Archive for Reflections

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

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      

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

Ilocano Songs in New Apple Radio

After updating my mobile to the new iOS 7, the first thing I checked was the music icon. Being a big fan of Pandora, a predictive and automated music service that plays songs based on artists and songs initially chosen by a particular user, I was so happy to see that Apple came out with their own version of online radio that is somewhat similar to Pandora. After trying it out, I think iTunes radio is one step better than Pandora because of its extended list of songs that included OPMs, Filipino singers/bands (and even novelty singers like Yoyoy Villame) and surprisingly, songs in some other Philippine languages including ILOCANO. I made a station for 'Nagimas Kan Mayang' by the Bukros Brothers and the first song that iTunes radio played was 'Biag Ko Sika Lamang'. It was followed by Nora Aunor's cover of Pearly Shell. The picture of the album showed Nora and Tirso in their younger years. I skipped. Next was April Boy Regino 'Paano ang Puso Ko'. I skipped again. Then 'Anak' by Freddie Aguilar. It was followed by a certain Kris Lawrence singing 'Kung Malaya Lang Ako'. I skipped the third time. The next song was 'A Thousand Years'. I didn't order for an English language song so I skipped again. This is when I found out that one can only skip 4 times. I created another station and it has pre-selected 'Ligaya' by the Eraserheads station and Cooky Chua's Color It Red is in iTunes radio as well. Oh my gulay! Try it out and be surprised!

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Hiking at Breakneck Ridge

Last Saturday I spent the entire day hiking one of New York's best hiking trails, the Breakneck Ridge mountain. After a 5-hour long trek, my group went to nearby Little Stony Point where there is a hidden beach with fantastic views of the Hudson River and its surrounding mountains. I have been coming back to this trail for the past 3 years and I plan to return for as long as time and my physical condition will allow me.

This year I didn't go home unscathed. My legs have a lot of bruises and scratches. Yet despite my aches, my spirit is refreshed and I came home renewed.

My Breakneck Ridge annual hike is now my favorite metaphor for life. While scaling boulders with daunting cliffs behind me, I was reminded how gripping fear worsens an already difficult situation. Watching my friends ramble through gorges showed me how a right attitude / approach defeat all other obstacles and limitations. And as I look at a heavier friend successfully climb; I again saw how confidence can be the best tool in carrying one's entire weight in one haul. Until next time!

To those interested, you may email me at kairoscoordinator@gmail.com to join my u[coming 2013 Fall Hike.

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Stumbling on JOSE GARCIA VILLA in Greenwich Village

Yesterday, in one of my quests to illuminate a Fil-American about her very rich heritage, my focus was showing her the poems of the Filipino writer/poet and National Artist for Literature Jose Garcia Villa who once roamed Greenwich Village, NY. In my online search, I accidentally found out that when he died in 1997 he was interred at Our Lady of Pompei Church, now my chosen parish Church in NYC. Trivial as it may be to some, I find it absolutely stunning! One of my greatest literary-historical moments ever! I wish I could retrace his steps in Greenwich Village and actually create a JG Villa Tour for Pinoys and literary lovers! Dreams!

Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/08/classified/paid-notice-deaths-villa-jose-garcia.html

Also a literature guzzler, Atty. Mitzi Arao checks out JG Villa's death registry at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village. Mitzi, also an Ilocano, is Ilocano York's classmate in numerous comparative literature courses at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Also a literature guzzler, Atty. Mitzi Arao checks out JG Villa's death registry at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village. Mitzi, also an Ilocano, is Ilocano York's classmate in numerous comparative literature courses at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Anyone who knows Prof. Luis Francia's contact information?

Empty Bowl

I started my early evening calling friends to check if they can have dinner with me somewhere in Manhattan. No one was available so I went home and ended up spending time with a surprisingly enjoyable company ... myself. The dinner was a bowl of homemade sinigang na baboy.

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Blood

Blood Today, dear Victoria , I bleed. My feelings are beyond any grief Old wounds still left unhealed Much more sore than before, it's sick. Scarlet blood flows freely, Like water rushing without a course. Carving new wounds, it hurts. Red blood gushes, to where, I don't know. Pain cuts deep in my memory In ugly crevices I've never seen Probing further, slowly stealing my verve I am bleeding badly, it kills. Blood, sweet Victoria, is life. Red, hot, warm, so alive. If my bleeding means I'm up Then blood, just flow out, I'd be glad. 2007, NYC