As more and more Spaniards began settling in the Philippines after its discovery by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521—and remained there for more than three hundred years—their religion, language, cuisine, and societal mores held sway over most of the population. After the Philippine revolution which temporarily ended foreign rule, a large community of Spaniards remained in the country. They possessed the same air of entitlement and code of conduct they’d adopted when first colonizing the island archipelago.
In my novel, Mayon, Spaniard Ignacio Saenz struggles to reconcile ancient prejudices with the twentieth century. His misguided decisions threaten to destroy the people who have enriched his life in one form or another. John Buchanan, a former Marine, finds himself in a unique situation he’s never anticipated. Gregorio Delgado, Ignacio’s love child, has insecurities that are bone-deep. John’s unexpected arrival shakes the very foundation of the Saenz family as one revelation leads to another. Will John’s moral compass be strong enough to steer Gregorio—and the rest of the family—through the tempestuous climate created by Ignacio’s deceit?
This family drama is set amidst exotic rain forests, black sand beaches, lush coconut plantations, and a beautiful, albeit dangerous, volcano in the background. Here’s a brief excerpt and a pictorial of the region. Photo credit goes to Trip Advisor.
The quest to collect rock samples off the lower portion of the volcano turned out to be far more difficult than John had anticipated. They were impeded by thick, sharp-bladed grasses, which Greg called talahib, and deep-green coconut forests skirting the base of the mountain. When they finally broke through after a four-hour trek, the rocky terrain was impossible to climb without the right equipment. Greg’s sandals were no match for steep slopes composed of hardened volcanic ash and lava. Even John’s boots weren’t properly spiked, and he realized, after slipping the third time, that their foolhardy junket would have to be scrapped.
Slumping down on the nearest boulder, he looked up at the perfect cone. There was a crown of steam near the crater’s edge, and the blackish-red ravines near the summit looked forbidding and dangerous. He knew that eventually, with proper planning and the right equipment, he’d come back and make another attempt to get to the edge of the openmouthed crater, but right then, he was simply going to have to sit and gawk.
“Have you heard about the legends of Mount Mayon?” Greg asked, resting at John’s feet and leaning against his legs.
“There are several, but I prefer one of the versions about the two lovers.”
John looked down at Greg’s upturned face and smiled. “Tell me,” he said encouragingly.
“There once lived a very beautiful princess named Daragang Magayon. Magayon means beautiful in our dialect,” Greg clarified. “Because of her beauty and influence, men from every corner of the land came to court her. She fell in love with a young warrior named Handiong, who was from a rival tribe. The couple suffered from their family’s interference, so they decided to run away. Unfortunately, they were found out, and a bloody war ensued. This caused the young couple too much pain, and they ended up committing suicide. The tribes buried the lovers separately, and after many months, a volcano began to grow on top of Magayon’s grave. The people named it Bulkang Magayon after the young princess.”
“Very romantic,” John said in wry amusement. Pulling out his pack of cigarettes, he lit one and offered it to Greg. “You want one?”
“Sure.” Greg nodded, reaching for the Marlboro. Their fingers brushed, and John felt an undercurrent of desire pass between them.
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