Taginting sa Kanyang Utak: An Essay

“Mariang Makiling” written by Eli Ang Barroso is a piece belonging from Luzon and Southern Tagalog literature. In its short story form, the story was expressed in the richness of the Tagalog language. At the beginning, the reader is already bombarded with the words of the language that seem to have initiated romantic elements found in the story.

Soseng is the primary character in the story. He is found at the beginning and at the close of the story: “Nang idilat ni Soseng ang kanyang mga mata, naramdaman niyang waring nagising siya sa isang panaginip.” I have read about “The Legend of Mariang Makiling” in my elementary years and I had thought that “Mariang Makiling” is just another of its versions. But I was wrong because the latter short story portrayed to me the situation of Soseng of Bae. The legendary figure of the fairy-goddess of the mountains Maria Makiling was only found in the young boy’s imagination. I first thought that this was going to be a love story with the touch of the supernatural, but this story was tragic because the boy was inflicted with the same disease that haunted his mother’s family as is evidently conceived in these lines: “Nang itayo na niya ang nakalulong banig sa sulok ng silid, natiyak niyang ang pagbabago ay hindi lamang nasa umagang iyon kundi nasa kanyang katauhan din. Hindi nga lamang niya maituro kung aling parte ng kanyang katauhan ang nagbago: maaring iba ang takbo at kulay ng kanyang dugo, o iba na ang lugar ng kanyang puso, iba na ang laki ng kanyang utak.” These lines reveal the difference that Soseng felt be it physical or psychological. Then and there, one can sense that something wrong will happen to him.

The alienating feeling that some people might feel in reading regional literature is breached by other’s early immersion in cultures found in some literary pieces. The literatures of Luzon, especially their legends and myths, are usually found in the textbooks used in schools. And I think that if I were to ask a child what stories he/she knows, chances are I’d get the same stories since Tagalog is a medium of teaching and most textbooks printed stories coming from those places. Since only their region’s literature was widely published. And “Mariang Makiling” as a character is among the popularized literary figures. The story’s intensity was brought about by the experience of a young boy. The omniscient narrator almost goes into the psyche of the Soseng and his character is justified by his actions. Although I cannot settle myself about Soseng’s age, the short story in itself can stand alone without that information. Their family was already plagued by a disease; and running away from his father revealed a tainted relationship, and readily believing an apparition implies something more. I think the appearance of the mother in the end, Soseng deafened and thinking wild and the imagined Maria Makiling becoming Jesus’s mother for him-contribute to the effect that the diverse makings of the author’s mind created as another yet impressive version of a displacement of a literary figure in regional literatures. This story reminded me more of death and of a boy’s flight from the cliffs-waiting for the same wings that would also carry Kakang Toya down to the rocky bottom of the shore- as he heard his mother’s call too late for the darkness that overwhelmed him before he landed.

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