Carmen Electra & Pretender

5 May 2016

F. Sionil José or Francisco Sionil José was born on December 3, 1924. He spent his childhood in Barrio Cabugawan, Rosales, where he first began to write. José was of Ilocano descent whose family had migrated to Pangasinan before his birth. Fleeing poverty, his forefathers traveled from Ilocos towards Cagayan Valley through the Santa Fe Trail.

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Like many migrant families, they brought their lifetime possessions with them, including uprooted molave posts of their old houses and their alsong, a stone mortar for pounding rice. He attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II, but dropped-out and plunged into writing and journalism in Manila. In subsequent years, he edited various literary and journalistic publications, started a publishing house, and founded the Philippine branch of PEN, an international organization for writers. José received numerous awards for his work.

The Pretenders is his most popular novel. It is the story of one man’s alienation from his poor background and the decadence of his wife’s wealthy family.

Throughout his career, his writings espouse social justice and change to better the lives of average Filipino families. Probably the most critically acclaimed Filipino author internationally, he is much underrated in his own country because of his authentic “Filipino English” and his anti-elite views. Sionil José also owns a bookshop, Solidaridad Bookshop, which is located in Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila. The bookshop offers mostly hard-to-find books and Filipiniana reading materials. It is said to be one of the favorite haunts of many local writers.

Characters:

1.Antonio “Tony” Samson- who gained a doctorate degree in Harvard University
2.Carmen Villa- wife of Antonio Samson; a typical rich girl; daughter of Don Manuel Villa and Mrs. Villa 3.Don Manuel Villa- father of Carmen; husband of Mrs. Villa; a rich and influential man 4.Mrs. Villa- wife of Don Manuel Villa; who against to Carmen and Tony’s wedding

5.Father of Tony- who was punished by being imprisoned for life 6.Dean Lopez- head of the University; who helped Tony to study abroad 7.Ben De Jesus- wife of Nena De Jesus; business partner of Carmen Villa; who had an affair with Carmen Villa 8.Senator Reyes- executive of the Villa’s influenced

9.Betty- sister of Tony who paid for Tony’s schooling
10.Emy- cousin of Tony; who had a relationship with Tony before going abroad 11.Nena De Jesus- wife of Ben De Jesus; Carmen best friend
12.Godo- old college friend of Tony
13.Charlie-friend of Tony
14. Bettina- Tony’s cousin

Summary
Antonio Samson, a smart guy from Rosales who fortunately reached Manila after his father made a crime in their town. He, together with his mother and sister lived in Manila for a long time. His mother died, and his Manang Betty is his only companion who sacrificed for his study. He was fortunately given the chance to take his doctorate studies in the United States through the help of Dean Lopez, the head of the university.

Antonio Samson (also called Tony) returned to the Manila and visited his father in prison to tell that he is going to marry a girl named Carmen Villa. He met Carmen while he was studying in the United States.

Carmen Villa introduced Tony to her parents. But because Tony belonged to lower class of the society he wasn’t accepted by Carmen’s mother. But Don Manuel Villa, Carmen’s father likes him for he saw the potential of him in the business field.

They were secretly married because Carmen was already pregnant. Tony did not want the arrangement at first, but Carmen confessed that it is he her father who planned about the marriage. Tony was a teacher in a University but he quit after a quarrel with the head of the University, Dean Lopez. Dean Lopez was the one who helped Tony to get a scholarship in
the United States. After his leaving in the university he accepted the job offered by his father-in-law.

But this job transformed him into someone he does not want. He meets influential people, he had a large salary, his office is conducive for working and his job is not that heavy compare to his work in the university. They lived in a cottage built for them by Don Manuel. Carmen aborted her pregnancy without Tony’s knowledge. They had a small discussion that started their coldness.

Tony was depressed on the child being killed by Carmen because he really wants to have his own baby. One day, Bettina, his cousin, visited him. From her, he found out that Emy, his first cousin and his first love, had been raising a son for the past six years. Emy did not tell him about the baby because she wants Tony to concentrate on his studies. Tony then visited Emy to prove if the child was his or not. He was introduced to their child but Tony did not owe the courage to say that he was the father. He then introduced as a close relative by Emy instead.

He tried to get his son, for him sure that he can give his son a better living than what Emy can’t give. But Emy refused for this is the only one left for her after her father’s death. Tony confessed to Carmen about his son after his comeback to Manila. But Carmen reacted none with his confession. Tony then realized that Carmen really does not want a baby. One night after partying with his friends, he saw Carmen leaving the Villa mansion with Ben de Jesus, the husband of Nena, who happened to be Carmen’s best friend. He saw them kiss, followed them and saw them entering in a motel.

Tony went home, straight in his room not minding that his mother-in-law had a party on-going. While packing his things, Carmen arrived. Tony told her about his discovery and told her he’s leaving for good. At first, Carmen tried to defend herself but she could do nothing. Tony saw Mrs. Villa before he leaves. Mrs. Villa convinced him not to leave, but tony has decided. He went to his Manang Betty’s house in Tondo wherin they had a sort of conversation.

Tony made a lot of thinking. He thought about his father, what he did, about telling Carmen that his father is dead; what he did to Emy and to his son, his realization of love still to Emy; his degrading of his friends and Dean Lopez; his wife’s infidelity; and for being one of the oppressor of the poor, and traitor of his own kind and root. After his realization, he committed suicide by letting his head run-over by a train.

Carmen felt guilty after knowing the destined of his husband. She blamed herself for being unfaithful that causes his husband’s death. After his death, Lawrence Bitfogel visited Manila; he was surprised of Tony’s death. He doesn’t believe that it was an accident. But still the Villa’s claim it as accident. After the funeral, Carmen went to the place where her husband faced death. She again felt her guilt to what happened to Tony. She also went to her husband’s office and there she found the ledgers of Tony and started reading them.

Plot
Antonio “Tony” Samson is a poor folk hailing from rural area resident of Cabugawan Village in Rosales, Pangasinan, who was able to earn a college degree and PhD from Harvard University in New England of the United States. When Antonio Samson had just returned from United States after finishing his PhD.

He visited his father in prison after coming home from US. His father is serving a life time sentence for burning down the municipal building of their hometown, and killing three soldiers and a hacendero. Antonio Samson was unable to fulfill the plan of marrying Emy because he became engaged with Carmen Villa. Antonio told his father that he will be soon be married to Carmen Villa, a member of an affluent family in Manila, whom he met in the United States. Exposition

Antonio Samson is a poor folk hailing from Rosales, Pangasinan; who was able to earn a college degree and a PhD from Harvard through his talents, perseverance and hardwork. He has noble dreams, noble virtues, and noble intentions.

Theme
“Money makes the world go round”, in this novel it is proven. It is the reality of the society, that whoever owns more money holds more power and less fortunate will remain powerless. It what exactly happens to Antonio Samson, his transformation from being a poor son of farmer who became rich and unsympathetic.

It shows that everyone in the society, especially the poor can still have the chance to gain a better life. Through hard works and patience success can still be possible. Tony’s success through his achievements is strange. Being married to a rich woman is unusual; it depicts a modern day Cinderella story. It is not bad to aim for a better life as long as the way through it is morally good, and lawfully accepted. But in the case of tony, he uses a woman to attain it.

He took advantage over a girl who really doesn’t care about anything and everything. Maybe at first Tony did was not evil, but the mere fact that he has changed and he became one of those rich who praises money and power, it was then that he went evil. He married Carmen without assurance of his own feelings. Money must not be interfering between two lovers. Societal status must not be a hindrance of a relationship, and beliefs must not challenges lovers understanding.

But in their relationship money is the reason of their union. Money represents the most valued element in the story. It plays the center of conflicts of all the characters. Don Manuel used his wealth to gain power in the society, to get what he wants, he made impossible to possible, good to bad and bad to good.

He used his money to dictate other person. “Don’t think of them as people, just think of them as business partners” – Don Manuel to Tony. Mrs. Villa also used money to get glamour and respect of the society. She believes that money gives her the power despite the fact that she is also a poor before, and she succeeded because she is now recognized in the society. Godo also used money to save his wife from possible death.

Though it is beyond his beliefs, still he made it. Senator Reyes, Ben De Jesus, Dr. Santos, Mr. Gomez and more uses money to uphold power in the society. Even Tony’s believe that money can uplift their life, that money can change their societal status. That money can give equality in the society. It is also a story of social injustice; it was seen in the life of Tony’s father and ancestors. They put the law on their hand when law couldn’t protect their rights.

In reality, the poor is always the victims of these social injustices. The poor are always behind of the rich, and always below them. Social injustice in different aspects of life, poor are always wrong, they are blinded by the truth and voiceless of their own words. “Pride is not for us. It’s for the wealthy”- Manang Betty. The poor are always bare with their own rights and privileges. Life is always sad for the poor, only death makes us equal. The poor are life’s happy victims.

Setting
The story sets in two categorical places. The first category is in Tondo, and
Cabugawan while the other category is Sta. Mesa and United States. Tondo and Cabugawan as describe in the story and as shown in reality is a place of less fortunate. It is a place where most residents lack education and poverty is rampant.

These places left behind in terms of development, while the other categorical places, Sta. Mesa and United States are places where the rich and powerful resides. These places describe development and established society. It’s identical with the description of the places in the story the differences of the poor and of the rich. The huge gap of the lifestyle of two identical categories, gives a better realization that the story wants to give.

The comparison and contrast of these places signifies the comparison and contrast of the poor and the rich. Carmen Villa always compares the United States to the places here in the Philippines, Baguio’s amazing atmosphere, smell and coldness was compared to the scenery in Washington.

Tony also compares the scenery in Rosales, the innocent beauty of the field where he came from to the scenery in Antipolo. It’s time setting probably at around 1950’s after the World War II. It is stated that the construction business of the villas became in demand because of the destruction made by the war. And in the end part of the story Ramon Magsaysay was stated.

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