Heritage Month

June will likely become Heritage Month in our house from now on. Just glancing at my June calendar we attended the annual Scottish Fest the first weekend, then the Annual Filipino Fest (Pagdiriwang) the following weekend, plus Hands Across the Border, a US-Canada Scouting event. Then we missed, but would like to attend next year, the Lummi Stommish Water Festival which usually starts the weekend of Father's Day. It'll be tricky, but I'd love to have the gals go to a powwow of sorts finally.

I've had a couple of interesting conversations with friends lately who don't feel particularly drawn toward knowing more about their heritage or the heritage of where they live. Actually, 'conversation' is likely a stretch, more of a blank look and a slight shake of the head to say "sorry, but I don't get why this heritage stuff is important to you." And I blink and bite back "how could you /not/ want to know what you're connected to?"

What we find changes who we become. -randomness from the 'net

Change is a scary thing for those unfamiliar with those sorts of adventures, especially when it comes to a person's perception of identity, I suppose, but for the Hubby and I, it's part of being alive. Painful sometimes, but oh so rewarding in so many other ways. Our gals have trouble with change, but they're young still and thankfully possessing a curiosity about life that seems to get them through the worst of it. It seems that our job is to mostly keep them safe while they explore and to be as joyous as possible in our own shifts and changes.

So here's a toast to Heritage Month. Our thanks to all for the new stories.



A deep and genuine concern for other people will remind us that the discovery of truth is not to be a victory for some and a defeat for others. Unless all can claim a share in that victory, truth itself will continue to be rejected by the losers, because it will be regarded as inseparable from the yoke of defeat. -- Leonard Foley

It's a problematic quote, I realize, because of its singular view of truth, but I like this idea that truth is a separate thing from victory and defeat, that victory does not mean truth any more than defeat means truth.

Belief and faith just are, those parts of the human experience that impels us beyond the simple arithmetic of winning or losing.

We watched Serenity last night and I was struck by how Joss wove the importance of believing into the plot. Shepherd tells Mal that it's not so much what you believe in, as that you believe at all. “Only one thing is gonna walk you through this, Mal. Belief,” he says.

I think The Operative 'let' the Serenity crew go because Mal showed him that their convictions were not really that far apart, that the Operative had in a sense been used because of his belief in a better world, in order to let chaos go unchecked. I really appreciate that Joss puts in a sense of grudging respect between the two, one held tenuous because they both know that their beliefs might lead them on opposite sides of the battlefield again.

The movie still breaks my heart, though, and we had to skip one particular part to make it manageable. I love the story, though, the characters and mostly the story about Firefly's resurrection - strength of community shown at its best.



Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald


Because Sometimes I Write Poetry Before I Fall Asleep

The Night Sink

Drip. Drop.
Drop. Drip. Drip.

drop. Drip,
drip. Drop, drop.

droppity, droppity,
drippity, droppity, splat!

Tap. Tap.
Jiggle. Grumble. Tap!

(...) Drip. (...)

Drip. Drop.
Drippity. Droppity. Splat!


Vain Attempts at Practicality

Margaret writes:

Asian parents do not want to let their kids become rock stars, because the future is uncertain. But isn't everyone's? We all live in uncertainty, we don't even know where our next breath is coming from. Why bother with vain attempts at practicality?

Still, it is hard to argue with the overwhelming finality of an immigrant parent's resolve. There is something about their unwavering stance that makes us want to abandon our dreams rather than oppose them. We look at white kids with guarded jealousy, because we assume they are "free to be you and me" while we toil under the blazing hot sun of expectation. As we offer up our lives to guilt rather than satisfaction, our Asian American mouths are filled with bitterness, which slowly sets and hardens into regret, as we remain another generation invisible outside the worlds of medicine, money and computers.

Choosing to make art is a kind of soul-retrieval, of recognizing the ossified Self as illusion, payment for family harmony, yet as unreal as any gollum or changeling can be (with all due respect, of course, to Gollums and Changelings who are altogether different than the thing of which I speak). Perhaps that is why it feels so familiar yet such a strain to make art, be Art. The bilocation of the spirit, the Soul Walk, drummed from instinct rather than from within the safety of an elder's circle, spins the mind and upturns emotion. Are we outside ourselves trying to get back in or outside looking for our Self?

The process of compromise is shrinking, the replacement of flesh with stone deposited with good intentions - the preservation of something precious. Like Box in Logan's Run who no longer preserves fish and sea plants, but people trying to escape the City, to find Sanctuary. Their drive to be free is sacred and in a misconception of the Sacred, Box represents the drive to preserve that sacredness in the stillness of ice, effectively killing it and undoing the purpose of holding things sacred.

Growing, moving beyond the preserving acts of our parents is at once disloyal and affirming of their own hope for a better life. It is acknowledgement that the world is not safe and defiance in the face of uncertainty. This is why Art is a Sacred thing, for it touches on a mystery beyond our social structures, links us with That Which Is, Was, and Will Be after all the things we humans make are gone. Our tiny kingdoms with which we gamble our lives and the lives of others are by no means insignificant, but they are limited. And it is in the space of Limitlessness where Art exists, where our True-ness thrives.

It is Grace. It is Love. And Art our dance with It.


Now Appearing

The Sea Has Wings is now appearing on Haruah and is beautifully illustrated by photographer Jan Cornelis Loenen, Chie's husband.

I am grateful to Barbara for her mentorship on the poem and Chie for her constant support.

Also, deep thanks to St. Jude for prayers answered and Ernesto for the 'unique' idea (*wink*).



Be an earth angel, and look for love behind the actions of everyone you meet today. Whenever you look for love, you will always find it.

-Doreen Virtue


Words Expressed - Pagdiriwang 2006

When Oliver mentioned that he would be attending the Pagidiriwang Fest in Seattle, of course I beat feet down to the Center House to check things out.

Coordinators Maria Batayola and Robert Francis Flor put together an impressive lineup of writers:

From the left - Toni Bajado, Lawney Reyes, Peter Bacho, Rick Barot, and Maria Batayola.

I was late arriving to the event owing, not so much to Pinoy time (which was surprisingly absent - the entire event was scheduled for 10:30 am and /it started at 10:30 am/. I was totally thrown off!), but to being unable to navigate the upper rooms of the Center House. I wandered the halls looking for Conference Room B for about 15 minutes until I finally arrived halfway through Toni Bajado's reading. Still flustered from being lost and late, I unfortunately do not remember her writing so much as the quality of her voice, gentle and insistent.

I'm hoping to find a copy of Lawney Reyes' White Grizzly Bear's Legacy. Lonnie is a Colville-Pinoy and related to us that he didn't know about his Filpino ancestry until later in life. He always figured his father was just from another tribe across the river from Spokane.

Peter Bacho picked up on the theme of Indo-Pinoys with his reading from his new book Entries. In the entry he read to us, he spoke of the last cavalry charge of the Philippine Scouts during WWII. Quite fitting as the earlier opening ceremonies honored the Filipino WWII who are still living. My grandfather was part of that last charge and is something I hope to write about soon.

Oliver had told me about Rick Barot, so it was good to finally hear him read. It was cool to have the only two Pinoy Poetry Faculty in Washington State at the same reading. His imagery in "At Point Reyes" was clean and vivid with such lines as "Among the seaweed were finger bones/of driftwood, some feathers, flame-blue." Next door to the writers, though, they were celebrating the WWII vets with loud song, making it really hard for Rick to read. When they finally quieted down, Maria made him do an encore to make up for it.

Maria was definitely the ringleader/mother hen of the group, mostly known for her playwrighting, but reading from her poetry book-seeking-a-publisher. I had a good chat with her later in the day about performance storytellers and the need to connect Pinoy writers in Washington more strongly.

From the left: Robert Francis Flor, Oscar Penaranda, Oliver dela Paz, Geronimo Tagatac, and R. Romea Luminarias

Robert Flor was our MC for the event, and from the stories of the other writers, the chief invitor. He's another playwright/poet with a deep history with the Filipino community of Seattle. His poem "The Plagues" cut to the heart of living/working in the seedier areas of Central Seattle, an area quite different from the suburban life I lived in Federal Way.

I was surprised and happy to see Oscar again, thinking it wonderful that he had travelled so far to attend the event. He read a section of Seasons by the Bay with a long preamble that marks as much his personality as his writing. I cornered him later to ask about whether the Filipinos on the Manila Galleons were slaves, and though not bought and sold, he said that conscription was not much better than slavery.

Finally, Oliver read both from Names Above Houses and from Furious Lullaby, in addition to some newer work. Oliver's work builds on layers of images, creating scenes from strong nouns stacked one on top of the other. Like Rick's work, Oliver's poems are ones to be read again and again, savored and explored over time, adding yet more books to my "Must Get Soon" list already happily burdened by other terrific authors.

We were well past two hours of continual reading by the time Geronimo and R.Romea read, and I admit that by the time of their readings, my brain was quite exhausted. Geronimo's novel Weight of the Sun appears to have that blending of character and environment that I try to put into my own work. R.Romea on the other hand writes protest poetry with a gentle hand, an unlikely, but very effective marriage of activism and artistry. We spoke later in the day and when he found out I wrote, he asked to read my work, and I was thankful to have something to offer on Haruah.

After the readings was a panel discussion which I missed. I had abandoned my family to wander the festival earlier and was afraid they were bored to tears. Instead, I found them quite happy watching the dance performances and checking out the food booths.

Other glimpses from the Festival:

Ringing the bell 108 times for Philippine Independence day.

Pandango Sa Ilaw is one of my favorite traditional dances.

Described as "Recycled Teenagers," these gals showed the young ones how it's really done.

The Vets, though, were the stars of the day. I hope to interview them over the coming months for my oral-history-project-in-progress.


Hay(na)ku Brilliance

Hypertext lit is a tricky proposition merging art with technology while bending our perceptions of Authorial Intent, Reader Response, and Linearity.

The possibilities for creating new and complex forms of art, though, are endless, but require a quality of courage and flexibility often rare.

It's a brilliant thing, then to find The Jainaku Project emerge and grow.

Brilliant and inspiring. Congratulations, Ernesto!


Un-Comfortably Numb

There's wisdom there in Joy Harjo's words...then again, I usually find wisdom in Joy's words, so it's really not surprising.

But there were a few things that struck me about this entry - about how being human is a creative art and how sometimes the creativity required to be a human-in-change is overwhelming, that we need something to help us get past our Stuckness, which is really a tension between our resistance to change, our fear that we lack the strength to change and the inevitiblity of change/growth.

Joy speaks of her own weakness at human-making, self-making, creatively approaching Beingness, yet is grateful for the graces in her life - nesting birds, good stories, jokes, and other beautiful, seemingly transient things.

Which brought me back to more Barry Lopez who wrote the introduction to the Best American Spiritual Writing 2005. He spoke of reverence as being the hallmark of spiritual writing, a reverence that puts things back into perspective, where growth/change is part of living which then put in mind of Chie's column in Haruah.

My mind wanders...

Stories..with characters who are somehow stuck, who find reverence for change, while defeating an ancient evil, or at least keeping it at bay. Allowing for choice, which is freedom after all. 'Cause we all need to know we're growing.

Yep...so what's the sticking point for my character?