Last week, me and the Eheads (the Executive Heads, not the rock band) went to Pampanga to plan to the future --the FUTURE, Conan?-- yes, the future of the agency. As most "planning sessions" go, you go to some place with a really great view but spend the next three days inside some hotel conference room. So, Maricel made it a point that we get to see the place and try out the food in the area.
When we got there, we walked around a nearby wet market, went to the Rivera's farm, then had lunch at Cely's carinderia (where I got to taste camaro/locusts for the first time). We had dessert at Claude Tayag's house or more popularly known as Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung.
The story of how the house was built fascinated me.
People's usual reaction to the house would be, "How wonderful that you've restored this old house!" And Claude would usually reply, "Oh, it's not an old house. It's a newly built house."
As it turns out, the construction material for the Bale Dutung was slowly collected in the span of 10 years. Some parts of the house even came from a church. Claude saw the demolished church and bought the rumble from the people who were just planning to throw it away.
Claude collected and cataloged every piece he found.
He said he had drawn up the plans for the house and when he completed it, it was 80-90% of what he had in mind.
It took him seven years to finish construction.
The house made me think of how stories are written. In a way, writers go through the same process: we collect and catalog different experiences that will later be used for the foundation of the story. We pick up and use conversations we overheard in cafes and elevators; the sound of thunder that frightened us a child; the lyric of a favorite song heard during that particular summer; the taste of that last piece of chocolate cake found in the fridge at 12 midnight; the scent of the perfume of the one who left without saying goodbye.
We collect and catalog and ever so slowly, piece by piece, letter by letter, we build the story.
An author was once asked how long it took him to write his novel. He answered that he wrote it in less than a week, but he had been thinking about it for over 15 years.
In my afterword in TRESE, I talked about all the different stories and TV shows and people that lead to the creation of the Alexandra Trese and her (under)world. I look forward to next week, when I get the chance to put the finishing touches on the house called TRESE.
Photos courtesy of Dino, taken with his Sony Ericsson cellphone.