Sunday, June 22, 2008

This past week, I've been having email and personal conversations with younger Fil Am women friends. Something compels me to share this here as I feel that there is a nudge from the universe to offer this to the table of our common ground.

a pregnant challenge from M:

Leny, what we need is a healing center. We need something that will address the mental health issues of FilAms (like me) who are constantly having to deal with the push and pull of the Filipino and American cultures. Psychotherapy or counseling is usually not used by Fil Ams because there are hardly any practising Fil Am therapists out there or even if there are, they are not specifically trained to deal with the issues in an ethnic-specific way. That is not their training. On the other hand, I'm aware that Filipinos are known for alternative healing therapies. Where are those healers in the Fil Am community? I've been trying to heal myself through indigenous spirituality and I've been able to do this (sweat lodges) with my Native American friends but I'm looking for something that is mine as a Filipina.

and this from K:

...from my experience, it is most difficult for white folks to lay their privilege down, especially after acknowledging that they even have it. i think it is so hard to even recognize it, that after they do that work, it's like they want to rest on their laurels...

have had several close co-workers like this. and of course my former spouse. and the most painful part of this, is that i felt like they wanted me to be okay with their resting. and when i wasn't okay and suggested that that was actually the "easy"part and they must keep going, such resentment ensued.

as i type this, i realize that there are not many spaces for white folks in transition in that way. and that folks of color should not be the ones to hold them in that space. (at least not THIS folk of color!) i think super conscious white allies could be helpful here to hold that space, and give kudos for the work that's been done, and rouse them again to their feet and keep walkin'...

in my process with the ex, i was so wounded i couldn't encourage him to keep walking without being so angry and rageful that i had to be the one to do it. why couldn't he get that his well-being and freedom ALSO depended on him doing that work? i was so pissed that he expected me to hold that transition space for him. and when i asked him to keep walking with me, he ultimately said that he didn't have to. ugh. painful memories. i realize now that maybe he was asking me to hold that space as his spouse. i couldn't see past my woundedness of being a woman, a woman of color, an immigrant, a nurse. of course, i was his spouse back then and i am also all those other things.

what comes first? what should come first? we never had the space or the sophistication to have ongoing conversations about those things. we could only have them in the presence of our therapist. itwas too hard to do it on our own. wow, thanks for writing me Leny. all this stuff is pouring out of me as i write this.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Adding poets, Nico Dacumos, and Anthem Salgado and here, too.
I'll be in good company this summer!

I will be here for awhile.

In the meantime, we signed up to host an Obama fellow for the summer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Some folks in my listserves are forwarding Obama quotes taken out of context and are meant to smear him. A friend offered that these emails should not be given the time of day; that people should buy Obama's books and read for themselves. Another friend offers an alternative essay from an evangelical publication as worthwhile reading. I read this essay and this is my response:

Dear all -
Spent some time with the CT article and I just want to put in my 2cents of Pinay insight.

CT is an evangelical publication and represents the viewpoints of evangelical Christianity. If you go their election website, you will notice how their political and ideological positions become transparent even as they are filtered through the universal language of "common sense" which is founded on Greek thought... which in turn, feeds the dominant rationalist thinking of modern US society. Of course we know that Protestant evangelical Christianity in the US is very much influenced by Greek thought as well. Compare it with the language of liberation theology of Latin America or Black Theology.

As an observer of popular religious discourse, I note that the discourse of the religious right (RR) has recently shifted to an emphasis on "virtues." I think this is an effect of the disaffection and disillusion of the RR over the failure of the Bush administration to give in to their demands (for a more theocratic sort of presidency). See Jim Wallis' and David Kuo's books on this topic. See also the (im)moral scandals by top Republicans friendly to evangelicals - Tom Delay, Karl Rove, and others indicted for immoral actions. Note also the embarrassment over Ted Haggard. Enter Joel Osteen with his gospel of niceness (virtues).

What does this have to do with the CT essay on how to choose a president? I think we need to learn how to read between the lines. What does it mean to elect a moral president? What is a moral position on war and US foreign policy? What is a moral position on corporate capitalism that is depleting the natural resources of the planet? what is a moral position on nuclear arms? What is a moral position on personal relationships that should be sanctioned by society (what kind and why)? What is a moral position with regards to the rights of indigenous peoples to live on their own terms? Or of the rights of the global south to protest the politics of US-driven free trade policies?

My latest issue of Yes! Magazine touts this theme: the need for the US to take it's place as a member of the community of nations. Not as sole superpower, not as imperial power. Even Jeff Sachs of Columbia University is proposing a "politics of convergence" - of balancing and redistributing global resources instead of hoarding them under aggressive and competitive economic policies.

The CT essay emphasizes the need for the personal moral virtue of whoever we elect as President. But I find the essay wanting in its definition of morality in relation to the above concerns. However, that is not surprising because I already know where evangelicals stand on these issues and it's not very far from the kind of xenophobic and racialized discourse masquerading in the language of patriotism and family values. Some things that are sold to us as universal and common sense, on second look, are really neither. They are common sense only for those who belong to their flock.

For example - I read the essay's take on courage. It says that in premodern times, courage was physical than moral. Gee, my indigenous intuition tells me that my "uncivilized" ancestors who put their bodies on the line to protect their community were more moral than a modern politician who sends surrogates to the battle line. Okay, I'm being simplistic here but I am reacting to the way this essay hides the wineskin that holds its intoxicating brew of modernity. It is this old wineskin that no longer works for a global community.

Musings on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Thursday, June 12, 2008

the saga of the little book that could...

has led to another request from the English Department of our high school for teacher materials on teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). i had to think long and hard how i would honor such request given the long standing debate in my circles on the merits and demerits of exporting US textbooks to Philippine schools. eventually this is how i capitulated :

i 've changed my mind about this practice of sending books to the homeland. i used to think that to do so would be to extend the west's cultural and linguistic imperial project. now i think that it is imperative to master this culture and language in order to better subvert it. subvert it so that the imperial flow of ideas might boomerang and create a backlash on itself. it is already happening ever so subtly (journal entry).

a quick response from colleagues filled a balikbayan box. after sending the box, i requested the chair of the English Dept for a meeting sometime in July while I'm in the Philippines so we can talk about how to use these books. i mentioned that i have taught courses on theory and methods of bilingual education, and on the politics of the English language. i hope she takes me up on it.

in the meantime, our book publisher, bought the rest of our inventory as his company in the US and in the Philippines sees a commercial potential in the book. (it really has gems in it - go buy it!)

plus: Filipinas Magazine will feature our little book in its July issue!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

grow your own food! (psst! that's my daughter in law!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pista sa Nayon in Santa Rosa!!!

Putting the finishing touches on this summer's projects:
Iloilo, Baguio, Pampanga, Davao, Bukidnon --
Places for gathering seeds of remembrance.

I am ready to grieve again
Because it is grief that gives birth to
What is Holy.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Adding Sonny San Juan

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Behind Closed Dollars at MHF :Western Ideas/Colonial Mentality

Felecia Perez, Teresa MacCool, Jodie Olympia, Venus Herbito -- panelists at MHF's forum on Ancestral Healing -- shared their stories of decolonization and in doing so also professed their faith in Bathala and invoked the babaylan spirit in their quest for ancestral healing.

Over the years they have created rituals for reconnecting with ancestral roots, for tapping into babaylan-inspired energy. Most of these rituals were received through dreams and other signposts along the way.

Each of their stories tonite is anchored in the soul's call for wholeness. Each story is a "working through" within the framework of a History that requires unraveling and detangling - so that the story can flow and one can begin to see clearly the babaylan path that has always been there, beckoning.

Perhaps our decolonization process is our initiation ritual for us moderns. An invisible/visible community that holds us together, calls us and connects us in serendipitous ways through our dreams, books, mentors, mentors, family, and friends.

The women want to write their stories, perform them, take their work on the road...and I have no doubt they will find an audience.

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