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Summary -

When the dead body of Filipino writer Crispin Salvador is found floating in the Hudson River, apparently
having committed suicide, his student and fellow Filipino, Miguel is suspicious that darker forces may have
been behind his death, particularly when there is no sign of Salvador's latest manuscript that threatens to
dish the dirt on the sleaze and corruption of the rich and powerful in his native Philippines. In order to
investigate further, Miguel decides to write a biography of his teacher and mentor. He flies back to Manila
to search for Crispin's lost manuscript. In trying to understand Salvador and the forces that shaped his
writing and actions, Miguel explores the complex, myriad of factors that make up the Filipino psyche, and i n
turn, this of course reveals to Miguel something about himself. There are clashes of big business, post
colonial independence (several times), religion, communism, and general political corruption and
inequalities happening in the Philippines. In the end of the chapter

Setting -

Hudson river in New York represents the ending of Crispin's journey.

Manila, Philippines represents the heart of Miguel's quest for answers about Crispin's life and death.

Plot -

A young man writer who is called Miguel Syjuco (refered to the character as Miguel and the author as Syjuco),
originally from the Philippines who has lived in Vancouver and now New York, who on the discovery of the apparent
suicide of a famous literary writer and fellow-expat, Crispin Salvador, goes back to his home land on a bit of an
investigative mission. He seeks to find the three black boxes that contained the manuscript that Salvador was working
on, The Bridges Ablaze, which was expected to blow wide open the ruling class of the Philippines and expose all their
corruption and hypocrisy.

Miguel is working on a biography of the writer, and arranges to meet with people who knew Crispin, to get a better
idea of the man he’d known personally, a mentor at the university. He doesn’t think it was suicide, but he is not looking
to find a murderer. Instead, he slips back into Manila and back into his old life, clubbing with friends, snorting copious
amounts of cocaine, and learning some little truths about Crispin Salvador along the way.

Characters- Miguel Syjuco, Crispin Salvadoru


Theme- The use of numerous parallel to show the past repeating itself in the present.

Point of view -

The point of view of Ilustrado changes numerous times throughout the novel, but is primarily in the present tense first
person from Miguel's perspective. The reader becomes invested in Miguel's quest for answers, as the mystery of
Crispin's death is explored through Miguel's perspective. However, the reader is also able to gain another perspective
on the novel's events from a mysterious third person omniscient narrator, which the reader later learns is the voice of
Crispin Salvador. Information provided by the third person narrator and inconsistencies in Miguel's narration make the
reader realize that Miguel is an unreliable narrator. He frequently omits information or only reveals it later in the novel.


Exuberant and wise, wildly funny, mysterious and deeply moving.

Symbols- Dulcinea, The Bridges Ablaze(manuscript)


The illustrado reflects the issues of the society and humanity by revealing the prevailing social problems
encountered in the Phillipines such us social injustice and corruption. These writings exposes the illnesses of
society addressing social issues, physical abuses and violation of human r ights that is very rampant in the
country. Another example is the prevailing social imbalance between the rich and the poor that Miguel
desires to expose, to solve and to achieve the social change.