You were always free Just thought yourself otherwise Unthink + just be. Listen for birdsong + trees. If you want to reconnect.
For many years, Joel Tan served as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Director of Educational Outreach. Then he moved to Kapaau, Hawaii and feels so joyful, he’s been posting a poem a day. This one’s from Feb. 26.
The molave was a Philippine hardwood (said to be impervious to fire), now extinct.
Jose Rizal was the writer of the seminal novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He was tried by the Spanish for inciting a revolution, and shot by firing squad in Manila’s Bagumbayan Field.
Self has not been able to find much about Rafael Zulueta y da Costa. He died in 1990, and apparently this was his only poem. He wrote in English. At the time of writing, the Philippines was still an American colony.
Like the Molave, Part I:
Not yet, Rizal, not yet. Sleep not in peace: There are a thousand waters to be spanned; There are a thousand mountains to be crossed; There are a thousand crosses to be borne. Our shoulders are not strong; our sinews are Grown flaccid with dependence, smug with ease Under another’s wing. Rest not in peace; Not yet, Rizal, not yet. The land has need of young blood — and, what younger than your own, Forever spilled in the great name of freedom, Forever oblate on the altar of the free?
Not you alone, Rizal. O souls And spirits of the martyred brave, arise! Arise and scour the land! Shed once again Your willing blood! Infuse the vibrant red Into our thin anemic veins; until We pick up your Promethean tools and, strong, Out of the depthless matrix of your faith In us, and on the silent cliff of freedom, We carve for all time your marmoreal dream! Until our people, seeing, are become Like the molave, firm, resilient, staunch, Rising on the hillside, unafraid, Strong in its own fibre; yes, like the molave:
Self is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines. Her Dear Departed Dad’s province was an island in the central Philippines called Negros (yes, really, the Spanish named the island after its inhabitants, who were dark-skinned)
For today’s Past Squares post (many, many thanks to Becky at Life of B for hosting the Squares Challenge), here are two books on Philippine History that she’s found invaluable while doing research for her current project, a novel about a 16th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines to fight demons:
A writer’s library is more than just a collection of books. It is also a piecemeal biography of that writer’s life, and measurably so, as most have writers have spent countless hours reading the books that they now own or have borrowed, hours that add up to years, perhaps decades, given a long enough life.
— James P. Blaylock, My Life in Books
Love this essay, which echoes so many of self’s feelings about her own library. Just recently, self decided to start reading some of her collection. Books she’s picked up from author’s readings, and then stashed away on a shelf, in the fond hope she’d get to them “someday.”
Someday is here!
Two of the books she’s owned for years but never got around to reading:
Carlos Bulosan’s story collection, The Laughter of My Father
Kelly Link’s short story collection, Get In Trouble (She read a couple of stories, not the whole collection)
The collection is called Benedicta Takes Wing, and you are crazes if you are anywhere near the Redwood City Main Library (1044 Middlefield at Jefferson) and you do not drive straight over on Saturday, 8 Sept, 2:30 p.m., the Fireplace Room, to hear Veronica Montes and fellow writer Lillian Howan read, from their respective books! Crazes!
Self will excerpt from Lillian’s book, The Charm Buyers, next.
“Lamentation” opens thus:
Her name was like a song: Maria Josefa Gabriela Cariño Silang. I wish I had given it to her.
* * * *
In the province of Ilocos Sur, there is a barrio called Canlogan. It sits in the shadow of a mountain range that rises up like an enormous hand telling you to stop, telling you there is no way to pass. But the mountains are not as impenetrable as they seem; they are sliced through with rivers, each one running swift and strong. This is where my daughter, who I did not name, was born.
Last Saturday, 17 March, International Woman’s Day, Linda Nietes invited six Filipina authors to Philippine Expressions Bookshop in San Pedro to read from their work. The authors were: poets Angela Narciso Torres and Irene Suico Soriano, and prose writers Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, Tessie Jayme, and self. The reading was held in the beautiful lobby of a 1920s-era building on 479 W. Sixth Street:
Here’s son with Linda before the reading:
Beautiful Event. Self was honored to be a part of it.
Here’s Linda, in her own words, about why she does what she does:
It is a ministry, an advocacy, a labor of love, and the results cannot be counted in dollars and cents. It is fulfilling only to the person who accepts the responsibility of creating a greater awareness and a higher consciousness among members of our community. I have found the field, planted an orchard. Saplings are growing and some have already grown and are blooming and even fruiting. Lucky will be the generation that will just pick the fruits of my labor, but I do not mind that because I understand what the role of a trailblazer is! You blaze the trail so that people will find their way. I was inspired by a quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)