Hail Mary, Full of Waste: Philippine Postcolonial Residue in Mia Alvar’s “The Virgin of Monte Ramon”

Matthew Mucha, University of Toronto


Archipelagic Imagination and Decolonial Aesthetics: Enduring Imperial Duress, Colonial Detritus, and Fantasies of National (Be)Longing


In her collection, In the Country, Mia Alvar examines the postcolonial legacies manifested in the modern-day Filipino subjects. She problematizes the marginalization of certain groups in Philippine society, and by extension, delineates their social stratification along the lines of class and ethnicity. In the short story, “The Virgin of Monte Ramon,” characters are ostracized because of their physical conditions. Danny, an upper-class mestizo boy, is born without legs. His friend, Annelise, a lowly negrita girl, suffers from excruciating menstrual cramps during her periods. In conceptualizing the relationship between history and trash, Susan Morrison declares that “In the search for a narrative, we inevitably create waste,” forcing subjects and their stories to the margins.

This essay examines the author’s employment of American neo-colonial legacies in the Philippines as imperial detritus. Through the use of characters that embody various historical entanglements and their interactions with each other, Alvar presents the absurdity of internal divisions among postcolonial subjects who pursue fictions of nationhood. Her postmodern narrative unflinchingly stares at the more than three centuries of imperial decay, colonial abjection, and toxic cultural garbage in the Philippine archipelago.

Download Paper

CCSEAS Conference 2021 |