Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Twelve 


In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café

 and the dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island

Sagada, Mountain Province


The man named Dennis Faustino took them in, offered them food and opened a bottle of Johnny Walker Scotch. It didn't take them long to learn that he was a music teacher who had become an assistant principal and was on vacation at his place in the mountains. The Faustino mansion was spacious with fresh wood wherever the eye could see. Decorated with tribal art with an Oriental theme in the living room, it was a classic American colonial home complete with the balcony and gardens and matching gazebo.

"I was lucky to finagle the mayor of Sagada to allow the church to lease this property to me for life," he said. "He made the deal after the big earthquake in 1991 had hit and destroyed parts of the home. So as part of the deal, he fixed it up and added a new back section patio."

"Which is ideal for morning cups of coffee!" Dennis Faustino looked at Hellmantle thinking he was likely exhausted from his journey. He filled Hellmantle's glass.

"Drink up and enjoy your time in Sagada."

When asked about the history of missionaries in the area, he came across as knowledgeable:

"Episcopalian missionaries came here to spread the word of God beginning around 1911. It had taken the missionaries some time to reach the mountain provinces, the only area besides Mindanao that hadn't been converted to Catholicism by the Spanish. I've been all around the island because I went on a one-year tour with the National Theater Group performing internationally. That was after getting my masters and finally my PhD in theater. I held a professorship at the University of Michigan before I returned here to teach music." Dennis Faustino sounded nonchalant about it all because he was bored as Assistant Principal at the Philippino International School. He said he used to also teach drama. But Hellmantle didn't buy it and mumbled under his breath: ‘It's a life for effete courtiers too wimpy to take the step!' He drank the Scotch.

"So when were the Americans active here in Sagada?" asked D'Aqs.

"The Americans had staked their claim to these remote parts and left the church in 1967. That was when it was handed over to the Philippinos. The Episcopalian church became a Philippine entity in 1985." Despite being the local volunteer organ player for the benefit of the mayor, D'Aqs could tell that he was not a terribly religious man.

"Do you ever remember a visiting preacher named Father Leo Vande Winkle?" Hellmantle helped himself to more Scotch.

"He's a Dutchman," added D'Aqs. Dennis Faustino shook his head slowly but then seemed to come to life.

"The Dutchman, yes. He has come through our church a few times when I lived here during the summer years before. When school is on summer vacation he visited with Father Jose at the church. Very nice man but quite old now. I haven't seen him in a while."

"Where is his church, do you know?" Hellmantle spread out his ripped and rain-stained map on the table. 

"It's in the west on the coast somewhere is all I know. Close to where people live in trees as I recall," he said with a flourish of his hand, as if a fellow upper-class elite. But Dennis Faustino lost his airs when he squinted at the map and dragged his finger along the coastal highway, from the very north to the south. He was confused by it; Dennis Faustino couldn't read maps.

"That's where we'd like to end up after we take our motorcycles across the high road through Bontoc and over to the east highway up to Aparri and across the north coast to the west coast and down to Manila," said Hellmantle, using his finger to outline the route. Something in Dennis Faustino's demeanor changed.

"Aparri is dangerous," he warned between drags of his cigarette. "It's very dangerous up there. Philippinos from the lowlands don't go up there. It's tribal. They stop you in your car and rob you." The matter-of-factness of his delivery made it feel as if it was common knowledge to which Hellmantle was ignorant.

"It can't be that dangerous," he said, finishing another glass of Scotch and helping himself.

"We call them pirates. I wouldn't take my truck down that road. It's too dangerous for me. For you," motioning to Hellmantle, "with that beard of yours they won't let you pass for nothing." D'Aqs sat up in his chair and had a closer look at the possible routes from Sagada. The only way to the west coast being so far up in the mountains is through the pirate zones, D'Aqs reasoned to himself. This was a journey to be done once, not twice.

"No stone can be left unturned. That is the price that must be paid!"

"But they are angry pirates Hellmantle," Dennis Faustino still not convinced the route was feasible. "If you must go then go with God." Hellmantle perked up.

"Are you a man of the Bible?"

"I read the Bible as literature but not as Holy Scripture," said Dennis. "From numerology and myth to device and end, I am well-versed in general religious history."

"In an age when political ideologies act as a substitute for religious conviction," said Hellmantle, "people today are more a-religious than at any time in world history if you consider the percentages, especially in the Western World."

"You think so?" Dennis Faustino was wading into a storm.

        "Many are ignorant of the religions of history."

        "Such as?"

"One is obliged to ask the question why is it that the meaning of the word ‘Druid' means ‘knowledge of the oak.' One is obliged to ask why the Viking religion and spiritual world based in the book Havamal was based on the Ygdragsil Tree. One is also obliged to ask why North American Indians regard the Poplar tree as the Tree of Life and the conduit to the Great Spirit, and thus dance around it during a Sundance offering prayer ties to the Creator? Why is there this fundamental similarity when religious scholars studying the migration of Ten Lost Tribes from Jacob's Twelve Tribes of Israel believe that the Celts, the Scandinavians and the North American Indians all come from the Diaspora from 683BC? I believe there is a common footnote. But that's just me."

"Is that so?" Dennis Faustino asked, as they both took swigs from their glasses of Scotch.

"Like Valhalla was to the Vikings what the Promised Land was to the Israelites and what was La Merica was to the old Gauls and Franks, and perhaps like the Holy Grail of the Merovingians, one world religion uniting all in this life is what we're after.

"What's this about La Merica?"

"Yes. La Merica is where the word America comes from."

"You're mad!" said Dennis Faustino, smiling and interested in this odd specimen before him. He was half serious and half amused. "It was named after Amerigo Vespucci. So says the textbooks throughout the Western World."

"Welcome to my world, the world outside textbooks in the realm of the suppressed truths. The Israelites called the ‘Promised Land' La Merica, which means "the great place beyond the sea." Wouldn't North America be that land? They thought so, and believed they were destined to settle this land according to the many passages in Genesis, thus Manifest Destiny. The word America is different than Amerigo. It's from La Merica. And that's why it was always referred to as the Promised Land."

"Is all this true? I know about Jacob's twelve but this other stuff! Are you sure?"

"You're trying to ascertain the legitimacy these facts, whether facts blurred with liberal hermeneutical zeal sprinkled with subjectivity and subconscious political agenda, or objective and clean." Dennis Faustino was now weary of Hellmantle's sanity. To D'Aqs, Dennis Faustino was on the fence whether or not to buy in to these theories.

"Are you joking?" D'Aqs saw the mouth tense.

"No, he never jokes when discussing items of the spirit. That's the thing with Hellmantle, he loves to shock people. The more severe the shock from the higher degree of obscurity of the fact, the more he thrives. Humor him. I just let him talk. Easier that way," said D'Aqs, feeling like his cousin might become disrespectful when this man had invited them into his home. Hellmantle waved his hand, looked at Dennis Faustino; the man well versed in general religious history.

"Thank you D'Aqs. Okay then Hellmantle," he said, wisely filling up Hellmantle's glass, "that stuff you were talking about outside, about the Knights of the Hospital. What else can you tell me about them?" Having known Hellmantle since the early years at boarding school D'Aqs was aware that he flourished she having something specific. He always floundered with general open-ended questions.

"Weren't the Knights Hospitaller disbanded because someone owed them money?"

"Yes. In 1137 Pope Innocent the Second issued a bull Christianae fidei religio that gave the Knights of the Hospital ‘extensive privileges,' which enabled them to accumulate both land and money. The Hospital of St. John, as it was also known, lent monies to King Louis VII of France for the disastrous Second Crusade, and they were able to protect their castles in Syria until the end of the 13th century. The pilgrims continued to come as long as there was a hospice run by the Hospitallers where they could find protection, medicine and a bed on their journey to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher."

"Very interesting, Hellmantle," said Dennis Faustino, now relaxing and watching this unusual motorcyclist. "I'm interested in knights, not trees. There's a functioning brain in there somewhere."

"When I bring up religion at the bars in Hong Kong with people from around the world one learns about the history of oppression of various sects and groups of people oppressed by the Catholic Church. But as you know, Doctor Faustino, the Pope and his Roman Catholic soldiers have been oppressing us for almost 2000 thousand years. At one point during the Dark Ages it was absurd how powerful the Pope had become. For example, when the Knights Templar were convicted in the first decade of the fourteenth century, once Pope Clement V issued the list of charges, the Templars were as good as convicted. How could the Templars be proven not guilty if the Pope is literally the seat of God on earth? God must sanction the Pope's word. It was ridiculous. It still is ridiculous."

"What else can you tell me of these knights of the Temple?"

"I can tell you that the Nine Worthies who led the First Crusade, were all honored knights by the Pope of having secured Solomon's Temple from the Muslims, the first nine Knights Templar. They took a vow to uphold honor of God and fight for the righteous, and they took a vow to poverty and weren't allowed to shave their bears or cut their hair." Dennis Faustino liked this hand-selected nugget, stroking his beard proudly, in his imagination trained for drama he enjoyed mulling images of himself as a modern-day Templar who played the organ rather than rode a horse and went on adventures to distant lands with sword in hand,

"So their motto is to: serve and protect God and the needy?"

"That's about right," said D'Aqs, wading in with his own determination from listening to this walking encyclopedia.

"While my dad was alive, and was researching the Knights Templar and about our ancestor Hughes de Payens, he learned of something from a letter that's stuck with me but is not written anywhere else among the vast body of knowledge we have about the Knights Templar. Written by de Payens himself who was the actual founding father of the Templars, to all Templars, it said the devil tempts the brothers with pride and ambition with the idea of achieving higher rank. In his letter that was found in the Hellmantle castle archives, it insists that all Templars must resist these desires with humility. Only with patience and humility will they best serve God."

"Have you seen this letter?"

"No. But I know it also has a rebuttal to any objection that the Order's military's duties might be an obstacle to the peace of mind essential for contemplation. He argues that even contemplative warrior monks must perform some labor, and cannot live without devoting time to activities other than contemplation. That's why I like motorcycling."

"Sounds noble."

"It was similar to students of Saint Columba from Ireland who went to Scotland and set up these monasteries that produced warrior monks who would leave Scotland each year for Europe when the message of Jesus was at risk of being lost to history."

        "Form the Celtic Church?"

        "Yeah, who were at the time equal in power to Rome. Have you ever heard of the seventh-century maxim: The Celtic Church brings love while the Roman Church brings law?"


"These Celtic warrior monks founded over forty monasteries in Europe from France to Switzerland."

        "I remember reading about these guys. They walked to the Mediterranean every summer playing the bagpipes and spreading the Gospel."

        "Yep, those are the guys. It reflects the essential thrust of the Ten Knightly Virtues. I only wish I had been mature enough when my father was alive so we could have shared as pint and talk about a lot of this tuff. That is my biggest regret in my life." The transformation was swift, mouth like an envelope, eyelids suddenly heavier than lead, finally a kink in his chain mail.

        "What happened to your father Hellantle?" Dennis Faustino poured his glass full as well as his own.

        "He was killed by some chappies from Rome is what happened to him." Dennis Faustino looked at D'Aqs as Hellmantle toyed with his Scotch glass, turning it around and tipping it to the meniscus.

        "How did they manage that?"

        "Agents of Rome have been killing off people of importance for two thousand years. They're experts at knocking off those who are a threat to their power. My father was no different. After my grandfather was killed in battle in Dien Bien Phu, he took on a lot of the work his father was doing but the thing about my Dad was that he was very outspoken and was talking to some powerful people who had the means to diseminate inforation to the public. My brother and I were also interested in what he was doing but we were too damned irresponsible to show any interest. He died thinking I was a selfish kid." Face sombre, eyes heavy, he stared at his untouched glass. "So I have to live with that."

"My father died too without me telling him the things I wanted to. Maybbe that's just part of life."

        "No! It's not part of life! I had a choice to show interest but I didn't! We all have a choice, man!"

"I'm sorry for your loss Hellmantle, but try to take some comfort that your father is very, very proud of you right now as he watches you ride your motorbike through dangerous areas here in remote areas of my country. How can he not be proud?" Pain swirled, eyes dark and wet, emotion threatening his intellect, Hellmantle processed his words in sielnce, and then finally spoke thus:

        "Yes! You are correct. Nice one. Okay then, here's to my father Rolland the Second. May he be happy in Valhalla and be proud of his son in his diligence and perseverence to complete his work." They raised glasses and Helmantle drank his entire glass.

        "Son? Don't you mean sons?" Hellmantle bolted out of his seat and left for the gazebo outside.

        "His brother died when he was sixteen on a ski trip," said D'Aqs in a whisper.

        "Oh." Removed a cigarette but didn't light it. "Were they close?" D'Aqs pulled off his sweater.

        "Yes, very close. They were identical twin brothers. I went to school with them both. They were inseperable. Spoke some strange language and were always a team. We all looked up to them. Envied them I think is the better word."

        "Another tragedy for your friend."

        "I've been thinking a lot about it since we started our ride and I don't think twins realize the power they have when they're together. Take it all for granted until it's no longer there. Both of them used to do the most outlandish things but I think they could do that because of this support they had for each other."

        "Unconditional love."

        "Yes, but more than that. They could take risks or act the fool but they each knew it was all right. At boarding school it was what enabled them to become the leaders of the school."

        "The loss of a loved father and a brother is hard to take, but a twin brother? Wow." Epathy in Dennis Faustino's eyes.

        "And the deathes happened within a year of each other. I wonder if he will ever allow himself to recovered, because he's certainly changed a lot when I knew him well at school."

        "And you're a minister?"

        "Yes, so it's in my heart to help him but the problem is I don't think he wants help, or is capable of being helped."

        "Maybe you're helping him by just being with him." A tear fell from D'Aqs' eye but he let it fall on the table, the salty stain glistening under the chandelier.



TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
          The Family of the Bible
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
o       Chronology of Historical Events



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