Stuff I'm archiving

Depositor’s Diary: The Castañares Manuscript

I am in the process of archiving all significant materials that I scanned, photographed or recorded in Bohol on various visits between 2005 and 2011. Archiving is a seriously time-intensive activity but there is genuine relief to be found in assembling hundreds of items from stray hard drives and depositing them for posterity. Call it ‘research closure’. To mark the stages of my progress I intend to do a regular post showcasing a favourite item. Today, I am introducing the Castañares Manuscript, an extraordinary handwritten document of unknown provenance that used to be housed in the old Bohol Provincial Museum with no explanatory notes. An Eskaya teacher in Taytay suggested that it may have been penned by one Domingo Castañares which is why I refer to it as the Castañares Manuscript. In oral accounts Castañares was one of the chief scribes of Mariano Datahan and church records indicate that he was born in 1912 and died in 1985. His occupation is given as ‘farmer’. Whoever wrote it, it is likely that the scribe was more competent in Spanish than English on the basis of the frequency of copying errors in the English text. The 108 page document is fragmentary and comprises a partial trilingual Spanish–English–Eskayan dictionary with phrases, Visayan language explanations of Spanish grammar, and the text of a Visayan catechism translated into Eskayan. The only ‘original’ text in the document is the material that is in Eskayan; the remainder has been copied from at least three separate published sources. My best guess is that the original source text was a Spanish-era school book for teaching Spanish to Visayan speakers. After the arrival of American teachers in 1900, Visayan-Spanish textbooks were modified and republished to include an English column. The practice of modifying Spanish textbooks is specifically attested in Bohol. Later, it would appear that an Eskaya scribe recopied one of these modified textbooks into a notebook and replaced all Visayan text with Eskayan. The end result is a kind of palimpsest in which evidence of the two preceding texts is preserved.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Continue reading