May Day Eve by Nick Joaquin - A Literary Analysis

May Day Eve

A Classic Philippine Literature - May Day Eve

As a home of many great individuals in various fields, the Philippines really has a lot to offer. Be it scenic views or rich literature, name it, and you will find at least one here.

Nick Joaquin, a Filipino National Artist for Literature, made a big name in this industry. Dubbed as one of his signature stories, May Day Eve has genuinely captured the heart of many readers. It was a story written after World War II and up until now, it is widely known for its timeless quality.

Who is Nick Joaquin?

Nick Joaquin

Nick Joaquin. (2023, October 14). In Wikipedia.

Nicomedes "Nick" Marquez Joaquin, born on the fourth of May in the year 1917, in Paco, Manila, was a renowned Filipino writer, novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, and journalist. He was honored for his notable works, such as short stories and novels in the English language. 

Joaquin's parents were Leocadio Joaquína and Salome Márquez. Aside from being vested with the rank and title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature, he also had various awards such as Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Short Story and the like.

He died on April 29, 2004, in San Juan. His works, which encircled a wealth of short stories and novels, continue to inspire and fascinate readers in the Philippines and the whole world. This preserves his legacy as one of the most significant figures in Filipino literature.

Summary, Review and Reflection

May Day Eve, a story originally published in 1947, is about love and marriage. As perceived in the story, such a thing doesn’t happen by magic; it requires genuine respect from both parties and enduring effort on both sides.

With the element of foreshadowing, the story begins with various scenes of merriment on one eve of May. An old woman named Anastacia, believed as a witch by others, with the influence of other girls, told young Doña Agueda to go into an empty room with a candle in her hand and then face the mirror with her eyes closed for her to see her future lover.

If there's a good side, there's also a downside. It has to be done right in order for it to happen. Otherwise, a devil may appear. Though the old woman warned Agueda and tried to stop her, she was persistent and still did it.

“Mirror, mirror,
show to me
him whose woman
I will be.”

What's great about it is that the same thing was done by a young boy named Don Badoy who was told to say the same incantation in the middle of the night to see her wife. Well, they saw each other. But did it end up so well? Not that I don't know but let's continue.

The emergence of pride prevented them from recognizing that it was each other's face that they had seen in the mirror. They persisted in claiming that it was the devil or the witch they saw and that they were bewitched, tortured, and eaten their hearts figuratively. Well, they got married and had one daughter, but such a description is how they were to each other as husband and wife.

The story leads us, however, that after Agueda died, Badoy realizes that their old love was just blinded by hatred which brought pain. Despite it being a huge realization, the fact is it was too late. Agueda is gone and she never had the chance to know that all those years, the truth is he had actually loved her, and that she meant so much. But this taught us that love does not really go away. It was just concealed in one's sincere heart. 

To reflect, the story makes us realize that we do not need to rush everything, especially in love. This is so because love cannot be based on passion alone nor superstitions. It takes time, trust, respect and understanding. 

Overall, love should be natural. It should not based on a single thing or a belief for it is about how and what we really feel. As they say, we can lie to others but we cannot do it in ourselves. So in order to make things turn out beautiful, we should acknowledge love when we feel it.

Final Thoughts on May Day Eve

This story brought some realizations about love, fate and regrets-things often talked about but oftentimes left unconsidered even in modern times.

We may not really see the love of our life by simply looking at a mirror, but we should not also get blinded by its illusion. Don't just let destiny bring you closer to the one whom you think was destined for you for regrets may come late by letting fate alone. As such, it should be embodied in actions.


McJulez is a passionate writer who loves making concise summaries, sharing valuable notes, and talking about new insights. With a background in campus journalism and a commitment to delivering experienced and reliable content, McJulez is dedicated to making this platform a community of learning and connection. facebook twitter pinterest

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