Wednesday, March 31, 2004

a related post from Patrick Rosal via Jean

I'm of Saul Williams' generation which has done everything to the rhythms of hip-hop--beatdown, slowjammed, shotup, grieved, madelove, got-high, readKeats--yes, everything to the rhythms of hip-hop, except grow old. I think that will be the test. In my mid-thirties, I'm too young to tell the difference between sentimental charm and aesthetic stamina, between a pop phenomenon and a cultural revolution--especially when it comes to an artform I've had such an intimate and fiery relationship with. The thing is hip-hop is already creating and re-creating its language. If the language persists, it might one day become a tradition.

A year ago today, my mother died. Lit candles. I downloaded my brother's rendition of
You Raise Me Up and played it over and over until the tears dried up.

Last night I came home exhausted trying to help students appreciate poetry including rap. Travis Jones came to class and performed from his latest cd, Finals 2004, by Prospect Hill Records.

I thought of my nephew, Noel Paul, who performed a rap poem at my Mom's funeral. He prefaced it by saying that his grandmother's love of classical music also led him to appreciate music...rap music.

George Steiner says that music is perhaps the only language that can speak those 'real presences' that are so often elusive.

I do not remember my mother singing us native uyayi/lullabies. But she played Chopin, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Mozart. This was the legacy of her father who was a violin teacher.

The Philippines once had a symphony conductor (Red Romero) who believed that both European and Filipino classical music should be appreciated by Filipinos and others. But who remembers Filipino classical music now?

Monday, March 29, 2004

The Chatelaine writes about "suite nothings" here; the rest of Our Own Voice issue this quarter features Filipino poets writing in several Filipino languages! Even if I do not understand these languages (except the Kapampangan poems), I am content to know that poets are choosing to write in their native tongues.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

jargon fascinates me. while enroute back to SF from the AAAS conf in Boston, i skim Michael Hill's "After Whiteness" and i couldn't resist making a list...

fascism of benevolence father-shaped void
white racial self-negation returns as masculine vigor in the form of sexual reassertion
postwhite sensibility secures heterosexual manhood
to preserve masculinity target race
love color hate it placate the class-conflicted heterosexual masculine ends.
rejuvenated masculinity that is postwhite and violently pure
libidinization of race racialization of libido underwrite the paradoxical status of whiteness
disembodying of color which reduces race to masculine spiritual renewal in the name of a postwhite imaginary

whiteness is absent and present, authorizied and repressed, feared and desired, celebrated and demeaned, disintegrated and strengthened, post-ed and recovered, everywhere and all at once.

(pay attention to) US Marriage Movement, rise of family policy groups, Marriage Savers Networks clergy in 146 cities, Christian-based Community Marriage Covenants, Promise Keepers link to Neofascist National Alliance.

when i figure this book out, i will write more on it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

JOKE OF THE DAY: Dad's job

Little David was in his 5th grade class when the teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up -- firefighter, construction worker, salesman, etc...

David was being uncharacteristically quiet and so the teacher asked him about his father.

"My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes, if the offer's really good, he'll go out to the alley with some guy and make love with him for money."

The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly sent the other children to work on some coloring, and took Little David aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?"

"No," said David, "He works for the Bush administration, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Panel at the Asian American Studies Conference, Boston 2004

Centering Spirituality in Immigrant Life: Filipino American Strategies, Chair, Roshni Rustomji, Stanford University
1. Religious Identity for a Public Church: Filipino Catholics in South Florida, Faustino Cruz, Franciscan School of Theology
2. Contemporary Appropriation of Babaylan Traditions: Filipino American Sites, Leny Mendoza Strobel, Sonoma State University
3. Indigenizing Filipino American Theology: The Filipino Babaylan Tradition, Ofelia Villero, Franciscan School of Theology
4, Viva El Divino Rostro!: Filipino American Hometown Associations and their Devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia – The Contestation of Homeland “Memories” and the Preservation of Transnational Cultural/Religious Identity, Francine L. Redada, University of California, Los Angeles
Discussant: Rachel Bundang, Union Theological Seminary

It is not
it is not
it is not enough
to be pause, to be hole
to be void, to be silent
to be semicolon, to be semicolony;
- Edward Braithwaite, The Arrivants

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Wily Filipino must have been reading my mind. After watching Stephen Colbert/Daily Show do a fake interview with Darrell Hamamoto on the lack of Asian American representation in the porn industry, I went online and found out that indeed Hamamoto has done an Asian Am porn film. I don't know what or how to feel about this. Sunny's class is also pondering the question: what is an ethnic studies porn? an Asian American porn? hhmmmm...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

This is how I know that Filipinos will be alright:
As long as we can still sing lullabies in our native tongues
As long as we still respect the shaman
As long as we still weave by hand
As long as we still chew betel nut
As long as we still have poets
As long as we still have musicians
As long as we still dancers
As long as we still understand the language of the river
We will be alright.

Barbara's reading Luce Irigaray (aray!) and it made me chuckle because i've had the same "feminist" dilemma for years. I have discussed this with white feminist friends and told them that when I go out in public in my bare face, I get no respect and I'm often condescended upon...and sometimes even with my face "on" I still get disrespect and made to feel invisible (something they never have had to deal with, they confessed). Often I've wondered if it's not also about my height, clothes, etc. At times, I even confess my complicity with the cosmetics industry (although I only buy organic stuff from alternative sources now; no big brand names y'hear?) but what the heck...the feminist movement's history is and never has been part of my history. I once wrote that where I come from the male and the female emerged equal from a split bamboo pole and there wasn't a whole lot of arguing about patriarchy or sexism (oh take it, a little romance here helps!). The western feminist discourse, in other words, excludes me and perhaps this is one occasion where I concede exclusion.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

haven't had enough of the LOTR? try this version.

a prayer...for Lent?

this malady of falling for the very sin i abhor and swore never to bend towards
chastises and freezes me into a position of unwilling surrender. strange that
calm overwhelms the simplest gesture of awakening. humility in the face of
incomplete knowing.

i miss you sometimes. but it is comforforting not to be the keeper and watcher
of absolutes. i often long to be among folks whose embrace of ambiguity is deft
and artful without being soft.

spring is early this year. last year this was a time of endings. this year, of beginnings.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Fear mongering and Education:

Now that all bilingual education and ESL programs in CA are all but gutted by Proposition 227 (passed in 1998), the National Security Language Act intends to fund foreign language learning in the interest of US national security. Is there anything that is not related to national security issues these days? The NSLA intends to target "foreign language communities" in the US and will offer scholarships and forgiveable loans to those who are willing to master a foreign language and who in turn will be required to render return service of three years to the Homeland Security Agency.

There's also the reauthorization of HR 3077, Title VI (Higher Education Act) which will create an expensive "advisory board" to supervise institutions receiving Title VI funds. This could include monitoring programs and curriculum that do not serve "national security" interests. Yes - those of us doing postcolonial studies could very well be targeted as not serving national security interests.

Click here for links to the above. Go to the bottom of the first page under News Archives.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

a friend comments:

I was just commenting to a friend that most if not all of the monuments in the US have to do with war. In Asia, the statues and memorials have to do with spiritual matters and people's revolutions.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

the latest whistleblower inside Pentagon:.

Here's the long report of a Pentagon insider, retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who details how the Bush administration led the country to war in Iraq. Please read and pass this on. This is important. Below I've pasted the last paragraphs of a 5-page long essay...there is so much at stake...

I'm also reading Chalmers Johnson's The Sorrows of Empire, re "militarism and the end of the republic" (as recommended by Dan Begonia). It is a riveting read and quite sobering. Those of us with no military ties or backgrounds are seldom privy to the information in this book. My next read will be George Soros book, The Bubble of American Supremacy.

excerpt from Lt. Col Kwiatkowski's essay:

President Bush has now appointed a commission to look at American intelligence capabilities and will report after the election. It will "examine intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and related 21st century threats ... [and] compare what the Iraq Survey Group learns with the information we had prior..." The commission, aside from being modeled on failed rubber stamp commissions of the past and consisting entirely of those selected by the executive branch, specifically excludes an examination of the role of the Office of Special Plans and other executive advisory bodies. If the president or vice president were seriously interested in "getting the truth," they might consider asking for evidence on how intelligence was politicized, misused and manipulated, and whether information from the intelligence community was distorted in order to sway Congress and public opinion in a narrowly conceived neoconservative push for war. Bush says he wants the truth, but it is clear he is no more interested in it today than he was two years ago.

Proving that the truth is indeed the first casualty in war, neoconservative member of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle called this February for "heads to roll." Perle, agenda setter par excellence, named George Tenet and Defense Intelligence Agency head Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby as guilty of failing to properly inform the president on Iraq and WMD. No doubt, the intelligence community, susceptible to politicization and outdated paradigms, needs reform. The swiftness of the neoconservative casting of blame on the intelligence community and away from themselves should have been fully expected. Perhaps Perle and others sense the grave and growing danger of political storms unleashed by the exposure of neoconservative lies. Meanwhile, Ahmad Chalabi, extravagantly funded by the neocons in the Pentagon to the tune of millions to provide the disinformation, has boasted with remarkable frankness, "We are heroes in error," and, "What was said before is not important."

Now we are told by our president and neoconservative mouthpieces that our sons and daughters, husbands and wives are in Iraq fighting for freedom, for liberty, for justice and American values. This cost is not borne by the children of Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld and Cheney. Bush's daughters do not pay this price. We are told that intelligence has failed America, and that President Bush is determined to get to the bottom of it. Yet not a single neoconservative appointee has lost his job, and no high official of principle in the administration has formally resigned because of this ill-planned and ill-conceived war and poorly implemented occupation of Iraq.

Will Americans hold U.S. policymakers accountable? Will we return to our roots as a republic, constrained and deliberate, respectful of others? My experience in the Pentagon leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq tells me, as Ben Franklin warned, we may have already failed. But if Americans at home are willing to fight -- tenaciously and courageously -- to preserve our republic, we might be able to keep it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

and a love letter to the Filipino from our wilyfilipino.

Luis Rodriguez of Always Running, has a new video interview here. Luis is also the creator of Tia Chucha Press -- a cafe, art gallery, bookstore, performance space -- in Los Angeles. Named after a favorite crazy aunt, Tia Chucha provides an alternative space for youth from the inner city where they are encouraged to be creative, to envision a future, to develop critical thinking skills.

serious fun!

Friday, March 05, 2004

UYAYI – Philippine Lullabies

I am listening to Chin-Chin Gutierrez’ collection of Philippine lullabies. This 2-CD collection contains, on one side, 35 original recordings from the sources that represent the bio-regions of the Philippines: the burol/hills, kapatagan/plains, baybayin/coasts, kabundukan/mountains; and on the other, 15 folk lullabies in their stylized interpretations by Chin-Chin. There are Teduray, Cebuano, Tagalog, Pampango, Tausug, Ilonggo, Maguindanao, Bikolano, Ilokano, Waray, Ifugao, Tala-andig, and Kalinga lullabies. Filipino indigenous instruments are used together with instruments from other cultures such as the “Brazilian berimban with kubing and gamelan, Indian tabla with flamenco guitars, Yoruba bata drums with Cordillera gongs, Cuban lutes with banduria and lauds, pennywhistles and highland flutes behind Mangyan chants, tuned bottles and “found” sticks, hegalong with kulintang and pandeiro, a shakuhachi and a didgeridoo behind a primordial lullaby.”

It is worth sharing the CD notes written by Chin-Chin here:

“Children can have the most vivid daydreams that they sometimes carry many years into the waking world. The little girl I had been saw a journey through many passages of time, of space, and of generations. And in that dream, the earth sighed with the voice of the ancients.

As the years wore on, the collective sigh evolved into the chiming of a bell. It was time.

Breathing life into UYAYI meant embarking on an expedition that crossed over three years of research and production, gathering more than 50 lullabies in over a dozen vernaculars. Providentially, I shared this enchanted journey with kindred spirits –musicians and educators, village leaders and common folks, dreamers and visionaries – who still heard the music that brings us back to the soothing joy and comfort of the cradle.

…As an artist, I had to yield to the common aspiration of indigenous voices yearning to be heard, knowing that as they generously shared their life songs with me, I was expected to be faithful to the spirit of their ancestors. Each time I asked these kind and gentle souls for a lullaby, something intimate was revealed. And it was as though the songs have always been there, playing in their hearts, silent and unheard…until a stranger asked to hear them.

…Because it is a heart song, a lullaby flows freely. Like a river, you could never wade through the same waters twice. It would be sad to miss this journey in one’s lifetime. We are so conscious about remembering the past, yet time and again, we lose sight of what sustains us in the here and now. Like what continues to make us smile. Cry. Love. Or even sleep peacefully.”

Bo Razon, one of the collaborators on this project, writes that this album is a “tribute to the original people of this beautiful land, whose cultures and traditions – as with other indigenous peoples throughout the world – are threatened with extinction. If we can somehow find a way through these lullabies and melodies, if we could draw from their deep ancient sources the knowledge, inspiration and power to us through the complexities of living in today’s topsy-turvy world, it would be one more step closer to discovering who we are as a people, as a race, as human beings.”

Tears were my only response to this music. I need not say more.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

when hell is better than heaven...

...an excerpt from "Barangay, 16th Century
Philippine Culture and Society" by William Henry Scott:

Sulad was... not a hell where evil doers as judged by European mores were
punished, though, as Fr. Mentrida (1637) said, "because they have no
knowledge of the Inferno, they call the Inferno, Solar [that is, Sulad], and
those who dwell in the Inferno, Solanun." These Solanun of course were
simply those who went to the grave without sufficient gold and whose
relatives could not afford the paganito to rescue them...

Nor was the sky a heaven where the good were rewarded. It was the abode of
Makaptan, that deity who killed the first man with a thunderbolt and visited
disease and death on his descendants. "They did not realize," Father Alcina
complained, "that the sky served as God's own house and the abode of the
blessed." Indeed the Visayans long resisted the Christian dogma of a
heavenly paradise. Juan de la Isla (1565) wrote, "They believe that their
souls go down below and say that this is better because they are cooler
there than up above where it is very hot." A century later, a wise old
Visayan told Alcina:

Father, we do not doubt that there will be a heaven for the Castilians, but
not for the Visayans, because God created us in this part of the world so
very different from you; and since, as we see, the Spaniards will not even
let us sit down in their houses here, nor show us any respect, how much less
there where, as you say, all is grandeur, majesty and glory without end?

(via Connie Zamora in pagbabalikloob listserve)

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