Category Archives: 2017 Project

Why I Stay in New York

I’m back! This post took me over a month to have the courage to publish. I struggled to be gentle, tender and loving to myself as I wrote this as I’m baring the current status of my soul to you, lovely readers, so please, be gentle. 

I unintentionally took a break from my #2017Project during the month of April. March had been full as I curated daily content for the Reclaiming #WalangHiya digital platform. When April came, I didn’t do a great job of setting aside intentional writing time. That, and a lot happened.

Winter, Lent and Easter came and went. I gave up alcohol for Lent. I spent time confronting myself through daily reflection. I decided to enter a committed monogamous relationship. I worked every weekend. I went to Atlanta for the first time and for my first work conference. I started job searching, got an offer, accepted another offer, put my two weeks in and worked my last day last week. In the midst of all this, I experienced intense anxiety and a few mental breakdowns. At one point, I started to tell my friends that I was ready to return to the West Coast. Now, I’m starting to wrap my head around the fact that I am staying longer in New York than I initially expected.

While I was discerning over whether to stay in New York or go home, my good friend and beloved editor, Mary paused me to mull over the following: 1) when life gets difficult, I have a habit of saying I’m going to return to the West Coast, and 2) something seems to keep me here in New York. It doesn’t seem or feel like I’m ready to leave simply because I’m saying I want to move back to the West Coast during a period of desolation.

And despite my anxiety, stress and frustration at the time, I knew Mary was right. Continue reading

Reclaiming #WalangHiya: Brown Girls Sing [Song]

Note from AnneMarie: This post marks the first collection of voices Reclaiming #WalangHiya in honor of #WomxnsHistoryMonth2017. This is only the beginning. Learn more about collaborating and contributing to Formation of a Filipinx American.

I wrote this song as an homage to the revolutionary songs of the Philippines specifically, “Bayan Ko.” I think Pinays exemplified by the women in my family specifically, carry a resilience that has kept my family together for generations, and it always seemed so magical to me. I wrote this song to honor the women in my family, and to remind them as well as myself, that in world of the white male gaze, we have so much to offer.

Continue reading

Reclaiming #WalangHiya: Back to Basics

Six years ago, I met one of my dearest white friends. We met in a new mommies group. We both had newborns. She was talking about Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil.

“It’s poison…!”

I looked at her. She has everything I want. Confidence, charisma, beauty and brains.

“…and who uses Vaseline? Especially on their baby! It’s made from PA-troll-eeee-um. You might as well stick that baby in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP spill!”

I listened intently but I was stunned. I had been slathering my newborn son in some sort of organic aloe, vegan beeswax, sunflower seed oil with calming camomile. I knew that my son was going to be alright. I’m not going to expose him to that! Continue reading

#WalangHiya: Let’s Write New Stories

 (Inspired by an advice column, naturally.)

I am in incredible pain.
And I think I have been for a while now.
And I am ashamed of it.

I have not yet forgiven myself for the things that have happened to me.
I have not yet been able to accept that those things are not my fault.
I have not yet been able to believe that those things are fated to happen again.
I have not yet been able to see that those things have happened because of how much (or how little) I’m worth.

I used to read a lot of stories growing up to understand reality as much as I did to escape it. Stories kept me company, gave me warmth, filled me up at times when I most needed them to. It allowed me to give those things to myself.

But now instead I tell myself all kinds of stories—stories I’ve read, stories I’ve experienced, stories I’ve made up in my head, stories people have told me—all that tell me that I am not worthy. It’s clearer now why I have more difficulty sitting down to read stories that contradict the ones I’ve made up in my head.

This is not about me living without shame.
This is me learning how to go there. Continue reading

Why I Speak English

The idea behind “English” was from an earlier poem I wrote called “Dad,” [comma intended] which was written in June 2013 for a writing workshop and open mic leading up to Queer pride.  The prompt was to write a letter to your dad, in light of father’s day.

In 2010, I was a first year at CUNY Hunter College.  I joined Pilipinos of Hunter (POH), to be part of a Filipino community.  I participated in a workshop called “Personal Migration” which was given by GABRIELA New York to see how our personal stories of migration are actually a part of the larger history of migration from the Philippines to the US.  The workshop made participants reflect on the attitudes, beliefs, and actions that our immigrant families have that are shaped by US imperialism’s domination over the politics, economy, military and culture of our people in the Philippines.

After that workshop, I began my journey to discover more about my roots by having conversations with my parents.  One day, I asked why my siblings and I did not grow up speaking Tagalog.  The question came from my wanting to connect with my dad who  spoke and understood English, but could not express himself as completely as he could in his dialect.  It was then that I found out that my older brother had speech problems at an age where you should already start speaking. It was concerning to my parents because my sister and I were already reading and talking and my brother, being the eldest out of the 3 of us, was not.  At the time, my parents were actually teaching us both English and Tagalog, so there was a short amount of time that I spoke and understood it as a child.  But because my brother was still having trouble speaking, the doctor said to to teach only one language to us so it wouldn’t be confusing. Continue reading