Alex Tizon was a disgusting human being and deserves no praise for writing about the atrocities he and his family committed against Eudocia Pulido. We do not need to understand Filipino culture to determine that. We do not need to consider his twisted “love” for her. We do not need to see things from his perspective as a child. All we need to know is that three generations of his family held a woman captive until she died. And on top of that he waited 5 years to return her remains to her family who was robbed of her presence for the better part of a century.
There is no beauty in this story. It was not beautifully written. It was written by a coward who waited until the end of his life to admit to his family’s guilt and complicity in holding a woman as their slave. No amount of affection or changed language makes that okay. Referring to her as Lola instead of her given name is the equivalent to Kunta Kinte’s slave master writing a story and calling him Toby throughout. It is insult to injury. It is a coward’s attempt to seem more human and less like a monster. It’s a way to try to victim blame to show the love that Ms. Pulido had for the children she was forced to raise.
Tizon admits to fully understanding Ms. Pulido’s role as early as 11 years old and did nothing to change anything. He chooses to protect his family and remains complicit in the enslavement of a woman he claims to love. Let me pause and be clear that you cannot possibly love someone and allow them to be harmed in this manner. Love is not abusive. Love defends. Love protects. Tizon did not love Ms. Pulido. Tizon loved that he was raised by his family’s slave. What better way to be raised than by someone who is obligated to give you the best care possible for fear of beatings?
Readers are praising Tizon for telling Ms. Pulido’s story. But he was the only person who could tell her story. She was never allowed to tell it herself. She couldn’t even read or write until shortly before her death. And all the people who loved her were an ocean away and completely unaware of the story she needed to tell. I would love to know how she would relay the events of her life. I wonder how she would speak of Tizon and his family if she had the freedom to do so. The story told was a powerful one, but it is still tainted by the viewpoint of her abusers. It was a confession wrapped up in fool’s gold and served as art.
Where is the beauty in that woman’s life? We can call her a beautiful person, but do we honestly even know who Eudocia Pulido is? All we truly know is that she was a distant relative of Tizon’s family who they took as a slave at the age of 18 and held until her death 68 years later. That information tells us nothing about Ms. Pulido and everything about Tizon and his family. None of the anecdotes he tells show us anything about how she was. Every one of her actions, every last word she spoke, all of it was in a vacuum of slavery. All of it was tainted. None of it was real. So how can we call anything beautiful when we know nothing at all?
Reading the piece is not the problem. Read it. Read it again. Read it so you know how awful human beings are. Read it so we can stop pretending humans have evolved from this horrific behavior and justification of it. Read it so we can see Tizon for who he really was and the disgusting family he came from. Do NOT read it as entertainment. Do NOT read it as art. Do not read it and then say any kind words about the author because he’s a piece a shit and there’s nothing more to it. Save your despicable cultural norms and understanding. Honor Ms. Pulido’s life by condemning her abusers.