Archive for Journal

Banned Books Week 

It's Banned Books Week this last week of September and I just remember back when I was still teaching literature in our conservative provincial town.  In my first year of teaching, right after I just graduated from a university known for activism and left-wing ideologies, there would be senior professors listening in while they unsuccessfully hide behind the walls and windows of my classroom. As I encouraged students to think critically about their gender roles, social equality, freedom of expression & religion, and introduce some age-appropriate concepts from Western philosophical views and pushed books that are on this 'Banned Book' list which have themes too big and far modern back then for our town and probably even now, I was aware of the career risks I was taking but somehow I endured.  Seven years in the academe, more than a decade ago. I wish I can go back in that classroom and do so much more ... And maybe invite those professors who hid behind the wall to my class 😁 Teacher forever 🤓 What is Banned Book Week? Why do we celebrate it. Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books and highlights persecuted individuals. Held during the last week of September since 1982, the United States campaign "stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them"and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. ( Wikipedia) Here's some list and check what you have read.  American Library Association List Banned Books That Shaped America America's Most Surprising Banned Books And here's an article by Michael Tan in Philippine Daily Inquirer about banned books. Michael Tan article

Grace Nono Brings Tribal Chants & Music to NYC

Grace Nono with ensemble comprised of Bo Razon, Faisal Monal and Charles Wandag brought Philippine chants and music at the Asian History Museum last  October 29. It was a great month ender for the Filipino Heritage Month of October.
Grace Nono's interpretation of indigenous music from pre-Islamic and pre-Christian times is soul wrenching and captivating. Music then was part of everyday life. It's entrenched in religion, tradition, daily chores, festivities and rituals so experiencing it LIVE and performed by actual artists who hailed from the near-extinct Philippine tribes was an amazing spiritual experience. My male friend, a closet poet and activist, was teary eyed early in the show. He said he cried because the gongs and hegalong reminded him of the lost and beautiful culture we had before the colonizers came. I was weepy too but for a different reason. For a few minutes while listening to a Maguindanao chant and in between goose bumps and an unusual heavy feeling evoked by the ancient music, all that is beautiful and ugly about the Philippines came rushing back to me. I saw our rainforests and mountains, its rivers, animals, the illegal loggers. I sniffed the sampaguita florets of May, touched the shoreline of our warm, sandy beaches. I tasted the tears of children forced into prostitution/labor and I crossed the traffic-ridden and grimy streets of Quiapo again like it is not thousands of miles away. It was surreal! I am so glad to have been there last night. Thanks Grace Nono for musicians like you! This is the type of music we should keep alive and treasure because it is ours.   

Grace Nono, Faisal Monal and Charles Wandag

   On a side note, I'm also thankful to my Alma Mater, UP Diliman. I first saw Grace and another ethnomusician, Joey Ayala way back in college. In fact, all that I like, love, support and do stemmed from that unique UP Diliman culture and experience. If it weren't for that University I will be content watching prime time shows on TV, and youtubing past episodes of the original PSY series starring my fave hunk, Echo and Tin. And I still do quite often. Lol. It's not so bad.  The bottom line is I am grateful and proud to be from UP Diliman like Ms. Grace Nono. Thank you Philippine tax payers for paying our tuition. Forever grateful 😉🇵🇭    Here is the YouTube link for the video I took of the show. Click the link below. Grace Nono in NYC, October 30, 2015 The compiled videos are just tidbits of my shameless unofficial recording of Grace Nono's performance. There will be  two bobbing heads and stretching arms as I sit on the second row. I'm guilty and not guilty at the same time. I felt like I need to keep a piece of it with me. The first 3 chants with the Maguindanao gong ensemble was not captured at all because at that time I was in a trance-like mood I didn't realize I wasn't taking videos at all. I hope they do more shows in the future. This is what an expat soul needs from time to time.

Poetry Contribution: Unspoken

UNSPOKEN by Red S   Was I floating? When I saw you In a dream. Your face, your hair That disarming smile Still the same As years ago. The sands of time Blown away Surfacing feelings Hidden within. Unspoken emotions Of truths we feared And choose to bury in ourselves. Vividly I see On that moonlit night When we held our hands And gazed upon our faces When we walked away Leaving emotions stirring Within our hearts Forever left unspoken. Shared to IlocanoYork and penned by Red S, 2007

Downton Abbey Season 4 Preview with Cast and Creator Julianne Fellowes

20131213-004131.jpg TO WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION FOLLOW THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwsRuTgVots 20131213-004148.jpg   TO WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION FOLLOW THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwsRuTgVots     20131213-004158.jpg 20131213-004218.jpg I have always been fond of period drama in literature and film. So naturally, even if I'm not a TV fan I followed the entire 3 seasons of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime. After finding out that there was a Downton Abbey truck going around Manhattan with maids and butlers dressed in period costumes serving tea and biscuits to fans, I made it a point to look for it. Tonight the truck was parked in front of the Times Building on 41st St. between 7th and 8th avenues. The original plan was to be served tea and biscuits by costumed actors only but we got a nicer surprise! Already there ahead of us were Ted and Sheryl Reyes who found out that the entire cast was actually right where we were! We didn't have tickets to the event but in just 5 minutes of waiting we were eventually let in. By pure serendipitous luck, all four of us got in and enjoyed a pre-show cocktail and hors d'oeuvers with waitstaff wearing 1920s fashion. The first part was a showing of the maiden episode of Season 4 that was immediately followed by a Q & A. The characters present were Lord Grantham, Lady Edith, Branson, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs, Patmore, Branson and Thomas (my fave!). The writer and genius behind the show, Julian Fellowes, was also at the event. Great night! 20131213-004343.jpg 20131213-004334.jpg   TO WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION FOLLOW THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwsRuTgVots     20131213-004309.jpg 20131213-004242.jpg 20131213-004547.jpg TO WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION FOLLOW THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwsRuTgVots      

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My thoughts were stolen Before they were words on my lips. How could that happen? Was it thievery, if it felt good?

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Graffiti Art: Banksy & 5 Pointz

October 20, 2013. Today, my friend Nina and Cath went graffiti hunting in 3 boroughs of NYC to visit well-known graffiti sites. First stop: 5 Pointz, Long Island City in Queens. Considered the graffiti mecca, this site is facing demolition soon to give way to two apartment complex. Here are pictures from our visit: 20131021-185127.jpg 20131021-185154.jpg

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Next Stop: BANKSY!

It is a very exciting for Banksy admirers this month. The anonymous British graffiti artist is going around town and leaving the brand of artwork he is known for, plus more!

At Highline, 2 Banksy paintings have been in exhibit since Thursday last week. Today (October 20) is also the last day  of the art installation under the Highline Park at 24th Street and 10th Avenue. This is unusual because the artwork is guarded 24/7 and studio-made, so unlike Banksy's most popular works.

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Then at a dead end street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, his celebrated '2 geishas crossing a bridge' graffiti has been covered in plexi-glass and enclosed in a gate by the owner after realizing the value of the graffiti.

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BEFORE and AFTER of the 2 geishas crossing the bridge

At a roundabout road in Woodside, Queens his work has been defaced barely a week after it was done. This is close to Krystal's, a popular Filipino restaurant on 69th Street.

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This one is at the corner of Delancey and Bowery streets in Lower East Side, Manhattan. Banksy's works are also political and social commentaries so when I was looking at this graffiti I was trying to understand what Banksy was showing. I didn't understand what it meant until my friend Nina read in an article that this graffiti is a snide remark on the quality of musicals in NYC.

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We also visited old Banksy favorites from years ago and found out that the works are no longer there. Here's the site of the 'girl skipping rope' in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (2007?).  I looked closely, and I saw the fading green rope under the wooden seats. The building is now an entrance to a private art gallery.

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Here's another Banksy in Willimsburg, Brooklyn that has been painted over. This picture was taken in 2010.

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Banksy is not done yet. He will be in NYC for the next 9 days. So watch out for more Banksy treasures coming next to your neighborhood! It might even be in your building. You never know!

(All pictures are all taken using an Iphone 5.)

ABS-CBN 2013 Christmas Station ID Shoot in NYC (the story behind the scenes)

When I was invited by a friend (Ms. Luchie DR) I didn't hesitate. We knew it was not a paid gig but the experience of working side-by-side (literally!) with THE Lea Salonga was priceless!

After I excitedly told my mom that I'll be part of a small group of background artists for the ABS-CBN station ID filming at Times Square, her first response was, " ... But you can't carry a tune." And she's right.

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SIDE NOTE. Thanks, ABS-CBN US correspondent Don Tagala.

In yet another facetime session with my mom that happened after the filming of the station ID, I jested, "See I told you, I get to sing with Lea. I performed a song and dance in Broadway district so you already have a daughter who is a Broadway performer." Always the bluntly honest one she answered without malice, "With all the ABS-CBN stars your face might not even be included in the final cut." Hahaha ... True!

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But what the heck, Lea Salonga is Lea Salonga! It was the experience and the thrill of doing things so unique and so New York. Memorizing the lines was challenging and singing was humbling...  Pretending to sing was very difficult acting!  Although we knew only the images will be used we were told that they might use the actual sound recording for the news.

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Let me write about Lea. That day she was the only one wearing red as we were given explicit instructions to wear bright holiday colors and never black, brown, red and earth colors. A lot of us had to shop for candy-colored outfits because in New York it is the norm to dress in muted colors. She arrived at 7:45am, just after daybreak and found us already rehearsed for our call time was at 6:00 am. Leah arrived with her 2 assistants, a stylist and her sister, from her apartment at West 54th Street. Like us she was worried she might forget her singing lines.

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This experience goes to my alkansya of special memories!

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Above picture was taken in 2011 at the after party of the Fil-Am Broadway Stars Concert at Lincoln Center in 2011. Below is a picture taken at the 2013 ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID.

Be A Proud Speaker of Your Regional Dialect

Filipinos are lucky to be surrounded by numerous linguistic communities. Take advantage of this exposure! Let yourself and the children acquire the vernacular and the family language. It is never wise to inhibit the learning of another language even if it may be deemed as 'bakya'. A regional language or dialect is as important as the major and popular languages because aside from the sheer joy and cultural benefits of knowing another language, the exposure to any linguistic system creates a map for the future learning of other languages. The brain can accommodate more than we can imagine, but only if we allow it.

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE TODAY! Promote your regional dialects wherever you are in the world!

lovethywika

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Ilocano York is an advocate of ethnic empowerment and promotion of regional languages and dialects of the Philippines.

NOLITA: My Favorite Neighborhood in New York

NOLITA (acronym for North of Little Italy) is my most favorite spot in New York and I have a song for it!

NOLITA is the area bounded by Broome, Spring, LaFayette and Elizabeth streets in Downtown Manhattan. I lived in this area for some time and these were among the happiest days of my life.

 Map of NOLITA
Map of NOLITA
    The song is composed and sung by Vanessa Carlton who also once lived in the same neighborhood. The video is shot on location at NOLITA and NOHO (North of Houston). CLICK HERE FOR THE  ==> NOLITA FAIRYTALE VIDEO COMPLETE LYRICS I know, you know, we don't see We sow our truth, wait patiently I walk the streets with a song in my head We ebb and we flow so Got my toes on my pup at the foot of my bed My heart always seems to know Now take the glitz back, I want the soul instead 'Cause I found some kind of fairytale I used to hover outside my truth Always worry of what I'd lose Take away my record deal Go on, I don't need it Spent the last two years getting to what's real And now I can see so clear I hope you feel just like I feel I found some kind of fairytale Want a garden by the ocean tide Because I lose my way searching for stage lights Well, Stevie knows and I thank her so 'Cause it's your seeds I sow and now I know Nolita, flat on rent control, that's the life I choose And you drag me to the fashion show The poses that I see through The movies in the afternoon 'Cause I found some kind of fairy, tale, hey Nolita Fairytale (Ba da da da da da, ba da da da da da) Nolita Fairytale (Ba da da da da da, ba da da da da da) CLICK HERE FOR THE  ==> NOLITA FAIRYTALE VIDEO

Orient Beach Trail: A Different Kind of Hike

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Posing in front of the Big Lighthouse, a fully operational state-facility with a vast history starting from the late 1800s.

 

The place is one of a kind! In the middle of the long narrow beach are alternating marshlands filled with contrasting live green and withered gray pine trees that create an eerie yet enchanting feel. On the left side is Gardiner Bay and a great view of famous Shelter Island. Where there is no marshland are patches of cactus and other desert plants. On its right are several natural salt ponds that are teeming with life: sea gulls, ospreys, edible seaweeds (gurgurmot) and different varieties of shell fishes such as hermits, horseshoe crabs, clams, alimango, alimasag, etc ... There are also small ponds and swamps. This is a strip of land that can't decide what it wants to be. Parang Baguio na La Union, Pangasinan, Batangas at Ilocos all in one.

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Nature-polished stones cover the entire beach. The island is so narrow that one can walk it for ten minutes from west to east. It is so long that it took us 5 hours to walk its entire length from trailhead to the tip and then back.

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Gallery Photos by Henry Medrano, Yolly Guese and Myrna Chua From Orient Beach, Suffolk Country in Long Island, NY.