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Louis Angelo G. Jaballa BSIT

May 14, 2010 EN106

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY Bienvenido N. Santos (1911–1996) was a Filipino-American fictionist, poet and nonfiction writer. He was born and raised in Tondo, Manila. His family roots are originally from Lubao, Pampanga, Philippines. He lived in the United States for many years where he is widely credited as a pioneering Asian-American writer. In 1932, he earned a B.A. from the University of the Philippines. Under the Philippine Pensionado program (a continuation of the U.S. one begun in 1903); Santos came to the University of Illinois for a master's degree in English. Later he studied at Harvard, Columbia, and, as a Rockefeller Foundation fellow, at the University of Iowa. His first two novels, Villa Magdalena and The Volcano, were published in the Philippines in 1965. Santos became an American citizen in 1976. One year later, the Marcos regime banned his novel about government corruption, The Praying Man, and he and his wife remained in San Francisco. Scent of Apples (1980), his only book to be published in the United States, won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He wrote more than a dozen books about exiles in both of his adopted countries, including the short story collections including You Lovely People (1955) and Brother, My Brother (1960). Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bienvenido_Santos http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0880711.html

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The story started with a setting in the airport for a flight in Tokyo. Fred, on his trip, had remembered his days in Villa Magdalena. He thought of how he got there, how his family came in a distant barrio in Pampanga and somehow ended up in Villa Magdalena. He served as an errand boy in the Villa for his high school and college education were supported by the rich Don Magno Medallada who wore the same family name as his but mentioned of no relevance to him. As years pass by, he fell in love with one of the nieces in the Villa—Nora, while making an affair with Manang, a friend of Fred’s sister in Sulucan but their secret lust soon ended. Later on, he married Nora. This was the time that Doña Asuncion, one of the Conde sisters, died charging Don Magno stealing all their assets and corrupting her sister’s mind, Doña Magdalena in being a slave as Don Magno’s wife. Her death led to Doña Magdalena’s madness. During the Japanese regime, many were affected—their leather company flunked and Don Magno’s affair with another woman temporarily hanged—until Don Magno had several attacks of stroke.

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Fred then knew that Nora was betraying him and went to elopement during his travel with another man, Nick Calderon. Fred fell in love with Elisa, the granddaughter of the Conde, who somehow had been the confidant of Nora in her unfaithfulness. The story ended in tragedy by Elisa’s death and Fred as the new Don Alfredo Medallada. II. ANALYSIS

Two themes persist in the fictional work of Bienvenido Santos: the same longing for passion and corruption of the poor boy searching for himself in the world of the rich. Villa Magdalena was driven by death as the Conde-Medallada ancestral home was slowly wasting away. He made memorable characters like the homogenous Tasing; the epileptic Balatong, stricken with echolalia; the proud Doña Magdalena suffering from madness and decay; the faithful mistress Pat who remains loyal to the end; the lovely but poor and ambitious Manang who uses her body as a way out of slums. It was a story of human passion and lust passing for love; of betrayal, decay, and corruption against the backdrop of the rise and fall in the fortunes of the rich aristocracy and the poor slum-dwellers who live at the periphery of wealth and power. (excerpt from Villa Magdalena Foreword by Leonor Aureus-Briscoe, 1985).

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Santos described death in a detail that it would prevail and be viewed as real and stinking. He wrote of making love and passion in a way that the readers’ sensitive side was touched and marked a mark. Santos spoke of both by tragedy that he would attempt a blow on the audience in one line, as of in the scene where Fred was in New York City in search of his love Elisa; how he craved for her, his excitement in seeing her, the longing for true love of a woman, the search for a happy ending, but in a single strike, he knew that she just died a day before. Santos knew how to shape readers’ minds especially the Filipinos’ and how he would make an influence by a story even if it was written decades ago.

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