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The Day the Dancers Came

by Bienvenido Santos

be for economic, political, social, or religious reasons Filipinos, such as OFWs, are products of the diaspora Three contingents/waves of migrants: 1st (1904-1946), 2nd (1946-1964), and 3rd (19651984). Fil was part of the first contingent (1904-1906) Over half a century of U.S. instruction during their colonization has made many Filipinos entrenched fanatics of the American Dream of Success Filipinos sought greener pastures aspiring for a better life However, they were faced with oppression and were discriminated due both to their race and nationality Filipinos mostly served in menial jobs as they were seen as a cultural minority

Bienvenido Santos
- Award-winning Filipino-American author - Born and raised in Tondo, Manila - Has a Bachelor of Arts degree from UP where he studied creative writing under Paz Marquez Benitez - Was a governments pensionado (scholar) to the United States - The Day the Dancers Came is considered a literary classic of the Filipino diaspora

Chicago, USA it is set in the United States of America where Filipinos play the principal characters in order to show contrasting cultures Winter-time it is set during winter, around end of November or early December snow being something foreign to Filipinos -

Character Comparison FIL
50 years old

Diaspora the dispersion/scattering/migration of a large group of people from their home country, whether it

similari ties
Both Filipinos living abroad Live together in the same

Older than Fil, but looks younger Retired Pullman Porter

Former corporal in the US Army

No family - Now they were all gone... all of Has worked Has been them he had loved (183) many small bedridden; - no more connection to the jobs suffers from a including a disease that Philippines brief stint in causes his skin Longs to be a part of something the hospital to peel and after being an outsider and a turn white cultural minority in America for Insecure Pleasant about his - looking so many years looks Despises time (mug face) - thinks time has cheated him Better in the Have Better in dialect recorded English - Time was the villain (184) debates - ... but all of a sudden, too Excited Apathetic young became too old, too late. about the about the What happened in between? dancers dancers (184) - time simply passed him by Filemon Acayan (Fil) - did not get the chance to live his representative of the Filipinos life to the fullest living abroad - thinks of what could have been self conscious or insecure Afraid of forgetting/nostalgic - this mug says, Ugly Filipino... sees memory as a villain (184) - keeps a magic sound mirror and - Gosh, I wish I had your looks, replays it to relive the memories even with those spots I of the recordings could face... them (184) Antonio Bataller (Tony) Poor more realistic than Fil - had menial jobs - living on loose change all your - doubtful of the dancers life and now on a treasury warrant so small and full of - knew Fil had a slim chance of holes (184) success Old-timer Fatalistic - first wave of Filipinos who migrated to the United States - expected death to take him soon - stereotype: bums who are dangerous - awaiting death - deprived of social networks and the technology of Ill be dead before that communication that makes living (184), One day Im just gonna abroad easier today die (183) - Filipinos who are in between (stuck in limbo); do not belong with either Americans or Filipinos

apartmen t Went to America for greener pastures

Served as a foil character in order to highlight and contrast Fils characteristics

possible that it was Fils looks that kept them away

Fil and Tony Personalities are contrasting but they complement each other Fil was dependent on Tony Silence is the richest sound irony Giant plant with its thorny branches around him like arms in a loving embrace irony Time is a villain metaphor Symbolism Whiteness (white snow, Tonys white spots, Im becoming a white man) being American/foreign; Tony is almost like part of the Americans while Fil does not fit in with them

worshipped, for all the things the man had that Fil knew he lacked (186) wished Tony had been with him (187)

They needed each other to keep afloat implied in Fils dream In the dream, Tony was sort of preparing Fil to keep afloat on his own because he knew he would not be around for long

Magic sound mirror a portable tape recorder with recordings of songs and speeches both in the dialect and in English a means for Fil to hold on to the past and Filipino culture as well as relive important memories

The Dancers Polite, but not warm or friendly Not sincere their goodbye wave Mocking they laughed, possibly at Fil Their rejection of Fils invitation was justifiable Fil believed they have been instructed not to talk to strangers -

Giant plant with its thorny branches around him like arms in a loving embrace ironic: comfort that isnt sincere; a form of mockery Dream of keeping afloat

trying to survive in a foreign land

Increasing pace of the bamboos in the Tinikling dance increases the chance of getting caught in between Filipinos abroad trying to escape certain pain and humiliation but its getting harder and harder keeping up with the pace of life abroad; they are caught in the middle bamboos as the forces and pressures they face (discrimination, etc.) Reflection

Tolling of bell

symbolizes death or the end (of Tony, or Fils memories and fantasies) Ive lost them all.


Third- person limited omniscient focuses on Fil and his thoughts

Cultural Identity and Belongingness Fil feels like he does not quite belong with the Americans, despite being an American citizen and having lived there for so long, and he does not belong with the Filipinos either, because he has lost the connection with them after having been away for so long

motif, You dont have to look at your face in a mirror to know that you are old(184), magic sound mirror, reflection on the glass door (188) reveals Fils self-consciousness or insecurity Pictures

Fil in the way of dancers taking pictures at hotel, taking pictures of the mist, still taking pictures of Chicagos gray skyscrapers capturing memories of youth and time Erasing of sounds

Time and Memory Fil is afraid of not having enough time, getting old and forgetting all his memories, which is why he needs a magic sound recorder to help him remember

Overall theme:

it is an eye-opener for Fil that it was time to stop living/holding on to the past and move forward with life (without Tony)