Wednesday, April 28, 2004

it is a rare morning pleasure to be able to view Galatea's art collection... and next week Galatea's lady will grace my classes with her talk on "Poetry as a Way of Life." The students are reading "What is Art for?" - an interview of Ellen Dissayanake by Suzi Gablik. A nice way of ending an ethnic literature class if I can say so myself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

how Filipino are you?

thank goodness, there's a rebuttal to "writing is a disease" theory.

...and I am glad that barbara jane doesn't have writer's block. Happy Birthday, Barb!

I have observed this same phenomenon that Barbara is describing. I wonder: is it ageism? is it a failure in communication? is it envy? is it an awkward plea for mutual recognition? another evidence that we still need to decolonize ourselves so we can affirm each other's success?

Watching the panel on Black Identity, via CSpan, at the LA Times Book Festival (same festival Barbara is referring to), a similar question came up: who will be the next Martin Luther King? Who will be the next Leader of the black people? To which Ellis Cose replied: perhaps we should be asking why we are looking for only one leader? why not leaderS? is this part of the problem - the need to put all all black peoples' hopes in one leader?

Apparently, one of the "authors" who "assaulted" Barb with his/her unfinished manuscript on GOD - has ambitions in that direction. I'd stay away from this one, too.

now someone has come up with this:

no wonder I haven't been able to write.

I have been enjoying following the blogs of my favorite people but have not had the time to talk about them in this blog and by now they would have moved on to other topics. Like the wily filipino who posted catalog pages from a swimsuit vendor selling Asian motif swimsuit -- buddha on your crotch? I suppose if one needs to tame the chakra in that part of the body. Which reminds me of one time that I was in line at the post office when the white women in front and back of me started talking about chakras; then one looked at me and said "I bet you know all about chakras!" and to which I said, "of course!"

Then I go on over to Okir to look at the latest art work Jean has posted. What's interesting is also Jean's wide variety of interests in topics like the kiddofspeed photoessay which riveted me for an hour and reminded me of why I need to get hold of Jim Merkel's book on Radical Simplicity. These environmental disasters are connected to the size of the environmental footprint that we take up on the planet. The productive acreage of the Earth divided among its inhabitants is 4.7acres per person. If we each used up this full share of 4.7acres, nothing would remain for other species. As it stands, the average American consumes the productive capacity of about 25acres.

more later...

Saturday, April 24, 2004

For Eileen: On "Transcolonial" -- there is no 'post' in postcolonial.

Transcolonial...signify the importance of recognising that no colonial or postcolonial literature or indeed experience occurs or develops in isolation from others, but more importantly it gestures towards the significance of moments of revelations, and conversely moments of secrecy (if there can be such things), that defy and thwart, bend linear narrative and assert that the 'after' is never 'after', that there is no true 'aftermath' but only twists, skeins, traversings, crossings of terrains that cannot be halted, that continue to travel and unravel, wind and unwind, in an endless parade of territorialisations from which nothing is lost; in terms of which everything is loss. (David Punter, Postcolonial Imaginings, p.78)

Friday, April 23, 2004

I just fell in love with Remedios Varo.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

If you can answer the questions below, pls. email me at strobel@sonoma.edu. Salamat!

Dear writers and readers,
When you type Babaylan on google or elsewhere, the first entry is usually
the book of the same title edited by Nick Carbo and Eileen Tabios. Many of
you probably have bought a copy, no? (if not, why not? :-)). I'm doing a
little research so would appreciate if you backchannel with response/s to
these questions:

1. What was the impact on you of the use of the title "Babaylan"?
2. Did the title capture what you felt or thought about the writings?
3. What do you think of the popularization of "babaylan" as a term
describing not only this book but also women's organizations, a website
and listserve, awards, art exhibits? Are there other events, places,
organizations, texts that you know of that use this word?
4. Do you think these uses are appropriate or politically correct?

Looking forward to your replies and thanks,

Monday, April 19, 2004

It feels good to be distracted by this.

Ironing as Ritual. Do you remember your mother ironing? Or yourself doing ironing? Or your labandera?
When I arrived in the US two decades ago we stayed at a Best Western for a month before we moved into our own home. There I learned how to use the coin laundry facilities for the first time. The iron and ironing board were not readily on hand so I had to request for these. For four weeks, I ironed everything: denims, tshirts, dresses, skirts. I didn't understand why people at the motel looked at me quizzically. When my then new husband told me that in the US no one hardly does ironing anymore esp. with perma press clothing, I gave it up without fanfare. When my Filipina friend tells me she still spends many hours a week ironing her family's clothes, I chide her for spoiling them. But now I wonder if I am the one who should ponder my loss.

Here's an excerpt from Coco Fusco-Magdalena Pons' conversation about Ironing:
One of the things I think that Magda is emphasizing more and more is the role of women's discourse, of women's language. When I saw the ironing boards represented as reflective surfaces, I instantly thought of my grandmother who used to iron and think and use that period to reflect on herself. It's not just about being oppressed by labor and all this; it's also about a moment in her day when she could actually think. And she used to listen to the radio and sing and chat while she was doing the ironing. Another piece of sociological data that I think is important to this is that Cuba and the Caribbean is a culture where if you don't iron you just don't survive. Everything needs to been ironed. Everything is made of cotton and linen, so ironing is a lot more central to people's lives, or was at one time--[the] colonial period. When my mother thinks of a beautiful thing to wear for the hot weather, she thinks of a linen dress that somebody's going to have to iron over and over and over again. And so it's actually a more central part of women's work than maybe in other parts of the world, where knitting might have a similar role.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Yehey -- Tatang is now a Lecturer on decolonization!!

Michael Ventura: Our culture is over-- you can't negotiate with an avalanche. Nothing, nothing, nothing is going to stop the shipwreck of this civilization. The forces, the momentum, are too great...But accepting the story, accepting that this civilization is ending, doesn't mean you don't fight for what you believe. You take part in the story. You do the portion of the story that is given to you..See, we get such hubris about, "Well if the world is getting so bad then I shouldn't do anything. If that's the story, then fuck the story." Which is like saying, "If I'm gonna die why should I live?" (from Conversations before the end of time: Dialogues on Art, Life, and Spiritual Renewal, p.55)

I was glad to follow Jean's lead to Topher's page. As I enjoyed the "100 most important art works of the 20th century," I also wondered if these should be retitled as "100 most important art works of the Western World in the 20th century."

Friday, April 09, 2004

Michelle is doing all the rituals of Holy Week. I am looking forward to her posts about the pabasa/pasyon. During revolutionary times, the pasyon inspired the peasants who, though illiterate, have memorized the pasyon and understood its meaning as the need to sacrifice one's life for the freedom of Inang Bayan/motherland. I wonder if our Filipino American religious Catholic rituals can still fan our revolutionary spirit today?

And speaking of colonization, Jean, a friend who recently spent a lavish sum of money for her daughter's debut commented that she was glad that she has impressed the white guests at the affair and shown them that Filipinos have a rich (pun intended) tradition.

Good Friday.

A false ecstasy
Descends with my Unbelief.
The grotesque monstrosity
No longer elicits fear.
I have become a pariah
In the Garden.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Here's a fact check on Condi Rice' testimony versus the facts.

And a new alternative news source.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Here are some student journal entries from their reading of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole by the Chatelaine:

1. The Soulful Universe
This is one of the most beautifully written/imagined poems I have ever read (hoping that statement makes sense :-). The conflicts between science as we know it and the unexplainable occurences usually get summed up as not possible because physics/science contradicts it. But why should that be? This goes along with the reoccuring theme that I have read from Tabios' poems: "What is reality?" I also love that line "Let there be grace." This poem made me think that she is telling people to look beyond what appears to be reality, and allow for the unexplainable, miracles, uncertainties...I was thinking of a moment that I felt I was seeing an illusion. As the gypsy says, "Please may I speak to you about the radiance of your face?" I thought of a time I sat looking into my mother's eyes so long, so instantly, that her face began to change shapes. So, look different continually. I was in awe by her beauty, the changes...how can you explain that with Science. She's the Soulful Universe.

2. Physics (response to The Soulful Universe, p. 42)

My 18-year old son's best friend
is a beautiful boy bemused by his own
intelligence. I tell him, "Everything
you say is a non sequiter." One
of his witty tics is to offer as cause
for any phenomenon, a single word,
"Physics." I laugh and agree that
thermal motion, the old bump
and jostle of molecules, is ultimately
what makes us breathe, utter witticisms,
fall in love with the wrong people.
At this he is properly aghast, though
at pains to conceal it.

Another friend has spent many
of her five decades in spiritual quest.
Now the absolute is losing its allure
She reads, painstakingly, a book
by a neuroscientist, titled
"The Illusion of the Conscious Will."

A poem asks, "But what if it turns out
that the laws of physics aren't so fixed
and invariable after all? What if the universe
makes it own laws just as it makes space
and time?" I never lost my religion, since
I lacked it from the start...Nothing is meant to be.
But I repeat my mistakes, more efficiently
and intricately each time. The ion channels
open in my excitable cells, the salt pours in,
the pathways deepen. I love my tiny, flawed
life, my helplessness, my intractable,
impervious appetites.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Michelle is preparing her palm frond for Palm Sunday. Holy Week rituals for Catholic Filipinos also include the pasyon. The poet Ruth Mabanglo told me that she participates in the pasyon in Hawaii; another friend in Wisconsin told me that the Filipino Americans there also have their pasyon. But the most famous tradition has to be the crucifixion in my hometown, barrio Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga. Even though the Catholic Church no longer approves these rituals, their persistence might point to something else that might be deeply rooted in the indigenous beliefs on how to have power (lakas ng loob); much like the appeal to one's spirit guides or ancestral spirits for strength and protection. However, commercialism is also very visible here. Rumors are that the government's tourism arm is actually paying P2000 to those who volunteer to be crucified. (Of course, this does not include the Belgian nun and the Japanese man who asked to be crucified alongside the rest last year.) Food concessionaires have also been allowed in the perimeters of this event -- pizza, ice cold drinks, burgermachine, etc! It'll be interesting if CNN covers this event again this year.

From the wily filipino: fluorescent lamp named after Agapito Flores, Filipino scientist!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I wasn't going to give this group the time of day but when they recently papered the neighborhood near the university with their recruitment literature, then it raises concern because suddenly you realize that they have moved into the 'hood -- this liberal enclave! Sometimes it makes me really wonder about what lurks beneath our niceness.

A friend who is South Asian was harassed by a white woman standing behind her at the cashier's at Long's Drugs because my friend had asked the cashier why she needed to see an ID for a $5 purchase and when she shops at this store several times a week and isn't usually asked. The white woman followed her at the parking lot and shouted at her with remarks about 9/11 and how my friend shouldn't ask such questions and then sternly and meanly said "you, of all people, should be thankful that you live in this country! Haven't you learned anything from 9/11?" My friend was deeply shaken and went home in tears. She had just returned from Mexico and momentarily forgot that she was back in the good 'ol USA. She had wanted to tell the white woman that yes, she has learned her lessons from 9/11 as well as the lessons from Partition, the Vietnam War, the Holocaust, the Native genocide, the world wars, the Japanese internment camps, etc...but the shock kept her silent.

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