Friday, April 11, 2014

Reading Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian

Of Dead Indians
Living Indians
and Legal Indians
which of them does North America want? and why?

what do we, decolonizing and re-indigenizing, settlers/postcolonials want from Indians?

may we become wise and discerning
may we be humble learners
may we be generous givers
of our own indigenous giftings

may we know in our hearts
what these are even as they remain
as fragments of memory that
kindle our hearts and souls
our silence is its language

but not for long
for we are finding our song
our rhythm, our chant
our rituals

we remake some of them
with deep honor and respect
for the Source

Friday, April 4, 2014

I think of You tonight and of the 30 years you've given me as a gift. How I could have been a different person than the one I am today if I didn't feel the freedom to Be. MArriage is hard work anyway and when you add cultural and ethnic differences, it makes it all the more challenging.
You have always walked 10 paces ahead of me and so I've learned from your wisdom and sense of clarity about issues that are confounding and discombabulating when I think about this world.  I remember the years of agonizing over the rightness and wrongness of decisions made until slowly these gave way to something else... a lightening of the load by simply whittling down your wants and needs. The ego surrendered to the call of the Deep and from then on, you made it possible to just stand and be a witness to my own coming-full-circle. I used to wonder about this surrender - whether it's what you really wanted to do for yourself. Now, many years later, it just feels like the flow of water meandering as it will and where it will. It feels good.

When the mind is not trying to think too much of big and complicated messes, I can settle in the joy of just being here now with you and the dwelling place we have made. This place that is a refuge for others in search of calm and peace. This place is a heart and hearth for the small community of wanderers who have been drawn to the words I have sent out to the world.

But this too shall pass one day and a new generation will take over. They will find their own peace, their own sense of self and place. They will write their own words. Make their own communities. MAybe they will remember us. Or maybe not.

I am building a House of Origins, I tell myself. Everything in this house will contain a story, a seed that has sprouted and given sustenance to those who come here. I want Noah to know these stories. I want Dustin to tell him these stories.

Noah will know  and carry the story of how a small prairie town in Montana carved itself into your soul and made you as gentle as the breeze, as open as the big sky, and as strong and rugged as the badlands. The land gave you its stillness and silence and it whispered the wisdom that you carry with you. And the day I met you I knew that  I would grow to love your story, even its shadows, and that we would move forward together writing a new story.

Noah will know and carry the story of an island girl whose spirit couldn't be silenced by centuries of colonial madness. He will carry the story of how the tropical winds that blew me into this continent also carried with it the seeds that will come to bloom in due time. All the blooming that his father nurtures in him comes from that place of sun and sand as well as the place of the big sky that he has yet to see.

So this year, I celebrate You. You as Stone Cloud. You as Saint Maximus. You as chicken whisperer. You as lover of the Great Mother.

What a Gift you are to me!
Typhoon Haiyan, The Pasta King, and the Operation Typhoon Haiyan Committee: A Post-Event Post

When Art Ibleto, aka The Pasta King of Sonoma County, heard about the devastation from Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda last year, he called his friend, Chris Smith, at the local paper, The Press Democrat, and asked him to help him connect with the Filipino community in Sonoma County. There are many Filipino organizations in Sonoma County but only the Filipino American Community of Sonoma County, Inc (FACSCI) has its own physical location in Fulton and is the oldest organization in the county. Chris Smith contacted FACSCI and a meeting with Mr. Ibleto was set up.

Art Ibleto is probably the most generous community donor who helps organizations of all kinds raise funds for causes via his Pasta and Polenta Feeds.  When the Japanese tsunami hit three years ago, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and the folks at Enmanji Temple in Sebastopol were also supported by Mr. Ibleto. When JACL and Enmanji Temple members heard that Mr. Ibleto wants to host a fundraiser for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, they offered the Temple as the venue for a Typhoon Haiyan fundraiser.

In this coming together between Mr. Ibleto and the Japanese American community, the Operation Typhoon Haiyan Committee (OTHC) - an alliance of various Fil Am organizations and individuals - went to work to organize the event.

But alas, it only takes one person to throw a curve ball to get plans off-track. And the Pasta feed almost didn't happen because of one individual's confusion or misperceptions. Internal ethnic community politics shouldn't even figure in this event but it did. Fortunately, Mr. Ibleto and Chris Smith were able to see through this temporary set-back and the fundraiser finally happened on March 30th; but it did cost us almost three months of planning time.

With one month planning time to work with, the core team and the OTHC volunteers went to work like efficient and productive busy bees working on making honey. We told ourselves that our Kapwa back home need all kinds of support and that we should be able to rise above the community politics that threaten always to undo the best of our intentions. We told ourselves "no drama, please" and we promised ourselves to have fun, to spread the word, and raise a lot of money for the Yellow Boat of Hope FOundation and the Panay Bukidnon communities.

We prepared an FAQ to answer all the questions about our protocols and questions about the two beneficiaries. We made sure that all transactions are transparent and accountability is a priority.

But most of all, what all of us demonstrated are the Filipino core values of pakikipag-kapwa tao (shared Self), and kagandahang loob (beauty of Spirit). Indeed the event turned out to be colorful, joyful, and delicious! Mr. Ibleto was in his element; he stepped away from the kitchen to greet the event-goers and posed for photos with his new and old fans in the Filipino community. Chris Smith brought his two Japanese exchange students who helped serve the dinner and he enjoyed posing for photos as well. For what is a Filipino event without kodakan?

Enmanji Temple was transformed momentarily into a Filipino cultural hub -- with kulintang/kulintronica music by Ron Quesada, a big table full of bibingka, leche flan, maja blanca, a long table of raffle prizes, and vendor tables of beautiful ethnic textiles, woven banigs/mats, Tiboli jewelry, kimonas, malongs, books, and others.

People opened their hearts and purses and together we raised more than $7000. Donations continue to arrive in the mail.

Thank you, Mr. Ibleto and Chris Smith. Thank you, Sonoma County!