Wawa is not an ordinary boy. He was born to a native couple on the Island of Formosa during the brief Spanish colonial rule in the 17th Century. His father, Yotas, became a fugitive for having involved in a failed uprising against the Spanish troops. While on the run with his mother, Maya, he was separated from her and later adopted by a Chinese Shaolin monk. Now at the age of 12, he is already well trained in Buddhism and kung fu skills. He aspires to become a learned monk so as to be able to help the unfortunate people. On a trip to visit another Shaolin master from whom he is to learn the unique Rock Monkey Kung Fu, Wawa meets Yotas by chance, without either one’s being aware of their kinship. He also encounters his adversary who is helping the conquistadors capture Yotas. What will happen in the end?
Targeted Age Group:: 11 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I would like instill in youngsters a sense of equality for all humans and a tolerance for various races and religious beliefs.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
As this story involves Formosan aborigines, coloniztion, Christianity and Buddhism, it features an aborigine family, a few monks, Spanish conquistadors as well as a priest.
A long, long time ago, the sun beamed its warm rays onto a speck of land peeking out from the waters on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, in much the same way that it is doing today. At that earlier time, though, life was simpler. In the mountains, on the plains, and along the shores of the island, the only people one would encounter were from the indigenous tribes. They hunted wildlife, gathered plants and fruits, and caught fish for a livelihood. To be sure, there were occasional conflicts and battles among the tribes, but on the whole the tribesmen enjoyed a carefree life and were contented with what the land and waters had to provide them.
An eagle gliding over the ocean in that particular part of the world would have no problem spotting its prey foraging or scampering on the land of these indigenous people. However, this tiny island was conspicuously absent from any maps available at that time. Therefore, it was for the most part unknown to the outside world, except for a few pirates and seafaring merchants who happened to stop by. Those seamen brought back to their countries fabulous accounts of the green forests, the balmy weather, the plentiful delicious fruits and the pretty indigenous women.
As these tales traveled to other parts of the world, the countries with powerful navies at that time began to pay some attention to this tiny piece of land. Having little knowledge about the newly discovered island, the Chinese called it by various names. They referred to it as the Terraced Bay, the Island of the Immortals, or simply as "an island in the Eastern Sea". About a hundred years later, in the year 1544, when some Portuguese sailors sailed by the island and saw it through their telescopes, they loved how it was covered with lush green forests. Excited, they exclaimed, "Ilha Formosa!" Afterward, the island became known as the Island of Formosa, meaning "Beautiful Island".
During the following century, waves of foreigners arrived and established settlements on the Beautiful Island. This brought about significant changes that affected the lives of the indigenous people in fundamental and profound ways, for better or for worse. The life stories of the natives and the settlers during that transitional period could fill volumes of books. The story you are reading now is just one of them.
In a remote valley on the northeastern part of the Island of Formosa, a medium-sized creek meandered eastward along its tortuous course. Papaya Creek strung together the few hamlets nestled among the trees and brushes covering its sloping banks. Each hamlet was a small clearing sparsely dotted with huts, shacks, cabins, gardens and small farms.
Although Papaya Creek connected to the larger Danau River, which ran all the way to the eastern coast of the island and emptied into the ocean, precipitous gorges and narrow mountain passes made traveling between the villages and the coastal towns an arduous task.
On this late summer day, a young indigenous woman had just finished doing her laundry by the side of the creek. She wrung the garments to remove as much water as she could then placed them in a wicker basket. Carrying the basket, she carefully stepped on smooth boulders and river rocks to get to the vegetated area on the stream bank. Then, she followed a sloping canopied trail for about ten minutes. When she reached the top, she paused for a moment to catch her breath, thankful that her husband had built their little cabin right next to the head of the trail to the creek. Their neighbor, the Isqaqavuts, farmed a sizable tract of land, and it would be another five or six minutes' walk if she wanted to pay them a visit.
A couple hens busied themselves with pecking at grains on the ground in the front yard of the humble cabin, which was made of wooden slats supported by wooden posts. On one side of the yard stood two sturdy bamboo poles placed some distance apart. The two vertical poles had a y-shaped split at the top, and a long horizontal bamboo pole lay across the split ends of these poles. The woman lifted one end of the long bamboo pole, threaded it through the sleeves and legs of the damp pieces of laundry then placed it back on the support. By the end of the day, the heat of the sun would have dried the garments to a crisp.
With the laundry spread out in the gentle breeze, the woman went inside the cabin to prepare lunch for herself and her husband, who was working the field behind the cabin. She boiled two sweet potatoes in a pot set over the clay stove then pan-fried the fish that her husband caught from the creek that morning. After plating the fish, she added some water to the pan to cook the green beans that she had picked from their garden.
"Lunch is ready, Yotas!" she hollered. A moment later, she called again through the back window, "Time to take a break!"
"Coming!" Yotas laid down his hoe. With the back of his hand he wiped the sweat off his brown forehead. Straightening his back, he saw two white clouds gazing lazily at him. As he walked toward the cabin, a squirrel scurried into a bush. "You're lucky I don't have my bow and arrows here with me," he muttered.
Yotas washed his hands, sat down at the bamboo table in the only room of the cabin and looked at his wife. A sense of pride and gratitude swelled up inside him. "Maya," he said, "what shall we call the baby?"
"I have a feeling it's going to be a boy," replied Maya, her face blooming into a smile.
"Are you sure? How can you tell? That would be fantastic!" Yotas's broad jaws could not contain his joy.
"Mrs. Isqaqavut told me that if the belly points forward, it will be a boy." Maya stood up, blinking her large brown eyes. "Take a look. Isn't my belly pointing to the front?"
"Turn to the left," said Yotas.
He studied the protrusion for some time, motioning Maya to turn her pregnant body this way and that. Finally he said, "Of course you carry the baby in front of you. Where else can it be?"
Maya returned to her seat. They quietly said grace then started to eat. After they had finished eating the top side of the fish, Maya used her chopsticks to sever the fish's head and put it into her own bowl. Mrs. Isqaqavut had told her about the important nutrients in a fish's head that will help the baby inside her grow strong and smart. She flipped the fish over in the dish. "What if we get a girl?" she asked.
"If she has beautiful eyes like yours, we can call her Kinituh."
These words pleased Maya. "That's a pretty name."
"As for a boy," said Yotas, "I want him to grow up to be strong but wise, powerful but kind. Let's try to think of a really good name for him."
After supper that evening, Yotas started to build a rocking cradle for the baby. He sat down on a stool beside the pieces of wood piled on the earthen floor. While whittling a stick of wood, he turned a few boy's names in his mind, but none stood out to impress him. It would be another two months or so before the baby would arrive. There was still plenty of time to choose a name for him. When his son had grown into a youngster, they would steal through the forest together, and he would teach the boy how to use his bow and arrows to hunt deer. The husky hunter smiled as he fancied these happy scenes for the future.
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