Poem for the 2nd Sunday of August (2014): Angela Narciso Torres

Angela Narciso Torres was one of the contributors to Going Home to a Landscape, the anthology of Filipino women’s writings co-edited by self and poet Virginia Cerenio and published by Calyx Press in 2003.

Her poetry collection, Blood Orange, was the winner of the 2013 Willow Books Literature Award for Poetry. Her recent work can be found in the Cimarron Review, the Colorado Review, and Cream City Review.

Here’s the title poem:

Blood Oranges

At the river’s edge –
strewn seed, vermilion
petals from blood oranges

we ate. A branch
stoops from the weight
of phantom fruit. Falling,

the leaves exhale
the spicy-heavy air,
its punishing sweet.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

California Highway 1: The Lure

Self is headed back to southern California pretty soon.  She loves, loves, loves it.  Just the feeling of driving, never mind that the freeways feel bigger and everything’s so much farther apart than in the San Francisco Bay Area. (No, self likes that places are farther apart!  She can take longer to get there!)

Condé Nast Traveler’s July 2014 issue has a letter from the editor about what California’s Highway 1 means to her.

Well, it means something to self as well.  When self was 13 and her Dear Departed Sis 14, our parents took the whole family for a driving vacation in the States.  We lived in Manila, but Dearest Mum’s parents and younger brother and sister lived in San Francisco. Dear Departed Dad always had this dream of taking us on a cross-country road trip — in an RV. This was a sort of specious dream, since self’s Dear Departed Dad had no idea how to change a flat tire or how to hook an RV into one of those things that drains waste. And he’d also never driven anything bigger than a club wagon, and we all know that an RV is a completely different animal from a club wagon.

Anyhoo, we did make that driving trip, borrowing a car from self’s maternal grandparents, and we snaked down Highway 1 all the way from San Francisco to San Diego, then snaked east towards Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. And Dear Departed Dad allowed self to choose the stations we listened to, and self fell in love with America’s “Horse With No Name.”

Son attended Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo, but only once did we ever venture farther north than San Simeon on Highway 1. And oh man. We got stuck in a humongous traffic jam, that took hours to sort itself out.  And son swore that would be the last time — ever — he would take Highway 1 to the Bay Area. Self felt rather demoralized by the incident, to tell you the truth.

The last time self was on Highway 1 was just recently.  She was lost.  She was coming from Skyline College, took a wrong turn somewhere, found herself on Highway 1, then just kept driving south.  The views got more and more spectacular, and self was all excited, wondering if she’d actually make it as far as Big Sur.  But she didn’t.  Anxiety began to creep in, and self doubled back and went home.

Here’s what Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast Traveler, has to say about her memories of Highway 1:

There is something about a road trip in one’s home state with a sibling or childhood friend that makes you feel like you’re 17 again.  We packed a cooler, sang along to Adele’s “Someone Like You” over and over, and analyzed our parents for the umpteenth time, telling the defining stories of our childhood to each other as though for the first time.  It always strikes me that no matter how many digital memory-keeping advances we make, a family’s mythology only really evolves in an oral tradition.

After the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, self was on an absolute high.  The last day of the conference was on her birthday. She drove down with another conference participant, Heather Lee.  Heather just sent self a CD where she put all the songs we listened to on the drive from Squaw Valley.  It includes songs by Pherrell Williams, Johnny Legend, Coldplay.  Self likes to think of that CD as her “Happy” CD. She’s just decided she’ll bring it along with her to southern California this time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Zigzag 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

These pictures are from a trip to Venice self took last year, April/May 2013:

Vine-colored Trellis, Restaurant in Venice: May 2013

Vine-colored Trellis, Restaurant in Venice: May 2013

More of that trellis . . .

Another angle of the trellis

Another angle of the trellis

And something a little different . . .

Padua, April 2013

Padua, April 2013: Self got to see the famous Giotto chapel. No photographs allowed, though, boo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Zigzag 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

For today, self decided to focus on gestures of the human body:  bent elbows, bent knees, and so forth.  Because the human body, too, can be sort of zigzagg-y!

So, here’s what she came up with — in terms of the human body bending etc — from her various peregrinations:

The Red Mosque, Old New Delhi, After Prayers:  January 2012

The Red Mosque, Old New Delhi, After Prayers: January 2012

Niece G and Self, after a reading in the San Francisco Main Library:  September 2009

Niece G and Self, after a reading in the San Francisco Main Library: September 2009 (Funny:  Self JUST noticed the bent elbows of the model on the street posters behind!)

Street Musician, Venice, April 2013

Street Musician, Venice, April 2013

Like the elbows theme, dear blog readers?

Self loves how having the prompt makes her look at photographs she’d never ordinarily have thought to post here!

Stay tuned.

The Year 2014 in Movies (Thus Far)

Liam Neeson was Non-Stop (and Lupita Nyong’o was in a bit part, playing a flight attendant)

Olivia Wilde stunned in Third Person.

Darren Aronofsky gave us a futuristic Noah (and inspired self to write a short story)

X-Men: Days of Future Past gave us J-Law, MacAvoy, Fassbender, Jackman and a sardonic sprite named Evan Peters, as well as much angst and heartbreak.  The series will never be the same.

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo tied us up in knots in Begin Again.

Jon Favreau showed that he can channel James Gandolfini — heck, better even than James Gandolfini himself — in Chef.

Patricia Arquette stunned Read the rest of this entry »

Self Got The Full-On Star Treatment From TAYO Magazine!

Oh the FEEELZ!

TAYO Magazine posted an interview with self.

Check it out.

The banner they used for self’s interview was a picture she took in The Red Room of Café Paradiso in Cork.  That is in fact the ceiling light. Love Ger and her cooking and her warmth and all her fun group of friends who invited self to share their champagne.

Self’s author pic was taken (years ago, cancha tell) by none other than the fabulous Stella Kalaw.

(It’s very funny because self thought all she was doing was having dinner — in Karilagan restaurant, just hailing distance from Max’s in South San Francisco — with Melissa Sipin-Gabon, fiction writer and editor of TAYO, and it turns out what she was actually doing was giving an interview. BWAH HA HA HAAAA!  If only self had an Effie Trinket around to prep for her propo! Any gaffes are entirely her own)

Stay tuned.


Poem for the First Monday of August (2014): Maiana Minahal

where is my country?

    by maiana minahal (Scroll to the bottom for a link to Maiana Minahal reading)

right now
in this country
someone wants me to answer
not here
just like last night
in this country
someone invited us to his party
with everyone else
but gave us the wrong directions
just like today
in this country
someone’s wife
hiding behind lacy white curtains
watches me and my brothers
certain that we want to break into her house

right now
someone’s crooked math
calculates how my foreign birth
proves my american roots shallow
twenty years long shallow
just like yesterday
someone’s denying eye
turned the page past my forefather’s obituary
the deceased american life
of another perpetual foreigner
just like last week
someone’s high school history book
forgets my filipino ancestors
started settling this country
in 1885
this history that
for one hundred years
for over one century
refused to see
their american births and deaths

right now
someone wants to take the words from my mouth
someone wants me to close my eyes
and stop listening

right now
i keep writing poems
my sisters and brothers and i
keep writing poems
for our brothers and sisters
for our children and grandchildren
in our country
my country
this country

The poem is from Maiana Minahal’s collection Sitting Inside Wonder (San Francisco:  Monkey Book Press, 2003).

Here’s Maiana, reading an excerpt from her poetry.  She was one of the contributors to the Filipino women’s anthology self co-edited with Virginia Cerenio, Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx Press, 2003).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Condé Nast Traveler August 2014: The “Cruise Issue”

There is still time, dear blog readers.  There is still time to fantasize about taking a cruise this year.  One does not need to go all pity party and woe it sucks to be stuck at a desk job for the remainder of 2014.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, 49% of the magazine’s readers are planning to take a weeklong cruise in the next year (Rest assured, self is taking immediate steps to become a part of this demographic)

And here are several cruise recommendations, broken down by category:

For the Gourmand:

  • Celebrity Cruises’ “Top Chef at Sea”
  • Crystal Cruises’ “Microbrew Cruise”
  • MSC’s “Virtual Winery at Sea”

For the Workout Warriors:

  • Holland America’s “Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise”
  • Yoga Cruises’ Bend and stretch on the yachts Admiral and Atlantis
  • Crystal Cruises’ Golf cruises

For Music Lovers:

  • MSC’s “Holy Ship! Electronic Dance Music
  • Holland America’s “Country Music Cruise” on the Eurodam
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines’ “Grammy Festival at Sea: Women Who Rock!”

Some Really Specialty Niches:

For lovers of Steampunk:  Royal Caribbean

For lovers of Magic Shows:  Crystal Cruises

For indefatigable knitters (Caroline Kim-Brown, this one’s for you!): Ama Waterways

For Hobbit fandoms:  Royal Caribbean

For Nudists: Celebrity Cruise Lines

Stay tuned.


Zigzag 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s photo challenge on the WordPress Daily post is ZIGZAG:

Share a photo that foregoes the straightforward.

Self’s grandfather, Generoso Villanueva, had this house built in the 1930s. At that time, it was the tallest structure in the city of Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental. It had a working elevator, and a spiral staircase that wound up three floors.  The floors were Carrara marble, shipped from Italy.

The Daku Balay:  Burgos Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

The Daku Balay: Burgos Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

The old houses in the province of Negros Occidental tended to look like this (He was such a groundbreaker, self’s grandfather!):

Zigzag Wooden Bannisters:  Lacson House, Talisay, Negros Occidental

Zigzag Wooden Bannisters: Lacson House, Talisay, Negros Occidental

And this last picture was from a trip self took to northern India in January 2012.  The story of how self got to this precise location — well, that’s a book.

Self flew into New Delhi, accidentally wound up alone in the hinterlands of Himachal Pradesh, and then hired a car and driver to head due north, eventually arriving at — TA RA! — Dharamsala.  Which was a weird place, full of Korean tourists.  And red-robed monks caressing white Akitas.  Self remembered buying a box of tea that supposedly had calming properties.  Honestly, the entire trip was like a hallucination.  Only she had these great photos to show afterwards.

On the road to Simla: the road hugs a steep cliff: January, 2012.

On the road to Simla: the road hugs a steep cliff: January, 2012.


Virtual Blog Tour: 3rd Introduction

And now, the third of the three people self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour:


Excuse the emo post. Self was introduced to Stella K almost 15 years ago, by the woman self considers her mentor, her icon, her 2nd mother:  Doreen Fernandez, who taught self Freshman English at the Ateneo de Manila, many many many oh too many years to count long ago.  Since that fateful meeting, right here in self’s home in Redwood City, California, she and Stella became friends for life.

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw is a photographer. An A-MA-ZING photographer.  You can find samples of her photography projects here.  And she writes a fantastic food blog on tumblr,  Shoots to Roots.

She was born and raised in Manila.  She earned a BA in Communications from De La Salle University and a BA in Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.  Her work has been exhibited at the Singapore International Photography Festival, The Ayala Museum, and the Silverlens Gallery in Manila, Wall Space Gallery in Seattle, Rayko Gallery in San Francisco and at the UCR California Museum of Photography.  Her photographs explore narratives rooted from family, memory and places.  She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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