Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writing Time

I was reading Peter Varvel's Blog. Click here. I got to thinking: what is writing time? This morning I went running and used it as a space for me to think about a story. I'd been thinking about this particular story for months now.

As I made my way through the trees of Griffith Park, the first sentence came to me. I had other parts rolling around in my head, but couldn't get started. I NEEDED that first sentence to get me going. Finally, it came:

They always make me ugly--that's what men do to women they're afraid of.

I know it's a draft and will be reworked, but for now, I'm quite proud of it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Honor

Earlier this month marked the 10th anniversary of the killing of Joseph Illeto, the Filipino American postman who was targeted because of his race. A Jewish daycare center was also attacked. Fortunately, no one was killed.

This incident inspired my second novel Talking to the Moon. I had to write about it as a way of dealing with ugliness in the world. Hate crimes, injustice, unfairness. I had the pleasure of meeting Ish Illeto (above), Joseph's older brother. He's talked about how his brother's death was constantly ignored by the media and politicians.

Perhaps, that's one of the reasons why I wrote the novel. I wanted to give attention to this incident. Though my novel has nothing to do with the Illeto family, I've spoken at public venues about the book, reminding them all of Joseph Illeto.

In Talking to the Moon, I get my revenge. I wrote a scene about how the brother Emerson is at a press conference. He's completely ignored by the press and by the politicians present. He manages to find his own powerful voice and chastises people for not paying attention to the death of his brother.
Here's a commentary on the API Equality-LA website. Click here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pure Excitement

I went white water river rafting last weekend up in Kern County. I absolutely f-ing loved it! Some friends and I spent two days going down the Kern River, breathing in lovely mother nature.

That's me on the left. I was put up front because of the sorry lot that went on this trip, I was one of the more athletic ones. That's not saying much about the other folks. Anyway, most of the river was really scenic. I found it meditative.

Of course, this was river rafting and there were several rapids we had to overcome. There was one point where we got stuck on a rock and our raft filled with water. Thanks to the quick thinking of our guide, we freed ourselves. Atleast two of my teammates were thrown over and had to be rescued.

Here's a picture of me up to my neck in water. The rapids were overwhelming. It was definately a highlight of my year.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Oh, Nora!

I spent part of Saturday at the Historic Filipinotown Street Festival. With Cory's death, I wanted to see what the mood was. I ate halo-halo, an icy dessert, in a restaurant there. They had the TV on and the news was all about Cory's contributions to the country. (This included an interview with Hilary Clinton who seemed genuinely moved and shocked to hear of Cory's death.)

I must confess my mood lifted considerably when I saw who was going to be at the festival: Nora Aunor! For those of you who aren't familiar with her, she's a huge star in the Philippines. Read here.

Though I'd never witnessed any of her work, except maybe a CD here and there, I was familiar with her reputation as an icon in the Philippines. It's almost lore. She's almost someone you HAVE to have heard of if you want to lay claim to being Filipino.

Once she stepped out into the festival grounds, fans began to gather around her snapping photos.

She's a tiny woman, no taller than 5 feet. I joined in the photo taking. Fans were huddling around her and pushing me aside. I almost wanted to push back, then I realised the ones doing the pushing were other tiny Filipinas trying to get a glimpse of her.

She was not phased by all of the attention. She's a star afterall. I left feeling giddy, like I did one of the most Filipino things you could ever do: fawn over Nora.

Later that evening, I ran into some Filipino guys and told them that I saw Nora Aunor. They reminded me that poor Nora got in trouble with the law in Los Angeles a few years ago. She was alledgedly packing meth in her purse. Dirty details here. This only confirmed her superstar status. A star turns to drugs and tries to turn her life around? You only hear about that in the movies.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Mourning Continues

We've lost some incredible people in 2009. With five more months to go, I fear we're going to lose more.

I was stunned to hear of the passing of Corazon Aquino, the house wife who liberated the Philippines from the Marcos dictatorship. The torture and mayhem that came from the Marcos regime spurred the plot of my first book, Letters to Montgomery Clift. Ms. Aquino's heroic acts was a plot point in the novel.

I honor her for her bravery, but I am most taken with her path. Nothing in her upbringing would ever suggest that she would lead a revolution and preside over the country that she was born in. Girls of her generation in a country like the Philippines were not raised to become presidents. They certainly weren't raised to become revolutionaries.

This is what I found most interesting about this woman, who has become a symbol for many in the world. Those of us who ever dreamed of rising above our circumstances, becoming greater than what we could have ever imagined could look to this woman for inspiration.

Rest in all encompassing peace.