Thanksgiving Over There in the Philippine-American War

I spent many Thanksgivings in the Philippines, and it was great. We had some fun parties, including one at our farm. The only drawbacks were that it was a normal workday for me, and I did not get to watch football live all day long. This year I have a little time off: my exams are graded and student comments written, so wheeeee! And, like in recent years, we will celebrate “Friendsgiving” in New England with two vegetarians. Meh, I’m not big into Turkey, anyway, so I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30TH VOLUNTEER INFANTRY REGIMENT: Thanksgiving dinner for the men of Company “D”, 30th Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the outer Manila trenches at Pasay. The photo was taken on November 24, 1899 and shows the men sitting down to their meal laid out on a long bamboo table protected from the hot sun by a canvas awning. The Soldiers from Company “D” are wearing their blue Army service shirts and campaign hats. Some of the men wear a special red kerchief around their necks, which later became a hallmark of the regiment and earned them the nickname, “The men in the crimsom scarves.” Company D was lead by Captain Kenneth M. Burr throughout their tour in the Philippine Islands. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

What would it have been like in November 1899, though, just as the Philippine-American War was moving from conventional conflict to guerrilla war? Yes, the American military had more men, more guns (though not necessarily better ones), and more bullets. And without General Antonio Luna, who had recently been assassinated, the Philippine forces lost one of its greatest strategists. But Aguinaldo made the decision to disband his forces for an unconventional conflict, and that gave the Filipino revolutionaries a new edge. For the American troops, they had to realize they might not be going home anytime soon.

While I have the advantage of hindsight and can easily say that I do not support America’s imperialist cause in this war, none of that changes history. I wonder what was going through these young men’s minds on this day. Thanks to the Philippine-American War Facebook group, and especially Scott Slaten, for posting these photos. If you are interested in this war at all, you really should follow this group. It’s free, the discussions are strident, and the photos are amazing.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30th INFANTRY REGIMENT, USV – Thanksgiving Day at Pasay, outer Manila trenches with the 2nd Section, Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment USV, November 1899. The photo shows the men with their Krag rifles stacked on the street of their small camp. Note the sign for the 2nd Section in the middle of the photograph. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

These photos are also nice reminders that even in war, people celebrate holidays and birthdays. They even fall in love. (That’s where we historical romance authors come in, as Beverly Jenkins so often reminds us.) But what these men’s families wanted to know was not whether they were having a good time, but when they would be coming home. They would not get their answer for another whole year:

From the November 22, 1900, edition of the Washington Post.

Since most of these soldiers had originally volunteered for what they had thought was a brief war in Cuba, this was probably a relief. Some did re-enlist as regulars, though, which meant a much longer commitment.

For your Sugar Sun readers out there, here’s a little Thanksgiving tidbit for you: Pilar Altarejos, daughter of Javier and Georgina, was born on Thanksgiving 1903. I thought that was appropriate. The couple could be thankful for being together— how romantic!—and I thought it would get Javier’s nationalist back up a little. (Yes, I’m terrible.)

Hopefully, wherever you are, I hope you have a great week. The best thing about this holiday is the reminder to be grateful for something. I am grateful for so many things, but I want to add you, my readers, to that list. Thank you for reading and for following the Altarejos clan through all its ups and downs. More adventures in love will be coming, I promise!

NaNoWriMo to finish Sugar Moon part of the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Sugar Sun extras: A complete list

When I was writing Under the Sugar Sun, I imagined annotating it with all sorts of fake documents: telegrams, ledgers, even Javier’s high school report card from Seminario-Colegio de San Carlos! Yep. Apparently, I thought that needed to happen.

I was looking through these documents the other day, bemoaning how much time I wasted making them, and then realized: I have a website. Junk is what the web is for, right? So, here you go: Sugar Sun extras! Enjoy.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

I hope you enjoy the little tour into my obsessive brain. Thanks for reading!

Sugar Sun extras: The Altarejos and Romero family trees

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

While I was drafting Under the Sugar Sun, I made character sketches and background briefers on the whole Altarejos and Romero family tree. Before I even knew the end of my book, I knew who this family was.

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Let’s look at Javier’s household a little more closely, in the center lower portion of the family tree. Wait, you’re thinking, isn’t Javier an only child? If you remember, he is the only surviving child. Lourdes’s other three died at birth or in infancy—a tragedy that would have been all too common at this time. In Sugar Moon, we learn a little more:

The last delivery had been so traumatic that it almost killed the doña, too. Left with only one healthy son for all her effort, Lourdes had spoiled him with indiscriminate love until young Javier was hustled off to boarding school to grow up. When Javier returned home for his first vacation, he found a new little “sister” in the bedroom next to his.

That “little sister” is really his cousin, Allegra, the heroine of Sugar Moon. Her true story is not really even on this tree:

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Early in Under the Sugar Sun, while Javier was flirting with Georgina at the Luneta, he explained that Allegra’s real father was a Spanish friar:

“My aunt never made a public accusation, of course. And my grandparents managed to marry their daughter off to a respectable, if not terribly intelligent, man. Unfortunately, even he could add. My aunt named the baby Allegra, hoping her husband would believe the child a miracle of rapid gestation. As you might imagine, their marriage was not a happy one.”

In fact, the marriage was so unhappy that Allegra’s mother, Raquel, ran off with a Spanish soldier. Horatio Alazas returned the child that wasn’t his to the Romeros—he had given Allegra a last name, and he believed his duty done. Lourdes took her sister’s child as her own, and that is how Allie ended up at Hacienda Altarejos. This whole backstory was inspired by a real Filipina friend of mine who raised not only her sister’s children, but one of their children, as well. Anything for family.

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

And then, of course, we have Padre Andrés. In Tempting Hymn it explains:

The biggest secret of the Altarejos clan, though, stood at the front of the nave: Padre Andrés was the late patriarch’s bastard son. Since the priest’s legitimacy was never openly questioned, neither was his ordination—but no one who looked at Don Javier and Padre Andrés side-by-side could miss the fact that they were brothers.

More about Andrés’s family will be coming in the upcoming Sugar Communion (expected 2018). I know this is eagerly anticipated by a few readers. I promise that I’m working on it!

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

One day I might tell more about Lourdes and Lázaro’s marriage, but suffice it to say that Lázaro Altarejos came by adultery honestly. From Under the Sugar Sun:

[Javier] sat in the heavy wooden chair in his office and examined a painted miniature of his grandfather, the first Altarejos hacendero—though Altarejos was not even the Spaniard’s true name. When Capitan Hilario Vélez y Perales resigned his Army commission in Manila, he had balked at the idea of returning to his sowish wife and homely children in rural Altarejos, Spain, so he reinvented himself as an eligible feudal lord on the new frontier of sugar. Hilario “de Altarejos” eventually dropped the preposition from his nickname, won himself a thousand acres of virgin soil for saving the life of the alcalde-mayor, “married” a lovely mestiza who never knew that she was only a mistress, and planted himself a legacy.

That’s the Altarejos clan. Soon I will be making family trees for Javier and Georgina’s children…and more! I can’t wait.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Sugar Sun extras: The books of Hacienda Altarejos

I should disclose that I minored in economics, so trade and business history is my jam. I got really into the weeds with my made-up documents, but it does prove something you might not expect about the hacenderos of yore: times were tough.

Even before the Americans arrived in 1898, Hacienda Altarejos took on debt to buy an expensive sugar mill—the one that Jonas Vanderburg fixes in Tempting Hymn. Of course, I had to make a bill of sale for the mill. How? Well, I found an advertisement from the Brisbane Courier and combined it with a receipt from Nambour, Queensland, and adjusted the numbers for inflation. Voilà, a sugar mill invoice from a real company that made them. (Scottish engineers were the thing at the time. They made all kinds of mills and mechanical equipment, even though sugar was not a local industry.)

Hacienda Altarejos documents for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Times got tougher on the hacienda. In addition to the Americans (below), there was a Rinderpest epidemic, which killed at least 75% of the carabao on Negros and other islands. (I found real articles about this while doing my research at Ateneo’s American Heritage Collection, but they were not digitized so I had to recreate them.)

Hacienda Altarejos rinderpest documents for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Let’s look at Javier’s books. If you see the “emergency expenses” below, you can see the impact that rinderpest had on his bottom line. Where did I get such detailed financial information on sugar? The Far Eastern (Economic) Review, of course. (It has since shuttered, but this publication was a major source of my college research paper writing.) These averages might be a little off because they are from a different part of the Philippines (Pampanga), but they are still pretty good. Boy, did I learn a lot about sugar production in the Gilded Age.

Hacienda Altarejos documents for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

All of these troubles put Javier in financial hot water, even before Ben Potter arrived on the scene. This is why he has to put up his land up as collateral for a loan to start off the 1902-1903 season. This money is mostly needed to pay for labor—and not very reliable labor, at that. According to contemporary sources, about half the workers of any given hacienda would disappear after they were paid their advance (anticipio). That’s expensive.

Hacienda Altarejos documents for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

It is not a surprise, then, that Javier had money problems. The loan agreement he made with Guillermo Cuayzon, the pacto de retro, was a ruthless type of loan liquidation. (This was the device that allowed hacenderos to get rich in better times. Now it worked against Javier.)

Hacienda Altarejos documents for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Javier was skating a thin line at the start of the book. Sugar farmers in the early American period were not raking it in. Sure, they did in the 1880s and early 1890s, and they have on-and-off since. But the early 1900s were a crunch:

Javier leaned forward, hiding his clenched fists under the desk. “I don’t understand. We’re either a colony or we’re not. The Yankis don’t let us trade with the rest of the world, and now they shut us out of their home market, as well? Some ‘Open Door.’”

History had taught Javier to be a skeptic. In the last four years, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. Sugar planters in Negros had sided with the Americans in the hope of keeping the peace, but their workers ran off into the hills to join the insurrectos. No labor, no harvest. The Americans punished the rebels by burning rice stores and closing the ports, but such draconian tactics ended up hurting men like Javier most of all. In the end, not only had a quarter of his crop rotted in the ground, but there had been no way to ship the harvested cane off the island. By the time the ports opened again, a freak rinderpest epidemic had killed most of the carabao. Replacing his herd put Javier so far in hock that he had been forced to put up a fifth of his land as collateral. And those were just his problems from last season.

As you can see from the exports below (real figures, by the way), sugar sales dropped dramatically with the arrival of the Americans. It does not improve until free trade is extended for sugar into the United States, a process which starts in 1909 and then is finalized in 1913. So, there is a happily ever after…eventually.

Hacienda Altarejos documents for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Sugar Sun extras: Javier’s high school report card

For Javier’s report card, I researched elite education in the Spanish-era Philippines and the program at San Carlos in particular. Detailed biographies of José Rizal and issues of Solidaridad newspaper (out of Madrid) were very helpful. I even looked up the style of Spanish report cards. Grades were, from best to worst: sobresaliente (outstanding), notable (remarkable), bien (good), suficiente (sufficient), insuficiente (insufficient), and muy deficiente (very deficient).

Note: If you cannot read the print of the report card well, there are close-ups below.

Javier report card extra from the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

You will notice that Javier was not a great student as a young, spoiled boy. Actually, he failed his first year! (See where it says “suspenso”? And see how the courses repeat from 1883-1884 to 1884-1885?) Eleven-year old Javito was not happy to leave his luxurious life as the only child of a prosperous hacendero to attend a strict Vincentian Catholic school. He was certainly ill-equipped for life on his own, as he recounts in Under the Sugar Sun:

[Javier] had not lifted a finger in his house until he left for boarding school. And he meant that—not a finger. What other boy would have gotten a skin rash from not rinsing off his soap? One who had never bathed himself before, that’s who.

Javier was also bullied at first by the older students. A miserable child does not study. This was the result:

Javier report card extra from the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

As Javier grew and got used to school, though, his grades improved. He was a smart young man who simply needed to apply himself. (Wow, how many times have I written that on a real kid’s comment?) Javier will apply himself…until he gets caught sneaking out to a brothel (with half-brother Andrés in tow). Deciding that Javier needs to grow up, his father sends him to military school in Spain. From there, he makes his way to King’s College, London, where he earns a degree in law. These years in England (and later France!) give him the skills and experience to woo Georgina, so it all ends well.

Javier report card extra from the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

More of the Altarejos brothers’ history will come to light in Sugar Communion (anticipated 2018), so stay tuned!

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.