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(Rosales Saga #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,217 ratings  ·  85 reviews
With Dusk (originally published in the Philippines as Po-on), F. Sionil Jose begins his five-novel Rosales Saga, which the poet and critic Ricaredo Demetillo called "the first great Filipino novels written in English." Set in the 1880s, Dusk records the exile of a tenant family from its village and the new life it attempts to make in the small town of Rosales. Here commenc ...more
Paperback, The Modern Library, 325 pages
Published April 28th 1998 by Random House Publishing Group (first published January 1st 1984)
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Ben Fisk The protagonist is Istak aka Estaquio Samson who leads his village from Po-on to Rosales. He is chased by Captain Berong whose children Istak had tuto…moreThe protagonist is Istak aka Estaquio Samson who leads his village from Po-on to Rosales. He is chased by Captain Berong whose children Istak had tutored when he was an acolyte of the Church. Istak is Moses and Captain Berong acts as Pharaoh. In the first part of the novel, the other main characters are from his family. There is an interesting passage where they meet the Bagos, Igorots, who are enemies of the Ilokos. In the second part of the novel, the focus swings to the resistance against the Spanish and then the Americans. Thomas Collins, an American writer, is a villian but never appears in the novel other than in the epilogue. But he is central to the story as he is casting the Filipinos as mindless children in the press. Istak's actions are shaped by mestitos land owner Don Jacinto who allows the clan to relocate onto his land in Rosales. Don Jacinto introduces Istak to the Cripple who is one of the intellectuals of the resistance. The first half of the novel traces the exodus from Cabugaw rosales as a retreat in fear. And the second half retraces that retreat with Istak overcomming fear and becoming a member of the resistance in Tirad, the site of a famous battle between the resistance and the Texas Rangers. To say more would be to spoil the story. I got a hold of the Solidaridad Publishing House edition. It includes a map which is helpful for the reader.(less)

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Jr Bacdayan
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
“No stranger can come battering down my door and say he brings me light. This I have within me.”

The white man cometh and he brings salvation – religion, organized government, education, culture. But under the blanket statement of “salvation” is its shadow - exploitation – of natural resources, of manpower, of freedom. What a nation/region will naturally develop in time is accelerated tenfold but with sudden growth comes the dependency to this unnatural and unsustainable support christened as the
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to K.D. by: Philippine National Artist Award for Literature
Francisco Sionil Jose (born 1942) is the Philippines' bet for Nobel Prize for Literature. He is one of the widely known Filipino novelists using English. His contemporaries are now either dead or have stopped writing so their books are no longer sold at the mainstream bookstores in the country. However, the books of F. Sionil Jose still sell like hotcakes occupying the eye-level shelves and competing for space with those books of the much younger novelists.

Dusk (or "Po-on" whenever published in
I don't know why I waited this long to read this book.

I've bought my copy a week before I met F. Sionil Jose himself in the Cavite Young Writers event back in 2010. He recognized my surname and knew how to spell it, which doesn't happen often since my twelve-lettered surname is an uncommon Spanish last name. For a man who is almost ninety, his memory was astounding. Though I haven't read his works at that time, I knew of his legacy, and the excitement and anxiety at that moment upon meeting a n
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chibivy by: Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books
This is a beautiful piece of Philippine literature!

Before reading Po-on, I haven’t really heard who F. Sionil Jose was. This was his first work that I’ve read, and based in this book, I could say that he truly deserve the Philippines’ National Artist for Literature in 2001 award. Written in English language, the prose was executed fluidly and articulately. The settings were carefully described, painting a vivid picture in the imagination of the readers; while each scene stirred a lot of emotions
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

F. Sionil José's re-imagined community

Po-on (1984, also published as Dusk) is the first chronological part of Filipino novelist F. Sionil José's epic story consisting of five volumes and collectively known as the Rosales saga. It is a historical and political novel set in Luzon Island during the last days of Spanish rule in the Philippines in late 19th century up to the entry of American imperialists. It traces the southward journey of an extended family evicted from their homes by Spanish auth
Foremost book in the five-part Rosales Saga (but last to be published) by the Philippine National Artist for Literature, F. Sionil JosePo-on embraces an air of nationalism and gushes with an autonomous aspiration from the long oppressed Filipinos. Istak’s mere fabricated globe recounts the factual—though not concrete—burden the Filipinos has been subjected to throughout the tyranny of the Spaniards, and shortly under the regime of the Americans. Jose’s guileless yet lyrical prose, with his clea ...more
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reminiscent of "The Red Badge of Courage", with the young man finding his courage in battle, except that in the case of "Dusk", the protagonist Istak is already the head of a family, a skilled healer, and carrying a letter from one of the key intellectuals of the Filipino rebellion to its President. Oh, and in this case the blue coats are the enemy--for those rusty on their Filipino history, the American military entered the colony to overthrow its Spanish masters and then replaced them. Jose is ...more
Another grand, mid-century postcolonial novel, told over multiple volumes, and a relic of a more optimistic and humanist time, when nations were decolonizing and the white liberals who applauded them wore horn-rimmed glasses and smoked pipes and talked seriously about Erich Fromm and the human family. Not too different from what Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Chinua Achebe, and the like were doing at the same time.

Like so many of those novels, it features a solitary Universal Man of the colonial world,
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by F. Sionil Jose, Po-on is one of the novels in the 5-book series "The Rosales Saga". Chronoligically, it's the first in the series but the last to be written. It tells the story of a poor Ilocano clan in their little exodus from Ilokos to Pangasinan, how they struggle to to travel with a handful of carts while a group of Spanish guards are hunting them down, how they go through a series of unfortunate events as they search for a land to settle. It's a well-developed historical fiction ...more
Maria Ella
There is something in the way F. Sionil Jose narrates stories of the setting in which a Manileña like me, was able to reflect to the daily lifestyle and random situations of the Samsons (previously Salvadors) on their exodus from Cabunaw to Bo. Cabunawanan, Rosales, Pangasinan. It is more of touching your heart not only as a reader, but also your nationalistic soul as a Filipino. :)

I was impressed in the structure of the novel - it has two viewpoints: the narrator, while elaborating the adventur
I live in Singapore and during the 70s and 80s, when Marcos ruled the Philippines as the Americans' pet military dictator, many of the domestic helpers that came to work here were Filipino. Even today, remittances back to the Philippines remain one of the key drivers of the Philippine economy. My family did not have a Filipino domestic helper but I wonder how many families that did knew of the torture and killing suffered by the Filipino population under the Marcoses, and the history of colonial ...more
Betty Asma
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an exciting story in itself about a Filipino farmer. It's his story from boyhood to way into adulthood, taking years to build security for his family. The security nevertheless is tenuous, not only from the vicissitudes of seasonal weather and plague, but also how distant his village can remain from the colonial government, from the revolutionaries, and from the new advance of foreign colonizers. Besides the tangible events of his life, Eustaquio, or Istak, is more than a manual laborer ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
BEING an Ilocano myself, and having known much of our own history and language, I take pride of having read F. Sionil Jose’s Po-on (Dusk), the first in the five-book series The Rosales Saga. It’s the same feeling I had, as a Filipino and proud member of the Malay race, after reading the English versions of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, two classic novels of Jose Rizal.

The setting of Rizal’s Noli and Fili is a fictional town called San Diego (possibly in Laguna), but the issues transcend
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Book #11 for 2014: This book was my first F. Sionil Jose. I admit that I have been wanting to read him for the longest time but I have been putting him off thinking that his work was probably not my cup of tea. He might be heavy, deep, or too profound for me. However, when my book club scheduled a read along of the Rosales Saga, I knew that was the nudge that I needed to pick up his book.

Po-on has every element of a page turner. As a historical fiction, it breaks most of the stereotypes of the
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dusk is the first book about Philippines or written by a Filipino author that I ever read. Actually, before hearing this book mentioned in The World's Literature group, I had never even heard of any books from Filipino authors. All I knew about that country was that is has disputed islands with China and that it's a nice holidays spot, with fantastic beaches.

After reading this book, I discovered how much I missed and how ignorant I was.

Firstly, it is beautifully written, and I feel that the auth
Robbie G
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I now have an F. Sionil Jose in my shelf. I hold my head up high.

Involuntary management of expectations was I how I won this one. I had anticipated boring literary that would ramble on through endless beautiful words without progressing much into the moral, the kind your condescending Markova-esque professor in Humanities had handed out for required reading. How wrong I was. And now I am overwhelmed. First turn of the page and it was gorefest, right off the bat. Then it moves on into gripping s
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Nadine, Kristine
I took my time with this book- I think its because many emotions were stirring inside of me that I had to reconcile with first. I wish I knew more of my own Filipino history. I felt sad that I did not know many of the folk heroes that were mentioned in this book. I also hurt for all the savagery of th Spanish and American occupations that occured many generations ago but still.....Lastly, I agree with the author's viewpoint that as Filipinoes, we are not united. Even today as we apeak, we are di ...more
Stephen C.
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow. Strong 4. Strong historical story, replete with a balance of philosophy, emotion, spirituality and the protagonist’s personal journey/development. I learned a ton about the Philippines; their modern history — i’ve never ever been taught or told, and feel both personally to blame (somehow ?!?) yet profoundly robbed. Then again, history is taught in ways our conductors intended, with omission being as benign an act for them as manipulation. This was written well, not great, but well, remindin ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's a read that sneaks up on you. At first it's okay, yeah, not bad, and then you realize you've been reading it, looking forward to it, and finally, it all hits you. This story has been masterfully, very purposefully told. We get to live the experience of the "nameless soldier" through the protagonist, and in doing so, gain insight into the fierce struggle for Filipino independence.

Oct 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: feel all nationalist and stuff
Shelves: fiction
So yeah, there's a lot of heavy handed rhetoric in this book--that's to be expected. It's TRYING to be a national book and all. But really, it was about 100 pages too short. I want my epics about national identity, duty and resistance to feel epic. You know? ...more
Joaquin Mejia
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-philippines
I am a Filipino like the author and I find the book beautiful. I loved the characters (Filipinos like me) and the setting (mostly the Ilocos region). This novel is good for the Filipino spirit.
Deanne Dumo
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful read, and my first book of F. Sionil Jose. Po-on, the title of the novel, comes from a small town in Ilocos where the tenant farmer family in the story originated. Alternatively, Po-on is also a Tagalog word for Lord. The novel is about the exile and journey of the fictional Salvador family from Ilocos to Pangasinan, set during the last years of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines. It is a novel about faith and the humble search for the meaning of life, of the farmer Istak, who ...more
Missy J
Banaba tree with its purple blossoms that have incredible medicinal uses.

"[...] if the Americans did not suffer from historical amnesia, they would never have gone to Vietnam. In the Spanish-American War, 250,000 Filipinos (whom the American soldiers called 'niggers') - mostly civilians - were killed, and thousands of Americans - many of them veterans of the Indian campaigns - were also casualties. As in the Philippines, in Vietnam the United States came face-to-face with that indomitable force,
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, philippines
Someone gave me this book ... a long time ago ... and I haven't managed to read it until now because the beginning is so depressing. The book opens with the main character being dismissed as an acolyte (and losing the chance to lift himself out of poverty) at a church because he accidentally walked in on the new priest having sex. The first two Filipino grown men you meet have had their hands amputated by the Spanish for "stealing" and one of them dies right after he is introduced. Who would wan ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I remember listening to F. Sionil Jose about writing when he came to our school as a guest speaker. He said that writing is an art. It is painting a blank canvas with words. This is my first time reading his work and it did not disappoint.

Ok. Frankly speaking , Dusk gripped me right from the beginning. The characters where painted in a vivid light. Their thoughts and personality resonating with fixed clarity. Being a Filipino, it's easy to relate to the characters especially when full knowledge
Raul Ramos y Sanchez
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Through lush yet unpretentious prose and a sinuous narrative, DUSK captures the smoldering discontent that created the Philippine nation. The central character, Eustaqio “Istak” Samson, gives us a flesh-and-blood perspective on the diverse and often antagonistic inhabitants of these Pacific islands. Istak's transformation from would-be priest to insurgent personifies how the Philippine people overcame their differences and eventually locked arms in response to colonial exploitation and prejudice ...more
On a background of hauntingly beautiful landscape, so well committed to words, see my favorite passage here below, this is actually the horrific history of Spaniard colonization (and the beginning of the American one) of the Philippines.

This was totally new to me, though unfortunately history repeats itself when it comes to colonization, with the help of the Church. I’m a committed Christian, but I have to say the Church does not...

My full review is here:
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had only read Jose's short stories before this and truly enjoyed this novel. His language is so very lyrical and evocative. & his nationalism is so very palpable.
In this the first of the series, we follow the protagonist from the village to his life as a acolyte, before life makes different twists and turns for him. The book ends with the American invasion, which wasn't as welcomed as I had thought it had been. This was not MacArthur returning.
Jose makes Filipino history come alive and I look
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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 organ ...more

Other books in the series

Rosales Saga (5 books)
  • Tree (Rosales Saga, #2)
  • My Brother, My Executioner (Rosales Saga, #3)
  • The Pretenders (Rosales Saga, #4)
  • Mass (Rosales Saga, #5)

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“We go from one darkness to another and in between, the hidden light of the world, of knowledge. We open our eyes and in this circle of light, we see not just ourselves but others who are our likenesses. This light tells us all men are brothers, but even brothers kill one another, and it is in this light where all this happens. But living in this dazzling light does not blind us to what lies beyond the darkness from where we emerged and where we are going. It is faith which makes our journey possible though it be marred by the unkindness of men, their eternal faulting, before we pass on to another darkness.” 9 likes
“But God, I don’t doubt You. I can see You in the morning, in the dew on the grass. Should I worship You in silence, without the obeisance and obedience to Your ministers? Should I stop singing and, within me, let my deeds speak of my belief and gratitude in Your greatness?

The men who taught us of Your presence, who opened the doors of Your temple that I may see the light – they are white like You. Are You then the god of white people, and if we who are brown worship You, do we receive Your blessings as white men do?

I pray that You be not white, that You be without color and that You be in all men because goodness cannot be encased only in white.

I should worship then not a white god but someone brown like me. Pride tells me only one thing – that we are more than equal with those who rule us. Pride tells me that this land is mine, that they should leave me to my destiny, and if they will not leave, pride tells me that I should push them away and should they refuse this, I should vanquish them, kill them. I have known long ago that their blood is the same as mine. No stranger can come battering down my door and say he brings me light. This I have within me.”
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