Locus Focus: Take One Hundred and Five!
It seems that Locus Focus is now a fortnightly festival. That works for me, even if it's one more thing messing up the June/July Giveaway. I had to adjust the end date on the Rafflecopter again, but this time is really the last time.
Two fortnights ago, we read about an ancient village; last fortnight, it was a modern city slum. Today's setting is kind of in between, with more creature comforts . . .
by Nick Joaquin
On the porch Helen again crouched down to trace on the wall where the stone ended and the wood began.
"This isn't really a new house," she said . . . "Oh, it was built recently, but much that went into it is old. For example, those adobe blocks of the lower part of the walls. They're ancient. Don't look shocked. It's quite the fashion now, especially in Suburbia: to use brick and adobe salvaged from very old buildings. For the patina, they say . . ."
"What are you driving at, Helen?"
"In this house is another house."
The word "balikbayan" may not be readily translated into English, but the two words it is made up of are: "balik," which means to return, and "bayan," which means country. A "balikbayan" is a Filipino who left the country and then came back--a common enough type today, but still quite the novelty in the 1970s, which was around the time Nick Joaquin wrote this children's story about a balikbayan woman and her American-born son. And this explains why the tale is full of extra-terrestrial imagery, though SF is hardly Joquin's thing: the only other Filipinos I know who identified with space travelers that strongly had been born and brought up in the US, transplanted to the Philippines when their parents decided to return, and spent their years here desperately trying "to phone home."
Unlike them, young Billy Daryo doesn't seem to mind living in Manila. But also unlike them, he's not in danger of putting down roots in this alien land. Every home his extended family has had since his great-great grandfather moved from a village outside Manila to the southern city of Davao has been temporary: his own parents fell in love in Canada, moved to the United States as a married couple, and then decided Billy should get "a taste of the Philippines" with Mrs. Daryo while Mr. Daryo had to work in Iran. What better home for itinerant natives than equally unsettled suburbia?
But even the suburbs are not as new to the world as they seem to be--not when they were built from the stones and bricks of the old houses torn down to make room for the new. And there's always the issue of what the land was before developers, those anti-historians, came in to change it up. My original home was the very first house to be built in one of the new Metro Manila suburbs . . . and it still managed to be haunted. My family's theory was that the land used to be where political dissidents "disappeared" during the Martial Law era, but we likely weren't looking past our own collective guilt over how well an officer's family could get on under military rule. In Balikbayan, the real story behind the new house is also an old story--one which no one remembers without having to look it up, and which the discoverer decides the rootless Daryos would be happier not knowing.
Balikbayan is one of five children's stories in the new Nick Joaquin collection "Gotita de Dragon" and Other Stories--and the only one which counts as the "child-friendly Horror" you know I love. I highly recommend the whole book and encourage you to enter the giveaway for it through the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. =)
Question of the Week: If there were a dark story in the history of your house or the land it was built on, would you want to know about it?
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Image Source: "Gotita de Dragon" and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin