Title: Ang Reyna Ng Espada At Mga Pusa
Author: John Carlo Pacala
Ang Reyna ng Espada at mga Pusa (The Queen of Spades and Cats) is a story about a homosexual inmate named Jose T. Clutario III, and his “friend/lover” Peng (short for Pengson). The story is in Clutario’s point of view and revolves about his life in prison.
After four decades of being a prisoner, Clutario was granted executive clemency and will soon be released.
Meaning, it’s time for him to let go of the prison including his friends and the memories he made with them. He said that once he’s out of prison, he’s ready to commit a crime because his true freedom is not found outside but rather behind the bars.
Ang Reyna ng Espada at mga Pusa won first prize in the short story category of the Filipino Division last 2015 Palanca Awards.
The story is written by John Carlo I. Pacala. Pacala is a Political Science graduate of the University of Santo Tomas and is one of the 27 fortunate awardees at the 65th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards – Filipino Division.
He wasn’t that fortunate when he first submitted a work in the Palanca awards but he tried again after training and finally won the award.
a. From Robert Amielle
The story got me just by reading the synopsis. I got really interested when I read the part that he’s trying to bid farewell to the memories he made, to his friends, and to his “lover”. That made me think that if he’s in prison, meaning all of them are male yet he has a lover, then I thought to myself that he must be a homosexual. While reading the book, it proved my theory that Clutario was indeed gay.
Another line that got me was where he said that his freedom is not found outside the prison but rather behind the bars.
The story somehow gives the readers a viewpoint of what life in prison looks like.
Coming from an author who studied in a catholic university, it’s quite a bold move to include homosexuality in his work. What I can interpret about this is that the author is trying to break barriers.
To be honest, I like this idea because despite living in a time where being homosexual is already accepted, there are still people who are stuck in the past and won’t accept gay and lesbian people.
Discrimination and violence to these humans are still prevalent. The story also shows what challenges homosexual people are facing and their struggle to come out and be their selves.
b. From Maria Alyana
What I like about the story is the carefree portrayal of JC (author) of life within the prison wall with intimations of the loneliness and darkness behind that carefree life. I like the idea of a system within the prison wherein there are leader-like figures or the ‘agurangs’ who are wise old men that give advices, assign roles, etc.
It felt like those ‘agurangs’ where similar to philosopher-kings that Plato described.
I am also fond of the romance between Clutario and Peng how it was subtle and was not directly but slowly implied that there was a deeper relationship between the two. Another commending factor is that despite it being a homosexual relationship it was portrayed that everyone was fine with it unlike if it were outside the prison walls and was out in the society, it would be faced with harsh criticisms, which presses the idea of freedom even in the most ironic places where you can find freedom: in prison.
What I didn’t like is how it was too good to be true that everyone, setting aside their crimes, was good.
It is prison after all; someone is bound to be purely evil. But I’ve sort of forgiven this plot hole since it was a short story and it would make the story longer if an evil person or an additional conflict was added.
Overall, we would give the story a rating of 4.5 out of 5. The story was really good and can really get the reader’s attention. The story is open ended meaning the people can have their own interpretation and make their own ending. The story has a very unique setting and plot.
One thing we noticed is the story is too good to be true. In a prison, there would always be the evil inmate.
The one who would be the tyrant. It doesn’t have that much drama or conflict, but overall the story was able to entertain and tickle our minds.
About the Writers and How Do they See Themselves 10 years from Now
Robert Amielle A. Paragas, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
Ten years from now, I see myself as a successful video blogger and mechanical engineer. I’d be 28 years old and I’d rather not have my own family yet but I would want to have someone special who will always be there for me. I see myself traveling the world with my family, friends and that special someone.
Ever since I started watching YouTube videos, I thought to myself that I want to become a vlogger but I also want to fulfill my parents’ dream of me becoming an engineer.
Don’t get me wrong. They didn’t push me to become an engineer. They just suggested it and I said I want to try. To be honest, I’m quite a risk taker and I like to explore and try new things. If I fail on something, of course I would be down for a couple of days or hours but I won’t let it get through me. What matters for me is that at least I was able to experience it and next time, I would do my best to succeed in it. I know what I want is difficult because it’s hard to balance your studies and career as a vlogger but I firmly believe that if you love something, you’ll always find time to do it.
Maria Alyana L. Ramos, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
I envision myself at 27 as a career woman who manages to enjoy her work, but at the same time live her youth. By the time 10 years have passed, I have already become a regular employee or a full-fledged geologist at a company related to my favored course – which is Geology.
I dream that that company pays me well and send me beyond the borders of our country for assignments relevant to my work.
I hope to at least have a special someone by my side, but would rather not have a family yet with him. All in all, I hope that within 10 years, I have improved as a person, pursuing my passion happily and successfully.
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