FACING one’s self and acknowledging one’s sins takes a lot of courage and strengths especially if one has lived life avoiding confrontations.

This is very much seen in Vicente Garcia Groyon’s The Sky Over Dimas (DLSU Press, 2003) whose main character, George Torrecarion, decides to write down his life confessing all the dirty secrets he and his family have long kept.

Set in Bacolod, The Sky Over Dimas shows the existing landlord-worker relationship in the sugar plantation owned by the Torrecarions and Jarabas families in their hacienda, Dimas. Through the characters of Carlos, George’s father in law, and Rodel, the worker who falls in love with George’s wife, Margie, the novel shows the great divide between social classes and how this division becomes a hindrance in attaining one’s happiness.

The novel begins with the townspeople witnessing George Torrecarion fighting evil using a rapier in Adora’s Modern Drive-in Restaurant. After this, George decides to leave his home and live in the plantation together with Lorna, his mistress, and locate the body of Rodel, the person whom he had secretly killed and buried in the mill. But for him, his moving out of the house symbolizes his desire to free himself from the shackles of sin and lies.

As he digs the land where he buried Rodel, he accidentally steps on a rake which wounds him. Unable to walk and pinned down to bed, he starts writing his memoirs. He says: “I am unable to finish what I started, thanks to my own clumsiness. Cowardice. Weakness. But it has been for the best. I came here on a foolish errand, and found enlightenment instead, thanks to an accident that has rendered me unable to continue. The universe operates in mysterious ways, and where I planned to do wrong, I find myself forced to do right.” Through the confessions, he is able to redeem himself and the whole Torrecarion clan.

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On the other hand, Margie, George’s wife, wants to claim their youngest son, Rafael, who lives in Manila. Rafael, who had long separated himself from his family, is now convinced that he has to go back to the place he didn’t want to come back to.

Groyon makes use of a third- and first-person points of view to account for the testimonies of George, giving the reader a general and subjective perspective of the story. The novel also makes use of devices such as flashbacks and story-within-a-story framework, suitable for the plot, as controversies and secrets begin to unravel in the novel one by one. All these devices effectively depict the will and struggle of George to make things right by acknowledging his mistakes through writing.

As the readers go through George’s writings, they discover the lonely life that he lives, especially when he finds out that he is not the real father of his eldest son. For 26 years, this fact has been kept from him by his wife and although he has a clue already, he still does not want to accept it.

Truth can release a person from the shackles of sin and deception that traps him. George may not have corrected his past mistakes, but the act of writing initiates a kind of healing that only comes from the self-admission of his own faults. Bernadette G. Irinco

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