Quote of the Day: Spaghetti Redux

Because we all need a break sometime, and because Zack just told me that the Exalted One was hanging out at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last week . . .

From “The Year of Spaghetti”, by Haruki Murakami, in the Nov. 21, 2005 issue of The New Yorker

Spring, summer, and fall, I cooked and cooked, as if cooking spaghetti were an act of revenge. Like a lonely, jilted girl throwing old love letters into the fireplace, I tossed one handful of spaghetti after another into the pot.

I’d gather up the trampled-down shadows of time, knead them into the shape of a German shepherd, toss them into the roiling water, and sprinkle them with salt. Then I’d hover over the pot, oversized chopsticks in hand, until the timer dinged its plaintive note.

And, now, I end.

(What? That’s it?, loyal blog readers might exclaim. What, you expect self to keep blogging, when self is already late for a dental appointment? Self would have you know, she has a life: a life wherein she works and grades papers and waits for calls from Dearest Mum and watches endless hours of Food Network TV and peruses old New Yorkers for edification of blog readers. Sometimes self imagines blog is like the hungry maw of a gigantic whale, always cruising for more seaweed or baleen or what-have-you. Or perhaps self meant to say that blog reminds her of a shark, one of those predatory hungry creatures, always lurking, waiting for the next blood meal or offering from self’s weary keyboard-tapping fingers . . . )

Reading for the Day: New York Times Saturday, 28 April 2007

April 27, Tokyo —

In two landmark rulings, Japan’s highest court on Friday rejected compensation claims filed by former wartime sex slaves and forced laborers from China but acknowledged that they had been coerced by the Japanese military or industry.

The decisions were handed down as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to head off a resolution on Japan’s wartime sex slavery in the House of Representatives during a two-day visit to Washington.

It was the first time that the Supreme Court has ruled on lawsuits by Japan’s mostly Chinese and Korean captives during World War II, effectively quashing dozens of similar cases that have been working their way through the lower courts in recent years.

The court said in both cases that the Chinese plaintiffs had lost their rights to seek individual legal claims against the Japanese government and companies because of a 1972 joint statement in which Beijing renounced war reparations from Japan, a decision supporting the government’s position that postwar agreements cleared Japan of responsibility for future individual claims.

China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the rulings, describing them as “illegal and invalid” and calling the court’s interpretation of the 1972 statement as “arbitrary.”

* * * * * *

But in a striking rebuke to nationalist politicians who have tried to play down Japan’s wartime crimes, the court acknowledged the historical facts of sex slavery and forced labor, two practices that continue to fuel anger in Asia six decades after the war’s end.

In its 16-page ruling in a sex slavery case, the court acknowledged that Japanese soldiers had abducted two teenage Chinese girls and forced them to work as sex slaves for months, contradicting Mr. Abe’s recent denial of the practice.

* * * * * *


I’ve been working with the 121 Coalition who are private citizens across the country — mostly Asian American — and predominantly Korean American. Out of 40 or so members, I am the only Filipina working with them. One of the coalition’s mission is to do a serious out reach to the Filipino American community. HELP!

Right now, we need to get 20 sponsors to support House Res 121. The coalition recognizes that they need the Filipino American community to push this issue into high gear — and not too soon for so many of the lolas have already died. We especially need the FIL AM community in Northern Cali to step up and write LANTOS and PELOSI. Daly City is in Lantos’ district. These two congress people are key and then need to have constituents bombarding their email — they need Fil AM email.

So here’s what will help me lead this:

1. I need you guys to use the power of your words and educate your communities through those poems and stories you write, through the lectures and readings you give and through the teaching you do. You are all mentors with access to students. You are all on the road reading and promoting words. Please spread the word and encourage your community to write to your congress person and to sign the petition.

NOTE: When your community has a lot of people writing your congress person and you share that with the coalition, let them know and they will send a representative to that Congressperson’s office to speak directly to him or her on your community’s behalf. So write your congressperson!

2. The coalition invites Filipino American organizations and activists groups to join the coalition. If we want to represent the lolas, we’ve got to be a presence in the coalition. We need sponsors and donors and advocates from the Filipino American community. Your groups can and must educate your members. Do you get the sense the Filipino America knows their lolas are 1000 of the 200,000 abducted and placed into sexual military garrisons? My guess is no. So we need community support to represent and spread the word. I’m pushing to get the images of the lolas into the news coverage so that our community can see and identify with our beloved lolas. We’re cutting a mini doc this week about the story of Lola Dolor Molina for YouTube distribution. When it’s out, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, can you send me the names of groups with contact information and leadership. I will personally call these groups to get them invested. Some places to consider: Filipino American Medical groups and alums of UST, UP and other Philippine universities, organizations who are fighting for the FIL AM Vets — these women are of the same generation as the manongs. The men and women of WWII are our elders and it seems like a good time to support the men and women together. College and youth organizations and collectives are also good resources. At conferences and readings, it seems the college students are inspired by these great women and are willing to act. Facebook has been a good resource and put me in touch with many activist students. Send me names and contact info or make the initial contact for me and I can follow up.

3. You. I invite you to join the coalition with me. Perhaps you can be a contact for your city. I am so grateful for the help many of you have already extended, and I can use your help to educate the FIL Am community at large by email blasts, phone calls, articles, spoken word events. Last week we had a DIE IN at UM for Amnesty International and during the DIE IN several of the students read short testimonies of the lolas … During that time students tabled and got another 90 plus signatures on the petition. Maybe there are poets and spoken word artists interested in having a READ IN of sorts …

4. Publishing venues. If you are an editor or have access to publications who want and need articles and stories on the Comfort Women — especially Filipina Comfort Women — please send me their names and contact info.

So this note is an update, but it’s also an invitation. Much of the country is under the impression that Comfort Women were Korean women … They don’t realize all the other nationalities that were also abducted and abused. The Lolas are getting lost in the media shuffle because the Korean Comfort Women are so present and they are present because their community is backing them up. Well, I’m sure that once our community is aware, we can support the lolas too. We work best when we’re working together. Let’s work together.

Thanks and if you have any great ideas or ways of offering your talent and time, I welcome you to join me.



(Last) April Weekend: Gardening, “Pretty Woman”, and Three Calls

Aaaargh! Missed Ebert & Roeper! Because hubby too engrossed in watching Pretty Woman (his third best movie of all time, after Gladiator and Master & Commander) — !!

Must admit Julia Roberts looks really really pretty in this one, and Richard Gere is not bad himself, and isn’t that Laura San Giacomo playing Julia’s best friend/hooker — good heavens, am reminded that self hasn’t seen her in ages, am remembering when she’d just made Sex, Lies and Videotape and was being touted as next “hot” thing . . .

Oh well, nothing is perfect. Today did much gardening, much spreading of compost, though still worried about clematis “henryii”, as leaves are still turning yellow and browning (perhaps Wegman’s guy was right when he told self on Friday: Nothing in your garden needs to be watered every day).

There were two — no, three — calls today. The first, 9:25 AM, from Bank of America, a “fraud alert”, reporting suspicious activity on Dearest Mum’s ATM card. Hubby reacts with immediate panic, thinks self should call Dearest Mum immediately, but self tells him it is only a little past midnight in Manila, and Dearest Mum hates getting calls in the middle of the night.

Next call, Margie K. Her father, who was self’s “host family” when self was a foreign student at Stanford, “has passed.” Those were the exact words she used: My father has passed.

Out of the blue, self decided to visit him a few months ago. Had not seen him in perhaps six or seven years, and, on a whim, dropped by bearing pictures of son at Cal Poly. Then he was hale and hearty and alert and all self could think of now was, Thank God I saw him, Thank God I saw him.

Last summer, self was very busy trundling son all over Hong Kong, Bacolod, Palawan (part of his education, after all!) Self and son had many, many adventures, which perhaps he or self will write about some day. In Bacolod, self dragged son to see cousin Manang D who was very sick, confined to a bed, and connected to oxygen tank. Manang D smiled and rolled her eyes in recognition at us, though was unable to speak. Two days after we returned to Manila, got the call: she had passed away. One of my uncles in Bacolod said: Thank God you got to see her just before she passed.

Which, now that self thinks about it, are the exact same words running through self’s head this morning. Perhaps — oh God — self is developing a kind of “sixth sense” about such things? Eeeek !!!

Third call was son. FINALLY!! Said he was just calling to say “hi” (since self had left him so many messages the last week). “Son,” self asked, “Are you really going to graduate next year? You aren’t, are you?” And he said (suddenly am reminded that son is the master of diplomacy — !) “I might, I might.”

Then, asked if he would like to go around Asia with me for a month, maybe Hong Kong again, my brother’s fab apartment. “What, this summer?” son asked. “No, no,” self said. “This summer I’m going to be in Virginia, remember? I meant, next summer, because I have to plan, save up . . . ”

“We’ll see,” son says.

Hand the phone to hubby. Hubby surprises self by asking son about his courses. Apparently, has checked on son’s registration on-line (!!). And he asks what “A Sci” stands for. Son replies, “Animal nutrition.” Hubby says, “Oh, I thought it was some kind of astronomy class or something.”

Animal nutrition??? Is son planning to turn into an animal psychologist? (Self is so confused: when son started at Cal Poly, was in Chemistry. Then, Biochemistry. Last year, Psychology. And now, now — but, perish the thought! Must focus!)

Luckily, self manages to hold tongue.

When finally do reach Dearest Mum in Manila, tell her of “fraud alert”, her first response is typical: CALL THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR’S WIFE.

“What?” self inquires (confounded as usual, by the strange workings of Dearest Mum’s mind). “Why? What can she do? She doesn’t have access to your account! You are the only one who can call!”

Finally convince DM she must call Bank of America number.

After a few minutes, she calls back, but self has gone to Safeway. When self returns home, message from Dearest Mum on machine: listen to her voice breathlessly saying, “Call me back as soon as you get this message!”

When self returns her call, Dearest Mum says, “Well, I managed to get hold of someone, but he didn’t believe I was who I said I was!”

“What?” self responds, practically shrieking. “What did you tell him?”

“Well, I got my mom’s maiden name right,” DM says, “but he said the three-digit number I gave him was wrong.”

“Why? What number did you give him?” self inquires.

“The number. You know! The three-digit number!”

“I know, but WHERE did you get the number from? From your checkbook?”

“No, it’s, you know, my three-digit number!”

“Mom, WHERE did that three-digit number come from?”

Aaargh, aaargh, self is going craaaazy.

Finally, get it out of her: Dearest Mum gave B of A guy her PIN number.

“Mom, isn’t that number FOUR digits?”

“Ooooh,” Dearest Mum whispers.

“Ok,” self tells her. “Turn over your ATM card. To the side where your signature is. Do you see any numbers on top of your signature?”

“Well,” Dearest Mum says, “I see 1 – 800 – ”

“No! Not the Customer Service number! I mean, isn’t there another number there?”

And Dearest Mum insists: no, no, there is no other number on the back of her ATM card.

So, self tells her to take the ATM card, and bring it to sister-in-law Ying (who has just had baby, must be very busy, but surely she can find number). And now, am in dire suspense, waiting for news. Feel like calling sister-in-law, but wait, doesn’t self still have a pile of papers to grade? And an 8 AM class tomorrow?

Decide must forebear any further involvement in this issue, have enough problems of my own.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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