Friday, December 31, 2004

Ok. I'm breaking my silence about blogging on the tsunamis because I just read something that infuriated me. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just told New York revelers to take time out to look in the mirror and realize how lucky they are because others are not so lucky. Fuck! This is exactly what is wrong with this civilization. The inability to conceive the "other" as part of one's self. No!No! No! We are not luckier than the devastated people of Asia. We are all part of the same body. This is why I finally turned off the TV and quit listening to the western media's take on this disaster.

Instead I hear a Buddhist monk's quiet reflection (via an Asian media outlet): This is tragic, yes; but this is also part of nature and the Lord's will. We will rise again as the people have always done for eons when an event like this happen.

Unlike Mayor Bloomberg, I am not going to say: I am lucky, they are not. Unlike George Bush, I will not say: I am free, they are not; they are poor, we are not. Split my body into half, will you?!
Hide the dark side and project it onto the "Other" so you will not have to carry the awareness of fragmentation. You will pity the unlucky ones so you will be charitable. You will open your pursestrings even as your heart remains imprisoned by the shackles of your dualistic mind. This is your tragedy ...and mine.

Dear el serenito -
I haven't blogged about the earthquake and tsunamis because there are nowordsnowordsnowords that would come to me. I just break down and cry when I start and I keep erasingerasingerasing. This is when I truly hate the English language dahil walang salitang Ingles ang kayang magdala ng damdamin sa ganitong pagkakataon...and I do not like to translate when most of it gets lost in translation anyway. But thank you for posing the question. Kapag tahimik ang dila, nagdarasal ang damdamin at ipinaabot sa Maykapal ang bigat ng loob. Naghihintay sa bagong umaga. Nagbubuntong-hininga.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Happy Birthdays to Michelle and Rona!!!

Couple of posts ago, Barb wrote about pochero as the christmas food of choice in her family. I also thought about making pochero as my Mom used to make it for noche buena but I couldn't remember the recipe so I didn't. My sister in the Philippines, however, said she is making "cocido espanol" which turns out to be pochero. Why she calls it by its Spanish name, I don't know...maybe because it sounds...more...colonial??? Anyway, I hope yours turned out good, Barb. Share the recipe when you can.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

I was glad to read Jean's post today as I was having the same discussion with a friend about what this holiday means. My Buddhist friend who is white and raised Catholic said she wishes she were in Nepal this time of the year. Her two young kids do not seeem to understand that no, Mom and Dad can't afford a $3,000 toy boat and that it is enough to have one gift box under the tree instead of a dozen. To them Christmas is for receiving gifts and who can blame them?

I noticed that for the first time this year all three major networks had Christmas church services - one featuring the Harlem Boys Choir (whose music I love!), the actual Papal Christmas mass in Rome (and a nun read a prayer in Filipino), and another Protestant church service in another channel. I was channel-surfing between these and Bill Moyer's address to a journalists' conference via Democracy Now TV with Amy Goodman. He is talking about the homogenization of culture via corporate-controlled media...something that Mr. Pulitzer never imagined could happen to journalism.

When it turned out that we will be by ourselves today, we debated whether to skip cooking and go to the River Rock Casino's prime rib Christmas Buffet. In spite of my animist claims, my conditioned Protestant self shouts loudly: No, you cannot go to a casino on Christmas Day! I told my sister that this is what we were contemplating and she said "why not, go ahead!" and added, "you won't be going to gamble anyway, only to eat" and I said "but why go to a casino if you can't play?" So I am making a pot roast today and we are staying home. We will visit our home-bound neighbor and bring her some of my cranberry orange bread.

I miss my Mama and her Christmas cooking. I miss Philippine Christmases still. I am better at feeling less homesick after 20 years, thanks to email, texting, phone calls.

Today, there is a part of me that sympathizes with how non-Christians might feel during this time of the year. My Muslim friend goes along with the gift buying. My Zoroastrian friend went to Oaxaca where she immerses herself in the rich textures of Catholic rituals at Christmastime. I keep looking for windows with Hanukkah candles and there aren't many. My Japanese students are amused by Santa Claus but do not really know how to deal with the Christmas story. I am waiting to be invited to a Kwanzaa celebration but how?

Well, it is quiet. I light candles. Play soft Christmas music. Open presents. Give thanks for family and friends. Give thanks.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Politics of the Christmas Story.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Dream...

Children who love Hitler waved to me last night. Why do you love him? – I wanted to ask through the spider web curtain that separated us. No answer. They opened their mouths and revealed tongues furled into white spiderweb cords. I reached through the curtain and pulled one out. As it uncoiled, the child’s eyes widened. I will set you free, I told him. And he began to cry.

Monday, December 20, 2004

AARRGGHHH! I didn't make it Hedgebrook!! They apparently have a lot of folks who keep on re-applying who eventually get accepted. Now I wonder if I should try again. At least now I know that my summer 05 is free for other projects.! Sigh...

Friday, December 17, 2004

How would you like to live in a revolving home with a view?

Curitiba, Brazil is one of the world's best models of sustainable urban planning.

Indeed so many connections to me made! Now that Barb has mentioned Manong Al Robles' meeting (or is it sweating?) with the Pomos of Northern California I must say that it has long been my dream research project to document the Pomo-Filipino connection. I have met members of the Pomo Tribal council including its chief, Greg Sarris who is also part-Filipino, and we have briefly touched on the subject of needing to do such research. Btw, 3-4 of the tribal council members are half-Filipino!

So let's hope they get to build their casino in Rohnert Park... no bones about it...a lot of the money flowing into Native American projects including the recently inaugurated National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, comes from the casino industry. Indian tribes (not sure which) also recently made a donation of $5M to UCLA Law School. The Pomos have also donated $1.5M to the Native American Studies Program at Sonoma State University. Hopefully, whoever is hired for this endowed chair (we'll know soon), will be keen on seeing this kind of research project funded.

My dilemma is this: A few years ago the Filipino American community of Sonoma County launched an oral history project to document the history of the Manong generation in Northern California. As an inactive member of the community, I felt that my presence as an academic (and also as a recent immigrant) wasn't taken seriously and I felt shoved aside. Alright, I thought, they want to do this themselves and own it as a community project, without some academic person telling them how to frame the project theoretically, etc. I stepped aside.

I know what I should have done to be accepted as part of the research project. I could have invested time and energy into making sure I transition from being outsider to insider -- but I had other things on my plate.

To try to step back in now requires delicadeza.

Monday, December 13, 2004

By now you would have read the lovely posts about the Yerba Buena launch of Pinoy Poetics here, here, and here.

So I want to point instead to a language lesson here; after all, if we Filipinos are to offer ourselves as an "alternative center" to the world, shouldn't we be teaching and using key concepts as expressed in the Filipino language?

This, btw, is triggered by a question from a graduate student who is writing a review of my book, Coming Full Circle, for her "Philosophical Foundations" course. She asks: What philosophical ideologies did you employ in your book aside from Freire? What is the significance of using this book in a teacher education class or a cross-cultural literacy course?
My answer:

Sometimes professors have a very specific definition to "philosophical ideologies"...and what fits into their definition will be based on the professor's position and location ideologically as well. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, if you notice in the literature review part of my book, I made references to postcolonial theory viz a viz postmodern theory, psychology of colonialism, indigenous psychology, theories about borderlands, mestizaje, etc. I also try to make a case for "fishing" as a way of constructing knowledge. "Fishing" is a metaphor but if one has background in the pratice of phenomenology, fishing could be akin to "phenomenological meditation"...and again, the Filipino research method of pagtatanung-tanong is very much informed by this practice as well although the disciplinary language may be different.

If you have read Anzaldua, Trinh Minh Ha, bell hooks, Elizabeth Minnich, and other third world feminist theorists they do make a case for non-traditional approaches, i.e. different from what the canonical traditions of the discipline in question, in this case "Philosophical Foundations." And isn't the whole point of cross-cultural literacy to learn from other cultures and how they construct knowledge? :-))

Btw, when I was at USF/IME, I often read books that were not prescribed in most of my courses...just because I was interested in topics (like decolonization) that my courses didn't address with much breadth and depth. So it is up to you to enlarge your reading list. I just finished reading Chela Sandoval's "Methodology of the Oppressed" and Linda Tuhiwai Smith's on "Decolonizing Research Methodologies" -- i hope you will find them helpful.

Friday, December 03, 2004

If the members of my clan lived nearby, will I have the skills, heart, and soul to interconnect our lives as well as Gura does with hers? This is still an echo from a previous post by Barb on how much we need our family and friends to support the work that we do.

In the absence of such support, we create new ones. At the Nov. 13 event, there were a few young second-generation graduate students who were lamenting the absence of Filipino American mentors in the academe, not to mention the usual absence in the texts. So we decide to form a support group.

Today, I start with posting Rachel's poem (see previous post). Rachel is a doctoral student at Univ. of San Francisco and she teaches French at a high school. She recently came back from a Fulbright summer fellowship to study Tagalog in the Philippines. She is looking for other Fil Ams who have attended previous or similar study programs who may want to "debrief" or just reminisce about the experience.

And thank you again, Bino, for your posts on Freirian pedagogy! For me there is no other way to teach.

I also feel the pressure to use technology in my classes, Jean! Many of the students already use powerpoint in their presentations. I have yet to get comfortable in this medium because it requires an adjustment in how I lecture, try to connect with students, etc. Perhaps as it becomes second nature, it gets better? More and more students are saying they are visual learners and demand visual materials as well. Do you notice that when you are lecturing the students are not taking notes? But when you start writing on the board, all of a sudden they start to write?

Rachel Cerdenio offers this poem: Thank you, Rachel!


A poem by

Rachel E. Cerdenio

September, 2003

I heard that "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

I started with one step, and am coming around full circle.

I used to laugh at her,

Simple, unrefined, crass was how she sounded, the

thick rrrrolll of her rrr's and the staccato of her t’s, d's, b’s. hell all the other goddamn consonants

that came from her mouth.

I cringed as she lengthened the short vowels and shortened the long vowels...

Goodness.... don't get her mad.. excited,

you don't wanna hear how she cuts up her words... sounding like a chicken with it's head cut off.

Even though she spoke with feeling and love, resting on each word for emphasis, I

chose to look away,, embarrassed by the seemingly

aesthetic sense of plainness.

This jarring, cacophonous, unpleasant "pilipino accent."

All the while, unlearning a language that traveled through sea and time...

that taught a sense of heritage and pride,

that was mine.

Fast forward to years later... with one mile past adolescence and a hundred kilometers into adulthood...

head held high... at the amazing opportunity to finally study francais en France!! Quel sophistique!

Ah, la langue de l'amour, qui est si belle aussi! La langue de la culture, exquise et raffinee!

But whose culture am I speaking of anyway? Speaking in a tongue that clearly belonged

to Guy or Amelie, qui mange dans un cafe.

Ma nationalite?, c'est logique...Je suis americaine... No really, I am... but where was my origine?

Je suis de Phillippine.... Je.... suis... de Phillippine...

Tres sophistiquee it seems.

But can it fully express, with a gentle caress, the warmth of tropical breezes

and, how my heart goes to pieces

when my father sings a Tagalog lullaby,

in it's own poetry?

Ashamed at my conviction,

at how I placed one language in a higher position

over another that had sustained me.

What, then was my reality?

Now, I run back, not really sure if I know the way...stumbling and falling...

reopening doors that I personally slammed shut.

I run back to her, and how she rrolls her rrrr's and the thick staccato of her d's, t's, b's ... and all the other goddamn consonants.

Finding new meaning in how she lengthens her short vowels and shortens her long vowels.

Understanding when she speaks with feeling and love, resting on each word for emphasis, this

melodious "pilipino accent."

Accompanied with the language of hope and inspiration... MGA KABABAYAN, we need a revolution!

We are divided within our nation over the cacophony of words that have framed our constitution, securing our cry for liberty.

When generation after generation, distrusts the other in unison.

Our language, no longer the bridge that makes us one,

But rather a weapon that makes us run,

From nurturing one another.

Our language, our accents,

you and I just can't

separate the wonderful synergy.

And so we say: "I...must... continue

To learn a language that traveled through sea and time...

That teaches a heritage and pride, that IS mine, ...ALL MINE."

Ang pag lalak bay, sa isang libong milya ay nag sisimula sa isang hakbang. (The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -Tzo)

My journey continues. I started with one step and am coming around...full circle.

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