“Pinangga” by Melchor Morante
Aletheia Printing and Publishing House
(Review read by Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan at the launch of Melchor Morante’s book, “Pinangga,” on 25 November 2023 at the BauHaus in Davao City)
(DAVAO CITY) — I have somehow begun feeling afraid when I read stories that tell of love and tragedy. But Melchor Morante’s appeal in Pinangga resounds very clearly: Have the courage to look at these tragedies in the eye. Let it seep through your being and let the fear be the expression of your humanity.
Morante presents a discourse to all of us in this time of cancel culture and false revisionism: How do we keep the truth afloat – the truth that there is DDS, that there is summary execution, oppression, and also love in the midst of the sea of miseries?
Among the stories that especially struck a chord in one’s heart is the bittersweet story of Lorna and Willy, the young lovers whose destinies were entwined in the uncertain time of Martial Law. Their love for each other shifted from one form to another – from holding on to letting go. One would have wished to see them together in the end, but no. Not every love story ends that way. And who could get over the story of Tonyang – a mother who lost her children to an act of injustice done in the name of justice or security.
And yet, as we stare back at the face of these tragedies, Morante strikes us with the undercurrent of optimism. He makes us ask what makes all the struggles and discourses in life worthwhile when it’s not woven in love? Melchor Morante tirelessly articulates this in his stories that give light to the different faces of human emotions and history.
Once more, Bro. Karl (Gaspar, writing as Melchor Morante), bravely paints that in the midst of chaos and sorrows in our society, it is the quiet but all-pervading force of love that gives us enough strength to continue, confront, and even let go and trust that everything is decreed in Divine Wisdom.
May his stories not find the end of their travels on our dusty bookshelves, may they be told over and over until we truly find in our hearts that no matter what, Love or Pagpangga will always see us through.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a writer and a teacher at the Tuburan Institute (a Steiner/Waldorf School) in Davao City. Her fascination with the interweaving of individual lives has led her to study Mindanao history deeper).
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