The Unintended, a research photograph: water cure scene from the Philippine American war.

U.S. soldiers in Philippine-American war casually pinning down a Filipino. Early evidence of water boarding, a common American tactic against captured Filipino revolutionaries during the war. Click on photo to enlarge.

Caption from waterboarding.org:

“Soldiers of the 35th U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiment either demonstrating or administering the ‘water cure’ during the Fil-American War (Philippine Insurrection) of 1899-1902.

Found in the U.S. Army Signal Corps photographs at the National Archives by Gregory J Urwin while researching The United States Infantry: An Illustrated History.”

I also refer to the use of the water cure in Note 157, Entry #15 of my novel, The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata, admittedly reported by the fairly nutty Estrella Espejo:

“Note 157. By the way, I’m not joking when I mention the august use of waterboarding in the G.I. jails of the Filipino-American war!  In The Ordeal of Samar, written by an American journalist, Joseph L. Schott, about events in 1902, the ‘cure’ is explained with explicit candor, instructive to us all: ‘Major Glenn was highly commended by his superiors for his good work.  The major was a relentless interrogator.  As an aid with uncooperative officials, he used a method of duress called ‘the water cure.’  The uncooperative official was spread-eagled on his back and the end of the hose was run into his mouth.  The other end of the hose was connected to a water faucet.  Water was poured into the victim until he swelled up and thought his guts would burst’ [Schott 28]. The admiring Schott goes on to say: ‘American Army surgeons later testified that the water cure was not lethal in itself, although they did admit the victim might expire from heart attack or sheer fright during the procedure.’  (Estrella Espejo, ditto)”

The book The Ordeal of Samar chronicles the court-martial and subsequent acquittal of an American officer, Colonel Waller, for his role in genocide in Samar in 1901. Major Glenn, much admired by the chronicler Joseph Schott, was also court-martialed. Unlike Waller, for his use of torture Major Glenn was found guilty.

Elvis Presley is an abiding ghost in my novel in progress, but I still don’t know why

Elvis promoting Jail House Rock, 1957. I hated his movies. He was my mother’s generation. I do not remember my mother ever watching him, though his movies were on in early t.v. in the Philippines, along with Nida Blanca musicals, etc.

But one of his seventies songs has invaded my novel, The Unintended (subsequent title: InsurrectoSuspicious Minds, live, 1970, from a concert album called That’s the Way It Is.

Link to my NYT op ed piece—In the Philippines, Haunted by History: “the bases haunt us because they emerged during a dreamspace, when we still believed in our capacity for revolution.”

Looking ahead to a high-level meeting this spring (2012) between the U.S. and Philippine state and defense ministers, or 2+2, in the parlance of D.C., The New York Times asked me to write an op-ed piece on U.S.-Philippine relations. Having researched and thought about those relations quite a bit in two novels, The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata and Gun Dealers’ Daughter, I could not figure out how to narrow the piece’s slant. I think in terms of a novel’s sprawl, not an op-ed’s cramp. The New York Times wanted eleven hundred words; Gun Dealers’ Daughter covered the same topic in seventy thousand. I settled on the “hauntology” (as critic J. Neil Garcia called it) of the U.S. military bases. Here’s the article, printed in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times, April 29, 2012.