Saturday, December 24, 2011

Year-end reflections

Finally - a quiet day of reflection...after working in the garden - harvesting the last of the tomatoes and kalamansi and amused by the sight of newly-planted lettuce eaten by the birds who didn't touch the ornamental cabbage nearby. The autumn leaves have been cleaned up; the bulbs need to be re-planted soon.

In the kitchen, am using up the leftovers from our early Christmas parties - thanks to all of you who came to celebrate with us -- faculty from SSU, the women from Bioneers, my dear SSU mentors, our Fil Am community friends (who love karaoke!).

Last night I was reviewing this blog and felt thankful for the record of 2011 events that made the year memorable and life transforming. Here goes...

In January, Lane and Virgil both published their books and I was able to write a review for each of their opus. We hear that both are now writing the sequels because, as we found out, they've amassed so much research materials over decades. It is also in January when the core group of CFBS holds their annual retreat. This year we were able to plan and then offer a retreat/symposium in August with about 40 people.

In April, Lizae and other CFBS volunteers gifted us with Spirit Breath, A Healing Concert, at her beautiful home in the Oakland hills. For the first time, I was able to offer a Kapampangan chant, thanks to Mike Pangilinan.

In June, I attended the Bioneers' Cultivating Women's Leadership Retreat held at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma. I've been lurking around Bioneers for years and this time I felt that I needed to get my feet wet to see what the Bioneers experience is all about. With twenty women leaders together for six days, the experience was indeed transformative. But what was surprising to me were the exchanges I would later have with Nina Simons after she read A Book of Her Own and me reading  her book, Moonrise, and using it as a text in one of my courses...which led to her visit to my classes in November. Prior to this, I was able to attend the Bioneers conference for the first time with the added bonus of having a booksigning and meeting several Pinays including the wonderful Gemma Bulos, as a result. I also got invited to be part of  Bioneers' Education for Action Network.

Eileen Tabios' prompt to poets about the global recession resulted in this essay. Thank you, Eileen!

This Fall, it was great collaborating with Jurgen Kremer in one of my courses. Having him test-drive the workbook on Ethnoautobiography with my students is definitely an outside-the-box exercise in this setting but it was well worth it.

I also visited Napa Valley College for the first time. Thanks to the invitation of Janet Stickmon.

In November, Singgalot came to Sonoma County Museum as its last stop.

Lastly, there is the dossier for full professorship that went forward.

I look forward to giving the Virgilio Enriquez Memorial Lecture at the Kapwa 3 conference at UP Baguio next year.

On the vanity side: I have given up hair color. I am going gray. I embrace the elder in me.

It was a year of many "firsts" and perhaps this is why I feel as if I am on the cusp of something new...again.

Time is an artificial construct. As I watched Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams last night, I realize that this habit of painting word pictures connects me to the painter at Chauvet cave 35,000 years ago. This impulse to tell a story is the same across time and space. My story connects me to you which connects us to a larger community which connects us to everything and everyone beyond time and space.

For this a big thank you. I Loob you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

connecting the dots...

typhoon Sendong pours nonstop for 11hours
sends flash floods down and washes away villages
thousands die
deforested mountains due to illegal logging
and mining perhaps?
weather authorities do not warn folks
in Japan they were warned
Mindanao has been declared the last frontier of development
mining companies and other corporate interests have set their sights on Mindanao
recent news that banana plantations were ruined by an unknown disease infecting the bananas
Mindanao didn't use to experience severe weather patterns because supposedly it was located off the typhoon belt
this is no longer true
Davao has experienced flooding
a few years ago we drove by yellowing coconut groves and i asked why
and i was told they were diseased, too.
the kadayawan festival flower growers were also worried that the growing season has been erratic
the Ampatuan massacre has not been solved and no one has been held accountable in spite of witnesses and direct evidence of who did it
on TV Patrol all i hear about is the Arroyo scandal, her supreme court justice appointee scandal
i do not hear about the anti-mining movement even tho 4M have signed the petition
the RH bill hasn't passed and population continues to explode
and Filipinos continue to be nothing more than "export" commodities
to support the nation
and yet no matter what is happening
Filipinos rally together to help their kapwa
social media offers lots of info on how to help
but am i deluded in thinking that social media is really making that big of a difference?
i know that distant objects appear bigger than they really are in the rear view mirror
and it is 6 days before christmas
and i am sipping coffee in bed
writing this on my laptop
we have been waiting for rain
this winter is too dry
on my bedside i read: the world behind the world
so i can connect the dots and hold the tension
between understanding and not
between gains and losses
between here and there
between tears and laughter
between soon and never

if you are reading this
connect the dots with me

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

another Kapwa cohort

these women who call themselves Kapwa cohort do these things in the world:

- environmental llineage; eco-birth
- exec director of an organization that encourages public participation in democratic processes
- medical doctor who is practicing holistic medicine through anthroposophy
- a eurhytmist healer; a teacher at the Steiner College; biodynamic farmer; Brazil's "The Game"
- exec dir of a non-profit that fights for safe cosmetics
- a corporate person transitioning to becoming a healer
- an artist that was recently featured at TEDx San Francisco
- a filmmaker who features common people doing extraordinary things
- a business consultant who is in a period of hibernation and nursing grief
- an academic who is also many things to many people...

these women are not Filipinas but they have embraced the concept of Kapwa.

our afternoon sharing was very fecund. lots of joy and hope. this is what it feels like to be with women who are awake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A ritual of release

each one brought a flower to class today. daisies, roses, hydraengea, orchids, firecracker, minidaffodils, queen anne's lace. red, yellow, orange, white. pink.
there was soft chanting and drumming
we visualized the flower receiving the thoughts, feelings that we wanted to release.
it has been a long demanding semester.
breathe in, breathe out
when the chanting ceased we gave our flowers to two students who stringed them together into a garland. beautiful.
we stood in a circle. we asked students for one word. hope, love, beauty, understanding, serene, together, gratitude...
JK taught us another chant that was given to him by a cloud of mosquitoes in chaco canyon.
then silence.
the energy in the room was calm and peaceful.
the two students drove to salmon creek to release our garland.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

how then shall i grieve?

this is a question posed to me by a young woman. it is a big question. pregnant. fecund. it takes courage to ask this. approaching Grief and asking it to be a teacher requires a readiness to have your  heart and that takes courage. so i am thankful for the question. here's what i ended up writing to her in a short note:

am glad you recognize where the grief is coming from and that you could sit with it. If we open the door to Grief, what is recognized as something very specific can lead to an awareness of other kinds of "losses" we must acknowledge and mourn. If you have a sitting practice/meditation practice or a movement practice like qi gong, sometimes that can be a source of comfort and balance. Sometimes we just need to let ourselves cry, no holding back of the tears. It would be preferable to have a witness to our tears but if that is not always possible, we can also do so in solitude knowing that Spirit hears us and is with us.

A week or so ago I felt something similar -- like something was sitting on my chest and although I wasn't thinking of anything sad at that time, I realized that emotion as grief. And then I remembered having had a powerful dream a few days before telling me that the heart needs to break open even more.

If you know of a ritual that releases your grief, it might be good to do. In 2008, one of the teachers I brought to the Phil with me died of a heart attack. I went into shock and grief for a year or more. I went to the ocean as often as I could and talked to the Ocean about my fear, sadness, guilt, loss. It is amazing how the Ocean did talk back to me and I felt reassured and listened to. I also took up qi gong quite intensely for a year and went for acupuncture treatments -- all to bring my spirit back and my strength.

Traumatic events need these rituals. I hope you have a community who can do this with you. 

what i also want to say about grief is that it is layered and it can't be rushed. in this culture where we don't have an intimate relationship with death (of any kind); we avoid grieving. instead we repress, we distract, we deny, we move on. all the wise folks i've read talk about this culture's inability to grieve well as one of the reasons why there is so much projection of what is repressed.  from the personal to the cultural to the civilizational trauma we experience as modern selves, we are consciously or unconsciously looking for a way to mend our grief, our sense of what's been lost.

grief speaks to our body as well. if we listen well, it will tell us what lies just beneath our anger, our confusion, our anxiety. perhaps it will speak to us of our need to find the space, time, and willingness to build a community that will allow us to create container for the release and healing of grief.

the deeper the grief, the greater the joy -- this is what i told a friend the other day. may it be for you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

a ritual with Noah

We decided to do something different this year. Sans company and just the four of us, I thought it would be good to introduce Noah to ritual. Well, he's already doing rituals everyday, we just normally don't call them that. This time, I wanted us to do something more formal around the theme of giving thanks.

I decorated the table with candle and a bouquet of lavender and sage and flowers from D's garden. Just before sitting down for the thanksgiving meal. we burnt some sage to invoke spirit and well being. I asked each of us to take turns completing the sentence "I can always count on..." and then we'd all say "Salamat Po!" Noah's first one was "I can always count on the Earth!" and his second was "I can always count on Nature!" We said in so many ways that we can always count on each other's love, we can always count on the blessings of the ancestors, we can always count on flowers to bloom, on the sun and moon to take their turns in the sky. I said that I could always count on Cal bringing me coffee in bed every morning as my daily blessing. We did this round so many times and each time a chorus of "Salamat Po!"

It was simple and elegant; we were carried in the cradle of this Beauty and Love for the rest of the day.

At one point, I asked Noah what was on his christmas wish list and he said "I'm thankful for what I already have." What a kid!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sonoma County, CA: Singgalot, The Tie that Binds

When the Sonoma County Museum notified the local Fil Am community that the exhibit will have its last stop in Sonoma County, it excited us tremendously. I have known of the Smithsonian traveling exhibit since it started making its rounds years earlier. I know some of the folks that put this project together and have had the curriculum project part of it presented at the Kapwa conference for K-12 educators at Sonoma State U in 2007. I knew it was making the rounds of the big cities -- San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, etc...I just didn't imagine that it would make it to our local museum.

Perhaps what brought the Museum's attention to focus on the Fil Am community was the 2008  Remembering Our Manongs Project of the FANHS Sonoma County chapter. This important documentary did put our local FIlipino community on the map and created much needed visibility to our history locally and nationally.

Leaders of the local Filipino community came together to plan for the supplementary events and exhibits to Singgalot. Alexis Canillo, who has kept records of his father's sojourn to the US, offered these as part of the exhibit and so did other descendants of Manongs who have kept memorabilia.

The opening ceremony to Singgalot on November 18 carried our intentions to remember, to honor, to heal. We felt guided by our ancestors that this was an occasion to bring together the past and present, our memories and stories, to make visible what is often invisible, to acknowledge what is often taken for granted, and to manifest the beauty of being Filipino. The night before we gathered at the museum and created this intention via ritual of dance, music, and chanted prayers in Pomo, Kapampangan, Bicol, and Tagalog.

For the opening reception, we created a ritual and an altar that represented our Filipino indigenous spirituality because we wanted to signal that our history does not begin and end with colonialism and empire; that our Story is much larger than history and when we are able to uncover the ways in which we still carry our wholeness in spite of the wounds of history, then we are able to heal and live with dignity and grace.

About ten descendants of the Manong generation each brought to the altar a sacred object that represented the Manongs' connections to us in the present. Items included a fragrant azucena flower that comes from a Manong's garden; seashell from a Philippine beach, photographs of Manongs, a coconut shell, ancient beads, a certificate of military service, a news article about the Asuelo family, an apple and a bunch of flowers that represented the labor of the Manongs, a hand-made memento.

Manang Betty, one of our elders, offered a prayer of thanksgiving in English and Noemi offered its translation in Pilipino.

These offerings to the altar were then followed by a poetry and dance performance reflecting on history and the healing that we need. Alexis read his poem and then Holly followed with a dance symbolizing the Manong's work that included stoop labor -- the aching body that worked hard to tend to the earth, raise a community, and build a future.  As her body fell to the ground in exhaustion, the spirits of her ancestors came to her symbolized by a Kalinga dance from the northern Philippines and a Tiruray dance from the southern Philippines connecting the north to the south and creating a lineage of unity. The music faded and then there were only the rhythms of indigenous instruments -- bamboo tongatong from Kalinga and then the brass gongs from Mindanao.

We continued the celebration with kulintang music with no less than Master Danny Kalanduyan and his ensemble of master musicians and dancers. Jenny Bawer, Kalinga culture-bearer and Porling gave us the Banga dance. Lizae and Alexis gave us the Pangalay dance.

I felt my heart was full and my spirit was soaring. Alexis said it best afterwards: This is a project that needed a community. This project was supported not only by the folks who came from the Bay Area to support us (Thank you so much!), I felt the ancestral spirits moving about last night, all pleased and happy that we have come together to honor and remember them.
Days before this evening, I had a dream. In the dream, I was with a shaman and we were studying together. I stood up and told him that I needed to take a shower and so I stood up to go. He followed me and then he wanted to look over the shower door. I asked him what he was doing and he said: I want to see you naked. Aghast, I bonked him in the head and told him to go away. Later, as I reflected on this dream, this is the message that came to me:

I want to see your radiance, without the veil of timidity
I want to see your courage, without the mask of fear
I want to see your beauty, without the mask of vanity
I want to see you shine
Take off everything that covers

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leslie Gray's talk at the 2011 Shamanic Conference online now.
Leslie is a shaman and a clinical psychologist and teaches at CIIS.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Meditating on the Global Recession

This essay is also now part of the Poets on the Global Recession archive here:

Ay, Ading! How do I begin to talk about the global recession?

Ah, for starters: this is the consequence of an economic concept conjured by the neoliberal assumptions of limitless economic hypergrowth and mobilized by the unholy trinity of the IMF, WB, and WTO whose failed policies have been put on steroids through structural adjustment programs imposed on the debtor countries. A circle of debt envelopes the global economy and no one is paying up. Decades ago there was a clamor to forgive the debts of the poorest countries in the world and only a handful got a reprieve. The engines of corporate capitalism and financial magicians thought that they could create something out of nothing, and now the house of cards that the global casino economy has become is crumbling.

The global recession: what is in recess? what is an economic recession? are there other kinds of recessions? is depression the synonym of recession in psychological terms?

Recess was my favorite subject in elementary school. Wasn’t it yours, too? That’s when we got to play outside, eat our baon or buy merienda from the sari-sari store, notice the cute boys, etc. Recess is fun.

Now we take a fun word and turn it into recession and suddenly it becomes a word that stirs up fear. Well, our economic myth has always capitalized on our fears to keep the profits flowing for the stakeholders, so why not manufacture fear, yes? It sells.

And it’s all about selling and buying – this global economy. Everything is a commodity. What I eat, what I wear, where I live, what I watch to entertain myself --are all global products.

I refuse to be commodified so I defy the word global recession! This phrase that conjures the worst scenario—the bleakness that is about to engulf us if we do not turn around from the wrong course we’ve been on for five centuries—feels to me like beating a dead horse.

The drums that beat about the end of the American dream, their rhythms getting faster, induce a sense of panic.

But there is an antidote to this toxic story. Yes, I said it: the architects of the global corporate economy unleashed toxins on the planet and now we are faced with the unintended consequences of our flawed assumptions about limitless resources, about the belief in an inanimate earth, about the belief in the magic of positive thinking (thank you, Barbara Ehrenreich). If you build it they will come. Well, China has just built the largest shopping mall on the planet in Guangdong and nobody came. In fact, they built 500 of them—all of them still waiting for their middle class to arrive to shop.

Why do I always get sidetracked? Oh, as I was thinking/saying…what I mean by antidote is this: what if I were an indigenous person living in the Sierra Madre mountains of Colombia who escaped the conquistadors and managed to live undisturbed for five hundred years, and therefore, had no concepts like global recession or have never heard of the American dream? How would such persons interpret the changes that they were noticing in their environment? The mountains no longer filled with snow in the winter and so their rivers have run dry affecting their vegetation and ultimately, their very way of life? These are the Kogi people. They saw that their Mother was getting sick and they were worried that their younger brothers (the modern ones) were doing things to the earth that were causing the illness, so they came out of hiding and began to have conversations with visitors from the outside (like BBC, Wade Davis of National Geographic, and other environmental groups that have now “found” them).

What about the Amazonian elder that David Suzuki brought to Seattle? David thought that the indigenous elder would be impressed by the tall skyscrapers and marvel at the wonders of his world; instead the elder said: oh my, how can mother nature replace what’s been used up to build this?

What about the indigenous woman leader from a Mindanao tribe who exclaimed at a symposium with the Fulbright teachers I brought with me from California in 2008: Please allow us to express our beauty! We do not need your versions of development and progress!

What about the women of Ladakh who lament that their sons and daughters have gone to the city to get an education; who would till the fields and tend to the animals when they are gone? And the kids who have gone to the city and learned to speak English say now their lives are all about money. If I don’t make money, I am nothing. (in Schooling the World, a videodocumentary).

Do you see why I don’t like the word global recession? I do not buy into the theoretical construct behind the word. It’s true that what we are witnessing today are human-made consequences of overdevelopment, mis-use of resources, endless wars, not only military but also “war on drugs, war on terror, war on poverty,” etc.  Don’t even get me started on the concept of war.

Did you know that there is a connection between war and food? Ask Vandana Shiva ( That fertilizers that were used to make bombs used during World War 2 were later offered to industrial farmers?

I digress again. Back to global recession. So there is a recession if your assumption is that the global economy should stay on a linear growth path, or if the assumption is that the American lifestyle should go global because it is the best. We package it as “freedom” and seduce the world with commercials. It is the “end of history” theory rearing its head. Oh, if only we know of seven planets where we can migrate to.

We already know that we are almost out of solutions. Bailouts didn’t work. International accords don’t work especially when powerful countries like the U.S. refuse to sign protocols and agreements—whether it’s curbing carbon emissions (the Kyoto protocol) or making a stand against racial apartheid (at the Durban conference on Racism).  We already know that tax cuts for the wealthy have not created jobs (it did, however, make plenty of profits that are stashed away in Swiss banks and off-shore banks, for the wealthy). Inconvenient truth, as Al Gore calls it.

So yes, we are in the midst of an economic recession. But this simply means that we have exhausted the limits of the modernist story. It is time to revisit other stories that can disentangle us from the ravages of modernity.

Decolonization is not just for the post-colonial subject anymore. Decolonizing from the modern narratives of self that disassociated us from a participatory sense of place is the work of every modern self that has been colonized by the myth of the masterful bounded self that is separate from nature and non-human creatures and the spirit realms.

In a way, we are all relatives of the economic hit men of the past. Those economic hit men who have now confessed to their sins of selling the economic model and gospel of free trade to developing countries (e.g., John Perkins, David Korten) are calling for a different kind of story—The Great Turning, Revolution from the Heart of Nature, Another World is Possible, and more recently, Occupy Wall Street – these themes are the mantras of our time.

The onus is on us—those of who us in the U.S. We are the belly of the beast. China, India, Latin America and the rest of the world are all mimicking us now. They will become modern and surpass the U.S. consumption and materialism. They will buy stuff until they are sated and realize that they are still dissatisfied. We know. We’ve been there.

I’ve always intuited that the U.S. will turn to its spiritual resources when the hubris of materialism finally catches up with us. When we wake up and acknowledge the shadows of history that we have denied or repressed, we will search for ways to grieve and heal.

That is why I believe in Poets in the same way that I don’t believe in the global recession. This global recession can actually be good for the soul, you know? Maybe we will learn how to become more human. Kapwa we call it. Kagandahang Loob – our inner gem/sacred self.  Maybe there is still time to get to know the Earth as our relative.

There is still time to learn how to reclaim our animist senses so that we may see each other and all our relatives through the eye of the Sacred.

There is still time to embody what we know in our heads so that when that knowledge descends into our cells, it transforms us. Our fears are transformed.

The rage and anger that we see all around us are projections of that repressed fear. Fear is nothing but unreleased grief.

I want to be a Poet of Grief. I long to learn the language that releases this grief. I long to learn how to do rituals without words…only the movement of the body. I long to learn how to slow dance into this new awareness. I long to feel more deeply the sacred embrace of the Earth on my small body until a word like global recession withdraws its fangs and is alchemized into a meditation about the beauty of a different Story that is much more ancient than the modern one. One that sits well with my body and soul.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Notes from Pedagogies of Crossing

Sacred energies require embodied beings and all things to come into sentience.
There is no absolute transcendence, and if there were, there would be no intervention in and no relationship with the material, the quotidian, the very bodies thru which divinity breathes life. (293)

Cosmological systems house memory and such memory was necessary to distill the psychic traumas produced under grotesque conditions of slavery.
Recalcitrance masked an unacknowledged yearning for Spirit. (294)
To know self thru Spirit, to become open to the movement of Spirit in order to wrestle with the movement of history....

Feminisms as secularized category

Epistemic frameworks - part of analytic challenge in considering spiritual dimensions of work

Sacred as tradition - as extreme alterity, not yet modern - subsumed to European cosmos...pejoratively

To know the body is to know it is a medium of the divine, living purpose exceeding the imperatives of plantation (capitalism, modernity) 297

Body praxis requires us to remember ther source and practice. Body as site of memory.

Body as encasement of Soul, medium of spirit, repository of a consciousness that derives from a source residing elsewhere. Another ceremonial ritual making.

Spiritual expertise of a community to decode Sacred Knowledge

Sacred becomes a way of embodying the remembering of self - that is not habitually individuated nor unwittingly secularized

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book titles tell a story

Animate Earth, How Then Shall I live? A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness is my Original Instructions on Entering the Healing Ground: Ritual, Grief, and the Soul of the World. Indigenizing the Academy? A Global HIstory of Indigenous Peoples? Yes. Always Coming Home. Shamans and Priests knows The World Behind the Word. Because of this I am not Bright Sided. I am a Mystic Wanderer in the Land of Perpetual Departure, one of the Masses who Are Messiah Contemplating the Filipino Soul. My Pedagogies of Crossing searches my Fate and Destiny about Race and the Cosmos. They All Want Magic, you see.

As I scanned the stack of books next to my bed, I realized there's a story being told. Can you see it?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Grace Nono, 2012

I hope this finds you all shining! I have good news to share.

Grace Nono's new book, BABAYLAN VOICES, will be published by the Institute of Spirituality in Asia in Spring 2012.  Grace is currently preparing to defend her dissertation proposal in January and then she will be leaving New York end of January to return to the Philippines. She plans to return to the US around April 9 and will be available for about 4 weeks to share this new work via performances, book talks, or collaborative projects in the US (California, New York, and where there is interest).

Those of us who have been part of Grace's sojourn in the US know what a gift she is to our diasporic community. In her keynote lecture at the Babaylan conference and through her first book, The Shared Voice, we were introduced to primary babaylans, chanters, and oralists. Through her performances of our indigenous sacred chants, we created ceremony that brought us closer to one another and most of all, closer to the source of our indigeneity.

Would you be interested in being part of planning events with Grace Nono in the given window of time mentioned above? I also want to invite you to think of your own creativity and how you could create collaboration with Grace. Please, let's use this forum to talk amongst ourselves on how we can make beautiful things happen. We are all so resourceful, creative, and abundantly blessed by Kapwa and Loob.  I hope to hear from you soon.

Sending you warm rays of the sun and the crisp air of autumn,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ang Grupong Pendong

Last night, I attended a Grupong Pendong concert in American Canyon with Venus, Frances, Lizae, Kriya, Ron, Alexis, Grace, Junice.
I didn't realize how much American Canyon has "grown up"...their high school theater was mah-velous!
The theater was almost full and the audience was enthusiastic and high spirited. I didn't realize that AGP had a huge following in American Canyon and Vallejo (or maybe folks drove up from the Bay Area).
It was good to be reintroduced to their folk and indigenous Filipino music fused with a bit of rock. Their songs stir the audience to appreciate their cultural roots, become aware of environmental issues, and heed the call for political awareness. They provided English sub-titles to their songs so the non-Filipino speakers in the audience understood what the songs were about.
They also introduced indigenous instruments to the audience: kulintang, kubing, gongs, faglong (two-stringed lute from B'laan tribe). A medley of folksongs was appreciated as the audience was asked to identify with the regional origins.
Frances danced to the Apo Sandawa song and it was palpable that the audience was deeply moved. A very young girl even came up to Frances after the concert to share her admiration for Frances' dance and her parents quickly took photos of both of them.
At some point, when Frances was back in the audience, she couldn't resist the temptation to dance and she pulled Lizae and Alexis to dance with her. The body just needs to dance....
What a great service AGP is doing to promote our indigenous cultures through their music!
I look forward to hearing more...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

About A Book of Her Own

A Book of Her Own is not only a book for Filipinas, nor is it only for women. By charting one woman’s journey through decolonization and toward reclaiming voice, indigeneity and wholeness, this book offers a map for anyone interested in personal and cultural healing, racial justice and the quest for beloved community. It is rich in resources, artistry and poetry, and unflinchingly authentic in marrying the political with the personal and spiritual.

---Nina Simons, Co-CEO and Co-Founder, BIONEERS,

and this, too, from Nina Simons:

Ms. Strobel’s A Book of Her Own offers a multi-dimensional and intriguing journey through her own process of finding her indigenous soul, connecting with her own authentic calling and sense of purpose, and reshaping her identity around her self, her roots and her community. The book’s design liberated me to consider new forms, as it weaves together many styles of poetic and political communications that collectively inform the author’s and readers’ learning. I have returned to my highlighted copy again and again, as it’s rich with references and great ideas to help inform the return to indigeneity that calls us all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Learning on POV

The Learning is a must-see if you want to see the impact of economic globalization on the lives of four Filipina women. In my course on globalization and race, we just finished mapping the general trajectory of 500 years -- from colonialism to the developmental model which is known today as economic globalization. Economic hypergrowth, based on flawed assumptions about limits to development as imposed by the planet's ability to sustain free trade, paints the macro perspective. In this film, this economic process shows the impact on the micro level of personal experience of four women.

The film is powerful and should generate a lot of dialogue in our families and communities.

The students in my class are wondering why courses like the one they're in is not a mandatory course for all students. Yes, why not?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

59 thank yous

1. Noah
2. Noah's Dad
3. Noah's Lolo
4. siblings
5. garden
6. teaching
7. books
8. music
9. ocean trips
10. redwood walks
11. spring lake
12. friends
13. solitude
14. sudoku
15. world social forum
16. grace lee boggs
17. book projects
18. retreats
19. hilot therapy
20. invitations
21. birthday greetings
22. reunions
23. memories
24. surprises
25. summer by the lake
26. summer by the lake with Noah and dragonflies
27. sister surviving cancer
28, sister meeting tenor
29. sister meeting prechtel
30. Cal on bike
31. Nina and CWL
32. booksigning at Bioneers
33. Bi Kidude and Shailja Patel
34. stories as medicine
35. Haines Makes Noise
36. ethnoautobiographies
37. mentors - dead and alive
38. dreams
39. spirit of ancestors
40. scenic drive to work
41. indie films
42. popcorn
43. cooking
44. making kale chips
45. new friends
46. pile of books by the bed
47. lavender sachets i made
48. bamboo oracle
49. ghostly blog visitor
50. sister mountain climbing
51. Noah loses baby teeth
52. monarch butterfly in the garden
53. hummingbird in the garden
54. eating off blueberry bush
55. basil pesto from the garden
56. oregano pesto from the garden
57. kalamansi from the garden
58. sari
59. ultimate experience at spa

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

subaltern planet of cultural studies
the child who appears in your photographs infomercials and youtube videos
so that you can appeal to your funders' sense of do-gooding
for the poor of the world

was she born thinking she is poor?
who impoverished her?
who stole her country?

you say that the poor barrio folks are primitive
left behind by progress
so they need you and your aid

and yet you do not say why the poor makes you feel good
why their smiles and gestures of kindness
warms your heart. makes you feel human.

why do you need the poor this way?

your tears do not fool me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Decolonization and Indigenization as a Path to the Sacred: Reflections

August 5-7, Sonoma State University
Center for Babaylan Studies

How do I re-tell the stories of this weekend? The words have been elusive. They sit on the tip of my tongue, they tug on my sleeve. Pssst, you must say something, the little voice says. Our photos (scroll to the bottom of Events page; there are 3 albums to enjoy) hint at the stories that want to be told. Here I am struggling to render a narrative of our time together at this retreat/symposium.

Day 1: Decolonization: The Power of Naming our Grief
We began this day with ritual honoring our ancestors. Virgil and Lane asked permission from the ancestral spirits to hold our gathering; we invoked their blessings and guidance with offering of anglem, rice, saluyot, betel nut,  and egg. Afterwards each one of us brought our two objects to the altar -- one signifying our connection to our ancestors and another signifying our power object. We brought photos of our grandparents and loved ones, rocks, crystals, and other objects that meant something special to each one of us. A bulol watched over the our objects and flowers decked the altar. The sun shining through the window cast a glow of peace and the palpable spirits of ancestors who were present with us.

We joined our small groups for the first round of talking circles in the morning. BA HA LA NA - the groups shared the same set of questions about our individual process of decolonization: what does it mean to you? when did you first become aware of the need to decolonize? what feelings surfaced through the process? In the afternoon, our small groups talked about the shadow of history: what are the narratives that have shaped us as historical subjects? how did these narratives affect indigenous peoples? how did it affect our homeland? our communities? our families?

Later in the afternoon all the groups came together to bring back their reflections to the big group. The power of naming our grief is palpable. It feels heavy and uncomfortable. This baggage needs to be unloaded. Forgiven. Let go. We had to honor this grief that is now communally shared and acknowledged. For a while it sat on the pit of our stomachs and filled us with sorrow. Tears welled up in our eyes. We held each other in silence. As we closed this day, I passed around sachets of lavender harvested from my garden -- the sweet earth comforting us, reminding us of the good work we did for the day.

In the evening we had Dreamtime session. In this circle of light, we shared dreams about our ancestors, the lessons from those dreams, the guidance from those dreams. It felt good to hear one another. Laughter has returned. There was lightness of being all around. We were fireflies in the dark night, each one with a burning flame.

Day 2: The Wisdom of our Ancestors
The Chairman of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts in the Philippines, Professor Felipe de Leon, Jr., was our key resource person this weekend. On this second morning, after a past-faced lecture on Filipino indigenous values, indigenous arts, indigenous languages, we felt full and deeply contented. This is how beautiful we are! We are Kapwa! Ka-Sinag! We are the rays of the sun, each drawing from the Core, each interconnected with one another. Prof. de Leon said that his lectures that morning were the content of a semester long class at UP -- how lucky can we get? We enjoyed his humor and his levity. But most of all, he enlarged our knowledge container of our unique cultural assets.

In the afternoon, we continued with workshops. I had told Prof. de Leon that the reason I included a workshop on indigenous rhythms and music is to awaken the fragments of memories in our cultural DNA. Surely, I told him, we can dance again and remember that the connections our ancestors had to music and rhythm also connected them to the Land which sustains them. Titania assembled her kulintangs and agungs, and we cajoled Lizae into a malong dance and we prevailed on Roque to do a warrior healing dance, the sagayan. Prof. de Leon taught us how to tap into our indigenous rhythms (ack! it's not that easy!) with our bamboo instruments from the Cordilleras. We learned to sing a version of Salidummay and a Manobo chant to the rice spirit (Ay Iding!)

Professor de Leon also expressed appreciation for the retreat's theme especially our session on Naming our Grief. At one point he said that this work should be done in the Philippines as well or at least it could be more embedded in our cultural and educational institutions.

In the evening, we played Tao, Bagyo, Bangko - similar to musical chairs. Our bodies needed to move and play; we needed to shriek, shout, laugh, run! It was refreshing! And we broke out into our small groups again with the intention of integrating our reflections from Day 1 and 2 and coming up with a five minute creative expression presentation. What a treat to see each group's talent shine and meld together to choreograph a dance, to interpret a story through movement and sounds. A bridge. A boat rowing on Pasig inspired by the Mutya of the river carrying our gifts to our communities. The breath of life animating our spirit.

Day 3: Our Kapwa, Our Service
When our grief is healed;  when we have emptied ourselves of colonial projections; when we internalize the Beauty of our indigenous cultures and the world view that sustains it -- we are ready to serve our Kapwa. On this day, Perla opened the morning with her spirit-filled prayer that touched our deepest selves. And as she walked us through the many forms of her service to her Kapwa via her artistic contributions: glass fusion art, mandala, the babaylan archetypes - we felt that this body of work is the result of decades of reflection about our Loob and Kapwa.

Our Kapwa panel - Lane, Venus, Mila, Virgil -- also talked about their service. Lane has studied Filipino tattoes and their spiritual symbolism and we are the beneficiaries of the wealth of stories that he shares with us through his book and public talks. Venus chose to talk about her healing journeys -- with her father back to the homeland, a trip to Spain that broke her heart open to forgive the colonizer, and how forgiveness rounds out the circle of Kapwa for her. Mila talked about her work with across generations, of how elders can teach the youth and when given the right context for decolonization, such mutual encounters are deeply transformative. Virgil talked about his healing practice and the growing visibility of this work, via his book, Way of the Ancient Healer, in our communities and beyond. Letty, as facilitator, contributed to the panel by talking about her engagement with non-Filipino communities like the Institute of Matriarchal Studies where she was able to present on the Babaylan.

In the afternoon, we created our community mandala on the sprawling grounds of the university. We retrieved our power objects from the ancestral altar and placed them on the center of the mandala. Lane also placed the bamboo (we have now come to call them bamboo oracles) pendants he hand-carved and burnt on the center. We presented Prof. de Leon with  his own Babaylan mandala poster, and a special bamboo pendant. He cried. And there were more tears as Lane presented each participant with his or her special pendant's symbol and story. We felt that we each received a gift that was only meant for us. Amazing!

And then it was time to say goodbye...

Some of us in the core group went to the ocean the next day to offer the atang/altar offerings to the ocean at Salmon Creek. In the main meeting room, we also had a secondary altar where participants were able to write down their petitions and place them inside a beautiful box; we brought these petitions to the ocean as well. We dug a hole and made a makeshift Sinag altar and burnt the papers, letting the prayers be carried by the wind.
If you have read this far, thank you! Now you know why our faces in our photos are glowing.

Decolonization and Indigenization as a Path to the Sacred.

Yes, it is.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Popular Spirituality as Cultural Energy

This essay by Paring Bert Alejo is refreshing in the way it articulates and clarifies, for me, the language of popular spirituality among the Filipinos especially of the masa/common folks. I find it interesting that the official church (Catholic) often deems this language as mere resistance against the church's dominant practices when in fact, as Fr. Alejo says, it is cultural energy that challenges our vocabularies of power.


...When Our Lady of Pe├▒afrancia is processed, the whole Naga City comes
alive in a colorful devotion. And yet, nothing of this spirit occupies a page in our religious
instruction. In the seminary, we mouth all this rationalist Cogito, I think therefore I am. But
there could be other approaches to existence: I dance, therefore I am. We dance, therefore, we collectively exist and live as Christians. We wear colorful hats, therefore, we are alive in our faith. We shake our bodies, we sweat, and we feel the hurt and we feel the healing, and that is how we experience the Divine. My mother would always tell me, when you come back here, please bring lana or oil for my aching back, yung bendisyunan mo, ( Being blessed) etc. Many of us have been healed in this kind of spirituality but we have been de-inculturated by our own convents or seminary, by our formators and formation programs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

my hand-made life

today i harvested kale and then washed, chopped, dried, baked. yay!kale chips!
i harvested tomatoes and will have to harvest basil later.
yesterday i harvested blueberries and there was just a handful so they got eaten pronto.
the other day, i harvested oregano and made a sun-dried tomato and oregano pesto.

when i am out in the garden, i catch myself thinking about what isn't getting done -- the manuscripts i have to read, the program i need to write, the books i need to order, the to-do list i need to check off, the books i have to mail, the books i need to read.

it reminded me of Winona La Duke's father who told her: until you learn how to plant corn, i would not listen to your philosophizing. this has stayed with me since. how can i talk about connecting with the Land, write about the organic life, write about environmental justice, etc., if i do not even know how to tend a garden?

so yes, my other work is important but that work is being fed by this small garden.

Friday, July 22, 2011

our next revolution

Just finished reading Grace Lee Boggs' The Next American Revolution. Grace turned 96 this year!! and that means that she is an intellectual, activist, community organizer, philosopher who has been through the major historical moments of this century. She is an inspiration and role model to me of how to be a transformative leader and revolutionary.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kapwa Conference 2012

(Here's the invitation to attend Kapwa conference next year)!

L’ Azotea Bldg., 108 Session Road , 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
E-mail:; Phone: (+63) 74 - 446 0108, CP: (+63) 09064536108

Hello dear Babaylan friends! How are you? We hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits.

As you may know, we have already started to put KAPWA-3 into motion. Recalling how, during our Conference last year, we discussed the importance of theory building, we wonder if any of you has focused on this kind of work lately?

Theory building (and the assertion of local frameworks in the academe) will be an important aspect of KAPWA-3, slated for June 28 – 30, 2012 at VOCAS and UP Baguio. In this light, we would like to invite you to contribute papers / videos relevant to highlighting the importance of indigenous knowledge. We are looking for presentations that elaborate/explain/expand the concepts, methods and theories of Sikolohiyang Filipino and Filipino Personhood, or define Kapwa Psychology in the context of indigenous mind/decolonialization. One of our goals is for the academe to co-present with an indigenous group and/or person (like Dr. Alice Magos), or present work that they did with an indigenous group or groups and explain why they chose this kind of research. We hope that in this way, the Kapwa movement can continue to live, breathe, spread and evolve!

Aside from being some of our presenters at next year's conference, we would also like to ask for your help in helping us raise funds for the conference. We would like to invite indigenous artists and scholars from other countries, such as the head of the Mongolian Academy for Arts and Culture, Gombojavyn Mend-Ooyo and other culture bearers. Please do let us know in what way you can help or contribute in this aspect of the conference.

We are truly looking forward to experiencing the gifts of the KAPWA-3 Conference with you in June 2012! Thank you so much for your love and continued support. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

With warm regards,

Katrin de Guia and 
Lissa Romero de Guia

Monday, July 18, 2011

connecting the dots....
A Better Life, the movie
Star Wars
Nerf guns
Jose Vargas on being undocumented immigrant
US debt ceiling
the three gorges dam is built on an earthquake fault
the native youth make films about sacred places and elders
obesity in the US and food networks
reality tv shows
poetry, migritude
leadership retreats
social media
health care costs and fear of death

Monday, July 11, 2011

summer reads

Leche by Zack Linmark
The New Imperial Order: Indigenous Responses to Globalization
Indigenizing the Academy
The Masses are Messiah: Contemplating the Filipino SOul
Mystic Wanderers in the Land of Perpetual Departure
Pedagogies of Crossing
Fate and Destiny
The Water of Life
Race and the Cosmos
The Next American Revolution
Liberation and the Cosmos

manuscript about the Lolas
YES Magazine
ODE Magazine
High Country News

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CWL invite

CWL in Sonoma, June 2011
CWL in Sonoma, June 2011
We've just completed two Cultivating Women's Leadership intensives, and my heart is full to overflowing from experiencing 42 women flourishing into their own expanded voice, courage and purposeful capacities.  

"Cultivating Women's Leadership ushered me into a new place of certainty about the purpose of my leadership. I am a leader and I have presence, clarity, and credibility. I will no longer be shy about admitting that I have these qualities. I will no longer be timid about stepping forward. I will no longer be reticent to receive praises for the work that I do. I will no longer minimize the importance of my purpose and work."   
-Leny Strobel, Ph.D., Professor of Multicultural Studies, Sonoma State University
Nina Simons, Toby Herzlich and Sarah Crowell
Nina Simons, Toby Herzlich and Sarah Crowell

Guest facilitator Sarah Crowell (of Destiny Arts) joined my teaching partner Toby Herzlich and me to form a trio that was complementary, deeply experienced and real. Sarah's embodied teaching, honed through years of choreography with diverse young people to encourage their most authentic expression, was an enlivening contribution to the depth of our emotional, spiritual and intellectual inquiry. We partnered seamlessly and joyfully as a team, and will be collaborating again to facilitate the next intensive inNorthern New Mexico.

As the leader of a national network of organizations who has sought to increase my skillfulness over the past 20 years, I found exactly what I needed at CWL to take my personal power and my leadership skills to the next level.
-Stacy Malkan, Health Care Without Harm and Cofounder, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

I'm writing to offer you 3 opportunities:

·      Apply, or invite a friend to apply for the final Cultivating Women's Leadership intensive of 2011, in Northern NM, Aug 29-Sept 3.  Deadline for submitting applications is July 8th.
·       Preview the leading-edge, abundant and diverse women's leadership-related content at this year's Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA with a 5% discount to register online using this code: Women11.
·       Subscribe to our Moonrise: A Whole System Approach to Women's Leadership email list by sending an email with Subscribe in the subject to be notified of other events and opportunities (we won't share your email with anyone else).

Male allies are most warmly welcome to join us for the last two.  Renowned leaders as disparate as Al Gore, the Dalai Lama and Wangari Maathai agree that the increased emergence of women's leadership globally is essential to addressing climate change and shifting our course toward a healthy, just and sustainable future.

Evidence keeps mounting that as the percentage of women in leadership grows in every sector and discipline - from financial management to board rooms to politics, and throughout business, the arts, media, medicine and civil society - so too improves the education, economic and social stability and ecological health of all people and their communities.

Thank you for your part in healing how we relate to our selves, each other and the Earth. And for helping to shift how we live on Earth to honor the web of life, each other and
future generations.   
With love, gratitude and respect,

 Nina's Sig

Nina Simons, Co-CEO and Co-Founder

Saturday, June 25, 2011

it's summertime and the livin' is easy....that's why there's so much going on that won't ever get on this page. well, truthfully, i've not had much desire to keep up with facebook or blogger. my days are filled with face-to-face encounters with family and friends. and isn't that how it is supposed to be?

but here's some good tid-bits to relish! the video highlights of the 2010 Babaylan Conference is now posted here:
thanks to the work of Venus Herbito in putting this together.

and we are getting ready for a smaller retreat/symposium in August limited to 30 participants. our primary resource person this time is Prof. Felipe de Leon Jr, Commissioner of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.

i've also returned from a weeklong retreat with Nina Simons/Cultivating Women's Leadership at Westerbeke Ranch. met kindred souls, made new friends. and i signed up to attend the Bioneers conference finally...after years of hesitation.

i do not wish to write about this experience. i want to live it. so who knows what's next?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've always been interested in the intersection of Filipino indigenous spirituality with christianity. Will start posting journal articles that I find on this subject on this blog. Here's one by Claudia Liebert on Filipino domestic workers in Israel and another one on Filipina workers in Saudi Arabia by Alicia Pingol. Another Liebert article here.

I'm also reading Karl Gaspar's two books on Filipino spirituality. In these two books, he writes about the need to reclaim Filipino indigenous belief systems and integrating them with the christian faith. Many Filipinos in his research work articulate this process of integration.

Liebert's The Footsteps Project, aims to change the stereotype of FIlipinos as the "servants of globalization" to that of workers able to develop inventive coping strategies as working class cosmopolitans in the global arena.

[Notes to self: I've said elsewhere that the ability of Filipina overseas workers to develop and deploy coping strategies, e.g., by framing their sojourn in spiritual/religious terms and in notions of sacrifice, doesn't belie the fact of their exploitation by the global capitalist structure. As liminal, post colonial subjects they are often unprotected by both the sending and receiving countries.]

Liebert: Our research has explored the role that Filipino religious congregations play in creating sociality, community and social networks among fellow migrants, both local and transnational; the ways these facilitate relations with their hosts; how faith may empower women negotiating status and identity within and beyond the workplace.
Above all, we have asked: what are the symbolic and experiential dimensions of belief re-discovered, practised and reinscribed in a sacred landscape? What kind of cultural capital does living in centres holy to Christianity and Islam give migrant returnees? Indeed, does religion affect their decision to work in particular countries, beyond economic considerations?
By describing their sojourns abroad in the idiom of sacrifice, suffering and sacred journeying, Filipina migrants situate their care giving work within a religious worldview of spiritual power and personal growth. Investigating these themes ethnographically, our research has aimed to challenge prevailing stereotypes of migrant Filipinas as ‘a nation of servants’, victims of an expanding capitalist labour market, and to reveal women’s agency in shaping their migration experiences.
Through their work and leisure, the project has found, Filipina migrants have forged an open if demotic working class cosmopolitanism. They engage positively with their new environment and the people they care for, inventively devising new coping and mobility strategies and building wide-ranging trust and support networks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Book of Her Own: Words and Images to Honor the Babaylan

This review is from: A Book of Her Own: Words and Images to Honor the Babaylan (Paperback)
I nodded in agreement at virtually every page. I put the book down frequently to absorb the shock of reading my own experiences, captured in a few incisive master strokes. "Silence is in the eyes of the white girl with long blonde hair searching mine for love." I laughed out loud at the skewering of entitled ignorance: "Did he buy you from a catalog? How come you know all our songs?" (Questions I've Been Asked Ever Since I Arrived in the US in 1983). I breathed deep in appreciation for the painful truths on the 100 years of US colonial history in the Philippines. I gulped "A Book Of Her Own" down in a single day, dancing from poetry to autobiography to mythology to critical essays to history to ritual. This is a book that sings, weeps, re-knits what has been torn, reclaims what has been stolen, avenges what has been violated. Above all, it breaks the toxic silence of colonization, to heal and illuminate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Random notes not so random...

while reading Pedagogies of Crossing...

immorality of empire
oxymoronic "armies of compassion"
requirements of citizenship for empire are disturbingly antithetical to these requirements of citizenship for collective self-determination
empire requires sacrifice - the sacrifice of consent
itineraries of violence that are given names such as democracy and civilization
displacing collective self-determination with corporate institutional allegiances
freedom to betray freedom through gratuitous exploitation
empire makes all innocence possible
diffusion of globalized power variously called postmodernism or late capitalism
integration of corporate academy into the practices and institutions of the state at this moment of empire
psychic products fossilized deep in the interior, forcing us to genuflect at the altar of alterity and separation
limits of secular power
personal is not only political but spiritual
power is not owned by corporate timekeepers or by the logics of hegemonic materialism
make different conversations and solidarities possible
imagine collectivities that can thrive outside of hegemony's death-grip
what is the academy's role in an age of globalization?
transgenerational memory. Memory not as a secular but rather as a Sacred dimension of self.
knowledge comes to be embodied and made manifest through flesh, an embodiment of Spirit
spiritual labor and spiritual knowing is primarily a project of self-knowing and transformation that constantly invoke community simply because it requires it.
majority of people in the world...cannot make sense of themselves without it.
need to engage the Sacred as an ever-changing, yet permanent condition of the universe
ceremonies of reconciliation that are premised within a solidarity that is fundamentally intersubjective
burning patience to choose freedom so as to bettter build archeologies of freedom

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oh, Seafood City!

I was craving soul food today so we decided to drive to Seafood City. I didn't have breakfast in anticipation of Max's crispy fried chicken for lunch. Well, when we got to Max, I ended up ordering bangsilog instead because my craving for garlic fried rice, crispy bangus, achara, fried egg took over. I also ordered lumpiang shanghai because I wanted that crunchy morsel dipped in sweet and sour sauce.

When my order arrived, I got steamed rice instead; the egg was half-cooked, the bangus was cold and tasted "maumuk" -- I don't know the direct translation of this word in English but it means that the fish isn't fresh and leaves that taste in your mouth that makes you want to burn your taste buds with something sweet to mask the fish taste. The lumpiang shanghai would have been okay were it not for the watered-down sauce. There was no achara on the side.

I don't know what I was thinking. I knew that the bangus won't be fresh. I knew that the food is never as good as I make it at home. Blame nostalgia.

At Valerio's I bought hopia mongo and whole wheat pandesal. I was tempted by the kakanins but I resisted. At the supermarket, I walked each aisle looking at all the familiar stuff from childhood - Skyflakes, otap, butul pakwan, polvoron, chicharon, sardines, spam - and I caved in and bought one of each. A part of me was overwhelmed by all the packaging, the processing, the thousands of miles these items have travelled to get on the shelf.

The meat and seafood section had selections that my local supermarket doesn't have. Good price on shrimp so I bought two lbs and had them put in an ice bag (it takes an hour to get home). I bought tilapia that's been cleaned. I wish I lived nearby so I could get my fish fried there. No need to do it at home.

Because I've been trying to change our consuming and eating habits (eat local, minimize packaging, buy fresh), I felt like apologizing for today's excursion. Too much plastic. Overpackaging. Overprocessed food to make it last. Oversalted. MSG-saturated.

What to do when the craving for tastes and memories of home kick in? I know that it's better to satisfy these cravings at home but why didn't I? Well, maybe I just wanted to breathe the air of Seafood City, like a whiff of the open wet markets of my childhood treks with my mother.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Remembering NVM Gonzalez

Today belongs to NVM Gonzalez.
Can the West 'read' us well? Can the words we offer it become an ennobling vision of life? In light of its long acquaintance with themes of alienation and despair, do the West see our books as celebrations of continuity and endurance?
As I writer I have no ready answer. But, as a reader, I keep firm my faith in language and the imagination. I am proud to be counted among the wounded.
NVM Gonzalez, The Novel of Justice, 144
You can now view photos from Spirit Breath here.  Note the accompanying text to the photos which are equally poetic and stunning. Thanks again, Lizae.
To Eileen and her beautiful daughter, Francine!
To Tera's newly minted Phd from U of Texas in Austin.