The Painting

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"The Painting" is one of Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo's short stories written in the manner of a "tale". First published in The Philippine Graphic in 1993, it follows the pattern of "a story within a story." As in "The Canterbury Tales" of Chaucer, a group of travelers decide to exchange stories as they wait for a storm to pass in a noodle house. A priest takes his turn and tells his unusual story about a woman he knew and a painting.

Other stories by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo can be found in her collections: Ballad of a Lost Season (1987), Tales for a Rainy Night (1993), Where Only the Moon Rages (1994), Catch a Falling Star (1999), and Sky Blue After the Rain (2005). She has written novels, including the Palanca-winning Recuerdo (1996), travel books, essays, and literary criticism. She is the winner of the Grand Prize for the Novel for the Palanca Awards and a Hall of Famer for the International Publication Award. Aside from numerous awards from Gawad Balagtas, Manila Critics' Circle, Philippine Graphic, and Philippine Free Press, she has also won the UP President's Award for Outstanding Publication.


  • young priest- he is a descendant of Rizal, reserved yet open-minded
  • Consuelo- she is open-hearted, simple, and generous despite her being an administrator at the University; she is the "Suprema" of the "kapatiran"
  • 'man at Intramuros'- he is a stranger suspected to be Rizal's reincarnation


To entertain themselves, a group of travelers stranded during a storm in a noodle house decides to each tell a story. A young priest volunteers to share an experience he has never told before.

Because of his blood connection to the national hero, the young priest has been studying the "kapatiran", a group of people who worship his ancestor. In one of his excursions--a visit to the sacred mountain (Mount Banahaw)--he meets Consuelo, the Suprema or supreme priestess of the kapatiran. Consuelo owns a beautiful painting of the hero, a heritage from her grandfather, which she hanged at her office at the university. At the celebration of the death anniversary of the hero at Intramuros, the young priest sees a dark man in faded clothes speak to Consuelo. The man leads Consuelo away from the crowd and shows her the forgotten things about the hero. As the young priest watches them, he suddenly has a vision of the couple becoming Rizal and his great love (Leonor Rivera). Moved, he tells Consuelo the truth about his lineage during their next meeting, and gives her his only heirloom of the hero--a silver medal.


  • The Kapatiran; the Rizalistas- There are many mystic and religious groups in the Philippines who consider Rizal as god or deity, or the reincarnation of Jesus. Many Rizalistas are based at the foot of Mt. Banahaw.
  • Leonor Rivera in Rizal's works (see Maria Clara in Noli Me Tangere)- Leonor Rivera was Rizal's one great love, but she got married to a foreigner. She is said to be found in Rizal's novels as Maria Clara.


[Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo Page accessed on April 23, 2008]

Cruz, Isagani. The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century. Tahanan Books, 2000.



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