Doreen G. Fernandez, Food Writer, Queen

From Hometown Foods: Essays on Filipino Food:

Quiet, bucolic Silay used to have a lot of gambling for high stakes going on behind the walls of those gracious houses. Some, I was told (I never saw them) had sophisticated warning, hiding and escape systems built into them in case of an unlikely raid — unlikely because of pakikisama, because important officials were among the gamblers, because it was an important part of the community lifestyle. Tales were told and zarzuelas were written about jewelry, land titles and car registrations flung on the gambling table; of haciendas lost in a night of gaming; of marriages sacrificed at the mahjong, panguingue or monte tables, or at the cockpit.

For these gamblers, I was told, were developed for kalan-unon (kakanin) for which Silay is famous, and the accompanying institution, the manug-libud (accent on ug and ud). The kalan-unon are portable — they can be eaten without getting up from the gambling table, and they used to be made by the best cooks in Silay — maiden aunts, young wives, mothers, girls, many from the best families. The food was taken around by the manug-libud (“libud” means to take from place to place, usually to sell) to homes with or without gambling, to restaurants and schools, in large round baskets covered with cloth and carried on their heads.

Are there any chefs from Silay in the Bay Area? Are there any Filipino restaurants in Redwood City? How about Half Moon Bay? Just wondering.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

KUWENTO (Stories), Self’s First Book

A copy is in Green Library.

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#backreading The New Yorker, 14 October 2019

Found, in a pile of unread New Yorkers, the issue that lauds Jenny Lewis’s Gilgamesh Retold (available now as an audiobook featuring Jenny reading her own work, on the Carcanet website)

 

It’s partly about George Smith, “an engraver of banknotes,” who “spent his lunch hours at the British Museum, studying its holdings.” Eventually, Smith was hired to “help analyze the thousands of clay shards that had been shipped … ” from “Nineveh, an important city in ancient Mesopotamia … the reason so many tablets had been found in one place was that they were the remains of a renowned library, that of Ashurbanipal, a king of the neo-Assyrian Empire in the seventh century B.C.” The script was written in cuneiform, a script “no one could read.”

The article, by Joan Acocella, is very long. But worth noting is that it reviews Jenny Lewis’s new collection, Gilgamesh Retold. Self has heard Jenny read, and her voice — Shohreh Aghdashloo level.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More Writing in a Pandemic

Further in self’s novel about the World War II occupation of the city of Bacolod in the central Philippines (72k words so far):

Don Geronimo entered Honorato’s room just as his eldest son was about to get dressed. It was eight o’clock.

“The Japanese are here,” he said.

Honorato said nothing.

There was a group of them, some in uniform, some in civilian clothing. They had told Don Geronimo they were there to put the Daku Balay under the protection of the Imperial Japanese Army. “We are forbidden to leave the premises without permission. Go through the kitchen. Moses is waiting for you by the side gate.”

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The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Bacolod City: It was used by the Japanese High Command during World War II. Self’s grandfather sent her uncle to the mountains. Her father, only 12 at the time, stayed home.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Writing In a Pandemic: Self’s Other Novel

So far, 299 pages, set on the island of Negros in the central Philippines, in the opening months of World War II. Self has not looked at it in almost two years. She’s been devoting most of her time to her 16th century novel, Camarote de Marinero:

In mid-April, Honorato was sent to the mountains.  He had just turned 18.  Don Geronimo worried because he was tall, because he was good-looking, because he was the eldest and bore the hopes of his parents on his slender shoulders.  Hide, his father told him.  Get as far away from here as you can.

The boy, Honorato, spends the war wandering in the mountains with his Dad’s enkargado, Moses. Moses has a bolo and a 32 Colt. Honorato can’t even shoot. But he learns a lot. (Meanwhile, self, who hasn’t shot a gun in her entire life, has to do internet research on the mechanics of a 32 Colt. So she’s learning just as much as Honorato)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Revisiting Self’s Melancholy/ What Is Going On With WordPress?

Three years ago, a short story called “This Is End” appeared in the Cost of Paper, vol. 5

It was science fiction about a character self kept using again and again, in different stories. The MC, Dragon, had a girlfriend, Her, who’d gone missing.

He doesn’t know what happened to Her (There are finite ways to disappear in space) but his favorite theory was that she was still alive, on another ship:

Floating, off to the right: the remains of the former space station, the Kobayashi Maru.

It caught fire. The wreckage drifted, was lost. Then found. Then lost, and found again.

And sometimes, when the ships drift past each other (literally ships that pass in the night HA HA HA), Dragon thinks he sees Her, gesturing to him from a window.


AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, WHICH IS A VENT ABOUT THE NEW WORDPRESS SYSTEM OF FORMATTING, WHICH IS CALLED BLOCK EDITING.

Suddenly, without warning, right while she was in the middle of typing this post, each paragraph acquired its own frame. Like it was a picture. Which, self doesn’t have to tell dear blog readers, is ridiculous.

BLOCK EDITING WITH THE NEW WORDPRESS SYSTEM OF FORMATTING IS THE WORST.

The text floats in little bubbles, and appears so unstable. One little press of the key, and the entire block disappears.

Oh no! There it is again, but then it disappears again. Sort of like Dragon’s girlfriend, lol

Why mess with a system that worked fine — at least, it did for self.

Now, instead of editing tools being all to the side, they appear in the text, right on top of these little boxes — confusing as heck! She doesn’t need to see extra little visuals on top of each paragraph, what are they doing there, it’s not as if each paragraph requires its own format.

She starts typing and whole paragraphs bloom THAT SHE DID NOT HERSELF TYPE. Oh it’s auto-fill. WordPress remembered that you typed a sentence like this before, so it makes it easy and just copies what you typed before. WHICH MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, because where would the fun be in blogging if you just copied from something you’d written before?

With block editing, everything gets so — jiggy. Like the text needs Xanax. The toolboxes and the blocks and the menus keep floating around on the screen, as if the document were suffering from ADD, and self doesn’t know how to get the words to stop moving because they apparently move in response to every slightest twitch of a finger.

And, self discovers to her dismay, she has very twitchy fingers.

FINALLY: This message that suddenly popped up on her Dashboard: START MAKING MONEY FROM YOUR POSTS!

10 (or more) years ago, she asked a friend (who was a marketing whiz, who was being paid big bucks to be said whiz) whether she thought self could release some of her writings as “extras” for people willing to pay a very small amount — say, a dollar. And this marketing whiz (who is still her friend, believe it or not, just not the type of friend she sees a lot, really just someone she encounters occasionally on FB), gaped and said: Why would you charge for something that’s free? I mean, that’s why it’s on the internet, because it’s supposed to be AVAILABLE. You can’t charge for anything on your blog. People would stop reading. And such was self’s faith in her obviously successful friend, she let the matter drop and never explored the idea of making a little money from blogging.

Until today, 12 years later, when she saw this message.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

#amwriting More Dystopia, With a Splash of Mandarin!

Zheng shi ruci.

“Oh, please.”

“Your Mandarin isn’t that bad.”

I sit down. She approaches. She smells different now. I allow her to stroke my cheek. Soon I’m panting and salivating, like one of those dogs.

Pavlovian theory. I learned that somewhere.

#amwriting Dystopia

You’re not permitted in my brain. Get out!

I root around in my head, trying desperately to reach Albert, tossing aside superfluous data, everything I think I don’t need for future transports. I’m under attack! Under attack! Under attack!

Shut down, Albert says. Abort delivery. Good-night.

#amwriting of First Contact

Cortez had just conquered the Aztecs, and their ancient cities were filled with gold.

The Spanish thought there was gold in the Philippines, too.

First sight of the Philippines by the Spanish:

  • Limasawa has the shape of a finger thrust into the ocean; its topography is generally flat. Butuan is much larger, a ring of beach surrounding a mountain wreathed in clouds, whose topmost peaks flash in fading evening light, flash like prince’s metal.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

10 Years Ago in Hotel Amerika’s TransGenre Issue

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In that same issue were: Sarah White * Mary Cappello * Elaine Terranova * Kelly Cherry * Jennifer L. Knox * Brian Teare * Ben Quick * Christina Manweller * G. C. Waldrop

GHOSTS

(An excerpt)

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They are all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these guests.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.


Process: As a matter of fact, self did have this dream. Sometimes that happens. If self can get it all down quickly, the story almost writes itself. Which happened here.

Stay safe, dear blog readers.

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