PHILIPPINES. Makati: Imagine Dr. José Rizal and Sherlock Holmes, arguably the two smartest characters in literary history, together in a horror story. Wincy Aquino Ong wrote just such a meeting in his book, Tales for a Rainy Season, where fiction meets history.
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective who first appeared in the 1887 novel A Study in Scarlet, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes is listed in The Guinness Book Of World Records as the most portrayed literary figure in film, television, and other publications, appearing more than 25,000 times. Because of this, many believe he is an actual person.
Dr. José Rizal was declared a national hero of the Philippines in 1995 but gained recognition in 1901, a few years after his execution. He was an ophthalmologist, polymath, and writer who became the key member of the propaganda movement for Filipino freedom under Spanish rule. The Spanish colonial government executed him in 1896, triggering a revolution that led to Philippine independence.
Influenced by horror and science fiction writers
Ong grew up in a household full of books that became his natural addiction. His love of reading spans a wide range from children’s books, autobiography, graphic novels, to Star Wars. His wife shares in his passion as well.
A copywriter since 2012, he plunged into making music videos and independent films. In an interview with Transcontinental Times, Ong said, “The writers I look up to are Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Greg Pak, Chuck Palahniuk, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury. But a I’m a massive fan of Lourd de Veyra’s writing style.”
Like most writers, he prefers to write on his own. “When I write alone, something is freeing. Therefore, I concentrate on writing fiction in my house clothes in the comfort of our apartment,” he said.
Horror stories connected by a common motif: rain
A unique thing about his book is that all the stories connect the motif of rain. There is a mysterious connection between the rain and the supernatural. He said, “There is no better setting to read a spooky story than during the monsoon season. It reflects the horrors of Filipino’s everyday life.”
Tales for A Rainy Season: A Collection of 11 Horror Stories was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Smoke & Mirrors, Stephen King’s Nightmare & Dreamscapes, and Ray Bradbury’s The October Country. He adds, “Think of it as a book version of Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone, read in one sitting, designed to disturb.”
Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. José Rizal
Ong said, “I’m a big fan of alternate history, like Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglorious Bastards and Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen.” He loves imagining stories where the fictional characters coincide with yesterday’s headlines. So, he created a world where Dr. José Rizal meets Sherlock Holmes in Europe.
Dr. José Rizal went to Europe for his study and to spark the Philippine Revolution. In the same way that Sherlock Holmes was adapted several times in different mediums, “I wanted to pit him against the smartest Filipino ,Dr. José Rizal, who ever lived,” Ong said.
Therefore, he writes a fugitive thriller where Dr. José Rizal meets Sherlock Holmes with Dr. John Watson hot on his heels. He wanted to see how a Filipino can outmatch the greatest detective of all time. But he said, “It was fun writing the short story. But I am team Rizal on this.”