Monday, July 19, 2010

Fil-Am Authors Writing, by Libay Linsangan Cantor, 7/4/10

Fil-Am Authors Writing
by Libay Linsangan Cantor
The Manila
With all the buzz about Filipino YouTube singing sensation Charice finally making it to Hollywood’s “it” show of the moment, Glee, I wonder if fellow Pinoys are familiar with other Filipino talents already making names for themselves as Filipino-American authors. If we would take a look at Pinoys getting published in the USA, we might have more pride about our race making it in the land of milk and honey when it comes to the literary field.

Most people might have missed Jessica Hagedorn when she visited Manila a few years ago to promote her latest novel, Dream Jungle, published by Viking Books in 2003. She is more identified with her very postmodern take on the Marcos regime in her novel Dogeaters published by Penguin Books in 1990. While it might sound very political, this novel of hers is a very interesting read, given the very eclectic voices of the characters we encounter in Metro Manila amid the backdrop of many pop culture trappings we Filipinos drown in on a daily basis. Hagedorn was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to San Francisco when she was a teenager. In the US, she also dabbles in other art forms as a poet, performance artist and playwright.

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is another person that comes to mind when we talk about Fil-Am authors. She is the author of the 1990s novel When The Rainbow Goddess Wept published several times by different international and local publishing houses. She has also authored various creative nonfiction books to her name, and sometimes visits the Philippines to promote them or to give talks during their launch here.
Brainard is also active as an editor of various short story collections and nonfiction anthologies like Growing Up Filipino: Stories For Youth Adults, a collection of how it’s like to grow up as a Filipino in the Philippines and in other parts of the world. I’m proud to have an essay of mine included in that 2003 young adult anthology of hers, and I’m also happy to learn that this anthology is being used in some US schools in teaching children and young adults about Filipino experiences. Brainard was born in Cebu and finished college here in the Philippines before migrating to the USA and settling down there to start a family. She is currently active as a teacher at the Writer’s Program of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension.

Another Fil-Am author with an acclaimed novel is Bino Realuyo, author of Umbrella Country published in 1999 by Ballantine Reader’s Circle. The novel is a heartwarming tale about a boy living in an impoverished urban poor community in Manila who undergoes a lot of challenges in his life, including dealing with sexuality issues. The son of a Bataan Death March survivor, Realuyo was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to the US where he made New York his home for many years. He is also a poet, educator and works on various labor rights and human rights issues.

Just these three Fil-Am authors’ achievements alone make us proud that they uphold their Pinoy roots through their literature. Next time, we’ll try to discover more Fil-Am writers writing about our worlds.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . She is also at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


These pictures were taken during my recent visit to Cebu and Manila. From the top: Araceli Lorayes at the Parian Fiesta, Cebu City;

Next, L-R: Jun Dumdum, Cecilia Brainard, Erma Cuizon, and Jay Bautista at the Parian Fiesta, Cebu;
The next photos show the staff and friends of the Rizal Library of Cebu City, where I donated some of my books;
The group of five dining are L-R: Cecilia, Dr. Gyo Miyahara, Jimmy Sy, Gavin Bagares, and friend;
The group of four pose at Cafe Elysa's in the Parian: L-R: Lynley Ocampo, Gavin Bagares, Steve Aznar, and Cecilia;
The group of six show my dear STC friends dining at the French restaurant in Hotel Celeste, Makati: Starting from my left, clockwise: Mila Santillan, Guia, Araceli Lorayes, Darn Posa, and Lilu Gimenez;
The group of six in front of the fountain: Back, l-r: Cecilia, Jaime Picornell, Chona Bernad; front, l-r: Chinggay Utzurrum, Terry Manguerra, Inday Blanco
The group of three: Cecilia, Nadine Sarreal, Karina Bolasco