"Wherein orchids in their deathlike beauty unfold like torpid butterflies..." ~John Fowler
The Butterfly Catcher is set in the Cordillera mountain region of the Philippines during World War II. The year is 1945 and 19-year-old Beatriz Tagataw is an Ifugao girl who comes from a long line of rice planters living in the Philippine mountain region. Beatriz was always a curious child who likes to stray away from her tribe to imagine and explore the whole world of butterflies—a constant kaleidoscopic display alongside the trails where she one day stumbles on a Japanese soldier, named Tsukuda. Tsukuda had defected from his unit because he held a very brave and unheard belief of opposing being a part of the engine of terror, as a Japanese soldier of the time. 
One up-and-coming Filipino opera singer, Bituin Sarayaga, witnesses her family killed before her eyes before being taken away into forced prostitution, one of the so-called “Comfort Women” who are kidnapped, detained, and raped daily by a slew of Japanese soldiers.  Another factor of the story is from American GI perspectives of SGT Cloud and Specialist McKinney.  SGT Cloud is a Native American who joined the Army to escape life on the reservation. He finds himself caught in the battle at Cabanatuan with SPC McKinney who is his African American buddy from Athens, Georgia.  They also stumble upon a downed Mexican fighter pilot, part of the 201st Fighter Squadron (Mexico) that aided the U.S. war effort, shot down by the Japanese. Together they form an underground militia along with Filipino Scouts and save many U.S. troops –victims of the Bataan Death March and others until the surrender of the Japanese in the Cordillera mountains.
The setting is filled with lush, green jungles and waterfalls in the mountainous rice terraces weaving to the sky, juxtaposed by the harsh, machinery of violence and combat—of Tsukuda on the run and Beatriz harboring the enemy. The story serves to educate and become a vehicle for understanding when worlds converge cataclysmically through war.
This excerpt was deleted because I re-wrote the relationship of SGT Kaplan’s character to SGT Cloud. I decided to focus on SGT Cloud’s relationship with SPC McKinney who has not been killed off in my new version of the novel.


Tonight, he writes to Sandra in his diary:

Dear Sandra:
I thought for sure this war would be over by now and I would be home with you and the kids. Despite all the things that I have seen here, I still wish we can go back to our life before this.  And we will be, Sandra, soon dancing in each other’s arm until three a.m. more in love than ever.
I regret to say that SPC McKinney isn’t with us anymore. You remember him? Yesterday, he died of malaria. I had to write the letter to his folks back in Oklahoma. He was a great kid and a great companion.  He kept us all laughing with his southern idioms and such. Our country should be proud of the boys like him who lost their youth to this.  
But I shall remain hopeful, don’t you worry, and I will keep safe, my dear, so that we will be together again very soon.  
I love you and miss you all so very, very much…
Forever yours,

SGT Kaplan picked up his one small book of poems and essays he kept on his person at all times in his uniform pocket and continues to write his postscript:

P.S.  As Thomas Hardy wrote:

Well, World, you have kept faith with me,
Kept faith with me;
Upon the whole you have proved to be
Much as you said you were.
Since as a child I used to lie
Upon the leaze and watch the sky,
Never, I own, expected I
That life would all be fair.


Cristina Querrer was born and raised in the Philippines, post-Vietnam War, during the Marcos regime, pre-Mount Pinatubo eruption, as a (US Air Force) military child. She graduated high school from former Wagner High School, Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, in 1985 and received her MFA in Creative Writing. Querrer has two published books of poetry, By Astrolabes & Constellations and The Art of Exporting. She is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and podcaster: You can listen to her podcast at and visit her website at: http://cristinaquerrer.comThe Butterfly Catcher is her first novel-in-progress set in the Cordillera mountain region of the Philippines during World War II.

[Editor's Note: An excerpt from the novel The Butterfly Catcher is also featured HERE.]