Author: Mina V. Esguerra
Date Published: February 6, 2013
Publisher: Bright Girl Books
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Contemporary Romance
If you've been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don't worry -- Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity's love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn't as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It's frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).
In the meantime, she's decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn't exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it's not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it's not what people want.)
Not an art expert, but within five minutes of staring at the painting, a tear had rolled down my cheek.
"Are you all right, Hannah?" Robbie Carlos asked me, already fumbling at his pockets for tissue or a handkerchief. He didn't have any, because he was a guy, and after a moment's hesitation he brushed the tear way with a knuckle. But my hand was already there, so all he had done was knock his fingers against my skin.
Shit, why am I such a caveman, he thought. I knew that because I could hear his thoughts, at least when it came to me. Because he was in love with me, and I was the Interim Goddess of Love.
More on that later.
"Yeah, sorry," I said. "I can't believe I'm actually really feeling this."
"Maganda's Regret has that effect on people." Our tour guide, a jolly, entertaining middle-aged man who asked us to call him "Uncle John," had come up beside me. He looked pleased at my reaction. "Even young people like you, they tend to stop and take a moment to understand it. And it sucks them in."
Uncle John was referring to the large painting hanging on a display right in front of us. It was huge – larger than any painting I'd ever seen in anyone's living room. It had to be larger than me (heck, it was larger than Robbie, and he was a basketball player), and we were standing several feet away from it just to see the entire thing properly.
The small plaque hanging next to it said it was called Maganda's Regret, 1904. Featured in it was a beautiful woman, in a plain white dress, standing over a lush, green landscape. She was looking back at something, off to the side, away from the beautiful forest.
She looked sad.
Uncle John left my side and went closer to the painting, cutting off everyone's view, so he could address the entire tour group. "This is the spectacular work of Arturo M. Indemne, one of the country's treasured artists. Here he depicts the story of Maganda. Do you college kids know the story of Malakas and Maganda?"
Not one hand of the fifteen went up. I felt a bit ashamed for my generation.
Uncle John rolled his eyes. "Dear Lord. Our ancestors, before this archipelago was colonized and Christianized, had their own myth of creation. Each region or people would have its own version, but the short story is that Bathala created man and woman, and they were known as Malakas and Maganda. Google that.
"What not as many people know is that things were not so rosy for our ancestors' version of Adam and Eve. Maganda, true to her name, was very beautiful. Her very presence caused a disturbance in nature. Rain fell in torrents, flooding their home. The earth itself rumbled, and sent rivers of fire out of the mountains, just to get her attention. But she paid them no heed, and lived with her Malakas as Bathala intended.
"But then one day, she went exploring, and found herself on a sandy shore, facing the water. And the God of the Sea saw her."
Oh my god. I inadvertently squeezed Robbie's arm.
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