Friday, October 31, 2008

if i were in the Philippines, i would be part of Maarti - a theatre group composed of women ranging in age from 50 and up. Andy Alviz had this vision of older women who are done with child rearing, have time on their hands, have enough money - but also languishing on the sidelines and looking for something meaningful and fun to do. Andy, the visionary, a culture-warrior for Kapampanga culture, conceived Maarti as a vehicle for these women's aspirations and talents. so on Dec 12, they will premiere their first zarzuela - a revival of old Sylvia La Torre songs, Kapampangan folksongs, and a simple storyline about life in the 50s.

i miss music and singing. i used to sing pretty good. not a good dancer but i can learn.

maybe there is life after academe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tantan has turned some of these photographs into 4x6 postcards and he asked me to share them with the world. I will have them during the FANHS events this weekend.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Favorite folks I met at the Kapwa conference in Iloilo...

Tantan of Katribu and Bebang and Rosamia and Armor

Sunday, October 26, 2008


On the street where I live people have their signs out. Across the street, the Christian fundamentalist family have a "yes on 8" sign. Next door to them is a couple from Mexico and they have a "Ron Paul" sign. On our lawn, we have our Obama/Biden sign. Across from us, a parked truck with the confederate flag. Several more houses with the American flag and lawn signs for local elections.

Online: Facebook and listserves offer no respite from the glut of editorials, homemade movies, political ads, propaganda, clips from SNL or Daily Show.

In the mail: more ads about the propositions sent by organizations we support like The League of Conservation Voters, SIerra Club, California Teachers Association, etc.

On television: Bill Moyers' Journal.

So what's on your lawn, inbox, mailbox? I noticed that in all of the above, none is about personal conversation or face-to-face interaction. This is what I miss.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Because I can't find words of my own, I am borrowing the words of another scholar/friend who sent me this email today:

I have gone through a major shift in my personal life, which has really shifted my thoughts on my academic work.
I've been clearing old beliefs that no longer serve me. Some of these beliefs have been passed on generationally, from my mom and my grandmother.... I think babaylan Urduja, or my attraction to her, anticipated this change, or her figure guided me in this direction even before I knew I needed this.

I wanted to share this with you because I sometimes feel so isolated in this synthesis of my inner work and academic work. I thought you might understand because I remember reading in your book about your own coming-into-consciousness...

thank you, dear friend.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blogging has been difficult for me lately. Something has shifted and I don't know how to write about it. I don't even know how to give you a clue. Well, lemme try.

I am learning the meaning of slow. as in slowing the mind and focusing energy.
I am learning the meaning of small. as in letting go of large ambitions and learning to be good at one small thing.
I am learning the feeling of death as gift. death is the price you pay for the privilege of being alive to witness such vast and elegant Beauty. (Martin Prechtel).
I am learning a new language.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A project that is near and dear to me is about to make its debut. Join us!
Remembering Our Manongs: Sonoma County’s Filipino History
A Historical Documentary Film
Premiere Screening Events

November 1, 2008, 1-4pm Rohnert Park Community Center, Rohnert Park, CA
Panel Discussion: Creating Visibility – The Filipino American Experience

November 8, 2008, 1-4pm Sonoma County Office of Education, Santa Rosa, CA
Panel Discussion: Sharing the Filipino American Experience in K-12 Curriculum

November 15, 2008, 1-4pm Finley Community Center, Santa Rosa, CA
Panel discussion: Preserving the Filipino American Experience - Storytelling &
Intergenerational Dialogue

Remembering Our Manongs is a documentary on the first Filipino immigrants who settled in Sonoma County during the first half of the 20th century. Reception to follow screening at each event. Open to the public.

Sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities and the Filipino American National Historical Society of Sonoma County

For information email fanhssonoma@gmail.com or call (707) 294-3784.

Monday, October 06, 2008


I am so glad to have seen “The Romance of Magno Rubio” in Stockton’s elegant Bob Hope Theater yesterday. I am guessing that many in the audience also drove hundreds of miles to attend this milestone event.

I read Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart in the late 80s. I’ve only been in the US a few years and was just beginning my graduate studies. I remember not being able to stop crying as I read this book and wondering why this history has eluded me. Why didn’t I know anything about the Filipinos in America while I was still in the Philippines? This was the beginning of my conscious decolonization process and I thank Carlos Bulosan now for his love of writing, love of life, and love for his kapwa Filipino.

In the academic corridors, over the past decade, scholars have produced prodigious amount of materials on Bulosan. I remember the discussions of literary critics about the “problems” with his work -- how he represented the Manong experience (not all Manongs are womanizers; not all Manongs went after white women, etc); or whether his book is autobiographical (this couldn’t have possibly all happened to one person); or whether the Bulosan texts obscure the other aspects of the Manong experience; or whether scholars shouldn’t move on and find other representations of the Fil Am experience aside from Bulosan’s Manongs.

At last night’s performance of Magno Rubio, I was glad to revisit Bulosan’s life and those of the Manongs. But even before the play, it was the Little Manila’s historical exhibit at the theatre lobby that made me teary eyed. The photographs came alive and just looking at one photograph brought History into focus – not just of the individual struggles of the Manongs in the photograph but the History of a people uprooted and seduced to come to America and, on the other side, the History of a people who uproot and seduce others in pursuit of a false myth about itself.

A Pablo Mendoza Salomon ID card made me wonder if I am related to him. And I thought “of course, I am!” I am related to all the Manongs on those photographs. A man standing next to me in front of the asparagus tools said: “Go ahead, touch it, hold it and feel the spirit of the hands that held this.” More tears.

I need not repeat the plot of the play here. What I want to say here is how I was moved by the genius of the script and the staging. For almost two hours, I was enrapt by the energy of the play. The music, choreography, poetry, the set, the acting was flawless.

MAgno Rubio’s romance is a many-layered thing, of course. I was glad when Magno’s relationship with Clarabelle ended the way it did. The way he took it with nonchalance and a readiness to move on with no regrets (in spite of the intensity of his passion) speaks volumes about something. This something that is also, I want to believe, very Filipino. Magno realized that his fantasy was just that and that no matter how close it came to becoming real, he knew that he didn’t deserve this white woman after all. He is more noble than his practical situation could reveal. His crazy passion for Clarabelle, in the end, seemed nothing more than a temporary permission he allowed himself to dive into but about which he had no illusions about the trap that is set before him.

It is this wisdom that I hope Filipinos could conjure as we struggle in daily life to make sense of our experience in the US. If Clarabelle represents the beguiling beauty of this country, may we also wake up to its deceptive seductions: imperial ideologies that have run their course and yet would extract more blood if it could to keep the brute alive.

There were references to illiteracy in the play and it plays the role of trickster. MAgno as the illiterate one is, in fact, the one who is literate about his own capacity to love amidst a situation that forbids him to do so. He allows himself to get intoxicated with his love for Clarabelle but he could because he had witnesses. The other Manongs play the wise role of witnesses -- providing Magno a container for his temporary insanity over Clara, but also reminded him of the truth and its consequences.

What is the truth? If you saw the play, you know.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"Due to budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off."

(from Howie's blog)

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