Friday, November 23, 2012

The Yellow Bar is based on a true story

The Yellow Bar is a work of fiction, but the main story line is based upon true stories my father in-law, Felipe Reynaldo, told me in the 1980s about how he and his family survived World War 2.

Here's the true part:

Felipe's family had the biggest house in Culi-Culi due to the successful notions and home goods store that they had. During the World War Two occupation, the Reynaldo's were kicked out of their home and forced to become servants in their own house for the Japanese pilots. As the war years went on, these pilots would become kamakazi. Felipe (Pepot) was just a child at the time. He told me how the pilots lived, celebrated, and ultimately went to their deaths.

After the horrific Battle of Manila and the return of the Americans, a relative began selling homemade booze (lombanog) to the American GIs and the Yellow Bar was born. The bar ended up being the most popular bar for visiting servicemen in Manila for over 30 years. (The stories he told me about the Americans at the Yellow Bar after the war could make up of book of its own, and may be my sequal one day.) By the time I met and married my wife, Leonor, in the 1980s, the Yellow Bar was long closed and had been converted into the local wet market, but it's art deco entrance still remained– loose chickens, cats and dogs dodged in and out its door. It was intriguing. It deserved a story.

I decided to approach the novel though 10 year old Pepot's eyes- a simple story of how a family survives World War Two. Although it is set in 1940s Philippines, I didn't want it to be an exotic travelog about the wonders of that island nation. (Let a future James Michener write that.) No, it needed to be easy to relate to. Therefore you will find very few Tagalog words and references to quaint social customs, such as balut. The Reynaldo's story could have happened anywhere, to any family.


  1. Hello,
    I was googling for photos of old houses circa 1930-1940 when I happened upon your blogspot. Is this book published and for sale? I just created a Historical Society Intl for my hometown Gen. Santos City, Philippines. We are in the process of creating a book to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Gen. Paulino Santos on the shores of my hometown. He was the Manager of what was then known as National Land Settlement Administration that was responsible for the creation of the settlement which later was named after him. Great blog! Would love to buy a copy of the book.

  2. Hi Prima. Thank you for the nice comments. Yes, you can buy the Yellow Bar on Amazon and the other main book dealers. A printed edition is available on Amazon only. Your project sounds interesting. I just read about Gen Santos City on Wiki. The story of the settlers in 1939 would be a great basis for an historical novel.