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Setting of Nick Joaquin’s May Day Eve Essay

This famous short story was set in Intramuros, Manila, and its author, Nick Joaquin, wrote it after WWII. This story of a marriage that started with every promise of lasting passion and love later tracks the disintegration of the relationship. Characters in this story, which has magical or supernatural elements that are quite common in modern Latin literature, include Badoy, the narrator, and his love interest, Agueda. Joaquin is viewed as one of the first originators of magical realism in the fiction of his native country, the Philippines.

I’m writing this from the future (January 09, 2006). while you are welcome to read and comment in my blog, I would like to kindly ask my readers not to ask me for summaries and or book reports or comments on any nick joaquin writings for their school papers. i don’t like it. it’s been nearly 3 years since i’ve written this entry and i’m still getting requests for summaries and whatnot! i still don’t like it.

please read Nick Joaquin’s works by yourselves and experience his greatness first hand! think what you want to think about his works. there is no right or wrong in analyzing literature– it could just either be smart or stupid– but that’s the way it is. Just make sure that you read the story or the book!

thanks very much.
Stef i’ve been meaning to write something about Nick Joaquin eversince i heard about his passing last week. i didn’t write one immediately because what can i say about my favorite Filipino writer? Quijano de Manila? the National Artist? his works have been a staple of every Filipino literature class i’ve been in since high school, and learning and reading about his death in the subsequent days on the newspaper gave me this echoing sense of loss. it’s like my grandfather had died, and i couldn’t help crying over the articles written about him, wishing that i had at least got to shake his hand before he died.

i think the first story of his that i read was “Three Generations.” My favorite teacher (and mentor), Teacher Nina had explained the story so passionately that after the class, i read it over and over again. that was the year when i really fell in love with literature, a romance that is still going on right now. the next Nick Joaquin story Teacher Nina made us read was her favorite, “May Day Eve,” at that time, still not that well versed with the relationships between the opposite sexes yet (yes, i chose to remain naive of that until well into high school. haha) i did not appreciate it to the full extent, until i read it again in college. then i read “Summer Solstice” which totally blew me away and got me hooked on his stuff since then.

then in baguio, there was this one-shot comparative literature elective i enrolled into during my last semester there. we studied The Woman Who had Two Navels, and Portrait of An Artist as Filipino. i got good grades on my report and papers for that class. it finally convinced me that it was a good thing that i was shifting from journalism to English Studies and move to diliman.

in diliman, that’s where i finally found out what i felt like to be where one is supposed to be, and his works greeted me in my Filipino literature class and in fiction writing. Old familiar ones– the ones i have read before i revisited like old friends, and new ones– his poetry. reading his verses had cemented his place as my top favorite Filipino writer.

as april had aptly put it, thus passes the last of “the old guard.” i think i’ll pour out a bottle of san miguel beer for him. _______________________

this is my favorite Nick Joaquin poem. i don’t think it was considered as his best, but i love it for its playfulness that i rarely see in the Filipino
lit canon (aside for Jose Garcia Villa of course).


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