An Analysis of Waking the Dead by Yvette Tan

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Out of the Ordinary:
On What Makes Yvette Tan’s Horror in “Waking the Dead and Other Horror Stories” Different from the Usual

Since the dawn of time, horror has already been thriving on the Philippine mainstream (A. Paman, 2010). Men and women, old and young, alike, have been fond of being scared by the characters of the child-imitating tiyanak, the tree demon kapre, the vampire-like aswang, the horse-headed-human-bodied tikbalang, and the violent spirits, among others. When a typical Filipino is asked about what horror is for him, what instantly comes into his mind are those supernatural creatures or paranormal experiences which he could have either heard from others’ recount or from his own personal encounter. Horror has always been associated with the eerie creatures of the night. This has been the common perception, so that, when one has able to read horror stories written by fictionists like that of by Yvette Tan, he would really be surprised and doubtful if it really belongs to horror. As the book “Waking the Dead and Other Horror Stories” by Tan implies, horror can offer a lot more possibilities-greater and wider than that we had expected it to be. While most Filipino horror stories are based on the Philippine mythology, Tan’s stories are different as they are based on the current times, weaved by the author’s creative mind, and added with a number of twists and dramas, making a great move from the conventional horror we Filipinos are accustomed to. Tan’s horror stories are different because first, it is founded on our present-day situation. If you are to observe, books like the True Philippine Ghost stories and Afraid: The Best Philippine Ghost Stories among others are commonly based on real accounts of people-- in their encounter with those horrible creatures, or on recounts passed from generation to generation by our folks. In other words, the supernatural horrors from these stories are rooted down from the folklore and religious traditions (“Horror Fiction”, 2012). On the contrary, Tan’s stories are generated based on her limitless imagination, a characteristic that can be identified as under the genre of speculative fiction. The stories came up from her personal observations and experiences--in her everyday encounter with different persons and situations. She then “…laced her 10 precision-machined stories with elements of horror which are neither contrived nor telegraph. She takes the mundane and turns it into something menacing….” (As cited in “Dead” and loving it, 2009 ) Aided by her creative and imaginative mind, Tan was able to use characters and settings which are definitely found and prevalent in our present times. D. J Delgado affirmed this in her book review when she said : “What makes Tan’s stories compelling is that the fantasy takes place … in worlds founded on reality as we know it, or reality as it is usually rendered in what’s largely considered as conventional….” She added, the “stories are set in recognizable cultural and physical environments, and they carry familiar and pronounceable names” (Delgado, n.d.). The first story, “The Child Abandoned” is set in the Quiapo where the main character’s life, the unusual child named Teresa revolves. The story mentions about the strange fascination of the child for the filthy Ilog Pasig and about a Feast of the Black Nazarene-the very night of it when The Change happened. The Change has been refered to as the night when the child died after drinking all the river’s impurities-- resulting to a cleaner Ilog Pasig. To recognize this miracle, the child was canonized Sta.Teresa of the Child Abandoned. In “The Bridge”, the descriptions of the Madame are by no doubt referring to the glamorous former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who accordingly visited the town again, after a very long time, to be in charge of the building of the bridge, which would connect the provinces of Leyte and Samar-the San Juanico Bridge. The third story did not really...
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