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10 thoughts on “Po On

  1. Jr Bacdayan Jr Bacdayan says:

    “No stranger can come battering down my door and say he brings me light This I have within me”The white man cometh and he brings salvation – religion organized government education culture But under the blanket statement of “salvation” is its shadow exploitation – of natural resources of manpower of freedom What a nationregion will naturally develop in time is accelerated tenfold but with sudden growth comes the dependency to this unnatural and unsustainable support christened as the plague of imperialism Imperialism is a rich source material for any budding writer outside of Europe and the United States Depending on a native writer’s inclinations it brings either a mixed bag or absolute ruin In the case of F Sionil Jose it is the former the Filipinas owing its faith and education to the haughty Spaniards and the smug Americans notwithstanding the slow decay they bring about But then again he is a tarnished commentator on the matter since this work was written in Europe enabled by an American grant This would be in the opinion of most literary critics in the Philippines the prime candidate for the greatest English language novel to come out of the country F Sionil Jose’s novel is divided into two halves The first one the Exodus of an innocent people out of Spanish authority into the wilderness of independence the second – the awakening of an individual to his patriotic duty the entirety the metamorphosis of a divided parts wrought in apostolic servitude into the early smoldering of what would be a nation ablaze Eustauio ‘Istak’ Salvador is a young acolyte bright and curious Intelligent he captures the attention of progressive Father Jose who takes him as a pupil However his skin is dark and thus cannot enter the seminary based on his birth as a lowly native His aspirations are crushed and brought underfoot like a moth engulfed by its own attraction to a flame His subseuent progression from a faithful servant into an outlaw a nomadic Moses a hopeless farmer a proud father a community leader and later on a patriot is representative of the cyclic birth of a divided people under one land “A nation which has people who can think that nation already has strength”Istak young innocent impressionable was shackled with the flawed chains of Imperial Catholicism But he broke free with the self realized insight that Faith springs not from stalwart institutions but the unified belief of nameless men towards a just cause no matter the skin color or birth It is uite curious that only a few novels worthy of attention come out of a long colonized country that was already literate long before its Asian neighbors and counterparts were Further since it is a country that prides itself in the mastery of the English language Perhaps the brand of education it was taught was to be subservient rather than subversive an education that teaches conformity rather than critical thinking Alas this produced a nation of readers instead of a nation of writers Even in literature they have created consumers not competitors in the industry But with the slow awakening of a culled people maybe a superior novel shall be birthed in the near futureDusk illustrates the awakening consciousness of a nation and its clamoring for self growth It is like the feeling of longing for the warm healthy rays of the early morning sun after a night bathed in artificial lightBask in its glow Contemplate as the sun rises in a seven thousand strong island nation


  2. K.D. Absolutely K.D. Absolutely says:

    Francisco Sionil Jose born 1942 is the Philippines' bet for Nobel Prize for Literature He is one of the widely known Filipino novelists using English His contemporaries are now either dead or have stopped writing so their books are no longer sold at the mainstream bookstores in the country However the books of F Sionil Jose still sell like hotcakes occupying the eye level shelves and competing for space with those books of the much younger novelistsDusk or Po on whenever published in the Philippines is the first book of F Sionil Jose's The Rosales Saga There are 5 books in the series but F Sionil Jose says that each of the book can be read independently They are all set mainly in Rosales a town in Pangasinan where F Sionil was born and where he also grew up The series is said to be an allegory for the Filipinos in search of their true identity Dusk tells the life of Eustauio Istak Salvador or simply Istak Samson he changes his surname when he and his family go to hiding who works in the parish run by a Spanish friar during the late nineteenth century in Northern Philippines The friar is good to young Istak and takes care of him like his own son he teaches him how to pray heal sickness write and speak Spanish and Latin and how to assist during the Holy Mass The friar goes old and so he thinks that Istak should be sent to Laoag seminary to become a priest However this is during the Spanish occupation and indios that's how Spaniards call Filipinos during that time are not allowed to become priests so Istak now 21 yo has to go back to his family and help in his family's farm Istak's father begs the new priest to send his son to the seminary and while they are arguing Istak's father kills the priest The story continues with the whole family escaping like fugitives and afraid of encountering mga tulisan local terrorists Spanish armies or even American soldiers since at the later part of the story Spain ceded Philippines to American by the virtue of 1989 Treaty of ParisThe exodus of the family reminded me of John Steinbeck's Joad family in his opus The Grapes of Wrath because of the death sickness and danger that lurked during the whole journey The local setting with the people believing in spirits superstitions mixed with Catholic practices reminds me of Gabriel Garcia Maruez's One Hundred Days of Solitude Book 1 itself covers 20 30 years They say that the series has its epic grandeur that one will feel after finishing all the 5 books that can remind one of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace At least for the first book the prose is lucid and tells the story straight from his heart he is a Filipino who comes from that part of the country J Sionil Jose's effort in researching the details covered in this book is astounding The opening letter seems authentic and the language used throughout the novel is consistent and amusingMy favorite part are the appearances of the two well known and beloved figures in Philippine history I will not tell you who are they as I have a feeling that F Sionil Jose used them as a come on for this first book btw my brother has told me that this is the only book worth reading in the series Imagine those two characters talking and moving in your imagination while reading the book At least for one of them I have not seen a movie about his life and even a footage of his pictures on TV I used to see him only on a peso bill I forgot on what denominationFantastic book


  3. Selkie ✦ Queen Selkie ✦ Queen says:

    I don't know why I waited this long to read this book I've bought my copy a week before I met F Sionil Jose himself in the Cavite Young Writers event back in 2010 He recognized my surname and knew how to spell it which doesn't happen often since my twelve lettered surname is an uncommon Spanish last name For a man who is almost ninety his memory was astounding Though I haven't read his works at that time I knew of his legacy and the excitement and anxiety at that moment upon meeting a national icon were palpable and overpowering I thought I was going to have a panic attack right there Here I am three years later after that fateful day and I finally started reading the first book of his critically acclaimed Rosales Saga Po On The series itself follows different protagonists for each novel but the stories of the five books are interrelated across chronological boundaries Set in the Philippines during its most notable and tumultuous times F Sionil Jose takes us into the heart of the common Filipino man who has yet to establish a clear national identity The best thing about his books is that they are written in English which is the language of my soul That's a good thing too I guess since it's arguable that most readers of my generation in the country are used to reading English novels after all so Po On will be than accessible to them not to mention it's affordable under 300 bucks Po On is an important book not just because it has international recognition and because it's a historical fiction about our country As a work of literature itself this was an impressive achievement F Sionil Jose's stylistic language is distinct and the uality of his prose is straightforward without the need for extravagant verbosity In Po On the central figure his Eustaio Istak Salvador a promising acolyte who idolized a Spanish priest as his mentor His prominent characteristic is that he's an educated man a rare accomplishment for an indio let alone an Ilokano who are considered to be mere docile farmers His parents and two brothers were also significant players in the plot as well as the elusive and admirable Dalin who became his wife later on Driven away from their lands the Salvador family together with their relatives because extended families are still considered to be of close ties for your typical Filipino traveled across mountains and forests in search for a new place to call home My favorite thing about Po On is that it's rife with religious allusions particularly on the Old Testament accounts of the Book of Exodus There is a sublime connection between the plight and cavalry of the Salvador family with that of Moses and the Israelites There were many instances of parallelism between them and they are the most heartbreaking moments of the book Their new home Cabugawan might as well have been the promised land for these IlokanosAnother beautiful aspect of Po On is Istak's constant struggle to define his faith within and outside the context of the Catholic Church's influence He's always torn between his loyalty to his family and his people and the values he had learned from his late Spanish mentor The book is divided into two parts; the first part was the exodus while the second one was about the upcoming final war between the Spaniards and the new colonists the Americans Istak meets historical figures Emilio Jacinto Apolinario Mabini and Gregorio Del Pilar His interactions with these men are striking and heartfelt Through Istak's character we became acuainted with ourselves The Filipino then and the Filipino now are still similar; we are creatures who aspire for greatness but remain a race divided Istak's general apathy about the war torn situations of the country then can still speak to our own inner conflicts But once his life was touched by these remarkable patriotic men willing to fight and die for independence Istak himself has found the courage to do his part as small as it may be Mabini fondly called as the Cripple in the book rationalized why it's difficult to unite his countrymen We identify as Ilokanos or Tagalogs or Batangeños instead of one Filipino nation Once Istak embraced that he doesn't simply belong to his family but to a higher nobler purpose he took up arms with the rest of the outnumbered soldiers led by General Del Pilar against the Americans in the memorable battle of Mount TiradThere are many instances in this book that made me tear up in spite of myself I realized that this is an important work and it saddens me that it only has 40 ratings including my own here in Goodreads We should all pick up the Rosales Saga because F Sionil Jose is a prolific artist who dedicated his lifetime in writing us these books so our generation and the next can read and see their lives in the pages This is a book of great importance and will definitely give you a sense of national pride like you have never felt beforeRECOMMENDED 1010MEMORABLE UOTES Evil is often a creation of our minds It starts as a spark and then it is fanned into a fire self willed and self sustaining That is not to say there are no evil men but our best protection against them is our innocence and our truthNo stranger can come battering down my door and say he brings me light This I have within meThere was no measure for love of country except in sacrifice and why ask the poor for sacrifices? It was the comfortable the rich who should express it with their wealth The poor had only their lives to giveHe was valuable to them teacher healer patriarch but now he realized with seeing sharpness that they were valuable to him not just as cousins and neighbors they were the earth the water the air which sustained himDuty comes in many forms; at times duty to country can be conflict with duty to family But in the end duty becomes but one and that is duty to value justice above everything to do what is right not because someone ordains it but because the heart which is the seat of truth decrees itI have been blinded as many of us have been blinded by our needs I had thought only of my family this was the limit to my responsibility and therefore my visionThe whole history of mankind has shown how faith endures while steel rusts


  4. Chibivy Chibivy says:

    This is a beautiful piece of Philippine literatureBefore reading Po on I haven’t really heard who F Sionil Jose was This was his first work that I’ve read and based in this book I could say that he truly deserve the Philippines’ National Artist for Literature in 2001 award Written in English language the prose was executed fluidly and articulately The settings were carefully described painting a vivid picture in the imagination of the readers; while each scene stirred a lot of emotions from meThe novel encompasses the story of Eustauio “Istak” Salvador and the injustices that had befallen to his family However their miseries also mirrored the experiences of the early Filipinos whom they called “Indios” in the hands of foreign colonizers The Spaniards were the ones who introduced Catholicism to the country and yet these so called “men of God” handled power ruthlessly They treated men indifferently because Spaniards deemed them as stupid and incapable to learn; while they treated women like rags who could sate their carnal desires Spaniards believed that early Filipinos were “inferior” to them because of the natives’ brown skin flat nose and short stature Admittedly there were those like Padre Jose who treated the Indios appropriately and believed in the capabilities; but most were ethnocentric people who used their “God given power” as a tool to oppress the rights of minority Po on tackled several social issues that not only happened in the colonial era but also manifested in the present time Injustice still prevails today and there is still this social hierarchy which discriminates individuals because of their status Education is still a privilege of a few and because of that illiterate persons are easily manipulated by the oppressive system Most of all we as a people still struggle in our national unity More than a century had passed since the declaration of our independence; and yet are we truly free?The characters were beautifully developed and I really liked Istak However my favorite in the novel was Dalin I greatly admire this woman of resilience and strength who had braved the storms that passed in her life Her unwavering dedication had served as Istak’s source of strength in times of perils and she was like his beacon of lightPo on demonstrates different faces of love—love for country love for family love for friends and comrades and romantic love for a special person During the entirety of the time I read the novel I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions and reflections It was a poignant story that touches the heart while enlivening a Filipino’s nationalistic feelings I believe this is an excellent novel to discuss inside the classroom for such piece of literature could shape the young minds of the students to love the Philippines


  5. Josephine Josephine says:

    My five star rating for Po on isn't because of the plot You read something like this something about power murders violence poverty etc too many times the story gets old too fast But he was able to get to the bottom of it why the Philippines is such a disjointed country that it is now It's because of self preservationWhy did an idealist like Istak who was persevering getting up at such an early hour everyday to toll the bells of the church do the chores in the sacristy diligently reading and studying Spanish and Latin all the while believing he was doing this for God and the country because he was the chosen one would change his tune ten years or so afterward? Why would he not care about the country any and its people that he wanted to serve and say that he had to think of his clanfamily first? That he was nothing but a mere farmer?It was because of self preservation Because where were the others when his father was being tortured? When their village was being burned? Being pillaged? Or when his brother An no was being taken? The list is endless and no one came forward to help all the while some of the chosen ones were aiding their oppressors when they were supposedly helping their own countrymen So why would Istak want to help others? They were never really helped in the first place except by Don Jacinto for whom he would run an errand for later on and would only do so at first out of gratitudeWhy would the young general not believe Istak when he delivered the message? It was because he had seen betrayal way too many times he would rather not risk receiving help from someone even if this someone else was his compatriot After all if he placed his trust into the hands of the wrong person it would cost him his life and the lives of their menTo this day such things still happen Why would you help other people when no one helped you when you were in dire need? Or why would you help others if sometimes ikaw pa ang lalabas na masama?Out of pain fear and distrust Kanya kanya syndrome was born and it will forever persist if left alone


  6. Rise Rise says:

    F Sionil José's re imagined community Po on 1984 also published as Dusk is the first chronological part of Filipino novelist F Sionil José's epic story consisting of five volumes and collectively known as the Rosales saga It is a historical and political novel set in Luzon Island during the last days of Spanish rule in the Philippines in late 19th century up to the entry of American imperialists It traces the southward journey of an extended family evicted from their homes by Spanish authorities The Salvador family's journey is marked by indescribable hardship It also depicts the enduring character of small peoples and their continuing struggle against colonial powers Spanish and American and greedy landowners The novel is written in spare transparent and direct prose devoid of any flourishes yet lyrical nonetheless F Sionil José is persistently spoken of as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature That he hasn't won yet may be explained by the fact that he is not what one would usually consider a prose stylist and that his novels are sometimes weighed down by their political themes Among Filipino novelists in the English language those that I've read so far the late Nick Joauín and N V M Gonzalez are arguably better writers than him Even so his engagement with uestions of national identity and social justice makes him a novelist worth reading His aesthetic can best be summed up by the words of Apolinario Mabini one of the novel's pivotal historical charactersRemember Eustauio these are curtains to a window And the words are themselves the window First the writing must be neat but not ornate for if I wanted beautiful letters then I would have nothing but a page of the alphabet in ornate lettering The Chinese consider calligraphy as an art form and it could be beautiful but attention as tradition demands is drawn to the shape of the characters themselves Great calligraphers are therefore great poets too But you are not Chinese Words should not hinder the expression of thought unless one is expressing poetry I am not writing poetry; I am writing to convince people of the validity of our struggle its righteousness and the utter fallacy and hypocrisy of the Americans in saying we are not capable of self governmentBut you are not Chinese Mabini emphasized to Eustauio Istak the novel's protagonist You are Filipino he was implying Here I'm reminded of the final scene of the 1976 film Ganito Kami Noon Paano Kayo Ngayon? This Is How We Were How Are You Now? directed by Eddie Romero The main character Nicolas Kulas Ocampo played by Christopher de Leon encountered a group of children sitting in the midst of ruined shelters of Filipino revolutionaries He told them after they related what happened Tandaan nyo ito ha Pilipino rin kayo Remember this you are also Filipinos I'm looking at the Wikipedia page of the film and I think its synopsis could very well describe Sionil José's novelSet at the turn of the 20th century during the Filipino revolution against the Spaniards and later the American colonizers it follows a naïve peasant through his leap of faith to become a member of an imagined communityAt present I'm reading an influential book by the scholar and historian Benedict Anderson called Imagined Communities Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism 1983 rev ed 1991 Imagined community is the definition Anderson gave for a nation excerptA nation is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereignIt is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members meet them or even hear of them yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communionThe nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings has finite if elastic boundaries beyond which lie other nations No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankindIt is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely ordained hierarchical dynastic realmFinally it is imagined as a community because regardless of the actual ineuality and exploitation that may prevail in each the nation is always conceived as a deep horizontal comradeship Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible over the past two centuries for so many millions of people not so much to kill as willingly to die for such limited imaginingsI am uoting Anderson's definition at length because I think that nationalism is the underlying theme of the novel and the whole Rosales saga and conseuently a robust framework in which to approach it Any investigation of national literatures will I think benefit from Anderson's ideas in his book Po on is published just a year after Anderson's book came out and yet the elements of a nation imagined community limited sovereign are well integrated into the story The idea of sovereignty and self government for example is evident from the first uoted passage In addition the imagination of national territorial boundaries can be seen in another passage in the novel the words of Mabini again replying to Istak's uestion on why he must care for this nameless mass Mabini calls Filipinas and for the people not even related to himIf there is no country as such or as you know and recognize then in your mind you must give it its boundaries Do this because without this country you are nothing This land where you stand from which you draw your sustenance is the Mother you deny It's to her where your thoughts will go even if you refuse to think so for it is here where you were born where your loved ones live and where in all probability you will all die We will love her protect her all of us—Bisaya Tagalog Ilokano so many islands so many tribes—because if we act as one we will be strong and so will she be Alone you will fall prey to every marauder that passes by I am not asking that you love Filipinas I am asking that you do what is right what is duty emphasis addedThe same hopeful leap from regionalism Bisaya Tagalog Ilokano etc to nationalism marks the ending of Ganito Kami Noon Paano Kayo Ngayon? It's not surprising then that these re imagining of a national community earned for the novelist as well as the filmmaker the honor of being elected a National Artist Also posted in my blog


  7. Raechella Raechella says:

    Foremost book in the five part Rosales Saga but last to be published by the Philippine National Artist for Literature F Sionil Jose—Po on embraces an air of nationalism and gushes with an autonomous aspiration from the long oppressed Filipinos Istak’s mere fabricated globe recounts the factual—though not concrete—burden the Filipinos has been subjected to throughout the tyranny of the Spaniards and shortly under the regime of the Americans Jose’s guileless yet lyrical prose with his clear cut exhibition of the backdrop and episodes of confrontations promises a picturesue panorama of the Salvador’s later Samson expeditions and misadventures along with an inexplicable feeling of patriotism hovering over the pages It isn’t so hard to penetrate into the lives of the indios as Spaniards call the Filipinos since the distinct attributes of the characters are very well manifested until today A Filipino himself Jose did not—in any way—commit any biasness towards the Filipinos Istak’s resolute faith to a divine entity makes him an epitome of righteousness but his inadvertent fascination towards women makes him a flawed being nonetheless Ba ac’s sulkiness at the onset of the story creates a disagreeable impression on his part but discovering the reason behind his severed hand gives him redemption even so And then there were the Filipino traitors who recoiled from their resistance to favor the enemy’s cause—not to mention the “tulisans” who oppress their own kindredNor did Jose set any prejudices against our foreign aggressors Albeit the ruthless governance of the Spaniards—along with the Church’s iniuitous exploits—particular individuals however were designed to project an upright disposition towards the Filipinos Such person is Padre Jose—Istak’s mentor and father like figure He serves as a remembrance that goodness comes from any race however deplorable the majority areI’ve never really been a patriotic individual—save for my occasional remarks about the country’s involvement in various issues—but plunging deeper into F Sionil Jose’s engaging narrative and beautiful prose one cannot be helped but to be terribly perturbed by the maelstrom of emotions compellingly swirling on every page I literally felt a searing pain in my chest the moment I flipped the final page specifically because of Istak’s last notation from his journal We own our country we own our resources and we own ourselves But why are these aliens gaining from our possessions? They hold in great awe our majestic resources and obtain an unlimited supply of opportunities from these but degrading with its unsightly attributes Are they here to praise or to demean us?An insensible citizen now a compassionate native of my country—Po on has shaped my newfound love for my motherland


  8. Nick Nick says:

    Reminiscent of The Red Badge of Courage with the young man finding his courage in battle except that in the case of Dusk the protagonist Istak is already the head of a family a skilled healer and carrying a letter from one of the key intellectuals of the Filipino rebellion to its President Oh and in this case the blue coats are the enemy for those rusty on their Filipino history the American military entered the colony to overthrow its Spanish masters and then replaced them Jose is not a psychological novelist; here loyalty to family and nation and the duty to defend them even to the point of sacrificing one's life are paramount Istak is complex in that for someone from an impoverished he has obtained an education in the service of the local priest learning to read and speak Latin in Spanish in addition to his native Ilocano His family is displaced and he is thrust into leadership by that learning and the death of his mother and his impulsive father He does not uestion what is the right thing to do only his ability to achieve it Jose's portrait of the Philippines of the time reveals the patchwork of languages ethnicities and cultures some of which defend their territory violently The occupiers Spaniards and Americans are violent meting out execution and rape reflexively to steal and overpower The most compelling character of the novel is Jose's fictionalization of the real Apolinario Mabini the intellectual of the movement who has been ousted from the Filipino government fleeing from the American army Istak and his wife whom he characteristically rescues after a Spaniard attack and who Jose makes with clear intention a woman from another group are less complicated people; they think in terms of what is most important and express the values that inform their decisions with clarity Somehow perhaps because of what they face violence persecution war disease that simplicity of purpose and action does not make the novel itself simple


  9. Andrew Andrew says:

    Another grand mid century postcolonial novel told over multiple volumes and a relic of a optimistic and humanist time when nations were decolonizing and the white liberals who applauded them wore horn rimmed glasses and smoked pipes and talked seriously about Erich Fromm and the human family Not too different from what Pramoedya Ananta Toer Chinua Achebe and the like were doing at the same timeLike so many of those novels it features a solitary Universal Man of the colonial world educated enough to know the world but rooted in the miseries and sufferings of his people and he has a struggle and a uest and a fate You've likely seen these themes before if you're a Yank like me you experienced it when you first read Steinbeck but that doesn't mean it's not a good story I admire the optimism and humanism of the era and the earnestness intelligence and confidence of its postcolonial writers especially living in a time when writers seem by and large to bury their heads in the sand


  10. Ben Ben says:

    Written by F Sionil Jose Po on is one of the novels in the 5 book series The Rosales Saga Chronoligically it's the first in the series but the last to be written It tells the story of a poor Ilocano clan in their little exodus from Ilokos to Pangasinan how they struggle to to travel with a handful of carts while a group of Spanish guards are hunting them down how they go through a series of unfortunate events as they search for a land to settle It's a well developed historical fiction that depicts the Filipinos' inconvient lives under the Spanish rulePo on is a masterly piece of work It's not a book translated in English but it was written originally in English by Sionil himself who happens to be a native Filipino speaker The virtue of patience was all I needed to finish the book And while I was reading it at one point I felt a pang of annoyance with myself because the I read the book the I realized how dumb I am on the history of my own country However dumb I am on the subject I was still able to get myself into the scenes relate to the characters and get to feel the emotions of this intelligent book as if it has its own mind and heart Well that's how brilliant the author is He captures not only the hearts of the intelligent but also the hearts of the dumb The story is realistic as much as the characters are believable Istak is a character created out of a genius' mind I liked it when the author used two opposing ideas to battle in Istak's self to define such character of depth and complexity The storytelling is as effective as the ones done by the native English speaking authors It takes you to places and times while letting you use your five senses so as to realize how vivid the scenes are This may sound cheesy It's an honor to have read this book and to get a chance to read the other four in the series


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Po On ❰Reading❯ ➺ Po On Author F. Sionil José – Thomashillier.co.uk With Dusk originally published in the Philippines as Po on F Sionil Jose begins his five novel Rosales Saga which the poet and critic Ricaredo Demetillo called the first great Filipino novels written With Dusk originally published in the Philippines as Po On F Sionil Jose begins his five novel Rosales Saga which the poet and critic Ricaredo Demetillo called the first great Filipino novels written in English Set in the s Dusk records the exile of a tenant family from its village and the new life it attempts to make in the small town of Rosales Here commences the epic tale of a family unwillingly thrown into the turmoil of history But this is than a historical novel; it is also the eternal story of man's tortured search for true faith and the larger meaning of existence Jose has achieved a fiction of extraordinary scope and passion a book as meaningful to Philippine literature as One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Latin American literature.