Novel-In-Progress: FARM, MOUNTAIN, SEA, Ch. 1

Self’s novel is set on the island of Negros, in the central Philippines, at the start of the Japanese Occupation during World War II. Honorato, an hacendero‘s son, and Moses, the enkargado, are ordered to the mountains by Honorato’s father.

Self is bringing it, people. Just bringing it. Right now, her manuscript stands at 247 pages.

The next day the forest rears up before them, indescribably dense. It takes them a mere hour to reach the first line of trees. Upon entering, they find themselves under a thick canopy of foliage, the light fading to a cathedral dimness. Birds and an occasional monkey frolic overhead.

Moses leads the way, hacking the heavy vines and tree branches that block their path. Soon, his back is soaked with sweat. Honorato watches silently as the enkargado removes his shirt. The older man’s back is ribbed and corded and hard-looking, with small scars pocking the surface, from what past injury Honorato can only guess.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Re-reading Robert E. Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power

An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings. — Robert Greene


Plus, from one of her old journals:

  • Today I had a massage . . . lol

Written, of course, in Bacolod. In Bacolod, self was always so mellow. She was never angry. A one-hour massage averaged 500 pesos, about $9. She had daily massage, over there. Heck, she could even have had two massages daily, if she felt like it. All the masahistas had strong, unerring hands. They seemed to know by instinct. Only once did self ever have a bad message in Bacolod: the woman just moved her hands skimmingly over the skin, didn’t really knead it. Ugh, self felt she’d spent a full hour just being tickled.

One night, during a massage, self kept hearing the distant, popping sounds of what she thought were gunshots. It made her so uneasy. The masahista said it was Firecrackers. Oh, it was New Year’s Eve? It had completely slipped self’s mind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Opening Page, an Old Manuscript (244 pp) About World War II in Bacolod

It was mid-April. Honorato was sent to the mountains. He had just turned 18.

His parents worried because he was tall, because he was good-looking, because he was the eldest and bore his family’s hopes on his slender shoulders. So, hide, his father told him. Get as far away from here as you can.

How long must I stay in the mountains, Honorato asked.

As long as the Hapon are here, his father said. And don’t try to come back, not until the war is over. We will get word to you, somehow.

It was still dark when the enkargado knocked softly on the door of Honorato’s room. “‘Toto,” he called softly. “Time to get up.”

 

Still On P. 27 of THE DOOR

  • All the time, my stepfather was shaking and swearing, because call-up letters were flying around like birds.

This evening self suddenly thinks about her World War II novel (244 pages) and realizes it has no heart. The only thing it describes is how an 18-year-old is sent into the mountains with the enkargado.

When Bacolod was occupied, self’s Dear Departed Dad was 12. The Japanese High Command chose the biggest house in Bacolod to commandeer. Which at the time was Dear Departed Dad’s family’s house.

It had a winding staircase made of imported Carrara marble! With a working Otis elevator! Of course the occupiers must have marveled about how that house had come to be, in such a small island in the center of the Philippines.

Must have been pretty tense, right? When self knew her grandfather, he was an old man in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. He was always that way, always a sublime paralytic in her memory. It wasn’t until six years ago that self learned that her grandfather suffered the stroke during the Occupation.

There’s a war story self’s Dear Departed Dad told her about how, one day, everyone in Bacolod was made to line up around the Plaza. There was a prisoner seated in the middle of the Plaza and he was beaten pretty badly. The guards wanted him to point out his accomplices. Right when two of my father’s uncles passed in front of the prisoner, his guards gave him a particularly vicious beating. And his arm came up and he pointed, without thought. And he was pointing at one of my father’s uncles. Who was immediately taken away and never seen again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Needs To Have the Letters ‘O’ and ‘U’ in the Word

Another great Fun Foto Challenge from Cee Neuner: Needs to have the letters O and U in the word.

Self’s word is SOUP. Specifically, a delicious Philippine soup that originates in the central Philippine islands of the Visayas:

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BATCHOY: Super Special Bowl of Heaven

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Nostalgia: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 30 September 2016

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is NOSTALGIA:

  • What kinds of experiences stir emotions for the past within you?

The Philippines, specifically Bacolod City, where her father grew up, is the locus of all of self’s nostalgia. And of course, Dearest Mum, who met self’s Dear Departed Dad when she was a young pianist in New York City, and Dear Departed Dad was in Georgetown Law School.

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The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Negros Occidental: The Philippines. Self’s grandfather built this house, at the time the tallest structure in Bacolod City. Self’s father was born in this house.

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Dearest Mum, in Her Early 30s

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Bacolod City, Negros Occidental: June 2012

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still More Edges: Harvesting Sugarcane, Negros Occidental (Home/the Philippines)

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Edge of Family’s Fields: Negros Occidental, the Philippines

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Path cleared for a tractor.

And one more:

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Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental

Check out a few more WordPress bloggers who posted on EDGE:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

More Edges: The Daily Post Photo Challenge

Give me a wide-open landscape, and I feel unmoored (and my iPhone camera, inadequate). Throw in some demarcating line between me and what I see, and things start to fall into place.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

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Front Courtyard, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

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Returning to Bacolod on the Ferry From Iloilo, in the central Philippines

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Night descends on a Philippine Sea.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SWIMMING STUDIES: About Pools

Maybe because self is reading Swimming Studies, she starts looking up information on Land’s End and the Sutro Baths.

The magnate who developed Sutro Baths was named Sutro (Duh, but of course!).

Sutro Baths was the centerpiece of a resort bordering the Pacific. San Franciscans could get there by paying 5 cents for a trolley ride.

In a way, self understands what Sutro was aiming for, because her very own grandfather built a resort, right in the middle of sugar cane fields in Barangay Granada in Negros Occidental in the Philippines.

Self’s grandfather, like Sutro, was a populist. The most loyal patrons of Santa Fe Resort are workers. The entrance fee is still ridiculously low because self’s family understands the demographic: the patrons come from the surrounding fields, workers wanting a break. It was called Santa Fe because her grandfather loved American westerns. In addition, he had a huge crush on the American swimmer/film star Esther Williams, so there’s a statue of her in Santa Fe, in Barangay Granada.

Self’s grandfather built an Olympic-size pool which remains a major draw to this day: It was the first, and possibly still the only, Olympic-size pool in the Philippines.

Who does that? Who has such a crush on Esther Williams that he builds an Olympic-size pool in the middle of an island. Not only in the middle of an island, in the middle of sugar cane fields.

When journalists come to write about self’s island, they never mention Santa Fe Resort. It’s such an eccentric thing, the location. The fact is, it’s nowhere near a beach. Consequently, there is no tourist traffic. There are no Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, American or Europeans. In Santa Fe Resort, you will encounter Filipinos. Just Filipinos.

It is a resort built by a man who only got a high school education. A resort for the people who live within a few kilometers, who are from that place.

Self spent every summer of her childhood there.

Sometimes she wonders if those summers were the reason she is a writer now. Because, her grandfather showed her: you can do anything, if you use your imagination.

It is a terrible thing is to have no imagination, to have your dreams stay small.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Look Up 5: Nando’s Flame-Grilled Chicken, Calgary

Really love The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week: LOOK UP.

It’s all about “taking a moment to check out what’s above you.”

Last night, self’s cousins took her to a restaurant called Nando’s, in NE Calgary. It’s famous for its chicken inasal (barbecue). And she has to say: this is the best chicken inasal she’s ever tasted outside of Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, Dear Departed Dad’s hometown.

The owner is, interestingly enough, not Filipino. She thinks her cousins said the owner is from Australia.

One wall is entirely covered with little squares, each one telling a kind of story. She wouldn’t have bothered focusing on the squares if she hadn’t been thinking of LOOK UP:

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Nando’s, in Northeast Calgary: Barbecue Chicken Almost as Good as Bacolod’s Inasal.

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Those tiles do tell a fascinating story. Wouldn’t you agree, dear blog readers?

Stay tuned.

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