Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guest Post: Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane

Today I have the pleasure to welcome back to the blog, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane. With their new release, Hawaiian Gothic, they've come to share a post about ... Fighting Filipinos.

Welcome back Heidi & Violetta!

Fighting Filipinos

This young Filipino man to the left never got much older. His name is Gregorio del Pilar, also known as “The Boy General”. In 1896, at the age of twenty, he joined the rebellion against Spanish colonial rule. He led sieges against Spanish garrisons using guns smuggled from Hong Kong. The Spanish retreated to Manila. The independence movement neared victory...

Then the U.S. stepped in and decided they’d rather keep the Philippines for themselves.

The rebels heaved a long sigh and turned their guns against the Americans. They had some success at first, beating back American cavalry charges and making the invaders pay for every province seized. Eventually, they had to retreat into the countryside to wage guerrilla warfare. 34,000 Filipino soldiers died in the Philippine-American war, and an even greater number of civilians were killed. Gregorio del Pilar himself was shot in the neck defending a mountain pass against vastly superior American forces, leading a delaying action so that Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine President, could escape to fight again.

Aguinaldo’s presidency was short-lived. In 1902, the Philippines became an American colony.

By the 1940s, American imperial rule had slackened its grip enough that the country could have its own elections again. Independence seemed just around the corner once more.

Then, after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese swept in. Japanese rule was incredibly harsh and brutal, and Filipinos soon took up arms for guerrilla warfare again, this time for Americans and against the Japanese.
In 1945, America retook the islands. Bombers razed the city of Manila to the ground. To give an example of the scale, much more of Manila was destroyed, percentage-wise, than Dresden; 100,000 civilians died in Manila versus Dresden’s 25,000.

In 1946, the Philippines finally achieved their long-desired independence. However, the country retained the deep scars of colonialism and war. Many Filipinos emigrated to the United States, mainly Hawaii and the West Coast. To this day, the Philippines economy is wealthy in knowledge workers and resources, but racked with poverty and corruption, with an economy heavily dependent on remittances.

Despite the long and close connection between the U.S. and the Philippines, Filipino-Americans have a long history of being treated as foreigners and subject to racism. Even now, Filipino and Filipino-American veterans of WWII are still denied official benefits paid to all other veterans who fought with American forces.

There’s a tradition of proud military service among Filipino-Americans, but it’s a complicated and often painful tradition. Like many men and women of marginalized minorities, they choose to serve regardless of the prejudice they face, a fact that speaks to their dedication.

We don’t include much of this complicated history in Hawaiian Gothic, but knowing it might make the story a bit richer. Our hero, Ori Reyes, could perhaps have been named after Gregorio de Pilar. He comes from a military family—his father is in the US Army, his younger brother is a Marine, Ori himself joined the Army and became a Ranger—and each of them in his own way is very aware of the weight of that history.

Ori was born to be a fighter, in more ways than one: he practices Mixed Martial Arts and fought semi-professionally before he joined the Army. MMA is very close to his heart, and definitely his choice to pursue, but he’s much more ambiguous about his military heritage. Ori’s father is US Army through and through, but that sense of belonging, of righteous purpose, doesn’t enfold Ori.

One thing that Ori definitely isn’t ambiguous about is his love for his best friend Kalani, who he’ll fight across this world and the next to save.


Teresa Magbanua y Ferraris. Both of her brothers were killed in the revolution, and against the wishes of her husband, she took up arms and led soldiers in battle against the Spanish. She later fought against the Americans, both on the field and in guerrilla warfare. Forced to surrender in 1900, she returned to fighting life forty years later as an important supporter of covert actions against the Japanese occupation. She died in 1947.


Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz. UFC Middleweight, 12-2-0 (Win-loss-draw). From "Mark's love of athletics began at a very young age, his main focus being football. However, when he was a sophomore in high school, he incurred an injury that prevented him from playing the sport that he loved so dearly. So he turned to wrestling and the rest is history..."


From this Army site: “Sergeant Jose Calugas [...] was awarded the Medal of Honor as a result of his actions at Culis, Bataan Province, Philippine Islands, on January 1, 1942. [...] Sgt. Calugas, a Mess Sergeant of another battery, voluntarily and without orders ran 1,000 yards across the shell-swept area to the gun position. There he organized a volunteer squad which placed the gun back in commission and fired effectively against the enemy, although the position remained under constant and heavy Japanese artillery fire.”
(This was actually just the beginning of his career. He survived the Bataan Death March and a Japanese prison camp, then became a guerrilla fighter. After the war, he moved to the United States, gained citizenship and died at the age of 90 in Tacoma, Washington.)


Aside from someone whose name we will not mention, a famous Filipino boxer: Francisco Guilledo, commonly known as “Pancho Villa”. From Wikipedia: “On June 18, 1923, at the Polo Grounds in New York, Villa was cheered on to victory over Wilde by over 20,000 fans screaming ‘Viva Villa!’ The win came by way of a knockout in the 7th round, caused by a crashing right to Wilde's jaw.” He died tragically young, from an infected tooth.


Where to Buy:
Website with First Chapter Excerpt & Multimedia Extras:
The Writers: &

Blurb: For Ori Reyes, coming home to Hawaii is hell. His Army Ranger career ended in dishonorable discharge, a prison term and disgrace in the eyes of his family. As for his childhood friend Kalani—well, Kalani could never love him back, not the way Ori wanted to be loved. And it’s too late for Ori to tell Kalani how he really feels, because Kalani’s in a coma that all the doctors say is terminal.

Then Kalani shows up to welcome him home.

Even though Kalani's body is unresponsive, his spirit roams free, and for the first time he's able to reveal the true depth of his feelings for Ori. They set out to solve the mystery of Kalani’s dark family history, a journey of redemption that leads deep into the ancient Hawaiian spirit world. For Ori, taking on monstrous ghost-guardians is easier than facing the hardest choice of all: that he might have to let Kalani go.


  1. Thanks for having us, Amara!

    My friend on G+ also just sent me the link for this Filipino military history music video of the national anthem. It's pretty impressive!

  2. This is a fascinating piece about Filipino history. Thanks so much for this awesome blog post.

    1. Thanks, so glad you liked it :-D The video is really very stirring, too!



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