Ha! I had a lot of fun putting this list together. I’m not really much of a reader, but I was lucky that we were required to read some really good short stories (mostly written by Filipino writers) when I was in high school. Eight of the stories here were from back then and reading them again after a long time brought back a lot of memories. I remember how we discussed them in class and how intense those discussions sometimes went.
I won’t give out summaries and critiques because (1) I don’t want to spoil anyone, and (2) I’m not really a very reliable critic and I would not want to influence anyone with my inept assessments. I found links though so you can read them if you like. These short stories are actually not that short so they will consume a bit of your time, but they are worth reading.
My Top Ten Favorite Short Stories
10. Ang Kalupi by Benjamin Pascual
This was used by a schoolmate for her “doble-kara” monologue. She played the part of Aling Marta and little Andres. Of course, she played Andres as a girl, so I suppose it was an Andrea. I found the story later in a textbook and I swear I felt like bitch-slapping Aling Marta after I read it. Isang giant echoserang frog!
9. Yumayapos Ang Takipsilim by Genoveva Edroza Matute
A very sad story about how people who used to love you and whom you used to take care of will eventually see you as nothing but a useless weight bag. To be more specific, about how parents get left behind. This story hit me hard because I was so close to my mother and I could not imagine this happening to her. Once again, it's the rainbow bond between gay guys and their moms. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of this online. I have a book but I don't want to be sued for IP. I expect most of you have read this, though. This is a pretty common story in HS curricula.
8. Pula, Puti, Blu at Marami Pang Korol by Lav Diaz
This story is something you would expect to see in an indie film or in a TV documentary. It bluntly showed how ugly the lives of street children can get and it really stuck with me. I still remember it whenever I see beggar kids. Also whenever I cross an overpass and watch the blur of lights from the cars below.
7. Moses Moses by Rogelio Sikat
I read this one in a textbook for Filipino. I don’t actually remember how I got that book. Hmm.. Anyway, this one was a bit disturbing. I still don’t fully understand why the mother did that in the end. I guess she preferred that she did it herself than see someone else do it. It was still really drastic though. I mean, what if she just assumed wrong?
6. Utos Ng Hari by Jun Cruz Reyes
This story caught our interest because the description of the school where it was set was suspiciously close to ours. The school in the story had worse teachers, though. I mean, we had our issues with our faculty but as far as I knew they were nowhere near those in the story. But I still really liked it because it effectively captured the angst of high school students.
5. May Day Eve by Nick Joaquin
A story of how love can be a struggle. Though this story was set in colonial times, it evokes familiar emotions. Yes, the times when love and war feel the same, I suppose we are all familiar with that.
4. Autumn Mountain
This was about a man who heard stories of a beautiful painting. He later on met someone who had actually seen the painting once and who has been searching for it ever since so he can marvel at its beauty once again. The first man joined the second in his search, and all throughout, the second described the painting in detail to the first. This only fuelled the first man’s desire to see the painting himself. They finally find it one day, but both are disappointed at what they see.
Unfortunately, I could not find this one online, hence the half-assed summary. I think it was a Japanese story. Anyway, it led to the term “na-autumn mountain” which we used within our circle when talk about something (usually a movie or a supposedly cute peerson) that fails our expectations.
3. Wedding Dance by Amador Daguio
This is another story about love’s complexities. This time, it’s about how unfair the world can be to lovers, like “you and me against the world” and the world won. We sometimes let the world win, for whatever reason we may have. But it makes you ask afterwards if things would have been better had you kept on fighting. Okay, those last two sentences have nothing to do with the story.
2. The World Is an Apple by Alberto Florentino
This is actually a play we did in high school for our English class. I was supposed to play Mario, the good guy, but I suffered a week-long asthma attack and had to be recast as Pablo, the bad guy, who doesn’t appear until halfway into the play. This play only had three characters so we were the group with the least actors, but we came out as the best group in our class. Our teacher said we were all effective in our roles. I must admit, it felt really good to play the bad guy.
My favorite line was, “Living? You call this living? This, Gloria, is what you call dying. Dying slowly, minute by minute.” There was supposed to be a laugh after that but I dropped it. I couldn't pull off an evil laugh.
1. Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez
Ah, yes, my absolute favorite. Like “na-autumn mountain”, “na-dead stars” also became a term that we used. Okay, I’ll stop there. I can’t think of a way to say more without spoiling it for those who might be interested. Just go ahead and read it; it’s a beautiful story.