Issue #165: The Kontrabida

What happens when the people we care about, depend upon, and think we know the most end up being someone else entirely? This is the question explored in our new issue, Mia Alvar’s “The Kontrabida.” This exquisitely-wrought family drama follows clinical pharmacist Steve Sandoval as he makes his way home to visit his dying father in the Philippines. Steve arrives in Manila piled high with pasalubong (homecoming gifts)—candy, games, toys, as well as packets of Succorol, a dangerous and highly controlled medicine, to ease his father’s pain as well as his mother’s duties as caretaker. What happens next will make Steve question his identity as well as that of his parents, and change the dynamics of their family forever. Be sure to read Mia Alvar’s Q&A with us to find out how she wrote this engaging story, including time spent working in a sari-sari and some hard-core karaoke. Explaining the title, Mia told us: “kontrabida appeals to me as a very Filipino word. It’s almost a map of the country’s colonial history: Spanish roots, a Tagalog spelling and a touch of American Hollywood drama.” Whether you end up rooting for the bida, or the kontrabida, we hope you all enjoy this wonderful new issue, and help us welcome Mia Alvar into the pages of One Story.