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'Merlie' is a short story written by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. about a young reporter's experience with Merlie, a masseuse who wants to become a singer in Japan. It dwells on the danger, abuse, and exploitation that women working for the rest and relaxation industry face. It won a Palanca Awards First Prize for Short Story in 1986.



  • young reporter (the narrator)
  • Merlie - a masseuse
  • Pol - the narrator's best pal
  • Nitz - Pol's girl


The young reporter and Pol, his sidekick, decide to treat themselves to a massage at a massage parlor. He meets Merlie, a short and brown-skinned masseuse who loves to sing. Merlie dreams of becoming a singer in Japan just like her friend Connie, who writes to her about the fabulous life of a star entertainer in Japan. The young reporter has met other girls like Merlie who have had their share of mishap due to their occupations and dreams. Still, he enjoys the companionship of Merlie and becomes attached to her. In one of her duties, Merlie meets a man who immediately invites her to sing for a bar in Japan. The man promises to arrange everything for her employment and departure. The young reporter shares her excitement amidst his apprehensions and tutors her on things she needs to know like airpline etiquette. Merlie writes to Connie to tell the good news but received no reply. A few days before Merlie's departure for Japan, the reporter reads news of Connie's death. Despite this, Merlie is resolved to leave for Japan, oblivious to the idea that her friend might have died in the arms of the people she had sang to.


Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. is a multi-awarded writer from Romblon known for his works in the genre of fiction and nonfiction, poetry, drama and screenplay. He graduated with a degree of B.A. English at the University of the Philippines in 1984. He later obtained M.F.A. at the University of Michigan in 1988 and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee in 1991.

Several of his shorts stories won the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature including "Heartland" (first prize in 1982), "Oldtimer" (first prize in 1983), "Merlie" (first prize in 1986), "The Other Side" (second prize in 1986), and "The Body" (second prize in 1987). His works and achievements in four other genres elevated him in the Palanca Hall of Fame in 2000. In 1985, he was given the National Book Award for Fiction by the Manila Circle for the "Oldtimers and Other Stories". His other works also include "Sarcophagus and Other Stories" (1992), "Penmanship and Other Stories" (1995), "The Island" (1997), and the "Selected Stories" (2005).

Dalisay served as the Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature and U. P. System's Vice President for Public Affairs. He is now teaching english and creative writing at the College of Arts and Letters in U.P. Diliman and writing for the Philippine Star, Newsbreak and San Francisco-based Filipinas magazine.


  • Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. An Anthology of Winning Works: The 1980s Short Stories. Philippines: Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc., 2000.
  • "Jose Dalisay, Jr.". Wikipedia.,_Jr. (accessed on August 21, 2007).



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