Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Mats

The Philippine's Francisco Arcellana is indeed a patriotic writer whose account of Mr. Angeles, the lead character in his story, "The Mats", is a picturesque of a sincere Filipino father and a husband who used the mat as the family's symbol of love for one another and whose obvious leanings are toward the upholding of the Filipino's culture and tradition.

Arcellana successfully capsulized the Filipino family's way of life--their entanglement and disillusionment for each other but still steadfast in preserving good old memories with the young and even for the departed members of the family.

The mats or "banig" in Philippine history traces back its importance in the 19th century when mats were made to order by families to be given as gifts for wedding, birthdays and other special occasions.

Requiring expertise and creativity, the mat is made of buri (palm), pandan or sea grass leaves which are dried, usually dyed, then cut into strips and woven into mats, which may be plain or intricate. Mat weaving was a woman's work, a tradition that had been around for ages.

Arcellano was accurate when he wrote about the mats with a two-prong points conveyed: First, the Filipinos have strong family ties and second, the mats have bonded that tie till death as in the case of the Arcellana family.

Mr. Angeles travelled to southern Philippines and bought mats for his wife and children. Each mat has the corresponding name of all his living offspring, even those who already died. When he arrived home from his trip, he presented the mats to his family. As he unfolds one mat after another, he narrated the emotions, longings and beautiful memories they have had as a family. The sorrow heightened when the last two mats he opened are for his dead children which made his wife reacted with grief, and told Mr.Angeles that there is no need for him to open those mats for the two were already dead.

At that point, Mr. Angeles cried with pain while telling his wife that his children must always be in their memory no matter where they are now.

A very sentimental write. Arcellana's story would indeed capture the Filipino readers by heart for his brilliant display of emotions by using only one symbolism--THE MAT.