Saturday, April 30, 2005

I've just sent an email to the Chancellor and a Regent member of the University of Hawaii to support the protestors who are against the development of a secret military weapons research project at University of Hawaii/Manoa. Thanks to Grace for the info.

Reconnecting with Irene F Duller who inspired one of my essays on globalization with this line from one of her poems:

I am the maid of the world
And the world has made me dirty.

The essay, On Globalization: The Maid, The Poet, and the Scholar, was published in The Other Side magazine and will be reprinted in my next book, A Book of her Own .

In the meantime, Irene is finishing up her MA thesis on Pinayista Art at San Francisco State U.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sometimes you just never know where decolonization might lead to...here's the latest from the Hawaiian front. Welcome to bloglandia, Grace!

Pinay Power!

Glad to be back from the Asian American Studies Conference in Los Angeles. It felt good being in a panel with some of the contributors to Pinay Power (edited by Melinda de Jesus) -- Linda M. Pierce from U of Southern Mississippi whose Pinay mom, Marion Douglas, played lead opposite Fernando Poe Jr; Celine Parrenas Shimizu - still kicking ass at UCSB; artist Reanne Estrada who creates "art of dubious archival quality;" Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales of SFSU - who brought a cohort of grad students from SFSU and, in a separate panel, presented their MA thesis on Pinayist Art, Hiphop performance (dance and emceeing)!; and Marie Therese Sulit who is writing her dissertation on postcolonial trauma by exploring "hunger" sites in Fil Am literature.

Congratulations to Joe Ponce for his appointment at Ohio State University starting this fall.

In another panel on "Imagined Filipina Identities," the chair and discussant were both not able to come but the four of us (meself, Eleanor Lipat/UCLA, Tera Maxwell/UTAustin, and Gina Velasco/UCSC) somehow managed to put it all together and considering that our panel was scheduled at 8:30 on Saturday morning and at the same time as the Filipino Caucus meeting, we still had a pretty good-sized audience with lots of questions at the end.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I never thought of myself as a genre-bender or a multi-genre memorist but I like the sound of both.

Since the Babaylan word is on the book's title, I've been thinking of Bullet Marasigan who died five years ago, April 18th. There will be a celebration of her life at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco tomorrow. I was asked to talk about "Bullet as Babaylan" but I couldn't be physically present so I just sent in my short talk. Hopefully, someone will read it on my behalf.

I think of Bullet as Babaylan because she wasn't only known for healing the physically sick, she was also a healer of other forms of illness -- social injustice, human rights violations, denial of Fil Am veterans benefits, civil rights abuses. She spent her life in the Philippines and in the Bay Area involved on so many fronts -- as an educator, activist, lobbyist, writer, advocate, organizer, spiritual leader. She was indefatigable. I never saw her tired. Her sense of humor always a source of levity amidst such grievous concerns in the Fil Am community and beyond.

As the Babaylan of old was also a healer/therapist, mediator, and a revolutionary warrior of her time, so is the contemporary Babaylan like Bullet. May there be many more like her.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Welcome to blogland Melba P. Maggay! Check out her essay on the Papacy and another on Contextualizing Christianity -- for those interested on the interface between culture and christian theology.

Thank you so much to Perla for uploading the image of A BOOK OF HER OWN which she designed. I hope you will agree that it is beautiful! (click on image to enlarge). This has truly been a collaboration between Perla, myself, and the artists from Isis International - a labor of babaylan-inspired love!

Perla is the lead organizer the FAWN conference in New York, June 3-5. Hope to see some of you there!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

It's just that it seems as if the banality of this Administration's spin is infecting our language, our approach to reading texts).

Yesterday, one of the two African American students in my class stayed behind to talk to me about how the other students' attitudes are affecting her. Last week she walked out because she felt very offended by the way her classmates responded to the discussion on myths of black sexuality (we are reading Cornel West's Race Matters). I asked the students to make three lists: Myths of Black Sexuality, White Sexuality, and Asian Sexuality. They came back with a long list of black myths and Asian myths but couldn't come up with white myths. In spite of the word "myths," this student felt that the class believed them to be real and so she walked out before she could hear how we deconstructed the lists they came up with.

We talked about how unwilling students are to engage Cornel West; how entrenched their sense of entitlement and privilege are and how the campus climate overall doesn't lend itself to critical dialogue. (Last week, for 3days, pick-ups with large anti-gay banners patrolled the parking lots all day and a new independent conservative student newspaper has made its debut attacking multiculturalism and the Intercultural Center on campus).

To address this in class, she volunteered to do a presentation whereby she will talk about how she feels as the only female black student in class, how she feels that the students are not really taking race and ethnicity issues seriously and how they are shortchanging themselves for not doing so. I'm glad she's reading bell hooks on her own...i think she'll be a bomb.

Yes, people may be tired of identity politics but usually for all the wrong reasons or spins.

Welcome back, Rona!

Introducing Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor. I asked the great poet Ruth Mabanglo if she is related to Rebecca and she seems to think so although hasn't quite figured out how.

A few posts back, Eileen blogged about the new book I'm working on. It's finally off to the printer's with the title, A BOOK OF HER OWN: WORDS AND IMAGES TO HONOR THE BABAYLAN. There were a few titles I was toying with, e.g., Writing One's Place on the Map, or Writing as Making Peace with History, or Giving the Self a Home in Writing -- but none of them gave me a sense of calm. So I called my crone mentor and told her of my dilemma. With a few pointed questions she was able to draw this out of me: that this work was my way of honoring the babaylan spirit as guide, as lover, as muse. At first I wasn't sure whether the word "babaylan" in the title would turn-off a browser who didn't know its meaning. But the crone reminded me that the babaylan, not just the word but the world it represents, needs to become part of our daily vocabulary. So there.

Skimming through Rebecca's musings about literary genres (and the absence, it seems, of Filipino memorists) or the relatively latecomer - creative nonfiction - makes me wonder what kind of response A Book of Her Own will evoke.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Fil Ams in Hampton Roads

It was nice reconnecting with poet Luisa Igloria at Old Dominion University. Luisa is one of only two Filipina faculty at ODU and she also represents many of the Asian and Asian American events in and outside of ODU, e.g. the public library book discussions of Korean literature, Filipino literature, etc. I wish her well on her upcoming tenure review and forthcoming new book of poetry!

My talk on the Asian diaspora followed the videodocumentary produced by the FANHS chapter of Hampton Roads, In Our Auntie's Words, which was shown on the local PBS station and the book version, published by Tiboli Press, sold 600 copies at its book shower!

Luisa and I had time to visit with the FANHS folks especially Allan and Edwina Bergano, project directors of In Our Auntie's Words and some of the leaders of the community - Ray Obispo, Veronica Salcedo, Gil Salang, Randy and his wife, and Angel. What was interesting to observe was the multi and inter-generational cooperation in this community. The Berganos provide the vision, energy, and they seem quite adept at connecting with the different groups in the community. It was inspiring to have a spirited dialogue with the younger leaders - Ray and Veronica - and their work with high school students. In this documentary, it is the high school students who were trained to conduct oral history interviews with the Aunties. Pretty impressive!

The Berganos also gave me a quick tour of the Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia - a sprawling multi-use complex in Virginia Beach. This is a large naval town and many of the Filipinos here are connected to this military branch. Allan said that they have the best food at community events because many of the retired Naval folks were former cooks and whip up the best cuisine con todo ice sculptures! ...Before dropping me off at the airport, we made a quick dash to Susie's Kitchen - one of four Filipino turo-turo in the area for a quick lunch...and free karaoke entertainment.

The folks in Hampton Roads made the world feel a lot smallerfor me when some of them asked me if I knew Oscar Penaranda, Michelle Bautista, Peter Bacho. Apparently, they are keenly monitoring the "state of Fil Am country" on the West Coast.

Btw, Bino, I was told that the Hampton Roads chapter will do a re-enactment of the Bataan Death March....thanks, too, for your post reminding us of this day of infamy. The historical marker of the Bataan Death March in San Fernando, Pampanga, was only a few blocks away from where I grew up. I wish now that I had paid more attention to this historical moment. To think that one of my uncles marched in it and escaped. One of my students also told the story that his uncle escaped by hiding under a woman's saya (apparently onlookers lined the road as the soldiers passed) as the guard momentarily turned his head away.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The world seems to have stood still while the Pope was dying -- there was nothing else on the news except the death watch. I tried to find out what else might be going on in the world but the media has decided this is the only newsworthy event. I avoided the news. I didn't want the media to construct how I felt about the Pope. Still it bothered me a bit that I wasn't feeling some of the sadness and connectedness that a biliion people on the planet supposedly shared. It made me wonder if my lack of emotions betray something about me and how I teach and tell my students that it is possible to connect to... everything.

So I listened to the news. I understood that this Pope is the first non-Italian pope; he inspired the Solidarity Movement in Poland that led Lech Walesa to power; he spoke many languages; he stood firm on doctrine but was progressive on social issues. He was against the war in Iraq. He is the first Pope to ask forgiveness for the Holocaust, the first to enter a mosque, the first to pray at the wailing wall. I am touched. Now I can actually feel something.

But still I am skeptical of the media. The White House flag at half-mast? Bush - who didn't listen to the Pope's position on the war -- now pays respect? And then on C-Span, another author is talking about his new book, God and Reagan...further feeding my skepticism on how religion and politics have become cozy bedfellows in these times.

I was telling the spouse that everyday holy people die, holy species die...so why the drama over Schiavo and now the Pope? What does it say about us? What does it say about me? And the narrative says that the Pope and Schiavo are both now in a better place. If this place is better then why do we pray for miracles that might prolong life on earth?

When I was an evangelical, I used to know all the answers to these questions. But I'm just not happy anymore with certainty.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Introducing Celia who graciously allowed me to use her blogphoto of Filipino cookies to be used in my next book...

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