kamalayan. Ang mga pangyayaring katulad ng extreme weather events at climate change ay napapatunayang gawang-tao at hindi gawang engkanto kung kaya ang responsibilidad at pananagutan natin dito ay hindi dapat ilagak sa supernatural na solusyon.

Gayunpaman, nananatili ang interes ng seryeng ito para manumbalik ang sigla ng pagbabasa na nakahuhumaling kagaya ng nakalakihan nating komiks na linggo-linggong sinusubaybayan. Sana lang ay may sapat na payoff ang bawat susunod pang kabanata para naman hindi masayang ang nakayayamot na santaóng paghihintay sa kapalaran ng mga bagáni at púsong.

01 November 2015

Gagambeks at mga Kuwentong Waratpad

Gagambeks at mga Kuwentong Waratpad (Gagambeks and Waratpad Stories) by Mark Angeles (Visprint, 2015)

Entertaining is the story of Angelo/Gelo aka Gagambeks, an orphan and a poor boy who grew up with his grandma in a shanty. Gagambeks is a combination of the words Gagamba (Spider) and beks (for beki, slang for gay), and a reference to a local television series Gagamboy (Spiderboy) and, dare I say, the Marvel hero. Gagambeks, hence, is the spunking new hero Spidergay. Waratpad is a play on the reading site Wattpad. Warat means torn or broken. Waratpad stories are stories going against the grain of local romance stories (chick lit, fan fiction) through thematic and linguistic play on love stories.

The novella started with our hero searching for his 'future boyfriend'. Poverty and hard luck forced him to work his ass off in a garments factory owned by a greedy merchant. In this factory Angelo became exposed to noxious chemicals and unjust workplace regulations. Angelo was branded Gagambeks because of his long, thin legs and effeminate behavior. His strength and beauty were tested when he was forced to fight in a mud wrestling/kickboxing event. From there, Gagambeks' advocacy to fight for the rights of the factory workers began when he started to make a speech against the factory owner's anti-worker policies. There was a big commotion, and then the lights blacked out. Suddenly Gagambeks was kidnapped by a hunky guy who looked like Enrique Gil. Angelo was not even sure the man was a villain or a sympathizer. Could he be the future boyfriend he was looking for all along?

Mark Angeles combined entertainment and a not-so-subtle proletarian message in a story couched in playful language and riotous plot. It's the kind of story relished by those who are not after serious, as in serious, works of fiction. For this was the territory of postmodernism. And the postmodern is perverse, to paraphrase J. Neil Garcia's cultural criticism in The Postcolonial Perverse. It is perverse because it does not take itself seriously though its message is just as heavy-handed. It punches the holes of conventional storytelling and reader expectations.

The writer's acknowledged novelistic influences were Ang Huling Dalagang Bukid at ang Authobiography na Mali (by Jun Cruz Reyes), Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata (Ricky Lee), and Lumbay ng Dila (Genevieve L. Asenjo). I could detect JCR's novel's influence in the effective integration of activism in a novel. But I don't know about Lee and Asenjo's books. I would love to read Lumbay ng Dila (Tongue's Loneliness), it's on the wish list, but I failed to finish reading the unconvincing pyrotechnics of Ricky Lee in Amapola.

Angeles brings sensitivity to his characterizations of the marginalized and the challenged persons in Gagambeks and in the rest of the stories. Onoda in "Samurai" was a great recreation of the actual Japanese soldier who hid in a Philippine island for decades and refused to surrender even after the war was already ended by an atomic bomb. Stories like "Mata-Mata" were not as successful because the juxtaposition of historical events with a contemporary violent crime seemed forced. Stories like "Casafuego" and "Lazarus" were notable for the successful application of magic and miracles (i.e., of metaphor) to personal and historical struggles.

Mark Angeles started with writing poems. Now he has come out of the closet, so to speak, with his unique fictional style of blending fantasy and wit to proletarian issues. His colloquial approach to the story was fresh. As in "Lazarus", the final story of the collection, where one character learned the truth coming out in the open just like the biblical character emerging from the closet-like cave of death after hearing the thunderous voice of a god. Similarly, the truth of fiction writing from a writer of sharpened senses has now emerged from the dark cave, revealing vital and sharp imperatives.