“The Seeker of Buried Treasure” : A Piece About General Yamashita

This piece appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Our Own Voice,  a magazine of the Filipino diaspora.

There’s a legend about General Yamashita, who the U.S. held accountable for war crimes in the World War II occupation of the Philippines.  Yamashita was executed shortly after the war, after a brief trial.

They say he stashed away bars of gold bullion, and treasure hunters have been trying to find the riches ever since.

Self suddenly recalled this piece after listening to Joanne Diaz, a poet, whose reading in Moe’s Books self attended last night, along with Jay D and Lillian H, who belong to her fabulous writing group.

Joanne Diaz is an AWESOME reader. Self bought the two collections that were on sale last night:  My Favorite Tyrants (which won the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry), and The Lessons.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

He was a shaman. Oh, something very old.

Like the turtle you forgot about that grew to 10 times its size in your mother’s garden.

My uncle looked for the gold bars, you know.

Under the old fort.

Why would they be there?  Why would General Yamashita leave them behind? Underneath an old fort in Manila?

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jade . . .

The rest of self’s piece can be found here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Endurance 3: Various Interpretations of This Week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

Again, self knows nothing about the creator of this. sculpture. It stands just outside the Olympic Theatre (the one designed by Palladio) in Vicenza.

Self knows nothing about the creator of this. sculpture. It stands just outside the Teatro Olimpico (designed by Palladio in the late 16th century) in Vicenza.

Backyard Watering: Takes Endurance, especially in the summer.

Backyard Watering: Takes Endurance, especially in the summer.

Spam was first introduced to the Philippines by the Americans. Now we Filipinos crave it -- it's become "comfort food."

Spam was first introduced to the Philippines by the Americans. Now we Filipinos crave it — it’s become “comfort food.”

 

Dialogue: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is another — ehem — challenging one.

DIALOGUE

They want you to post a pair of photographs that, “when placed next to each other,” open “up to meanings that weren’t there when viewed alone.”

So here’s self’s first attempt:  two photographs of the Blessed Virgin, both taken at Mission San Gabriel in southern California, Sunday Aug. 24. The only reason she was at the Mission was to meet an old high-school classmate from Manila, Connie Genato, who was singing at the 11:15 mass.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is iconic in Roman Catholicism, and an object of particular veneration in the Philippines (colony of Spain for 333 years!)

A statue of the Blessed Virgin In Mission San Gabriel

A statue of the Blessed Virgin In Mission San Gabriel, near Los Angeles

Another statue of the Blessed Virgin taken at Mission San Gabriel, this one just outside the church

Another statue of the Blessed Virgin taken at Mission San Gabriel, this one just outside the church

In and of themselves, these photographs are nothing much. Together, though, they seem to speak of a child-like simplicity that self finds particularly touching.

Self has tons of other Blessed Virgin pictures. She might look for those and add later, if she has time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

These Mentions (A Post Inspired by This Week’s WordPress Daily Post But Containing NO Photography)

What is the history of the term ‘Manila Envelope’?

Why is it always about Imelda’s shoes?

Who was that fiction writer who had a character think (in a novel):  At least no one expects me to wake up and be Corazon Aquino today!

What was that novel about Read the rest of this entry »

Windows: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Sunset, June:  In southern Scotland, that meant 10 p.m.

Sunset, viewed from self’s room at Hawthornden: In southern Scotland, in June, the sun sets at 10 p.m.

These next two photographs are not of windows themselves, but of the available light that comes from windows (Self never uses flash.  Never.  She feels it destroys the mood.)

For those of you who may be wondering where in the hell BACOLOD is, it’s the capital city of Dear Departed Dad’s home province, Negros Occidental.  “Negros” is no typo.  The Spanish gave the island of “Negros” (There are two halves:  Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Perhaps self will leave further explanations to Wikipedia?) its name because the natives were purportedly so ehem dark!

Self took this picture in an old house in either Silay or Talisay, near Bacolod.

Self took this picture in an old house in either Silay or Talisay, near Bacolod. Was this the Lacson house? Possibly.

The kitchen of the Balay ni Tana Dicang in Talisay (It's owned by the Lizares clan)

The kitchen of the Balay ni Tana Dicang in Talisay (It’s owned by the Lizares clan)  Only a short jeepney ride from Bacolod.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

1st Friday of the Month: Talisay

The Reclining Christ in the Talisay cathedral had people lining up to touch His feet:  There's a small opening in the glass case for people to reach their hands through.

The Reclining Christ in the Talisay cathedral had people lining up to touch His feet: There’s a small opening in the glass case for people to reach their hands through.

The church in Talisay is very beautiful:  it was built by the Recollects, who arrived in the Islands in 1606.

The church in Talisay is very beautiful: it was built by the Recollects, who arrived in the Islands in 1606.

After visiting the Church, self went to the market.  The ukay-ukay here is tremendous.  She bought three tailored cotton shirts for a grand total of 75 pesos (just under $2).  She tried them on:  perfect fit!  Then she took the jeep back to Bacolod (Only one transfer:  each leg was 8 pesos, for a total of 16 pesos, about 35 US cents).  If only self had had the courage to take pictures while riding in the jeepney!  Incredible:  more and more people kept coming in, and self was squashed right between two schoolboys.  She was balancing her stash of five shirts from the hukay-hukay, and 1 kilo of lanzones (2.2 lbs, and she probably overpaid, judging from the way the lanzones vendor broke out into a big, toothless smile when self handed over her payment.  But the lanzones were huge, and very sweet.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea 2

What kind of emotions does the sea or ocean make you feel?  Do you remember the first time you went in the water?

– The Daily Post Photo Challenge Prompt for the Week

*    *     *     *

When self posted her first set of pictures on the theme of “Sea,” she forgot to address what emotions she felt while at the shore.  Because for sure she felt many intense emotions — the sea always conjures them.

She explained to someone who left a comment on her first “Sea” post that the archipelago she referred to in the post was the Philippines, which is said to have 7,100 islands.

The sea or the idea of it permeates all of self’s writings.  For instance, here’s an excerpt from her “Don Alfredo & Jose Rizal,” which she first began to write almost 10 years ago, and which Sou’wester published in 2007:

George Dewey.  I would always think of him in connection with the man who had invented the Dewey decimal system, but this was not that man.  This Dewey was an Admiral, an adventurer with dreams of empire, who entered Manila Bay on 1898 on a great American battleship, guns pointing at the crumbling embankment of Manila’s old city, Intramuros.

I suddenly pictured the blue water of the bay, the panic of the few Spanish soldiers watching on the gray stone battlements.

The residents of the city would be sleeping, peaceful.  Their breath rising in stagnant clouds over their heads as they slept beneath the mosquito nets draped over their mahogany four-posters.  The dogs would be sniffing in the lanes, the pigs rooting in the backyards.  Roosters would be crowing from various parts of the slumbering city.

Six o’clock in the morning but already the day would be hot, the sun’s heat falling like shards on the still-empty streets.

And now, back to the WordPress Photo Challenge.

A private piece of the wonder that is the island of Siquijor

A private piece of the wonder that is the island of Siquijor

Self has said it before, and she'll say it again now:  Nothing is as beautiful as a Philippine sea.

Self has said it before, and she’ll say it again now: Nothing is as beautiful as a Philippine sea.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Singing, Merrymaking and Sociability Among the Early Filipinos

Filipinos have this reputation of being the entertainers of Asia.

You know this is true.

Go into any bar in Bangkok or Tokyo.  So many times, the band will consist of Filipino musicians and singers.

Now, self is reading Alcina’s Historia de las Islas Filipinas.  She found the book in Green Library at Stanford and spent an afternoon taking notes and photocopying batches.  Alcina talks mostly about the Bisayan people (the central islands of the Philippines are known as the Visayas).  Here is what he says:

“To put it briefly, seldom will these Bisayan natives be found not singing, unless they are sick or sleeping.”  During feasts, they sing and dance “unto exhaustion.  In all their activities they call upon one another and invite one another . . . “

Comparing the Filipinos’ style of singing with that of the Europeans, Alcina noted that “ours sing according to artistic principles and are well-practiced with moving melodies, whereas the natives sing spontaneously and in such manner that their style of singing is not offensive to the ear.”  Alcina notes that the Filipinos “melodies seem to be out of pitch or tune, as far as our ears are concerned, and somewhat more harsh than gentle (more crude than refined).  We can see the same among the Chinese today, from whom, perhaps, these natives learned the mode of their songs . . . “

Alcina describes a native instrument which he calls the kuriapi.  It is similar (as far as self can guess, from Alcina’s descriptions) to a banjo, with only two strings, the back consisting of “an empty coconut shell.”  Alcina writes:  “Many are attracted to listen when somebody plays it (this takes place in the evening, since during the day it is difficult to hear) so much so that the houses become quickly crowded, both inside and outside.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library # 27: Son’s Room, Part 8

Now, to resume the Humongous Book Counting Project:

898 + 63 = 961 Total Books Counted Thus Far

On this shelf in the bookcase in son’s room, a few selected titles:   A Pocket for Corduroy, by Don Freeman;  Dune, by Frank Herbert (Hardcover);  Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown;  Bandila:  The Story of the Philippine Flag, by Merci Melchor;  Dandelion, by Don Freeman;  Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, by Rudyard Kipling (A GREAT children’s book:  self read it to son at least a dozen times.  She is reminded that lately, when she turns over rocks in her garden, she finds, coiled underneath, brown scaly snakes, looking up at her with still, unblinking eyes.  The other day, she decided to give one such nest a poke, and then they uncoiled and thrashed, and —  really, self didn’t know whether to run away and scream or what);  Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, by Verna Aardema (“One morning a mosquito saw an iguana drinking at a waterhole.  The mosquito said, ‘Iguana, you will never believe what I saw yesterday.’  ‘Try me,’ said the iguana.  The mosquito said, ‘I saw a farmer digging yams that were almost as big as I am.’ ” For dear blog readers’ information, son ended up being really really good at chemistry and math, and as far as she knows has never looked at these children’s books after the age of 10 or so); and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

Stay tuned.

Save the Date: Saturday Feb. 2, 2 p.m. at Berkeley Central Library, Staged Reading of Filipino World War II Novel

Saturday, Feb. 2, 2 p.m. at Berkeley Central Library, Community Meeting Room, 3rd Floor, 2090 Kittredge Street, Berkeley

A Staged Reading of In Her Mother’s Image, a World War II novel by C. Gaerlan

From the press release:

This is the story of an estranged mother and daughter set mostly during World War II Philippines.  The war is seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old child, Chiquita, who bears witness to an act of betrayal committed by her formidable mother, Consuelo.  The emotional toll of the war is palpable even after the passage of 30 years, when Chiquita returns to the land of her birth.

Admission is FREE.

In Her Mother’s Image is part of the Bataan Legacy Project, whose aim is to spread the true story of Bataan and the sacrifices of the Bataan/ Corregidor defenders as well as the entire Filipino nation.

Stay tuned.

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