Category Archives: creative non-fiction

SHORT ANALYSIS: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

As considered to be one master of Gothic tale, Edgar Allan Poe and his “Cask of Amontillado” contains many of the standard elements of Gothecism. He was fascinated with the materials and devices of the Gothic novel, although he preferred to work in the short story form. He was a great admirer of Walpole, and of the American Gothic writer Charles Brockden Brown. In his works, when one of the protagonist is wrestling with  guilt, Poe sometimes doubles his character and then arranges for one self to murder the other by burying him alive. In repeatedly telling stories of murderous doubles, Poe was attempting to deal with his own demons, his own repressed guilt. Poe’s biographer, William Bittener, claimed that Montressor and Fortunato are two sides of the same man Edgar Allan Poe as he saw himself while drinking. The shadow figures emerge as a personification of the narrator’s hostile feelings and thoughts. In his criticism and his daily life, Poe himself is striking back at those forces in society or particularly individuals who might have wronged him. Poe had showed in his work that the monsters outside are nothing compared to the monsters we carry within us. “The Cask of Amontillado” reflects and shows some of the societal views of the late 1840’s. For one, alcoholism was very prevalent in that past society. So it wouldn’t be surprising to anyone that a story from this era would have a driving force such as that of alcoholism. In that era, it was generally okay for people to drink, more so than today. Secondly, gruesome deaths were very much a part everyday life for the 1840’s people. Everyday, many criminals were put to death by means of the guillotine. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” a grim death is the end of a man’s life and the end of the story.

The theme of revenge is a major theme in this story. It isn’t often that a revenge story of this nature comes into the hands of readers. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a very popular story, for many reasons. Even today, over 150 years after it was published, it is still being read. It was so eloquently written, and it has such vivid and detailed imagery. It caters to most people also, in that; it has elements to satisfy everyone’s taste in a good story. “The Cask of Amontillado” reflects a partial sector of society from the late 1840’s. It has elements of fear, especially the fear of death and the unknown. It illustrates some people’s way of thinking, such as the fact that some people don’t think before doing something. It also allows the reader to enter the mind of a murderer; not only to read what he is thinking, but also to understand what he is thinking. Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cast of Amontillado” shall forever live on in people’s hearts as a grisly tale of death, murder, and revenge.

 

Reference: Christopher Wanamaker 2011

 

Advertisements

InBeatWIN: People of War by CJ Lopez (Bronze Medalist EMC Essay Writing Contest)

This is my entry to the 11th Founding Anniversary of Eastern Mindanao Command (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Essay Writing contest Category B open to all Youth aged 15 to 30. This creative non-fiction essay won 3rd place with a score of 96% judged by EMC heads and Mindanaon Davao-based writers/columnist.

It’s been an hour but I still can’t think of the best introduction to this essay. The goal is to make whoever reads this one feel the emotion and message that I want to impart. My mind is definitely in war; the thoughts are in chaos. One thing is for sure, I am neither reluctant nor afraid of expressing myself. War?, I have plenty to say about it. We always have that in our house. Change and development?, I always try to craft a better version of me from time to time. I have spoken to people about my advocacies; I’m a youth development advocate. I’m a person who targets the heart when he talks or persuades someone, a romanticist. Wait, I just realized, I’m taking this personal already. Okay, shall I begin? Of course yes.

Hell is what it feels like to be inside a battlefield. An adamant fact is that the world itself is a battleground and life and honor is what we protect and fight for, it may be ours or for the sake of what we believe and the people we value. I’ve watched one mind-opening movie entitled Hacksaw Ridge, a 2016 biographical war drama focuses on the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss. It triggered my thought about how agonizing it is to be in a war. Desmond is a Seventh Day Adventist and he pledged to never fire a gun in war that makes it difficult and different for how peculiar it is to face a battle weaponless. It is equal as saying that you want to die. Jump off to the ending, sorry for spoiling, he survived and saved a lot of lives. The film left me aversion of violence and chaos.

Our soldiers are offering their lives to protect our motherland. I can still recall myself as a child that I once dreamt of becoming a soldier. My friends would probably laugh at this. I cannot blame them for today, I’m 20, stiff and enervated. I lost it, gave up of that dream but never the way how I look up to our cavalrymen. The place where I live at is near the 30th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. It’s like I’m basically living together with them. I meet the armies in or out of their uniforms, see their smiles and positive outlook of life. But I am aware that those faces aren’t hiding the reality that they are people ready to die. Anytime a call for sacrifice will invite them to be in catastrophe. This havoc will test their ability to fight death, living their families the uncertainty of seeing them again alive.

The recent Marawi siege is a clear example of how we can delineate war as Gehenna. It’s the people inside the perimeter of bullet exchanges that feels the agony. As simply as we already can see ourselves in their situation; the personal stories of the people affected by the conflict melts our heart. Days of intense skirmishes, of fear and death, still in hope to achieve the unattainable peace. The people behind the attacks may have their reasons for fighting but these things aren’t eradicating the truth of selfishness. Selfish for it is not a fight for glory that really matters, this is TERRORISM. A lot are directly affected in this attack. Selfish for most of the pledged terrorist are from Marawi itself; born, educated, and grow up there. These people are removing any conscience that will block their detestable endeavor. Innocent lives are being killed; lives being sacrificed. The Philippine Army is trying it’s best to get back our land from this national traitors. We honor them that they’re living as to what we sing from our national anthem, “…ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo”.  Nationalism is what we can learn from them, it is not just because it’s their duty. They entered the military with the choice of risking their precious lives.

In this tragic spectacle of the Philippines, it is sad that this kind of scene is becoming normal. The world faces multifaceted discords and some leads to violence and war. If we try to ponder the different sides of these battles, it will never be possible to think about progress and development. A world where places and the people should live harmoniously is not achievable considering the effects of whatever the cause of such desolate event. Anywhere in the Philippines can be the next Marawi. Internal conflicts in each locality must be addressed and resolved before it becomes a national issue. The government, authorities, and the people should be congruous. Our Army will be our partners to achieve the accord. National policies should be respected and each individual should be aware and reminded of their self and social responsibilities as a citizen of this country. Peace process between the government and rebels is being pushed through. Seeing NPA rebels surrender their weapons to the government is a sign that the efforts of our government and the AFP is working. The AFP leads the campaigns against extremism and other possible violent insurgency that not only the national aspect of security is affected but also the humanity as a whole.

I am still seeing a progressive Mindanao in the future. I won’t lose my hope to the place that molded me. One day, if not tomorrow, next month or the few years to come but slowly, progress and development will be reached. Our soldiers will no longer offer their lives to grim reaper. Civilians will live peacefully without the fear of any trouble that might welcome them anytime. Our native land will be in tranquility as it soars high and grow to become a progressive nation. In between the war is disorder and graves. I pray for all of this to stop.

I will end this essay with an untitled poem that I personally made to honor the men who are sacrificing their lives to our beloved country. May they be protected by the grace of God and our nation.

Today as I walked through the street of Rizal
I saw a man in his camouflage
As I come closer to him
I noticed his eyes so dim
Little do I know his story
His name and where he come from
What I know is his future
An uncertain one
He might be lucky as of today
But what I don’t know if he’ll still be.
So I gave him my best smile,
He smiled back brightly
I jokingly offered a salute
He laughed and returned the gesture
I thought,
This man has pledged his life
For me, my family and friends
I thought,
This man has pledged his life
For his wife, his children
I thought,
This man has pledged his life
For the nation’s victory and glory.

– End –


Featured Photo from PhilStar, Unicef: 50,000 kids affected by Marawi siege

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/01/1705639/unicef-50000-kids-affected-marawi-siege

 

moonday

by CJ Lopez

Let's all take time to appreciate the moon.
Today's Monday and the universe is sparkling above us.
Only few are lucky to have been blessed with the scene.
A magnificent look of what life is.
This life is our galaxy.
Some shines like a star,
A planet of possibilities maybe.
Some are just like the moon,
Who can't illuminate by himself.
Who can't bring light as always to many.
But what makes it special,
Is its wonders and mysteries.

Dealing with Death by CJ Lopez

tumblr_niuro4fbjn1svku1yo1_500
“Death and the woodcutter” – Jean Francois Millet

           I don’t get it why people, mostly, don’t like to engage in a conversation about death. They say it’s creepy or very unhappy to discuss, but for me what’s the reason to be afraid of? We are all doomed to die. It’s just we don’t know when, where, and how we are going to end life and meet death.

I’ve seen and witness a lot of passing. They were all strangely repulsive. Except with my grandfather’s death who died beside me. He died in peace. I claim that it’s a relieved for me, for I don’t want to see him suffer anymore. It’s painful. Yes. He was my hero, the one I considered as my father.  But life continues, for again, we are all doomed to die. I just considered my grandfather’s passing as an early goodbye.

I also noticed that my circle of friends don’t take death seriously. They, or let me include myself, we even make jokes about it. There’s one who said “Guys when I die I want you all to wear pink from head to toe’’ “I want all of you to have a dance presentation of my favorite songs during the last vigil” The fact that she likes Beyoncé, we’re going to run the world. “Friends, I want you to cha cha during my funeral procession including the men who will carry my casket” another added. Like imagine, how are we going to arrive in the cemetery with that, us doing the cha cha back and forth.

Death is scary when you’re not ready for it. It’s sad that I used the word “ready’’, for yes, life is supposed to be about living it as intensely as you can and the way  you wanted to live regardless of the circumstances, just the moment.  In reality, we must be ready even if you no longer give a damn about living. Even suicide takes an effort. How do we die? And why we do?

Here are the different manners of death:

The “You die because you’re dying’’ manner.

Philippine summer of 2016, it was April 16th. I witnessed the death of my grandfather but before that, evening of 15th I was feeding him his dinner, we joked about anything including me telling him about not letting our old neighbors beat him they should be the death frontrunner.  My grandpa suffered from heart enlargement adding his lung complication that he sometimes has a trouble in breathing. It hurts seeing him in that situation. He’s the one who always reminds me with an advice ‘’you must do well in school, don’t be stubborn’’ that became a mantra. From elementary to high school he’s always present during my moving-up ceremony and graduation. He’s proud of me. I can tell that. He always brags about me and his other grandchildren. A proud “lolo’’, indeed.  What makes me feel special is that aside from the fact that I grow up with him, with my grandparents, I am the one who received a lot of wisdom from him. My grandpa, he always tells me to always take the right path. Despite the reason that I know it was him who didn’t accepted my biological father when my mother got pregnant. Why my coward father chose to leave. I’m still grateful for having him as my lolo. The day arrives when it’s time for him to leave.  He was just in his bed lying stiffly so I helped him make his back straight when suddenly I noticed that he’s no longer breathing. I thought he was just throwing another prank just like he always do about him dying. I even laughed and told him that I’m not impressed with his acting. Reality strikes me when he’s really not breathing anymore realizing that he’s gone. Rested in peace and it took me weeks to recover from the pain.  But soon I accepted and thought about at least my grandfather will no longer have sleepless nights and now he can sleep all he wants. Free from pain, free from worries.

The “you’ve just been purposely killed’’ death

I was watching The Walking Dead series when this line was said by a character and caught my attention ‘’In this life now, you kill or you die. Or you die and you kill’’ It was the Governor of a protected place with walls surrounding for protection and security. He was introduced as a charismatic leader who will do anything just to protect his people. Later on the Governor was revealed to be brutal and mad man. He chose to kill to save his self and his people. “You die and you kill’’ here means after you die you’ll turn into a walker, or a zombie in universal understanding.

Life is like the Hunger Games, a battle for survival, depends on the situation. And when this situation arrives, it’s either you kill or get killed.  There’s always a reason why people kill but the point is that the victim was purposely killed. How about you? Will you kill to protect yourself from the supposed to be killer making you the new murderer or stick to the plot of you as the victim?

The stupid death

These are accidental deaths. You can die out of your stupidity. It’s ironic that the youth of today are a fan of a quotation ‘’You Only Live Once’’ but they do things or acts that are dangerous but still chose to do because YOLO!Well “You Only Die Once’’ as well, YODO! There are those who are careless, it would be better if it’s only that person who dies but accidentally kills another.

I choose to die manner

A boy hanged himself because his girlfriend doesn’t want to be with him anymore. The girl demands a break up but the guy is opposed to it. The girl continued that’s why he ended his life. That’s it, as simple as that and he simply welcomes death with that. Our emotion is really powerful. It can create an inspiring day. Can persuade, motivate us to do things. It can go deeper, deeper that can lead someone into the darkest part of it creating a distress.  The environment and the society take part for this. Like there is news of a nine-year-old commits suicide after bullying. Well these will all depends on the individual. We are all the captains of our own soul.

Dying is easy if you want to. You can just grab a knife and then you know what to do. You can end someone’s life, there’s a lot of ways to do that. I’m not advertising death to everyone. Facing death is hard especially when you’re in the situation unprepared, when you still have an unfinished business to do. The core of this dealing with death is if you’re ready regardless of who dies. Are you ready to face death whether would it be natural, accidental, intentional, or murdered? Will you choose to battle it and live your life until the day that you will realize that you have live it. Or will you just go through the motions and play Russian roulette and wait until the luck gets you? Your choice.