Saturday, April 28, 2012

Asian community forum, 4/30

soon there will photos of the April 30th event on Fb of the rituals, panel discussion, dances, fashion show, and other elements of the day-long program. people will see the images and make up stories about what they are seeing. so let me give you a map for viewing. looking at the photos, some  may wish they had been there:
  • to hear Manong Peter Jamero
  • to hear the heartfelt sharing of the intergenerational panelists about growing up Asian and/or Filipino in Sonoma County
  • to enjoy the performances of the college students, or chat with Christian Cabuay about baybayin
  • to cheer on the models of Marybelle Bustos' ethno-fusion/fashion show
  •  to be mesmerized by Christine's rendition of Ili-Ili 
  • to be soothed by the opening and closing ritual by Lizae, Alexis and Titania
  • and wish they had been part of the closing circle where we thanked and honored our ancestors and each other as future ancestors.
  • to partake of the bountiful and delicious luncheon buffet
some will see the photos and be glad that they were part of this day. they will be grateful to have had the opportunity to:
  • co-create, to collaborate, to cook, to decorate, to share
  • listen to an intergenerational panel talk of how we are weaving our connections
  • get their books signed by Manong Peter 
  • get their name done in baybayin. 
  • model beautiful indigenous attire from Titania's baul/treasure chest and Marybelle's cachet of accessories. 
  • witness the talented Fil Ams at SSU do their tinikling and hiphop and folk dance choreographies
  • meet new people, listen to each other's stories
  • support the fundraising efforts of young people who are going to Kapwa 3
  • learn and embody new perspectives 
  • share dreams about our shared future in Sonoma County and beyond 
many will feel awe and pride at the beauty of the Filipino indiogenius even if they have never heard of the word before. maybe they won't be able to adequately articulate the feeling of being surrounded by Kapwa and yet they know that it feels good and it feels better than other events they may usually attend.

some will see the ethnic/indigenous elements and will raise questions about cultural appropriation. orientalism. exotic self-representation. nativism. some might say that this is all wrong or disrespectful of indigenous peoples' traditions and practices. some will say that we are merely being nostalgic or romantic about our pre-colonial past.

it is usually those who are never present at these events who say these. how can they know otherwise when their books tell them so? visual representations are easy to deconstruct using one's theoretical lenses and assumptions but critical perspectives are nothing more than an invitation to get a closer look at what we are resisting. remember that the shadow hides many gems.

we create the communities that we want to belong to.

so what are you seeing in these photos?

Friday, April 27, 2012

for waiwai who loved us

we lined her resting place with sage, lavender and rosemary vines. we covered her body with roses and purple clematis and jasmine and then we wrapped her in Ma's barong. she is beautiful. i made a bouquet of flowers of bearded iris, dogwood, and roses from the garden and placed it on the mound marked with stones. it was 12noon, April 27.

i never thought i'd cry so much over a cat. to think that when we were growing up, i used to burn our cat's whiskers because i wanted to see how it would react (sorry!)...during Waiwai's decline she taught us a lot about hospice and how to be with death and dying. am glad we didn't euthanize her and brought her to the vet so she could disappear from us. there is something beautiful, even if sad, about being with her in her final moments this morning when she was gasping for breath and when she breathed her last. we were able to soothe her and place our hands on her.

when i told family and close friends about her, i realized that she has been part of our community all along, like a trickster even, who was weaving her magic around all of us when she would sit in the middle of our circles, or go to the bedrooms when Katrin and Venus and Frances were with us and she would spend her time with them in bed. how she always greeted everyone and was always trying to get attention. in later days, she didn't seem want to be around people so much but when people were saying goodbye, she would always come down and join in. Frances wrote a poem about her and everyone has been sharing their memories of her. Katrin, who believes in reincarnation, said maybe she is already reborn as a baby in the Philippines:-)

what she taught me is that she is not just a "pet" - an object of affection - but a cat being. and that means a lot!. 

here's frances' poem for Waiwai:

her sweet sharp purr
a melody
the softest paws
pad pad padding
through the kitchen floor
keeping time
to my
heart's beat

scrambling to my feet
i find
all she needs
is some 
to sweeten
this already
oh so sweet

licking the
in her waiwai way
she reminds
to stop

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Embracing and Celebrating Diversity: An Asian American Forum

Karen Pennrich, president of FANHS Sonoma County, is leading the organizing of the "Embracing and Celebrating Our Diversity: An Asian American Forum" on April 28 at Sonoma State University's Cooperage, from 10am to 3am.  The event is co-sponsored by the Ctr for Babaylan Studies, Fil Am Students at SSU, Fil Am Community of So Co, the SSU Diversity Committee and the SSU Multicultural Center. Now that is what I call collaboration -- getting all the local organizations working together.

There is indeed a new energy around here. The local organizations are working together, pooling and sharing resources and there is mutual support for each other's activities and events. New folks are coming forward to volunteer. New events like book readings, fundraisers for relief efforts in the Philippines, fundraisers for members with critical needs, music and dance classes, language classes -- are just some of the manifestation of this new energy.

The reach of this energy extends beyond Sonoma County. CFBS volunteers - Lizae, Titania, Alexis, Marybelle, Jay, Christine are also joining us this day. As we integrate ritual, music, creative arts into a community forum, we are creating integral wholeness. We consciously approach our organizing and conceptualizing from this perspective. Kapwa is wholistic. Body, mind, and spirit are nurtured.

And the students: Michael, Danielle, Jenn, Andrew, Samantha, Richard, and others -- we are connecting the university with the community! You are the future leaders of our communities. Thank you for your commitment to FAASSU and to your studies and to this community connection. Your voices are important. We need to hear you!

Thank you to Elisa Velasquez, Chair of Diversity Committee at SSU for supporting the forum thru the Richard Rodriguez memorial award. There will be many more opportunities for collaboration in our future. Salamat!

Friday, April 6, 2012

reviewing my old blog (kathang pinay). today reviewing march 2004. so many lovely posts then. i look back on this road i've travelled and see now that it is a road that chose me. they must have known. they must have waited. they must have set out these markers so i would find my way. i made my way slowly without this foreknowing. and now the road ahead beckons even farther. now i have traveling company. we laugh. we grieve together. we dream. we  dance. we sharpen our warrior eyes and tongues. we write. we teach.