Reflections of a young wife

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By Jonathan Eli A. Libut

CHOCKFUL of candor, fun, and heartwarming insights, Rica Bolipata-Santos’ Love, Desire, Children, Etc. (Milflores Publishing, Inc. 2005) boasts of essays traversing the author’s memories as well as realizations about childhood, adolescence, and being a woman of today.
Santos, who teaches Comparative Literature and English at the Ateneo de Manila University, has published articles in local magazines and newspapers, such as the Philippine Free Press and the Philippine Star.
Starting off with the narrative, “A Bow to My God,” Santos discusses her relationship with her mother during her younger days, particularly highlighting her vivid but prudent introduction to writing, when she wrote her first fiction in high school. It was also her first rejection from her ‘god:’ “But I knew she could be difficult. Even in ordinary things, I could never quite please her… It was only recently that I realized my mother is the key to my creativity.”
On the other hand, Santos displays her comical side in “A History of Desire,” “A Red, Red Rose,” and “I Do, Still.” In these stories she narrates her unexpected and hilarious experiences about infatuation and sex. In “A History of Desire,” when asked by one of her students if she has had sex in a dangerous place, she answers, “Well, I have sex at home, which is pretty dangerous.”
“Te Adoro,” “Ten Scenes,” and “Pappy” give a stirring account of her love for her family that echoed such profound insight in Santos being a daughter, daughter-in-law, and parent. Among the three essays, she best explains the trials and fulfillments of rearing her disabled first-born in “Te Adoro.” Santos writes, “Today, I simply call my son, Teodoro. And ironically, I remember in the middle of a crying fest in my heart, that Teodoro really just means: gift of God.”
However, the stories have no proper order of presentation causing confusion in the timeline of the author’s journals. Moreover, her last essay, “Lost and Found,” fails to wrap up the collection as the entry simply narrates her conversation with a fellow faculty member.
Despite its feminine themes, even men can still be captured in reading Love, Desire, Children, Etc. enabling them to understand the women’s ideals and their usual day-to-day activities that moves to inspiring heights in terms of personal struggles and social equality of women.

Montage Vol. 11 • September 2008