Thursday, May 27, 2004

Poems form/from the six directions...could it be that before Eileen invented hay(na)ku, the form has pre-existed as in this Modoc song I found quoted in David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous.

the song
I walk here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The semester is over.
In 10 days, I leave for Geneva.
Attend a seminar on Religion, Power and Violence.
There will be 25 folks from the 5 major religions.
They count me as "christian" but I am an animist.
They do not know this yet.

They, too, are animists.
They just don't know this yet.

Animism is not a religion.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Another proof that Christian fundamentalists have the ears of the White House.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Always glad to read about the family parties and how the next generation of young ones are coming along. They seem to be doing just fine.

Over here, three former Fil Am students from SSU visited over lunch. Cheryl, Peter, and Maria are from the founding group of the Fil Am Students of Sonoma State U in 1994. Cheryl is finishing her final year of dental school; Peter is finishing his MSW at CSU Hayward; Maria is an emergency room nurse and Mom to Kelsey(2) and Tristan (9mos). Angel, Maria's hubby who is a Fil Am fireman in San Jose, was enjoying his off day listening to his wife and her friends banter about the good old days at SSU. Peter kept asking if there will be a ten-year reunion for the gang this year. This is the group of students I became very close to and they have stayed in touch all these years. One of the joyful reward of mentoring students is seeing how they continue to make their way meaningfully in the world. I envy Peter who takes time to volunteer at Glide Memorial and loves his work as a counselor to Asian clients. Cheryl's future dental patients can't wait to see her in a white smock in her own clinic. Maria is teaching me how to be a good grandma - where to shop for toys and clothes, etc.

Cheryl's mom made menudo, Maria cooked pancit (when did she find the time?)and made fruit salad (Filipino style, of course, with nestle cream), and I made spaghetti and meatballs and roasted veggies.

Of course, we took pictures! And everyone took the leftovers home.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Gloria Anzaldua has died.

My copy of Borderlands is dog-eared, underlined,full or margin notes. This was the book that guided my personal decolonization -- the subterranean work, as she calls it. When I read her book years ago, it gave me permission to write in my own voice, in my own language. She gave me permission to believe in the nobility of my ancestry even if I didn't know it in texts but only in my guts. Her work gave me the affirmation I needed so I can write without fear. She taught me to honor the body as the site of knowledge and that "only through the pulling of the flesh can the human soul be transformed."

I have assigned Borderlands in many of my classes. The class dialogues about her ideas, her style of writing, her use of language always made for exciting, even if stressful, discussions. I know many students who have been transformed as well.

I am in tears as I write this...I do not completely understand why, nor wish to. But I am making an altar for her today.

Today is the anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Here's Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates discussing its effects and consequences.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff, an Aleut, and coordinator of the Bering Sea Council of Elders writes:

It is also said that women will be restored to their place as the original healers, and when this occurs they shall lead the way. The role of the men as the spiritual warriors in this new time is to protect the sacred space of women so they can do their work. When these things are done, the pendulum of imbalance will stop for the first time since the beginning of time.
The Elders say, "nothing is created outside until it is created inside first." If we stay the course in healing separation within and without, it is only a question of time until the sacred Gifts from the Four Directions...come together for the purpose of creating a new world.

I want to go to Goodtimes Cafe!! Someday I would like to go to Mindanao. Maybe Jean would want to come along! I found this link on Okir. Thanks, Jean!

Friday, May 14, 2004

A Korean journalist reports from Fallujah.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In another listserve we are asking aloud if General Taguba's actions reflect his Filipino sense of katarungan(justice), dangal(honor), lakas ng loob (inner strength) and paninindigan (courage of conviction). We hope that it does.

Someone also mentioned that Gen Taguba will be "re-assigned" to a deputy assistant position deep in the Pentagon -- a sure sign of demotion and banishment for being a whistleblower.

Notwithstanding these dark moments, in class we were discussing the question: What is Art for? The artist Ellen Dissayanake writes that we (modern/western folks) have become a mal-adaptive species in the culture that we have created so that there are now all kinds of new malaise; that we have become numb (the necessary condition for survival); and that we fear community and dialogue. The challenge: how do we reconnect with the original meaning of Art as a biological necessity? How do we live artistically - fully engaged and mindful of the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. When Thich Nhat Hanh holds a piece of paper and says "this paper contains the universe" - do we know immediately what he means?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I pay attention to what Walden Bello has to say. Also -- see Wily's post re Gen. Taguba's report.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Read Gura's post on the Transcending Nostalgia panel at SF Library. Thanks, Michelle!

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Thank you, limetree, for the bloglink...but how do we change the photo of that woman into something less scary? ...One of these days I'll learn how to put photos or art work on my blog...like Jean's Okir.

I've been enjoying the visits of Eileen, Reme and Melissa this week. Eileen's lectures so mesmerized the students that they were mostly speechless and while their questions may not have been as complex as the questions of students in creative writing or poetry classes, I think they got the idea of what it means to think outside the box in order to understand and engage the "other". Since these are two sections of a GE ethnic lit class, to try to relate "poetry as a way of life" to their different majors (biology, kinesiology, business, political science, etc) is a tall order given the fragmented and compartmentalized nature of academic disiplines. But Eileen sufficiently demonstrated her process of engaging the world in her poetry, e.g., that one can be a better banker if one is also a poet. Poetry, after all, is about the cultivation of mindful attention as well as curiosity about everything that is in the world. I think it is the "everything" part that often is preyed upon by the trickster.

Thank you, Eileen!

Breakfast today was courtesy of Our Own Voice editor, Reme Grefalda, and she calls it the "Moonstruck Breakfast" -- she sliced ciabatta bread and hollowed out the center. In a pan with olive oil, she broke an egg into the center of the bread and topped it with another slice; flipped it after it has crisped. On the side, she fried sliced tomatoes and then fried spam sprinkled with brown sugar. Yummy! Melissa Nolledo Christoffels, cyberartist/activist and creator of Wilfredo Nolledo's new website took pictures of Reme, the chef. Apparently, Reme took her cooking lessons from Moonstruck, the movie. Over breakfast, she told stories about her solo car camping trip to the Southwest and all the camping tips she learned from watching John Wayne movies!

TOmorrow we all troop down to SF Public Library for the launching of:
Our Own Voice, print edition of the ezine
Behind the Blue Canvas
Not Home but Here

Monday, May 03, 2004

Re Nick Joaquin's relationship with young writers in the Philippines:

In the '90s, several writers at a conference in UP took him to task for his cultural history and other writings that allegedly exalted the Philippines' Spanish heritage based on cozy notions of nostalgia and romanticism.

Jose, not a Hispanophile himself, rose to his defense. "You punks," he cried, "how dare you criticize our greatest writer in English! If you could but write a tenth of what he has written, then perhaps you might earn the right to criticize him!"

It is doubtful if the overly critical young can write a tenth of his prolific writing, much less match a tenth of the brilliance of its insight and the majesty of its prose style. They cannot match it because they have been far removed from the sources of Nick's true strength as a writer: a deep sense of history and an indomitable spirit to recover the past and relate it to the present and the future. In short, he was a writer with no shortness of memory.

Those sources, no matter their increasing scarcity, are available to the young. But ignorance of the Spanish language in which much of the historical and cultural documents that have a bearing on the formation of Filipino identity across the centuries has abetted the gross reductionism and shortsightedness that constitute much of the Filipino's historical memory, particularly of the young.

And it is the most distinct mark of Nick's legacy that his writings have served as a bridge to the untranslatable and indecipherable past for the generations that are distinguished by a near complete lack of historical memory, generations that have been reared in the womb of the Lotus Eaters, a people feeding on a steady diet of oblivion and forgetfulness.

Well, is it true that a young writer has no right to criticize an older, greater writer unless one has produced an equally voluminous body of writing? And is it the fault of the young writers that their historical memory is not as deeply grounded in another language?

I try to imagine the exchange between the young writers and Joaquin and Jose's defense of his friend. Instead of castigating the young for daring to criticize Joaquin, wasn't this an opportunity for a productive dialogue that could have revealed how their differences are constructed by many overlapping variables, e.g. the educational system, popular culture, American hegemony?

Sometimes I struggle with the shortness of my own historical memory. There will never be enough time and energy to try to be at par with, say, Joaquin's depth of historical memory. But does that turn me into a lotus eater?

Each generation will struggle to braid the past into their present and future. Hopefully, whatever meaning is derived out of such braiding will result not in the negation or derogation of difference but in the compassionate embrace of same.

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