P. 1, India’s DAILY POST, Monday 6 February 2012/ P. 1, New York Times, Sunday 12 February 2012

Page 1 of India’s Daily Post of 6 February 2012 bore this headline:

3 More Tibetans Set Themselves on Fire

Three Tibetans set themselves on fire on February 3 in the under-siege town of Serthar in Eastern Tibet.  Since Tapey’s self-immolation in 2009, 19 Tibetans have set themselves on fire demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and protesting China’s occupation of their country.  A Tibetan in exile with contacts in the region said on Sunday that two Tibetans survived the self-immolation but one is feared dead.

“The three Tibetans called for the unity of the people and protested against the Chinese government,” the Tibetan who didn’t want to be named, said.  The two who have reportedly survived have been identified as Tsering, around 60 years of age and Kyari, around 30.

And here are two items that were on the front page of The New York Times today:

War’s Risks Shift to Contractors

by Rod Nordland

More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.

American employers here are under no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not.  While the military announces the names of all its war dead, private companies routinely notify only family members.  Most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted —  and in some cases, leave their survivors uncompensated.

And, self is still unspeakably sad about Whitney Houston.  Her death, too, was on p. 1, in an article written by Jon Pareles and Adam Nagourney:

Whitney Houston, R & B Superstar, Dies at 48

Whitney Houston, the multi-million-selling singer who emerged in the 1980s as one of her generation’s greatest R & B voices, only to deteriorate through years of cocaine use and an abusive marriage, died on Saturday in Los Angeles.  Her death was confirmed by her publicist, Kristen Foster.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Wrong With Self Today

What is wrong with self today?  She is simply becoming too attached to her computer.

Self stumbled on this blog today.  It’s called Cut the Crap Movie Reviews.

Read through all the various “Best Movies of 2011” posts.  # 80 – #100 are the stinkers.

Her only quibble with the list is: He put “The Book of Eli” somewhere near the bottom!  Noooo!  This movie was seriously entertaining!  At least, self thought it was!

Self is happy to be reminded of the excellence of “The Guard” and “The Trip.” (Horrible titles, though)

Self is patting herself on the back for having successfully avoided watching all but 3 of the “worst movies of the year.”

Also, she doesn’t think “Our Idiot Brother” deserves its bottom-of-the-barrel ranking.

But, go see for yourself, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

To Claim (or Proclaim), One Must Proceed With Caution

You send your messages across the ocean, like feelers, probing.

In the rare calls from someone “back home,” you search for wordless clues, the hesitations that will tell you whether or not the speaker is on “your” side —  because, when you are raised in a Filipino family, there are always two sides, yours and “theirs.”  It’s always a question of allegiance.  To whom?

For years you’ve been talking about it, “my island.”

You blush when people ask you to name it.

Because here the word sounds ugly:  Negros.

You always end up explaining that the Spanish named it, not you.  Not any of your ancestors, either.

You hesitate to commit everything.  You will not, until you are sure whether or not these feelings are simply nostalgia.  Because who wants to build a future out of nostalgia?  Not self.

In the meantime, there’s a back and forth turning, between worlds.  So fast sometimes, the edges blur, and you are dizzy.

This evening, you watched “Kung Fu Hustle” with the husband.  You read an absolutely incandescent story by Luning Bonifacio Ira (in the anthology Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century).  The husband became inexplicably cranky.  You resumed reading yet another book you had begun long ago, JoAnn Balingit’s poetry collection, Forage (Wings Press, http://www.wingspress.com).  You received a strange rejection from Ampersand which, in abbreviated form, said “sorry for the tardiness of this response, we appreciated the poignant imagery of XXXX, but we’ve already got dark and depressing covered for the next issue.  We’re looking for bright and weird now to balance things out.”


Here’s an excerpt from JoAnn Balingit’s piece, “The Pitch”:

My father was not jealous of my mother’s garden.  Thank goodness.  He was jealous of imaginary suitors.  He failed to see her garden as the lush triumphant suitor.  His failure gave her more time.  His failure laid to waste her time.

If you were to replace the word “garden” in the passage above, with the word “writing”, it would amount to something very close to your experience.  Here in America, you are fond of telling people that you sometimes feel like “a Stealth bomber,” the bombs in question being your three story collections and the anthology you co-edited with Virginia Cerenio, Going Home to a Landscape.  By the time people notice, it’s too late.  You’ve become that which you didn’t think you had the courage to become.

To most people, you are one thing.  In your heart, another.

For all aspiring writers out there, you offer one heartfelt word of advice:  Stealth.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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