Waywaya, a short story by Sionil Jose

(Posted on June 27, 2012)

Towards the end of my stay in the Philippines as a JICA expert for a Japanese government project, one of my counterparts from an IT training center gave me a book of eleven short stories about the Philippines. Recently, I fulfilled my “obligation” to read a short story entitled Waywaya, which is about pre-Hispanic society.  


It is written by a Filipino writer, F.Sionil Jose (now 88 years old), who is noted for his major theme(citing a publisher’s comments): “the Filipino’s continuing and often futile search for justice and moral order.”


I would like to put down briefly my impression of that short story. Waywaya is the name of a young woman abducted by a young man called Dayaw, who lives in a neighboring community, a long time enemy of hers.


Dayaw’s people fear revenge from her community, but nothing happens. She is not accepted by Dayaw’s people at all. Then, she gives birth to a boy; but she dies immediately afterwards. This seems to spark Dayaw to take resolute action to end hostility and hate between the two communities once and for all. How? He takes the dead body back to her community, and at the end he lets himself be killed (not that explicit) by her community warriors. The story ends there. This seems to be a “blood for blood” type solution.


So, ever-lasting peace came upon the societies? A remark by Waywaya’s community chief may give some indication: “There is something about an old tree, it grows no more. At the same time, it is difficult to cut it down. May be it is right that new trees should grow……”


And lastly,Waywaya means “freedom” in the author’s own tongue of Ilokano.                  

 

 

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