I – The Characters
Estaquio “Istak” Salvador / Estaquio “Istak” Samson * Estaquio also known as Istak is a young man serves as an acolyte in the church in Cabugaw. He was raised by Padre Jose, a Spanish priest in Cabugaw and gave him good education about healing arts and other practical skills that made him fit to become a priest. Istak got sick during their stay in Cabugawan and that time, Capitan Gualberto Together with his Spanish official took An-no and killed him.
* Dalin is a widow and became the wife of Estaquio “Istak” Salvador. She was brought by An-no together with her late husband who died in Po-on because of his illness. Dalin was the reason why Istak and An-no had some misunderstanding. During Istak’s journey together with their relatives in Po-on, Dalin was the one who led the way to Pangasinan because she was the one who is familiar to the place. Ba-ac
* Ba-ac is the Father of Istak and the Wife of Mayang.
He is very angry and at the same time, bitter to the Spanish Colony because of losing his one hand. Ba-ac was the one who killed the new priest in Cabugaw after he went and beg to the priest for Istak to be in the church again. He was also the one who led the journey to Pangasinan together with his family and relatives. He died during the journey because of the python who struck him.
* Mayang is the Wife of Ba-ac and the mother of Istak, An-no and Bit-tik.
She doesn’t want Dalin to be with Istak because Dalin was too young to be a widow. Mayang died in the journey to Pangasinan when Istak and Mayang was crossing the Agno river and the tree trunk hit the cart where in Mayang was inside that made the cart swallowed by the water raging down the river.
Mariano “An-no” Salvador
* An-no is the brother of Istak and Bit-tik and the Son of Mayang and Ba-ac. He was the one who brought Dalin to Po-on. An-no together with his family and relative went on a journey to Pangasinan. During their journey, He met Orang, Blas’ daughter and became his husband. An-no died because of Capitan Gualberto and other Spanish official who took him and killed him because of his father’s fault.
Silvestre “Bit-tik” Salvador
* Bit-tik is also the brother of Istak and An-no and the son of Mayang and Ba-ac. He also went to Pangasinan together with his family and relatives. During their stay in Rosales, Pangasinan. Bit-tik met Diego Silang during their stay in Rosales. He also has a girlfriend, Sabe, who leave Cabugawan, their new town and married a farmer from Carmay. But when An-no died, he took responsibility of the two children of his late brother and the farm. He became the husband of Orang, An-no’s wife.
* Orang is the daughter of Blas’ Ba-ac and Mayang’s relatives and the sister of Sabel who had an affair with Bit-tik, An-no’s brother. Orang became widowed when An-no got killed by the Spanish Officials but after the incident, she live with Bit-tik and became his wife.
* Padre Jose is the Spanish priest who gave shelter and good education to Istak, an acolyte in the church in Cabugaw. Padre Jose helped Istak through Istak’s dream where he talked to his acolyte and gave him advice during their journey. Padre Jose served as an inspiration to Istak. He was also the one who taught many things to Istak that later on, helped Istak to overcome all the challenges and even sickness during their journey and during their stay in Cabugawan.
* Don Jacinto was a rich and educated man living in Rosales, Pangasinan. He was the one who helped Istak, his Family and Relatives in their daily needs in life. He was also the one who offered the land to the Family and Relatives of Istak. Don Jacinto was a good friend of Istak during the stay in Rosales, Pangasinan. He was also the one who lend Dr. Jose Rizal’s novels and even the newspaper to Istak in order for Istak understand more about the situation they’re going through that time. He is also a good friend of Apolinario Mabini who was staying with Don Jacinto.
* Apolinario is a good friend of Don Jacinto during that time. He is the cripple who asked for a favor to Istak. He was also the one who gave the job to Istak in delivering the letter to the President, Emilio Aguinaldo. Apolinario Mabini is well educated and has a passion in writing. He continued writing because he wants to encourage people to be united as one and fight against the nation’s freedom.
General Pio Del Pilar
* General Pio Del Pilar was a general that time who led the fight against the Americans. He was also the one whom Istak talked with regarding the letter that Apolinario Mabini sent to the President, Emilio Aguinaldo. Istak joined his army in defeating the Americans that time.
II – Summary of the Novel
Estaquio “Istak” Salvador is an acolyte in the church in Cabugaw. Istak served in the convent for almost ten years. His mentor, Padre Jose was the one who gave him shelter, food and even good education which made Istak fluent in Filipino, Latin and Spanish and even familiar with practical skills and medicine. With Istak’s knowledge, he was fit to be a priest and someday, Padre Jose told him that he could go to Vigan and be serve the church there as a priest. But when the time comes, when Padre Jose was replaced by a new younger Spanish priest in Cabugaw, Istak was sent home to Po-on because the priest told him that he doesn’t need him anymore and maybe because of what Istak saw during his stay in the Church where in the new Spanish priest, having an illicit sex to one of Capitan Berong’s daughter.
The time comes when the new priest told them to evacuate the land that they don’t even own. Because of this, Istak’s father, Ba-ac who is angry and bitter to the Spanish colony because of what happened to his one hand, went to Cabugaw and beg to the priest to allow them to stay in the land for just one harvest since they don’t have anything to keep if they will leave the village. He also begged to the priest to allow his son, Istak to go back to the church and serve as an acolyte again but the priest doesn’t allow them. During that time, Ba-ac was surprised to find out that the priest he was talking was the one who ordered his official to looped Ba-ac’s hand until it became numb. Due to Ba-ac’s anger, he killed the young Spanish priest with the use of a silver crucifix.
With this, he was forced to move out to Po-on immediately together with his family and relatives. He went to a journey to Pangasinan in order for him to escape the punishment of the Spanish government to him. During their preparation for the upcoming escape in po-on, An-no, brought Dalin together with her sick husband to the village and eventually died because of the illness. The Family and Relatives of Ba-ac immediately moved out the village except for Istak who refused to go with them. But when the Spanish officials reached Po-on, everyone left except for Istak that made his life in danger.
He was closer to death that time but luckily, Dalin went to him and saved him. Their journey starts which led by Dalin and Istak who are familiar with the road. They also met Blas and his daughters during the journey to Pangasinan. During their voyage, they’ve been through a lot of challenges. One of Istak’s relatives got killed because of the encounter of the Bagos. Ba-ac also died during the journey to Pangasinan because of the Python who waited and attacked him. When they reach the Agno River, an unexpected situation happened when Istak together with Mayang, his mother was crossing the river then suddenly a huge tree trunk hit the cart where Mayang was staying that caused Istak’s mother’s death.
They finally reached Rosales, Pangasinan through journeying for almost two weeks. When they reached Rosales, the people living their told them to go to Don Jacinto, a well known man in the place and ask for some help. Istak never wasted a chance, instead, he went to Don Jacinto’s house in Rosales, Pangasinan and asked for some help. Don Jacinto didn’t hesitate to help them.
He gave a land to them where they can start their new life. Istak’s family and relatives called their new village, Cabugawan, since they are from Cabugaw. They lived in Cabugawan for almost ten years. During their stay, Istak and Dalin got married and had two sons namely, Antonio and Pedro. An-no and Orang also lived together but An-no died because of the Spanish officials and Capitan Gualberto who took him. Later on, Bit-tik and Orang lived together and Bit-tik took the responsibility of his brother’s children.
Istak became close to Don Jacinto and soon enough, he also became close to Apolinario Mabini, Don Jacinto’s friend. That time, Mabini was sick and Istak gave him some medicines for him to drink. As time goes by, Istak earned the trust of Don Jacinto and Apolinario Mabini. He was asked by Mabini to send the letter to the President, Emilio Aguinaldo. During Istak’s trip, he experienced problems because of the Americans who were in the country that time. In Istak’s trip, he encountered American officials who shot his horse, Kimat.
He also encountered problems where American burned the whole village and killed all the people there. He finally reached a village where General Del Pilar was. Istak lost the letter addressed to the president but instead, he told the General about the letter of Mabini, what he really wants for the country to be united as one. But Gen Del Pilar was not convinced and he sent Istak home. Istak never went home but instead, he stayed and joined General Pio Del Pilar’s army against the American soldiers.
III – Analysis of the Novel
A. Literary Analysis
Estaquio “Istak” Salvador/ Estaquio “Istak” Samson
* Estaquio Salvador is the Major/Central Character in the Novel, Po-on by F. Sionil Jose. He was the one who resolves the conflict between Ba-ac and the Spanish Officials by leaving Po-on and gives information to his family and relatives of what he have learned during his stay in the convent and his journey with Padre Jose.
Istak Salvador is also the Protagonist in the Novel since he was the one who faced the conflict during the time where the new priest wanted them to banished in Po-on and he was also the one who faced and experience situations where in he almost died. Istak is also a dynamic character since he changes his personality during the period. At first, he was contented in healing, teaching his fellow villagers but as time goes by, when he was asked to deliver the letter to the president and when he met Gen. Del Pilar, He leave what he used to do way back to Rosales and began to join the army to fight with the Americans. Ba-ac
* Ba-ac, the father of Istak, Bit-tik and An-no, and the wife of Mayang is the Major/Central Character in the novel. He was the one who somehow resolves the conflict between him, Istak’s and the new Spanish priest in Cabugaw by begging the new priest to accept Istak in the convent. He was also the one who lead Po-on villagers to leave the village.
* Dalin, a widow and the wife of Istak played as a Minor Character in the Novel, Po-on. In the novel, Dalin was the one who helped Istak and the Po-on villagers by leading the way to Pangasinan since she was familiar with the place. Mayang, An-no, Bit-tik, Orang
* Mayang, the wife of Ba-ac, An-no and Bit-tik, the sons of Mayang and Ba-ac and Orang serve as Minor Characters in the novel. They were the one who helped Istak, Ba-ac and fellow Po-on villagers in journeying the land of Pangasinan.
* Padre Jose, a Spanish priest in Cabugaw serves a Minor Character in the novel. He was the one who helped Istak by giving him enough education, teaching him about medicine and other practical skills and by teaching him different languages such as Spanish and Latin. He akso helped Istak during their journey when he appeared in Istak’s dream. The journey that Padre Jose and Istak had also helped Istak in journeying their way to pangasinan since Istak became familiar with the roads they are seeking that time.
Don Jacinto and Apolinario Mabini
* Don Jacinto, a well known man in Rosales, Pangasinan serves as a Minor Character in the novel. He helped Istak during their stay in Rosales, Pangasinan. He even gave lands to the Po-on Villagers. Don Jacinto also helped Istak to broaden his learning when it comes to the social situations in the country by lending him newspapers and other materials that Dr. Jose Rizal wrote. Apolinario Mabini, Don Jacinto’s close friend and became Istak’s friend also serves as a Minor Character in the Novel. Apolinario helped Istak during his stay in Rosales by giving writings that helped Istak in understanding the situations in the country.
New Priest in Cabugaw and Capitan Gualberto
* They serve as the antagonists in the novel, Po-on. The new priest was the one who ordered to loop Ba-ac’s hand and the one who want to banished the villagers in Po-on and other villages in Cabugaw. Capitan Gualberto serves as an antagonist in the novel because he was the one who seek for Ba-ac’s family in Rosales, Pangasinan and the one who killed An-no as a payment for Ba-ac’s mistake.
The event in the novel, Po-on by F. Sionil happened from 1880 to 1889. During this time, the Salvador Family together with their relatives who live in the village abandoned their beloved village, Po-on because of the sin that Ba-ac, the father of Istak, An-no and Bit-tik and the Husband of Mayang committed when he killed the new priest after realizing that he was the one who ordered to loop Ba-ac’s hand until it became numb. When Salvador Family and other Po-on villagers leave Po-on, Istak, the acolyte who served for more than 10 years in the convent in Cabuyaw intended to stay in the village, hoping that the Spanish officials will accept and understand what happened in the convent.
Unfortunately, Istak got nearly killed by the Spanish Officials and the Village was burned and turned into ashes. Dalin waited for Istak and was the one who took care of him when he got almost killed by those Officials. The Po-on Villagers leave Cabugaw and took the journey to Pangasinan where they can start their lives again and for them to escape the cruelty of those Spanish officials who are looking for Ba-ac. During their journey to Pangasinan, they encountered many challenges that tested their patience, unity and strength. During their voyage, they encountered Capitan Gualberto who once checked the carts of the Po-on Villagers.
When they reached the mountain, they encountered Bagos who killed a Po-on Villager uring the attack. Their journey to the mountain became difficult for the villagers. Ba-ac was killed during the journey to the mountain when a Python waited for the right moment to strike on its prey. Istak, who noticed that his father was no longer seated in the cart went back to check for his father but he found out that the Python was crushing the body of Ba-ac that caused his death. The Villagers now reached the Agno River but the current of the water is too fast that caused Mayang’s death when she and Istak finally crossing the river then suddenly, a tree trunk hit their cart.
Salvador Brothers namely Istak, An-no and Bit-tik, together with their relatives now reached Rosales, Pangasinan. During their Arrival, the people in Rosales told the po-on villagers to ask Don Jacinto for help. Istak doesn’t hesitate to go and ask for Don Jacinto’s help and luckily, they were given a land to develop and claim it as their own, and named their land, Cabugawan. During their stay in Cabugawan, Istak are doing some healing to those who are sick. That time, a harmful disease was spreading in the nearby town that made Cabugawan Villagers threatened. As time goes by, the Spanish officials together with Capitan Gualberto reached the place where the Po-on villagers are staying.
During that time, Istak got sick and he was too weak to function. When he finally recover from his Illness, Dalin, now his wife told him that these officials took An-no and killed him as the payment for what their father did way back in Cabugaw. During their stay in Rosales, Istak became closer to Don Jacinto and Apolinario Mabini, Don Jacinto’s good friend. Istak worked for Apolinario Mabini that time as the one who writes the draft made by Apolinario. As time goes by, the trust between Istak, Apolinario and Don Jacinto became stronger that made Apolinario trust Istak with the letter to be delivered to the President of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo. When Istak journeyed to the location of the President of the Philippines, he encountered Americans who killed people in the village and Burned the whole village.
The horse lend by Don Jacinto was shot during his encounter with the Americans that made Istak walked on the road and even in the mountains. He finally reached a village where he can buy a horse and that time, he met General Pio Del Pilar who lead the Filipino army against the Americans. Istak told the General about the letter for the president given by Apolinio Mabini that was lost. General Del Pilar asked Istak to leave the village immediately but Istak stayed and finally realized to join the army of General Pio Del Pilar.
The event in Po-on happened in Ilocos Region and the Cordillera Mountain Range. Po-on was in Cabugaw, Ilocos. When Istak’s family and relatives went to Pangasinan, they settled in Rosales. It all happened during the last few years of the Spanish Colonization and few months of American period.
Point of View
Estaquio, also known as Istak is the third person who is talking in the novel, Po-on. He was the one who narrates what happened when he and Padre Jose had their journey, and when they had a conversation in his dream. Estaquio also portrayed the first person in the novel because at some point, he was the one narrating what happened during his and Padre Jose’s journey. The author, F. Sionil Jose is the third person talking in the novel because he is the one who narrates the story by this personal point of view. Dalin, Istak’s wife portrayed the third person in the novel because there is time where she narrates what happened to her life during her voyage with her parents.
The theme of the novel, Po-on by F. Sionil Jose is the birth of the Philippine nation and the awakening of the Filipino citizens regarding the situations of the country during the Spanish and American Period. The theme of the novel is also the suffering of the people and the will of God.
B. Sociological Analysis
The political and social situations revolved in the novel, Po-on were the Spanish and Americans who claimed the Filipinos’ land, as their own land and how those people who called themselves superiors act in the society. The officials during that time only think about theirselves and how they will inherit all the lands in the country. Those officials who treated theirselves as superiors did everything that they can do to the citizens in the Philippines. They don’t have any respect to the people in the country especially to the women who were abused by those officials.
The values that were present in the novel are the uniqueness of each person, empowerment, learning community and delight in the spiritual adventure with god. The uniqueness of each person portrayed in the novel serves as a big help for them to overcome all the challenges in life. This uniqueness includes the ability of each person to do everything that will make his/her life more meaningful, the strength and patience of each person experiencing challenges. The learning community is also present in the novel since the people in Po-on and now based in Cabugawan, Rosales, Pangasinan learned new techniques in handling their new life in Pangasinan.
The people in Cabugawan learned to enhance their skills when it comes to field works. Lastly, the delight in the spiritual adventure with God is also present in the novel since Istak and other Po-on natives have a strong belief with God and offer their selves to the purpose of god for their lives. These values relate to the core values in Assumption College because just like the people portrayed in the novel, the core values of Assumption also portrayed the students and faculty when it comes to the morals of Assumption College.
D. The Image of the Woman
The images of the women portrayed in the novel are strong and very independent when it comes to field works. Dalin showed how strong she is when it comes to challenges. She had been through a lot of challenges in life that tested her patience and strength. Orang, Blas’ daughter also showed strength when she was took advantage by the Spanish officials. Despite of what happened to her, she remained strong. Mayang, Ba-ac’s wife also showed strength when Ba-ac died. She is also independent when it comes to her works in the village. These women were not respected by the Spanish officials that time. That time, they were inferior to the eyes of these officials.
In the novel, Po-on, some of the situations happened that time were also present in the society today. It showed how people were abused, were not respected by those people who think they are superior. As a woman, the situation happened during Dalin and Orang’s time struck me because nowadays, it is still happening in the society. Women are abused by men, trying to get the dignity of these women. The social issues happened that time is also present in our society today. The Spanish officials present in the novel can be portrayed by the government officials who are present today. They have somehow the same traits; Acting as if they are superiors, as if they own the lives of the people in the society. The novel imparted the people nowadays how those people present during that time feel and experience.
IV – Conclusion
All in all, the novel, Po-on written by F. Sionil Jose portrayed the life of Istak and the Cabugawan Villagers in their newly hometown, Rosales in Pangasinan. After so many years of healing and teaching, Istak finally realized that he will just forget the things he used to do in Cabugawan and joined the army of General Pio Del Pilar who are against the Americans. Istak finally joined the army and leave his fate to God’s hand.
Istak didn’t even bother going back to Cabugawan when General Pio Del Pilar asked him to. He finally forgets all the things he used to do in his hometown and do what is right for the country.