Sunday, August 29, 2004

Oh my, now I'm really sorry to have missed the pamanhikan! From this elegant list of dowry gifts, who can resist?

Monsoon season in the Philippines: Over the weekend, PAmpanga was declared as a "state of calamity" because of the breaching of several dikes resulting in widespread flooding. My sister texted me on her way to get my Dad out of his house because floodwaters had entered his house. In the news, more landslides in MetroManila; squatter areas along creeks were washed away and the residents are without a place to go back to. My sister says she cries in panic and anger over the lack of government resources to deal with this.

In other news from the Philippines - warning over an impending economic disaster like that of Argentina, so the National Police is preparing for massive protests. Severe financial crisis threatens to bankrupt the government due to its failure to pay off massive debts.

Then I open the latest issue of National Geographic on Global Warning. No I didn't misspell that.
The issue of Yes! Journal also arrived yesterday with the banner: "Can We Live Without Oil?"

In suburbia, we are steaming in 100 degree heat.

Connecting the dots, I tell the spouse that it's very hard not to be discouraged by these scenarios.

But then I think of Noah...

... of Rhett and Michelle getting engaged.

... of Melissa getting her Dad's book, Cadena de Amor, published posthumously.

... of Reme planning a gala event for Filipino and Filipino American literature in Washington DC. Melissa and other Bay Area writers are planning a similar event in San Francisco with the Philippine Consulate folks to celebrate Fil Am History Month in October.

... of my students anticipating, with trepidation, the required poetry journals based on Eileen's book.

... of Jean teaching a class in the English Dept at UCBerkeley and using Pinoy Poetics.

... of a women's conference on alternative gift economies. I'm considering attending this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I was cleaning my bookshelves the other day and found this:

Restoration of Enheduanna to Her Former Station

The first lady of the throne room
has accepted Enheduanna's song.
Inanna loves her again.
The day is good for Enheduanna,
for she is dressed in her jewels.
She is dressed in her womanly beauty.
Like the moon's first rays over the horizon,
in her robes she is luxurious!
When Nanna, Inanna's father,
makes his entrance
the palace blesses Inanna's mother, Ningal.
From the doorsill of heaven comes the word:


(translated by ALiki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone, in Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World from Ancient Sumeria to Now)

Barnstone writes: In most cultures women have not often been in positions of religious authority. Yet, as outsiders...spiritual dissidents found their own direct, sometimes heretical, ways to envision the sacred. And they named those ways in verse. Though often deprived of public position, women have always practiced the personal art of writing and so have been prepared to be our spiritual and visionary voices of light.

Eileen's project of restoring Enheduanna and Gabriela Silang to the 21st century is a continuation of her "poet as alchemist" function. I would never have thought of juxtaposing the lives of these two women and then imagine what their 21st century lives might be like -- their desires, their struggles, their dreams and visions, who they fall in love with, where they might hang-out, how they weave poems, places they leave, what they are seduced by, the language/s they speak in, the privileging of the word.

This invitation to a "menage a trois" is not easy. How to dispel disbelief? is not quite the question for me. The question for me seems to be more along the lines of: what subterrenean work remains for me to do in order to access the worlds of Enheduanna and Gabriela and join Eileen in ensuring the continuity of their lineage?

For reports from various campuses:

Barb's encounter with an f---n' stranger's violence.
Jean's getting ready for her class at Berkeley.
Wily -- I don't know...but I sympathize!
Eileen is visiting my Ethnic Lit classes in two weeks. Last semester the students said that Reproductions... would have worked better for them if the poet had come at the beginning of the semester instead of the end.

Returned to campus this Monday for the opening convocation. The goodbad news is that instead of the $5m projected budget cuts, it ended being $3.5M only. $1.2M was restored and therefore, a few more classes were opened. Interesting use of metaphors at the various meetings I attended:

"Students want a Lexus and we can only afford to give them a Honda."
"Students want to shop at Macys, and we are Walmart."

California boasts of affordable college education for all. Is $16,000/year affordable when financial aid and grants have dried up? Is it acceptable that a student will leave college with $50,000+ in loans? We promise them they can graduate in 4years but don't have enough classes and faculty to make this feasible.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

One more reason to push for bilingual ed!

Friday, August 20, 2004

On PInoy Poetics -

Last night I went to bed after reading the contributions of Eric Gamalinda, Oliver de la Paz, Catalina Cariaga and Marlos Unas Esguerra to Pinoy Poetics. I made a mental note to write in my blog this morning that these are the poets I would love to meet someday and thank them for putting me to bed with a sense of hope and gladness that beauty still abounds. (This after watching a documentary about the genocide in Rwanda on PBS).

Each of these poets has a very different approach to poetics and each one of them touched me deeply. Eric for his wide expanse of horizon and sensibility that I sense comes from his depth encounters with the mystical realm. Oliver for his "poem disguised as a narrative on process, but not cleverly disguised" -- this made me want to dance! Marlon for his revolutionary spirit, his affirmation of community, and his sense ofresponsibility to his "art that is intrinsically political,anti-empire,anti-assimilationist." Catalina for "E Pluribus Karaoke: Out of Many, Minus One" as a way of locating herself as a regional poet (California) and yet, like karaoke, transcends all.

I was also glad to read in other essays how Pinoy poets struggle with the English language and the feeling of being obliterated by it and then surviving it and finally - falling in love and making peace with it. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the essays in PP.

Thanks again, Nick and Eileen - for this gift!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

and how would Jesus vote?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I like Rona's description of organic intellectuals...and their counterparts. I resonate with this because I have always felt like a reluctant academic. Someone who stumbled on the academic path, pushed along, kicked onto the road -- but also because my dream life kept giving me signs too powerful to ignore. About babies needing to be born, landscapes that need to stay on the map, about putting on the right shoes and dress and walking on the stage and facing an audience in spite of my fears.

A few years ago a former student sent me the book "The Courage to Teach:Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life" by ParkerPalmer. She sent it with this note: I hope this book will support and reinforce all your gifts of teaching. Thank you for your guidance and insights."

Here's an excerpt from Palmer; note the reference to the teacher from the Philippines.

I saw the other day a remarkable documentary called The Transformation of Allen School. Allen School is an inner-city school in Dayton, Ohio. It was for many years at the bottom of the list in that city by all measures. There were fifth graders who had parole officers. The dropout rate was incredible and saddening. The failure of those students in every aspect of their lives sickened the heart. And along came a new principal, a principal who it is relevant to note came from the Philippines, a culture which has an inherent respect for things spiritual in a way American culture does not. And he brought the teachers together and said to them, in substance, as his very first proclamation as principal, that:

We have to start to understand that the young people we are working with have nothing of external substance or support. They have dangerous neighborhoods. They have poor places to live. They have little food to eat. They have parents who are on the ropes and barely able to pay attention to them. The externals with which American education is obsessed will not work in this situation.

But these students have one thing that no one can take away from them. They have their souls. And from this day forth in this school, we are going to lift those souls up. We are going to make those souls visible to the young people themselves and to their parents and to the community. We are going to celebrate their souls, and we are going to reground their lives in the power of their souls. And that will require this faculty recovering the power of their own souls, remembering that we, too, are soul-driven, soul-animated creatures. And in a five-year period, that school, the Allen School in Dayton, Ohio, rose to the top of every dimension on which it had been at the bottom, through hard work, through disciplined work, but through attentiveness to the inward factors that we are here to explore. This is not romanticism. This is the real world. And this is what is desperately needed in so many sectors of American education.

More about The Forbidden Book from Barb! The current SF Library display of Colored:BlackandWhite (6th Floor, till end of September) has the largest collection of the original images and texts -- a must see!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

I am glad I was able to attend the booklaunch of The Forbidden Book by Abe Ignacio, Enrique de la Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel, and Helen Toribio. There were only 60 copies of the book available at the event and they quickly sold out. The book will be available within a week and you can get a copy from Linda Nietes (email her at lindanietes@earthlink.net). There will be a limited hard-bound edition available soon.

The Colored:Black and White Exhibit has been touring the US and the Philippines for the past two years. This collection of photographic, cartoon, and editorial texts and images of how the US represented the colonization of the Philippines a century ago makes a great contribution to making this invisible history visible!!. Tiboli publishing did a very good job with the reproduction of these images both in full color as well as black and white. Every library and every home should have a copy!

A loving tribute to Helen Toribio was offered by Jorge Emmanuel; the full house at Koret Auditorium of the SF Library rose to its feet to applaud Helen's great spirit and for being an inspiration to the community. Helen is undergoing another series of radiation therapy. Her healing support network is asking for spontaneous remission prayers.

Meanwhile, over at Pistahan at Yerba Buena Gardens, I found some greathandcrafted unique items at the MindaNow booth. Go and visit!!

If peace can only come through our compassionate embrace of the Other and if one of the most difficult encounters is between those who have historically been named as "enemies" - then what happens when they finally encounter each other's full humanity?

In June, I met Dr. Yehuda Stolov, the Executive Director of Interfaith Encounter Association based in Jerusalem. The IEA accomplishes its work through its unique programmatic method. The IEA operates within three concentric circles of interfaith work, each with the power to grow and impact the circle encapsulating it. In the first and most preeminent circle – the Inner-Israeli circle – the IEA focuses on the promotion of respectful relations between Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Baha'is living in Israel. This process in turn impacts and enables the second circle – the Israeli-Palestinian circle – where the IEA works in cooperation with 5 Palestinian organizations across the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The work of the first and second circles aids the work of the third circle – the Middle East region – where the IEA has been a major founder in establishing the Middle East Abrahamic Forum, along with similar organizations from Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, and the PNA.

In getting to know Yehuda personally and hearing about the work of IEA, I feel compelled to do something! But how and what to do? I am embarrassed by my limited knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I am shy to admit how "far away" this conflict is in my own psyche in spite of the intermittent propaganda that comes through the evening news occasionally. I have Jewish friends but we rarely discuss the Israeli-Palestinian subject.

And yet there all sorts of connections I should have with this: the presence of Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East, the Muslim sector in the Philippines, my interest in decolonization, interfaith dialogue, healing and reconciliation.

I know that one can only pay attention to a few things at a time. But if serendipity works to bring within view my "relatives" in the Middle East, should I not fashion a response?

IEA already has a US-based group in New York but none in California. Yehuda is asking if I can do something to support their work.

Friday, August 13, 2004


To Jean for finishing her dissertation and a teaching stint at UCB!
To Barb for a possible national merit award!
To Helen Toribio, Abe Ignacio, Enrique de la Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel for the long-awaited "The Forbidden Book" to be launched at the SF Library tomorrow, Saturday at 2pm. See here for details! Thanks, Michelle!

Just finished reading Nervous Conditions -- a coming-of-age story of a young girl from Rhodesia (of the 60s, now Zimbabwe) -- who leaves her family homestead and lives in the mission school run by her uncle who was educated in England. Tsitsi Dangarembga narrates the ambivalence of colonialism through the life of Tambu and her cousin Nyasha, her uncle's daughter who grew up in England and now has returned with her parents to the mission school.

The title derives from the "nervous conditions" of all the characters in the novel; a condition that envelopes their relationship to one another and yet must remain unnamed. Traditional beliefs, practices, and familial structures all gradually cave in as they learn to accept the superiority of Englishness and Christianity grudgingly. Tambu and Nyasha embody these contradictions. Yet the author seems to be ever so careful in indicting racism and colonialism because, as she says later in the interview at the back of the book, in Rhodesia one is ever so careful in talking about these things. And because in her own mind, she doesn't quite know how to proceed with the story of Tambu and Nyasha.

Tambu eventually enters a Catholic convent school for girls as one of six Africans chosen for that year. Nyasha's body succumbs to the ravaging of her mind and ends up in an institution.

Like Langston Hughes has asked before, so do we again: What shall we do in the face of all that we remember?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

This blog is almost a year old. Thanks, Jean, for the jumpstart; now if only I can learn how to post photos from your instructions (thanks for this, too!).

The other day I made a mental list of themes that are reflected on this blog (often in blurry sketches, i'm afraid). Here they are:

indigenous world view/s
sustainable development
overseas Filipino workers/Filipinos in the diaspora
interfaith/interreligious dialogue
healing and reconciliation
beyond race
globalization and modernity
cultural renewal, cultural energies
poetry and literature - postcolonial, diaspora, trans...
theology-spirituality- culture
postcolonial novels, critique, etc.
integral consciousness

Somehow it helped me to write these because I have been resisting putting them down in words. Written down, the words appear grandiose. I do not like the feel of their weight on my shoulders. There is something about writing them down that I feel tempts the ego; as if having done so gives me the right to claim something - some sort of capital, I suppose, that should now be bankable. I shudder at the thought.

"A Pinay's attempt to transcend the fixity of "otherness" " -- if I were a map-maker, how will I plot the themes to show how this map helps me transcend?

to be continued...

I am preparing for a course on "Asians in the Americas" and I'm disappointed that I haven't found materials about Filipinos in Latin America. The UCLA library has started a compilation of materials on "Asians in Latin America" but nada on Filipinos. I know that there many Filipinos on the galleons who eventually stayed in Mexico, Peru, etc. and we know about the Louisiana settlements... but I need to keep looking. A friend who frequents Oaxaca tells me there is a Manila street there and she has heard of descendants of Filipinos from the galleon days. She is trying to find a contact for me.

Galatea is going solar! Yehey! I hear the people who go solar usually sell back energy to the grid. If so, as Eileen sells back power to PG&E, she can use the proceeds to publish more poets!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Blessings today come from Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa and Tibetan poet Tsering Wampo Dhompa and Mindanaoan poet Rod Zerruldo. Thank you Rona, Eileen, and Michelle for today's posts.

Chogyam Trungpa has a stupa at the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center; he was a friend of Kwong Roshi. The story is told that on the day the relic from Trungpa's body was brought to SMZC flowers appeared all along the path leading up to the stupa where no flowers have ever bloomed before. I have fond memories of cleaning the stupa when I was still sitting at SMZC. Chogyam Trungpa lived a very controversial life. He was known for being a womanizer and an alcoholic and yet he would give the most lucid, profound, perfect dharma talks when he was drunk, so the story goes. As if by example he taught his students how to see his gross body as a dream thus revealing the nature of their own minds as being trapped in the delusional realm of duality.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

At Bossey Institute, I met Siddharta. He directs an ashram-without-a-guru in a village outside of Bangalore. He says: our guru is Mother Earth. The ashram embraces eco-spirituality. It has an organic farm and the ashram has formed alliances with NGOs around issues of ecology, spirituality, and peace and justice work.

I have an invitation to visit Fireflies ashram. The question is: am I ready to go?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Welcome back, Jean! Looking forward to hearing about your FANHS experience.

How do you take in Ken Wilber's Kosmic Consciousness - a set of 10 tapes/12hours? Go for a long drive along Highway 1 from Santa Rosa to Big Sur with stops in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey. Then back and up north again to Cloverdale to Point Arena, Manchester, Gualala, Jenner, Guerneville.

And this is just an introduction to his Integral Map composed of quadrants, levels, states, types and stages. Much of the information is not new; what is new is how he has gathered most of the research from various disciplines (sociology, psychology, transpersonal psych, consciousness studies, postmodernism, etc., etc.) and included "everything" into this map. I can't say that I stayed awake through much of the brain-damaging theorizing here but I love his sense of self-deprecating humor and humility.

The beautiful thing he says about this map is that we already have everything we need; we just need to become conscious or awaken to this presence in ourselves and in the cosmos. Ahh...it is this process of becoming conscious/awakening that we often need the most help with.

For now what resonates with me is when he says that when we don't agree or understand one another, we must find a way of bringing the opposing sides together until we arrive at a shared understanding so that there might be a "we." We might discover that those two opposing sides are part of the same whole.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Thanks, Rona, for referring to the birth ritual.

Here's the little tribute that I sent and was included in the ritual (belatedly).

A Song for Noah Ray

You came into this world
Bringing sunshine and magic
Mystery and laughter

Your presence changed
The color of morning
To a blue dance of radiance

You who carry the gift
of Love, may we always
Receive with grace

lolo and lola

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