Friday, November 30, 2007

i couldn't find my journal. searched everywhere. nada. i keep a journal to take notes of the books am reading. to jot down my dreams. this one has all my entries from june 07...mostly entries on Irigaray, Bachelard, Trask and notes from the underbelly of the psyche.

like this one from elemental passions...

When you say I, you, he, or she, if she says: I, where and what becomes of you? Thinking that she has now become one in your image, according to your model, you take fright at what you begin to sense: how enclosed you are, how unattainable to others. You strike, knock, cut, would, rub raw this living body to rediscover the source of life. When the way to it is never closed. When it flows on forever, outside as well. When it only dries up if it is covered by you or imprisoned in you, by you. If she says: I, is that not to remain open, and yours? To escape capture, escape the net you draw around your catch, the ice in which you store your property, the mirrors where you conserve and freeze your desires? To become once more that constantly moving life she is. Flowing everywhere without boundaries -- deathly boundaries.

Do not strike so hard, you are paralysing her, stopping her flow. Those blows are only aimed at you. You are the one who needs to be opened up again. (18)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crime visited our street last night. A man was fatally shot; another critically wounded. The police said the house was being used to process weed. How could we not have known this about our neighbor? This house was owned by an elderly couple and when both of them passed away a few years ago, the house was put on the market. A realtor bought the house for her son's family to live in last year. But just as the bubble of subprime mortgages burst, the young family could no longer afford the payments so the owner decided to rent the house about two months ago. We do not know who moved in.

Just the other day we knocked on that door to bring the neighbors a bag of our fuji apples. A young non-English speaking woman opened the door and was clearly wary. I tried in my own limited way to introduce ourselves but she just smiled, took the bag from my hand then made a move to close the door. I was half hoping she would invite us in, like neighbors usually do.

The neighbors all gathered on the street wondering about the details: is the shooter still loose? who was shot? how many? why? No immediate facts were known. Earlier that evening, I had made a comment that we never quite know what is going on next door. It looks like several families might be living there. Why is the garage light on all the time? It must be a family because there are two young girls that we sometimes see playing outside. Etc.

The police even came into our house to inspect, just in case stray bullets have hit the house. They say a gun was found in the backyard on the other side of our fence; they think our backyard might have been used as an escape route. They told us to stay in and lock all the doors. Helicopters hovered above the neighborhood for hours -- as a precautionary move, the police said.

While I felt nervous and terrified, I was also eavesdropping on neighborhood comments and this was very telling:

They are probably Mexicans. They are probably illegals. They are probably gangsters and druglords. This has never happened on this side of town. This only happens on the "other" side.

I reminded them that there was a murder not too long ago a few blocks away from us. They had conveniently forgotten this, of course, because the victim and perpetrator were white; that was just an anomaly. But in the tone of their voices, including that of a policeman, I heard the racial profiling going on. My double consciousness kicked in; on one hand, in my head I was defending an entire ethnic group from being racialized and on the other, I was blaming the global process that pushes people to their limits as they resist being marginalized and impoverished. In Tagalog we say -- pag nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit -- (when pushed into a corner, one could clutch on a blade to survive or protect oneself).

But I also do not like the feeling of being scared for my safety. It's time to relocate, a relative emailed. The usual flight response. Just the other day, I was contemplating organizing our neighborhood, the way I tried to do 24 years ago when I moved here. Today, there are only three of the long-time residents on this street, the rest are renters that moved in recently.

Clearly a sign of the times, I told the policeman last night as I tried to deflect his racist insinuations. I think of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, a foretelling of the grim scenario upon us. I think of Van Jones and his call for a Reverence Movement. I think of "another world is possible" action plans...and I wonder how I could bring this home to my neighborhood.

Having a cybercommunity has been a convenient and safe way to avoid the often difficult, murky, stressful work of creating community locally. I've seen how my neighborhood has shifted recently and become "working class" (although I don't believe that there is a lot of difference between classes; we are all working for the capitalist class). What if you find that there's not much shared in common except that you all live on the same street?

Obviously, there is work that needs to be done. Does it mean I have to give up the long hours I spend online and spend more time talking and getting to know my neighbors?

Kapwa. There is that word again. It won't leave me alone.

Adding Van Jones

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wowwee! Paring Bert in Galatea Resurrection 8!! Thanks, Eileen and Aileen!

I'm ecstatic that Aileen wrote this review of Paring Bert's poetry. He is best known as a Jesuit philosopher, peace advocate, anthropologist, and poet -- all his works deserve to be better known in the Fil Am communities and beyond.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nole Me Tangere

and read Sally Mann's response after the essay.

I was led to post the above (and digressed) while writing a letter of recommendation for my student who is also taking a class from Noelle Oxenhandler...and before I sat down to write, I was on the phone with a friend wondering aloud to her whether or not to tell a Story that would, hopefully, put an end to the cannibals' desire to eat my baby....and before I talked to her on the phone, I was reading Hogan's The Woman Who Watches Over the World.

All of which takes me back to the dangers and pleasures of opening up the door to Eros; of taking the keys away from the patriarch who would, if he could, keep me in an iron (but gilded!) cage to maintain the (insanity) of the world he has created. he would silence me, if he could. he fears that i would betray him. he fears because somewhere in the recessess of his mind, he knows the power of story to break down illusions of power. yet, just over there (imagine a Pinoy pointing with his lips), he also knows that the stories we fear the most are the ones waiting to weave some magic and wondrous mysteries.

How different would it be if we can sit together to tell each other our Story without fear?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

the news said that there are 113million Americans going shopping today. that is less than half of the 300million of us. last night as I stayed up late to watch Tim Flannery's talk about why we should be concerned about global climate change, I didn't feel too alone in my decision to stay home today.

i stayed in bed till late morning finishing Linda Hogan's Power...about a young girl who turns her back on the white world and goes to live with the old people, the Panther people, beyond the woods. i am drawn to stories like this because i am given permission to recall, without mockery, the world i left behind when i became modern and civilized. I wish to return, in whatever form i can, to that world; this time with much reverence and supplication for what that world can teach me still.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am tagged by Luisa Igloria. I am supposed to write down the 6th sentence on page 161 of the book I am reading,and then tag five bloggers, then write down the sentence I found, on my blog; the idea is to keep this going...

I'm no good at math but I'll do what Luisa did. I'm reading PRAU and there's 91 pages. 161 minus 91 equals 70. This is a blank page so I go to page 71 and the 6th line in Loophole is

subject to sentience

indeed i am.

Okay, tagging five more bloggers: Becs, Karen, Grace, Eileen, and Michelle.

As for the rest of PRAU...this boat is still making its way to anchored sentience in my psyche. to be continued...

2008 TED winners. While waiting for the announcements, just from the introductory comments, I guessed Dave Eggers and Karen Armstrong...and I was right. Haven't heard of Neil Turok before this but I do now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

do you know how it feels? when another world touches your skin
and you are not here anymore but elsewhere? and this elsewhere
feels more real. it makes you want to stay. but you can't.

reading Linda Hogan does this to me.

this morning, some freshmen students have started to present their creative projects. someone from Samoa decided to introduce the class to her indigenous practices. she put on tribal markings on her face, don a Samoan dress, sang a welcome song, and a warrior/haka chant. usually shy and quiet, in those few minutes she showed her pride and power as the descendant of a tribal chief.

i felt this powerful energy through the goosebumps on my arms and back of my neck.

another student, the daughter of a mother who marched alongside Martin Luther King and Malcom X, wrote a poem about the need to keep telling the story of struggle and liberation.
"I am Your Story" -- was the powerful line that answers her repeated question: "Who will tell our story?"

an older third student spoke of her six-year sojourn in Brazil at a permaculture institute where she learned to integrate spirituality with "living lightly on the earth." she brought samples of the handmade leather bags she makes, beadwork, and samples of corn, corn mush, and squash from her organic garden. she attends a Native American church, also called 'peyote church,' with her Navajo boyfriend.

belatedly, i realized that these presentations need to be recorded and documented. luckily, a student has volunteered to do this and will post it online later. i'll tell you when...

half of the students in this class are first generation, low income, high achieving, mostly students of color; some are non-native English speakers. i've often thought of the whiteness of the classroom/university norms and how they struggle to fit in. they tell me this is the only class where they feel a little bit at ease. i love their spontaneous responses that remind me of the "call and response" in Black churches. I love the high energy that they can barely contain as they struggle to understand linear cognitive concepts. they challenged the white students in the class with their candid questions and their attempt to bordercross...which was received enthusiastically by some, but not all. some were tepid, hesitant, uncomfortable...in a good sort of way.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Adding Ninotchka Rosca

in last night's dream, the cannibal has turned into a dark angel
sitting on a wide bench by the beach with a mocking grin
he was waiting for me at the end of an obstacle course
over cliffs, rocks, mountains...along the pacific coast trail

i was not afraid.

Friday, November 16, 2007

morning ritual

he brings me coffee in bed and he sits with me.
this is the time of the open heart
we talk about the books on my bedside
i ask him about his paintings, unfinished book,
biking schedule, plans for dinner

we couldn't avoid the topics of war
endgames, foreign policy blunders,
the threats to Iran...

he refills my coffee cup
leaves me to my reading

this is grace.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Via Eileen...from Ernesto. Thank you for this. It resonates deeply.

Someone has noticed that my last few posts were melancholic. Yes. The cannibal dreams were disturbing, at first. They were prescient. The events that unfolded after the dream proved that. An angel reminded me: Leny, bless the cannibals; the blessing will form a shield around your baby. Surround your baby with light and she will be protected.

I wonder often how the wounds we inflict (knowingly or not) on each other are a part of the trauma in need of mourning, as Ernesto points out. If one doesn't even recognize the trauma, does one then resort to cannibalism (i.e. cannibalism means to eat one's own)? How then do we eat each other? What does "eat" mean? I know about "eating the other" but not one's own. The dream wants to point me in a different direction.

Cannibalism is a taboo in this civilized culture. There is prohibition against eating the other...but what if it means "eating one's own?" To eat the same flesh that keeps you alive.

We must be ravenous in mourning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

(Re)Defining Religious Studies: The Next Decade of APARRI
Thursday-Saturday, August 7-9, 2008
Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California

2008 celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative, and we invite you to mark your calendars for a conference that will look back over the development of Asian Pacific American religious studies over the past decade and look forward to the coming ten years.

Prof. Michael Omi of the Ethnic Studies Department at U.C. Berkeley, co-author of Racial Formations in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s and one of the most noted theorists on race in the U.S. today, will give the keynote address on August 7. His presentation is entitled: "The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: The Racial Positioning of Asian Americans." Additional plenaries will address the state of the field of APA religious studies from various disciplinary angles and discuss emerging issues. Concurrent sessions will showcase research-in-progress, and structured mentoring will be available for students and junior faculty members.

APARRI 2008 is organized by the Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific and Asian North American Religion (PANA Institute) at Pacific School of Religion, with major funding from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. The 2008 conference is hosted by the Pacific School of Religion and co-sponsored by the Graduate Theological Union, the Asian American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

The conference schedule and registration will be available Spring 2008 at www.pana.psr.edu.
Christopher Chua
Program DirectorPANA Institute, Pacific School of Religion
1798 Scenic AvenueBerkeley, CA 94709

Saturday, November 10, 2007

how does one get used to what Isn't? to absence.

cannibalism: to eat one's own.

we must be ravenous in mourning.

this is cannibalism, too.
and this.

tell me i'm not insane.

Friday, November 09, 2007

From the Dreamgiver --

Cannibals snatched my baby and ate it.
I couldn't blame them; they were hungry and poor.
But I was mad at myself for that two-second inattention.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Do you think that this culture will undergo voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?

ENDGAME -- there are two-parts to this video. Jensen is a poet-philosopher and environmentalist. what he says might shock you and you might dismiss him as an extremist or an overly negative person but if you listen closely...closely...there will be a part of you that can't help but hear that what he is saying rings true.

Monday, November 05, 2007


a merlin hawk chased a hummingbird through the front door and ended up in a panic by the bathroom window unable to escape. hearing and then seeing where the noise of fluttering wings was coming from, he took the bath towel and gently picked up the hawk, took it downstairs and set it free. he came back for the hummingbird, now limp and barely breathing. he held it in his hands until it sighed its last.

it is an omen, he said. the hummingbird is his totem animal. the hummingbird is always flitting from one blossom to the next, never stopping long enough in any one bloom. that's me, he said, and he spoke of the myriad things he has preoccupied himself with since he retired -- biking, painting, photography, gardening, cooking. then there's the search for a spiritual community - zen, orthodoxy, mainline evangelical, animism.

the hummingbird was killed by the hawk. the predatory hawk: focused on his intention/s and moves on his prey swiftly and accurately. this is an omen, he said again.

he spoke of a moment shortly after this animal incident. he was lying on a sofa listening to "oldies" on the radio and he felt an energy that, he said, reminded him of feelings he had as a teen on the prairie, those "feelings of expansive expectations for the future."

that is Eros rising, i said. and he blurted a mocking laughter because he thought i was thinking sex. think Eros=life force, i said. see where that leads. this is one of the stops along the way...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The interesting part of the FWN summit for me was participating in the Authors' Reception at the Library of Congress, Asia Division. It was announced at the reception that Reme Grefalda will soon replace Dr. Lee as the head of the Library of Congress Asia Division. This is great news indeed!

Reme has great plans for expanding the Asian Pacific American Collection. When she told me that I should not throw away any of my primary/raw data for my research because they should eventually be archived at the LoC, I thought of all the scholars whose works belong to this archive -- Steffi San Buenaventura, for example. I need to start wrapping my mind around this idea...

p.s. notice this: when you click the link above, you will notice the ads for Asian nose surgery, sexy Asian girls, and Asian singles. what is more ironic?

Bec writes about having a better grasp of what it means to be Filipina by reading about zoos. Here's an excerpt:

"What do we learn from zoos?...We learn that you can remove a creature from her habitat and still have a creature. We see a sea lion in a concrete pool and believe that we're still seeing a seeing a sea lion. But we are not. We should never let zookeepers define for us what or who as animal is. A sea lion /is/ her habitat. She is the school of fish she chases. She is the water. She the cold wind blowing over the ocean. She is the waves that strike the rocks on which she sleeps, and she is the rocks. She is the constant calling back and forth between members of her family, this talking to each other that never seeps to stop. She is the shark who eventually ends her life. She is all these things. She is that web. She is her desires, which we can learn only by letter her show us, if she wants; not by caging her." - Jensen, p8, The Sun, Nov. 2007

I think the primary action of decolonization for me is this realization that I am not the artifact called 'Filipina,' but a Filipina - one who interacts and is constantly remade as a Filipina with every interaction, every relationship forged, every action I make which ties me to my heritage. Being Filipina isn't defined only by what I do as an individual, but by the living, breathingness of Kapwa that takes into account my environment, my choices, the choices of others, my fears and triumphs, all at the same time, all in constant motion.

I like this phrase: the breathingness of Kapwa. Thank you, Bec!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

KAtrin sent me this:

I have a young friend in Manila whose lineage leads back to the hill tribes in Mindanao. I lent her your “orange” book. When she visited me a week ago, she showed me a tattoo on her back between the shoulder blades. It’s the babaylan from page 150 of your book. Wow! She still hides it from her parents. Anong say mo!
Whoa! I say great tattoo idea!!

(The image is by Maica Delfino/Isis International Manila).

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Little Book That Could

"From Our Hearts To Yours: Letters to a Young Student" -- this is the title of the small book that I'm editing for a 40th high school reunion. When this idea was conceived I had no idea whether it would fly; whether my classmates would come through and write those letters; whether we will find the funding to print 2000 copies requested by the Principal of our high school.

Thanks to a core group of classmates who embraced this project, I now have a 100-page manuscript ready to go to the book designer! Ah yes - another miracle!! Perla Daly, my soulsister and book designer of my orange book - said that she would do the book design - as a way for us to stay connected. I love this woman!! I trust her aesthetic sense. I trust her period.

Not only do I have a book designer on board, the artist Mon David, who is an alumnus of the same school and Outstanding Kapampangan awardee as the best ambassador of Pampanga culture, has agreed to write the Foreword as well as create a single-track CD of a Pampango song that we will include as an insert in the book. The Principal of the school will write the Afterword. Fifteen classmates submitted "Dear Student" letters.

There is also a textbook publisher in the Philippines who is publishing the book and later, would be willing to develop this as a textbook for Philippine high school English classes.

A couple of times I've been tempted to give up on this project. But I remember the largeness of vision, heart, and love that gave birth to the idea and all I know is that this baby wants to be born. This is Eros teaching me Trust, Letting Go, and Breaking Open.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Lighting candles on my altar to honor my Ma and Tang, Apu Sinang and all my ancestors whose names remain unknown, whose history remain vacant in memory. Mea culpa for historical amnesia and psychic amputations.

Gratitude for what is and what will be.

If I want to, I can go downtown for the multicultural celebration of Los Dias de Los Muertos where there is an open altar and people can bring offerings to their dead loved ones. But I think I'd rather go for a very long walk by myself. The autumn sun finally graced us after a foggy morning and the colors of Fall call on me to worship.

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