Sunday, August 07, 2011

Flames and Other Stories by Angelo R. Lacuesta 

A migrant worker on his way to Dubai, a young girl dealing with the effects of the break up of her parents’ marriage, a student studying for her finals in university. These are among the characters which populate Sarge Lacuesta’s third collection of short stories Flames and Other Stories.

These are more than mere snapshots in the characters lives, things are changing and fate has decreed that a particular path must be followed. The characters are at a crossroads in their lives, one life is ending and another is about to commence.

On reading it soon becomes apparent that Lacuesta has great sympathy for his characters. For example in "Prize Fight" we observe a Mel a migrant worker in Manila airport. He’s on his way to Dubai hoping to put some cash together. While he’s waiting in the departure lounge the Filipino boxer takes to the ring. All the hopes of the worker rest with this champ, now washed up as he takes one last tilt at the title. The alternative is the life lived by his cousin Rey, a man apparently flush with easy money rumoured to be the proceeds of drug dealing.

"How Mr. Kee Earned His Promotion" features an unnamed Filipino exile working as a maid in Hong Kong. She’s homesick thinking constantly about her boyfriend and family. She has one day off a fortnight where she meets her friends or goes online to update her Myspace page. She negotiates her exile on her terms. Suddenly and spectacularly her anchor gives way and she comes crashing down to earth realising that she will forever be an foreigner in a country she does not understand.

Science fiction and fantasy also feature: a worker about to blast off to Titan in search of a new job; a business arrangement between a Duwende (a Filipino Leprechaun) comes to an end. The basic premises remains, life like the character, is changing and evolving and they are just at a point where that change is taking place.

Very lucid, easy to read but with great emotional depth, Flames and Other Stories by Angelo R. Lacuesta will serve the reader as a great introduction to the world of Filipino literature.


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