Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Mother Leans Towards Death -- (via Jean) -- reminds of me of the story of E who is a Filipina caregiver. For many years, she was the sole companion of a lady who died in July at 102. E told me the story of how the lady would often ask her to sing "My Darling Clementine" and the old lady always cries at the part --"you are lost and gone forever...dreadful sorry, Clementine." And every night the lady would say goodnight and goodbye to Emily just in case she doesn't wake up the next day. One day in July, the old lady went to sleep and never woke up.

Months later, E is sitting in my patio telling me the story with tears streaming down her face because she misses her. While I can only think of the emotional labor of women like E, I wanted to know if her love and caring for this lady was reciprocated by her heirs. Well...todate, she is still waiting to hear from them.

Now E is looking for another person to look after. She is a certified massage therapist and she has the gift of healing but she knows she could never make enough as a CMT in order to pay rent and send money to the Philippines.

What is the price of emotional labor? I think it's Robert Kuttner who says that in this new economy that Obama seeks to build, he should professionalize many of the human services jobs and compensate service providers adequately. I suppose this includes caregiving. I suspect that a lot of Filipina caregivers work in the informal economy in order to avoid having to split their earnings with a placement agency and that perhaps one of the unspoken expectations or hope is that when their client passes away, the heirs would see to it that the caregiver would also justly receive a severance pay. I don't think that happens very often.

I know several people who are leaning towards death these days and I find myself musing about the possibility of growing old in the Philippines as well because it just seems that the rituals of death and dying there are more wholistic and life-serving rather than death-defying. But why can't those same life-serving rituals be practiced here as well? What keeps us from doing so?

musings on a late saturday afternoon...

Monday, November 24, 2008

shifting gears here a bit...

re sexual and colonial violence, i came across the work of Andrea Smith whose body of work is mainly about this topic. googling for more info, i found out that she was denied tenure at U of Michigan ealier this year. in spite of protests, her tenure was not granted. next year she will be moving to UC Riverside.

i bring this up because there's been so much press lately about a post-racial America now that Obama has been elected. i think there is a real danger to going soft on the issue of race relations and those of us who teach about race will face temptations to succumb when the Obama postracial halo is foisted on us to distract us. but how do we teach about race now as we face youthful faces still basking in the Obama victory as evidence of post-raciality?

and then there is this quote i read this morning from Warren Buffet: "yes, there is a class warfare and it is being waged by us (his ilk) and we are winning."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

this is the celebration luncheon spread today: lumpia, oven lechon, braised trout in kalamansi and soysauce and onions, bagoong, okra, tomatoes, sauteed ampalaya, adobong kangkong, rice. the troup ate with their hands and no one asked for flatware.

And these are the incredible women behind Remembering our Manongs: from left: Josie Quimado, Karen Pennrich, Delia Rapolla, Noemi Issel, Alice Viloria, PAt Romero. Not in photo: Flori Nowelsky and Lee Cachola. The chef is in the middle.

Remembering Our Manongs, the DVD, is now available for purchase. Please buy it and share the history of Filipinos in Sonoma County, Ca.

Friday, November 21, 2008

For tomorrow's luncheon for the FANHS project team, I am making:
oven-roasted lechon...i hope the skin really gets crispy
adobong kangkong...would you believe a bunch costs $6.00?
ampalaya, eggplant, and okra...plain and boiled to dip in bagoong/vinegar
trout braised in soysauce, kalamansi and onions
buko pandan with lychee, sago, gulaman
someone will bring the lumpia shanghai and turon made of apples instead of bananas...

we will be eating on banana leaves and i'll dare them to eat with their hands...

and one of these days, i want to eat a whole crab with mustard greens, vinegar/bagoong for dipping. but this will have to wait until after thanksgiving.

i'm still looking for the no-fuss turkey dinner and i think i might settle for stuffed turkey breasts...

i've done a lot of cooking during the last few months. it calms me, makes me happy deep down because my best childhood memories are of watching my mother in the kitchen. this was during the time when cooking was the main event of the day...from going to market early morning for the freshest ingredients whether it's jumping shrimp, crawling crabs, wriggling catfish, or live chickens -- i went with my Mom and learned how to pick and choose and bargain. then i learned how to prepare the shrimp, catfish, and the chicken and learned how to cook.

i am from an eating culture. eating for us is sacred. eating is sharing. so much to say about this but i need to get back to the kitchen...

wish you were here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

After 3 weekends of FANHS Sonoma County's successful and well-applauded screenings of Remembering Our Manongs, it's time to pay attention to the next gig...

Been trying to find a booklaunch venue for Grace Nono's new book on Filipino oral traditions --

THE SHARED VOICE: CHANTED AND SPOKEN NARRATIVES FROM THE PHILIPPINES published by Anvil. The book was recently launched at the National Museum.

... thankfully, Marie of Arkipelago Books has agreed to sponsor the event at the Bayanihan Community Center on December 14 (date to be confirmed).

Thanks to Barb for maintaining the PAWA blog.

Friday, November 14, 2008

today i'm thinking of a friend who wants to know how to redefine marriage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

in pursuit of the small ambition, this one thing that longs to be desired and loved and given breath, i become aware of the blessing that comes from smallness.
the awareness displaces the doubts and anxieties.
all i have to do is draw one long breath. inhale and exhale.

last night one of those recurring apocalyptic dreams visited me again.
the water is rising. i can fly and rise or i can let it wash over me.
either way i am safe because a child is holding my hand.

Monday, November 10, 2008

in case you missed Sherman Alexie on Colbert Report.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thanks, Ernesto!

Friday, November 07, 2008

War and Dissent

Finally made it to the "War and Dissent" exhibit at the Presidio Officers Club. The exhibit runs until February 22. In addition to the exhibit, there are programs: multimedia production of "Shadows of War" presented by Bindlestiff, walking tours, music, booksigning by authors of "The Forbidden Book."

I have mixed feelings. Yes, it is good to make this history visible. The exhibit does present the narrative of the Phil-American war from the points of view of the US, the anti-imperialist league/Mark Twain, and the Filipino nationalists through the story of the Lopez family. But on the whole, the narrative accompanying the exhibit is about imperialism, conquest, and expansionism. In other words, this is about the march of civilization. Even in progressive San Francisco this narrative is yet to be challenged.
I was glad to see Helen Toribio honored at this exhibit. Helen and Abe Ignacio's collection of cartoons about the war is what led to the publication of "The Forbidden Book." Many of the images at the exhibit also came from Abe's collection. I miss Helen. Last night, at the Bindlestiff performance, there was a woman who looked just like her. I had to look twice. And who knows, maybe it is her spirit in that room. I sensed her presence at the Toribio gallery.
This exhibit is made possible by a donation of the grandson of an American soldier to the Presidio Trust who came upon his grandfather's diaries of the war. He wanted to know what his father was doing in the Philippines. This initial inquiry led to the development of the exhibit and it involved FANHS and other folks in the community.
Between this exhibit and the Philippine Coral Reef exhibit at the new California Academy of Sciences, the Philippines is currently very visible in the Bay Area. If you haven't seen these exhibits, go!
I really don't like the idea of captive species...but I won't deny that it was really a delight to be in a simulated Batangas coral reef....
The dominant theme at the new CAS is about the fragility of the planet. There are plenty of opportunities for folks to learn about carbon offsets, carbon footprints, endangered species, man-made global warming. While the Morrison planetarium boasts of the latest in digital media technology and the latest reseach on astronomy so that we can see our planet in its galactic context, the story presented is about search for other planets that might offer a liveable environment for the future of our human species. There is something unsettling about this and I'm trying to figure out what it is. I think it's about our modern delusion that we can harness the stars for our own benefit. It is about our unwavering faith in science and technology.

Perhaps it is too much to wish for a more humanistic, even mystical, narrative in such a place.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

For the first time, the USA elected a Poet as President.
Imagine that!
His opponents derided his eloquence as if the American people
shouldn't be carried away by beautiful language.
Well they were wrong wrong wrong.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

this the day that the U.S. woke up from a long nightmare.
they elected Obama. they elected hope.
how shall we craft this new dream?
what does it mean to be awake?

Obama was somber tonight.
the music was not even celebratory.
somehow that feels just right.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Remembering Our Manongs

FANHS Sonoma County's documentary film, Remembering Our Manongs, was launched today. This is the culmination of a three-year labor of love by the children of the Manongs. For three years they crisscrossed Northern California gathering stories, doing archival research, following obscure leads, getting certified by the Community Media Center, conducting interviews, documentation of every detail. What the public doesn't see in a project like this is what it takes to make this happen.

I felt privileged to watch the project team work closely with each other. There weren't very many ruffled feathers. I feel these words describe the team well: Consistent. Reliable. Responsible. Even tempered. But if you ask them they will simply say: the spirit of the Manongs are with us.

Indeed. As we gathered as a team in a sacred circle before the start of the event, Karen led us in a grounding ritual where we expressed our blessings and gratitude for the work that's done and is now going out to the world.

Interestingly enough, the post-1965 immigrant Fil Am community didn't turn out in big numbers at this event. Where are the 300 people who showed up at the recent Miss Philippines beauty contest? Why aren't they here? I am hoping they show up on Nov. 15 because there will be an intergenerational dialogue that they need to be a part of. I don't know what it takes to bring the post-1965 immigrant group on board FANHS projects. After all, FANHS is not just about the Manongs' history, it is about contemporary history as well.

Someone asked me after the event when we will start making the post-1965 documentary. I wanted to tell her that before we can do this, there will be some serious 'stepping up' to the plate required... Some serious consideration of history and its ramifications when we remain invisible to ourselves. The post-1965 folks will need to express an interest in expanding their repertoire of beauty contests and fiestas and reflect seriously on sustainability issues as the community becomes multiracial, multilingual, multicultural.

Remembering Our Manongs ended with the voice of the granddaughter of a Manong expressing her gratitude for her grandfather's trip to America and the hope that her generation will always remember that this history is American history. This is a good way of pausing the documentary at this point. It signals hope. Hope we can believe in.

(now go vote for Barack on Tuesday!)

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