Dead Stars of the May Day Eve: The Illusion of Love

I still see love as this magical thing. I grew up on a steady diet of paperback love stories and romantic comedy movies where two people can look at each other and just know, there and then, that they were soulmates. Cue the next scene of Romeo and Juliet meeting in a party, marrying each other, and then lying together on Juliet’s bed the next day. Cue the next few chapters of a Nicholas Sparks book, with in-depth confessions and passionate kisses by the fireplace. Of course, there are also those anecdotes on the Internet, where each tells a story of how a couple simply fell in love at first sight and are now living happily ever after.

I eventually figured out that love isn’t always like that. It’s delusional to think you can just make eye contact with a fairly attractive stranger in the crowd and exchange vows with them the day after. Even in relationships, while grand gestures or big leaps of sacrifices like we see in the movies or read about in books can happen, it doesn’t guarantee either of you a fairy tale ending. Those books and films and stories amplified the basic desire to be wanted and loved, but with the illusion that it can happen in a snap. It’s as if all you have to do is go out, meet a person once and it’s eternal love and happiness from here on out. It’s refreshing when you read a book or see a movie where the “love at first sight” and “everything works out in the end” cliches aren’t done among many others. It may not be as satisfying or romantic, but it’s definitely more realistic. It shows you the other side of love: one that flames too quickly and burns out, one that consumes and hurts, one that we chase after and never get, one that slowly turns bitter instead of sweet.

These two Filipino short stories do just that. They capture the magic of love as well as the allure, and temptation it holds, and how it can all come crashing down with the test of time.

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#NotesOn: The “Must” of Moral Lessons and Happy Endings

During my elementary school days, every book our class was assigned or encouraged to read in English was not complete with a list of questions, eagerly waiting for our clumsy, scribbled answers. Even book reports and reviews later on in high school had them: who were the characters? What was the setting? Where can the climax be found?

What is the moral of the story?

The last question was the one we all particularly struggled with. Enjoyment leaves more of an impact than whatever virtue being lectured subtly. Of course, it can be considered as a standard to test how much we, as readers, actually understood and comprehended the story, and how it is one to be remembered as we apply said values of trademark morals such as forgiveness, understanding, humility and compassion – important values to be learned by children, passed on by colorful stories.

As I grew up and the stories I read became more complex, the standard book reviews given to me in high school still ended with the demand of a moral lesson to take away from what I’ve read. Out of the education system, I sometimes think of writing a book review for a blog, and feel helpless at the end of the post.

Sometimes, my problem is that there are too many to generalize or pick from.

Sometimes, my problem is that there is none.

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