This article consists of “Porno,” an English translation of a Thai short story titled “หนังโป๊” by Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, and an introduction explicating literary and cultural issues that arise from the translation process. First published in 2018 in an ad-hoc anthology to fundraise for families of Thai political prisoners, the story captures the atmosphere of political repression— masked as depression—in Bangkok after the death of King Bhumibol in 2016, as refracted through the character of an overseas Filipino worker named Angele, herself no stranger to political repression. The connection between Thailand and the Philippines begins at the story’s inception: the Thai writer was inspired by a scene in Lav Diaz’s film Evolution of a Filipino Family (2005). In the translation process, the translator encounters issues of ambiguity both in representing gender and in representing political repression. The question is whether to reproduce the stylistic ambiguity in translation or, rather, to accentuate the story’s cultural specificity. The translator invites readers from the Philippines to be the judge of the story and its translation. What nourishment can this Thai story give in a Philippine context? Is the story’s portrayal of repression too generic? Are “Lola” and “Tatay” too stereotypical? Does the story, in seizing upon the political and economic decay common to the two countries, blunder into the territory of poverty or trauma porn?


agender, ambiguity, interculturalism, Filipino-ness, translation

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)