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Ermita as the major character in this novel, was first introduced in F. Sionil Jose's novella, "Obsession." Fabulous protitute, a woman wronged, she is now exposed in her exquisite nudity, surrounded by people like her, Eduardo Dantes, publisher, Senator Andres Bravo, General Bombilla, socialite Conchita Rojo, and Rolando Cruz, Ph.D. in history turned public relations specialist.

Ermita is the story of an enclave of privilege and affluence, and the putrefaction of a society. Here is Manila-before 1941, during the tumultuous years of the Japanese Occupation, and the corrupt Marcos regime.

323 pages

First published January 1, 1988

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About the author

F. Sionil José

60 books362 followers
Francisco Sionil José was born in 1924 in Pangasinan province and attended the public school in his hometown. He attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II and in 1949, started his career in writing. Since then, his fiction has been published internationally and translated into several languages including his native Ilokano. He has been involved with the international cultural organizations, notably International P.E.N., the world association of poets, playwrights, essayists and novelists whose Philippine Center he founded in 1958.

F. Sionil José, the Philippines' most widely translated author, is known best for his epic work, the Rosales saga - five novels encompassing a hundred years of Philippine history - a vivid documentary of Filipino life.

In 1980, Sionil José received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.

In 2001, Sionil José was named National Artist for Literature.

In 2004, Sionil José received the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
May 2, 2013
This is the story of Ermita "Ermi" Rojo a high-class prostitute in the Philippines. She is born to a wealthy family during the liberation, 1945. Her father is a Japanese soldier, part of the retreating Japanese forces. When Japan was about to lose control of Manila, they burned houses, killed all men and children that they saw roaming around the city and raped all the young girls. One then was the rich scion of the prominent family, the Rojos - Conchita Rojo, Ermi's mother.

Since Ermi is a product of that savagery, that unfaithful night, Conchita leaves her at the convent then goes and lives in America. When Ermi is about to become a lady, she threatens to run away. So the nuns tell Conchita's sister, Felicitas "Fely" Rojo, who has no choice but to accept Ermi. However, Fely treats her as a maid although, for reasons unclear to me, she sends her to a good school, St. Scholastica. So, with the blood of the elite Rojo in her plus a good school, Ermi blossoms into a beautiful smart lady. However, times are hard so she has, for reasons unclear to me, resorts to prostitution.

This is my 7th read book by F. Sionil Jose and this is said to be one of his most popular works. I think its popularity is mainly due to the cinderella-type of story: a beautiful orphan in the convent that grows up into a beautiful woman and has to prostitute herself to support her family. Nobody can beat a plot like that especially for Filipinos who love melodramatic TV series. Then FSJ puts in a lot of sex scenes that come naturally because Ermi is a prostitute and prostitutes as paid for sex services. Then FSJ puts some nationalistic fervor in at least two of his characters, Rolando Cruz and Lily but they seem to have come as afterthoughts compared to most of his books in the Rosales saga that the patriotic or nationalistic ingredients are built in the story. In other words, this book feels more commercial and formulaic than FSJ's more literary works that I've read so far.

However, I still liked the book. It is engaging primarily because of the oh la la sex scenes. Imagining the beautiful mestiza virginal lady being deflowered by dirty rich old men. It feels like reading the classic works of Marquis de Sade and at first I thought it would also be a political statement. Until I finally closed the book and felt that the political undertone of the novel was left hanging and I found myself wanting (bitin).
Profile Image for Ervin Patrick.
39 reviews
February 14, 2013
My first Sionil José read!

Though I was only able to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera and half of One Hundred Years of Solitude, I can say that F. Sionil José writes like him (Marquez). Anyway, the novel's early parts bored me. But, later on, I was interested by the life of the little Ermi Rojo. I wanted to know how, as the prologue foretold it, she was going to be a prostitute. Well, her life was quite interesting but quite dragging, for me, near the end. There were things about sex which I just knew - I was just too innocent! LOL. This book, however, does not only focus on the life of a prostitute and the imminent tinge of erotica. Instead, this is a story of nostalgia. This is a story of finding meaning in one's actions. This is a book of meditation and Sionil José, I believe, did it well using a fallen woman as the instrument.
Profile Image for Mikaela Lavilla.
5 reviews7 followers
December 28, 2012
Best Filipino novel I've ever read. I never wanted to drop this book until I finished it. Well-written.
Profile Image for Maria Ella.
506 reviews80 followers
April 30, 2013
This is one challenging read. I read this in the first time, sometimes in an irritated mood, that is why I first rated it with three stars.

But as I participate in a reading buddy/discussion with some of the guys, I gave this novel another try and rereading all those chapters for me to post my sentiments. As I closed this book, I cried. I cried because all of us wish for happiness. But in Ermi's case, she cannot comprehend what she is really looking for.

Let me immerse in all these feels first. I hope one day I can give justice to F.Sionil Jose's creation.
Profile Image for Richard Marney.
505 reviews16 followers
July 12, 2020
Every year when they announce the Nobel Prize for literature, I cross my fingers hoping F. Sionil Jose’s name will be called out. Whether he wins the prize does not diminsh his immense contibution to Filipino and indeed world literature. I read this novel again today after more than a decade and found it as enthralling as I did the first time. For those who have had the opportunity to spend time exploring the country and its wonderful people, outside of the 5-star hotels, beaches, and shopping malls of Makati and Cebu then this novel will resonate with you.
Profile Image for Bay.
28 reviews9 followers
July 10, 2016
Ermita, one of the streets in Manila where many bars and prostitutes proliferate, was also the name of the heroine in Sionil’s novel. She had been conceived in a painful, traumatizing way: a rape child.

Being a rape child, as a consequence, her mother despised her until the very end, for Ermi’s mother reminded of that beast, and having a Rojo blood in her veins, Conchita’s sister adopted her, albeit treated her like a stranger.

She lived in penury with the household help of the Rojo family. Together with them, Ermi endured all, even entering into prostitution so as to help Arturo’s Family. As she had had a wonderful body and face, Ermi became the top shot of the brothel. She saved money and objects of high value which her clients gave. This brought power to Ermi to exact revenge on her family. Although people close to her dissuade Ermi of her plan, she still got revenge. Satiated, the settlement to a peaceful life was her target, and an American married her.

Three years later thereafter, they divorced, and as she rummaged he belongings, she found a tape that her friend gave. Ermi listened to his voice, his confession of love. Through this, she decided to return to the Philippines and lived there permanently. After the revelations Ermi’s friends told, she, after all, did not become happy. Even Mac, the closest male of her, left her.

Sionil Jose’s novel time span goes from pre war era to the Martial Law. The suffering of the people during the Liberation, as witnessed by the Rojo Family, and the slow decadence of society after the war was the main motive of Jose. He captured poignantly the dramatic scenes, especially the raping part. Like his novels and columns, he discussed, in the persona of Mr. Cruz, poverty, immorality, elite. The most memorable chapter, in my opinion, in his book is Chapter 7 when Ermi was still a college student, when her teacher discusses about morality.

The heroine transformed from an intelligent child to a clever, cold, and manipulating woman. However, as the story progressed she returned to her old self. When Ermi went to the orphanage, the Nun denied her existence, saying that the old Ermi was dead. She metamorphed, after all, beyond their expectations. The book is superb in the sense that it highlights the social wrongs of the society. Alas, I should have bought this book in Manong’s bookstore so that I could autograph it to him.
Profile Image for Gabriela Francisco.
461 reviews10 followers
March 4, 2020
"I can see... my country dying slowly... the fissures that divide us, isolate us from each other, are insidious and deep -- a government of men who in their greed think only of themselves, a people grown obsequious and pliant, vegetables without a sense of outrage. How then can we protect ourselves from our leaders and most of all, from ourselves?"

I was born in Ermita. There is a hospital there that I've frequented ever since early childhood, so it sort of feels like home. I thought I'd read this book while waiting for a doctor's appointment.

Ermita is an amazing place. Where else can you find that heady mix of beauty and corruption? One can inhale history, along with Manila air pollution, in every breath.

So it was with this book. There's much to love, but also some things to dislike.

I loved the historicity of it... the raw, bare naked truth of it. The city and its people were painted in harsh, unforgiving terms. The intellectuals, the users, the greedy conmen (and con women!), the sinners and the virtuous nuns. They seemed so real to me! Especially the protagonist, Ermita Rojo, a woman forced to earn her keep in a less than honorable way.

The first half of the novel was especially strong! F. Sionil Jose captured this reader's complete attention with the swift narration of traumatic events in World War II. Boom bam boom, MANY IMPORTANT THINGS HAPPENED! I had to catch my breath at certain moments, I was unprepared for that much drama, that fast, that early on! I was so caught up in this other world that I had to be called several times before I could mentally break away (with much anguish!!) and go inside the doctor's office when my turn finally came. Haha!

That being said, I confess I disliked the male gaze when it came to describing the women's bodies... perhaps because it was written in an earlier time (1988)? It's just that... well, with the subject matter of the book being what it is, there were so many scenes that infuriated me! And I suspect, other female readers.

"What is being destroyed now is not just a place but a nation, because its people have lost their beliefs and all they have now is a price."

The novel reminds me of the plot of GONE WITH THE WIND, but it is ever so much more complex. And don't go into this novel expecting a Hollywood, romance-novel Disney-film happy-ever-after conclusion.

By choosing the "ending" he did, I think the author wanted to show how Ermita Rojo's story is like that of our country's... it's still going. It hasn't ended. We are still being asked to choose, like Ermi Rojo had to choose: patriotism or comfort? Ideals or luxury?

There are no easy answers. And ERMITA is no easy read. But I'm glad I read it (finally!!), and it won't be my last F. Sionil novel, that's for sure!

Have you read any books of F. Sionil Jose's? Which one was your favorite? Let me know!
Profile Image for Monjihar Akmad.
11 reviews8 followers
November 30, 2011
This book is rare. I had a hard time finding a copy of it. But, finally, I found one at National Bookstore: SM North EDSA. This urge started to creep to me when one of my schoolmate during college days brought this book at school. I was really intrigued with this book because he never stopped to talk about or even promote the book to the entire university (like he was paid do it). But according to him, his copy was from Switzerland and it was a gift from his friend; Swiss national. So, this book is also sold out of the country - Philippines.

I love the story of this novel. First Filipino novel written in English that captured me. Love it!!!
1 review2 followers
May 11, 2009
Read this when I was in High School. We were assigned Viajero but I loved Ermita. Probably the best Filipino book I've read so far.
Profile Image for DC.
249 reviews87 followers
July 12, 2010
This book is about the struggles a beautiful, budding lady has to go through in order to achieve what she so desires... which she apparently is not sure what. It provides a look into the underground of Manila-- one wherein drugs, prostitution, politics and whispered rumors are what lay the foundations (read: rules) of this underlying society.
Profile Image for Ron Jayvee.
1 review2 followers
April 22, 2010
Ermita is one of the place in Philippines.A place formerly frequented by the wealthy in Manila. This novel is about the life and stuggles of a women being reminiscent of a place of the same name in the City of Manila.
February 11, 2014
Though some say that it mirrors Manila under colonization, to me it isn't really of a historical novel. It's depicts more of an internal conflict especially towards how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us.
Profile Image for Patrick.
563 reviews
October 29, 2013
Jose has a mark of a great author b/c he makes us question our assumptions such as pro-life leanings of someone who gives her child away b/c of rape but b/c she did not have a good adulthood exacts revenge on her family that abandoned her. He also allows us to cheer on morally ambiguous situation of wanting revenge for Ermi who was wronged by her aunt but who does it in a way that destroy the trust b/w her mother and her husband when she just gave her life and gave her away b/c she was raped by a Japanese soldier, which anyone in the pro-life movement would understand. Also, Jose shows the dynamic tension that is present in a high-class escort that is the power she gets from dominating men is the same power that destroys her humanity in empathy for them as a sex. The power she gets destroys her ability to get what she is really after namely to be unconditionally loved. Jose does a great job switching from personal to political undercurrents seemlessly. Jose really knows how to end a story with Roly dying with a broken heart.

Rolando Cruz was for re-making the Philippines into a proud new nation that does not look to the past for answers only to fix the present. He was surrounded by scholarship kids which the Americans pinpointed as the promising Filipino leaders of tomorrow. His father wanted him to be a lawyer so he could work in the province but Prof Alvarez changed that by extolling his countrymen towards patriotism. He decided to be a
professor just like Alvarez in order to teach the next generation so that Filipino could finally get rid of their colonial masters and have some pride in themselves. Jose really has a thing about Filipino leaders selling their people into bondage to foreigners in order to enrich themselves. Jose Rojo was responsible of getting rid of Mambini in govt. Prof. Alvarez in effect says Jose, an ilustrado, sold the revolution when it was convenient for him to do so. He thought Prof Alvarez was correct in saying that the Filipino elite always collaborated with its colonial rulers be it Spaniards or Americans.

While Don Manuel Rojo hoarded the basics for his family, the sister did not have a lot to eat during the waning years of the Japanese occupation. Felicitas was MacArthur's mistress. Conchita gave herself to Titong and she wanted him to marry her in case she got pregnant. Fely had consorted with numerous American men which culminated with MacArthurand her future husband committed suicide when he found out his wife was not a virgin.

Although they were threatened by the war, they could not leave for their country estatesince the Huk's were just as bad as the Japanese in killing the men and raping the women. The sisters experienced the horrors of war first hand and it will be forever etched in their minds. When she was raped by a Japanese soldier, self-preservation kicked in and she allowed him to rape her but during his climax she killed him by bayoneting him. Understandably, she was in shock after her rape ordeal. She underwent a numbness in her core that would not heal. Death and destruction was present everywhere she went. As she feared, Titong died in the war.

MacArthur had a dalliance with Fely after re-taking Manila from the Japanese. Lt Collier wanted to get to know Conchita. Conchita wanted Lt Collier to make a move and take her but under MacArthur's orders he was expected to treat Conchita with respect afforded to upper class women. Conchita pretended to like the Lt. and she played hard to get.

While Paz truly cared about people, Fely did things to get her name in society pages and for her general well-being.

Collier was in love with Conchita and promised he would be back which he kept. While Conchita saw Collier as her way out of the hell of being raped by a Japanese soldier. So she left Ermita for her sister to raise her while she left with Collier to Tokyo. She lied to Collier and told him she had an abortion for fear that he would not return to her.

Turing and Orang liked the position of being servants to the Rojo's b/c it gave their whole family job security including their children.

Ermita was a sweet little girl. The Rojo's did the bear minimum in providing the girl with a safe place for her to grow up and material things taken cared of while Paz doted on her.

The Japanese humiliation was complete with Yoshiwara district open that a lay can be traded with a pack of cigarettes. Whereas Conchita was disgusted by the Japanese due to her rape, Joselito and Fely understood that Japanese craftsmanship was superior so they thought aligning themselves with Japan was a great move for the Rojo fortune.

Conchita moved to San Francisco and enjoyed her sexual intercourse with Collier and grew fond of him though she never reached orgasm like she did with Titong which she blamed on the rape for destroying that ability in her and by extension her Ermita as the reminder of that rape.

Ermita lived a innocent blissful existence in the nunnery. The nunnery was the place of last resort when abortion nor marriage was an option. Ermi wondered as a child why her mother did not want her but her happy childhood surrounded by friends and a full stomach made her not feel regret. She was said to be beautiful. Her lack of parental figures made her want to win over all her superiors from the nuns to the maids.

She wanted a mother and father most of all but as a Rojo she was never going to be adopted as Fely made sure of this. As a child, she was sad that no one wanted her and thought it was b/c of her own inadequacies.

Sr Paz loved her job and thus was always cheerful.

Ermi was intelligent and would feign stupidity just to fit in. She picked up language easily. She had a vengeful side to an otherwise happy disposition. She had fond memories of the orphanage and loved the library most of all b/c it transported her to places she could not go to. She also had a desire to know where she came from that fed her inquisitive nature. At 5th grade, Ermi demeanor changed b/c she wanted parents.Arturo is a loyal driver who never told anyone about the rape but Sr Paz inferred what happened from his silence and questions about Ermi's eyes. He was having headaches that he hopes will disappear. Although he sympathizes with the Huk's, his gainful employment with the Rojo prevents him from rebelling from the Rojo's.

Ermi met Aunt Fely the next day. Aunt Fely sent for her to be fetched by Arturo. Fely vacillated b/w maternal concern toward Ermi and strict disciplinarian of not wanting to let people know that she is a Rojo related to the Rojo clan so she was relegated to the servant quarters. Fely said that Conchita lived in the US now became a US citizen and did not want to go back to the Philippines.

Although Ermi missed the orphanage and the nuns who took care of her and decried the cramp space of her servant quarters, she finally settled in with the servant's children as playmates. She was to be schooled in elite schools of the country. When her aunt left for her new house in Forbes Park, she had more space to play with the servants children. Even though Ermi went to school in Assumption, she was not able to freely socialize with the other children which will make her lonely. What effect does it have on a child to have a good education but no friends due to parental decree?

Arturo and his family were to serve Ermi but coming from an orphanage she did things on her own b/c she is used to taking care of herself. She had good looks and talent. Whereas MacArthur was good @ math, Ermi excelled in literature. So, they helped each other in their respective strengths.

I like Jose attempt @ magic realism by introducing a Japanese ghost of the rapist that Mac and Ermi saw in Conchita's room. How does one tell a child that her father is a Japanese "beast" that raped her mother?

Joselito, a gay man, had few options. Though he liked Mac, he knew it would be bad form to molest the son of a servant. Joselito masturbated in front of his niece instead. Joselito gave Ermi money afterwards so starts her prostitution career, money combined with curiosity about sex made her a prostitute. After finding out that her father was a Japanese soldier who raped her mother, Ermi wished she had never been born. She had her mother's looks and emotional fits, but she learned Japanese out of curiosity.

The bullet that grazed Arturo's head finally gave him constant headaches that made him crash Fely's mercedes and he was fired as the driver which adversely impacted his ability to pay Mac education in double EE which Ermi could not stand.

She was enthralled by her Literature professor who taught on the sexuality in literature. From her learnings, she became increasingly interested in sexual matters. In an all-girls classes taboo subjects were discussed out in the open. Ms Honorato says literature is present for self-exploration purposes; "to know our real selves and the potential of man to do good or bad". She emphasized that character is fate. Ms Honorato equates prostitution with making money without any conviction or morality; thus casting a wide societal net.

For Ms Honorato, the rich can afford their conscience but act otherwise so she equates that to prostitution. For Ermi, Ms Honorato comments made it okay for her to prostitute herself since most of the rich are doing it anyway; why not she?

Ermi did not like men's attention b/c it detracts from what she wanted to accomplish. Eating like someone in poverty made her skin better looking. Ermi wanted to go to a graduation ball and decided to take matters into here own hands so she went to see her tita Fely.

She had a self-confident poise masking the insecurities and loneliness nawing @ her. Fely and and Ermi fought when she told her tita that she knew about her mother and the Japanese soldier that raped her. From that moment on, Fely disowned Ermi and commanded her to live on her own with her family Arturo and his brood. So Ermi went to Camarin and became a prostitute.

The Camarin is a high class establishment in a cheap sex area of town. It was originally built as a high class spanish restaurant. At puberty, Ermi knew she was beautiful and could profit from prostitution which fortified her and saddened her b/c her material salvation would also be her damnation. Her own need for a mother drove her to want to break societal norms that dictated rape victims not keep their child and this expressed itself in prostitution.

She decided to take matters in her own hands and sell her virginity to the highest bidder since she would be able to control men that way. After realizing both her mother and aunt were not virgins before they got married, Ermi saw no reason why she should not sell her virginity to the highest bidder. I guess if Ermi had to have a pimp a lesbian Didi Gamboa would be the best one to be her pimp b/c she understood women and their needs. When Ermi came to her to ask is she could employ her, Didi told her to fuck around first and get some practice before going into prostitution. Didi taught her to undress in front of a man b/c she is attracted to women she knows what men like without the testosterone to take advantage of Ermi. Though Didi "sampled the merchandize", she genuinely liked Ermi and felt protective over her. She said that she would drive men crazy with lust and she gets 50% of the proceeds of what Ermi gets. B/c Didi is so sure that Ermi will make her money, she advances her 5000 pesos when she asked for it.

Joselito kicked out the Rojo loyal servants out of their Ermita home while Orang got a job @ the German attache by Josephina. Ermi was able to secure a place to live in Cubao.

In her first night working at Camarin, Didi introduced her to Roly Cruz who as a PR specialist would know a lot of people who would be interested in deflowering a virgin. Roly Cruz works for a full service economic intelligence firm which includes finding clients sex service as well as the usual how to avoid taxes and who to bribe in order to get their business fast tracked.

A great southeast Asian leader came and requested his Ambassador to procure him a young girl. Ermi was woken by Didi and sent to the embassy then sent to Bagio. She was accompanied by the Ambassador who wanted to show off the beautiful and modest Ermi to the great leader. She was to make the great leader feel young and if she lost her virginity at least it was with someone she really respected. After which, she was provided for in Forbes Park with a bank account. She rented the Forbes Park home to an American diplomat while she bought a wide lot in Cubao to live in. She did not leave Camarin out of loyalty to Didi but she requested that she would choose her clients, men who have the utmost discretion and worth her while. She saw the Great Leader a few more times, as a paternal figure. When he died, she immediately sold the Forbes home and bought 5 lots in Dasma and built homes on it and sold stocks that he gave her all which contributed to her financial independence.

Didi was friendly with the mayor of Manila and the constabilary that is the reason she is able to keep her prostitution ring open. Ermi liked Roly b/c he gave her the Great Leader which was a positive experience for her. She controlled whom she slept with thus giving her complete freedom and she demanded orgasms just like men though she was unable to get it. For her, she was woman's liberation realized all b/c of her initiating the sexual act with the Great Leader she realized the power she had over men. She was sad because her family disapproved with how she made her money. Roly said that what they were selling was an illusion that everyone contributed to from the Senator Bavo all the way to Ermi and the other prostitutes. She swore that she would make the Rojo's pay for turning her into a prostitute.

Mac was mad @ the Japanese for creating a market in which Ermi participated in and the Rojo's who drove their own flesh and blood to prostitution. He was possessed by anger. While Arturo accepted his fate, Mac had pride and did not want any help especially if she got it through prostituting herself. Ermi wanted Mac to finish his schooling so he could care for his family and her in the future. She did not want him to think that their was dirty way to earn money. She wanted him to think money was money no matter where it came from. Mac followed her b/c he was concerned for her safety. Ermi's investment in Mac was well-founded. Mac was given a full-scholarship to La Salle and was hired by an American multi-national firm and paid for his advance engineering studies at AIM. Mac wanted Ermi to know that they were happy as children and he cannot be with her b/c he feels helpless to help her out of her predicament.

Ermi's attachment to Cubao stems from the orphanage that is close by. She built 3 apt with the 1st her own home while the other 2 was for her "family". While initially Carmin seemed to be a haven, her prostitution later on was no longer a godsend. What started out as a project of necessity became a project b/c of greed to never grow hungry again. She wants revenge on the Rojo clan this is the reason she continues prostituting herself.

Andres Bravo entered her life a senator and a WWII hero. Ermi saw that Senator Bravo as a provincial who wanted to be known as a man of the world so she made him wait for her. Bravo was married but having mistresses only increased his social standing. Bravo was direct in his desire for her being his mistress. Bravo drugged her and under the guise of being drugged she told him what she wanted to be done to her. For their relationship to continue, he had to know that she was not his property and she would tell him where and when they would do it. B/c she did not ask to be paid, the senator paid for all her expenses when she visited Japan. She laid the ground rules in that she was calling the shots by making the Senator wait until the next day before she saw him. Ermi did not care about the Senator or any other men he saw but cared only for the Great Leader who taught her where to keep her money so it would grow untouched by local inflation. She loved Sr Paz and was curious about her mother. How her mother receives her will determine her next steps. Bravo was a clumsy lover though he was the most powerful politician in the Philippines @ the present time. The Senator like Ermi b/c he could not buy her but still she slept with him. Ermi knew enough about the Senator to blackmail him like the way he used the Ambassador as a Tong to funnel money from the Japanese businessmen to himself in exchange for their doing business in the Philippines.

She thought of Mac and Roly as men who could give her the elusive orgasm that she wanted to experienced just as Anita has experienced it. She learned that a man is @ his most vulnerable after sexual intercourse when he engages in pillow talk.

Ermi hated the sycophants that the rich surrounded themselves with including the industrialist publisher Dante. Although she would rather not deal with him, he figured that he might be of use later on so she accepted his invitation for dinner.

She was not anxious to face her mother. She wondered if it is b/c she did not want her to know she became a prostitute. Men in San Francisco stared @ her regal bearing. The Collier home was upper class in origin with a BMW and a Mercedes in the garage. Conchita hated Ermi as she hated her mother. When they met, Ermi unleashed hell on Conchita since she did not show a modicum of maternal feeling towards her daughter. Ermi wondered why Conchita kept her if she was going to give her away to an orphanage? She then went on to tell Conchita that the Rojo's made her a whore what Fely gave for free and called herself a socialite. As revenge, Ermi entrapped John Collier who was a senior partner @ a SF law firm. B/c of Ermi's royal bearing, it was easy to seduce John Collier. Before she left for NYC, she called Conchita and told her not only did he seduce her husband but also he told him that she was a product of a Japanese soldier and her mother. The trust b/w Conchita and John was broken as he paid for her services and Conchita in turn lied to him about Ermi. Ermi is having second thoughts on inflicting pain to so many people. She thought what is the point of inflicting pain on so many people? She yearned for the simplicity of her youth in the orphanage.

In NYC, Ermi sought to entrap Dante in her influence. The men just wanted to show off the woman they were with especially if they were as beautiful as Ermi. Perrera rightly surmises that democracies take time what took America nearly 500 yrs of time, they want the rest of the world to compress it into 50 yrs. He thinks it is mission impossible. He also says that when Dante says jump, he says how high. In this way, he thinks publishing is a sham made by people who stand to gain from placing a specific spin on an idea. Spending time with Perrera, Ermi made him a loyal friend.

She showed her culturedness to Dante by speaking in French and Spanish @ restaurant and was able to allow her to ward off his advances with the promise for more if he persisted. Dante bragged how he managed gambling dens and whorehouses. Ermi had a gift for remembering faces and inconsequential facts that could be used at a later date when people confided in her. She is engaged in influencing peddling.

She wants to make the Colonel her slave if it comes that. She says that the military can be arbiters against social malaise. She wondered whether she contributed to the Philippines social malaise by working within the system of influence peddling in Camarin. She has an ingenious plan to turn the old Rojo mansion into a whore house buying it and refurbishing it.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Roberto D..
330 reviews3 followers
June 7, 2022
Book 58 out of 200 books
"Ermita" by F. Sionil Jose

F. Sionil Jose's "Ermita" touches on the controversial topics of sexual desires, unwanted substances and carnal relationships of the title character Ermita, as she is enticed by most of the people around her.

F. Sionil Jose crafts a masterful, tragic story of the archetype of the modern yet poor Filipina who lives just to get by.

So I must remark that this is one of, I could remark from reading a lot of F. Sionil Jose, the most liberal and most sexual of his novels, only comparable to his other novel "Sin".

"Ermita" is a tragic tale. I do remember reading this novel like a week or a month past, but it had been over half a year since I've read this novel. My heart pains for the title character Ermita, or just simply referred to as "Emi" by her closest relations.

Ermita was a product of her upbringing. Despite being raised in a Covent, she still feels a lot of sense of longing, a sense of abandonment. Her mother was raped by a Japanese soldier near the end of the Second World War, and the Japanese soldier himself being killed on the spot as he raped.

Ermita, as described, was a beautiful woman, though because she only had little funding from the Covent, hoping for a better future for her, she enters college. That's where the unexciting part gets in.

She gets entangled in scandals and backstreet dealings, relating to prostitution and drugs. She, by the recommendations of a woman who runs a whorehouse, reads erotic text from her school and sells herself out. Just so she can escape from the hellhole she was in.

I felt for Emi at this point in time, despite making bad decisions at this point on reading into the novel. Even though she transitions to this anti-hero archetype where she makes her own choices, I still see her as the innocent, poor and cinnamon role she was, first we meet her. She faced abandonment issues, her mother didn't like her, her uncle from the maternal side tried getting in touch with her, if I remember correctly, and then a lot of people tried being good to her, she was a rose among the thrones, then she realize only in the end that she has become them.

"Ermita" I could say, is one of my favorite reads of November 2021 because of the meaningful message of the novel. In the end, Emi doesn't even flinch anymore, she's made a lot from selling herself though the Nuns of the Covent she was still a good person in their eyes, just the image of Emi being innocent is long gone. Ermita does immigrate, I nearly forgot to write, to the USA, though Divorcing his American husband in the process. Still, one of the best Sionil Jose reads.

“To THOSE who want to lift this nation from the dungheap of history, the past does not matter — only the present, the awareness of the deadening rot which surrounds and suffocates us, and what we must do to vanquish it.”- F. Sionil Jose
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cece Lopez.
13 reviews
May 28, 2023
High rating for the theme and message. The titular antiheroine is sympathetic and the social commentary is superb. BUT...

It is simply not a book that resonated with me. First and foremost, while she did have her revenge, Ermi still didn't end up as victorious. She was simply too victimized.

While I understand Ermi's character as a young person prone to making not-the-best decisions, I struggled to understand why she turned to prostitution. The turning point seemed to be the prom dress episode, which revealed her troubled family dynamics and their animosity towards her. However, considering that she was a graduating student at a prestigious women's college and had the network, it struck me that she had the potential for a brighter future. With her intelligence and beauty, she had many opportunities available to her that could have been pursued without resorting to a highly stigmatized profession she clearly didn't desire and, as it went, ruined her reputation. As depicted in an episode, Ermi set up a restaurant for in her desire for a career/life shift, however, she ended up still whoring because of how others dragged her character.

Additionally, I must mention that the leading males, Mac and Roly, harbor an immense self-loathing. It becomes evident that the characters' overflowing pride prevents them from offering Ermi the heartfelt romance she longs for. Surprisingly, Ermi's American ex-husband Andrew emerges as the most promising option, as he exhibits selflessness and genuine concern for her well-being. However, Ermi's lack of romantic love for him hinders any potential connection. I Furthermore, the introduction of Edmond Dantes, a crossover character from "My Brother, My Executioner" (as the father of the co-heroine Ester Dantes), only adds to the roster of disappointing males, as he continues to exhibit negative qualities.

Simply not for me, but great message.
Profile Image for -mathefel - ♡.
8 reviews3 followers
January 9, 2022
Ermita is my first read of F. Sionil Jose book. I bought this in his own bookshop, Solidaridad and I also got my book signed by him last Nov 30,2021 and it's an honor as a Filipino reader.

I bought this book because Solidaridad bookshop is located in Ermita, Manila where the setting and the character name is also ERMITA so I choose it for this reason.

The story of this book, is not really a typical read but if you do love history story or if you just wanted to know what happen in our ancestor life way back 1945, in Japanese occupation then go and grab this book to read.

But warning. Ermita is a matured story because the main character here is prostitute. But don't read it if you just wanted to read that kind of genre. As I am saying, read this book if you really feel to read this kind of story, if you really wanted to read it because of the setting.

I can't say that ERMITA is a good book to read but I assure you that you will learn a lot about what happened in the era of Japanese occupation, about their life , about reality, and about the woman named-- Ermita who is finding the real happiness of her life despite being a high class prostitute of the Philippines in her time.

More F.Sionil Jose books to read in the near future~
Profile Image for Rusty Reading.
31 reviews18 followers
May 1, 2020
January 1945, some months before the deliverance from Japanese occupation, Manila is chaotic, hungry, and gripped by fear. And just before the Americans stepped in to salvage the city, Conchita Rojo was raped by a Japanese soldier in her very room within the confines Rojo mansion. She was quick to lunge the bayonet to his attacker to save her life, but too late to save herself from the assault, thus, Ermi Rojo was conceived.

This book follows the life of Ermi who was immediately abandoned after birth. A compelling tale of her life in solitude, curiosities, desolation, and exploitation during the period when the country was rising from the ashes of World War 2, until the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

She will meet interesting personalities from academe and civil service, also dignitaries and influential people in power, all of whom she will please, dissect and gain from. All to what end? To avenge her abandonment from the family who rejected her.
Profile Image for Miguel Imperial.
52 reviews1 follower
December 22, 2022
+ She's one of the most interesting characters I've read. I don't know what's a good character development but you can feel the cause and effect of her decisions and circumstances up to the last page. Good stuff.
+ Reading about the main male characters' relationship to her made me anxious. It felt too real. There was a part where I just wanted to know if they were going to end up together.
+ This reminds me of my Phil Lit class where I enjoyed the assigned readings. This is a book which made me want to read more books like it.
+ Good descriptions everywhere

- There were ~5 pages at the later part of the book where each page had a sentence about someone's underwear 😆
- I wish there was more of the revenge subplot.
Profile Image for Xerez Vera.
50 reviews4 followers
April 14, 2021
Set during the Japanese occupation and the Marcos dictatorship, the story follows Ermita and how she struggles to free herself from the shackles of her past. Ermita is a compelling piece about obscenity, corruption, innocence, and survival vs morality.

Book is filled with poignant, beautiful prose. Every word, no matter how much it feels like so much as a ramble, feels purposeful. Every sentence was written to set a very vivid world. However, while it is written most beautifully, I could still hear the author's voice (sometimes self-righteous, sometimes a bit show-offy) despite recounting the story from the point of view of Ermita. Still a must-read.
Profile Image for Gwyn.
5 reviews
October 22, 2021
THIS BOOK!! I stumbled upon this book because of 21st century lit subject we had in 12th grade, at first my teacher allowed us to read an excerpt about F.Sionil Jose's other book. I was hooked by his writing, this novel is like a teleserye but not in a cliche way. The power, the ambition and the grit to put down those who've put her (Ermita) down is devastating to both her and her enemies. One of the best books I've read from a Filipino author.
Profile Image for Irvin Sales.
54 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2023
I must say that Ermita is a one of a kind book. This is the second book about revenge that I have read since Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Not much parallelism, though. In Ermita, the antagonist's oppressors are her own family.

The story spans the times of the Japanese occupation, Gen. McArthur's return, and all the way to the Martial Law by Marcos. It is so amazing how F. Sionil Jose managed to meld Philippine history and domestic issues within the Philippine household.

Very interesting.
Profile Image for jeni reads.
57 reviews
July 2, 2022
Ermita is one of the best Filipino novels that I have ever read. This is the perfect book to use in reintroducing concepts of feminism, prostitution, and womanhood incorporated within the culture of the Philippines and its people.

This book has the perfect elements that are sewn perfectly by the rich writing style of the author.
November 26, 2022
This is truly the greatest and most beautiful Philippine novel. I re-read it several times in a row. And in general, my assessment is justified. Wonderful descriptions of nature, actions and characters, mention of https://onlinecasinohex.ph/baccarat/ and of course everyone's favorite open ending. What could be better and more interesting.
Profile Image for Sahbu.
15 reviews
January 11, 2019
Indeed Ermita is the story of the Philippines. A must read for Filipino Millennials.
Profile Image for Rainier Moreno-Lacalle.
201 reviews25 followers
December 3, 2019
The strength in Sionil Jose’s writing like the Ermita is the vivid description he gives to the readers. It’s like you are there in the setting without leaving gaps inside your head.
Profile Image for Kohi.
146 reviews
March 20, 2014
This is the book I've been looking for.
A Filipino book with so much sense.
A book that tells about history and the people behind it through fiction.
A book which compels you not only to think, but act upon the things for your country.

I'm looking forward to read more F. Sionil books.
It's a shame that the ordinary Filipinos aren't exposed to these kinds of books. :(
It's a good topic for conversations.. and for a while, I've dreamt of being a literature student to at least, give justice on how to digest and give a review to it.

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