Nathan Go’s taut meditation on forgiveness and regret is told in the indelible voice of a Filipino chauffeur nearing the end of his life.
After suffering a serious heart injury, Lito Macaraeg reaches out to his estranged son—a journalist who lives in the United States, far from his father’s Manila nursing home—to promise him a scoop: the story of a secret meeting between Imelda Marcos and Corazon Aquino. Imelda, best known for her excessive shoe collection, was the flamboyant wife of the late Philippine dictator; Corazon was the wife of the opposition politician who was allegedly killed by the Marcoses. An unassuming housewife, Corazon rose up after her husband’s death to lead the massive rallies that eventually toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
Lito was Corazon’s personal driver for many years, and her only companion on the journey from Manila to Baguio City to meet Imelda. Throughout the long drive, Lito’s loyalty to his employer is pitted against his own moral uncertainty about her desire to forgive Imelda. But as Lito unspools his tale about two women whose choices shaped their country’s history, his own story, and failings, slowly come to light. He delves into his past: his neglectful father, who joined a Communist guerrilla movement; their life in a mountain encampment headed by a charismatic priest; and Lito’s struggles with poverty and ambition. In the end, it is Lito himself who must contemplate the meaning and possibility of forgiveness.
In Forgiving Imelda Marcos, Nathan Go weaves a deeply intimate novel of alternative history that explores power and powerlessness, the nature of guilt, and what we owe to those we love.