Story Analysis: “The Safe House” by Sandra Nicole Roldan

          Many people had expressed their experiences or opinions about Martial Law during Ferdinand Marcos’ time. It was said that those who were actually alive during that time said that Ferdinand Marcos was a great president, while those who weren’t said that he wasn’t—probably based on what they learned in our Philippine written history.

          But the story of Roldan brought me to a new perspective. A story that happened at the time of Ferdinand Marcos, of Martial Law, in the perspective of a little child.

          The little girl lived in a four-storey building, with four units to a floor and walls high and wide. Their house was identical to any other houses in that area—within the gates of the complex. I assume that place was a subdivision or some kind, made from a housing project designed for genteel middle class living by the First Lady, as her pride and joy.

          There were people going in and out from their house, which she considered as her “relatives”. Very many relatives. Some would stay in for the night, some would be there to be fed, sometimes to get money, to treat the wounds or change their bandages. They always TALK ABOUT IMPORTANT THINGS, with capital letters. The little girl did not probably have the right or the mind to know or understand, but these important things seemed to be confidential. Classified. Top secret. You name it.

          A time during the martial law. The feeling in my gut told me that these guys must be revolutionaries, going against the government. Against President Ferdinand Marcos. Why did they need to be in that house to be treated when they can go to the hospital? Where did they get those wounds in the first place? It was no doubt. One time when the little girl wanted to watch the late afternoon cartoons, there were a lot of her relatives in front of the TV. On the screen was the president and they all suddenly “erupt in a volley of curses”. They hated Ferdinand Marcos, and they’re gathered in that house to revolt against him. The little girl was only five that time—it was 1982—still too young to witness something like that.

          These relatives came more often on those times, treating the apartment like their own house. And that was also the time she lost her mother.

          When the house was crowded, the little girl’s mother was quietly crying in the kitchen, murmuring about underground, revolution, taxes, and bills. Soon, maybe about a few days or months, the mother left, emphasizing that she will never return. A year after, her father was arrested right outside their house one August afternoon. With all the neighbors watching. Even though her mother was never mentioned right after she disappeared, I have a feeling she has something to do with the little girl’s father’s arrest. Although he wasn’t really arrested because of being part—or being the leader, in my assumption—of the revolution, but because of illegally owning firearms. It was 1984. Her mother left on 1983. I couldn’t imagine what this girl had been through.

          The little girl would sleep with her father in the cell during weekends. One time she had a dream about war: she saw a blood orange sky of where the bedroom and the living room should’ve been, which I assumed that her house was destroyed. To make her house look livable again, she painted it with different colors. She also painted a sun, a moon, and a star on their red floor so she would have light. There was no one else in the dream.

          I don’t know why it was a dream of war, but maybe because of the broken-down house.

          It was years later when she realized that those relatives weren’t actually her relatives. I’ve calculated she was already 20 years old when she did, when she saw a familiar face from fifteen years ago. Fifteen years ago was 1982. Fifteen years after is 1997. By then she realized that not even her house was safe enough, that anyone cannot be trusted. That must be the meaning of her dreams.

          The Safe House. Ironic. Though it was clever put. It gave the story a mysterious aura.

Story Analysis: “The Vagabond” by Austin L. Wiggins

          “The Vagabond” is a short story in which Austin L. Wiggins, the author, presents how it is possible for a religious person and an agnostic person to get along. Eleazar, the preacher who lived in his run-down church, takes in a stranger who had been discovered by travelers nearly buried in the shifting sands. Eleazar finds that the man was looking for a place in which he believed does not exist, the Oasis. It is said to be a place of unity and had an abundant supply of food and water. Eleazar tried convincing the man to stay, which the stranger politely declined.

          Wiggins wrote the story in third person to equally convey the perceptions of both characters—Eleazar, the preacher, and Jovahn, the stranger. But the author seem to show more of Eleazar’s perception than of the stranger, where the stranger did not really have too much thought of anything other than looking for Oasis. This is probably because of the author’s relationship with religion and standpoint on God and fate that influenced the portrayal of Eleazar, though it could also be assumed that Jovahn simply does not think of anything else other than looking for Oasis.

          The story presented a setting in which the world is currently experiencing a geomagnetic surge that depleted most water sources and food. Travelers found Jovahn in his near death and left him to Eleazar to avoid the burden of more division of their supplies. Driven by his accustomed conduct, he took the stranger in without question and even wanted to learn more of him.

          When Jovahn woke up, he knew right away that Eleazar was “a preacher of some sort” (paragraph 16) when he noticed the cross on the wall of the room that gave him the conclusion that it was the reason why he had let him stay, when he asked “That’s why you let me stay here?” (paragraph 16). Eleazar did not give any response concerning that perception of thought stereotyped to preachers, but was actually impressed by his acute thinking from someone who had just woken up from unconsciousness. Other than that, Jovahn did not show any opinions concerning his religious stance, but was more focused on returning to his journey of finding Oasis.

          After a meal Eleazar shared and which Jovahn was thankful for, Jovahn proclaimed to continue his journey. Eleazar’s conviction drove him to state his belief about the non-existent Oasis and was worried about “willing him to his death” (paragraph 22). Jovahn expressed that he believed meeting Eleazar in church was not a coincidence at all, which implicitly is the same belief Eleazar have on fate, but he did not wish to intrude in Eleazar’s path and wish for Eleazar to do the same to him.

          In other circumstances, Jovahn would’ve been annoyed and attacked Eleazar’s faith for trying to stop him in his journey. He didn’t. He was quite annoyed for Eleazar’s insistence, but he didn’t direct it to his faith. He did know it was caused by Eleazar’s belief, but he understood that, asking politely to let him go. Jovahn understood Eleazar’s beliefs that had influenced his concerns and actions. It is the same way Eleazar understood Jovahn’s decision, despite the unmatched beliefs. Their interactions showed that there really are no need for arguments in terms of religion, as long as there is understanding and respect of someone else’s beliefs. Eleazar had told him what he had to tell, that “there is no such thing as Oasis” (paragraph 22). The rest will be on Jovahn’s decision.

          Although the disappointment of the result of Eleazar’s insistence, the two parted ways as strangers who only showed concern and thankfulness towards each other.


A special thanks to the author of “The Vagabond”, Austin L. Wiggins, for helping me provide information I needed for this activity. I feel like it’s not good enough, but it’s all I can analyze 🙂

The story had also affected me, also because I believe in the existence of the Almighty God and wish that those who do not believe in Him should not be so hard towards Christians. And I also hope Christians will not be so judgemental towards unbelievers. The world will be a better place with everyone respecting each other.

Story Analysis: “Preludes” by Daryll Delgado

          This was an assignment assigned to me to make a report about the story. One of our subjects includes 21st Century Literature, and it’s quite amazing how these stories hold some hidden agendas (even if I’m just being too imaginative).

          Preludes is a 21st Century short story written by Daryll Delgado, a Filipino writer. The story was set in a natural setting with its distinct culture, with a theme of one of the issues in the Philippines: Gender Inequality.

          Reading the story alone, I couldn’t really find signs that it was about Gender Inequality. It was only the background before the story that said it’s related to gender inequality. Our book was quite a spoiler, but it helped me concerning my analysis.

          What does the story have to do with gender inequality? That was my first question. The story only delivered what had happened in a single point of view—Nenita, the wife. She showed a behavior of not minding the actions of her husband, by taking him back whenever her husband’s affairs with other women become sour. She never asks, seemingly never cares. But it cannot be considered as completely not caring for the husband—she still took care of him.

          Nenita was also aware of how her husband’s siblings always reminding him that he should’ve been a better man if he had chosen his decisions wisely, which also concerns his decision of marrying Nenita. She did not feel that sorry or feel that much grief when her husband’s siblings died, save for one. She was also fond of [1]Willy Revillame, a host she had watched on TV, and whom she always waited for in her dreams. This had also showed her unfaithfulness towards her husband, how she wanted to take a glimpse of Willy on TV or in her dreams.

          When Nenita suddenly woke up from her nap which she shouldn’t have, she felt the presence of her husband and had thought that he swore at her—even though he was at the Municipal Hall attending the death anniversary of the judge. Why? It wasn’t mentioned. But that must be the gender inequality there. It can be assumed that her husband does not like Nenita enjoying the presence of other men, even though he himself had been having affairs with other women and Nenita just kept taking him back.

          In the introductory part of the story, it was mentioned that Nenita did not feel comfortable around the wife of the judge because of some rumors about her, even though she did not really care. In a single read-through, it cannot be easily noticed. A few reads later had made things quite clear. There had been rumors about Nenita’s husband having an affair with the judge’s wife. Again, she didn’t care, took him back, and nursed him back to health.

          Those were some information I point out to be weird. Because reading it alone would make the story quite peculiar. Now our book had guide questions after the story, and question number 7 caught my attention.

          Who killed the man? Explain your answer.

          So there was actually a murder happened! The only character who died was Nenita’s husband. The very beginning of the story started as “A man died singing”, and the story went back earlier that day and led it back to the beginning, of how the man died, which was not really stated and can only be assumed that he died from his illness. And so I studied further, until I came to a conclusion.

          How come Nenita didn’t really care when her husband had affairs with different women, and taking him back with no questions? This aroused a few more questions. Did Nenita gave up on her husband? If so, why would she openly take him back and nurse him back to health?

          There were times when Nenita listened to the beats and murmurs of her husband’s heart at night. When she heard his singing voice from the Municipal Hall, she almost caught the sound of his labored breathing, and his heart’s irregular beating. She always nursed him back to health, but why wasn’t she showing any sings of concern or worry whatsoever?

          This brought me to the conclusion. Nenita killed her own husband.

          How? That was the question. That conclusion matched the behavior of Nenita, however, which strengthened my claim. Firstly, Nenita didn’t seem to mind about nursing him back to health. Why would she feel nothing and still nurse him back to health when she knew her husband’s been with other women? That was my first clue. And it coincides with a paragraph somewhere near the ending:

          “She could have prepared him then that other brew her [2]herbalista friend had suggested at the time, the one that would make his balls shrink, give him hallucinations, make his blood boil until his veins popped. But she didn’t, of course.”

          She didn’t. Of course. Because she wouldn’t want the murder to be noticeable. Although this could be considered as her small way of expressing her frustration towards her husband, it’s still like a black print among the white words. Moreover, she didn’t seem to be so concerned about her husband when she heard him choke.

          She knew of his condition. But she still laughed at her silliness for applauding along with the audience in the Hall. That moment, she went back inside the house, emphasizing that it was getting very hot outside, certainly hot enough to boil an old man’s blood and pop his veins, she added in her thoughts. She knew. It was her. She killed her own husband.

          Shocking. To think that a story like that could hide something sinister, but it could be the possible effects of gender inequality. It’s plainly amazing. It may not be a happy ending, but I don’t think it’s a sad ending either.

          I praise Daryll Delgado for her fascinating work. I recommend you “Preludes”.


[1] Willy Revillame is a host in a famous show in the Philippines, which (in my opinion) most older citizens liked.

[2] Herbalista – a healer who supervises herbal therapies.