Tuesday, February 28, 2006

OH, NO!! Octavia Butler has died!! I've just recently fallen in love with her work and started using her Parable of the Sower in my ethnic lit classes....(via Gladys). Jean introduced me to her work and just a month or so ago, she was interviewed on NPR (a student brought me a copy)for her new novel, The Fledgling.

I use her novel in an ethnic lit course because she stretches the limits of reading race and ethnicity by appealing to a larger context -- the question of survival and the sustainability of hope in the real world of diminishing resources. Plus, of course, that her protagonists are always women, black women, young black women like Olamina.

Adding Ryan.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Michelle and Eileen are posting personal reflections about the "state of emergency" that Arroyo recently declared.

My apolitical relatives and a Kapampangan listserve are taking the side of Arroyo (she is Kapampangan - need I say more?, and some of the friends back home that I depend on for perspective haven't issued any statements so far, therefore, I am left with the question: what is the alternative? Apparently, according to the Time correspondent who had an insider view of the coup plot, the plotters had called Washington and assured the US that the new administration will be US-friendly.So this is their version of "new government?" One of the alleged coup plotters, Pastor Saycon, said (on TV PAtrol) that Sindayen had twisted the story about the meeting and came up with a conspiracy theory; he said that he wouldn't have invited Sindayen to the meeting if it was a secret meeting to plot a coup.

In the meantime, about 51 persons are being charged with rebellion...

But here's a story that my sister told me from her friends at the University of the Philippines. A representative of the Venezuelan government was invited to UP to talk about the rise to power of Hugo Chavez. He described four decades of grassroots organizing that culminated in Chavez' election. When asked what price he and other Chavez supporters have paid; the speaker got teary-eyed and said: "we lost so many good people."

While I was in the Philippines last summer, some scholars I talked to remain hopeful (and not just optimistic) about the future of the Philippines. To them, this is still a time of purging and cleansing which will eventually result in a populist democracry (versus the current elite-run democracy). They see the empowerment of the masses, via their politicization (thus the mass rallies and loud voices and presence) as the necessary strategies that will lead to --for now, chaos -- but in the long-term, a long term peace. Listening to their expressions of hope, I am befuddled but at the same time I could I feel a deep admiration and respect for their ability to hold on to this great vision. I sense that this is their deep love for Filipinoness: a refusal to surrender to nihilism.

In other news, celebrities like Leah Navarro and GLoria Diaz have added their voices to the "oust GMA" movement. Great!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Your Filipina Penpal awaits you!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jean points to a video of British soldiers brutalizing Iraqis. I'm reading Aime Cesaire's Discourse on Colonialism and so this brutality didn't surprise me. Excerpt below from p.13.

First we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France (and in Iraq) they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact....all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and "interrogated," all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been instilled into the veins of Europe, and slowly but surely, the continent proceeds towards savagery.

Not much has changed since this essay was published in 1955.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

James Frey is not the only fake.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Barb and Gladys and a few others are talking about the exploitation of Filipinas via the penpal business. What is needed is another blog that talks about the deceit perpetuated by the men. Here are a few examples that were personally told to me by their victims:

1. White guy writes his Filipina penpal that he owns a house;single; he's 35; and he is a dentist. He borrowed money to give the Filipina a big wedding in the Philippines to impress her family. THen when she arrived in the U.S., he said: "By the way, dear, I don't own a house; I'm 55, I have two small kids; I'm divorced, and I'm retired."

2. A White man married to a Filipina tells me: Please help my wife find a job because she has to work and make money. I am a disabled veteran and I can't work.
Later I asked to talk to his wife and she tells me: He told me he owns his own home and he has a job; it turns out he lives in a trailer in the woods and he doesn't work. I am a chemical engineer in the Philippines! Had I known the truth about him, I wouldn't have married him.

3. A few years ago, I got a phone call from an acquaintance who called me to intervene in a domestic violence dispute involving his Filipina neighbor who is being physically abused by her husband. I called the Filipina but she was so scared that she told me not to report to the police and she promised that as soon as she gets her legal status she would leave him.

How many more untold stories like these are out there?

Then there is the rest of the story. All of the above women eventually left their husbands, worked on empowering themselves, then went on to build their own lives -- without these kinds of men.

When Jean posted the slow food/PETA connection, I first thought she was referring to this.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hah! The chatelaine puts my cooking third on her "Three of my favorite dishes"...and am trying to remember what I've served her before...hhmmm yes, kare-kare with bagoong, adobo,teriyaki salmon, leche flan, etc. But perhaps her memory of my cooking reminds her of the company she had shared it with in my home on several occasions: Joey Ayala, Michelle and Rhett, Reme, Jim and Lily, Ianthe Brautigan, and others.

I never think of my cooking as notable. Still, it's nice to be regarded as a good cook. As a Kapampangan (Filipino national cuisine is basically Kapampangan-inspired!), cooking should be in the genes but in my case, I've always thought that my other sisters cook better than I do. But I must have inherited my mother's non-chalance around food. No flair, no gourmet tricks except she made everything from scratch. At 12,she taught me how to go to market and learn how to bargain. Bring home the live chicken (or live fish, or jumping shrimps and frogs), kill, and clean it. Adobo. Tinola. Asado. Kilawin. Pochero. Dinuguan. Pancit palabok, guisado, sotanghon, canton. (i'm getting hungry writing this). Just the other day, I was thinking of how she taught me how to properly take the shell and head off the fresh shrimps so as to keep the fat intact... pound the shells in the stone mortar and pestle and then squeeze the juice to flavor many of the sauteed vegetable and meat dishes. There were no instant mixes in those days and to this day I don't use them...a lot (i do use the tocino marinade once in a while).

There is a growing "slow food movement" that I would like to be part of. So we are getting ready to plant our spring and summer veggies. Although I've yet to learn how to grow Japanese eggplants, at least last summer we enjoyed the bounty of heirloom tomatoes, basil, swiss chard, arugula, and mesclun. Friends in the Philippines who are already into the "slow food movement" tell me that the idea is to harvest the ingredients from your own organic garden, cook together with other friends, and then be willing to discuss a social justice issue...like Poetry!

Kare-kare would just be the kind of "slow food" that would fit in nicely, no? Now we just have to set a date...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Depths of Colonial Wounding

I've been thinking a lot lately about this. What is the extent of colonial trauma?; how deep does it go really? Where is the line between personal psychological/emotional trauma and colonial trauma? For example, if one becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, how does colonial trauma enter into the analysis of the individual's descent into addiction?

A friend recently quoted Salman Rushdie's Imaginary Homeland where he says something about modernity being thrust upon the colonized peoples and being forced to either accommodate it or succumb and then not having the language to articulate it's blow on the psyche.

And if colonial trauma devastates both the colonizer and colonized, what can we - the decolonized - do to address the wounds of modernity itself?

But how and where to begin the healing? I recently got news that someone I love is a drug addict. The telltale signs were always there but her parents didn't want to look in that direction for a long time. Now they have to face this together. It is easy to blame a lot of factors: the crowd she hang out with, her artistic self in search of the altered state of creativity, her freespirit, her low self-esteem, her sense of failure to meet parental expectations, postmodern anxiety and angst, nihilism. Words come easy. But where do we begin?

I have no answers to this. Only questions. For now.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Glad to see that Bec is able to use A Book of Her Own and decolonization stuff in a writing workshop. Yey!

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