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hidden lineal connections can be traced back to the dream-like

origins of the Spanish Catholic domination. The novel consists of

three sections: “The Book of Acts” features the three characters

and the different roles they play in the terrorist reign of the

Marcos military government; “The Book of Numbers” is set in a

mythical time and space of the beginning of colonialism when their

common ancestor, a Spanish Capuchin monk, sexually coerces a

number of local women and fathers a number of offspring, with

Adrian, Anna and Eliza as the latest generation;


“The Book of

Revelation” switches back to the present time, focusing on the

three characters’ battle with the commander of the secret police,

Colonel Amor, and the uprising against the military dictatorship at

the peasant’s festival. In all periods of this complex historical

narrative, violence and violation against the bodies recur time and

again, not just as a historical background or political context

against which the characters must struggle, but as part of their

subject making and family lineages, rendering their everyday lives a

permanent “state of war.”

The novel introduces the ambiguous beginning of these family

sagas by invoking the primal scene of the encounter between a

Capuchin monk and a native Malayan girl, in a mythical, dreamy


“The Book of Numbers” focuses on four generations of the Villaverde family,

giving detailed account of the encounter between Maya

the matriarch of

the Villaverde family

and the friar, the establishment of a prospering

brewery in Manila by Maya and her son Carlos Lucas during the Spanish

colonization and its dissolution in the times of US imperial conquest at the

turn of the century. Another mother-son story follows suit between Mayang,

Carlos Lucas’s wife, and her son Lois Carlos, against the background of War

World II. Lois Carlos is born of an extra marital relationship between

Mayang and Carlos Lucas’s German business partner Hans Zangroniz. The

Book also provides the childhood story of Anna, Lois Carlos’s daughter, thus

depicting a complete lineage of the de Villaverde family. Adrian is a

descendent of the Capuchin monk with another native woman. Eliza is the

granddaughter of Hans Zangroniz, who changes his name to Chris Hansen

after fleeing to the South. To compare with the delineation of the Villaverde

family, Adrian’s and Eliza’s family histories are either hinted with fragments

or painted with broad strokes.