Just before leaving for the Philippines a couple of weeks ago, someone asked me why the historical narratives in my work always seem to assume the form of fiction. Travelling around the country over the past two weeks, I have found the transformation of facts into fable as a recurring cultural tendency that makes absolute sense when you consider that much of Philippine history has been transmitted orally.
On the island of Camiguin, I found this plaque near the ruins of a 17th century Church in Camiguin Island that was destroyed during the last eruption of Mount Hibok Hibok, one of the six volcanoes on the tiny island.
A Brief Account of Mt. Volcan Eruption
May 13, 1871
Cotta Bato, the capital of Camiguin Island was a quiet and attractive town, verdant in its natural wonders. Its peaceful shores provided strolling grounds for its inhabitants as they basked under the gracious moonlight. Suddenly…
Tranquility came to a halt as a sub-terranean rumbling sowed undescribable terror. Hundreds of houses and the churches crumbled into pieces. The ground rolled and broke into deep crevices with horrifying earthquake served only as a prelude to the destructive climax, a cataclysm never witnessed before. Mt. Volcan gave out its fiercest and most violent outbreak.
Cotta Bato was but a dreadful pile of ruins. The single volcanic eruption buried a beautiful town into obscurity.
Hundred of lives were lost while the survivors sought refuge in the open country that gave them hope for tomorrow.