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Affect and History in Ninotchka Rosca’s

State of War

25

listening to the radio given her by her uncle, which broadcasts in

Spanish in the morning, English in the afternoon. Through her

nanny, she learns Tagalog and is well-versed in three languages.

Deprived of parental care and family life, she learns about the

identities of her ancestors from the paintings, miniatures, and

photos stockpiled in the garage. Anna’s sense of history, private or

public, is detached and uninvolved. She is insulated from

experiencing history first-hand, and protected from affective

response to historical change. Histories are voices from the radio

or images from the past. However, voices and images, instead of

the proximity of flesh and blood, are the technologies of memories

that induce her language and feelings about national history.

11

Her

first words are an astounding observation about the history of the

nation: “It was morning when the Spanish long boats sailed from

Cebu to Mactan. . . . Everything in this country happens in the

morning. . . . Because it is a country of beginning” (Rosca, 1988:

328). The observation of the nation always stuck at the beginning

is as prophetic as it is sentimental. As if she were born to lament

the trauma of the nation, Anna’s private self is immersed in the

temporality of the collective. In Anna, one witnesses the

imbrications between the public and the private, the imminent and

the transcendent in a reversed manner. Unlike her ancestors, whose

private lives and intimate feelings are usurped and reproduced by

the interruption of the transcendent power of the Spanish

colonizers, Anna’s private life is nothing without her care for the

historical and the public, made possible through image production

and modern technologies such as radio. One can argue that these

technological aids function to supplement to her deprived body, a

prosthetic body that is part of the animating force of Anna’s

becoming Filipina.

11

“Technologies of memory,” a term coined by Marita Sturken, refers to

those cultural forms from which memories are evoked and preserved: public

arts, documentaries, photographs, memorials, bodies, alternative media, etc.

(Sturken, 1997: 10).