‘Have you read Dead Stars?’ Here’s why Paz Márquez-Benítez’s masterpiece is making a buzz on local Twitter

March 4, 2020 - 6:31 PM
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The masterpiece short story of celebrated writer Paz Márquez-Benítez, “Dead Stars,” was remembered on local Twitter as fans commemorated her birthday on Tuesday.

Historian and blogger Kristoffer Pasion remembered that Benítez, a women’s rights advocate and one of the founders of the Philippine Women’s University, was born on March 3, 1894.

The commemoration of the author as part of the celebration of Women’s History Month this year.

Pasion then made another tweet about Benitez’s “Dead Stars,” a required reading in many English classes in the country.

“Have u read ‘Dead Stars’ yet? The short story, written in 1925, aside from being a milestone in Philippine literature, is one of the saddest short stories I’ve ever read,” Pasion tweeted.

“It spurred me on to explore more of early Philippine literature in English which captures the peculiar sentiments of that generation,” he added.

“Dead Stars” then trended on Twitter Philippines on Tuesday

Several Filipinos recalled how much the classic piece affected them when they first read it.

“Today is Paz Marquez-Benitez’s birthday. She would’ve been 126-years-old. See, 126-years-old at napapaiyak pa rin kayo. The power of good writing,” columnist DLS Pineda tweeted.

Another Twitter user even expressed her own interpretation of the story.

“Oh please, don’t even think the story is about that. It’s entitled Dead Stars for a reason. Alfredo thought the love is still there when it’s actually long gone,” the user wrote.

The narrative follows the main character Alfredo Salazar and his love endeavor with his fiancé Esperanza and the woman he was briefly attracted to Julia Salas.

It was first published on The Philippines Herald, considered the first daily newspaper in the country, in 1925. This publication ceased operations on Sept. 22, 1972.

This critically-acclaimed work would later serve as the inspiration to later strands in Philippine literature. Benitez’s other popular short story is titled “A Night in the Hills.”

Benitez also became an influential figure to many prominent Filipino writers later on. These include Bienvenido Santos, National Artist Francisco Arcellana, Paz Latorena and Manuel Arguilla.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Philippines in 1912.

In 1919, Benitez along with other Filipino women Clara Aragon, Concepcion Aragon, Francisca Tirona Benitez, Carolina Ocampo Palma, Mercedes Rivera and Socorro Maraquez Zaballero founded the Philippine Women’s College, now known as the Philippine Women’s University.