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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
Writing poetry and spoken has always been a HUGE part of my life and who I am. I was never able to really express my feelings, but when I put pen to paper, everything made sense. With my newest piece “Don’t You, Walang Hiya” I wanted to address and break the stigmas and stereotypes people have about Greek life, especially ethnic-based Greek organizations. This is only my point of view on the social issue, but someone’s gotta say something because I’m tired of being seen as one thing, when I represent something bigger than myself and the Greek letters I wear.
I have never been a dalagang pilipina, the ideal chaste, modest Maria Clara-esque maiden seen as the epitome of womanhood in the Pilipinx popular imagination, and neither has my mother. We’ve both been accused by past lovers of “wanting to wear the pants” and I know that at less-confident post-failed-relationship points in my adult life I’ve questioned my own femininity, wishing to be softer, less strong-willed, to shine more dimly (these thoughts never lasted long because, F*CK THAT). Because my mom’s relationships never worked out. Because I felt doomed to recreate her patterns. She always attributed our proclivity to quick tempers and drama to our “Spanish blood” – when in fact I now know it has nothing to do with the colonizers, and everything to do with the indigenous warrior blood that runs through our veins, giving us fire and a strong sense of justice, a love of freedom, the willingness to stand up and die for our beliefs, unconquerable, without shame, walang hiya. Continue reading →