Thursday, April 30, 2009

Would you pay $40-60, or even $600 to hear someone tell you that this global crisis is good for you?

Five thousand folks just did. They paid money to hear The Dalai Lama talk about 'The Nature of Mind...and somewhere in his speech he also talked about why this global crisis is good for the U.S. He said that maybe the current economic crisis is not such a bad thing after all. Perhaps it’s a chance, he said, for everyone to realize that the road of excess does not go on forever.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

News and proud moments!

I'm proud to have participated in maiana minahal's soon-to-be-released poetry book, Legend of Sondayo, by writing the brief Intro. check it out!

More Proud Moments:
For starters, here's the Fil Am students at SSU and their version of Tinikling. And just to give a context to this: my university is considered to be the whitest campus among the CSUs and possibly the most affluent, according to a controversial sociological survey recently conducted by one of the professors in the Sociology dept. In recent years, I've witnessed the whittling away of support for ethnic/race-specific programs and organizations on campus as they are subsumed under the broad category of "diversity." There used to be an Asian and Pacific Islander Organization on campus but now only the Fil Am student association exists as the sole APIO organization. There used to be an Intercultural Center and then it was merged with the Women's Center and became Center for Culture, Gender and Sexuality (CCGS). CCGS no longer exists. An ad hoc committee for diversity has been working to raise awareness and alarm over this state of affairs and has recently conducted a series of town hall meetings on what to do about diversity.

In the meantime, the Fil Am events and performances dominated the "Asian Heritage Month" (April) -- from a film showing of Remembering Our Manongs, to noon performances at the Quad, to Island Fever Funk Fest, Barkada Night, etc. For this Barkada Night, the students recommended a Filipino theme at Zinfandel Cafeteria; they asked their parents to come in for the day and work in the cafeteria with the chefs to prepare a Filipino Dinner of tinola, pork sisig, chicken bbque, lumpia, pancit, cassava cake, turon. The FAASSU students decorated the cafeteria with a gallery of "do you know I'm Filipino?" pop icons like Vanessa Hudgens, Cassie, and others. At 6pm and 7pm, the dance crew performed Tinikling, Maglalatik, Pandanggo sa Ilaw, and Binasuan much to the delight of their families and the students. Julieann Murella (president), even learned and sang the Philippine National Anthem in Pilipino - so cool!

This was a working day for parents/aunties/uncles of the students and they had to take the day off to drive from as far away as San Jose to support their sons/daughters. Then Sarah and JulieAnn took the opportunity and asked me to tell their parents that they want to go to the Philippines on an exchange program to learn Filipino. I reassured the parents that it would be worthwhile to allow their kids to do this.

And then there's Lauren, a freshman who was the president of the FIlipino club at her high school. She introduced herself to me and immediately wanted to immerse herself in all things Fil Am on campus. She showed me her videos and photos of the Philippine trip she took with her high school and asked if I'd let her share her story with my Fil Am class. She wants to be involved in the community as well.

And then there's Scott Ma who graduated last year but couldn't quite stay away from FAASSU and keeps the online archives of FAASSU updated.

Joel Binalimbing has also graduated but is still dancing with the crew. I say this dance crew is going to go places! The men's Maglalatik dance gets the girl's screaming and their fast-pace Tinikling version is mesmerizing! And I will never forgot what Rhonda said: I can't speak the language, but I can dance...and feel connected to my Filipinoness!

Rachel Espinoza, FAASSU Cultural Coordinator, has become quite the performance poet. Even though she was reading from Pinoy Poetics, she has memorized the long poem (aargh, I forgot the title!) and didn't really need a codigo/cheatsheet. The four male budding spoken word artists (next time, I'll make sure to know their names!) had fun performing their first composition.

Karen Pennrich and Flori Nowelsky, the other Fil Am advisers of the club on campus, surely keep the students feel supported by SSU staff.

Oh, it feels wonderful to be able to journal this now...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Please attend the KAPWA Conference 08! and pass on the info!

This is a joint project of the Fulbright Hays Study Tour to the Philippines 08 and PEP Project at SFSU. Hope you can join us!

Monday, April 20, 2009


A dream takes hold. It's time to take our place in the global and local dialogues on peacemaking, social justice, sustainability, and spirituality. We will speak and be heard as Filipinas/os with voices of our own.

Please join us in organizing for the Babaylan Gathering in April 2010 if you share our vision.

also: newfilipina.com has a new look! browse around.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

dear reader -
i always pick up a copy of Open Exchange: Bay Area's Healthy Living Magazine to browse through it. i am curious about this circuit and all the people doing all kinds of therapies, creative arts, workshops, seminars in search of the "higher self" or "fulfillment" or "tantric experience" -- you get the picture. i have noticed in this recent publication that they have more Asian American practitioners than before. there may even be a Fil Am or two, am not sure.

recently, a friend asked - after attending a motivational event on how to find your authentic self - why there are no Fil Ams or Asian Ams at such events. she then began to reflect on the possibility that most Fil Ams have no problem with being authentic, that we are always just ourselves, unmasked. and so why pay to attend such an event? her next question was: well, if someone wants to build a career on the motivational lecture circuit and do it within the Fil Am community, wouldn't 'decolonization' be a good topic to develop? my brief answer:

I appreciate the questions and actually many folks have already asked if i would 'popularize' the decolonization framework and if it can be packaged to share with our community (much like the self-help event you cite). But the more I've thought about it, the more I'm convinced that what we/I have to offer doesn't lend itself well to the capitalist framework. I resist the idea of commodifying the work of Spirit. I think this is also the pitfall of the phenomenon that you are witnessing: as long as people feel they can purchase 'authenticity' they delude themselves into thinking that they can shortcircuit the deep inner work that is required.

... when you meet white folks who line up to hear motivational speakers and pay up...this is indeed a white, middleclass, maybe even suburban phenomenon. the proliferation of self-help books and gurus point to a deep -seated lack of ability in many folks to come to a sense of their own authenticity. i think this is what capitalism has done -- cultivate desires, fears, and then create commodities to satiate and palliate those desires and fears with products including selfhelp stuff. that is one layer. there are many more layers...but mostly when you point to the value placed on individualism (extreme) and folks lose track of their innate desire for community and erotic connection to nature and other species and other beings...you have the making of a culture that manifests itself in such events that you witnessed.

but, i admit, that the reason why i pick up "Open Exchange" is because I am fascinated by the capitalist marketing of what i call the work of Spirit. i understand that people need to make a living so why not advertise? people are willing to pay for services like these, why not sell?

so far, am not yet convinced.

Monday, April 13, 2009

dear reader,
a new book idea: am thinking of a book written by immigrant parents who have decolonized consciously and are reflecting back on how their parenting could have been different had they decolonized sooner. this idea is a two year old idea actually. a friend who read coming full circle said there should be a book from the parents' perspective. i guess she was feeling defensive after reading the college student Fil Am narratives about how they wish their parents had raised them to be bilingual, to be critical thinkers, to be aware of the colonial history, etc. my friend told me: the kids don't realize that we came here for their sake, to give them the opportunity to have better lives than we did, that we sacrificed many things (including leaving the homeland) to give them a better life.

well, could this narrative be rewritten?

some scholars say that the Filipino experience is far too complex to ascribe such an overdeterministic role to our colonial history. i have never tried to simplify and narrow down our experience to colonization alone. i have written that our colonial history is only a sliver of the totality of our being. but because this sliver has been inarticulate, inarticulable, or unconscious, this tiny sliver takes on a very large psychic underground presence that needs to be made visible. and there remains a need to put a spotlight on the process of decolonization.

part of this process includes what has become more visible lately: the articulation of our practices of resistance, practices of emergence and visibility.

i would like to find post-1965 immigrants who raised their (now adult) children in the US and who could look back on their parenting years through a different lens. what if i had known then what i know now? what would i have told my children? how would i've raised them differently?

at the back of my mind is an essay by Thomas Berry about christian spirituality and the American experience. he writes that modernity, thru science, has taken away cosmology and in the absence of a Great Story what we have is a science that has disenchanted and desacralized everything. every thing. what we have is hyperconsumerism that often masquerades as a great story.

i recently met a wealthy Filipina who regrets her material success because it has robbed her of something. this something that didn't have a name for a long time and didn't know how to talk about it with her friends. there were bits and pieces of it that she could articulate. like how she regrets not paying attention to the fact that her mother was a medicine woman/herbalist who learned about healing from the Aetas. she cries over the memory of her father who gave her a conch shell from the sea of Bohol and now she surrounds her home with shells because there is just something about this. she cries over the memory of how she loved Europe more than she loved the islands. she cries over the memory of how her body broke down in order to wake her up. what is this story, she asks me?

what is this story?


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Some of my comments during the "Men Reading Women" event in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Babaylan website is launched!

Friday, April 03, 2009

dear reader,
i think i was a chef in another life because cooking makes me happy, centered, calm. or maybe because my mother's spirit fills the kitchen when i'm cooking. everything i do reminds me of the way she was in the kitchen. cooking was so effortless to her. the zen of cooking - she could have written the book.

like her, i always cook far too much because you just never know for sure who would show up. and then she always sent food home with guests so this has become my habit, too.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dear reader,
i wish you can be here for the Tibetan trunk sale this weekend. our Tibetan friends were recently given asylum but the rest of their family is still in Nepal. backtracking a bit - this family fled Tibet when China invaded Tibet more than 50 years ago. the grandfather, who was also a village elder, was killed by the Chinese.

three months ago, father and daughter fled Nepal because the Chinese government had entered into an agreement with the new Nepali government to extradite the Tibetans in Nepal. for sure any returned Tibetans will be subject to prosecution.

with their asylum granted, they still need to bring the rest of the family here (wife and 5 children) and start all over. in Nepal they have a store...hence the trunk sale.

beautiful handwoven carpets, blankets, jewelry, hemp bags, antiques...plus there will be music and food - both Tibetan and Filipino.

listening to their story the other night, can't help but feel how little we know about this history. while the Dalai Lama is much beloved in this country, we hardly know about the politics between Nepal and China and India and how this is affecting the lives of ordinary Tibetans living in exile...in India, Nepal, in the US.

"we are stateless," said our friend.

my heart sinks...and expands...

just a small gesture - this opening our home to host a trunk sale for them.

i think: we are all refugees.

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