New Article on the #FolkloreThursday Blog: Bars of Flaming Swords

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I have a new series of three articles going up on the #FolkloreThursday blog! The series is called Stories my Parents Tell Me, and the first piece, “Bars of Flaming Swords,” is up now.

If you’ve been reading Multo for a while, the articles may seem familiar: I’ve based them on several posts from my Stories my Parents Tell Me category. I’m excited to be sharing my parents’ stories with the larger #FolkloreThursday audience.

“Mom, what do you know about the aswang?”

My parents never told me much about Filipino folklore when I was growing up. As professionals with advanced degrees, maybe they felt that old folktales and superstitions weren’t the kind of thing to share with their American-born daughters. Or maybe they just never thought about it. It wasn’t until much later that I got curious. So on a sunny Boxing Day morning a few years ago, I decided to ask.

Read “Bars of Flaming Swords” here.


Image: Mt. Isarog at the ricefields of Kinalansan, San Jose, Camarines Sur, Philippines. Photo by Geopoet. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Lower Myths

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And R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril is off and running! A few days ago I finished the first book that I committed to, Eliza Victoria’s Lower Myths.

I heard about this Filipina author a while back, from Nancy Cudis at The Memoriter. Nancy’s review was actually about a different collection of short stories, A Bottle of Storm Clouds, which Nancy liked a lot. At the time, that collection seemed to only be available in the Philippines (it’s available as an ebook now), but I found Lower Myths as an ebook on Amazon, so I thought I’d check it out. The two novellas in Lower Myths promised to weave Filipino folkloric motifs into stories of contemporary life. Yes!

Oddly, though, I was never able to start the book. Partly because other books and stories came along and called to me; partly because every time I started, I’d decide that I was too tired to read. I know Readers (with a capital R) aren’t supposed to admit that, but it happens, at least to me. So I’d put down the e-reader and go watch a rerun of Columbo or Star Trek instead.

With this year’s R.I.P., I decided — it’s time.


Now, this isn’t entirely a book blog, and I don’t style myself a book reviewer. Like The Believer, I only discuss books and stories that I like. No, more than like; stories that have something so cool about them — plot idea, characters, language — that I feel compelled to share that coolness with the world. Honestly, if I hadn’t committed to this book for R.I.P., I wouldn’t be writing about it.

So I’m just going to concentrate on one episode in the second novella, “The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol, Attorneys-at-Law,” a scene that I did like a lot, and think is worth sharing. The protagonists of this scene are Jason and Kenneth, two young boys with an American father and a Filipina mother. The family splits its time between Makati, Manila, for most of the year, and South Carolina for the summer. This year, however, they’ve gone back to the rural village in Cagayan where the boys’ mother grew up.

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Stories my Parents Tell Me

“In Ilokos, we don’t have the aswang,” my dad said, as we sat back after dinner, “but we have the kapre. He’s a giant black ogre, ten feet tall, with big fiery eyes.”

I had been asking Mom and Dad about aswangs, and whether or not they knew any stories about them, or any other beasties. It took some prodding — I doubt either of them had thought about these things in ages — but the memories were begininng to trickle forward from the backs of their brains.

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