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:

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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

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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.

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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

nick

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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”

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Undergraduate Memories

Photo: Palma Hall, arguably the most famous building in UP Diliman as it is where all students take many of their common freshmen courses for GE

Looking Back: UP Diliman

(In view of my undergraduate years, it is only fitting that this article is formatted like a paper)

One of my most favorite places on earth is UP Diliman. The ambience is simply unique, as unique as its intellectual culture that emphasizes critique and the harmonious co-existence of contrasting ideas.

As undergrad students, generations of teenagers have spent their significant life years being shaped by the culture of the campus as they:

1. struggle to pass numerous exams, often times given in the strenuous essay form that requires nights and nights of preparation and second-guessing of exam question topics

2. find their niche in the very vast array of student organizations, numbering 250 plus according to the UP Student Affairs, including orgs for sports, academics, volunteerism like Red Cross Youth, and interests like manga, Japanese culture and astronomy
( note: the idea of meeting new people may seem kind of exciting, and even romantic at first — but hey, chances are, one’s orgmates would be students who are as grade-concious as one is, so any romantic notion is almost surely bound to fail).

3. choose from a vast array of food and dining options: from fishballs casually eaten while hanging out by the Sunken Garden, to the very busy CASAA filled with noisy and haggard students hurrying up to eat before going to their next classes, and the romantic but quite-expensive-for-undergrads dining experience offered by Chocolate Kiss. Korean, Indian and other foreign fare also make the campus an unforgettable dining destination.

Why am I writing this piece? Because I would like to preserve my memories of undergraduate intellectual sojourns at the University. I was a member of two campus organizations: UP SMMART and UP Bread. I am proud of these two because they helped bring out the best in me.

Writing has made me want to come back, to visit the nooks of the campus where I have spent my teenage years trying to figure out major teenage issues like career paths and life philosophies.
Yes, I will come back. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write a post about a re-visit to the campus.