What is your idea of a Filipina hero? Most of us may resurrect a variety of image of the Pinay hero from history. Some may have a picture of a sword wielding Pinay on horseback. Perhaps others have this perception of an old woman curing the Katipunan's the sick and the wounded. Then there is this portrait of the docile Pinays (well to me they looked it) who just finished an embroidery on the national flag.
Aside from history, legends and stories of Pinay heroes abound. Mariang Makiling. Mariang Sinukuan. Ellang Uling. These Pinays are all illustrated with dark skinned but with strikingly beautiful Asian features. Some, like Mariang Makiling and Sinukuan are depicted having fair skin and long wavy hair. Except for Tandang Sora, they are often described as youthful or at the prime of their lives. Indeed, the Pinay heroes that our culture and history boast of are characterized with qualities that are worthy of emulating. Our young girls will never run out of female heroes to look up to. Now what if our images and perceptions of the heroic Pinay's charism are challenged? Well and good! Whoever said that heroism, pride and the love for one's culture and identity only rest in the young and the beautiful?
Dean Alfar's Rosang Taba is made from the same heroic mould but with a fiesty and "weighty" difference. Like Gabriela Silang, Rosang Taba is brave and unrelenting. Her loyalty and determination rivals that of Tandang Sora. Her inner strength and wit is reminiscent of Josefa Llanes Escoda. But Rosang Taba greatly amazed me because of her courage to openly speak of her beliefs to her father. Add to that is her guts to challenge a Spanish commander in the face of her seÃ±or and seÃ±ora. True enough, heroes must first wrestle with their own demons and prove to those around them that there are battles in life worth fighting for.
Alfar's fiction is set in colonial Philippines. Rosang Taba, a servant to the guvernador-heneral challeneged the arrogant Ser Jaime Alonzo Pietrado ei Villareal to a foot race after the later insulted and intimidated the "katao". What happened next is a series of fortunate (and fun) events. Rosa, the fat servidora, who proved to the Ispaniola that given the same opportunities, the "katao" can rise and defeat it's colonial masters. With permission from Alfar, I have links to his story so you may enjoy it as much as I did.
His writing is exquisite. His knowledge of history and legend added a bigger-than-life element to Rosang Taba. It maybe written in English, but it's very Pinoy in color and flavor.
Challenge and Wager
Rosang Taba and Her Father Converse
At Plaza Binondo
Street of Lost Hope
The Drinking Song
Recommendation: For readers age 13 and up; can be used or integrated in a lesson on Philippine History