By Nick Joaquin
This is the classic short story done by the late Philippine National Artist for Literature, Nicomedes Joaquin set in the 1850's, shows the conflict between raw instincts and refined culture. Its main character, Doña Lupeng primarily rejects ancient beliefs of their culture, but under the spell of the moon, the spirit of the Tadtarin cult possesses her. "The Summer Solstice" is one of the most popular short stories authored by Nick Joaquin. Summer solstice literally means during the summer, the Sun is also above the horizon longer than it is during the winter. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. It is suitable to the story because of its setting.
Nick Joaquin, a Philippine novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist writing in English, the National Artist for Literature. He has written largely about the Spanish colonial period and the diverse heritage of the Filipino people. Often he deals with the coexistence of 'primitive' and 'civilized' dimensions inside the human psyche. In his short story 'The Summer Solstice,' set in the 1850s, Joaquin portrayed the collision between instincts and refined culture. He was born in Paco on Calle Herran, as the the son of a lawyer and a colonel of the Philippine Revolution, Leocadio Y. Joaquin, and Salome Marquez, a schoolteacher. After three years of secondary education at the Mapa High School, Joaquin dropped out of school to work on Manila's waterfront and in odd jobs. On his spare time he read widely at the National Library and on his father's library. English had became the official medium of instruction in 1898 after the Spanish-American war. Especially through the work of short story writers English became the most developed literary genre and virtually all-Spanish literature ceased.
I chose this because of the author's portrayal on the tensions between human nature and decorum, passion and discipline, as experienced by a woman. And as a woman myself, I become more responsive on how we are treated and seen in this society. And also in this story, I gained insight on the perspective of the author with women empowerment during that era. This popular controversial tale was one of the Author's favorite and considered as his masterpiece aside from the fact that it had conflicting interpretations. Although from his background I would say that he always prefer unusual, dramatic, and extraordinary in terms of his writings. Instead of being a paradox, he used his ability of being realist and romanticist. Being his known realist ways, which inspired him to create this tale favoring on women's empowerment. This short story was also adapted into play entitled "Tatarin: A Witches' Sabbath in Three Acts, on which a film adaptation has also been based. The cast included notable Filipino actors Edu Manzano (as Paeng Moreta,) Dina Bonnevie (Lupe Moreta), and Rica Peralejo (Amada).
The Summer Solstice is about a Doña Lupeng's gradual discovery of women's power over men. At first, she finds out that her cook, Amada, is in a deranged state. So, she interrogates their family driver entoy about his beatings to her. This is quite telling of men's superiority over women in those times. Lupeng seems to find the idea of a husband's battering of his wife as a pretty normal event. She then learns of Amada's attendance at the Tadtarin fertility rites that has made her so powerful. Entoy, who is known as a wife-batterer, has even turned into a docile husband. And this has made Dona Lupeng consider the possibility of women's control over the men.