All posts filed under: Philippines

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, …

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 …

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 …

One Beauty Queen & Eight Dead Tourists

If one question were to define the character of your people and if two events were to be pivotal in defining the character of your nation – what question and what events would you choose? Maria Venus Raj, 22-year-old Miss Philippines contender for the Miss Universe crown, likely did not anticipate she would be at the center of the above-mentioned situations. The question that became a character definition, not only for her but for her entire country mates, was whether she had committed a big mistake and what she did to correct it. Ms. Raj replied candidly that she’d never had a major, major problem and thanked her family for guiding her – not in perfect English, granted, but neither unintelligible nor incomprehensible either. I’ve heard worse from winners and losers alike.  Ms. Raj placed fourth and thereby became the object of intense criticism, and a cause for a general self-abnegation on her country people’s part, as if she herself, not the judges, chose Miss Mexico for the title. Or as though this was and will …

All Hail To the Goddess Ostara

Or Eastre – from which the words Easter and estrogen spring, and from whose rites –started sometime in 500 BC — comes the egg, the ultimate fertility symbol. Nanny used to wake me early Easter Sunday as the church bells rang and make me jump up and down on the bed so I’d grow really tall. I think she had dreams of raising a basketball star. Huge disappointment. I didn’t even get to tall. Lent seems to grow bloodier and bloodier in the Philippines which spewed out gory images of flagellants shredding their backs to ribbons with thorny whips, of 25 people, including one woman, who had themselves crucified. Government issued an edict banning foreigners from crucifying themselves – and why not? – thus tacitly saying that only the local lower classes may do so. STGdess, the idea that those who already suffer on a daily basis should corporeally punish themselves more and terribly one day of each year just does not compute to my mind. I don’t see the rich self-flagellating or nailing themselves …