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The Aquinos Of Tarlac: An Essay On History As Three Generations

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From Don Mianong, the revolutionary general; to Don Benigno, the independence missioner; to Ninoy, the “wonder boy” of Philippine journalism and politics turned martyr: this book gives an intimate view of history (the Revolution, the American advent, the Commonwealth, the Japanese Occupation, the Third Republic, etc.) as reflected by one household.

First published January 1, 1983

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About the author

Nick Joaquín

98 books371 followers
Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín (1917–2004) was a Filipino writer and journalist best known for his short stories and novels in the English language. He also wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila. In 1976, Joaquin was conferred the rank and title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature. He has been considered one of the most important Filipino writers, along with José Rizal and Claro M. Recto. Unlike Rizal and Recto, whose works were written in Spanish, Joaquin's major works were written in English despite being a native Spanish speaker.

Before becoming one of the leading practitioners of Philippine literature in English, he was a seminarian in Hong Kong – who later realized that he could better serve God and humanity by being a writer. This is reflected in the content and style of his works, as he emphasizes the need to restore national consciousness through important elements of Catholic Spanish Heritage.

In his self-confessed mission as a writer, he is a sort of "cultural apostle" whose purpose is to revive interest in Philippine national life through literature – and provide the necessary drive and inspiration for a fuller comprehension of their cultural background. His awareness of the significance of the past to the present is part of a concerted effort to preserve the spiritual tradition and the orthodox faith of the Catholic past – which he perceives as the only solution to our modern ills.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Rafael Ruflo.
10 reviews
August 17, 2021
Using overarching theme of loyalty to family, farmland and country, Joaquin weaves the personal lives of the Aquinos against a backdrop of geopolitics and wars. The adventures of Don Mianong as Katipunero, revolutionary general, and member of the Malolos Congress serves as the click-bait opening act. The exploits of Don Igno as Speaker of the National Assembly and member of the Philippine Independence Mission which negotiated the terms of independence from the US provides a very engaging middle act.   

However, it is the tour de force third act, recounting the triumphs and tribulations of Ninoy as hotshot war correspondent and wunderkind politician which elevates the biography into a classic of Philippine literature. Perhaps drawing inspiration from his fellow newsman subject, Nick’s mastery as a storyteller is in full display here, as Joaquin the novelist and Quijano the journalist.     

In an apparent course-correction to criticisms on his earlier, Joaquin supported almost all non-speculative statements in the first 2 acts with footnotes. The final act, likely based on interview transcripts, shifted from the third to first person voice. The Aquinos of Tarlac is by far Joaquin’s best biography and will be the high watermark against which all other biographies will be measured. And, although critics usually cite only his novels (Two Navels, Cave) and play (Portrait) as his best works (NCCA, 1976), I believe that this biography deserves a spot on the podium.   
p.s. Written before martial law was declared in 1972, the book was only published years after martial law was lifted in ‘81 (RMAF biography, 1996); and even then,  the explosive last chapter which chronicled the persecution of Ninoy was expurgated for obvious reasons. So be sure to also read the separata, “Ninoy in the Senate", which was only published as an offprint after the Edsa Revolution in February 25, 1986.   
1 review
November 21, 2017
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Arnel Arevalo.
7 reviews168 followers
March 23, 2014
A simultaneous narrative on Philippine history and the story of the Aquinos' involvement in history and their eventual rise to prominence. This made me want to read other Nick Joaquin's works!
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