My Last Reading: University of Santo Tomas, Manila

While I’m very, very flattered to be mentioned in the same article as “A Filipina’s Breasts and the Erotics of Empire” in a recent issue of the University of San Tomas‘ campus paper, the Varsitarian (too bad only Tagalog speakers can decipher the link) I’m glad they put the cover of my book as the visual, though the article was mostly about Nerissa Balce’s lecture on the terrible exploitation of Filipinas around the world.

I read at the University of Santo Tomas at the end of June, during a whirlwind trip home (In just over two weeks, A and I also traveled to Bacolod and Puerto Prinsesa). There’s a family connection to the University, but I won’t talk about that here. The UST folks were very generous and gracious, and I had a good time. I wasn’t sure what story to read, but Zack convinced me to read “Mayor of the Roses”, his favorite from my second collection. So I did read it, though it was extremely disconcerting to have my mother-in-law in the audience. She’d come at the invitation of my mother.

I don’t often invite family to my readings. What– so they can hear me read about a gruesome rape? It’s not the best way I would have chosen to introduce my mother-in-law to my writing. But she was there, and I read.

Apropos of which, I was in Berlin not too long ago, reading the same story at the Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt, and there, too, another person invited by by my mother was present– this time the Philippine Ambassador to Berlin. Admittedly, “Mayor of the Roses” is still the hardest thing for me to read in public. I find it hard not to get choked up, but people ask me all the time to read it. People say, “You should make it into a movie; it is so great.” It’s so great? I can hardly bear to hear my own voice reading it. I even had to trick myself into writing it, by pretending I was a disembodied narrator floating in and out of the proceedings…

By now I’ve lost the thread of what I meant to say about “Filipina breasts” and that story. They’re completely anti-thetical, don’t even deserve to be in the same blog, but this is precisely what I’ve done…

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