Ram took a secret video of me teaching -- demonstrating with such gusto? -- Manuel Arguilla's classic short story "Midsummer" sometime this week. [I have never seen myself teach before. Now I know.] I love this story, as much for its local color as for the subtlety of its writing. A lot of people reading this piece are always convinced that nothing actually goes on in this story, just a matter of boy meeting girl in the middle of the hot Philippine countryside, and then somehow falling in love with each other. The end. But I always ask my students this: "Are you sure? Does nothing really happen in this story?" And then I proceed to peel the many layers of this tale -- and demonstrate once and for all why this is probably the most erotic story ever written by a Filipino. But a well-handled one, to the point that its eroticism becomes invisible, throbbing only for those with a trained eye, or for those keen to reading between the lines. I love most of all Ading, the female character in this story, and what she also represents: a feminist of the first-degree, somebody who knows what she wants, and proceeds to get what she wants.
So you ask: What? All of that? In this simple story where nothing happens?