Volcano Child - A YA Novel in Progress by Candy Gourlay
Two weeks ago, Mouse decided to dig his way to London.

04 September 2006

In the Shadow of Danger: Living With Volcanoes

A boy marches to school on the paddy fields below Mayon Volcano. Photograph by Tommy Bonbom

When Father was a small boy, the volcano spat out some yellow clouds of smoke and all of Santa Rosa had to move miles away to another town. For weeks, they lived in tents and church halls, the farmers frantic to return and stop their fields going to seed and the mothers despairing as water supplies dwindled and their children ran wild. After a few tiny puffs, the volcano returned to its slumber and the people of Santa Rosa returned to their homes, angry and annoyed.

Old Maria had made fools of them.

So now, when the monsoon blew too hard and wet and the paddy fields vanished under flood waters, they blamed Old Maria. When the sun burned too hot and the rice browned on their stalks, the farmers all sighed,
ay, Maria. When the skies refused to let go of the rain and the paddy mud dried into a barren crust, it was the volcano’s fault.

Excerpt from Volcano Child

Who would live next to a volcano?

Surprisingly, quite a lot of people. And for some, the volcano is part of the atttraction. Check out this housing development a stone’s throw from Taal Volcano, south of Manila, promising "a life of luxury and serenity" (Taal is a live volcano that sits in the crater lake of a larger, said to be extinct, volcano).

For others however, it’s not a matter of choice and the volcano is like an irritating old maid aunt whose occasional outbursts can result in exasperation and inconvenience.

Photograph by Robert GardnerThe image at the top of this post is by Tommy Bonbom, a photographer from California, who chanced on an eruption while visiting his late father’s hometown in Bicol. Tommy also posts cool video clips of Mayon’s recent rumblings. Robert Gardner took the photograph of children in a rice field on the left. View more images of Mayon by Robert Gardner.

But before I tell you any more stories about eruptions and volcanoes, I’ve got to tell you this story: The Legend of Old Maria.

Photographs © Tommy Bombon and Robert Gardner.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this a real legend from the Philippines?

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006  
Blogger mumatwork said...

I was going to use a real legend but couldn't find one with the right metaphors for my story. So yes, I did make it up, but I based the style on Philippine legends that seem to highlight man's helplessness against the whims of the gods (the Philippines was animist before it became the only Catholic country in the Far East)

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006  
Anonymous Sarah said...

So beautiful. I want to go there ...

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006  
Blogger Wilf said...

This works really well, Candy. Your writing is tantalising and the background info is fascinating!

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Tommy's videos are awesome!

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006  
Anonymous Cherry said...

Can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, 05 September, 2006  
Anonymous Steve said...

These are amazing photographs! When your book is published, I hope you put a lot of pictures in it!

Monday, 27 November, 2006  

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