A Book Review in Literature 3 (Luha ng Buwaya) Amado Vera Hernandez
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Ka Amado was born on September 13, 1903 and died at the age of 67. He is the son of Juan Hernandez and Clara Vera. He began molding his brilliance in Gagalangin, Tondo, the Manila High School and at the American Correspondence School where he earned his baccalaureate degree in arts. Art was really his passion and maybe his fate. One proof was his matrimony to Atang de la Rama, the mistress of kundiman singing and sarswela acting. Aside from that, he was a well-renowned essayist, poet and playwright. In fact, he was awarded national artist in literature. He wrote a lot of poems, most of it tackles on human emotion while suffering from oppression. His “Isang Dipang Langit”(A Stretch of Sky) was inspired by his experience in prison and talks the same thing, the unbearable predicament of an individual socially discriminated. He’d worked also as a councilor in Manila and his concern for the people—for the working class grew into strong identification with their struggle for social justice and human rights.
As a novelist, he didn’t forget to showcase the lifestyle and the culture of a typical Filipino. One of these was his “Luha ng Buwaya”(Crocodile Tears) which had introduced the problems and cancers that Juan de la Cruz in the past and of the present is experiencing. The title itself originated from the European and Asian belief that a crocodile, before attacking its victim, cry first. And so the advent of the cliché “crocodile tears” which meant fictitious grief. The novel although based on real Philippine scenario is considered fiction, a product of the mind. What was just real here were the ideas and the characters portrayed by each of the actors and actresses. I mean, as to what I’ve stated, the story was set on Philippine context, so every Juan de la Cruz can be Leona or Severo, Andres, Tasyo or Bandong and Pina, Cely or Iska.
The story is about seeking for right, justice and a fight against oppression by the characters who dwell in Sampilong. It focuses on the clashing of ideas between the poor and the elite. Andres, Maestro Bandong, Ba Enten and Mang Tasyo (all belongs to the former) were seeking for change, they wanted to resist against the inhuman treatment of what they described as “Buwayas” in the story– Donya Leona and Don Severo. Donya Leona, the landlady of the poor farmers acts here as a greedy usurer– a crocodile in the marshland, selfish and stone-hearted woman. With that, the farmers felt that this should cease and so they started to revolt, but on a slow and silent manner. They extended help to each other, exercising the “bayanihan” spirit through handicraft making and decent hut erection, thus, slowly uplifting their stature and transforming the slums into “Bagong Nayon”.
But as an evident villain (Leona) does all to stop the ongoing progress of the unfortunates, she claims to own the “Bagong Nayon” stating that it was a land given by the King of Spain to her father. This situation ignited the ardent zeal of the people to be heard and fight for what they view as just. Donya Leona was well equipped in the battlefield, complete with troops to advise and manipulate the existing laws while Maestro Bandong and the rest of the poor carries only their firm principles and beliefs. In the midst of the trial, numerous justifiable arguments were raised by the unfortunates but actually ignored. In spite of that, they continued to struggle, believed that the justice of God and man is still existent and continued helping each other. Fortunately, through being united, steadfast and enough evidence presented they attained victory while the villains had their own misfortunes after it.
B. STORY DEVELOPMENT
Ka Amado developed the story by presenting first the characteristic of the casts, their social status, their principles and their beliefs. Then he slowly stated the problem of the conflicting sides, the elite; on how to tame the revolting peasants and generate money from their ignorance and gullibility and the poor; on how to resist the giant monopoly Donya Leona had established and initiate change to improve their living. He continued the friction of the two and successfully thrilled the readers.
Donya Leona – a sophisticated and ruthless woman; a greedy usurer
Don Severo – husband of Leona; a master gambler
Dislaw – right hand of Leona; romantic rival of Bandong to Pina
Bandong – a good-natured educator; a person who strongly believes on what is right;
Pina – the most beautiful lady of Sampilong; loves Bandong
Mang Tasyo – leader of the farmers union
Andres – leader of the squatters
Iska – housemate of Leona’s manager; loves Kosme
Kosme – servant of Leona; loves Cely
Cely – a widow; sister of Dislaw; has an affair with Kosme
Mang Pablo – father of Pina; supports the farmer’s union
Aling Sabel – mother of Pina; likes Dislaw for Pina
Gobernador and Police Chief – followers of Leona
-a town d welled by the oppressors and the oppressed, by the rich and the poor and a treasurer of ideologies buried for a very long period of time. But is manifested by the conventional opinions of the very rich, powerful and influential members of the society. It’s a typical town gifted by natural resources—resources intended to all but is owned only by few. The environment could be observed according to social status, of the elite; a grand mansion, numerous assets, varieties of food and a lot of servants. Of the poor; it could be be a nipa hut or the usual house in the slums, no assets but their principles, scarce food and with no servant. Its a place where justice can be bought and laws be manipulated by the villains and puppets.
– a place which portrayed the lifestyle of different walks of life after he second world war. Like in Sampilong, the social stature different individuals was distinctive. The unfortunates when not compelled to leave was hen force to exercise conscience-stricking acts for survival. Rampant crimes were prevailing and even the implementors of the the law were violating it. Its a nest of prostitution, crimes, adultery, robbery, gluttony, hunger and death. On the other hand, the greedy ones enjoy things lavishly. These were the persons who always buy justice and manipulate the doctrine of man. They are used to despotize the weak and earn from their ignorance.
Ka Amado uses words which were easily understood by the readers. His style was peculiar for in every word he wrote , he adds with it vigor and culture. The clashing of ideas between the rich and the poor were admirable and educating and in every sentence he constructed, there’s always a good thought to be contemplated. In every characters he created, there’s always an association with the real scenario.
What was vague unto me though was his indirectness to state the problem of Sampilong and the characters before it. He always switched to different situation when then story was getting complicated. That caused me to be lost for a while but still, he resolved that problem by summarizing and explaining it at the end of the story. All in all, it was superb, simple and good, and his “Luha ng Buwaya” was a fantastic obra maestra. Kudos! Ka Amado.
VI. SUMMING-UP IMPRESSION
His masterpiece was simple but it didn’t appear to be simplistic. The flow of the story was rapid and sometimes hard to understand because of the sudden switch of the situations. Here, Ka Amado ignored the idea that a revolution, in order to be successful should always make use of force and deadly weapons. Instead, he presented another view, in an optimistic manner, that is by being united, firm, steadfast and disciplined. Also, I admired his stress that believing to be unified and the reference of personal objectives to the national progress were the keys for society’s renewal.
It was very evident that he is a nationalistic author for the characters he made and portrayed were also Filipino in personality; their belief, sadness, happiness, romance, failure and dreams. Another thing was that, the story being based in on the local context was truly commendable. I mean, like that of Rizal and Cervantes de Saavedra, it didn’t come to him to be afraid or ashamed of exposing the disgusting reality for the sake of renewal, and that deserved an honor!
As a national artist in literature, he was successful in uplifting the notion of a true and an effective ways in making the society reform for the better. He was firm on his viewpoint that the proletariat should be given equal rights which needs to be respected by all the members of the social organization.
Truly, Ka Amado was one of a kind genius, another Juan de la Cruz to be emulated and his “Luha ng Buwaya” was a precious art creation.