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My favorite fruit

February.7.2011

 

Para kay Lola, habang siya ay nasa ospital.


Suha.

That’s what we call it in the Philippines,

that sweet citrus fruit

that bursts with a cool tropical flavor

the moment that it meets your lips.

 

I saw some in Costco today, with the unfamiliar term Pomelo in big bold letters.

It made me think of you, Lola.

It’s been over a decade and nearly two

since the last time I’ve had some suha.

And although this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen it at an American supermarket

It was the first time I was compelled to buy it.

 

I thought about your hands

and the delicate way they peeled

through the thick skin,

The fluffy white rind

of the suha,

Matching the cotton-candy like texture

of your light grey hair.

I ran a finger down the length of the rind

and they were soft

like your curls.

 

I cut into the pink flesh and they matched perfectly

the color of your rosy cheeks

on a humid day.

I remember how you would sit at the table

for what seemed like hours,

peeling one suha after another,

humming Bible hymns to pass the time,

until you had a mountain

of perfectly shaped little pink wedges.

 

So I did the same, Lola,

and I thought about you the whole time.

 

I wondered how many pomelos you’ve peeled

in the 95 years of your life?

I wondered if you dream about their sweet tartness,

or miss the feel of its smooth peel,

or remember the name of the shade of rouge

that matches perfectly, the color of the fruit?

 

I sprinkled salt on the side,

dipped each piece into the white mound,

and as each wave of delight filled

every taste bud in my mouth,

I remembered why suha

was my favorite fruit.

 

It has always been because it reminded me of you.

 

 

 


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Love and Accomplishing Difficult Things

January.23.2011

A good friend of mine got married yesterday and I was fortunate enough to be able to witness her beautiful ceremony at the Mission at Santa Clara University. During the mass the priest said some things about love that really resonated with me. See, my friend K and her partner S have been together for several years, but have spent the past year or two living in opposite coasts of the country. K went to NYC to pursue her dream career while S stayed in the Bay in order to maintain some economic stability for the two of them. Many of us know that it is already a beautiful struggle within itself to nurture a relationship when both partners are close in proximity, so a distance of thousands of miles only heightens those struggles.

The priest commended K and S, and said “You are people who know how to accomplish difficult things because you have had to learn how to love over many many miles.”

He is right. K and S are truly committed to one another, and I was happy to share such a special day with them.

The reality of the priest’s statement rings so true for many Filipinos who make the difficult decision every day to leave their country, leave their families and loved ones in order to find livelihood abroad. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are women and men who are forced to learn how to love from a great distance, nurture a family that they cannot see, and sacrifice years, sometimes decades of loneliness and hard struggle.

The cost of this reality is often great, one that we might not anticipate when making the decision to leave. An aunt of mine had to leave her young toddler, and he didn’t recognize her when she was finally able to return after several years. He wept when she tried to hug him, and he reached for “mommy” — the aunt who had been raising him while his mother was away providing for him. My own parents had to relearn how to rebuild a marriage tested by years of separation. The mannerisms that had become unfamiliar, the distance between them created by time and not space, the promises made from what felt like a lifetime ago.

We are a people that know how to do difficult things because we must.

So this weekend, I celebrate K and S for forging a love that withstands the distance that is often between them. And I dedicate my work to the OFWs who’s own story may not have as sweet an ending.

Burma VJ: A Documentary

January.4.2011

From http://burmavjmovie.com/:

Going beyond the occasional news clip from Burma, the acclaimed filmmaker, Anders Østergaard, brings us close to the video journalists who deliver the footage. Though risking torture and life in jail, courageous young citizens of Burma live the essence of journalism as they insist on keeping up the flow of news from their closed country. Armed with small handycams the Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reportages from the streets of Rangoon. Their material is smuggled out of the country and broadcast back into Burma via satellite and offered as free usage for international media. The whole world has witnessed single event clips made by the VJs, but for the very first time, their individual images have been carefully put together and at once, they tell a much bigger story. The film offers a unique insight into high-risk journalism and dissidence in a police state, while at the same time providing a thorough documentation of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching.

”Joshua”, age 27, is one of the young video journalists, who works undercover to counter the propaganda of the military regime. Joshua is suddenly thrown into the role as tactical leader of his group of reporters, when the monks lead a massive but peaceful uprising against the military regime. After decades of oblivion – Burma returns to the world stage, but at the same time foreign TV crews are banned from entering the country, so it is left to Joshua and his crew to document the events and establish a lifeline to the surrounding world. It is their footage that keeps the revolution alive on TV screens all over.

Amidst marching monks, brutal police agents, and shooting military the reporters embark on their dangerous mission, working around the clock to keep the world informed of events inside the closed country. Their compulsive instinct to shoot what they witness, rather than any deliberate heroism, turns their lives into that of freedom fighters.

The regime quickly understands the power of the camera and the reporters are constantly chased by government intelligence agents who look at the ”media saboteurs” as the biggest prey they can get.

During the turbulent days of September, Joshua finds himself on an emotional rollercoaster between hope and despair, as he frantically tries to keep track of his reporters in the streets while the great uprising unfolds and comes to its tragic end.

With Joshua as the psychological lens, the Burmese condition is made tangible to a global audience so we can understand it, feel it, and smell it.

***

I watched this documentary today, and I was so moved by it. So much of what’s happened/happening in Burma is happening in the Philippines, Mexico, Palestine, and so many other countries. Repressive governments, backed by foreign corporations and imperialist countries, attempt to quell the freedom and basic rights of the very citizens they are supposed to serve. It is then up to us the people, to take back the rights, the welfare, the freedom, the country that we deserve.

I think the most striking thing about the movie was the will and determination of the DVB journalists — a small network of less than 30 individuals — to risk everything in order to broadcast the truth. It’s humbling and inspiring to know the power that even a small group can have. Imagine what that means: one high school classroom, one Muni bus, one small neighborhood association has the power to make a difference. The movie’s website says this documentary was created so that “the Burmese condition is made tangible to a global audience so we can understand it, feel it, and smell it” — but I think any collective action does more than that. I know at least for myself, watching this movie inspires me to strive for the same courage and strength that the Burmese VJs have. It makes me want to shout, to fight, to blog, to study, to organize, to make art, to love. To create a reality that counters all the violence, the repression, and suffering that the corrupt ruling powers impose on our communities.

It makes me want to be free.

***
You can watch the movie chopped up into parts on youtube. Part I here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6DfCLqLVUg

2010 in review

January.2.2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 35 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 72 posts. There were 57 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 28mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 13th with 53 views. The most popular post that day was Dear America.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, mustardseedblog.com, poppr0n.wordpress.com, and obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for munny, papo de asis, munny doll, emory douglas, and munny dolls.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Dear America September 2010

2

munny munny munny munny! January 2010

3

paintings May 2009

4

munny #3: skully! October 2009
1 comment

5

Observing the 2010 Philippine Elections June 2010
3 comments

sketchbook project pg. 8, 9, 10, 11

December.28.2010

 

sketchbook project page 6, 7

December.23.2010

my nephew

December.23.2010

a gift for his mother