Friday, July 27, 2012

July 2012

It's been an exciting month. After a lonely year and a half of writing, I published "The Yellow Bar" for the first time on Amazon Kindle on July 7. Since then, I've sold about one book a day. This is to be expected, as I have done hardly any marketing for the Yellow Bar, save for my family and friends. It's like I've thrown a tiny grain of sand upon a sand castle. How to get this book noticed? I plan to whip up this blog into something interesting (the Pacific War in the Philippines) and perhaps some essays on being a writer. I would really like to link up with other writers, especially ones in the Filipino community. (Send me a message if you're interested.)

I will avoid is spamming everyone, although my primitive ego wants to do just that.

Also I am happy to announce that The Yellow Bar was published on Smashwords a few days ago. If all goes well, The Yellow Bar will soon be sold on Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and other outlets in the next few weeks.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Memorare Manila

In the heart of old city of Manila, Intramuros, you will find this memorial to Manila's World War Two civilian war dead. It's quite a contrast to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, with its stately placed rows of white crosses and manicured lawns.

The Memorare Memorial was only unveiled in 1995, some 40 years after the war. It was created by artist sculptor Peter Guzman. It is an emotional tableaux you will see-  a modern-day pieta actually. I have been there several times. It sits in a small, quiet garden. Some days there are small bouquets of flowers placed lovingly on the figures by people unknown.

These are the photos I took during my last trip to Manila in December 2012. Read it and weep.

Click to see larger image.

Sites In The Book: Manila Central Post Office

"Little puffs of smoke danced on the neoclassical facade."

One of the most beautiful buildings that survived World War Two is the Manila Central Post Office. Built in the 1920s by Juan M. Arellano, the building resembles the grand post offices found in Chicago and New York. This is not an accident, as the Americans wanted Manila to reflect their own image. 

The photo you see here was taken just after the battle and it was basically just a burnt out shell, but was still standing. Amazingly, other government buildings still stood after the battle. The reason for this is because they were built with the strongest materials available, to be earthquake proof. (Reinforced concrete is as hard as stone.) This would prove to be a big problem for the American GIs when they were trying to flush out the Japanese fighters hidden inside.

Soon after the war, the Post Office was restored and up until this posting in 2012, still goes about the daily routine of delivering the mail. Recently however, there has been talk of converting this icon into a 5 star hotel. I do not like this idea because it would limit access to the public. Only the elite would be able to walk its halls. A cultural icon such this deserves better treatment. If the Manila Central Post Office is now redundant, wouldn't it make better sense to convert it into a museum? Perhaps a museum dedicated to the Battle of Manila?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sites in the Book: Neilson Field

"It was Neilson Field that made my family rich."
The area where the Reynaldos lived outside of Manila is called Makati. It has had many different spellings over the years, and the meaning of the word is still debated until this day. (I tend to believe the Spanish version which translates roughly into: hot mosquito plagued swamp.) For hundreds of years, not many people choose to live there, other than farmers.

Things started to change when Neilson Field, Manila's first private airport, was built there in the  1937. Suddenly, elite "high flyers" were landing in Makati from all over the parts of the Philippine archipelago, Asia and the rest of the world. However, this all ended in 1941 with the invasion of the Japanese. Neilson was turned into a Japanese military installation. Towards the end of the war, kamikaze pilots would launch from here. This post-war photo shows what it looked like. Notice the wrecked Japanese planes. (Click the photo to see a larger version.) The building inside the red circle is the control tower and terminal. It survives unto this day.

This is what the Makati area looked like in 2011. Big difference, huh? Neilson Field did not last long after the war. Manila was practically destroyed and many people, especially the rich ones, decided to homestead in Makati where it was prettier and safer. The original runways became the main boulevards of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue. It is now the most expensive real estate in the Philippines. The control tower and terminal still stand in a small park at the intersections and are used as a museum today. (Click on the photo to see the tiny building inside the red circle.)