Wenceslao: Junked books

Candid thoughts

MY PROBLEM with reading is writing. The writing bug bit me when I was in high school and it has since affected my reading effort. Like many other writer wannabes, I dream of churning out the best novel ever published. So when I read a few paragraphs of novels, I would end up thinking I could write as well as their authors. Then I fantasize, and lose the appetite to continue reading altogether.

The first and only book I have written, though, is not a novel. It is a book about Tudela, the hometown of my father in the Camotes group of islands. Years ago, a friend from the University of San Carlos (USC) called me and told me about the history book project of the Cebu Provincial Capitol that USC was commissioned to produce. And could I write for them?

I was initially told to choose the place that I would write about. I chose Ronda, the hometown of my wife, because it is in the mainland and would be easy to visit during the research phase of the writing process. My friend agreed, but it turned out she couldn’t convince the others involved in the project about it. I was told to write the history of Tudela instead.

On hindsight, it was a good decision. Years before that, I did a special report published by The Freeman newspaper on the anthropological study conducted by four University of the Philippines professors in Poro, the town other than Tudela that occupies the island also called Poro in Camotes.

The study was prompted by the claim made earlier by some Porohanons that the clash between the natives led by Lapulapu and the Spanish explorers led by the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 happened not in Mactan Island but on the shores of Barangay Maktang in Poro town.

That special report proved helpful because Tudela, as a village called Tag-anito, was once part of Poro. The study thus gave me an understanding of the peopling of Camotes and the natives’ interaction with outsiders. But that was only for starters because the bigger chunk of the task was to go to Tudela. It also helped that USC provided us with other important materials.

There were almost as many writers commissioned for the job as there are towns and component cities in the province. But then governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who initiated the project with the help of then vice governor Agnes Magpale, was determined to see the project through. Thus, funding the project was not much of a problem.

If I remember it right, it took us more than a couple of years to finish the writing and editing phase. In that span of time, Capitol’s political setup also changed. Garcia became a member of the House of Representatives representing the third district. Hilario Davide III took over as governor. But with Magpale still the vice governor, the history writing project reached the publishing phase.

One would think that government would take good care of the product of a project of such magnitude. Or who would have thought that the printed materials would end up in a junk shop years later? (to be continued)


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