Bulalakaw ng Pag-asa

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Bulalaw ng Pag-asa is a novel written by Filipino writer Ismael A. Amado. Published in 1918 shortly after World War I started, it was republished by the University of the Philippines Press in 1991. Written when the author was only 18, the novel tells the story of a man who strictly upholds law and justice given by a colonial authority only to break them in the end to uphold his country's brand of law and justice.

Radical and Anti-Imperialist View

Bulalakaw ng Pag-asa is the only novel written by Amado. Poet and National Artist Virgilio Almario and art and literary scholar Soledad S. Reyes stated that "Bulalakaw" contributed to the protest tradition of Filipino literature with its radical and anti-imperialist tone. After Amado finished writing the novel in 1909, he decided not to publish it because of the political climate at the time. Arrest of suspected rebels and critics of the American colonial government was prevalent following the implementation of the Sedition Law and the Flag Law. The novel was only published in 1918, when political views were more accepted in literature and when romantic stories bloomed.

Literary scholars have pointed out the importance of Filipinos reading the novel since it depicts the structure of the colonial society and the struggle of the youth for freedom. The novel has also been mentioned in discussions about social and political novels, in the same breath as Jose Rizal's El Filibusterismo, Emilio Jacinto's Liwanag at Dilim and Francisco Balagtas' Florante at Laura, judging from the use of polemic dialogues, dramatic description of characters and satirical tone.

Synopsis

Gerardo has Stag, an American, arrested for harassing Julio in the town of Libis. At court, Gerardo meets Kapitan Memo, who was Stag’s partner-in-crime when they were still in the province of Tarlac. Kapitan Memo double-crossed Stag; so to pay him back, he looks for a way to save the American from imprisonment. However, justice prevails and Stag was incarcerated. However, Stag manages to escape, much to Gerardo’s disappointment.

Subplots

While in court, Kapitan Memo's wife reveals that her husband raped her and killed her father. Upholding the law and justice, Gerardo has the Kapitan stripped of his position and power. The captain vows to get revenge against Gerardo for destroying his name.

Meanwhile, Gerardo meets and falls in love with Elena, an educated, un-Americanized woman with strong Filipino values. While speaking to a group of youth who are active in school activities, Gerardo is interrupted by a man dressed in a demon costume who invites him for a private talk. It turns out that the man is Kapitan Memo, who has been planning to exact his revenge by killing him. Fortunately, Gerardo’s best friend Florante comes to the rescue. Kapitan Memo disappears into the darkness. Gerardo and Florante then see a fast-moving carriage with Kapitan Memo's brother Juancho holding Elena hostage. When the carriage stops, Gerardo rescues Elena, while Florante engages Juancho in a fight. Florante is stabbed. Upon seeing what happens, Gerardo lunges at Juancho and pushes him down the river where he drowns.

Severly injured, Florante is dying. Before he dies, he tells his mother to put him in a casket with the flag of the Philippines wrapped around it. The people of Libis are terrified since it is prohibited, but Florante’s mother insists. At the funeral, the police disturb the wake and its American lieutenant tramples on Florante’s body, angering Faure. He tries to protect the casket but is arrested. Gerardo attacks the prison and frees Faura. He then kills the lieutenant who sneers at the Philippine flag.

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