Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  31 / 152 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 31 / 152 Next Page
Page Background

Affect and History in Ninotchka Rosca’s

State of War


necessity to survive, and pledging one’s loyalty to a national ideal

embodied in the guerrilla resistance poses a new dilemma for the

people in the postcolonial Philippines. Yet, even as betrayals by

one’s intimate others prove excruciating and traumatic, betrayal is

not without its own affective capability. As Crystal Parikh observes:

“[I]f there is no recovering oneself from the trauma of betrayal,

there is nonetheless an ‘after’ to the act, a new world of meanings

and relations, brought into existence by betrayal, into which the

subject is thrown” (2009: 2). In the novel, Anna’s husband turns

out to be the biggest traitor of all, for not only does he breakdown

under physical torture and betray the guerrillas, he becomes one of

those who helps Amor run the Pain Machine by providing

scientific counsel. Again, Rosca emphasizes the act of betrayal not

just as a result of personal defect and weakness, but a nightmarish

repetition of the history of “the Philippines’ volatile cultural

pluralism” (Davis, 1999: 64). Manolo’s father, Jacobo Montreal,

aka Jake, betrays Luis Carlos while they are fighting the Japanese

with guerrilla forces in the jungle. In the end, Jake is killed by Luis

Carlos. The same pattern of betrayal and punishment/revenge

recurs in the relation between Anna and Manolo. In the chaos of

the festival, Anna reunites with Manolo only to realize his betrayal

not only of the guerrillas, but also of her and their bond of

intimacy. Responding to the pain of betrayal, Anna jumps to

violent action. She kills Manolo before she even has time to

contemplate the consequences of her violence. Rosca’s emphasis on

betrayal and revenge as a recurring motif throughout the history of

the Philippines seeks to highlight the fragility of the alliances

among different groups of people in a country that is constantly at

war with enemies from without and within. If we consider her

killing of Manolo as another kind of betrayal, the betrayal makes

possible the readjustment of her relationship with herself and the

nation as whole, for by killing Manolo, she manages to eradicate

that part of herself that remained an innocent girl outside politics

and public events, and to become the transmitter of memory and