Another Novel-in-Progress, Found

This one takes place in the Philippines during World War II.

The working title is Farm and Mountain:

Four days later, the enkargado took Honorato to the mountains.

It was almost too late. From across the narrow strait separating them from the neighboring island of Panay, smoke had been rising, for days. The Zeros had made straight for the fuel depots in Iloilo.

243 pp.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Early Draft: Matias, 1746

Self found an old chapter of her novel-in-progress (which is right now 310 pages; it used to be 323 pages)

This chapter is titled “Education, 1746” and begins:

The Bishop schooled Matias carefully. He gave Matias instruction on the governance of the Islands, and the manner in which the archipelago had come under the tutelage of Spain.

And then the history of the Islands unfolds, from Magellan’s voyage to the succeeding century, and all is told in dialogue.

“I must rest,” the Bishop said. “We shall continue on this topic tomorrow.”

Matias returned to his room and lay, restless and wakeful, far into the night.

Self loves, loves, loves these early drafts. That is fine writing, even if it was done by herself (lol). There is almost no backstory. Matias, the young priest, is being schooled by the Bishop. And it is only the two of them, chapter after chapter. There is a garden, and an old house, and birds, and heat, and the Bishop sometimes takes middle-of-the-night walks in just his nightshirt, and Matias catches him, and there’s light from a thin moon. And then nothing.

The parts self added, she doesn’t really like that they spell out so much history. In fact, the only new parts self likes are the parts during the ship voyage from Cadiz to Manila. And the introduction of four soldiers who escort Matias to the island. But these soldiers serve absolutely no plot. They simply take Matias and leave him there, on the beach. Then an old woman emerges from the forest and dances for Matias, and leaves again. And Matias lives in a swamp with another old woman. And finally he meets a half-breed named Diego.

That’s it! There are no big, dramatic scenes. But maybe that’s the story self wanted to write. Maybe that’s the real story: colonization in a hypnotic state, with no drama.

Ugh, writing in long form is truly difficult. She has to get the words down, but those words mean nothing. It’s only after, when she has to carve them into some kind of meaning. She’s not talking about plot, she’s talking about meaning. Her kind of writing is truly writing without a safety net, for she never has a road map.

She has a friend, Caroline (a member of her writers group, and a fine, fine writer herself) who read her short story collection. Last week, Caroline and self met in a café and Caroline told her which stories in the collection could/should be expanded. Caroline is the mother of three young children (all still in grade school) and has just started a graduate program at St. Mary’s, yet she read almost 300 pages of self’s work. That kind of generosity is priceless. These stories are not new, but because of Caroline, self knows which ones she has to try and work on some more.

She hopes she can do all this work in Annaghmakerrig. If she can just. Get. There. Without. Falling. Apart.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pastel Colors

Love Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge!

This week’s challenge is PASTEL COLORS.

It turned out to be surprisingly hard to find photos with predominantly pastel colors!

These flesh-coloured gourd plants were at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers:

DSCN0142

The Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA on self’s birthday in July:

DSCN0018

A bit of nostalgia:

DSCN9987

Map of the Philippines, Son’s Room in Redwood City, California

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.

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.

Saturday Reads: GOING HOME TO A LANDSCAPE

NO SLEEP

by Catalina Cariaga

Moonlight fills our bedroom
through slats of open blinds.
The brightness of ninety-nine horizontal candles
reveals your expectant smile.
Don’t touch my breasts
while I’m reading,
You knew I was a writer
when you married me.

GOINGHOMETOALANDSCAPE

Copies on sale, today only, at the Redwood City Public Library, 1044 Middlefield, Redwood City.

Stay tuned.

“Lamentation” by Veronica Montes: An Excerpt

TNRS6HNH

Cover of Benedicta Takes Wing by Monterey Artist Jean Vengua

The collection is called Benedicta Takes Wing, and you are crazes if you are anywhere near the Redwood City Main Library (1044 Middlefield at Jefferson) and you do not drive straight over on Saturday, 8 Sept, 2:30 p.m., the Fireplace Room, to hear Veronica Montes and fellow writer Lillian Howan read, from their respective books! Crazes!

VeronicaMontes_n

Veronica Montes, author of Benedicta Takes Wing: Stories (Philippine America Literary House, 2017)

Self will excerpt from Lillian’s book, The Charm Buyers, next.

“Lamentation” opens thus:

Her name was like a song: Maria Josefa Gabriela Cariño Silang. I wish I had given it to her.

*     *     *     *

In the province of Ilocos Sur, there is a barrio called Canlogan. It sits in the shadow of a mountain range that rises up like an enormous hand telling you to stop, telling you there is no way to pass. But the mountains are not as impenetrable as they seem; they are sliced through with rivers, each one running swift and strong. This is where my daughter, who I did not name, was born.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Visayan Islands in the Late Sixteenth Century

The inhabitants of the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines were named “Pintados” by the Spanish because their skin was covered with tattoos. The first to describe them was a missionary named Loarca:

The women are extremely lewd, and they even encourage their own daughters to a life of unchastity; so that there is nothing so vile for the latter that they cannot do it before their mothers, since they incur no punishment.

And then the Catholic church came along, and put an end to the Visayan women’s lewd ways.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Bataan Peninsula, 1942

Looking through her bookshelves, self never runs short of reading material.

Reading Face of Empire: United States-Philippine Relations, 1898 – 1946, by Frank Hindman-Golay:

On January 1942, “a quartermaster inventory revealed that food stocked on the peninsula comprised a thirty-day supply of unbalanced rations for one-hundred thousand men . . . This shortfall was serious enough, but it was compounded by the existence of eighty-thousand USAFFE troops and twenty-six thousand civilians on Bataan . . . The success of Japanese arms in the first month of the war left little prospect that USAFFE could be supplied from the outside. On January 5, MacArthur ordered the troops and civilians on Bataan reduced to half-rations. At this rate, the USAFFE stocks would be exhausted in less than two months . . .

“. . .  most critical was the failure to deal with malaria. One medical officer serving on Bataan later estimated that 95 percent of all those on the peninsula during the first quarter of 1942 contracted the disease.

“To prevent the debilitating consequences of this mosquito-carried disease, the entire defense force should have been taking quinine or some substitute drug. But the supply of such drugs on Bataan was so short that they were reserved for the treatment of active cases of malaria. As a result, the rate of infection increased steadily as the disease was transmitted from those already infected.

In late March, General Wainwright “reported to Washington that food on Bataan would last only until April “at one-third ration, poorly balanced and very deficient in vitamins . . . The troops will be starved into submission.”

The Bataan peninsula fell in April 1942. Corregidor was able to hold on one month longer. There were 12,000 people on Corregidor, as opposed to 100,000-plus on the Bataan Peninsula. And when Bataan fell, this is how the people on Corregidor knew it: there was a deathly silence from across the water, instead of the constant sound of artillery barrages. And then smoke began to rise.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

amreading: Filipino short story writer Gilda Cordero-Fernando

from “Hothouse” :

Tia Dolor has been around the world several times, but towns and cities — Nikko and Capri and Copenhagen — all look alike to her: the same buildings, the same churches, the same automobiles. In fact, she is hard put to tell one country from another except from what they sell in the shops. And she has something to bring home for everybody — no one is ever forgotten — her suitcases are cleaned out of everything she has brought home including some that she went away with. And if you expect her somehow to look more chic (a new hairdo, a new suit) you are sorely disappointed: she minces down the ramp wearing the squirrel coat from Hong Kong and her black lizard skin wedgies.

Filipino (Prose) Literature in English, A Few Recommended Titles from the Golden Age:

  • The Distance to Andromeda and Other Stories, by Gregorio C. Brillantes
  • A Season of Grace, by N. V. M. Gonzalez
  • Children of the Ash-Covered Loam and Other Stories, by N. V. M. Gonzalez
  • The Bamboo Dancers, a novel by N. V. M. Gonzalez
  • Now and At the Hour and Other Stories, by Aida L. Rivera
  • Brother, My Brother: Stories, by Bienvenido Santos
  • You Lovely People, by Bienvenido Santos

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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