27 Mar Where A ‘Promdi Heart’ Goes (Part 1): An Interview with C.P. Santi and Ines Bautista-Yao
BY INAH PERALTA
Summer is almost here, and that means you’re probably already planning where to go or what to do this vacation. Good thing reading is always an option! Here is a recommendation: Promdi Heart, a romance anthology set in different Philippine provinces. (Also good for #BookbedReadsPHLit!)
In this interview, we talk to two of the authors, C.P. Santi and Ines-Bautista-Yao, as they take us to Misamis and Negros Occidental for adventure, food and of course, love. Read on to get ideas for your summer getaways! (Read Parts 2 and 3 here.)
Only The Beginning follows the story of Andi, who swears that the bright lights and smooth ways of Manila would never seduce her again. But when a particular Manileño sets foot in her hometown of Jimenez, why can’t she get his dimples out of her mind?
Hi, C.P.! I have read your works, Dare To Love and Only The Beginning, and I realize that these stories have one thing in common: the main character’s friendship with priests. Can you tell us more about this? Is this based on your experience?
Yes, it was. I’m an architect and my work deals with the conservation of built cultural heritage (mostly Spanish colonial churches), so I work with a LOT of priests. And some of the coolest priests I know are in Jimenez and Bohol.
Your short story explores the concept of a long-distance relationship. Have you ever had one before?
I’m in one right now. Hahaha! It’s difficult, but it can work if you really want it to. But it’s not for everyone!
I enjoy that you write about good and bad boys. My question is: which one do you prefer—the tattooed rocker or the boy-next-door cutie?
Difficult question! Hmm, can’t I pick both? Hahaha! My husband will tell you that my celebrity crushes depend on which movie or TV series I’ve recently watched. And he’s right!
Inside this envelope are my letters to you throughout the years, letters about dashing, hunky Nicolas. About his hazel eyes and pink lips. About the magical night of his grandma’s birthday. About when I fell in love.
Hi, Ines! Your story is written in letter format. Where did you get the inspiration to write it this way?
I wanted to do something different this time around and I was wondering if I could pull off an entire story using letters. Since I had already written about Nicolas in When Sparks Fly, I wanted to use a different style for Tin-tin’s story and I was so happy that it flowed easily once I decided on that.
Speaking of Tin-tin, did you have your own pen pals? Did you have an Annette like her?
I did! Like Tin-tin, I used to write to my cousins who lived in Manila. When I reached high school and college, I was already living in Manila, so I wrote lots of letters to my friends back in Bacolod and [to] my friends who moved to the US and Canada. I enjoyed writing to them because it was therapeutic and I was able to get my thoughts down on paper. Also, we didn’t have email back then, haha! So we had to wait weeks, sometimes months, for replies! When I traveled, I also wrote lots of letters to family and friends and mailed them. I miss doing this, actually.
A serial letter writer! I’m sure you have written a love letter for someone, right? *wink*
Back then, we didn’t have email yet or text (oh dear this is surely showing you my age), and we would write our feelings down on paper. So yes, I wrote letters to my crushes (but never ever sent those!) and to my then boyfriend.
I’ve also written several love letters to my daughters (one was published in a book entitled Letters to My Children) and my husband. Oh, and I’ve written one to my 16-year-old self! This was published last year in Candy magazine. So apparently, I do write tons of letters!
If you had to pick another Philippine province to be born in, where would it be and why?
C.P.: I was born and raised in Manila, but Bohol has always called to me. It’s my Dad’s hometown and I haven’t spent as much time there as I ought. But every time I go there, I feel like I find bits and pieces of myself I never realized I’d lost.
Ines: I was born in Manila then we moved to Silay. I’ve never thought of this question before. I love Negros because the food is awesome. And that is very important to me! But in high school, I actually fell in love with Baguio. We had an immersion trip there and we lived there for nine days—trekked up and down a mountain, slept in the house of one of our students and lost our hearts to the people and the place. I didn’t want to leave and because of that experience and because of my retreats in Baguio, it will always be a special place to me.
What would be good books to bring along for vacation?
C.P.: For fun, summery reads, I’d recommend
- Sola Musica by Ines Bautista-Yao, Mina V. Esguerra, Chinggay Labrador and Marla Miniano
- Cover Story Girl by Chris Mariano
- This Side of Sunny by Agay Llanera
Ines: Books from #romanceclass!
A tip I have is to search for books, #romanceclass or not, set in the place you’re about to visit. Take those books along so that you’re fully immersed in the place. Not just when you’re looking around, eating, and enjoying yourself, but also when you have downtime or are about to go to sleep. It will make the book and the vacation even more enjoyable and unforgettable. I’ve tried this twice and it’s awesome. When I was in England as a teenager, I had actually brought along a book set in England. I started reading it in Manila, and I continued to read it on my trip, while I was on the train, and so on. I did this also last year when I went to Hong Kong. I brought along China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. It wasn’t set in just Hong Kong, but the characters did visit the country. And it was loads of fun being there and reading about it, too!
What was your most memorable experience in the province?
C.P.: I’ve a lot! One old gentleman tried to set me up with his grandson, and was disappointed when he learned I was married. The parish priest challenged me to climb the belfry after we’d had a couple glasses of wine—my whole team survived, don’t worry. And probably the funniest, someone saw me staring at a rafter of turkeys and asked if I wanted to take one home. She was serious! She was going to buy one and box it up for me.
Ines: I have so many! One of them was riding a horse when I was a child. At first, I was afraid but back then, I just jumped into things. I remember my body hurting so much after my first riding lesson, but as time passed and I was able to finally go faster on the horse, I loved it. I honestly don’t know if I can get on a horse again now (one that will gallop!), but the memory of having been on one will forever be embedded in my brain.
Any good old piece of advice about love?
C.P.: Someone once told me,
“The more entries you send, the more chances of winning.”
And yes, she was talking about love. Hahaha! The thing is, you never know who you eventually fall in love with. And sometimes, the only way to recognize the right one is by making a few mistakes first.
Ines: Live your life as the main character of your own story. ☁