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"Heartland" is Jose Dalisay, Jr.'s first Palanca-winning short story, which won in 1982. It is the story of an army doctor's transformation from indifference to compassion.


  • Ferrariz - an army doctor who has grown indifferent to his work
  • Makaraig - a sixteen-year-old boy from the enemy's ranks
  • Venegas - one of the troop soldiers who encounters Makaraig
  • Major - head of the troop pursuing the bandits


Ferrariz serves as an army doctor for one of the troops in the province pursuing rebels. He performs his tasks indifferently, having gotten used to the casualties of battle. A soldier named Venegas encounters one of the enemies and gets beheaded, and the killer, Makaraig, is taken to the camp. Ferrariz is forced by the Major to save the boy for interrogation purposes. A transformation takes place in the doctor's heart as he cares for Makaraig, and he is devastated when the Major interrogates and tortures the boy.

Socio-historical Background

The setting of the story, although unspecified, is the countryside where battles between the Philippine army and rebel groups such as the one mentioned in the story, the Army of Independence, which sounds similar to the Hukbalahap. The story depicts the devastation and destruction that the insurgency war causes, as well as an insider's view of how things are done and decided on in army troops.


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.
  • Abad, Gemino. The Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English from 1900 to the Present. Quezon City: UP Press, 1998.



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