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The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata

(Excerpt)
By Gina Apostol

It was a bolt a thunder bolt. A rain of bricks, a lightning zap. A pummeling of mountains, a heaving
violent storm at sea a whiplash. A typhoon. An earthquake. The end of the world. And I was in ruins. It struck me
dumb. It changed my life and the world was new when I was done. And when I raised myself from bed two days
later, I thought: Its only a novel. If I ever met him, what would my life be? I lay back in bed. But what a novel!
And I cursed him, the writer what was his name for doing what I hadnt done, for putting my worlds into words
before I even had the sense to know what the world was. That was his triumph hed laid out a trail, and all we had
to do is follow his wake. Even then, I already felt the bitter envy, the acid retch of a latecomer artist, the one who
will always be under the influence, by mere chronology always slightly suspect, a borrower, never lender be. After
him, all Filipinos are tardy ingrates. What is the definition of art? Art is reproach to those who receive it. That was
his curse upon all of us. I was weak, as if drugged. I realized: I hadnt eaten in two days. Then I got out of bed and
boiled barako for me.

Later it was all the rage in the coffee shops, in the bazaars of Binondo. People did not even hide it crowds
of men, and not just students, not just boys, some women even, with their violent fans gesticulating in public,
throwing up their hands, putting up fists in debate. Put your knuckle where your mouth is. We were loud,
obstreperous, heedless. We were literary critics. We were cantankerous: rude raving. And no matter which side you
were, with the crown or with the infidels, Spain or Spolarium, all of us, each one, seemed revitalized by spleen,
hatched by the woods of long, venomous silence. And yes, suddenly the world opened up to me, after the novel, to
which before I had been blind.

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Still I rushed into other debates, for instance with Benigno and Agapito, who had now moved into my
rooms. Remembering Father Gaspars cryptic injunction - throw it away to someone else, so that in this manner
the book traveled rapidly in those dark days of its printing, now so nostalgically glorious, though then I had no clue
that these were historic acts, the act of reading, or that the book would be such a collectors item, or otherwise I
would have wrapped it in parchment and sealed it for the highest bidder, what the hell, I only knew holding the
book could very likely constitute a glorious crime in short, I lent it to Benigno.

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