Featured in Jellyfish Review: Flash by Seventeen Syllables

Grace Loh Prasad curated, Roy Kamada’s Grey Matter has just posted.

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

More goodness — from Caroline Kim Brown and Grace herself — to follow.

Grace’s introductory essay, here.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Great Gilda Cordero-Fernando

(Read all the way to the end; this post has many digressions)

Re-reading a fantastic short story, “Hothouse,” by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, a mimeographed copy of which self just pulled from a closet overflowing with old files.

Thank you, Jennie and Marie Kondo for inspiring self to organize! She had to drop everything and leave for Manila for two weeks, supposedly Dearest Mum Read the rest of this entry »

Doreen G. Fernandez: Fruits of Memory

from Doreen’s Introduction to Fruits of the Philippines (Bookmark, Inc.: Manila, 1997):

I remember gathering lemons in our farm: they were large and lumpy and not like the neat American lemons in supermarkets, but they were fragrant, and basketfuls of them made cooling lemonades. Right near these trees were aratiles, which we called seresa, low enough to climb, and almost exclusively for us children, since adults did not usually bother to gather the little berries, although they willingly ate what we shared with them.

During the Pacific war about ten families, all related, lived on the farm, and, guided by a young uncle, we children picked wild fruits called tino-tino and maria-maria, which I have not seen since then and cannot identify. The tino-tino looked like the cape gooseberry, except that it was usually not eaten raw, but sliced and fried like tomatoes. The maria-maria was delicately sweet, but where is it now? The farm never seemed to run out of guavas, which we ate green or ripe, or of nangka, also delicious both green and ripe (cooked into ginatan or eaten fresh).

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

A Photo-A-Week Challenge: TRADITIONS

This week’s Photo-A-Week Challenge asks us to “share photos showing a tradition you have.”

Self is visiting Dearest Mum in Manila. Been a whirl of activities, since there are many people to see.

She had a small get-together with her college classmates, and lunch with one of Dearest Mum’s oldest friends, Tita Ateta Gana.

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College Reunion: Fely J’s, Greenbelt 5, Makati

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Tita Ateta Gana and her daughter Tessa treated self and Dearest Mum to lunch at Romulo’s

Finally, self’s  headboard back home in Redwood City: made by a metallurgical engineer, to self’s own design: an atis tree!

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Self’s headboard in Redwood City, CA: Made in the Philippines

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Pearl Shop, Philippines

It always surprises her to learn that self’s got a following. Not here, IN THE PHILIPPINES. Which has thrived in her TOTAL ABSENCE. Like, go figure. In fact, she’s on the curriculum in the University of the Philippines.

She remembers giving a reading at a hotel in Cebu during International PEN, and all her books sold. Every last copy. Amazing, right? It sold out, even though the book was expensive by Philippine standards: 500 pesos per, almost $10 US. For a country like the Philippines, to have sold out at that price, for a writer who rarely goes home, is truly something.

She was at a dinner after her reading, and someone tapped her on her shoulder. She turned, and a woman self did not know said, “I just wanted you to know. I really loved The Lost Language.”

At the Cebu Airport the next day, a stranger came up, introduced himself, and said he flew from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu, JUST TO HEAR HER READ. Her hair was a sweaty mess, her clothes were rumpled. If she had known people would recognize her, she would have gone to a parlor.

Dearest Mum is always berating self for her lack of style. She looks, Dearest Mum said, like a slob. Because she has no compunction about wearing any old thing that happens to be clean.

The man who spoke to her at the airport in Cebu turned out to be a writer himself. He gave her a copy of his book. He writes plays. His book was published IN DIALECT which is so totally earth-shattering and amazing. No English translation, and self doesn’t know the dialect. But. Still. Self really believes in regional literature. Because literature from the margins is MORE powerful.

The writer’s name was Carlos A. Aréjola.

Here are the production notes, setting, cast of characters etc. from his play Unang Yugto:

Tagpuan (Setting): Cottage sa isang resort (A cottage in a resort)

Panahon (Time): Kasalukuyan (The Present)

CHARACTERS:

Edwin – matangkad, guapo (tall, handsome)

Toledo – mestisuhin (mestizo), 18 taong gulang (18 years old)

Dagul – 21, moreno (dark-skinned), medyo pandak (somewhat short), may body piercings.

Falcon – mestisuhin (mestizo), ayos na ayos ang buhok (Hair fussed over; sorry, that’s the best she can come up with)

Dalawang Dalaga (2 girls): college girls, magaganda (beautiful), mapuputi (white-skinned)

Mga Pasahero Sa Airport (Passengers in the Airport)

Cagayan de Oro isn’t exactly unknown, it’s a very populous province. But she’s never set foot in Cagayan de Oro, never given a reading there, doesn’t know a single person from Cagayan de Oro. Somehow, over there, in her home country, her book (with no marketing at all), has trickled from the urban centers to the provinces. Which means her work is embraced as a  vital part of Philippine culture. The knowledge is so humbling.

(Here, there’s a 40 Filipino Writers You Must Read List, which is published every December from San Francisco. She’s never on that list)

A few days ago, on Facebook, she met the owner of a shop called The Pearl Shop. Self accepted his friend request and then he told her that they sell her book. She said, Hey, I could send you some autographed copies if you like!

He was happy at the news.

The store is in Manila, and they are a purveyor of PEARLS (not a bookstore, in other words).

Heart Eyes, Pearl Shop.

To the end of time.

 

Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

Sunday Read: Philippine Religious Imagery in Ivory (Exhibit Catalogue, Intramuros, Manila, 1982)

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Self’s childhood home in Manila was crammed with santoses (religious statues). Dearest Mum collected them.

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L: San Vicente Ferrer R: San Pedro Martir

The santos carvers were unknown. It was an industry, like making furniture. The head and hands of the figures were usually ivory.

The caption for San Pedro Martir reads, in entirety:

  • Ivory head and hands on batikuling body. A bolo (machete), now missing, the instrument of his martyrdom, was originally embedded in his cranium. He is usually depicted holding a palm of martyrdom, also missing. 19th century.

Batikuling is a Philippine tree, presently listed as endangered.

Stay tuned.

 

Samson and the Piano: MY ANTONIA, Book II, Ch. VII

Self’s mother attended Curtis as an 11-year-old who had never, ever left the Philippines before.

So when she reads the below passage in My Antonia, she is practically in tears:

They found he had absolute pitch, and a remarkable memory. As a very young child he could repeat, after a fashion, any composition that was played for him. No matter how many wrong notes he struck, he never lost the intention of a passage, he brought the substance of it across by irregular and astonishing means. He wore his teachers out. He could never learn like other people, never acquired any finish.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading about 16 March 1521: Magellan in the Visayan Sea

On the Feast of St. Lazarus, Ferdinand Magellan spotted the coast of Samar in an archipelago which had not been named by Europeans.

Because it was the feast of the saint who Jesus brought back to life, Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary, Magellan named the island in honor of the saint. He had “discovered” the Philippines (The name was given to the archipelago 50 years later, during the reign of Philip II, Hapsburg monarch of Spain)

When Magellan made landfall, it was barely 30 years after the fall of Granada, the last outpost of the Nasrid Empire. In 1492, Boabdil, last Muslim King of Granada, surrendered to the Catholic forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Granada capitulated, it had become a swollen knot of refugees from all over the Iberian peninsula.

The island in the Visayan Sea where self’s father was born is called Negros (That name was given to the island by the Spanish because islanders were dark-skinned). She doesn’t think Magellan or any of the explorers who followed actually set foot on the island. But there is a Barangay Granada, which is part of a cluster of land self inherited from her Dear Departed Dad.

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She gleans all this fascinating information from a book which Dearest Mum gave to her a few years ago: La Casa de Dios (The House of God) by Father René B. Javellana, SJ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Bourdain: Ugly Crying

Not real. Not real. Not real.

In celebration of food, community, and life, all the food pictures self can pull from her archives in 15 minutes:

  1. Cherries, Belmont Farmers Market, May 2018
  2. Leeks, Palo Alto Farmers Market, April 2018
  3. Giant Tomato, Mendocino Art Center, March 2018
  4. Buko Pie, Philippine Airlines, January 2018
  5. Dearest Mum’s Lunch, Manila, January 2018
  6. UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City, January 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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