Archive for English

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

Spoliarium,an opera about Juan Luna debuts October 1 in NYC

Enough said about the patriot Heneral Luna.  Antonio Luna's brother, Juan Luna also has an interesting controversy that rocked the 19th century Europe and the Philippines, a focal story of an opera that will be shown at Tribeca Performing Arts Center on October 1, 2 and 3. The opera, composed by Ryan Cayabyab with libretto by Fides Cuyugan, is directed by Anton Juan who was flown in by the production just for this opera.  

A scene taken from the rehearsal of the opera, 'Spoliarium'. The opera, composed by Ryan Cayabyab with a libretto by Fides Cuyugan, is directed by Anton Juan. The show promises to be another celebration of Pinoy talent in New York.

  The opera revolves around the expat life and love of Ilocano patriot and painter Juan Luna. Born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte and educated in Manila, Juan was sent to Europe to further pursue art studies. He settled in France and was married to Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera, a beautiful Spanish and Portuguese Philippine-born woman whose status and wealth was of esteem. As a painter Juan won awards and much acclaim. As a reformist, he worked with other foremost Filipino expats such as Jose Rizal, his brother Antonio Luna, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Pedro Paterno, Isabelo depot Reyes, Felix Hidalgo and other notable propagandists. Known in the Philippines as the 'illustrados', they were an elite group of Filipino expatriates in Europe whose aim was to increase Spanish awareness of the needs of its colony, Las Islas Filipinas. Juan was such a popular figure in Europe that even the King of Spain was among his friends. Yet despite his talent and social status, Juan was infamous for his violent temper like his general brother, Antonio. In a very publicized family drama in September 1984, Juan was in front pages of French newspapers for shooting his wife, mother and brother-in-laws in a fit of rage and jealousy. Only the brother-in-law and  a friend, Felix Pardo de Tavera, survived the tragic event. Everything was witnessed by his son, Andres.  

A Juan Luna painting, probably of his wife Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera

  Juan painted in the Renaissance tradition and his favorite subject and model was his slain wife. His most famous painting that won him awards is 'Spoliarium, an allegorical painting about injustices of the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines. This opera was named after this painting.   

Spoliarium, Juan Luna's masterpiece, currently hangs at the National Museum, Philippines.

  Notes About Production Director Anton Juan, started out in the University of the Philippines- Diliman and ultimately becoming its foremost theater professor whose mentorship produced numerous award-winning and critically acclaimed artists. Professor Juan has contributed significantly to and made an impact on the evolution of Philippine culture and drama. His influence and fame spans the world. Peter Holland writes: “Anton Juan is one of the most exhilarating directors in the world.” Juan’s moving poetic style has been seen and widely admired in the Philippines, in Asia, the USA, and Europe, not only as innovative and visually exciting, but also as merging inner space, movement, sound-sense, with the urgent cry for insularized, marginalized, and emergent cultures." Ryan Cayabyab is a prolific composer, musician, and conductor whose work include not just popular music of which he is wildly popular, but also spans full-length ballets, opera, theater musicals, choral pieces, and orchestral pieces, to commercial recordings of popular music, film scores and television specials. In the opera's gala night on October 3, production mentioned that Ryan Cayabyab will play as a guest musician. Fides Cuyugan Asencio, Spoliarium's librettist is an accomplished stage actress, opera star and then a long time voice mentor at the University of the Philippines College of Music. She stars as Sisa in the opera's Act 1. The show promises to be another showcase of Pinoy talent in New York. Tickets will be sold at the door or available online at SpoliariumNYC.com.  

photo by Troi Santos

  SOURCES and additional readings  Love That Kills, Ambeth Ocampo, http://opinion.inquirer.net/23057/love-that-kills. Anton Juan, Full Biography http://ftt.nd.edu/faculty-staff/faculty-staff-by-alpha/anthony-anton-m-juan-jr-ph-d/anton-juan---full-biography/ Ryan Cayabyab, Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_Cayabyab Fides Cuyugan Asencio, a Grand Dame of the Philippine Stage, http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/112129/fides-cuyugan-asensio-grand-dame-of-the-philippine-stage.

Zabb Elee, an Authentic Thai with a Michelin Star in Jackson Heights

Michelin stars doesn't always mean breaking the bank and a long wait to get a table in a well managed space in mostly posh locations in Manhattan. The 2014's 1-star Michelin list includes four Queens restaurants with one of them located just blocks away from the 'Little Manila' strip along Roosevelt Avenue. Zabb Elee, features Isan or Northeastern Thai cuisine that doesn't prominently feature the typical Thai menu items that are popular in the West. If one has an aversion to incredibly spicy foods, then this is not the place to eat. I ordered some items that reminded me of street foods I enjoyed back in the Philippines such as grilled chicken gizzard, liver and hearts. It was presented in sticks and came with a combination of spicy, sour, sweet and salty that was a perfect dip for the smoky and full taste of the chicken entrails. The price was a surprise for it was comparably cheaper than the Filipino restaurant's bbq sticks! The grilled pork came out intricately yet at the same time mildly flavored. The sticky rice was served in an unpretentious see-through plastic used in Philippine markets and carinderia that is quite unexpected of a Michelin-starred restaurant. IMG_5236.JPG IMG_5238.JPG IMG_5240.JPG IMG_5242.JPG IMG_5245.JPG IMG_5247.JPG IMG_5251.JPG IMG_5249.JPG

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      

Peanut Butter Happy

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I just officially turned my back from Lily's and Skippy peanut butter brands. From among the four flavors I tried tonight my favorite is Dark Chocolate Dreams! I have Smooth Operator, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, and Bee's Knees. Next time I will try these 2 other flavors from Peanut Butter Company: White Choco Wonderful and The Heat Is On. To me the PLUSses are: creative flavors, pairing suggestions in jar, no excessive oil, consistently smooth texture, just the right sweetness and that they have a small-town feel restaurant near Madison Square Park. Now how cools is that? A peanut butter so good it has to have its own restaurant in the City. Peanut Butter Company has a store and restaurant in West Village, NYC.

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.)

Peruvian Jalea

The Peruvian 'jalea' is a bed of deep fried and lightly battered sea food mix. The usual mix includes squid, lobsters, fish fillet, clam, oysters, crabs, snails, and barnacles topped with a generous layer of fresh red onions, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. With a spritz of lemon and dash of black pepper, this is one heck of an appetizer!

This jalea version is served at Rikko, a tiny Peruvian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens. The seafood is mixed with deed fried yuka or cassava root that serves as an effective palate cleanser from the tasty and flavorful jalea. Compared to its Manhattan counterparts the menu selections at Rikko are varied and the prices much more reasonable. Take 7 train, stop at Bliss Station.

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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