Sharing a couple of excerpts from my first historical fiction novel…It is abundantly about Filipino martial arts (FMA) on the surface, and the first contact with Spanish conquistadors, but it is also about the resilience of an ancient people that derived wisdom from a keen understanding of their environment and each other, and a healthy respect for the spirits of the natural world.
Nearly eight years in the making, I will keep you posted when the novel finally comes out. Aiming to get it out there by October 2014 for Filipino American History Month. I look forward to your feedback.
Copyright © 2011 by Russell B. Vergara WGA Intellectual Property Registry #1508807
Bagitong-a-wigwigan paused for a second to allow Aponidaydayawen to react. But what the messenger did not know is that Aponidaydayawen already knew what was to be asked of him, thanks to bimmake loyal to him who knew those close to the elders. From the hundreds of clans among the Ifugao there were probably over seven hundred bimmake already in service, and another one hundred in training. Aponidaydayawen expected to hear what he heard. He knew the elders well; he had served them for years, and understood the decision-making conventions they often used. When caught in a difficult situation, they reliably favored a course of action that saved face. Aponidaydayawen knew that the elders would avoid the possibility of a showdown with him and his bimmake by demoting him. He played along to protect his sources.
“May I go on, my lord?”
“Please, messenger. Go on.”
“The elders see a need to punish you, and ensure balance: make sure everyone who is watching knows not to disobey the elders, and that there are consequences if one does. Your punishment is to be stripped of your title as mangipangpangulo of the clan’s bimmake.”
Bagitong-a-wigwigan paused once more to soften the other blow yet to come. He searched for a reaction in Aponidaydayawen’s face; there was none.
“May I go on, my lord?”
“The eight bimmake most loyal to you are stripped of their bimmake status, as well. You are all forbidden to leave the village and to engage in any village affair. If you must leave, even for personal errands, it needs to be done under specific permission from the elders…I know this is difficult to hear, my lord. I am simply the messenger.”
“I understand, Bagitong-a-wigwigan. Is that the end of the message?”
With his open right palm down, the messenger cut the air before his face to signify that he had reached the end of his prepared message.
“I am so tired, manong. And I’m glad you are here,” Bugan responded.” Our brothers have been my strength this whole time … but we still look to you since you are our eldest brother. We need you. – When will you finally settle home?”
Aponidaydayawen felt the sting of guilt. He could not respond immediately as a good answer eluded him.
“I do not know. Our clan continues to need me and my men, and I don’t know when our duty will be over.”
“You’ve said that so many times, manong, but you always manage to find another mission. It’s not just us who need you – so do your wife and your young son. They are managing without you but is that the life you want for them – a life without you?” Bugan asked.
“I’m fulfilling my sworn responsibility …” Aponidaydayawen responded.
“No, manong, you are making a choice,” Bugan replied. “And you continually choose your duty over family.”
“I am a bimmake.”
“You are a selfish dreamer!” Bugan shouted, her grief and anger in full bloom. “And like every other dreamer, you hurt the people who love you most! … We carry the weight of the world with you, and daily live up to your unrealistic and unfair sense of responsibility for others, whether we like it or not … What have others done for us? We have our own problems to solve. Why not let others do the same with their own problems? Worry about their own? Fight for their own? Advocate for their own?”
“Because they cannot!” replied Aponidaydayawen, upset. “Not every one has the same fighting spirit as you and our younger brothers. There are many of our people who need to borrow the strength of others, who depend on the might of others. These are the people whom I have sworn to serve … and I cannot turn my back to them. They are not as fortunate as you. You, our brothers, mother – you may not see me as much as you would like, but you do not need me to survive, to live a quality life. You have everything you need.”
“… Except you, manong. You have given yourself to others and you continue to choose them over your own family,” Bugan said. “I do not fault you, manong because I know you do not know how to live a different life; you get hopelessly lost when you try. I know living your life the way you do is how father raised you — a conscientious member of our clan. I just want you to appreciate the sacrifices we are making because you have chosen this path. I feel badly for your wife and son, the most. They need you more than you think…And this is what I believe…Many of us largely misunderstand the community. Some view it as a child who waits to be served, who needs to be coddled. Others view it as a parent who is inflexible and to be feared, who must be followed at all times. Not many view it as an adult, who competently blazes her place in the world, who has her own vision of how the world ought to be, and who strives to do her best in living a life that is honorable and right…The community does not need you, brother. It is stronger and more resilient than you think.”