Tagalog Books
Sa Gitna ng Lusak

Tagalog books abound with more writers experimenting on ways to tell stories in Filipino and Tagalog. Alongside the original titles are the literary translations which bridge the gap between the search for themes and the writing of original novels. 

The book entitled Sa Gitna ng Lusak, is an adaptation by Gerardo Chanco of the novel La  Dame aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas (the son). Chanco used for his source text not the original French version, but a translation into Spanish called La Dama de las Camelias by an unknown author. Chanco did not know French but both he and his wife, who was a language teacher, were speaking Spanish fluently.

The translation into English by Edmund Gosse (1902) came out first before Chanco's translation (1915) into Tagalog. The newest translation is by David Coward (1986,2000). On April 18, 1904 this same novel was adapted into a Broadway musical, and from 1953 to 1963, there were eighteen shows entitled Camille on Broadway. This was aside from Giuseppe Verdi's showing of La Traviata (1853) which was an opera adaptation written by Francesco Maria Pave of this very same novel, La dame aux camelias, and first shown in Venice.

Sa Gitna ng Lusak is an interesting read for its rich, ornate Tagalog vocabulary. The great love between the main characters Margarita Gautier and Armando Duval is best appreciated by reading the Tagalog prose aloud:

"Ay, Armando! Dapat akong malumbay! Ako'y nahahapis kailan ma't magunita ko ang katotohanang ang pag-iibigan nati'y isang pag-iibigang di-pangkaraniwan lamang. Lubos akong naniniwala na ang pagmamahal mo sa aki'y taimtim sa iyong loob; at sa pagmamahal mong iya'y parang hindi mo natatanong na ako'y naging kasintahan na ng iba; at dahil din sa pagmamahal mong iyan kung kaya't nangangamba akong bukas-makalawa, sakaling ikaw ay magbago ng akala, ay bawiin mong biglang-bigla ang pagsinta sa akin, isurot sa mga mata ko ang aking kahapong nabalot ng maiitim na ulap, at ako'y bayaan mong muling magumon sa gitna ng lusak ng pagkapalungi, na pinaghanguan mo sa aking napakasawing kabuhayan. Talastasin mo, giliw kong Armando, na ngayong maipalasap mo sa akin ang bagong kabuhayang ito, mamamatay akong walang pagsala, sakaling maglupit na muli sa akin ang masungit na tadhana ng mga pangyayari. Kaya't sa ikatitiwasay ng aking kaluluwa'y muli mong ipangako sa akin, mahal kong Armando, na tayo'y magsasama't magmamahalan sa habambuhay. Ipangako ko ngang muli ngayon, Armando, na ako'y hindi mo pababayaan, hindi mo lilimutin, hindi mo pagsasawaan..."

"Margarita...Isinusumpa ko!"

At pagkasabing-pagkasabi ko nito'y tinitigan niya ako nang buong giliw at wari'y ibig niyang mabasa sa mukha ko ang kadalisayan ng aking sumpa; at niyakap ako ng pagkahigpit-higpit, at iniyupyop ang hapis niyang mukha sa aking balikat, at

"Ay, Armando! Hindi mo masusukat ang kalakhan ng pag-ibig ko sa iyo!" sinabing kasabay ang isang malalim ng buntong-hininga at sinundan ng panangis."

Encantadia and its sequel Etheria, both popular "telefantasyas" (fantasy soap operas) on GMA 7 in 2005 and 2006, attempted to use Old Tagalog in their script with some success. Listening to young Filipino actors talk in Old Tagalog made the viewers feel as if they were in another time and place which was the intention of the fantasy. Sa Gitna ng Lusak may be difficult to read, but in using the Tagalog of old, this novel recalls images from films produced by LVN and Sampaguita pictures, where life was depicted to be less hectic and more romantic. 

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