First Story of Self’s New Collection, “Magellan’s Mirror”

Self’s story was first published in J Journal, 2012. She just decided it will be the title of the new collection she’s completing. Thanks to the editors at J Journal, who published it and nominated it for a Pushcart.

Read the excerpt below:

And if our Lord and the Virgin Mother had not aided us by giving good weather to refresh ourselves with provisions and other things we had died in this very great sea. And I believe that nevermore will any man undertake to make such a voyage.

— Antonio Pigafetta, Chronicler of the Magellan Expedition

The crew encountered the giant during the winter, after months of battling the water just south of Brasilia. He was described by the sailors as being twelve or thirteen palmos tall, which is to say, over eight feet.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Four Days After New Year’s (2013)

Self has decided to post an excerpt from Don Alfredo & Jose Rizal, published in Sou’wester, 2007.

Much thanks to Valerie Vogrin for publishing the story. It’s still one of self’s favorites, one of those stories that come in a rush, one of those stories that need to stay inside for a long time while you search for either the courage or the recklessness to set the words down:

When I started to do research for the story, there were things I discovered about my great-grandfather that bothered me.  For instance, I discovered that he had more than one wife, the youngest a girl of 14.  And he was uncommonly cruel.  He tried his best to hide the fact that there was a strain of indio blood in his family, and he would beat his darker-colored servants mercilessly.  He died mysteriously, perhaps a victim of poisoning.

You see, my cousin said, we are related to the National Hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal.  The one who was shot by a firing squad, at Luneta Park, in 1896.

As Jose Rizal stood before the Spanish firing squad, accused of being a renegade and an underground solidarity worker, George Dewey was entering Manila Bay.

Like what you’ve just read?  Go to Sou’wester!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

For Kyi: More of “The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

Self decided to post a little more of self’s Yamashita/ World War II story, “The Seeker of Buried Treasure.”  (She repeats a few paragraphs from the last post.  Then adds two more paragraphs)

Tell me why Yamashita was happy when he received the orders to go to Luzon.  Go!  Go!  He was ordered.  Go lead the Imperial Army, salvage its honor, do not retreat, confront that marauding bear, the United States.  Wipe from memory the soldiers singing White Christmas.  How those people love Ol’ Blue Eyes.  The Packard is the only car the rich will drive.  And the chauffeurs wear white gloves even in the heat.

Ladies’ Home Journal and Life and Redbook are the most popular magazines.  American hot dog can be had on a stick or on a bun.  You choose.

The young ladies wear bobby socks and pleated balloon skirts.  Some women are dark but they are still beautiful.  Flashing eyebrows, thin like scars, wrists thin as stalks of bamboo.

And their laughter trills among the plants, winds around your brain, Yamashita.  You receive MacArthur’s letter saying Desist, there shall be no rape or pillageOr, MacArthur writes, I will make you pay.  Make no mistake, I am coming.

Yamashita, did your mind go blank like a sheet of new paper?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Worship in the Philippines

Self bumped into Charles Tan at the Manila International Book Festival today.  Also, Ambeth Ocampo, very busily engaged in signing copies of his books while being deluged by worshipful citizens.  Also saw:  Nadine Sarreal, Gwen Galvez, and Karina Bolasco.  These women give credence to one of Dearest Mum’s sayings:  “In the Philippines, women don’t grow old.  Only the karabaw do.”

If self really cared about her appearance, she would move to the Philippines (which is terribly impractical; if not impossible)

In the meantime, self is engaged in reading a book called:  Horacio de la Costa, S. J.:  Selected Essays on the Filipino and His Problems Today , edited by Roberto M. Paterno and published in 2002.  Fr. de la Costa, who taught at the Ateneo, was a great Filipino historian and writer.  In one of the essays, called “The Role of Religious Women in Asia Today,”  self gleans this fascinating nugget of information:

“When the Spaniards first came to Maynila, they found the women worshipping a wooden image in a pandan grove in what is now the district of Ermita.  It was the image of a woman, and the Spaniards very naturally presumed that it was an image of the Virgin Mary, brought by some wandering Franciscan missionary around the time of Marco Polo.  They dressed it up in velvet and cloth of gold and put a crown on its head and called it Nuestro Señora de Guia.  But some time ago an architect got permission to cut a small piece from the base of the image and test it; and he found that it was molave, which suggests that it was carved in the Philippines and was not brought here from Europe.”

Fascinating, isn’t it, dear blog readers?

Stay tuned.

Better Late Than Never: Mila D. Aguilar on Cory Aquino

Self happened upon Mila D. Aguilar’s first-person account in the September 2009 issue of Filipinas Magazine.  (Self is proud to say: she’s been subscribing to the magazine since the very first issue):

My President has been laid to rest. Now I can break my silence. For the one who presently sits on her manufactured throne is not my president. She never was.

My President is she who freed me from a Marcos prison in 1986. I know that she alone is not responsible for 1986, for the Read the rest of this entry »

Readings for the Day: Monday, 17th of August 2009

On one of Dearest Mum’s visits, she brought along a book written by one of self’s uncles. It was a beautiful book, a story of Dearest Mum’s side of the family. No expense was spared in the binding, or in the paper. Years later, in fact this very morning, self decided to begin reading it. And here are a few things she discovered about her mother’s side of the family:

  • Great-great-great-great-great grandfather Zoilo del Rosario was a platero (silversmith) in Santa Cruz, Laguna. He “crafted the brass and silver ornaments that adorned religious statues and church altars.”
  • The strands of intermarriage with the Chinese community were many and various.  One of self’s ancestors married Benita Quiogue of Pateros, Rizal (the Quiogues would go on to found “the first modern funeral parlors in the Philippines.” Can anyone say “Six Feet Under”? Hello, perhaps this is the reason for self’s ever-present gravitation towards the morbid, in her reading as well as in her writing!)  Zoilo the silversmith was married to a Martina Potenciana on May 18, 1819. The wedding records include a notation on the bride’s race: “Chinese mestiza.”

    Self is also continuing to read Modesto P. Sa-Onoy’s History of Negros Occidental. Here’s what she reads on p. 19:

    The early Negrosanon were fond of waiting for the last minute to perform their work. Fr. Ignacio Alzina, another Jesuit missionary who spent forty-five years in the Visayas, wrote about this mañana habit of the people, saying that “out of one hundred Indians (Filipinos were then called Indians by the Spaniards), ten will not be found, not even five, that will anticipate their tribute beforehand but they will let it go to the last moment. When they find themselves pressed and they are about to be arrested for lack of it, the men usually go off to the forest to look for the beeswax” which they used to pay for their tribute.

    It must have been like doing homework, or writing a paper, dear blog readers. At least, that’s what the above passage sounds like, to self. Stay tuned.

    Campbell’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie

    Last night, self made menudo (Using Memories of Philippine Kitchens, but substituting canned tomatoes for the fresh called for in recipe —  apologies oh esteemed chefs Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan!) and the result was pretty good, if self says so herself.

    The night before, self made a pasta dish out of fettucine noodles, fresh tomatoes, fresh Italian parsley, fresh oregano (from her garden) and dollops of olive oil and sea salt.  Dee-lish!

    So now self is trying to plan what to cook for tonight, and also for Saturday, when her Half Moon Bay Gourmet Club meets, and she has to think of something that goes with champagne, crostini, cream of asparagus soup, and scallops.  She was going to bring pasta, but at the last minute found a recipe for creamy clam chowder that looks good, and maybe people will not mind having two soups on the menu . . .

    But for tonight, self consulted http://www.campbellkitchen.com, and from there clicked on Savings Center, and from there clicked on “Best Budget-Friendly Meals,” and let her mind rove over Swanson Hearty Lasagna Soup, and Campbell’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie, and . . .

    Easy Chicken Pot Pie!  Did self not catch sight of several frozen ready-to-serve chicken pot pies in the freezer at Costco, just the other week?  Perfect!  Now all self has to do is mosey over to the Mountain View Costco!

    Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

    *   *   *

    3:13 p.m. :  Self has returned from Costco.  There she found a most delectable looking item in the frozen foods section:  No, Read the rest of this entry »

    Growing Up Filipina: Excerpts from a Review

    Self’s review of Helen Madamba Mossman’s A Letter to My Father:  Growing Up Filipino and American (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008  ) was featured in the Winter 2008 issue of The MultiCultural Review:

    Among the many pleasures afforded by reading Mossman’s account of growing up as the child of a Filipino father and an American mother, there is the sheer pleasure of encountering a vanished world:  the world of pre-World War II Philippines . . .  Her father, who was not a rich man, got to pursue graduate studies in the United States, where he met and married Mossman’s mother, an Oklahoma farm girl with ambition.  The couple returned to the Philippines, where Mossman’s mother set up housekeeping on the island of Negros while her father worked for a rich sugar-growing family.

    Initially, life on the island was idyllic:  the Philippines was far from the center of world politics, and news of the conflict in Europe reached the family as a distant echo.  Their first contact with the Japanese came in January 1942:  Mossman and her younger brother were “building sand forts” by a lagoon near their house when her brother said, “Hear those planes coming in?  They sound like washing machine motors.” . . .

    For the next two years, the family lived in hiding, with little more than the clothes on their backs.  Mossman’s account of their ordeal is riveting, but more hardships followed when the family returned to the United States, a country where racism was an ever-present reality.

    *   *   * *

    And here are the rest of the books self is interested in reading, after perusing the Winter 2008 issue of The Multicultural Review:

    After reading Anne Serafin’s review:  Angolan writer Jose Eduardo Agalusa’s novel, The Book of Chameleons, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

    After reading Dena El-Saffar’s review:  Deborah Akers’ short story collection, Oranges in the Sun; and Saudi Arabian author Abdulbaker’s novel, Wolves of the Crescent Moon.

    After reading Jaswinder Gundara’s review:  The Pearl Jacket and Other Stories:  Flash Fiction From Contemporary China, translated from the Chinese by the editor, Shouhua Qi.

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