Monday, January 28, 2008

Saul Williams is Black Stacey and delivers a Telegram.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Michelle announces Journeys Within and reminisces about her introduction to Princess Josephine and kali practice by master Tuhan at the 1994 Sikolohiyang Pilipino (SP) conference. I'm glad for this recall of the SP conferences and events in the Bay Area; so many of us became "born-again Filipinos" during those years and, I dare say, began a conscious decolonization movement among post-1965 Fil Ams. If Ver Enriquez is alive today, he will welcome this book, too. I miss him so much!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

FIELD OF MIRRORS is here and it includes so many of my favorite people (and yours, too!). Scroll all the way down for info about the launch and other PAWA projects.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Finally - the little book on Amazon.

Amidst the panic and gloom of a pending recession, we keep on keepin' on. thanks to Lloyd for these links on how to understand the current economic situation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Let the body sing and dance!

There are 234 youtube videos on Renaldo Lapuz. I'm waiting for the cultural critics to plug in with their analysis. If you ask me for mine, I can only tell you my gut responses:
"Oh my gosh, this guy is Filipino!"
"He could even be Kapampangan!"
and then this...
"I wish I had his chutzpah!"

This latter wish has always hovered on the sidelines. It took a central turn the other day when Venus and Francis came to visit. Francis has danced with Pi in the Philippines and she's now in the US to take classes on wholistic development and more dance classes. Naturally, we talked about what this "the dancer within" phenomenon has done for her: it released my poetry. released my body, my sensuality. released my fears. changed the way i think about my life's purpose and meaning. Venus and I smiled knowingly and egged each other about doing this dance someday.

Jaime Licauco and Gilda Cordero write about urban babaylans Pi and Bong de la Torre. My friend, Karen, has danced with Pi and Bong along with other Fil Ams who are in the Philippines temporarily doing Fulbright, NGO work, Tagalog on Site, etc.

My visits with young women like Venus, Francis, and Karen are my link to this world. I've written about it here as Eros, as decolonization, as energy, as psychic irruptions. It is the body talking. Wanting to dance. Wanting release and healing from colonial, sexual, psychic traumas of a repressed History.
Perhaps it is ok for the folks to laugh mockingly at Renaldo Lapuz or to make fodder of him for all kinds of drama. But he may have the last laugh. We may have the last laugh. Or the last dance.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is your invitation to attend:

June 26-28, 2008
University of the Philippines, Iloilo

One of the most important features of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) is the tendency to see the world with all its beings as a holistic system where things operate interdependently. Harmony with other people and the environment is a much-needed trait today in our shrinking global village. This orientation is called "kapwa"—the shared self — in the Filipino traditional value system, as expounded by Sikolohiyang Pilipino (SP).

Enhancing, strengthening and rebuilding ancestral Filipino Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) is also the thrust of the Heritage and Arts Academies of the Philippines Inc. (HAPI)— a non-profit organization which my Filipino husband Kidlat Tahimik and I incorporated in 2002.

HAPI is presently initiating KAPWA-2, an international conference that will bring together indigenous knowledge-holders and the academe under the unifying paradigm of Filipino indigenous psychology. This first systematic attempt to formulate an Asian Psychology is known in academic circles as Sikolohiyang Pilipino (SP). This consultation is a follow-up to a successful SP conference in 2004 titled "Pagkataong Filipino— The Theory, Practice and Values of Philippine Personhood" at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Campus (hereafter referred to as KAPWA-1).

"KAPWA-2— Filipino Psychology and Indigenous Knowledge: The Relevance of Local Frameworks in the Global Age" will examine the significance in the 21st century, of ancestral IKSP and such academic endeavors as Sikolohiyang Pilipino (which you are very familiar with through your own efforts in helping Virgilio Enriquez to set up a SP chapter in the Bay Area). Calendared as part of the UP Centennial on 26-28 June 2008, the 4-day multi-module event will feature a 2-day conference at the UPV Iloilo, augmented with culture bearer art exhibits and indigenous film showings at the Museo Iloilo. A 1-day symposium will convene Schools of Living Traditions.

Unlike conferences exclusively designed for the academe, KAPWA-2 will provide a forum for intangible heritage by programming the traditional representations of knowledge: Epic chanting, oral histories, myths, music, dance, ceremonial ritual performances and films will augment the theoretical papers (see draft program). An extension program will offer indigenous arts workshops and a series of ethnic films. This is a conscious attempt to help re-define Asian/ Philippine social sciences— beyond the pervading scope of Western academic models today.
By design, the lumad (keepers of ancestral traditions) will share their special knowledge in its original format. This means that the conference participants will experience the pre-lingual voice of man in the melodic "lectures" of epic chanting, instead of merely ingesting the analytical discourses about these ancient prayers.

During KAPWA-1, for example, the T’boli elder Mendung Sabal entranced her audience with 20 minutes of spirit invocation while playing her two-stringed kudyapi. Her rendition was placed at par with readings of theoretical papers by PhD holders in anthropology (psychology/ history/ etc.) and needed no further explanation.

KAPWA-2, therefore, will convene not only the formal scholars from different Philippine universities and the Living Traditions representatives— but also Filipino artists, cultural workers, media, and professionals actively involved with preserving IKSP in their lifeworks. This will balance the theoretical with the culture-bearing practices. We are also inviting international discussants from Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Tibet, Canada and USA, whose works/ researches have long pointed out the importance of IKSP to formal education. Their papers/ films/ lectures attest to the significance of the SP paradigm for Asian social sciences— beyond the scope of mere Philippine Studies.

The significance of the KAPWA-1 conference format had been recognized and supported by the government and private sectors (UP, NCCA, CCP, the Akademiya ng Sikolohiyang Pilipino, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Toyota Foundation).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Little Book That Could…

Is a collection of sixteen "Dear Student" letters addressed to the graduating seniors of Pampanga High School (PHS) in 2008, written by a group of alumni who left the school forty years earlier.

A 40th high school class reunion is a rite of passage marking the midpoint of our lives. As a group of us began to think aloud on how best to commemorate this event, the idea of a book was born with this premise: If you could talk to a student who is about to leave high school and as you think about your life since you left the same school, what would you tell that student? What advice would you give? What wisdom can you pass on? What would you tell the student about the challenges and choices that they are about to make? What will you tell them about what it means to love one’s self, kapwa, and bayan? What will you tell them about navigating the complexity of a globalized world? What will you tell them about what it means to be a Filipino? Would/could you a write a letter to that student?

More than a hundred pages later, these sixteen letters became From Our Hearts To Yours: Letters To a Young Student (Phoenix Publishing International, 2007) edited by Leny Mendoza Strobel and Nancy Figueroa Gochuico.

As the letters were submitted, we sent copies to the Principal of the school to ask what she thought of the project. Does she think this book project is worthwhile? Will it be read and received well? Can the teachers use it? Would she endorse the project by writing an Afterword?

Her reply to all of these questions was an unequivocal "yes!" She said the book is an "authentic" textbook because it is about the legacy of PHS to its students – past and present. Furthermore, she requested that the book be made available not only to the graduating seniors but to all the forty English teachers with sixty students each, and to the special science classes with a total of 240 students. She wants this to become a textbook. This was the "go" signal we needed.

To further authenticate this project, we showed the excerpts of the manuscript to others to ask their opinion. One private school owner who is an alumnus of the same high school wrote: It will be a sin NOT to proceed with your project. If these are just excerpts and am already bawling my eyes out, I can’t wait to read the rest. We asked Mon David, also an alumnus and an Outstanding Kapampangan awardee, and he said: Even parents, not just students, would appreciate reading these letters.

Governor Eddie "Among Ed" Panlilio, the priest-turned-governor of Pampanga, endorses the book as he recognizes Pampanga High School as the most venerable institution of learning in the province and he believes this book serves to maintain the legacy of its greatness as alumni return to express their gratitude via the project.

When we began writing these letters many of us said: I want to write the letter I wish I had received when I was about to graduate from high school.

We had a conundrum, though. There is a 40-year gap that we need to bridge between our readers and ourselves. Do we even understand how a young high school student thinks or feels anymore? As our own children are already beyond their high school years, how do we make these letters relevant? Are there life lessons that are still as valid as they always were in spite of how technology and globalization has changed the world? Do some values stand the test of time and distances?

The answers we came up with are in this book; we have opened our hearts to "pass forward" the lessons learned from our long journeys. Conceived as a small high school project to commemorate a centennial and a ruby reunion, we hope there will be an interest in the book beyond its first intention. This is the hope we hold out for our "little book that could" – that it could become a textbook for high school English or Creative Writing classes or classes in civics or citizenship. Now we wait and see.

BOOKLAUNCH: February 14, Pampanga High School Diosdado Macapagal Court, 8am

Friday, January 11, 2008

Kidlat Tahimik and Katrin de Guia team up to form HAPI

Profile: Heritage and Arts Academies of the Philippines Incorporated (H.A.P.I.)

Realizing the importance of official networking of informally existing Filipino artist groups that were maintaining ancestral Filipino heritage, Dr. Katrin de Guia initiated the incorporation of the Heritage and Arts Academies of the Philippines Incorporated (H.A.P.I.), which was registered with the SEC in Manila in March 2001.

The founding of HAPI is one moment in 28 years continuity of cultural work by Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik and German-born artist/psychologist Dr. Katrin de Guia.
In the early 80ies, the artist couple began to open their Baguio residence to the community as an art-space and a temporary home for Filipino artists whose orientation, interests and creative style was rooted in Indigenous Filipino Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP).

Then known as the Sunflower Film and Video Collective, it offered equipment and informal training to artists who were interested in the audio-visual media. A back-yard sound-studio provided not only sounds for films, but invited young artists to experiment with indigenous music, as well. Especially a group of artists from Bacolod, whose presence in Baguio eventually led to the formation of the Pinikpikan band, were among the permanent guests in the Sunflower House.

In the late 80ies, both, Kidlat Tahimik and Katrin de Guia were both active leaders and creative forces in the Baguio Arts Guild, helping to shape many Baguio Arts Festivals and Guild activities together with the other leading artist of the Guild.

After the 1990 earthquake, Katrin de Guia moved to Quezon City to pursue a PhD in Filipino Psychology under the tutelage of the founder of Sikolohiyang Filipino, the late Dr. Virgilio Enriquez. Mrs. De Guia graduated in 1997. Her dissertation discussed indigenous world-views and lifestyles of Filipino artists within the framework of Enriquez’ Filipino personality theory, in order to come up with a profile of contemporary Filipino culture-bearers.

Kidlat Tahimik slowly rebuilt the Sunflower House and continued the work of the Sunflower Film and Video Collective with a project of teaching video to an up-land community in Ifugao.

In 1999, Dr. Katrin de Guia received a grant to further her research on culture-bearing individuals in the Philippines, which led to the publishing of her book Kapwa— The Self in the Other and to the organization of a pioneering 2 day international conference at the University of the Philippines in 2004, which put indigenous Filipino knowledge on par with academic Filipino knowledge.

Realizing how a unifying framework and the systematic networking/linking up of culture-bearing groups could help them to find support, as well as giving support to each other, resulted in this Foundation, as an initial step towards establishing local Heritage Academies all over the Philippines.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This is the little book that could.
Booklaunch on Valentines Day at my high school.
Thank you, Perla Daly, for this design.

Via Grace, submit your essays to Yes Means Yes! - on ending rape culture. Grace is also doing a mother-daughter journal workshop. See 12/27 post. Yeah!

A few years before my mother died, I asked her to start journaling. I gifted her with beautiful journal books on my trips home. After she died, I gathered all her notebooks, transcribed them, and the Christmas of the year she died, I presented my family with the book of Esperanza Luna.
We will always have this.

In Solar Storms, Hogan rewrites the creation story. She writes that on the sixth day, humans were given their place with the earth. But some of them went astray and started walking away thinking that the story is finished after the seventh day of rest. So on the ninth day, when stories were created, they missed out and have been lost ever since.

Then, on the ninth day was the creation of stories, and these had many uses. They taught a thing or two about doing work, about kindness and love. She told me there were even stories to show a way out of unhappiness. . . Then there was the creation of singing and songs. If those drifting ones would have stayed behind, they might even have learned the antidote for war. But they heard only as far as the creation of war on the sixth day. Thieves were created on that same day, too. (181)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

sometimes i give in to this...and get all mushy.

Adding Mimi Nolledo

Friday, January 04, 2008

Isabel Allende's tales of passion.

Ok. So Allende had cosmetic surgery. Just thought I'd notice it for you.

Seriously: passion. feminism. need for men and women to reclaim and express feminine energy. I love the stories she tells.

But there is always something unsettling for me when white (Allende is white Hispanic) liberal women acknowledge their privilege. In this talk, Allende tells the stories of women doing heroic things amidst dire poverty or war or conflict. I do not mean to diminish these women's courage. What bothers me is that these stories are told in the key of "they, the other, the poor, underprivileged women who still manage to do amazing things in spite of...." What I hear in this key is that as Allende positions herself as a privileged woman from the West, the stories she tell are still "theirs" not "ours." In this equation, the underlying message is always: if only we, the wealthy and privileged, offered education, charity, transfer technology, etc...the world would be a better place. This is also TED's message.

I was reading a Chomsky essay the other night. He writes that the fundamental assumption of the US, i.e, We own the world - is never questioned even by the far left. When we operate under this world view, he writes, we also assume that we know what is good for the rest of the world. If we know what is good, then we must offer it. If there is resistance, we must impose it. You know the rest of the story.

It in this vein that I must express my disappointment with writers like Allende, whose body of work I admire very much. I say this because of my growing realization of how the liberal humanist ideas that have shaped the West now appear to have developed major cracks under the weight of capitalist values where everything is turned into commodity. Under this rubric, our good deeds become charitable acts given to the "other" -- who has less than we do. It doesn't take a leap of imagination to see how quickly we can equate "having less than we do" to "less humane." All civilizing missions must assume this...or there won't be a mission, will there?

What would happen if Allende can tell a story from the perspective of Kapwa? I am the Other. I am the Cambodian woman sold to a brothel.

One of the most difficult questions and tasks about dismantling privilege is this requirement to shift our understanding of the Self from the "I" to "We/kapwa." In the latter, we (privileged Americans) must begin to know and feel deeply that our affluent lifestyles have a social cost and a social burden that is carried by the poor of the world and the Earth. When we know this in our bones, how does our charity transform into solidarity? How would it change the way we tell stories about the Other? How would our sense of privilege shift?

Musings on this stormy, windy day.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

F. Sionil Jose's challenge to writers for the new year.


Those of us who have reached this rickety age — who have written this long — we all know that our most important asset is memory, the capacity to remember, to know history, our past, and to retrieve from this treasure trove those artifacts which we then shape so carefully, so lovingly.

Then we hope our puny creation is literature.

Fifty years — to use that tired cliché — is a lot of water under the bridge. What does this half a century tell us, if it tells us anything at all?

For those of you who are oh-so-young, so eager and so hopeful, let this old man repeat what he has said again and again, since that half a century ago: We did not wallow in the muck of corruption, this squalid political moro-moro. We were then the leading nation in Southeast Asia, with a high standard of living next only to Japan. How I strutted then when I visited our backward neighbors. We had the best schools, the best professionals, yes — because we were the best. But what happened?

And so, what has the past taught us — if it did teach us anything at all? What now can you who don’t know ever retrieve from it?

These five decades taught us to know ourselves, our weaknesses, so that we may vanquish them, and our strengths so that we can walk toward the light with firmer steps.
As writers, we know we are not a people who read, although our national hero was a novelist.
And if we have slipped behind, it is because my generation failed. Mea culpa, maxima mea culpa! We did not transcend ourselves.

Alas, we are still Moros and Christians and ethnics. We are Ilokanos, Cebuanos, Maranaos. In all these years, although we have become a modern state with all the institutions of a state, we have not become a nation — and as cultural workers, we should always keep this in mind, that we are the nation builders, although many of us do not recognize this, although our own people do not look at us as the creators of that identity on which a nation is built.

Yes, we are the creators of tradition, and the memory on which that identity rests. I have always said, what is Spain without Cervantes, England without Shakespeare, Greece without Homer, Germany without Goethe? Do you realize, now, how important we are even if our countrymen do not recognize us?

Those of you who are academics know how transitory literary fads are. In the ‘50s it was the New Criticism, followed by Existentialism, Structuralism, Deconstruction. Now the fashion is post-colonialism.

But is colonialism really over? We all know that it is not, that its more pernicious variety is domestic colonialism. McDonald’s, Toyota, Harry Potter — we may not be aware of them as such, but these are the cloying harbingers of domination and control. Listen — the logic of colonialism is exploitation and, therefore, no matter what guise it takes when it beguiles us — to spread Christianity, to make the world safe for democracy, civilization — forget these; colonialism is immoral.

Nick Joaquin was a dear friend, the most decent Filipino writer I know. He was, perhaps, our very best but I fault him with being an apologist for Spanish colonialism. I like America and Americans but nunca — I will never be an apologist for American imperialism.

And so I do pray that we do not become apologists for any form of colonialism, Spanish, American or the domestic variety.

What does Rizal teach us? That all those who leave this country, whether it is our powerful businessmen who send their money abroad, or as writers and teachers who seek greener pastures, all must come back to the native land, to be welded with the soil, for in the end, this is what nationalism truly is — to be with this earth and people.

Rizal wrote in Spanish, not in his native Tagalog; he knew that most of the Filipinos did not read Spanish, that it was the Spaniards and the ilustrados whom he addressed. And why novels? As a propagandist, wouldn’t he have been more effective if he simply wrote manifestos and spoke directly to the populace? He chose literature because literature would live long after the event, literature because it would touch the heart.

We will always have coteries, cozy groups bonded by college, ethnicity. Such groupings give us social and emotional comfort. But the generational gap is now very wide and we must close it. I would ask the older writers to reach out to the very young, to do this without condescension, without flaunting your achievements, your Ph.D.s. And for the young, I would ask you to venture out of your brave, new world and know your elders, to learn of their demons, the mountains of rubble they had to scale. Do this to form that granite continuum, that community, the shared purpose with which we build the future.

We know we are not heard or appreciated, that this country starves its writers. But even so, we must not give up, we must not stop. Even if we may not know it, accept it, or believe in it, what we write in its entirety, in its enduring integrity — contributes to the foundation of our nation.

The young Filipinos and those who are yet to come — we owe them this responsibility
All of us are egoists with deeply rooted convictions. May I quote a philosopher who said “Convictions are prisons.” We regard other writers as opponents, but most of all, it is our own selves that we will always wrestle with.

The creative life is harsh. We have no economic or social base; we are often condemned to penury. Do not despair — the insecurity, the anxiety, the suffering — these form the real matrix of creativity.

A few months before he passed away, Nick Joaquin asked my wife if she could invite the young writers so he could meet them. They came; he looked at them, had pictures taken with them, then he drifted away with the comment: “They are all so young and I am so old.”
And looking at all the young faces today, I would say the same. And I would add — “And you are all so good.” With you, I know our literature will flourish and, hopefully, this unhappy country, too.
* * *
The author founded the Philippine PEN in 1957.

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