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Soledad's Sister

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  188 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A casket arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, bearing the body of a woman manifested as "Aurora V. Cabahug" - one of over 600 overseas Filipino workers who return as corpses to this airport every year. The real Aurora, however, is very much alive, a karaoke-bar singer in the distant town of Paez; the woman in the box must be her sister Soledad who u ...more
Bookpaper, 204 pages
Published 2008 by Anvil Publishing (first published 2007)
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"The truth was never just one person's story, or one version of what happened, never a shining absolute but an often filthy and ragged compromise that took not only godly patience to piece together, but also the devil's sureness of the worst of human nature."

This was one of the few books that stayed on my shelves for a very long time and I was only able to pick it up now because I knew I had to include it on my Book Diet schedule for this year at long last. Now I've always considered it a grea
Kwesi 章英狮
When I and my family went to Hong Kong last 2007 to enjoy our summer vacation, it only made our summer worst like an acupuncturist pin you with thousand of needles one at a time, slowly but surely. It was a nightmare that until now I can't help but to regret everything I spent to that trip but one thing that really struck me most, it was the number of OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers in Central, Victoria Park.

You can't imagine, the whole park was populated by Filipinos who works as a nurse, dom
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Woman in the Box", the title of the first chapter of the second novel by Filipino writer Jose Dalisay, recounts the story of Aurora Cabahug's journey as a corpse in a casket from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to her home country. Aurora was one of millions of Filipino workers scattered all over the world who left the Philippines in droves in order to bring home the dollar, or riyal or whatever currency can fill empty pockets. Lacking sufficient source of income at home, they were swayed into workin ...more
2008 can be considered a high watermark for the Philippine novel as Jose Dalisay, already an established name in Philippine letters (as well as columnist, academic, and untiring blogger), came close to bagging Asia’s most coveted literary award.

His quirky hybrid of a novel, Soledad’s Sister has been a literary triumph even before seeing print. It is included among the five shortlisted novels for the first ever Man Asian Literary Prize. Beating other English-language works from much more robust l
Krizia Anna
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jose-dalisay
I really liked "Soledad's Sister". I just love the familiarity of the book. I find myself at times trying to connect to a book but I can't because it happened in New York, Egypt or Hogwarts, somewhere I've never been to. But this one is just too close to home. I find myself saying "Been there and done that", like when Walter and Rory ate at Aristocrat near Malate Church. How many times have I eaten chicken BBQ at Aristocrat in Malate? I also love how Butch Dalisay narrate personal histories. Eve ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it
(Review adapted from my original review, published at Coffeespoons:

This is the first Philippine novel to be shortlisted for the distinguished Man Asian Literary Prize in 2007. I remember reading about the Man Asian at that time and finding out about Dalisay's shortlisted novel. And I recall thinking, "Well, that sounds about right." After all, Butch Dalisay is one of the country's premier writers.This much is evident when you read Soledad's Sister.

The su
Kareen Jean
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
By Jose Dalisay

The novel starts with a woman in the box identified as Aurora Cabahug arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Her death certificate would simply say that she had died because of “drowning” in Jeddah. However, the real Aurora also known as “Rory” is actually alive, and works as a singer in one of the karaoke-bars in the town of Paez. Walter, a Paez policemen, has delivered the telegram to Rory and she has known the news about her siste
Rafael Cañete
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-stories
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
the plot is all too familiar to any pinoy. the characters are like someone we know: kamag-anak, kaibigan, kakilala, kamag-anak kaibigan or kakilala ng kakilala ng kakilala! its all too realistic that at times i felt i was not reading a fiction but learning something more about persons i know or i thought I knew. and that's the way life is in our social and political millieu. it is so real even in the slow, and sometimes dragging unfolding of events or facts of life that i begun to yawn towards t ...more
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
The novel starts with a dead woman on her way back to the Philippines. She died while working as a maid in Saudia Arabia. When her body makes it home a police officer recognizes her name as a singer in a club and goes to find the real Aurora M. Cabahug and tell her about the body. The dead woman is Aurora's sister, Soledad, who took her name so she can go abroad. The story is told by many flashbacks of the characters lives. The flashbacks, especially the dead sisters bridge together to make the ...more
Aloysiusi Lionel
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Stream of consciousness at its sophisticated wrench! A character would come over, and his life would penetrate your being, like how a jeweled dagger could slit a throat longing for some violence. Words came out and they overshadowed the reader whose wild wandering was guided by the authorial pen's command of metaphors and allusions. I'm glad my hands had the opportunity to have savored a gem of letters.
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Soledad's Sister was a story full of investigative thoughts that you really have to ride on with, it wasn't really hard to understand though. And the story is acceptable enough for me who doesn't really read local books. But I should admit that Filipino books/novels are good too. and it made me proud!
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Love the first chapter. Prose was weird afterwards, since it struggled between a foreign audience and a Filipino audience. It uses description to make local terms understandable, sometimes even more confusing, resulting in an odd image. Tabo as spooned laddle? Far from it.
(This review was written for Dr. Ronald Baytan's writing course. Review cross-posted here.)

Literary thrill seekers beware; Soledad’s Sister will not be your cup of tea. Instead of the potential of a fast paced crime-busting novel one would expect from its summary alone, we are given the total opposite of that. The novel starts off with a promising premise, as a casket labeled “Aurora V. Cabahug” from Jeddah arrives at the airport, while the real bearer of the name still lives, working as a perfo
Katie/Doing Dewey
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok

I read Soledad's Sister on a flight home from the Philippines, having picked it up there on the recommendation of the student hosting me. As a nominee for the Man Asian Literary Prize, I had high hopes for it. This was the first book I've read portraying the difficulties and abuses faced by migrant workers. This made it a worthwhile read, but not one I enjoyed. I did have fun recognizing locations in the story, including the airport I'd just flown out of. I also liked recognizing words like jee
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Not recommended for literary thrill seekers.

Soledad's Sister promises a 1990-ish pulp fiction but really, it's just a bunch of flashbacks of each of the story's character. Quite disappointing actually.

First impression: It's not your typical OFW-returns-a-casket story with the twist reeling readers to take it off the shelf and spend a day immersing in the lives of a police officer and a karaoke bar singer living in the same, sleepy town.

After reading the entire book: It's your typical OFW-return
Paul Ignatius
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written novel. One of the best in the local scene. How often would you exclaim words of amazement after reading a book? Not very seldom, I suppose. But amazing words may not suffice as to how I liked the book I just finished reading, Soledad’s Sister. It is, to me, the most well written novel I have ever read. Proudly Pinoy made, I might add (brag). The author Jose Dalisay’s words can be considered as a jewel, a priced and incomparable gem.

Originally posted on my WP blog -- http://
Edd Valdez
May 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
The way Soledad's Sister was written is cold and unconnected. In detailing the downtrodden lives of Soledad and Rory, this fits extremely well, I think. Dalisay's work evokes a sense of hopelessness and blindsided misfortune Filipinos are all too familiar with. Not to mention a culturally driven crab mentality and guilt-bound independence from families. Pretty much after finishing the last chapter, you start to realize reality in its full bleakness. Another pensive story to shake off.
Feb 08, 2012 is currently reading it
another Butch Dalisay novel! Yay! I can't believe this is only his second novel. I love his first (killing time in a warm place). I like his characters, so relentlessly Pinoy (Filipino). Not done reading yet, can't even find it right now. :(
Alexandra May
This is very similar to his story, "Sarcophagus", in its use of flashbacks and recurring images. This is a very Butch Dalisay novel. And I can actually hear his velvety voice in my head as I read this.

*Sir, DECL misses you. Please come back and teach playwriting.*
Nov 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read only a handful of Pinoy novels (including the required Noli & Fili), and this one is just great! Refreshing to read something so close to home. But I'd love to read something like this in the vernacular.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Kahit bitin, it was beautifully written, couldn't put it down.
Jezryll Llorico
Jan 12, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: ala
this is for my thesis hope i could understand fully the story
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen Freeman
Enjoyable and evocative, but came to an abrupt and unsatisfying end.
rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2013
Meynard Bayoca
rated it liked it
Jul 05, 2017
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Dr. José Y. Dalisay Jr. (Butch Dalisay to readers of his "Penman" column in the Philippine STAR) was born in Romblon, Philippines in 1954.

As of January 2006, he had published 15 books of his stories, plays, and essays, with five of those books receiving the National Book Award from the Manila Critics Circle. In 1998, he was named to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Centennial Honors Li
More about José Y. Dalisay Jr....

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