Author: Ninotchka

The A/P/A FEMINIST LEGACY

Partly because of the extreme pressure brought by racism to our communities, many of our activists felt duty-bound to support and protect our male leadership without question.  I remember being in a round table discussion with female Asian American activists and hearing, “we have to support our brothers no matter what…”  It took us several years to formulate a response to that one, “we are sisters to him who is a brother to us;  sisters to her who is a sister to us” – thus demarcating the difference between those who would exploit our womanhood and those who would be our allies in our fight for our emancipation.

MY DEAR YOUNG LADY

1 Please do not   disturb My dear young lady who Walks the streets Holding up A sunflower of a placard She does not sell Herself But is sold By political pimps Nevertheless. 2 Please Do not disturb My dear young lady Who tells/told Her own story Defiant As Sita Tiring Of tiresome Political pimps Demands That Earth swallow her In revolt. 3 Please do not disturb My dear young lady Who Greets the surreptitious swelling Sea With a crown of badjao boats Keen as grass blades Spearing the light Braiding the waves. 4 Please do not disturb My dear young lady She weaves of reeds — blue, yellow and purple – A mat of magic words To sail to the nursery of stars The birthing place of worlds   Her ovaries teem with life Indestructible Impervious to Dictators Demagogues False prophets of gods (and politics) Who themselves suck Strength Power Vindication From vast-vulva-bearing trolls Hashtag:  Irony 5 Please do not disturb My dear young lady She brews a dirge For the forgotten But not …

Afternoon Talk at the Kamuning Bakery

The full text of the talk from which this segment was taken will be available via the premium pages of this website, under the title “Saudade/Sehnsucht:  The Arrow of Time, Self-Imagery and the Faraway”     Thank you for coming and giving me the honor of your company.  It is certainly a Sunday afternoon delight to see familiar faces and new faces and faces with a history I share—all of us joined in a contemplation of literature and pan de sal. I must confess I was thoroughly entranced when Wilson—may I be on first name basis with you, Mr. Flores?—when he proposed that I speak here, amidst the bread and the cakes and our historic delectation, the pan de sal. • • • WHAT MEMORIES ARE LINKED to this amazing and yet simple bread of salt: early mornings and cockcrows and the wind whistling through mango leaves.  We do have pan de sal in New York City—but it is not the same.  What we transpose to other lands and other climes are never the same, …

PTSD

THE UNBEARABLE MOOD SNEAKED IN like a winter cold on a sunny day. The beginning was almost like a game, another one played by state forces on sullied individuals. The Philippines had approved, finally, almost three decades after the overthrow of the Marcos Dictatorship, that those who had suffered human rights violations would be compensated from Marcos accounts seized from a Swiss bank. The top compensation would be half a million pesos—at current rates, about $10,600. Yes, this was the first quirk thing that occurred; computations of the ridiculous running through my head . Twenty-eight years meant 336 months meant a $32.00 per month payment for waiting for rectification of a vast wrong. Nevertheless, one took one’s courage in hand and downloaded the forms required to apply for compensation. A kind of reluctance made me do it only during the last weeks of the deadline for applications. The printer spewed out the forms and with a morbid cheerfulness, one proceeded to fill in the blanks—until one got to this portion: HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS (Please check …

When Extradition is Tantamount to Trafficking

FRIDAY, OCT. 19, 40-year-old Grace Grande surrendered to the Los Angeles Attorney General’s office; she faces extradition hearings, based on a request from the Philippine government to the U.S. State Department.  The request alleges that Grande “stole” jewelry worth around $43,000 from a Nancy Manlangit, an employee of Philippine Congressman Patrick Antonio, with whom Ms. Grande had a 10-year relationship and by whom she has two sons. During that decade, Grande and her sons lived on the “down-low,” because the congressman was married. In 2007, the year the alleged theft took place, Grande had decided to end the relationship and left for the U.S. What circumstance made Grande accept the life of a mistress–a querida or kabit in Philippine parlance–is no longer germane. A querida (which, ironically, is Spanish for beloved) has even less rights than a concubine, who is at least integrated into the patriarchal household.  The querida lives apart, often in isolation and surrounded by secrecy, with the man as the center of her life. He visits when he pleases; she is an …

Political Friction/Fiction

THE THEME OF OUR PANEL is from Hugo Chavez’s 2009 declaration at the Via Campesina conference in Brazil.  (Audience member said this was actually at the World Social Forum;  I checked and it was but the event was sponsored by the Via Campesina.) “True socialism,” he said,  “is feminist.” Three other Latin American presidents stood beside him:  from Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.  It was President Rafael Correa of Ecuador who amplified the Chavez declaration, by saying that unlike traditional socialism, 21st century socialism includes gender justice, ethnic justice and inter-generational justice.  These issues are often considered “soft issues” by those who perceive class as the main or predominant system of oppression/ exploitation in society. Despite this unequivocal declaration, those of us who work at the organizing of and advocacy for women continue to be at the receiving end of catcalls, continue to experience friction with other political groups and continue to be required to defend the ideological and political position we have taken.  These compel us to periodically examine the issue of intersectionality and why this …

It Was a Firefly

The opening of the novel The Synchrony Tree.   IT WAS A FIREFLY — dropped onto the palm of her left hand, her fingers curling at once into a warm cage of flesh. It was not a firefly. It was a tear, fallen lightly, and perched moistly in the center of the palm of her left hand. It was not a tear. It was a demand;  a demand of a promise of a Return, dropped like a warm sea pebble into the salty moist cage of her fingers. It was not a demand.  It was anticipation of a Return, a small light flashing with little shrieks of joy, warming the already warm cage the fingers of her hand made. It was in her mind now, as she skirted snow dunes at two in the morning, shivering in her gray thrift-shop overcoat, black rubber galoshes crunching ice crystals underfoot.  She was in departure, in flight actually, and that was why Return was in her mind, the heat of it, this arctic morning before dawn. She wished she were …

Short-Short Story

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had the national hero, Jose Rizal, who created the malevolent character Fr. Damaso in the book Noli Me Tangere, exhumed, propped up in the middle of Luneta Park, and shot by firing squad all over again.         [Copyright;  all rights reserved.]

“The Legend of Mayang Makiling” as told by Ylang-Ylang

An excerpt from the novel The Synchrony Tree: … THE ALIENS TOOK THE MOST COMMON NAME and called her that, to make her an everyday thing but her true name was Mayang Makiling, avatar of the mountain looming over the emerald land which would later be called Laguna, its name and hers lost from racial memory. Contrary to the way they described her, she was neither lissome nor fair nor wore a long skirt;  rather, she was stocky and not too tall, how else would the shrubs have been able to hide her?  But this was the way our old stories were revised to fit a slave mindset that made it amenable to conquest.  Mayang Makiling was brown-skinned, of that color we call kissed by the sun:  golden ochre, as it were. All she wore was a tapis, a cloth wrapped around the hips, ends knotted, a skirt that never loosened, never needed fixing no matter how much she moved and it was made of the gold hair of the sun and the silver hair …

The Day Manila Fell Silent..

IRONICALLY, THE MOST QUIET DAY IN MANILA of contemporary times began with noise: a loud pounding on the glass door of a penthouse apartment I was using at the time.  The friend who was hollering and shouting and bruising his knuckles on the glass, blurted out, as soon I slid the door open, “martial law na…[martial law already]”  A split second of silence;  then I pivoted and clicked on the radio.  Nothing but white noise.  Turned on the TV.   Nothing but a white screen and static.  Distraught friend said, “no TV, no radio station… everything’s closed down.”  We eyeballed each other.  The previous night’s last news item on TV flashed into my mind:  a still photo of a car, its roof collapsed, windshield shattered; a male voice saying that the car of the Secretary of National Defense had been attacked but he had not been in it… It was truncated news; I thought,  “what?  An empty car was bombed?”  As I was going to bed, I noticed that the government building behind our apartment building was all …