Chapter Excerpt: Enlightenment by Reno Ursal

Enlightenment

Title: Enlightenment
Series: Bathala Series, Book 1
Author: Reno Ursal
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology
Format: eARC
Publication: Pacific Boulevard Books, 14 March 2019
Read: March 2019

the book { goodreads | amazon }
the author { website | goodreads | twitter }


“Enlightenment” is the first book in The Bathala Series, inspired by the beautiful folklore of the Philippines. This is the coming of age journey of Filipina-American Dorothy Dizon and transfer student Adrian Rosario, who teeter between friendship and intimacy throughout the novel.

“Enlightenment” introduces Dorothy as an 18 year old high school student in the United States, learning through Adrian about the mysterious folklore that binds them to the obscure history of the Philippines. She realizes that supernatural forces are no defense for a consuming love, a love that has her lean on her best friend for support, the beautiful Stella De Guzman. Adrian is a blood-eating Danag warrior sent to protect Dorothy from unseen enemies of his secret society in the Philippines, a society that changed the course of history prior to Spanish colonization. Adrian’s doubts about Dorothy are put to the test until the final moment when he feels a connection he could never predict. Together, Dorothy and Adrian experience a metamorphosis of historic proportions, a metamorphosis that changes their souls.


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Heyo, everyone! Your resident smol book blogger is back for another blog tour. Thank you, our Tita Kate for organizing this tour, and to the author Reno Ursal for providing copies of the book.

I love reading about Philippine mythology in literature so when Kate announced that she’s going to hold a blog tour for an urban fantasy novel involving Filipino mythological creatures and legends, I just had to sign up. No questions asked.

Read on to find out more about Enlightenment, The Bathala series, and Reno Ursal!

Excerpt

Chapter 11: Dorothy

Adrian’s smooth voice made me catch my breath. “Pretty night, isn’t it?”

“Hasn’t anyone told you sneaking up on someone is bad manners?”

He gazed at the moon. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were fragile. Are you sure you’re a basketball player?”

The carbonated fizz from my Sprite tickled my nose. “Fragile? Don’t let my size fool you.”

“I plan not to, thank you very much.”

“You’re very welcome.”

Adrian took a step on the wooden deck. “I take it this is the first time you’ve been to the lake?”

“Did Stella tell you?”

“I won’t reveal my source, but let’s say I figured it out on my own.”

“You’re that smart.”

“Don’t let my hood-rat look fool you. I can read people.”

“You think you can read me?”

“Maybe,” he answered. “I’m going off our few conversations together.”

“I remember one real convo when you schooled me on Philippines history.”

“Yeah, that’s right! The valedictorian of the school admits she got schooled!”

“I’m a victim of public school curriculum.”

“Now I feel bad. It isn’t your fault American school districts don’t teach the Philippines’ true history.”

Laughter erupted from the direction of the house, the distant thumping of EDM beats ricocheting into the night. Adrian gazed at the moon while standing on the wooden deck that extended over the lake. The deck creaked beneath us, the club music dissipating into the distance. Adrian found a pebble and threw it into the lake.

He held another pebble and flipped it in his hand. “Why are you by yourself? You don’t like being around drunk teenagers?”

“Stella’s mad at Eric. That’s my signal to leave.”

“I saw them talking in the house. Eric looked like he was sobering up.”

“He doesn’t want to get her in a bad mood. She’ll ignore him for days.”

“She’s like a sister to you, huh?”

“We don’t have siblings and we grew up like sisters.”

“You’re closer than a lot of blood-related siblings. I’m close to my brother, but my sister and I aren’t as close as I’d like to be.”

This was the first time he mentioned his family to me. “I didn’t know you had a brother and sister.”

“They’re in the Philippines. Have you heard of a province called Negros?”

“I’ve seen it on a map. It’s close to Cebu right?”

“Yeah, it’s next to Cebu. People speak Visayan on both islands.”

“I wish I was fluent in Visayan.”

“Your mom didn’t teach you?”

“I grew up in the States with a mom who wanted me to assimilate. I understand some of it, but I sound so American when I speak it.”

“Some first generation Filipinos wanted their kids assimilated, they didn’t pass down the language. And some look down on Fil-Ams who don’t speak the native dialect. It’s an impossible double standard.”

I sat at the edge of the deck, my hands pinched underneath my thighs. “Double standard is right. I get that funny look sometimes from Filipinos who don’t know me when they ask if I speak. I feel bad when I say English please. Whatever. I shrug it off.”

Adrian rested his feet, his biceps brushing against my arm. “Good for you. And it’s never too late to learn, but it’s hard if no one talks to you in Visayan every day.”

“My mom speaks to me in English,” I said. “I guess it’s a habit that’s hard to break. It was me and her growing up. She’s stuck in her ways.”

“Your family is small! My large, extended family in the Philippines is always in my business! It was a big adjustment to come to the States on my own.”

“Well, if it means anything, I’m glad you’re in Vegas.”

“Me too. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here with you.”

I nudged him. “Wow! Nice line! You must say that to all the girls!”

“I hardly engage in conversation with anyone. I’m a private person.”

I slid closer to him. “I don’t know about that. You’ve opened up to me.”

“I guess I have.” Adrian’s baritone-sounding laugh gave me goosebumps. He looked up at the moon. “As a kid in the Philippines, I stared at the moon all the time.”

“What would you think about while moon gazing?”

He paused before answering. “In my family, my dad retold Filipino folklore stories about the moon’s powers.”

“What powers?”

“In Filipino folklore, moonlight illuminates things certain people can see.”

I gazed up at the moon. “Certain people as in ghosts and zombies?”

“More like our Lolos and Lolas. They can see Duwendes.”

“Duwendes?”

“Think of them like Irish elves, but instead of being green, they’re deadly white and resemble dwarves or goblins. And instead of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, they’re running around causing havoc.”

“What kind of havoc?”

“Things like glass falling from a cupboard, or a car breaking down. Things that happen for no particular reason.”

“Elders see duwendes?”

Adrian smiled. “Ask our Lolos and Lolas about duwendes and see their reaction, especially during a full moon.”

“Like tonight?”

He crossed his dangling feet. “Yeah, exactly like tonight.”

“I didn’t even know Filipino folklore existed. That in itself is pretty cool.”

Adrian’s eyes twinkled in sync with the moon. “Filipino myth says vampires called Danags lived in the Philippines. They fed off islanders and formed close bonds with those they used for daily blood. And since mortals are their food supply, they protected them at all costs.”

“I’ve never heard of vampires being in the Philippines.”

“Most of the world talks about the European and Greek influences on the world. My family taught me an alternate perspective: Greek mythology was completely borrowed from Polynesian and Pacific Island folklore.”

“There is no way that’s true!”

“You share the opinion of the entire civilized world. But my father says Zeus is Bathala, the supreme god of the Philippines and Poseidon is Amanikable, the Filipino god of the sea.”

“I’ve never heard of the existence of Filipino gods.” AP Greek mythology was a requirement my junior year, but Bathala and Amanikable were from my own culture and I had never heard of them.

“When Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu in 1521 and converted tribal leader Humabon to Christianity, the eradication of these stories began. Once Spain returned in 1565 and forced Christian beliefs onto the islanders, the ancestral past was lost. Even Alibata script was replaced by Spanish and Latin writing systems.”

“What’s Alibata again?”

“Alibata was the native writing system prior to the Spanish. It’s like the
Kawi script I showed you in the library the other day. It has Indian and Arabic
roots.”

“Indian and Arabic?”

“Yes, there was heavy Indian and Arab influences on the islands before the Spanish.” Adrian leaned in closer. “Tell me, what’s the Visayan word for thank you?”

The answer was obvious, even if I wasn’t fluent. “Salamat.”

Salam is an Arabic salutation meaning peace. The suffix -at is Tagalog for the English word and.”

“And peace.”

“And peace. Salamat.” Adrian said.

“Indians and Arabs traveled all the way to the Philippines?”

“Since before the days of Christ. Only the sun and moon know the exact truth. One traveler, Ibn Mattuta traveled all over the islands in the fourteenth century. Look him up when you have a chance.”

“I will for sure.” I shifted my leg up and leaned my chin on my knee. “One of your tattoos says Bathala right?”

Adrian nodded. “Yeah! You remember!”

“You showed it to me twice already! Who is Bathala?”

“Filipino myth names Bathala as the Supreme Being of the islands. He had three beautiful daughters named Mayari, Hana and Tala. Mayari controlled moonlight, Hana the morning light and Tala the light emitted from stars. Duwendes, vampires and gods become mesmerized by the allure of Mayari’s moonlight, like Bathala himself with his fatherly love for his daughters. Together, Bathala and his daughters bring focus back on the main objective of all deities.”

The way Adrian spoke impressed me. It would be a miracle if these stories would be remembered a hundred years from now. “And what was that main objective?”

“To always protect humans.”

A shiver spiraled up my spine. “And why would humans need to be protected?”

“Humans hold the key to progress in the physical world. Duwendes, vampires, and gods are in another dimension, so to speak. Without mankind’s ambition, the physical world would stop its progress. Only mortals expand boundaries.”

Frogs croaked around the lake as the thumping music from the house suddenly stopped. The chanting of chug! chug! chug! in the distance grew in volume until an excited yell made it obvious someone had given in to peer pressure. The music started up again and drowned out the drunken soliloquies in the Emerson mansion. It would be a pain to search for Stella in a crowd of inebriated people, but Adrian’s stories about Filipino duwendes, vampires, and gods had me transfixed on the moon.

“Mayari is the name of the moon goddess?” I asked, a part of me wondering if the moon really had mystical powers.

“In Tagalog myth, Mayari is the most beautiful goddess.”

“Mayari.” I repeated as I accidentally skidded my hand against his.

The wooden deck creaked as I pulled myself up, pretending our hands hadn’t touched. “We better head back. From the sounds of the party, I’m driving home.”

“I’ll help you find Stella and Eric. There’s a lot of drunk people in the house.”

“I appreciate it. Being around inebriated teenagers isn’t my cup of tea. And by the way. Thanks for the history lesson. Again.”

“Waysaypayan, Dorothy. You are more than welcome.”

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About the Series

The Bathala Series will take readers through Dorothy and Adrian’s transformational journey in understanding their ancestral past and the roles they play in the world’s uncertain future, debunking the bias about vampires and folkloric creatures prevalent in traditional European and American literature. “Atonement: Book Two of the Bathala Series” is currently being edited with the hope of being released sometime in 2021. The prequel to “Enlightenment” will be released after “Atonement.”

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About the Author

{ website | goodreads | twitter }

Reno UrsalReno Ursal is a Filipino American author who received an English B.A. from The University of Michigan and resides in Northern California. He is the epitome of a familiar U.S. immigrant story when his parents moved to the States from the Philippines (by way of Guyana) in 1974 in search of a better life. He grew up in a small Northern Michigan town as his parents established themselves in their new life. His summer trips to Cebu kept him connected to his Filipino family. The hikes up the mountain from his ancestral home in Catmon had his imagination swirling with ideas, especially with the legends of duwendes and other creatures of Filipino folklore.

Reno was an active reader growing up and started writing during his participation in the Huron Shores Writing Institute in high school. When he took an Asian Pacific American Literature course taught by Dr. Stephen Sumida at University of Michigan, the idea of writing a Filipino American story stuck at the back of his mind. Life moved fast after college. He met a girl named Lynette in California. They married in 2000 and became proud parents of three 2nd generation Filipino American children. He had a full-time job and less time to write, but found time burning the midnight oil. His first novel “The Three Promises” was written when his kids were babies. This novel is currently an unpublished novel, but spawned the hunger to write another novel entitled “The Last Remaining.” Many drafts later, the title changed to “Enlightenment.”

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Blog Tour Schedule

March 14 || Tour launch from Kate @ Your Tita Kate
March 15 || Excerpt from Camillea @ Camillea Reads
March 16 || Excerpt from Alexia @ The Bookworm Daydreamer
March 17 || Review from Zia @ Accio! Blog
March 18 || Excerpt from Justine @  Bookish Wisps
March 19 || Review from Nox @ Nox Reads
March 20 || Review from  Krisha @ Bookathon
March 21 || Excerpt from Luxe @ Mind of Luxe
March 22 || Excerpt from Bianca @ The Ultimate Fangirl
March 23 || Excerpt from Shari @ Colour Me Read || Excerpt from Erica @ Living a Hundred Lives
March 24 || Excerpt from  Ynnah @ The Youngvamp’s Haven
March 25 || Excerpt from Cara @ The Little Miss Bookworm (THAT’S ME!!!)
March 26 || Gel @ Whimsy Wonders
March 28 || Twitter chat!

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Twitter chat

There will be a Twitter chat on Saturday, March 30 at 9:00PM PH time. Join us if you want to know more about Philippine folklore and mythology. Remember to follow #EnlightenmentBlogTour for more updates. See you!

enlightenment blog tour twitter chat!(1).png

 

cara

GOODREADS | TWITTER | TUMBLR }

 

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