Lina Espina-Moore
(1919 - 2000 )

Three acclaimed novels fire up Lina Espina Moore’s bright star in the skyworld of Philippine fiction. These are The Heart of the Lotus (1970), A Lion in the House (1980), and The Honey, The Locust (1992). Two story collections, Cuentos (1985) and Choice (1995), further boost her reputation. Born in 1920 in Toledo, Cebu, she received the unique baptismal name of Austregelina. Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz took it as the fitting title for her biographical cuento about this much-loved Cebuana.

Espina Moore plumbs the war’s terror in all three novels. This has left critics wondering if the motif persists because she has but one grave and searing story to tell. That unblinking gaze, they concede, reflected her rapt meditation on a tragic theme. Espina Moore peered at the hidden trauma still smarting in the national psyche, exposing it aptly from the southern vantage point of her Cebu homeland.

Espina Moore’s folders at the ALIWW archive yield interesting typescripts of her short fiction in translation. She wrote the story “Ang Besita” originally in Cebuano. Much later on, she worked on an English version to accommodate a story-request from The Quill journal. Both texts present a curious case of how source and target languages challenge the storyteller to wrestle with the art of expansion and compression, even as she chants in two tongues.

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