Author: Jose Dalisay
Table of Contents
Killing Time in a Warm Place
1. Dream of Lizards
2. The Black Pool
4. Killing Time in a Warm Place
1. The Woman in the Box
2. The Relations of the Dead
3. A Busload of Regines
4. The Sight of Grief
5. Beyond Recognition
6. A Gift of Sweets
7. Laundry on the Clothesline
8. The Scene of the Crime
9. Walking on Water
10. Building a New Home
11. A Sorority of Grief
12. The Shrieking Wood
13. An Outstanding Discoloration
Epilogue: The Fabulous Fountain
An emotional exploration of the Philippines, these novels illustrate the connection between a people and
their beloved native land. The first novel, Killing Time in a Warm Place, is based in part on the author's
own experiences as a student protester and his subsequent capture, imprisonment, and torture during
the Marcos dictatorship. His subsequent assimilation to a new society as a speechwriter for the
government is depicted, followed by his self-imposed exile to the United States and his eventual return to
the islands upon the death of his father, where he is forced to confront past betrayals. The second tale,
Soledad’s Sister, delves into the dark side of immigrant and outsourced labor that is endemic worldwide.
Following the mysterious death of a young Filipina woman working as an au pair in Saudi Arabia, the
narrative chronicles a local policeman’s search to claim her body, locate her next of kin, and give her a
proper burial in her native soil. With deep insight into contemporary Philippine culture, this collection
captures a nation attempting to reinvent itself in the eyes of the world.
1. Dream of LizardsI come from a country without snow and without raspberries. Instead we have
pounding rain and coconuts. When the typhoons come the coconuts fall in a rain of their own. I know; as
a boy of ten I spent the summer in my hometown of Kangleong, in the Visayan islands, and I remember
how, early one morning, I rose to the shriek of the wind and what I imagined to be a stampede of heavy-
footed horses among the groves. It was the sound of many coconuts falling into the brush-padded mud,
full-grown nuts torn loose from the treetops by slashing wind. At daybreak I hurried to the groves with the
other children, and we gathered up the coconuts, and we dragged, rolled and kicked them over to the
bucayo maker’s shack. She paid us five centavos for every coconut we salvaged from other people’s
farmlots, and we lingered while she grated the white flesh and steeped the cakes in a deep iron panful of
simmering molasses. I remember that well: the exhalations of the wet earth and the overpowering
sweetness of sugared coconut. Later that morning I walked up to the seashore to see how large the
waters had become; and they were large, indeed, and ugly, flicking at the edges of Kangleong in a dirty
brown froth, throwing up blackened logs, palm fronds, pieces of rope and strange triangles of colored
plastic on the beachfront bordering the coastal road.It was a day without shadows, late into our summer,
which begins in March and ends in June. It was as if the rain had come to leave everything clean and to
render all objects in their most vivid states, in colors made all the more turgid by the grayness of the sky.
On my way home I passed by the tall kapok tree whose lower branches reached out beyond its owner’s
fence into the street. The ground was littered with hard brown pods, which I knew yielded, when cracked
open, the cottony fluff that kept life jackets afloat in the ocean. I had learned that it was simpler to strip
and lash two coconuts together and to tuck a pair under each armpit; coconuts were incredibly buoyant.
The kapok pods were too dull to attract me, but somewhere among them was a shiny lump that turned
out to be a baby bat. It was greyer than the sky and when I folded its wings it fit neatly into my palm. I
brought it home and put it in a coffee jar in a bath of rubbing alcohol, in the hope of preserving the body
and its fine-haired sheen—a futile gesture, I was to find over the week that followed, a week of soggier
and then drabber mornings, over which the bat turned darker and began to come apart. I wanted to keep
the slender bones but my grandmother threw the jar away, and I can’t even remember if I was saddened
by what she did, or simply relieved. That summer was soon lost in longer and thicker shrouds of rain. No
more coconuts fell. In mid-June my uncle managed to put me aboard an Air Force C-47 that had stopped
by our island on its way to Manila. It was a bumpy flight and I nearly cried from the pain in my ears, but
for the thought that I was with soldiers. I occupied myself by staring out the window to search for some
horizon. I saw ragged clouds and a leaden sea, until the deep green mass of Luzon appeared, its plains
awash in floodwater. We lurched into a city whipped by rain.
Jose Dalisay is an English professor and director of the Institute of Creative Writing at the University of
the Philippines. He is the author of more than 20 books, including novels, story collections, plays, and
essays; a recipient of the National Book Award from the Manila Critics Circle; and was named by the
Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Honors List as one of the top-100 most accomplished and
influential Filipino artists of the past century.
"'Tell us the truth!' we demand of a book, and this one does with calculated vivacity, spiked with galling
humor, wit, and felicity of language that gives the Filipino novel a new stature."
"Consummate craftsmanship characterized by clear and firm language, an absorbing narrative, and loving
insights into the Filipino psyche. A sympathetic, contemporary record of our turbulent days."
"Soledad’s Sister and Killing Time in a Warm Place are two of his very fine short novels—rich with
characters who are complex, deftly drawn and compelling. The U.S. reader is in for a treat."