An English Major’s Choices: Unforgettable Lines from my Favorite Love Stories in Philippine and Asian Literature

I was an English major in college and I had the privilege of having access to the best collections of Philippine and Asian literature in English thanks in part to the University of the Philippines Main Library at its Diliman campus and in part to my very well-read professors. I have come across some stories I would like to recommend to those who would like to know more about classic Philippine and Asian lit. For starters, here are some quotes from some of my favorite love stories I was introduced to at school:


1. This Earth of Mankind, a novel by multiawarded Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer (translated by Max Weber)

“My own name… for the time being I need not tell it.” – Minke, an ardent Native admirer of the half-White Annelies



2. “Dead Stars”, the first Philippine short story in English (written by Paz Marquez Benitez in 1925)

Those six weeks were now so swift–seeming in the memory, yet had they been so deep in the living, so charged with compelling power and sweetness. Because neither the past nor the future had relevance or meaning, he lived only the present, day by day, lived it intensely, with such a willful shutting out of fact as astounded him in his calmer moments.


3.  “May Day Eve”, a short story written by Nick Joaquin, Philippine National Artist for Literature

“Mirror, mirror, show to me him whose woman I will be,” – young Agueda



4. South of the Border, West of the Sun, a novel by Japanese literary giant Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel)

“I was always attracted not by some quantifiable, external beauty, but by something deep down, something absolute”




2 thoughts on “An English Major’s Choices: Unforgettable Lines from my Favorite Love Stories in Philippine and Asian Literature

  1. I love Haruki Murakami! He’s my favorite author 🙂 Though I have never read South of the Border, West of the Sun, how is it?. I’ve read The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, Dance, Dance, Dance and The Wild Sheep Chase! I just love the way he writes, its like you’re looking into the eyes of the character thinking that you know everything but at the same time, you’re shut out from the entire truth.

  2. Hi Crescentine. Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree with you, Murakami’s language has that ambiguity. In South of the Border, this ambiguity you’ve observed is used to perfectly illustrate romantic love and its ideals. A very smartly written and concise love story which one could interpret from various levels and shades of meaning. Very Japanese in philosophy.

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