Friday, January 24, 2014

Philippine Literature: The Phenomenon of "Woman With Horns"

I'm calling this a "phenomenon" because this is a case where a story has taken on a life of its own.

I'm referring to one of the first stories I wrote "Woman With Horns."This was inspired by a woman in Cebu, where I was born and grew up in. This woman was rumored to have horns. When we ran into her, the older folks would whisper that she hid her horns under her bulging hairdo.

This story stayed with me and later on, when I started experimenting with short story writing, one of my women characters was a sexy turn-of-the century widow rumored to have horns. The short story, "Woman With Horns" was part of my first short story collection (Woman With Horns and Other Stories), published by New Day in 1982.

I was later surprised to find out that Wikipedia has a page about this short story, and I quote:

"Woman With Horns is a short story written by Filipino writer Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. The story was first published in Focus Philippines in 1984 and is part of the author's first short story collection, Woman With Horns and Other Stories (New Day Publishers, 1987). The title refers to a fictional character named Agustina Macaraig, an Ubecan widow, rumored to have horns. Brainard's character was inspired by fanciful folklore from Cebu, Philippines,where she grew up in and which inspired her to create the setting of many of her stories - Ubec, which is Cebu backwards.

The story is set in 1903 a year after the tumultuous Philippine-American War. America was busy sending American administrators to their newly acquired colony in the Pacific. One of those who went to the "Islands" and who ended up in Ubec was a New York doctor and widower, Gerald McAllister. As the Public Health Director of Ubec, he carries on with his duties of establishing a vaccination program to stop a cholera epidemic. His initial meeting of the beautiful and sensual widow, Agustina Macaraig, disturbs and irritates the doctor. It is his assistant, Dr. Jaime Laurel, who reminds him that life is more than work: "Friend, you don't know how to enjoy life. Look at the sun turning red, getting ready to set spectacularly. It is a wonderful afternoon, you walk with a friend, you talk about beautiful women, about life..." (from Wikipedia)

It is Agustina Macaraig who eventually teaches Gerald McAllister to love and live once more."

Further, I also discovered Enotes about "Woman With Horns", which made me realize the story is used in classrooms.

Recently, I learned that there are two student film adaptions of "Woman With Horns"!

The first one was uploaded on YouTube on September 30, 2011.

A second film adaptation was uploaded on January 21, 2014, along with a separate video of "bloopers." The students of Professor Mar Anthony Mendoza at the University of Santo Tomas made this video adaptation.

 I am amused, dear Readers.

 Do watch the films. They have an energy that comes not just from the story, but from the love that the teachers and students have for the story.

Better yet, read the short story and the other inter-related stories (such as  "The Black Man in the Forest").

Oh - another thing, technically, those who made these adaptations should have asked for my permission for copyright reasons, but I'll this matter slide since these were done by professor and students for educational purposes.


P.S. If you Google "Woman With Horns images", one of the pictures that pops up is this one. That's me at the 2011 reading in Long Beach, California with Mike Buckley and his parents.

And I want these eyeglasses!

Links relating to "Woman With Horns":

Mar Anthony Mendoza's film adaptation of "Woman With Horns"
"Woman With Horns"Bloopers re Mendoza Production 
The 2011 Student film adaptation of "Woman With Horns 
Wikipedia's page on "Woman With Horns"
Enotes on "Woman With Horns"

Read also
The Black Man in the Forest


No comments: