Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Writing the book, getting ready for our tour

Typhoon Pepeng followed closely on the heels of Typhoon Ondoy, and was rated a much stronger storm. Whereas Ondoy was only at Category 1 as it approached Manila, Pepeng was at 5. Pepeng had much higher winds, which is how the category is determined, but Ondoy contained much more rain. It drenched Metro Manila, the most heavily populated area of Luzon, dropping a record-high quantity in a short time period. It raises the question whether the rating system should be revised to factor in potential rainfall amounts.

Those living on the northeast coast of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, received the brunt of the wind and rain from Pepeng, with resultant landslides leading to more human distress. The night before Pepeng was anticipated to hit Metro Manila, some stores were sold out of candles, D-cell batteries, and canned goods such as tuna and sardines. Much to the relief of all involved in Manila’s recovery operations, Pepeng veered a little more northward just in time.

Here on Corregidor, we were stocked up with enough food for several days, and had shuttered all of our exposed windows, but it turned out that nothing much beyond ordinary occurred, with almost no wind and just a half inch of rain on Friday night, considered the most critical time period. Saturday we received gusty winds and a few downpours from Pepeng’s trailing bands, but added just another half inch of rain.

This is a difficult time of year to report news on Corregidor. Because it’s still rainy season, we don’t see many tourists, and this year September’s numbers were especially low. Corregidor only had around 2,000 visitors, down 1,000 from last year, which was also down from preceding years. Several weekends we saw trips cancelled due to unsafe boating conditions in the bay. It is also understandable for people to adopt a stay-at-home mindset when the weather is wet and windy, so Sun Cruises will sometimes see cancellations on days where storms are not expected but rain is probable.

As for us, we do little exploring or hiking in the jungle because it is just too wet and muddy, and our walks are mostly on the paved or cleared roads. So we sit around a bit more, and read, watch videos on our laptop computers, play cribbage, or work puzzles. Steve is especially fond of Sudokus, to which Marcia says, “No thanks!” She much prefers different types of word puzzles to logic-based ones.

We have also been spending a lot of time editing and revising Steve’s book about his Dad. We are being very thorough, trying to find every spelling error, and footnoting the manuscript extensively. If you’ve never done anything like this before, believe us, it’s a lot harder than it seems.

We both recently read The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Its editing is impeccable, which you would expect both from Lewis himself and the fact that there have been decades to find and correct any problems. Afterward, we both read C. S. Lewis and Narnia for Dummies. Although the content is interesting and it is a fairly good reference, the editing is dreadful. The three proofreaders and the company which are named should be ashamed. For example, page 12 ends with a completed sentence. On the top of page 13 is a picture, which is followed by the second half of a sentence. The beginning of that sentence is nowhere to be found. Time and again there are instances of incorrect grammar, such as the use of “for him and I.” Even when we write this insignificant newsletter, we do our best to correct any grammatical mistakes, and are embarrassed if something slips through. Can you tell we were English majors in our many moons ago?

So it is with writing a book. You can read a sentence time and again, and very easily miss an obvious error because in your mind it says what you think it says rather than what it actually says. For this reason, we are reading the book out loud. When we do find a problem or a sentence that we want to rewrite, we have to be extra careful not to introduce a whole new error into the text. For example, say you have the sentence, “He was hiding by day and moving by night.” You might decide to change it from passive to active and end up with, “He hid by and moving by night.” Spellcheckers are a blessing and a curse. Anyone who has used one knows how easily it is to type form when you meant from, and the spellchecker is happy, in fact we think it may be grinning form ear to ear.

Thus we are taking our time, and trying as best we can to have the book grammatically correct as well as historically factual. Whether anyone will care and bother to read it if and when it gets published is beside the point. We want to do our very best, and then whatever happens, happens.

For the past several months we have not seen many monkeys right near the house. The colonies move with their food supply, and they seemed very fond of the tamarinds which were readily available until about mid-February, at which point the monkeys moved on. Now, the last few days, they are back in abundance, being seen and heard close to the house. They often spend time by the old underground water reservoir on the other side of the former butterfly garden. They are Philippine long-tailed Macaques, and, as the photos show, they’re not kidding about having long tails. The little rascals love to eat the leaves of young papaya trees, making it a challenge for us to get papayas started. Just the other day Steve saw a monkey just ten feet from the house starting to reach for a few tender leaves. He chased it away, but we know it will return to the scene of the crime, either at night or during the two weeks we are on tour.

We are preparing for a 12-day tour focused on MacArthur’s return to the Philippines 65 years ago this month. We have 15 guests coming from the United States. Besides our normal areas of Manila, Corregidor, Bataan, Subic Bay, and the prison camps, we will also be visiting places where we’ve never been, such as Lingayen Gulf, Baguio, and Leyte. We will try to keep in touch, and maybe even report on our trip along the way, depending upon time and internet availability.

No comments:

Post a Comment