Gina Apostol’s Insurrecto
Credits roll. Gina Apostol’s Insurrecto—a novel about two women who make a film about the 1901 Balangiga Massacre, grappling with the uneven legacy of the Philippine-American War—ends on the note of an infernal karaoke. At the stroke of midnight, we find the protagonists, Magsalin and Chiara, looking on as Magsalin’s three uncles warble over a melodramatic backing track, their voices sweetened by the microphone reverb. The tune is by Elvis, whose baduy hip swinging, macho tremolo, and matchless popularity across the archipelago have made him an honorary Filipino if there ever was one. Only this time, the uncles have swerved the obvious belters like “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock,” picking instead the baroque-country anomaly “Suspicious Minds.” The song’s lyrics—We’re caught in a trap / I can’t walk out / because I love you too much, baby—become Insurrecto’s own refrain, capturing the deranging, recursive relationship between colonized and colonizer.