Perils of Travel, 1581

A royal decree dated 12 May 1579 ordered the construction of a church in Manila, the first ever church in the Philippines (to be followed by dozens). The governor general in Manila “raised the money from the natives.” (La Casa de Dios, the Legacy of Hispanic Churches in the Philippines, by Fr. Rene B. Javellana, S.J.)

Wait, what? So the natives paid for the church? And all the subsequent dozens of churches around the Philippines? But weren’t they — poor? Not to mention, they weren’t even Catholic?

The first Bishop of Manila, Domingo Salazar, arrived in the Philippines over two years later, in September 1581. When Salazar’s ship set out from Spain, it had carried 30 Dominicans and members of the secular clergy. By the time his ship landed, on the coast of Bicol, 29 of the Dominicans had died, mostly from disease.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More Writing in a Pandemic

Further in self’s novel about the World War II occupation of the city of Bacolod in the central Philippines (72k words so far):

Don Geronimo entered Honorato’s room just as his eldest son was about to get dressed. It was eight o’clock.

“The Japanese are here,” he said.

Honorato said nothing.

There was a group of them, some in uniform, some in civilian clothing. They had told Don Geronimo they were there to put the Daku Balay under the protection of the Imperial Japanese Army. “We are forbidden to leave the premises without permission. Go through the kitchen. Moses is waiting for you by the side gate.”

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The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Bacolod City: It was used by the Japanese High Command during World War II. Self’s grandfather sent her uncle to the mountains. Her father, only 12 at the time, stayed home.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Writing In a Pandemic: Self’s Other Novel

So far, 299 pages, set on the island of Negros in the central Philippines, in the opening months of World War II. Self has not looked at it in almost two years. She’s been devoting most of her time to her 16th century novel, Camarote de Marinero:

In mid-April, Honorato was sent to the mountains.  He had just turned 18.  Don Geronimo worried because he was tall, because he was good-looking, because he was the eldest and bore the hopes of his parents on his slender shoulders.  Hide, his father told him.  Get as far away from here as you can.

The boy, Honorato, spends the war wandering in the mountains with his Dad’s enkargado, Moses. Moses has a bolo and a 32 Colt. Honorato can’t even shoot. But he learns a lot. (Meanwhile, self, who hasn’t shot a gun in her entire life, has to do internet research on the mechanics of a 32 Colt. So she’s learning just as much as Honorato)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

#amwriting of First Contact

Cortez had just conquered the Aztecs, and their ancient cities were filled with gold.

The Spanish thought there was gold in the Philippines, too.

First sight of the Philippines by the Spanish:

  • Limasawa has the shape of a finger thrust into the ocean; its topography is generally flat. Butuan is much larger, a ring of beach surrounding a mountain wreathed in clouds, whose topmost peaks flash in fading evening light, flash like prince’s metal.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Am Here: ROSEBUD Issue 67 (Spring 2020)

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Felipe II is one hell of a sexy guy, just sayin’. From The Vanishing:

Spanish ambitions took root and flowered in a dream born as a whisper in the ear of a friend of a friend of a friend: Francisco Serrao, Portuguese, who wrote to the Crown from the Moluccas, his words both ardent and teasing.

Part of self’s “Voyager” series of short stories.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

From A History of Negros, by Fr. Angel Martinez Cuesta, Recollect

Chapter II: Discovery and Early Colonization (1565 – 1600)

Captain Martin de Goiti and one-hundred Spanish soldiers arrived in Negros because they had been told by other natives that “rice abounded” on the island:

However, they found the towns deserted and with hardly any provisions since the natives had fled to the hills … They stayed in Tanjay, meaning to make friends …

They found another abandoned town … the Spanish went there and found the natives ready to fight. A skirmish occurred and a native was killed and another captured while three Spaniards were wounded. The inhabitants took advantage of the fight to cross a river and escape. In the meantime, the Spaniards would not cross the river.

 

World War II Memoirs, Hoover Archives

When Stanford libraries were still open, self used to go there just to read. Her favorite thing was to read World War II memoirs. There were also transcripts from the war trials conducted by the Americans in Los Baños. These memoirs are all in the bowels of Hoover Archives. She once bumped into the writer Karen Tei Yamashita there! We were surprised, to say the least. She was leaving the archives and self was just entering.

General Yamashita was tried, convicted, and hung within three days. Self remembers reading that his young American lawyer was very green and CRIED when the verdict was announced. He apologized to Yamashita for not defending him better. The lawyer attended the hanging, as a sign of respect. That must have been hard.

Self did photocopy a handful of memoirs, from the single copy machine in the Hoover Archive reading room. She stashed them in her closet and had so many adventures, so many travels, that she did not read them again until today.

First memoir: “Sometimes it seems that you just can’t be doing the things that you find yourself continuing to do.”

This from a memoir written by the wife of an American mine executive. Her husband chose to stay with the mine, but he sent his wife away, and she caught passage on a boat headed up the Agusan River, a boat packed with fleeing Filipino families. Never once does she bring up the fear and sadness she must have felt at leaving her husband. But she describes seeing the dawn break, day after day after day, so her insomnia must have been terrible. “Someone else made the coffee . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Henry Kamen, in his Preface to Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492 – 1763

Self has had this book for a very long time. Probably she bought it when she first started wanting to write about the early Spanish explorers: Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Juan de Salcedo.

She didn’t even think to look up the author’s biography until now: She is absolutely shocked to read: Henry Kamen is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London . . .

From the Preface:

This book was born, in a way, on the battlefield of St. Quentin, a small French town close to the border with Belgium, where in the year 1557 the king of Spain, Philip II, scored a notable victory over the army of the King of France.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Still More Letters from the Governor General to His Royal Catholic etc. Majesty Philip II

I have located the site of Fray Escay’s old mission. It was on the southern tip of Isla del Fuego, where a wide river (which the natives inform me, though I do not know whether to believe them, is called the No-Name River) empties into the Philippine Sea. None of the structures remain, except for a ruined tower which seems to have been in recent use.

Over 100k Words, Keep Going

Added a new letter from the Governor General to Philip II (after whom the Philippines was named). Self’s main narrative is stuffed with about two dozen of the most circumlocutious letters!

To His Sacred Catholic Royal Majesty:

The Moros begin their yearly raids. They always coincide with the end of the monsoon.

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