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Laya

I always get a thrill when I discover an unexpected reference to the Philippines and to Filipinos in books written or edited by non-Filipinos and published outside the country.

I checked out the Payday Sale at SM Centerpoint yesterday and of course ended up at Booksale rummaging among the stacks. I took home one of the latest Pern books by Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd, Dragon's Fire, a hardbound copy of Mercedes Lackey's The Black Gryphon, which when I opened it at home was a First Printing (could it be a first edition? I have no idea!), and a hardbound old anthology, Famous Horse Stories, because I kinda like anthologies and horses.

And there, towards the end of the book, I turned a page and my eyes immediately fell upon the words "Abra" and "Luzon." I held my breath, but the words did not vanish. The story was titled "The Horse of the Sword," and it was written by Manuel Buaken and published in 1943. In among such legendary horses as Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka, Misty of Chincoteague, and Coaly-Bay, a horse named Moro Glory ran. Aside from depicting a local horse race, the story also portrayed some very familiar Filipino quirks and customs. Although it was written more than 50 years ago, the story of Maning and his horse still lives on.

Never having encountered Buaken's name before, I googled the story title and found that The Horse of the Sword was actually part of required reading material in American textbooks alongside such gems as The Swiss Family Robinson, The Secret Garden, and Little Women, and that it was included in another anthology, The Literary Horse, published in 1995. Manuel Buaken was a contemporary of Carlos Bulosan.

I haven't felt this giddy since I first discovered that Johnny Rico of Starship Troopers was actually a Filipino. And yes, I finally got through Heinlein's Expanded Universe the other night, and got another thrill upon reading his references to Filipinos as freedom fighters in Free Men. But that's another story!

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