Fray Montano: on Estrella's Character

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"The Death of Fray Salvador Montano, Conquistador of Negros” by Rosario Cruz-Lucero
“Bisan ano ka lawig sang prusisyon sa simbahan man guihapon padulong” is Visayan for “Pagkahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din naman ang tuloy” or “The procession may be long enough but it will always end in the Church” and talks of the attitude of the Filipinos toward the Spanish culture of religion. The tale of “The Death of Fray Salvador Montano, Conquistador of Negros” talks about the period during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines and how the conqueror gets conquered by those he conquers. In the Filipino people’s perspective, however, comes another story. With Negros’ babaylan, Estrella, she becomes the prominent figure symbolizing the people of Negros, (and that of Filipinos) in general. Her unusual characteristics, such as her hands like claws symbolize the Philippine national symbol of the eagle. Also, Estrella chanted the Buyung Labaw Donggon or the Hiligaynon epic composed of the antagonist Yawa and the god Makagagahum, was considered to be a confusing story that bore the people like the Church teachings by the friars would do to them. The social classes are also implied in the story as the people of Pueblo Buyonan composed the working class who were oppressed in a sense. Along with the people of Negros, they come at an advantage of the conqueror as they simply carry on with their traditions and lifestyles even at the cultural instillation of the Spaniards.

Estrella’s dialogues always seem to be brooding and wise in metaphorical, abstract, and implied speeches whenever she speaks to Fray Salvador Montano, such as: “The tuburan is drying up because it knows to what evil the water of this island is bring put. Gray Duertas is turning rivers into ditches that will water only sugarcane. He is installing wheels in the water to run the machine that will crush my people’s blood out of the cane. He is flattening our diwatas’ sinalimba chariots into barges...
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