Self’s Writing

Her first collection of short stories, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published by Calyx, a women’s press (which has survived over 30 years) based in Calyx, Oregon:

Self's first book became one of five finalists for the Philippine National Book Award.

Self’s first book became one of five finalists for the Philippine National Book Award.

At around the same time, Penguin put forth an anthology of short stories by Asian American Writers called Charlie Chan is Dead, which included self’s story “Lenox Hill, December 1991”:

The story in this anthology, "Lenox Hill, December 1991," eventually became part of self's second collection, MAYOR OF THE ROSES, which Miami University Press published in 2005.

The story in this anthology, “Lenox Hill, December 1991,” eventually became part of self’s second collection, MAYOR OF THE ROSES, which Miami University Press published in 2005.

Self co-edited an anthology of Filipino women’s writings called Going Home to a Landscape. It included Filipina women from all over the world.  Calyx Press published it in 2003:

Cover Art was "Tropical Landscape II" by San Diego-based Filipino artist Dixie Galapon.

Cover Art was “Tropical Landscape II” by San Diego-based Filipino artist Dixie Galapon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



2nd Weekend of February (2012)

This morning was chilly and overcast (although, after experiencing the frigid nights of Dharamsala in January, self thinks she will never complain about her unheated house, ever again), but now the sun’s come out.  It is Friday!  Oh happy happy joy joy.

The Grammys are this weekend, though self is not as excited as she was for the Golden Globes.  Adele will clean up, that’s all she knows.  Maybe Lady Gaga will delight with a particularly outré outfit.

They caught Madonna’s stalker.  Apparently, he was an escaped inmate from a mental asylum — ?

No rejections yet today (though she hasn’t checked all of her e-mail).

The husband thinks the Ancient One is on her last legs.  Self sees the deterioration.  Her pet doesn’t even react to a piece of bacon put right under her nose.  It seemed to have gotten worse while self was in India.  One more stretch of not seeing self, and Bella will keel over.  Self prays it doesn’t happen when she is home.  One dog’s expiring (April 2011, Gracie) was awful enough.  Perhaps the husband can do death duties this time.

One thing that always made self curious was why “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy” was nowhere in evidence in the last Golden Globes.  She thought Gary Oldman’s and Tom Hardy’s performances were very fine.  Did the omission have something to do with cut-off dates?

The Denzel Washington/ Ryan Reynolds thriller opened today.  Self still wants to see Liam Neeson punch out wolves in “The Grey.”

Want to know something?  Self is really, really, disproportionately happy today.  She has decided to finish The Best Philippine Short Stories of the Twentieth Century (in English), which she started reading years —  this is truly pathetic —  ago.  Currently, she is on p. 448, which means she is right in the middle of the Cirilo F. Bautista story, “Ritual” (Nice title, that!).  Here’s a short excerpt:

There was a knock on the door followed by the entrance of a dark-skinned man carrying several books.  His white trousers and white shirt were spotless; the electric bulb was reflected on his shoes.

“Carlos Dayleg, in charge of the fourth class,” Father Van Noort said to me by way of introducing the newcomer.

“I think we’ve already met,” Dayleg said, extending his hand.  It was only then that I realized he was the man I asked directions from a few hours ago.  He must have noticed my surprise.  “Yes, we met this morning.  In this place it is not uncommon for natives to change to more civilized attire.  As for me, I do it only on special occasions.”

Here are a few thoughts that occurred to self while she was reading the above:

  • It is very hard to keep a white shirt and white trousers clean, especially in the tropics.  But that’s what characters always seem to wear in the tropics, even the ones in Somerset Maugham.
  • Self has already completely forgotten where this story is supposed to be taking place (though the name “Dayleg” sounds vaguely Igorot — ?)
  • The presence of the word “native” is excusable because the “native” is calling himself “the native.”

Here’s yet another passage, from several pages later:

Three school terms I had worked with him but I knew nothing about him, except his preference for canned food, his indifference to women, his love for the rice terraces.  Not that he was reserved or aloof —  he was sociable — but his sociability revealed merely the outer encumbrances of his personality, much as the sphinx revealed merely the outer characteristics of its animalism, but the mystery that shrouded it amidst the burning desert sands few could untangle.  Perhaps the metaphor was far-fetched; perhaps he was enigmatic, not because I could not understand him, but because I was analyzing him from an irrelevant angle.  Luisa had told me that I was always inclined to be poetic.

Last night self attempted to inveigh sole fruit of her loins to visit Bacolod with his girlfriend.  An idea which son does not seem to find particularly attractive, self knows not why.  But one cannot have everything, in this world!  One can simply live, as best as one knows how to.  Back to her reading.

Stay tuned.

Cool Filipino Dude, Circa 1976

What do you think of this picture, dear blog readers ?!!

It’s a photograph of the artist Carlos Villa in a pool hall, circa 1976.  To borrow words from Prof. Gonzalves:  “What a stylish cat he was, and still is!”

Come to the launch of the book Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces, edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Maryland.

Here’s from the press release issued by the book’s publisher:

Meritage Press is delighted to announce the release of Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces, edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves.  This long-overdue book takes a critical look at the life and work of one of the most celebrated Filipino American artists of our time and a leading light in the San Francisco Bay Area’s rich history of creative arts.  This book contains essays and poetry by Bill Berkson, Theodore S. Gonzalves, David A. M. Goldberg, Mark Dean Johnson, Margo Machida, Moira Roth, and Carlos Villa himself.  In addition, it features a gallery of 77 color and black-and-white images from Villa’s career.

Book Launch Events:

At Mission Cultural Center for Latino Life (MCCLA):  an exhibit, Carlos Villa:  Manongs, Some Doors, and a Bouquet of Crates,  (Aug. 13 – Oct. 5), a survey exhibition of Villa’s work ranging from 1970 to 2011

“An Evening with Carlos Villa,” Sept. 17, 6:30 – 9:30 pm, FREE ADMISSION:  Join Carlos Villa and distinguished guests for a night of story-telling and dialogue to celebrate the release of the monograph, Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces. RSVP by Sept. 13:  415-643-2775 to

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Bougainvillea” (by Fe N. Reyes)

Because self has been gardening so much, and because she has tried to coax her bougainvillea “Purple Queen” into blooming more, so far without success, this poem encountered today spoke volumes to her. It’s from Fern Garden: Anthology of Women Writing in the South (edited by Merlie M. Alunan and published in 1998 by the NCCA Committee on Literature)


Then I slashed away
at your limbs, their grip
taunting the brown fruits
of the chico tree.
I abhorred your masquerade:
Pale leaves parading
as pink petals subverted
the fruit tree’s crown.

Climber, you were meant
to be a shrub.
Now, properly pruned,
humbled, in place
you awe me, fuschia mass.
Despite drought in these parts,
you limber up to tired rafters
ornamenting my abode
as small and proud
as your inconspicuous flowers.
Flourishing and secure,
the chico tree
stands. You blossom
in your own ground.

— by Fe N. Reyes

About the author: Born in Tacloban City, her early education was at the Holy Infant College. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from St. Theresa’s College and a Master in Education from the University of the Philippines – Cebu. She has four children.

First Sunday in August (2010), Reading

On this early Sunday morning (9:20 a.m.), self is reading a book edited by Merlie M. Alunan, Fern Garden: Anthology of Women Writing in the South. This book, published in the Philippines in 1998, is a fascinating collection that features writers self has never read before. To give just a few examples:  Erlinda K. Alburo, Annabelle T. Amor, Perla Blanca, Pafuncia Borja, Dindin Cañete, Lilia N. Lopez-Chua, Dulce Cuna-Anacion.

What makes this collection even more interesting is the fact that the writers are published in their native dialects: so we have some Cebuano, some Boholano, some Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on Getting to See “Twilight: Eclipse” (7th Screening of Opening Day)

Self caught the 1:30 screening in Theater # 2 at the Century 20 in downtown Redwood City.

Amazingly, THERE WAS NO LINE!  At least, not for the theater self was seeing it in (There was a line for the 2 pm screening, across the lobby.  Go figure!)

There was a group of about 60 kids swarming in around the same time as self, and self asked one of the accompanying chaperones which movie she was taking the kids to see.  “Toy Story 3,” she responded.  Thank God!  If it had been one of the movies self was angling to see, she would have turned around and gone home!

So, anyhoo, there was plenty of space in the 1:30 screening of “Twilight:  Eclipse”  (After reading IMDB Sean Maher boards yesterday, about the “hot-ness” of vampires, did you really think self was going to see something like “The Karate Kid” today, dear blog readers ???)

Well, this one was waaay better than the second one!  Here are some discoveries self made while watching the movie:

  • Victoria is a new Victoria.  Self thinks it was Bryce Dallas Howard playing Victoria in this version.  Her face is much too sweet for a Vampire, but luckily you can’t really tell it’s Bryce Dallas Howard until pretty late in the movie (Before then, she’s mainly just a mass of gorgeous red curly hair darting around!)
  • Everyone in the audience was female with the exception of one little dude, about 10, who was walking out directly in front of self after the movie ended.  (He came with his mom, a woman who seemed to be in her 30s.  What a nice boy!)
  • Jasper is hot!  Self never noticed him before!
  • Ashley Greene just keeps getting more and more beautiful (She plays Alice)
  • Peter Facinelli is also hot (Likewise, self never noticed his hot-ness before)
  • Taylor Lautner is still hot (His first shirt-less scene produced quite an audible sigh in the audience)
  • Robert Pattinson’s Edward has turned into a controlling wuss.
  • Kristen Stewart is developing quite a nice butt (Self never noticed before)
  • Dakota Fanning’s acting chops are pretty much wasted.  All she does is glare!
  • All the humans/werewolves look like Filipinos Read the rest of this entry »

Check Out io9 Today: Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction

One of self’s favorite bookmarked sites, i09, has today, in addition to reviews of “Lost:  The Finale”, which self saw last night (Geez, she watched for three hours, including the pre-amble, of course!), a feature on

Best of Philippine Read the rest of this entry »

Two From The New Yorker “Briefly Noted”/ Latest Book Deals (Courtesy of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY 13 May 2010)

Books self is interested in reading after perusing the “Briefly Noted” section of the 26 April 2010 New Yorker:

Rat, by Fernanda Eberstadt

Rat is a “fifteen-year-old girl, all elbows and moods, who enjoys a sunburned and barefoot life in the South of France with her eccentric mother and adopted brother. (Self would willingly read anything, anything about the South of France, dear blog readers.   Even if it were just a shred of writing, even if it were just the merest scrap, so long has this place existed as a Paradise of her Imagination)

Something Red, by Jennifer Gilmore

Jennifer Gilmore’s second novel is about a family in which “Dad toils for the government and is haunted by the man he might have been; Mom attends self-actualization seminars; and rebellion is left to the kids, one of whom enrolls in a college course titled American Protest!”

*          *          *          *

Latest e-letter from Publishers Weekly has announcement of the following deals:

Fiction Debuts

  • Bonnie Nadzam’s Lamb, “tracing the monstrous transformation of a middle-aged man . . .  as he turns his attention to an awkward 11-year-old girl,” to the Other Press.
  • 2010 Bellwether winner Naomi Benaron’s Running the Rift, about “about a young Rwandan man training for his ultimate dream, the Olympics, amid the rising tensions of Rwanda,” to Algonquin.


  • Orange Prize shortlisted author Monique Roffey’s The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, “set in postcolonial Trinidad, an exploration of political unrest in the wake of colonial rule,” to Penguin for publication in August 2011.
  • blogger Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology of “Austen-inspired short stories,” which includes original fiction by Stephanie Barron, Frank Delaney, Karen Joy Fowler and Diane Meier, to Ballantine.


  • Sex therapist, sociologist, and contributor to Psychology Today Dr. Marty Klein’s Sexual Intelligence:  What We Really Want From Sex and How to Get It, “explaining how to better communicate about sex, how we can accept our preferences and desires without feeling self-conscious, and how to restore a sense of erotic partnership with our mate,” to Harper One, for publication in 2012.

There were other deal announcements, such as Lisa Fain’s The Homesick Texan Cookbook,  “based on a blog of the same name, documenting her trials recreating Mexan food in Manhattan” but, alas, self’s wrist is aching and she needs to get ready for bed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Rainy April Wednesday: Perusing RUELLE ELECTRIQUE

Who cares about the unseasonably heavy rain?

Who cares about Florida Governor Charlie Crist deciding to run as an Independent?

Who cares about Tiger and Jesse James? (Though self finds herself caring very much about Kim Kardashian and the revelations that she was a domestic abuse victim).

And why oh why, self, did you send that follow-up e-mail to McSweeney’s?  Even though you read on their website that they only have two editors to plow through thousands of submissions a month?  Where is your writer-ly patience, your customary savoir-faire?

Self has just returned from her usual Wednesday stint at The Writing Center. In the space of two hours, she must have looked at eight papers, on subjects ranging from philosophy to genetics (Probably why her Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Morning: Got to Rush

Self woke up at 9:20 am.  There is a reading this afternoon at the I-Hotel in Manilatown.  Self is supposed to meet niece G there.  Hubby said he would come along.  Self wants to give niece G a copy of Growing Up Filipino II (Among the contributors:  Amalia Bueno, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, yours truly, editor Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Brian Ascalon Roley, Veronica Montes, and Tony Robles) because Dearest Niece grew up in New York City and then studied in Stanford and might enjoy knowing how people who are Filipino like her grew up.  Maybe we’ll walk around Chinatown or North Beach.  Maybe we’ll have dinner there tonight!  Maybe we’ll even get to check out City Lights and see if they still carry Going Home to a Landscape!  (They did, last time self checked)

Before going to the city, however, self must drop by the Redwood City Farmers Market.  Which means she has to get dressed.  Right now.  She missed last week’s, the first, because she was in Denver.

She spent some time reading The Economist soon after waking up, and encountered there an essay summarizing all the charges against Obama, that he is “not tough enough to be commander-in-chief,” that “he doesn’t love America enough to defend it wholeheartedly.”  There is even a quote from that Filipina conservative commentator, Michelle Malkin, who derisively refers to our President as “the groveller in chief.”

Now, this is really, really unfair.  Sticks in self’s craw, in fact.  So, self puts aside The Economist and gets ready for her day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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