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.

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