Option #40: My Brother, My Executioner by F. Sionil Jose
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"You know, of course, that I will always help you, that I will do what you want me to do, because we are brothers."
"I am glad to hear that," Vic said. "I have been thinking a lot about us . . . I can trust you. Let me make one thing clear, however--the old days are now over. Your father--all his property--must go back to the people whom he had robbed."
Luis could not believe what he was hearing and for a minute, Vic droned on about social justice and democracy and the future. What would all this mean now? He would lose the house in Rosales and all the land that would be his inheritance. For a while this blank reality numbed his heart, and for all his protestations, for all that he had written and said, he had grown to like this ease, this surfeit of leisure, all that marked him for perdition. He was, after all, his father's son. Maybe, if he tried to dissuade his brother, there would be other ways, feasible means by which he could remain what he was and yet be totally in agreement with him, support him, and sacrifice for him.
So far, all the books I have read for this year's Marcos Pa Rin challenge have been retrospectives: historical novels or memoirs that depict the Marcos years in the light of how they finally ended. It's not a bad way to learn about history: when the authors are first-hand witnesses, it's like interviewing your grandparents. But a book actually written in the past is on a whole other level--like going back in time and meeting your grandparents' younger selves. They will be able to tell you things their older selves might have forgotten, remembered wrongly, or simply decided to keep from you. And this is exactly the case with F. Sionil Jose's My Brother, My Executioner, published in the 1970s and banned by the Marcos regime.
The central figure of the novel is Luis Asperri, the illegitimate son but only heir of the wealthy (ethnic Spanish) landowner Don Vicente Asperri. His (native) mother worked as a maid in Don Vicente's house because it was the only way her peasant father could pay off his debts. And his (half-)brother Victor is the son his mother has after Don Vicente sends her away and she finds a local man to marry. Luis and Victor are close in childhood, although the former's mestizo looks and the latter's peasant features make the neighbourhood children call them "milk and coffee." But who, in adulthood, is to execute whom? And for what capital crime?