Filipino novelist JosÇ makes his US debut with these three novellas--ostensible love stories that are also vehicles for indictments of contemporary Filipino politics and culture. Each is a tale of disappointed love, of men catching but never able to keep the women they love in a setting where corruption is endemic and Filipino nationalists struggle to promote a national identity under assault from both the US and Japan. In ``Cadeno De Amor,'' Eddie analyses the rise of Narita Reyes, a childhood friend, whom he was later to advise in her successful political campaigns. Driven by her desire to escape the humiliations of her childhood poverty, Narita marries well and is soon a protÇgÇ of her wealthy father-in-law, who funds her Senate campaign--an expensive business, for, as Eddie notes, everyone from journalists to local officials must be bribed. Even Eddie, who loves her, begins to believe ``that nothing much could be done about our political malaise until she had real power.'' And when the elected Narita dies in a bizarre accident, the ``mythmakers'' are ready. It is still politics as usual. In the second story, ``Obsession,'' a wealthy Filipino business man is in love with the enigmatic prostitute Ermi, who defends her way of life and decision to marry an American by asking him whether she ``has ever stolen from anyone like those big people whom you know and serve.'' The young protagonist of the third piece, ``Platinum,'' loves and loses beautiful Malu--a young woman of good family who's at ease only when ``trying to help people'' and who, wanting to do something useful with her life, becomes a member of an underground guerilla movement, then dies in a raid. Schematically awkward but redeemed by vivid local color, and imbued with a palpable but unsentimental concern for the author's country. A promising introduction.