Don Carlos lies on his deathbed, determined to tell all. Don Carlos lies, as they say, through his teeth.
in this slim, powerful novel, F. Sionil Jose, one of the leading literary voices of Asia and the Pacific, tells all. Don Carlos Cobello, a worldly man, has been a diplomat, entrepreneur, gourmand, and sinner. Like other memoirists, he reveals more than he intends. Born to wealth, he was determined to increase it. Born to corruption, he sees no reason to give up too much of a good thing. Born of woman, he sets about seducing -- or simply taking -- every woman he sees, starting with his sister.
He is a prince of accommodation; his family has drawn close to power no matter who dominated their islands, be it the Spanish, the Japanese, or the Americans. (A woman shared with a Japanese colonel in a family-owned brothel returns their favors by passing on to one the disease of the other.)
The colorful cast includes a "hero of the Revolution" who purchased land with revolutionary funds, a close poker-playing friend of General Douglas MacArthur, and the illegitimate son of a maid who later becomes a lawyer destined for greatness.
Cobello's wealth, incest, and casual infidelities are no hindrance to an upwardly mobile career. In the "incredible reality that is the Philippines," says Jose, "the higher one goes, the whiter one becomes." For, as Cobello puts it, "here, sin is a social definition, not a moral one."
Sins will add to the stature of F. Sionil Jose and to his growing reputation in the United States.