Tuesday, August 16, 2005

fiction: how rosang raba won a race

Kung Paano Nanalo Nang Karera Si Rosang Taba
by Dean Francis Alfar

I. An Introduction

Down in the busy markets of Binondo is a drinking place, Rosa’s, where visitors and roughnecks are often found making trouble, noise or love. In that place inebriated men circulate a story, repeated with delight and embroidered with each telling. The Katao of Hinirang enjoy telling it most, because it features the stunning victory of one of their own against an Ispaniolan gentleman.

Today, one hundred years from its first incarnation, different people continue to assign different meanings to the story, but all hold in common its having essentially occurred: as a subversive comment on the conqueror/conquered status quo, as an anecdote on gender role reversal, as the first shout in the inevitable revolution that would return Hinirang to its own people, as a cautionary tale of arrogance and comeuppance, or as a simple tale of a woman who used her mind to achieve triumph in the face of an impossible foe.

What follows is a retelling of this famous tale, rendered from various records, sources and interviews, both anecdotal and established, but replete with the embellishments, speculations of dialogue and motive, and internal sidebars accumulated by its continuous evolution as a narrative.

This is the story of Rosang Taba (who gained a certain notoriety among the pale-skinned elite as Rosa Gordura, and among the foreign merchants and traders as Rosa the Fat) and how she won a footrace against Ser Jaime Alonzo Pietrado ei Villareal - champion fencer, marksman, runner, swimmer, horseman, and the pride of the Ispaniola-in-Hinirang.


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