Sunday, November 30, 2003

Adobo eaters: are we supporting agri-corporations?

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I just received the beautiful print edition of the literary ezine, Our Own Voice, which includes Eileen Tabios' "Meditations on Ilocano Abstractions," and Jean Vengua Gier's "Gier on Gier." Well done, Reme, Nadine and Geejay!

Another book that just arrived in the mail is Eleazar Fernandez' Realizing the America of our Hearts: Theological Voices of Asian Americans, edited by Filipino theologian Eleazar Fernandez and Fumitaka Matsuoka, published by Chalice Press. Eleazar's chapter is titled "Postcolonial Exorcism and Reconstruction: Filipino Americans' Search for Postcolonial Subjecthood.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Thank you, Jean, for pointing to what's going on in Venezuela. Nakakainis! how a country like Venezuela, rich in oil and other resources, can be ravaged. Reminds me of my sad republic - the title, by the way, of a Filipino novel by Eric Gamalinda (checked it up on amazon but it's not available thru amazon) Maybe Arkipelago Books carries it or Linda Nietes' Philippine Expressions.

Nakakainis ditto: The Last Samurai -- the latest orientalist nightmare per poet Paolo Javier!

There is one addiction I approve of: Adobo. Eileen, Jean, Michelle, Barbara, Tatang, and Sunny
are all obsessed with adobo. What we don't know is where its origins are from. Being from Pampanga, the cooking capital of the Philippines (our foods are now "national delights") - I say, it is an original Kapampangan dish that has since travelled around the world and returned with as many variations possible. My guess is that before the days of refrigeration, many of the dishes, adobo included, had to be cooked with ingredients that wouldn't spoil easily, so vinegar, salt, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorn -- voila -- adobo that taste even better on the second and third day.

I am slooow...Here, I'm belatedly responding to some issues raised by Eileen weeks ago on poetics and politics, about silence, appropriation, about paying attention. As I thought about the word "appropriation" I also had Thanksgiving day in mind because the wily Filipino asked what my version of Thanksgiving is (hence the first paragraph below).

-----musings on politics of appropriation--

I recently said in a post that I do not consider Thanksgiving as “my holiday.” I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving until I came to the US 20 years ago and now that I have a better understanding of its historical roots, I wish I were joining the sunrise celebration at Alcatraz with the AIM (American Indian Movement) instead. But I give in to the invented tradition – friends and family are coming – someone will make the turkey and I will make the traditional side dishes. I appropriate the commodified tradition. Mea culpa.

In one of my classes, we were discussing the issue of intersexuality. Many of the students were surprised to learn that there are more than two sexes: male, merms, herms, ferms, and female. Intersex people used to be called hermaphrodites. So I had this in mind when I was thinking of the poetics and politics of appropriation. But what of the poet who appropriates the term “hermaphrodite” as part of her language play, as part of her aesthetics? She acknowledges that she is a rebel poet and as such pushes against the limits of language -- in this case the perceived silence of the word “hermaphrodite” or the invisibility of hermaphrodite individuals in public spaces and discourse. When is it appropriate for an outsider (to the group being appropriated) to transgress real and imagined boundaries?

Bell hooks writes that transgression that does not lead to (social, political, ethical) transformation becomes reduced to a fetish. Transgression for its own sake may be experienced as liberating by the transgressor. (Like when I first used the “f” word in a poem with the self-consciousness of a well-behaved Methodist now transgressing the rules of her childhood religion!). Eileen was delighted by my transgression but I’d hate to be found out by my father-pastor! And still I must ask: what was that for? Was it transformative for anyone else but me?

What the postcolonial scholars like Edward Said argue with postmodern folks whose main focus is on language and discourse as the source of meaning is the erasure of context -- usually the imperial/colonizing context out of which such discourses emerged. The process of erasure never becomes visible unless an outsider points it out. When Trinh Minh-Ha talks about the politics of the veil (to veil or not to veil) she makes that erasure visible. When writers ask about the meaning of silence (submission or resistance?), one is always led to ask about the context. Who is being silent? Why silence?

In the case of poets who privilege language over politics (context is always about politics), how do they decide when their transgression is done in the name of poetry? Poetry doesn’t have to be bounded by rules, does it?

Not all postmodern theorists focus on the primacy of language. There are those who also emphasize the importance of intersubjectivity. We exist in this world only to the extent that we are interrelated and interdependent with other human beings and other created species on the planet. I think the “death of the author” and the “death of master narratives” comes from this desire to decenter Eurocentric privilege and power (its Enlightenment ideals in particular) and in a large sense, that has been a good development.

As a postcolonial, I see the dark side of postmodernism in this eruption of hybridity, spectacle, nomadism, cosmopolitanism, fragmentation, nihilism, fetishism (oh and my students recently told me – of metrosexuality!), the orgiastic enthusiasm over the perceived triumph over modernity’s dualisms. We are now free to cross borders. Damn the immigration officer! As the postcolonial critics would remind us – the lived reality of the many people esp. in neo and postcolonial contexts belies our imagined worlds. Perhaps it works for those privileged enough to transgress all they want without harm or consequence to themselves. But at some very deep intersubjective level, perhaps there is no such thing as autonomy or independent acts without consequences.

So how to interpret the appropriation of the word “hermaphroditism” when used by a poet who is not intersex? Or how do we interpret the admonition not to use the “n” word unless one is black? Is there one rule for both? And if we apply some hard and fast rule to interpretation, doesn’t that contradict the postmodern position of polyvocality?

Without knowing the context that led to the poet’s appropriation, the reader relies on available contexts embedded in public discourse on gender. The public discourse on gender is certainly not very visible in areas such as intersexuality. Heterosexism and sexual prejudice continue unabated in the legal arena. But in the arena of poetics? What matters more: the poet’s act of transgression or the poem’s effects on readers who feel that the act of appropriation constitutes a colonizing act by an outsider? What aspects of the process of colonization/appropriation need to be made visible? Can those aspects become visible without the space for interlocution?

In the blogworld where there is no blogpolice and participants must rely on their sense of compassion, whose responsibility is it to point out that one poet’s act of transgression can be received as a colonizing act by another poet? Where and how do these poets speak to one another? And what is the role of power in the ensuing dialogue?

Stuart Hall is famous for saying that we must practice a “politics without guarantee” because we can and must not rely on the guarantees formerly provided by religion, science, and anthropology to secure our sense of comfort in the world; that these are the very same ideologies that cemented the racial, ethnic, sex and gender, and class divisions in the modern world. But a “politics without guarantee” must always be a politics of critique of hegemony and injustice. Part of the injustice in U.S. culture is the invisibility of the privileges of race, ethnicity (white), sex and gender (straight), and class (elite) – they are invisible because they remain unmarked, and I suspect, not usually a part of the discussion of aesthetics or poetics from the postmodern perspective. When a postcolonial person calls attention to this invisibility, one may be instantly accused of politicizing poetry and therein the machinations of power begin the work of silencing.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Quickly-jotted notes in response to a query from Oscar Penaranda about Christmas in the Philippines:

Ok - here are some of the things we did around Christmas in Pampanga - the
Christmas Capital of the Philippines:

Dec 15-23- start of Simbang Gabi (both Protestants and Catholics); usually
Mass starts at 5am followed by a stroll around the plaza to eat
puto-bumbong or take it home for breakfast...Pampanga is also the dessert
capital of the Philippines. Mom starts making all kinds of christmas
desserts - palitaw, sapin-sapin, yemas, ube (kalamay or haleya), bibingka,
tamales, suman (sa lihiya or ebus or bulagta), leche flan, polvoron.
Remember that during this season, people come to visit (announced or not)
and my Mom always made sure there was food to serve.

Decorate the house. In the past, we'd strip the branches of a guava tree and
paint them white then hang decorations or take a walis tingting/stickbroom
and stand it on it's flat end, spray it with gold paint (or silver) and hang
tiny christmas balls on the slim ends of the broom. This was before imported
fake christmas trees became fashionable. Install outdoor lights and a small
version of the San Fernando lantern.

There is a Children's Christmas Program at the church; we perform our
favorite bible verses, there's usually a pantomine of some aspect of the
christmas story. At the end of the program, children receive brown christmas
bags containing a native orange, candy, a comb, soap, a plastic toy - or
whatever the committee manages to put together. On another night, there will
be a choral concert by the adult choirs, usually singing from Handel's
Messiah. I think today's Filipino choirs tend to sing more Filipino
christmas choral music.

There are nights of caroling. There are several jeepney-loads of
carolers and we stop at selected church members' homes where the carolers
usually are served drinks (hot chocolate, salabat) and sweet rice desserts
in many varieties. Neighborhood kids also went caroling. They flattened the
bottle caps of soda bottles and string them together - voila, tambourine!

Dec. 24 - Noche Buena - midnight dinner. My Mom always made nilaga, asado,
pancit, and other kakanins...When we were younger, my parents would hang
stockings (my Mom's hose) by the window and fill them with presents for us
younger ones to find on christmas morning.

Watch the giant lantern festival at midnight. Each barrio would participate
in a lantern procession towards the center of the plaza and they will be
followed by the barrio's giant lantern entry to the festival. These lanterns
are made of papel de hapon originally (today plastic), about 12ft by 12ft or
larger with 1,000 bulbs connected with hairpin circuit switches and powered
by a generator on a flat bed truck. The six or seven lanterns representing
each barrio will vie for the "Best Lantern" award as chosen by the entire
community. In the 1980-90s, fortunately or unfortunately, the department of
Tourism started to get involved in the lantern festival. Imelda Marcos
brought them to Manila after Christmas for viewing at Luneta. The DOT
brought in "expert judges" from abroad or Manila to do the judging (much
unappreciated by the locals, understandably). Last Christmas (2002), the
giant of all giant lanterns was installed at Robinson's mall with corporate
sponsorship. It was created to enter it into the Guinness Book of Records.

Dec. 25 - go to church in the morning; after church go to Ninang/Ninong's
house to kiss their hands and accept their regalos. Families and relatives
will make the rounds to each other's house all day long, bringing presents,

Dec 26-31 -- Young people attend the Christmas Institute (Methodists) - a
weeklong camp. (This still happens in the US by the way).

The Wily Filipino is inviting us to write about ADOBO, inspired (ehem) as he said to me, by my poem, "The Power of Adobo," in Going Home to a Landscape. Well, Wily, here's the first adobo hay(na)ku:

Must negotiate
With the Duende*

Can a
Duende cook Adobo?

Said, Poetry
Is like Adobo

Slays Your
Palate with love.

*(From Kim Addonizio)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Notes on Exile from Edward Said: I miss him.

Expats and exiles’ precariousness of vision, tentativeness of statement use language to provoke readers into awareness that language is all about experience and not just about itself…Exiles bear freight of anxiety, elaborateness, overstatement because you can’t take for granted the luxury of residence, habitual environment, native idiom – and must compensate for these things.

I’m thinking of Pilipino Christmas traditions even while writing the above…

Western criticism draws away from experience towards form and formalism…reducing the massive precincts of life and historical experience.

Ma always made nilaga for noche Buena – delicious soup made of hambone, chicken, pork with cabbage, leeks, potatoes. Chinese ham simmered in beer and seven up for 12 hours…puto bumbong, tamales, bibingka, lechon, bringe…

The passion, force, drive to write and invest texts with history and not the other way around…..Reality without absolutes, language of synthesis constantly experienced moment…forcing words back into the messy physical reality from which words emanate.

Messy: war, ethnic cleansing, forced migration, unhappy dislocation, slavery.

I am the maid of the world and the world has made me dirty. (Irene Duller).

I miss my Mother. This is the first Christmas without her.

Writers provide alternative consciousness to that of mainstream, orthodox, establishment consciousness.

Dominant and subaltern people in imperialism share the same secular world and so must wage liberation and inclusion within that one world space.

I wonder how J is doing after letting go of her mother…she hasn’t posted in her blog lately.

The danger of empty humanism, of simply reasserting classical humanistic norms in the study of literature is to feed an agenda determined to weed out any mention of transnational experiences –poverty, war, imperialism – that has disfigured human history.

I called my Mother the social welfare agency for Myrna’s family – our laundrywoman with a dozen children and over-numerous grandchildren. My mother fed her family for 40 years. Now with my mother gone, I wonder how Myrna is doing.

The greatest difficulty to avoid is the temptation to counter-conversion; the wish to find a new system, territory, allegiance to replace the lost one and more complete visions. Exiles must remain skeptical and on guard – refuse the jargon of specialization, blandishment of power and quietism of non-involvement.

Exile and memory go together and it is what one remembers of the past and how one remembers that determines how one sees the future.

I am having non-Filipino company for brunch today… I resisted the temptation to buy a holiday bouquet at Oliver’s…not because I didn’t want a festive ambience with my friends. I felt a twinge of lack-of-ownership of this coming holiday. It is not mine. Just as the feminist movement is not mine. I may have to explain this to my friends over steaming plates of garlic fried rice, adobo, lumpiang shanghai, guinataang gulay, and achara. On the other hand, we cook because words are never enough.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Unang Subok

Pasubok ngang
magsulat ng tula

pala itong hay(naku)

bagang isang
malamig na batis

Looks like Tatang has upped the ante on the hay(na)ku form!! Tatang, this must be your answer to Rio Alma's failure to give you a demo of balagtasan.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Barbara sent me excerpts from "poeta en san francisco" - a work in progress. Below is my first response:

The poem reminds me of the ululation of women
Is it the pain of exile?
Or the fear that one's apocalyptic vision,
Like Cassandra's, will not forestall its

I am nailed by images evoked here:
I see La Llorona roaming the Mission
In search of her children.
The juxtaposition between 'Nam and
Philippines - both tropical apparitions
Summoned by an imagination reaching
Far back into the heat and heart of

Then soothed by a dark kind of love,
Between two exiles from different
Wars, each a trope of the other.

Elsewhere, the duplicity of religion and
Patriotism; both unacceptable.
One a fake refuge, the other
Worthy only of a

I am jolted by the subjects in address,
Stood paralyzed towards the
Final image of immolation, asking
Only, "what was sacrificed?"

How wide does an angel's
Wingspan have to be to
Carry all your sorrow?

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Brain on empty after writing up documents required to keep my job. I realize I still don't like tooting my own horn. Maybe it's because "ang Pilipino hindi nagbibilang" (Filipinos don't always want/need to keep track of who is doing what for whom; we just do without thinking of being recompensed for it), according to MC Canlas. (Thank goodness though for all the kind people who wrote testimonials on my behalf!). But the documentation made me grumpy all over again. Not to mention that some folks have been telling me that I use too much jargon (read: elitist, exclusionary language). Aucckk!!

Thankfully, there are always other blogs to read and distract myself and learn new words like germantic... or learn how to do hay(na)ku right.

Monday, November 17, 2003

This is what happens when poets cook at 2am.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Who is Soshanna Johnson? Why haven't we heard her story? And why is she being discharged by the army at the rate of 30% disability benefit compared to Lynch's 80% disability benefit? Not to mention the latter's tv and book deals about a story that was only a half-truth....I'd rather see a Soshanna Johnson story.

The billionaire, George Soros, has made it his personal goal to defeat Bush in 2004. He is putting his money where his mouth is -- financing several organizations such as "Get Out the Vote" campaign and moveon.org. His reason: Bush is bad for this country, bad for the world.

"The rich are different from you and me"...Walden Bello's opening quote at a debate between Soros and himself (and other panelists) at what was billed as "Davos/World Economic Forum versus Porto Alegre/World Social Forum." Who is the author of the quote?

Friday, November 14, 2003

The last time I peeked into Eileen's blog, she was grumpy. The angels have returned, I see.

I am interested in "grumpiness" -- how poets write about it or not write about it. How it seeps into poems and find their way into images. For a notyetapoet like me, grumpy only makes me crawl into bed. I feel angry but without an object, it merely coils into my body, tightening the muscles on my neck and shoulders. I feel scared. I wonder when it will end. I pray without a rosary. I breathe deeply. I make myself fall asleep hoping it's gone by morning.

I didn't realize that Wal-Mart carries Halloween mail-order bride costumes. GABRIELA is protesting the sale of the costume covered with stamps and money saying that it is racist and sexist as well as insulting to the memory of the mail order brides who were murdered by their husbands (Blackwell case in Seattle). (Email them at gabnet@gabnet.org for more info).

Another anonymous hate-letter towards Filipino nurses has been circulating. Below is a response fron the editor of a nursing magazine. Should we give anonymous hate-mongers the time of day? I'm not sure. But it's bothersome enough to warrant this posting.



Harboring Hate

The targets may be different, but prejudice still exists

By Lyn A. E. McCafferty, Editor

The letter arrived with all the other mail on Wednesday, Nov 5. Addressed to ADVANCE for Nurses Advisory Board, it wound up on my desk because the postmark was Staten Island, NY. The return addressee? " Real human being."

When I slit open the envelope, three pieces of paper came tumbling out. One was an ad from our magazine with a woman's face "X'd" out and black marker scrawls over the page. I looked at the next piece of paper. It was a scribbled list that was hard to read but I got the gist: Philippine nurses are running American healthcare.

The writer had a slew of insults to share about her opinion of Philippine nurses. They're dangerous. Poisonous. Selfish. Silent killers. Don't believe short people. Hate whites, blacks, Asians. Very very nasty. The list was both offensive and ridiculous.

Unfortunately, the letter went on. The author said 25,000 Philippine nurses should go back to their country. She said these nurses were giving hospitals a cut-rate on nursing staff and keeping so-called American workers out of jobs.

Hello? Aren't we in the middle of a nursing shortage? Do you know any nurses who can't find a job in bedside nursing? As a nation on the brink of a healthcare crisis, don't we need all the help we can get?

Melting Pot

As I shared the hateful and destructive letter with my co-workers ---incredulous that this kind of prejudice still exists in 2003---I was struck by a few things.

Firsts, the writer was from New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world. When I think back to how New Yorkers---of all shapes, sizes, races, genders and ethnicities---pulled together after Sept. 11, I can't imagine going back to 1950. Our differences are just one of the things that makes America great. The melting pot of our country didn't stop adding new ingredients once this person got here.

Second, why is the writer badmouthing a group of people who, from my point of view, left their homes to help relieve the nursing shortage in our country? Our ancestors weren't Americans when they came here either, but they became Americans by their sweat, their labor and their smarts. They became a part of this country by helping this country and that's exactly what the Philippine nurses are doing. They're helping.

O we have to test nurses who come from other countries? Of course. We need to make sure they can properly care for patients here, to United States' standards. Just like American nurses must pass their boards, so too must foreign nurses.

Final Thought

The final thing that struck me about the letter was that the writer didn't sign her name. She cut out the mailing label so we couldn't discover her identity.

Evidently, she wanted to share her hatred but not her name. That is not the mark of a courageous person, it is the sign of a coward.

Real nurses are not cowards; you are heroes. And heroes protect and serve everyone ---equally.


Advance for Nurses Magazine
Serving RNs in the Greater NY/NJ Metro Area
November 10, 2003 Vol3 No 24 Issue

Contact Info:

Merion Publications Inc., Advance for Nurses, New York/New jersey
Metro Area, 2900 Horizon Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406-0956
800-355-5627, 610-278-1400

Lyn A.E. McCafferty, Editor
800-355-5627 ext 1193

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Yesterday was Veteran's Day. Barbara Jane has posted war-theme poems. Thanks, Barb!

The spouse and I watched Independent Lens on PBS last night; a 32-year old daughter attempts to re-create memories of what her Vietnam Vet-father (who died when she was only 4mos. old) could have been like as a father. Her journey leads to a confrontation with the delayed grief and unmourned loss of all those related to her - grandma,uncles, mother, her Dad's war buddies. 32 years is a long time to wait. I imagine how many more war veterans and families have repressed their grief. Unmourned loss, I think, becomes subversive when repressed and resurfaces as anger, bitter and cold.

My friend, Jean Vengua, talks of lettinggolettinglettinggoooo.

In class we were discussing sex and gender issues. A question about homophobia:

Straight student: I am afraid of being hit on by a gay person; does that make me homophobic?

Gay student: When a gay person hits on you, consider it a compliment!

Regarding intersexed persons as falling outside of the binary sexual norms:

Female student with blond hair: But we have to draw the line somewhere, don't we? Must we build restrooms and other facilities for the third, fourth, fifth sexes?

Older white male student: I am a Christian; the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. So if it is wrong, it can be corrected. I know two people personally whose encounter with God led them to change from being homosexuals to heterosexuals. Now they are both happily married! I am very tolerant of gay people because God says we must love the sinner but not the sin.

Another female student with blond hair: Yes, but you would deny them their right to be legally protected by the law by not voting for same-sex marriage!

As I observe the students discuss biopower amongst themselves, the white men are visibly agitated, defensive, and impatient. My thoughts drift to Michael Moore's talk about "angry, white men". How can a group with so much power be so angry?, he asks.

Monday, November 10, 2003

In 2001, George Julius was expelled from Santa Teresa High School and spent 90days in San Jose Juvenile Hall for "writing poetry deemed too violent." He showed a poem to two classmates with the line "For I can be the next kid to bring guns to kill students at school." In an amicus brief filed last month, writers including JM Coetzee and Michael Chabon, asked the courts to overturn the conviction citing the "use of violent imagery as a literary device... and poetry as a medium for the examination of one's potential for depravity." The Juvenile Court upheld the conviction which found it "reasonable to assume the boy could immediately act on his writings and noted that he wrote the poem on his own, rather than for his honors English class."

I am particularly struck by this news item in today's paper following Gore's speech last night on how our civil rights have suffered as a result of the Patriot Act. If you didn't see his speech, go to www.moveon.org.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

On the deconstructive impulse:

"What the deconstructive impulse particularly rejects is the idea that an ethical sense of self-limits arises from the experience of discontinuity or the creation of disorienting things. Discontinuity and disorientation figure instead as opening the gates to a more enraged! relation to the world...but even such vision has become too comfortable by now, like a well-rehearsed ballet of subversive gestures...A truly more uncomfortable idea is that difference, discontinuity, and disorientation ought to be of ethical forces which connect people with one another. Viewed this way, the ethics of difference, the moral value of exposure to others, the creative act of disorientation, recall the experience of sympathy...to communicate sympathetically requires the experience of (Simone weil's notion of) "rootedness." Every human being needs to have multiple roots.
(Richard Sennett, The Conscience of the Eye, p.225-227)

Some folks have asked for a copy of this outline:

Nov. 8, Symposium of the American Association for Filipino Psychology and Culture
PUSOD, Berkeley

Title: So You’ve Decolonized…Now What?:Expanding the Boundaries of Sikolohiyang Pilipino(SP/Filipino Psychology and Culture)

I have used Sikolohiyang Pilipino as a counternarrative to colonization. My book, Coming Full Circle, follows the framework that Enriquez has presented in his works; I see my work as an extension of Enriquez’s and others in the SP literature. Additionally, however, I have also used other postcolonial theorists like Paulo Freire, Franz Fanon, Ashis Nandy, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Malidoma Some, Gloria Anzaldua, bell hooks, Cornel West and others to expand on what Enriquez has begun for me. I would like to present how I have used SP’s body of knowledge and how it interfaces with other theoretical discourses in academe and how I would like to expand its borders by asking new questions.

Core theoretical contributions of SP to my work:
· SP – indigenous core values vs. accommodative values – Enriquez
· Methodology – Pagtatanung-tanong/Pe-Pua – participatory research and phenomenological meditation
· Study of loob – Alejo; renewal of cultural energies
· Study of indigenous theology/spirituality – Maggay(indigenous religious consciousness), Mercado, Magos (ma-aram tradition),
· Study of contemporary Filipino culture (in the Philippines) – Alegre, Azurin
· Historical perspective, Cultural History (re-reading and re-interpreting historical accounts) – Mojares, Rafael, Ileto, Campomanes
· Filipino studies (pang-tayo at pang-kami pananaw) and diaspora studies – Salazar, Lily Mendoza, et al

Uses of above to create framework for decolonization among post-65 Fil Ams
· As a psychological process – to counter western psychological models of normativity; to provide alternative to the dualist assimilation vs acculturation framework.
· As a sociocultural movement in the Bay Area
· As a teaching framework (transformative pedagogy) – Freire’s naming-reflection-action
· As strategic essentialism and counter-hegemonic narrative. (Define “essentialism” and “hegemony” and why “strategic” and “counter-hegemony” – when applied to the concept of culture)

(Western) Academic discourses
· Study of Ancient cultures from classical anthropology: “primitive” = indigenous peoples
· Modernism – the consequences of the split western psyche; I and the Other
· Postmodernism – decenter European master narratives: the “I” doesn’t exist except in relation to other “I’s” (influence of Buddhist/eastern philosophy via Nietzche, to deconstructionists (Derrida, Barthes) and to Foucault, etc.
· Postcolonialism – worldwide decolonization movement
· Critical race theory – Race as written on the body and how it’s read; criticism of global white supremacy
· Critical multiculturalism – questioning the foundations of U.S. ideals; the social contract as a racial contract

(Critique of SP: Identity politics as a trap; how to move beyond binary oppositional categories and complicate the way we understand postcoloniality and postmodernity)

The 21ct century world we live in:

Globalization – 21st century and the manic phase of global capitalism
· Effects on third world/south
· Cultural logic - commodification
· Economic – labor and capital flows
· Identity – diaspora and transnationalism, resurgent nationalisms

Pro-globalization – “end of history” argument; end of “nation-states”

Critique of globalization from postcolonial studies and the ecological movement:
· Questions of sustainability
· Questions of environmental justice
· Critique of postmodern identity –as cosmopolitan nomadism, rootlessness and homelessness; fluid and hybrid.

Filipinos in the diaspora
· Mediated and inflected by global white supremacy
· Social costs and consequences of diaspora - OFWs
· Rationalizing the diaspora from an evangelical perspective
· Emotional labor is cheap and exploitable

What does SP have to say?
· Explore paradigms of “place” versus “time”
· Explore role of indigenization theory in addressing globalization’s effects and consequences. Note the growing importance of ‘re-enchantment of the Nature,’ ecological view that humans are one of many species on the planet. Exploring the wisdom of indigenous peoples who live sustainably on the earth for hundreds of thousands of years. What can we learn from the indigenous peoples of the Philippines? Do we still have residual memory of being indigenous?
· Explore the need to expand beyond the borders of ethnic studies – race, ethnicity, class, sex and gender are important but not fixed categories. As people migrate to urban centers, as interracial unions happen, emergence of a mestisaje race – requires new frames of analysis. Ethnicity will be important again in the face of national boundary struggles (Israel/Palestine). Class struggles between rich and poor intensifies. Women and children will continue to be marginalized by patriarchy and WSC.
· Embed SP within discourses. What does the Filipino have to say to the world? Do we have anything important to say? As religious violence escalate, what will be the role of indigenous/animist religious beliefs and practices? What are the spiritual practices of decolonized Filipino Americans and how do they transform the received faith/religion of their parents as carried over (often uncritically) from the homeland? How do Filipino spirituality and SP core values, when articulated and integrated, provide a new framework for understanding our locations and positions? How do we use our locations and positions to make a difference? In speaking truth to power? In creating social justice?

Thursday, November 06, 2003

well, this blog world will take getting used to...too many blogs to read and too little time to post on my own. I just responded in private to a post in Tatang's karinderia about his reaction to a lecture he attended at UCBerkeley. Should I have posted my reaction on this blog instead? I don't know. Anyway, here's a copy of my response.

"hhmm, i'm skimming thru blogs and hurriedly read thru your take on Almario's lecture and your disappointment. I really don't know what the disappointment was about but it reminded me of a time when I, too, felt disappointed by the public lecture of a Filipino writer at the Asian Art Museum years ago. I felt that he didn't meet my expectation based on his stature as a national artist/writer. I asked a question which he dismissed lightly and his answer wasn't well thought-out. However, upon reflection on my own reaction to him, I realized that I failed to consider that, as someone coming from the Philippines, he probably also felt that the audience was strange and perhaps it is quite unnerving to be in a room full of (supposedly) Filipinos but there is such an ocean between him and his audience. A more thoughtful Pinay told me that perhaps given his limited knowledge and experience in Filipino America, my question was beyond his grasp...as i thought more about it, i relented and felt that I had reacted in an imperial manner - "how dare he not meet my expectations!" -- and was exercising my sense of privilege and entitlement to a "proper" lecture by someone who claims to be an expert.

anyway -- a balagtasan does require two people in a spontaneous verbal joust, so maybe it was not possible to do a demo?...."

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Sherman Alexie in his audio monologue, Dear John Wayne, talks about Etta who became John Wayne's lover during the filming of "The Searchers." Some of the students in my class gasped and squirmed when they heard the words "penis," "vagina," and "condom" as Etta described how John Wayne deflowered her. This was the minor part of the 15minute monologue; the rest of it is a dialogue between Stephen Cox, anthropologist extraordinare, and Etta, a legendary pow-wow dancer. Etta refuses to give in to the objectification that the anthropologist wants to subject her to. Cox is frustrated and threatens to leave but not before Etta tells him about John Wayne.

One of the squirming women in the class is the same one who said that the protagonists in Sherman Alexie's film, Smoke Signals, have learning disabilities because of the way they talk!!

I think the greater challenge to teaching is how to remain calm, patient as you walk the class thru a Sherman Alexie experience...and to resist the temptation to colonize the classroom.

The Great Chicago Book Sale, page 32.

Take the Young Stranger by the Hand
Before the Closet
Primitive Passions
City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves
Sexology Uncensored

Monday, November 03, 2003


The moral certitute of the state in wartime is a kind of fundamentalism. And this dangerous messianic brand of religion, one where self-doubt is minimal, has come increasingly to color the modern world of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. ...There is a danger of a growing fusion between those in the state who wage war -- both for and against modern states -- and those who believe they understand and can act as agents of God. (p.147)
When I was in the Philippines last January, I was challenged by a group of Filipino theologians to think about "the power of the weak and the oppressed." They wanted me to think about the silent power of Filipino overseas workers who, by their quiet service, humility, hard work, and dignity, provides a living witness to the power of God working in their lives.

I want to believe this but struggle with another question: When we reduce the analysis of Filipino diaspora to "the will of God," is this not a kind of fundamentalism as well?

On the other hand, far more dangerous is the fundamentalism of a world leader who has the biggest guns and doesn't hesitate to wield his power.

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